Quietest Air Compressors

My grandfather’s compressor was large, underpowered, and loud. We couldn’t use it to power a nail gun or impact wrench. And we couldn’t hold a conversation when it was running.

His subcontractor, however, had a small, lightweight air compressor, that was so quiet that you couldn’t hear it run unless you were standing right next to it. I always asked grandpa why he wouldn’t get one of these new compressors, and he’d grunt and ignore me.

Maybe his compressor had sentimental value.

It is common that a larger compressor will be louder. But, with careful shopping, you can find a compressor large enough to power a paint sprayer, and that is still surprisingly quiet. 

Here is the best quiet air compressor comparison list.

I’ve organized this list based on decibel rating, then size. If the size is more important, you can also check out the best 12v, portable, 20-gallon, 30-gallon, and 60-gallon articles. However, near the bottom of this list are some slightly louder, but larger, models that the other blogs tend to overlook. Here At Tool Tally, we hope to close those gaps.f

A Word on Decibel Ratings:

Here is a list of helpful Decibel comparisons to help give you a better idea at what you are looking.

  • A Whisper – 15 Decibels
  • A Conversation – 60 Decibels
  • A Vacuum Cleaner – 80 Decibels
  • A Lawnmower – 90 Decibels
  • An Electric Drill – 94 Decibels
  • A Car Horn – 110 Decibels

Prolonged exposure (over an hour) to decibels above 85 can ultimately result in hearing damage. Air compressors tend to run for shorter periods, so there is generally little risk. Sounds below 75 decibels are unlikely to cause hearing loss, even after extended exposure. You’ll find the sound levels conveniently highlighted on all of these models.

small labratory compressor

(59db) Hitachi EC28M

product image of Hitachi_metabo EC28M
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI125
CFM @ 90 PSI0.8
Decibel59
Lubrication TypeOil-free
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty

This tiny little compressor kicks us off with an advertised rating of under 60db. When you thought that 80 dB was the standard for a quiet compressor, this one comes along and forces us all to rethink our perception!

Where this one comes up short is the .8 CFM amount of air it produces and the small 1-gallon tank for reserve air. It’s perfect for running trim nailers and for airing up car tires. That’s about it.

That said, there is hardly another unit that matches this ultra quiet air compressor. Thanks to the noise-isolating rubber feet, this little unit sounds like it is humming. You can easily carry on a normal conversation without realizing the compressor is running.

The EC28M is one of those oil-free models, so it is ready to use the instant you pull it out of the box.

image of Hitachi EC28M in use

(60 dB) California Air Tools 6010LFC

product image of California Air Tools 6010LFC
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI125
CFM @ 90 PSI3
Decibel60
Lubrication TypeOil-free
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty

Are you ok with me doing some back to back California Air Tool Reviews? Listen, if the noise level is essential to you, California Air Tools might be the only supplier who can get you a compressor under 70 decibels.

Working with an air supply that creates less than 70 decibels is an other-worldly event. Perhaps you are working for a homeowner, and they want to chat with you about the project. Usually, you’d have to scramble and turn off the compressor. Now you can nod your head and continue your conversation, uninterrupted.

They’ll probably comment on how surprised they are at the quietness of your machine.

Oh, and you can finally talk to your employees without continually yelling at them over your tools.

This compressor has a larger tank. With 6 gallons of air reserve, this steel tank offers 50% more air supply of the 4620AC reviewed below.

However, where this compressor shines is in its ultra quiet 60-decibel noise level. The decibel level is virtually unmatched by competitors. If you were the Navy Seals and needed a stealth air compressor, this would be the one with which to go.

The 3 CFM airflow is enough to power a framing nailers seamlessly or two finishing nailers simultaneously. You could run a 3/8 inch air ratchet with it, but it is a little underpowered for powering an impact wrench.

The oil-free design provides pristine, non-contaminated air supply. Now, I generally lean towards oiled models as they tend to last longer. However, since this one is oil-free, you could shut it into a back closet and never worry about checking the oil levels, which is a nice

Despite being an oil-free model, this compressor is designed to last for 4,000 hours or more. It’s the type of longevity that approaches the lifespan of an oil-lubricated compressor.

In spite of the larger tank, it is still only about 52 pounds. You can easily carry it or wheel it around the job site. And at only 60 decibels, this might be the closest thing to a silent air compressor.

I would probably look at the slightly more powerful 4620AC model or the Makita contractor model reviewed in the next couple of section.

(60 dB) California Air Tools 2010A

product image of California Air Tools 2010A
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI125
CFM @ 90 PSI2.2
Decibel60
Lubrication TypeOil-free
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty

The 2-gallon California Air Tools model might be the quietest air compressor on the list, but it is also one of the smallest. With a 2-gallon air tank, this one has a tiny reserve and is only going to appeal to a few people such as finish carpenters and crafters.

Despite the limited range of power, this little pump is perfect for airbrushing. Slip it in a drawer or under your workbench (make sure to follow the owner’s manual in keeping enough ventilation and clearance around it), and it is going to power your airbrush for all-day use quietly.

That said, it does deliver a fantastic 2.2 CFM, thanks to the one horsepower motor. As you’ll see in a second, that is more powerful than some of the larger compressors offer!

So this one is no slacker. You’ll have no issues running a finish nailer or brad nailer with it, and you might run a framing nailer on it, but it would probably stress the pump quite a bit to do so.

This is another oil-free dual piston pump for years of maintenance free use. The 2-gallon aluminum tank is a nice feature to help minimize the weight of the unit, keeping it under 40 pounds.

I would probably go with the slightly larger model below, but if quiet operation and tiny size are essential, it is hard to go wrong with this one.

(68 dB) The Campbell Hausfeld Quiet Compressor Series

product image of Campbell Hausfeld DC010500
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI125
CFM @ 90 PSI2.4
Decibel68
Lubrication TypeOil-free
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty

Knowing how important it is to have a compressor that you can carry on a conversation around, Campbell Hausfeld has created an entire lineup that does not exceed 70db. When you consider that most manufacturers consider 80db to be the cut off for a “loud” compressor, this lineup is especially attractive.

 

Their options range in tank size from 1.3 gallons to 8 gallons and from 1.2 CFM to 2.4 CFM.

So, while they make some of the quietest compressors (and they have a lot of options to choose from!), they do lack the power of the other models on our list, many of which can deliver 3 or more CFM.

One of the neat ways that they make up for this lack of power is by producing a line of low-volume power tools that pair with these compressors. For example, they have a 1/2 inch impact wrench that you can use with the 6 gallons or larger model and even a paint sprayer that works with only 7 CFM at 40 PSI (also good for the 6 to 8-gallon tank size range)

These added, low-volume, accessories make the Campbell Hausfeld a prime consideration for the homeowner who wants better-than-average performance at a low price and with less noise.

air ratchet for Campbell Hausfeld

If I were going with the Campbell Hausfeld, I think I would choose the 6-gallon compressor. The small size and rubberized handle make it easy to carry from job to job. You can power just about any standard air nailer with it, as well as pretty much all of the Campbell Hausfeld low volume products.

The oil-free pump requires less maintenance, and the dual piston pump design means that this compressor starts easily in cold weather and inflates quickly. Plus, you can enjoy the fact that it is one of the quietest air compressors on the market.

(70 dB) California Air Tools CAT-4620AC

product image of Campbell Hausfeld CAT-4620AC
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI125
CFM @ 90 PSI5.3
Decibel70
Lubrication TypeOil-free
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty

This option is one of my favorite compressors. California Air Tools shines in this category. Many of their projects are designed for use in dental offices where low noise and clean air supply are paramount (the dentists are blowing air into the patient’s mouth, after all!).

As a result, their compressors tend to offer better engineering that allows them to run more quietly.

We reviewed this compressor on the list of the best of the air compressors. It isn’t going to be the largest compressor, but it has a couple of features that make it almost as powerful as compressors four times its size. It is also an ideal size for construction workers and people doing trim work inside of homes.

The compressor has a 4.6-gallon twin tank which is a pretty decent size for a compressor this small. This gives you excellent air reserves and reduces how often that the compressor has to run. In addition to the larger tank, it has an oversized compressor and motor that delivers higher air flow.

This little unit can produce 5.3 CFM rating, which is on par with some of the 20-gallon and 30-gallon units. You can run two framing nailers at the same time on this little compressor. Or, you could powerful tools like an impact wrench with no problem.

You’ll figure out pretty quickly that I am a fan of the oil-filled models. In general, they tend to last longer. However, I’m going to make an exception for this model. It is an oil-free unit, but the lower RPMS and better engineering mean that you can expect a 3,000-hour lifespan, which is about double the lifespan of most of the really cheap oil-free models.

The way that California Air Tools manages to make an ultra-quiet compressor is by using an induction motor with a lower RPM. This motor runs at 1680 RPM instead of the higher, 2000 to 3000 RPMS that are standard with electric motors. This slower pace helps keep the compressor running smoothly and quietly.

There are a few other features on this unit that make it one of the best on the market. For example, it uses a two horsepower motor. Most portable compressors won’t use a two horsepower motor because the power requirements are too great. You generally have to go with a 20-gallon model before you start finding two-horsepower motors. Even then, you might need special, 20-amp circuitry. However, thanks to the lower RPMs, they can get away with a lower amperage on a model that still runs on a 15-amp supply.

Cold weather starts are a significant problem for construction crews. When it is 20 degrees and you are trying to frame a house, your compressor is likely to complain, refuse to start, and throw a circuit breaker. This one has a pressure release button that allows you to start the compressor without any pressure. This is critical for those cold start mornings.

The bottom line is, this compressor is the one I would pick out of most of the ones on this list. It offers more power and has that lower noise level you are shopping for.

(71 dB) Senco PC1010

product image of Senco PC1010
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI120
CFM @ 90 PSI.7
Decibel73
Lubrication TypeOil-free
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty

Here is another tiny compressor. I feel like this list is full of small compressors so I’ll touch on it briefly.

With the .7 CFM output and 1-gallon tank, this is an excellent choice for trim workers, and puts it into the same category as the Hitachi we reviewed further up on this list.

This one is only about 20 pounds. The lightweight design makes this unit a favorite for crafters who need something to run a stapler with. a lot of Etsy shops love this unit for doing their crafts.

It also is a great unit to have around the house. The small size means it fits on any shelf, and you can easily carry it around the car while airing up the tires.

It is also quiet enough that you can chat on the phone while you work with it.

The 1-year warranty provides greater peace of mind that this investment will last.

I’d go with one of the bigger units if you can only buy one compressor. However, if you already have a larger, primary compressor, this one is a first secondary unit and is an absolute pleasure to use.

(72 dB) Makita MAC2400 Big Bore

product image of MAkita MAC2400
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI130
CFM @ 90 PSI4.2
Decibels72
Lubrication TypeOiled
Warranty2 Year Limited Warranty

Most portable air compressors use an oilless design. This one is unique in that it brings one of the first oil-lubricated designs to the list.

Similar to the California air tools model, this one brings a 4.2-gallon air compressor into the mix. This is the perfect size of tank for plenty of air supply without being so heavy that you find yourself cursing at it every time you have to carry it.

And, this is one of the lighter units on the list. At just under 25 pounds, you could carry it all day if you wanted to.

The first thing everyone talks about is the big bore compressor. Some of these units use a dual-cylinder model. This one runs a single, but larger, compressor. It builds air very quickly and runs at 4.2 CFM. That’s a tad underneath the 5.3 CFM produced by the 4620AC reviewed above, but more than enough to power two framing nailers simultaneously.

The cast iron head and splash oiling lubed system is designed to keep the entire system running cool. Unlike the oil-free units, this one will last you for years. You won’t have to purchase a new compressor every year like the contractors who go with the cheapest option.

The noise level is almost imperceptibly louder than the 4620AC above.

This is another large motor with a massive 2.5 peak horsepower. It uses an induction motor which runs more quietly and lasts longer than the more cheaply made universal motors.

This motor also runs at a lower RPM, typically around 1700 RPMS, which is a tactic that seems to work very well.

However, as you can see, it keeps up well even though it has a smaller rating. This smaller motor means that it requires much less amperage. This is handy as some job sites might need you to run a longer power cord than you might personally wish you were using. These longer power cords can lead to an amperage drop. The Makita allows you to get away with a little more amperage drop than the 4620AC can tolerate.

The thermal overload protector helps to keep the motor from overheating, and the external car-style air filter provides aggressive filtering on the air intake even in scenarios where you are working in extremely dusty conditions (hope you are wearing a mask!).

As with the 4629AC above, this one has a push button drain valve for rapidly bleeding off the pressure and providing an easy start in cold weather conditions.

Overall, this is an extremely lightweight unit, has ample power for construction workers, and is super quiet. The added roll cage provides heavy-duty construction for all day use.

(72 dB) Dewalt DWFP55130

product image of DEWALT DWFP55130
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI200
CFM @ 90 PSI3
Decibels72
Lubrication TypeOil-free
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty

This Dewalt DWFP55130 is a fascinating model. Designed as the heavy-duty option for serious home builders, it is quickly gaining a following in more and more circles as a professional air compressor.

I’m slipping it in underneath the Makita, but there are a lot of contractors who would rather go with the Dewalt over the Makita (I’m not one of them!). It has a slightly lower air flow rating with 3.0 CFM, so it’s great for a single framing nailer or maybe two finish nailers. (It does have two quick connect outlets so more than one person can work off of it at the same time)

Now, this one is an oil-free pump so that you won’t have any maintenance concerns. Frankly, I don’t think oiled units are that hard to work with. I prefer a little weekly checking of the oil levels if it means my compressor is more likely to last for years. But for those of you who need the maintenance-free motor, this one fits the bill.

This one has a smaller tank so it only offers a reserve with a 2.5-gallon air tank. This is great for working on baseboards and other finish nailing work but would be underpowered for laying a wood floor or rapidly framing a house.

It is also a handy unit to have in the garage for airing up your tires. It makes short work of any car tires, and can easily handle larger RV tires. Use it in the campground if you need to, to inflate your RV or winterize your airlines, and none of the campers will mind.

Even then, there are a few models that I like better than the Dewalt. That said, the 1-year warranty and the well-known brand name makes this one a strong consideration, especially for those who do a lot of finishing work.

While this is unlikely to have much practical purpose for our readers, the high pressure 200 PSI maximum pressure rating is always a fun feature to brag about.

(76 dB) DEWALT DXCMPA1982054 [20 Gallon]

product image of DEWALT DXCMPA1982054
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI155
CFM @ 90 PSI7
Decibels76
Lubrication TypeOiled
Warranty2 year pump, 1 year parts
I wanted to present you with an option that had a larger tank and a massive air supply. Most of these air compressor reviews are for small, portable models. That is great, but what about the shop that needs a quiet compressor with ample air supply? Something that comes to mind is the bike shop where I used to work. They had a compressor for working on bikes, but it was so excessively loud! It took some digging, but this one fits the bill perfectly. This Dewalt brings a 20-gallon tank for ample air reserve. This is super important because it can deliver seven cubic feet per minute. This powerful rate of output is going to deplete your air reserves rapidly, and the 20-gallon tank mitigates that. The 1.9 horsepower motor is one of the biggest on this list and is designed to rapidly refill the tank with minimal recovery time. It’s a fully lubricated pump system for a long life cycle. However, this massive power rating is essential for using power tools like pneumatic impact guns and sanders. This large tank is still a little small, but it comes closer to meeting these requirements. air intake on 7 cfm compressor This one is going to need a larger power source. It will work with a 120 volt, 15 amp outlet, but you won’t want to connect it to an extension cord, as that will cause too much power drop. You can also switch this one to 240-volt wiring if you have that circuitry available to you. This one is way bigger than the others on the list. However, it still comes in at less than 80 decibels so your team won’t be suing you down the road for hearing damage. The ASME certified tank and 1-year warranty (2 years on the pump) is enough to make this one a top consideration in my book!

Mechanic Tightening Nuts On Tire With Impact Wrench

Buying Guide

CFM

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and is the measure of how much air is flowing from the compressor. This is the most important measurement to consider when shopping for your new compressor.

Most tools have a minimum CFM rating that they need to operate. You can consult the label on your pneumatic tools or use our handy list to get an idea of averages. Either way, the amount of flow that a compressor can create is going to dictate the amount of work that you can get done.

Most compressors measure their CFM at 90 PSI. For the sake of this article, we have only reported CFM at this standardized measurement. If you are operating at a lower PSI, your tool might produce a higher CFM.

PSI

The PSI is the pounds per square inch and is a measurement of how much power your compressor can create. This is less important than the CFM as most of these units can generate at least 90 PSI, which is the maximum that just about any tool will need.

Some new coil nailers use 300 PSI, but that technology is not yet in widespread use.

Tank Size

The tank size is important as it tells you how often your compressor will need to kick on. For example, a 1-gallon tank will need to refill after about 3 shots from a framing nailer. If you try to frame a house with a 1-gallon tank, the pump will run nearly non-stop. (You would probably burn the pump out).

With 4.6 gallon tank, you can get about 12 to 15 shots with the same nailer. This gives that compressor (And your ears!) time to rest while you work off the reserve air supply.

Most contractors find that 4 to 6 gallons are about ideal. Automotive shops require more air and are going to want a 20 gallon or larger unit.

What is A Quiet Air Compressor?

Many of the sites regard the 80-decibel mark as “quiet.”

You’ll see that all but one of our recommendations is under 75 dB.

Seventy-five dB is the recommended maximum noise level for prolonged noise exposure without hearing protection.

It gets harder to meet this requirement as you go up in size.

Practically speaking, it seems to be the noise level at which you can carry on a conversation. With that in mind, closer to the 70 dB level is the sweet spot. You can still carry on a conversation at this level, but there are a large number of compressors from which to choose.

Choose Oil-Filled

Oilless compressors are often louder. They are typically direct drive models that reciprocate as fast as an electric motor. This high RPM create excessive noise.

An oil-filled model can run at lower RPMS. Additionally, the heavier metal used in the compressor head of an oiled model and the oil itself helps to quiet the compressor.

Oil filled models also last longer. General expectations are that an oiled unit will last 2 to 3 times longer than an oil-free pump. They require very little maintenance and are easy to work with It makes sense to go oiled.

Choose Belt-Driven

This isn’t a universal law. However, on some of the bigger models, the belt system is used to keep the compressor operating at lower revolutions per minute.

When the compressor is moving at a slower pace, it runs cooler and more quietly while moving more air with each stroke.

The pulley on a belt-driven compressor also acts as a fan to help cool the compressor.

For What Purpose Will You Be You Using The Compressor?

This is ultimately the question that you need to ask before purchasing your first air compressor. You can consult our power tool chart and then add up how many of those tools will be running simultaneously. If you are using two framing nailers, you probably want a compressor with about 4 CFM. If you are using a single impact gun, you will need a minimum of 5 CFM. Figure this piece out, and it will make your shopping much more manageable!

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