Well been wanting to get an air compressor for some time now. Saw one on sale at local hardware store and I’m tempted to buy but I have a few q’s. The one I’m looking at is only 2 gallons. Usage wise not looking to use constantly but just for small tasks like cleaning areas and maybe every now and then removing a tough bolt and can’t forget tires. So any opinions on this?


I would suggest at least 20 gallons

The small ones are suitable for general use and nail guns but it won’t work very well with air tools or spraying. You want to look at the CFM output and then compare that with the tools that you want to use. I have a small one good for portability and nail guns and a 5hp cheapo CH for the the house. It’ll handle spraying and some air tool use but will only speed the job and won’t break bolts. I need to break the bolt a little first with a breaker bar, then use the air wrench to speed the work. Oil less are the cheaper models but really for general home use it works fine, just doesn’t last as long. You don’t have to pay $1000 unless you are a professional.

Listen to the compressor run before you buy to make sure that you will or will not mind the noise from an oil-less compressor. For home use, it is not necessary to have a huge air storage tank and compressor as you can easily wait for the compressor to catch up; no hourly rate is there to haunt you. I use mine with an impact wrench, a die grinder, an air hammer, and for the usual tasks including filling and topping up tires and cleaning things. An air nozzle can also be used to unplug a sink drain. Had a paint gun; didn’t like it.

I have a home-made outfit made from scrapped parts including an old freon compressor. With a little plumbing you can add more storage using scrapped, outdated but nice looking propane tanks. Mount them upside down so any water that has accumulated can drain out. A water removal device after the compressor is a must as is a pressure shutoff switch and a pressure gauge. A pressure regulator is good to have as is extra hose.


Since you use the impact wrench at home, I will assume your compressor is bigger than 2 gallons?

That is why I suggested a 20 gallon compressor

I agree you should go bigger, but if you have the room. The other things I think you should consider is an extra, very long hose for convenience and cleaning the garage etc. and a portable air tank for topping off tires. Just keep it filled and take it the cars. Taking an air tank is better for places you have pneumatic tires ( and toys) to top off away from electricity. A big one in the corner of the garage takes little room but with a long hose, keeps you way from the noise. @bing has the right idea if you really get into using many of the tools.

db4690 Quote: "Since you use the impact wrench at home, I will assume your compressor is bigger than 2 gallons?

That is why I suggested a 20 gallon compressor" Unquote

My air compressor outfit uses two 5 gallon propane tanks; should add at least a 3rd tank.

The SCFM of the compressor is also important. Combine a small tank with a low SCFM at a specific pressure and an air tool may start wheezing after a few seconds…

Mhmm might just look into one my Grandpa has, its a medium sized one that needs something replaced (can’t remember what though). If I remember right he said he’s used it with tools before.

Compressors are like boats. Within a short time you will have 2 ft -itis. In this case it will be 2 cu ft itis but it will happen if you use it. I know of no die grinder or cutoff wheel that can actually do the job that will not be sucking wind in less than 10 seconds with that puny pancake unit…

2 gallon is good for airing tires and using in the woodshop. For tire work you will not loosen one lug with a 2 gallon.

The little pancake models you see for under $30 are almost useless. All they do is make noise…

If you have a lot of use for a compressor, I would strongly suggest an oil lubed, belt-driven pump unit with a 20-30 gal. tank. I have a 17 gallon Husky that I re did with a Jenny pump. The oil-lubed belt driven ones with a flywheel are much quieter that those obnoxious dry pumps. If you do a lot with die grinders or cut off wheels, it helps if it’ll put out at least 5 or 6 CFM @ 90 PSI. If you only need the cut off tool or die grinder for 10 seconds at a time, the 30 gal tank will give you a decent amount of air before the pressure drops too much. Using a pressure regulator on your hose helps, too.

I have a 2 gallon, used it for 13 years to change tires (2x per year per car) in Anchorage. But I never had to deal with over tightened lug nuts.

The only time I whish I had a bigger one was when I was replacing my wood deck, it couldn’t keep up with the nail gun, so it slowed me down a bit.

Well got my grandpa’s 22 gallon compressor now. Needless to say with more stuff popping up and the heat it’ll take a while to get around to repairing the compressor but it atleast runs and can do what I need it to do.

I have a high-grade impact wrench (I-R 231 C) and I find that impact wrenches, because they tend to be used in spurts, don’t take much. When I get 135 PSI in my 17 gallon tank, I can easily take four wheels off the car (running through a regulator at 95 PSI) without the tank pressure dropping much. Tools that are used more continuously will take quite a bit of air.

I’d suggest getting one with at least a 7-gallon tank if you want to do more with it than fill tires, blow away crud, or operate a nailer. With a little 2-gallon model, you may be able to run air tools in short bursts, but the compressor will be running constantly and you’ll have to keep waiting for it to catch up with the demand.

quality air tools use less air. If you have a $50 1/2" air gun, it’ll need a ton of air compared to a quality $200 air gun. I have a 60G twin piston compressor with both cheap and top end air tools. There’s a difference, w/o question. The best value “real” compressor is at Jerry’s for about $650. Mine is a Husky and got it new for $400 before prices spiked about 6yrs ago. Keep waiting the the prices will increase and/or the quality will decrease. Seen this with my compressor, and know a fellow mechanic that bought it.