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10 Best Harbor Freight Air Compressor Reviews & Guide


No denial of the fact that a great air compressor is almost at the center of a workman’s power-tool-universe.

Therefore, when it comes to an air compressor tank, making a rash decision without any proper thought is nothing but a suicide mission. First of all, you are paying a premium. Second, it’s probably for a busy workshop that weighs time in currency.

So, to help you make an educated decision, we’ve come up with a harbor freight air compressor review that is sure to offer better insight.

We’ve critiqued the top rated Harbor Freight compressors and broken down the specs into comparable chunks. And by all means, we’re unbiased throughout the study.

Got a few minutes to hone up your purchase? Let’s dive deep-

Top 10 Best Harbor Freight Air Compressor Reviews-Comparison Table for 2020

Top 3 Gallon Air Compressor
  • 3-Gallon Pancake compressor.
  • 0.6 CFM at 90 PSI and 1-CFM at 40 PSI, 1/3-HP.
  • Air Brushing Oil-less design.
  • Item weight: 21.2-lbs (Approx.)
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  • 3-gallon Horizontal Compressor.
  • 0.36 CFM at 90 PSI, 1-HP.
  • Oil-less design.
  • Item weight: 20.7-lbs. (Approx.)
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  • 3-gallon Horizontal Compressor.
  • 3.3 CFM at 90 PSI, 3.8 CFM at 40 PSI, 2-HP.
  • Oil-lubricated pump design.
  • Item Weight: 59.6-lbs. (Approx.)
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Top 6 Gallon Air Compressor
  • 6-Gallon pancake compressor.
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, 0.8-HP.
  • Oil-free design.
  • Item-weight: 31-lbs. (Approx.)
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  • 6-gallon pancake compressor.
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, 0.8-HP.
  • Oil-free design.
  • Item weight: 34-lbs. (Approx.)
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Best 21 Gallon Air Compressor
  • 21-gallon vertical air compressor.
  • 5.8 CFM at 40 PSI, 4.7 CFM at 90 PSI, 2.5-HP.
  • Oil-based design.
  • Item weight: 98-lbs. (Approx.)
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Top 30 Gallon Air Compressor
  • 30-gallon belt-driven vertical compressor.
  • 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI, 7 CFM at 40 PSI, 2-HP.
  • Oil-based pump design.
  • Item weight: 185-lbs. (Approx.)
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  • 30-gallon direct drive, vertical compressor.
  • 7.7 CFM at 40 PSI, 6 CFM at 90 PSI, 1.9-HP.
  • Oil-free design.
  • Item Weight: 112-lbs. (Approx.)
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Top 60 Gallon Air Compressor
  • 60-gallon vertical reciprocating pump design.
  • 15.2 CFM at 175 PSI, 5-HP.
  • Oil-lubricated design.
  • Item weight: 475-lbs. (Approx.)
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  • 60-gallon two-stage vertical compressor.
  • 13.5 SCFM at 175 PSI, 5-HP.
  • Oil-based design.
  • Item weight: 400-lbs. (Approx.)
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Now that you’ve had a good look at some of our offerings, it’s time to dive into the depths of each option.

But before that, we would like to clear something out.

Let’s say you’re thinking of going with a different air compressor other than our recommendations. Well, that’s pretty normal.

But before you seal the deal, at least go through our buying guide, which is comprehensive enough to get you to the finish line and make the right deal. As there are a lot of variables involved, it’s only right to choose an option that suits your particulars.

Also, there are a lot of loopholes in buying a tool like a compressor. So, even if our air compressor doesn’t satisfy you, our buying guide will. It’s highly recommended that you go through it thoroughly.

Enough talk, let’s start with the review, shall we?

Harbor Freight central pneumatic air compressor review 3-gallon:

Top 3 We Recommend

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1/3 Horsepower 3 Gallon 100 PSO Oil-less Pancake Air Compressor

Central Pneumatic has a reputation for bringing reputation to the customer’s doorsteps. Although there have been some changes to their policies since then, they’ve only gotten better at what they do. And their Pancake Air Compressor is a testament to the above statement. Along with some very cool features, it’s got a really compelling stature in the consumer market.

Product Description

The pancake design is one of its main plus points, simply because of space, it’s saving on a whole. Also, coming in just shy of 22-lbs. portability is clearly one of its strong suits.

As far as the usability features go, then you have a really solid option in your hands. You’re pretty much guaranteed a solid experience thanks to the proper placement of the gauges and protective measures.

In short, when it comes to blowing air into your tires or perhaps using the nail gun, then you’re pretty much covered. The specs along with the placement of parts guarantees smooth sailing all the way.

Product Specification
  • Features a highly portable pancake Oil-free design.
  • It’s a 3-gallon tank with a maximum PSI range of 100.
  • The 1/3-HP pneumatic compressor comes with built-in accessory storage.
  • Features thermal overload protection of up to 120-volts.
  • Compressed air pressure delivery ratings: 0.6-CFM at 90-PSI and 1-CFM at 40 PSI.
  • It also comes with a ¼-inch 18NPT female drain tank valve.


  1. The portability is highly uniform.
  2. The safety features are on point.
  3. The power requirements are standardized for universal use.
  4. It doesn’t require too much maintenance.


  1. The noise levels are a bit high.
  2. The longevity is a concern.

Advantages – Explained

Safe and Portable:- Although these two terms may not seem the same, they are complementary to one another.

As a matter of fact, safety and portability are one of the strong suits of this compressor. The weight distribution overall seems very tidy.

Power and Maintenance:- This air compressor doesn’t require any oil-based lubrication. Which is why there’s no need for any over-the-top maintenance from time to time.

As for the power requirements, then it’s also standardized. Even the thermal overload protection feels adequate for such an air compressor.

Disadvantages – Explained

Noise Levels:- One of the main issues we found with this model is the excessive noise levels. We couldn’t fathom why such a machine operated so loudly.

Longevity:- We did have our concerns because of the parts simply didn’t feel right while using it. Still, it’s a very minor issue and it is to be expected with such compressors.

Will this air compressor suit you?

If you’re someone who needs something for home maintenance from time to time, then we believe it’s the perfect match for you. The design and the features complement each other for such small but important tasks.


Overall, we believe this pancake style compressor does live up to its promises. So, you may want to check this one out, simply because of the balance and usability.

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Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV

The company Campbell Hausfeld started its operation back in 1836. Because of the quality of their products, they’ve thrived since then. As a matter of fact, without one of their options in this harbor freight air compressor review, we believe it would be incomplete.

And that is where the FP209499AV comes in. Despite being a horizontal compressor (there are folks who don’t appreciate it by the way), the feature set is pretty intriguing for people to consider it. 

Product Description

As far as the features go, then the included kit with its air gun, chuck and hose should be plenty for anyone to get started. And these essentials may not come included with some of the existing high-end brands out there.

Besides that, you will find it to be a very friendly compressor when it comes to usability. The vertical design doesn’t just have the acceptable build quality, but it’s got the right apparatus like pressure gauges and handles in the right places.

As for the usability of it, the pressure delivery is just right for diy art projects and light construction jobs like stapling. Tire inflation also wouldn’t hurt it at all.

Product Specification
  • Features a 3-gallon, horizontal design with an accessory kit included.
  • It’s an oil-free design with a proper thermal overload switch.
  • It comes with accurately placed pressure gauges.
  • Compressed air pressure delivery ratings: 0.5-CFM at 40-PSI and 0.36-CFM at 90 PSI.
  • It’s got a duty cycle of 0.75 and features a 1-HP power rating.


  1. It’s very lightweight and easy to handle.
  2. The placement of the pressure gauges is on point.
  3. The accessory fittings are robust and convenient to use.
  4. The motor operation is efficient enough overall.


  1. The cheap materials won’t offer better longevity.
  2. The output performance isn’t great.

Advantages – Explained

Placement and Handling:- As mentioned earlier, the placement of the pressure gauges makes it a lot more usable. Also, the weight does make it a lot easier to handle despite its vertical design.

Fittings and Operation:- The included fittings are more than a welcome feature than anything. And when you pair that with an effective motor operation, you have a very solid combo.

Disadvantages – Explained

Materials and performance:- During our testing, we didn’t really appreciate the cheapness of some of the parts. It also seemed to contribute to the overall output performance as well.

Will this air compressor suit you?

For light usage, we probably wouldn’t recommend anything else to our users. It should fit right into your personal workshop.


All in all, when it comes to portability and spending some time on your hobby, we believe there’s no better option than the FP209499AV. If you want a change of taste, then you should certainly give it a shot.

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Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor

Makita, as many of you are probably aware of, is one of the leading brands in consumer power products. Their innovative design choices don’t just stand out in the crowd. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the reasons why some users are blind fans of this brand.

And that’s where the MAC700 comes in. Keeping all the other features aside, the design itself is enough to sell itself. But we can’t forget the other features, which are certainly solid to say the very least.

Product Description

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the design is one of its key selling points.

It features a miniaturized vertical design that has a decent handle. And that’s what makes it so intriguing. The portability almost grows ten-fold because of such a clever design.

As for the other features go, then the thermal performance is one of its strong points thanks to the solid hose design. Also, the air filter adds more convenience to the overall design while offering efficient intake performance.

As far as the usability goes, it’s highly suitable for light to medium construction work. It means you can get away with some medium-high tool usage.

Product Specification
  • It features a vertical design that delivers better bore and stroke.
  • Features a 2-HP power rating and a robust cast-iron design.
  • It can dish out 3.3-CFM at 90-PSI.
  • The 1700+ motor rpm still doesn’t give rise to higher noise levels.
  • It features a fine copper discharge tubing and roll-bar handle.
  • It’s got an industrial quality air filter with oil sight glass that offers proper usability.


  1. The portability is far better than some of the existing options.
  2. The heat dissipation performance is more than satisfactory.
  3. It features a max. operating pressure offers good overall flexibility of use.
  4. The noise levels are satisfactory as well.


  1. There are incidences of minor air leaks at times.

Advantages – Explained

Heat dissipation and Pressure:- Heat dissipation is certainly one of the strong points here. Also, the pressure delivery was more than satisfactory in many cases.

Noise and Portability:- We found this machine to be very portable that also had acceptable noise levels as well.

Disadvantages – Explained

Leaks:- There have been reports of some minor leaks in the compressor compartment. But as you know, fixing leaks on air compressors is a pretty regular task that a user has to undergo.

Will this air compressor suit you?

The ones who need to deal with light tasks, they can certainly get away with the MAC700 without a doubt.


In conclusion, all we want to say is that the MAC700 has a more than a decent design with some really decent specs. So, if brand value is something you value, then go for it.

Best 6-gallon air compressor reviews:

Top 2 We Recommend

1 OF 2

BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor

In the dedicated Bostitch air compressor reviews, you will surely find the option we are about to offer here.

As for the brand, well, there’s really not much to nitpick. Their reliability is comparable to other prominent brands out there. And they’ve been reliable for so many years because of the care and creativity they bring to the market.

Product Description

First of all, the pancake design of this compressor takes up very little space despite its higher compressed air delivery capacity. And the BTFP02012 does offer higher levels of compression while keeping the noise levels down significantly.

Other than that, you have the proper couplers and flow regulators that offer precision while working with power tools. Also, the system’s capability to start easily in cold weather conditions is also a huge plus.

Stapling and inflation type tasks are very regular for this compressor. It can easily handle medium tasks on a regular basis without a doubt.

Product Specification
  • It features a pancake design with a maximum pressure range of 150-PSI.
  • Compressed air pressure delivery ratings: 2.6-CFM at 90-PSI.
  • It features a 6-gallon tank and a motor that can easily be started during cold weather.
  • The maximum noise output is around 75.8-decibel.
  • It’s an oil-free compressor with a maximum power output of 0.8-HP.
  • It comes with heavy duty coupling apparatus and a hefty flow-regulator.


  1. The performance output is solid for diy power tools.
  2.  There’s no extra hassle with maintenance.
  3.  The noise output is very satisfactory.
  4.  The flexibility of use is spot on.


  1. The regulator precision isn’t up to the mark.

Advantages – Explained

Performance and Maintenance:- The compressed air delivery performance is more than acceptable.

Also, when it comes to diy workloads with some heft, you as a user shouldn’t worry at all. If we compare oil vs oil-free compressors, an oil-free model lke this one does make the user’s job a lot easier.

Noise Output:- The noise levels are considerably low with this compressor. And that also contributes to the overall usability as well.

Disadvantages – Explained

Regulator Inaccuracies:- We did find some anomalies during the testing. The regulator often doesn’t show the right readings, which is kind of a hit or miss situation.

Will this air compressor suit you?

The BTFP02012 is like a miniaturized version of a compressor that can do it all.

We mean to say is that it can handle higher-medium levels of tasks. As for the light tasks, there shouldn’t be any problems with this particular compressor. As a matter of fact, for day-to-day use, we believe it will last a good bit before giving up.


If we were, to sum up, then we would recommend that you use this compressor for mid to high diy projects. Still, if you want to give it a shot in your personal garage, then you are welcome to give it a shot.

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PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor

The makers at Porter-Cable are clearly well-versed in crafting tools that take care of needs of the average Joe. As a matter of fact, their C2002 Pancake Compressor cements this though to the very foundation.

As far as the overall features of the C2002 are concerned, they are pretty well-rounded to say the very least. They take care of all the basics that professionals need to achieve.

In short, it’s a tool for the average user. Here’s why.

Product Description

In terms of the overall build quality, there’s really not much to complain about here. It’s a pancake design and doesn’t require oil for maintenance. So, all in all, there shouldn’t be any complaints in the minds of the users about it.

As for the performance goes, it’s pretty efficient to say the very least. It’s capable of working more hours thanks to its better holding capacity. Also, the safety features like integrated rubber feet and water drain valve complement overall efficiency.

Also, portability is also one of its strong suits. Despite having a decent-enough capacity, it still manages to be very easy to move around. And that’s what makes it suitable for a chop-shop.

Product Specification
  • The 6-gallon design comes with 0.8-HP Power Rating.
  • It’s got rubber feet and safety valves along with a 150-PSI max. pressure holding capacity.
  • Compressed air pressure delivery ratings: 2.6-CFM at 90-PSI along with quick recovery.
  • The oil-free design features a robust build quality.
  • The 120-volt standard motor rating is plenty for optimal use.


  1. It’s very portable and relatively lightweight.
  2.  It’s got covers for the shroud and consoles that allow better usability.
  3.  The air couplers are great with light to medium diy power tools.
  4.  It starts easily, even in bad weather conditions.


  1. The air drain valve does need some work.
  2.  It is a loud compressor overall.

Advantages – Explained

Portability and Connectivity:- We talked about the portability aspect of it a while back. We would also like to talk about the strong connectivity as well, which does allow it to be more precise on a whole.

Shrouds and Easy-start:- One of the key points of using this machine is the fact that it’s got shrouds and covers for easier placements. And the fact that it’s starting over easily in cold weather conditions is also one of its strong suits.

Disadvantages – Explained

Draining and Noise Levels:- The air drain valve does seem to pose problems at times. Also, the decibel levels do feel high at times despite such a clever design.

Will this air compressor suit you?

Earlier we mentioned it being used in a chop shop.

Well, we do mean that because of the inherent capabilities of the C2002. It’s movable and can handle heavy tasks without any issues. So, if you do need the usability we are talking about, then it’s certainly a decent choice for you.


Overall, we do believe the C2002 to be one of a kind. Without giving it a shot, no one will be able to find out its true worth.

Central Pneumatic 21-gallon air compressor reviews

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Central Pneumatic Vertical Air Compressor

Any central pneumatic 21 gallon air compressor reviews will have a pretty hard time conveying their message to the customers if the list is incomplete. Thankfully, the Central Pneumatic 21-Gallon Vertical Air Compressor should be more than compensation.

The folks at Central Pneumatic are always careful about what they present to their customers. For this reason, their customer base continues to grow over the years.

And the feature list they provide is also a substantial thing when making a choice. And that’s what we will be talking about in a bit.

Product Description

In terms of the design, we believe it’s pretty well thought out. The vertical design does feature a set of conveniently placed wheels for support. It’s one of the key things that qualifies it as a portable choice in large machine shops.

Along with the design, the other features also complement the whole compressor package. For instance, the couplers are very solid overall, which is why connectivity is not a major issue in any way. Also, the precision of the compressor is also on point, which is a trait for high-end compressors.

It can easily handle light-heavy to medium-heavy tasks. And that’s large because of its delivery capacity and efficiency.

Product Specification
  • The compressor features 21-gallon capacity and decent overall build quality.
  • It’s a 2.5 Horsepower compressor that features a max. PSI capacity of 125.
  • Compressed air pressure delivery ratings: 5.8 CFM at 40 PSI and 4.7 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • It comes with built-in couplers and rubber feet for better flexibility.
  • The oil level indicator offers precise measurements for better workflow.


  1. It’s perfect for medium to heavy workloads.
  2.  The stabilization and noise levels are on par with some of the expensive options out there.
  3.  The seamless design offers a solid overall feel.
  4.  The capacity is very suitable for garage and small workshops.


  1. The longevity of the compressor components is an issue.

Advantages – Explained

Stabilization and Design:- The design overall complements the overall stabilization aspect without any loopholes. The completeness is commendable.

Higher Capacity:- The capacity to deliver compressed air at a steady pace is also one of its strengths which we found to be very effective.

Disadvantages – Explained

Component Failure:- We did have some issues with some of the parts as they did feel flimsy. It didn’t feel right.

Will this air compressor suit you?

The message the product conveys is pretty clear. But if you have professional needs which are medium in nature occurring on a regular basis, then we would recommend it to you whole-heartedly.


From all of the discussion we just did, this compressor should certainly be the choice of the worthy folks out there. So, if the features match your needs, then do check it out.

Best Harbor Freight 30-gallon air compressor reviews:

Top 2 We Recommend

1 OF 2

Industrial Air ILA188354 ILA1883054

There are instances where brands couldn’t really justify the ‘Industrial’ branding with their products. There are options out there who do not understand it completely.

Thankfully, the makers at Industrial Air do.

This particular compressor comes with all the features the average user needs with a hint of that overall industrial feel. It doesn’t just look industrial. It also works as an industrial product as well.

So, let’s dive into the offerings.

Product Description

In-person, the all-black cast-iron build looks really solid. It also feels very solid as well. Not only that, the 155-PSI pressure does mark it to be a power user’s tool as well.

With its solid motor and attachments, you feel pretty much invincible in your workspace. Not only that, the attachments and other safety apparatus also have the proper spots. It’s one of the signs of an industrial product that no one will miss.

As for the workflow, it’s certainly efficient. There’s a very little compromise with precision and usability. Also, the user is at complete liberty to complete heavy tasks without any complaints whatsoever.

Product Specification
  • It features a two-cylinder, cast iron build.
  • It can offer 90 PSI at 5.7-CFM and 40 PSI at 7.0.
  • The 2-Horsepower compressor is both UL and CSA certified.
  • It features a dual voltage motor that is suitable for both 120-volt and 240-volt applications.
  • There are quick-set regulators and pressure gauges for proper accessibility and control.


  1. It’s the perfect choice for heavy day-to-day applications.
  2.  The robust design ensures good longevity.
  3.  All the attachments are in their proper places.
  4.  The overall flexibility of use is on point.


  1. It’s not very friendly with fragile weather conditions.

Related Post: Top Industrial Air 30 Gallon Air Compressor

Advantages – Explained

Design and Workflow:- It’s a rare combination of proper design that delivers superior workflow. You will find very few options like this in the market.

Flexibility of Use:- All the parts are where they should be. The safety apparatus is easily accessible. And the coupling is also pretty seamless as well.

Disadvantages – Explained

Cold Weather:- If you live in extremely cold conditions, then you have a problem. We have found that the machine doesn’t start easily if it’s too cold. So, you may want to keep that in mind.

Will this air compressor suit you?

From the design to the performance, it all feels really professional. Everything about Industrial Air is top-of-the-line.

So, keeping the one shortcoming in mind, if you are someone who needs power and precision of industrial quality, then you can certainly go for it.


In summary of this central pneumatic 29 gallon air compressor reviews, all we want to say is this-if robust performance is a concern to you, then you probably shouldn’t leave this option and look elsewhere. We’ll leave the final decision to you.

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DeWalt DXCMLA1983012 Direct Drive Air Compressor

When it comes to the harbor freight air compressor review, then it can’t be completed without a DeWalt Air Compressor.

As a brand, the folks at DeWalt hold high standards when it comes to design and execution. As a matter of fact, their huge line up of consumer products is only there because of these standards.

And the DXCMLA1983012 Air Compressor is a direct testament to that. It’s not just powerful, it’s also precise as well.

Product Description

In terms of the features, first of all, we noticed the trademark yellow shell to be very well design. The black rubber wheels and the creative handle design certify it to be one of the best portable compressors for heavy use. And the compressor delivery does verify the high load usability.

For example, the 155-PSI maximum capacity is often taken as an industrial-grade spec. It pretty much implies that the compressor can run longer with heavy loads.

You can’t just throw a spec and expect it to work properly. Fortunately, clever engineering traits didn’t just deliver a powerful machine. As matter of fact, it also resulted in precision.

The protection features are solid as well. The thermal and low-voltage barriers are pretty solid. This allows the user to throw almost anything at it without any snag.

And that’s exactly the point of this air compressor.

Product Specification
  • The air compressor features an oil-free robust build with a direct-action feature.
  • The induction motor can dish out 155-PSI max. output.
  • The Compressed air pressure delivery ratings: 7.7-CFM at 40-PSI and/or 6.0-CFM at 90-PSI.
  • Its 120-volt standard power rating comes with power surge guards.
  • The compressor also comes with properly mounted pressure gauges and in-built thermal protection.


  1. It offers very solid performance with heavy machinery.
  2.  The build quality is superior to some of the existing options out there.
  3.  All the safety features are in the proper places.
  4.  The flexibility of use is spot on.


  1. The tube placement may be awkward for some users.

Advantages – Explained

Heavy Workflow Support:- It’s clearly one of the potent options out there if you’re talking about workflow. It’s pretty much seamless on a whole.

Safety and Flexibility:- The safety measures designed for this compressor is very satisfactory. And the design offers flexibility because of the portability aspect without a doubt.

Disadvantages – Explained

Tube Accessibility:- This is the only culprit in the scene.

Unfortunately, the tube isn’t at a very good spot. The location isn’t very ideal to say the very least.

Will this air compressor suit you?

For heavy users on a daily basis, it’s clearly a great choice. But if you count in the portability, then any small garage can also benefit from it as well.


We don’t have to say a lot about this one. You have to give it a try for yourself.

Best Harbor Freight 60-Gallon Air Compressor Reviews:

Top 2 We Recommend

1 OF 2

Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor

There are a lot of variables in play when it comes to the best air compressor.

Thankfully, we’ve chosen all the best options in our harbor freight air compressor review. And the Quincy QT-54 is one of our offerings.

Well, other than the design choices and apparatus placement, there are other variables that make the QT-54 very lucrative. And the brand name is also one of them.

Although the makers at Quincy may not be that well recognized, they do have a very solid product line up. And the QT-54 comes with a lot of the traits of their signature design.

Product Description

As with most heavy professional power tools go, they are more focused on power than portability. That’s what allows them to offer more work hours and less dramatics.

And the QT-54 is one of those options. For instance, it operates at 230-volt capacity, which is the common industry trend for power tools. Also, the pressure capacity and motor configuration are very different.

The motor is designed to run less hot for longer periods of time. And that keeps the overheating issue at bay. Also, the power requirements have specifics to handle overloading.

And these are the small things that make this air compressor so great.

It’s meant for high-end professional power tool handling. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, as you will find out if you look at the specifications clearly.

Product Specification
  • A 5-Horsepower machine that can operate at 230-volts.
  • It’s got a 2-stage single phase motor with a belt-driven manual system.
  • The pump RPM ranges from is somewhere in the neighborhood of the 1300s.
  • It can offer 15.2 CFM at 175 PSI with an oil blow-by rating of 5-PPM.
  • The capacitor-start motor comes with thermal overload functionality.


  1. It can handle heavy industrial tools without breaking a sweat.
  2.  The work efficiency of the machine is commendable.
  3.  It’s built for longevity in the workspace.
  4.  It’s just perfect for a medium to a large workshop where longer hours need to be finished.
  5. It comes pre-installed, which is a nice bonus.


  1. The design is not very portable.

Related Post: 60 gallon 2 Stage Air Compressor

Advantages – Explained

Industrial Efficiency:- For those of you are looking for a professional option when it comes to air compressors, then the QT-54 is nothing short of a solid choice. As a matter of fact, the power delivery at an efficient pace is really hard to come by.

Longevity:- It’s built for long hours of consistent work in a professional environment. It manages to do it very well.

Disadvantages – Explained

Fixed Option– The size and weight disqualify it in the portability section.

Will this air compressor suit you?

If you’re someone who needs consistency on a grand scale, then you are the perfect match for the QT-54 compressor. It’s meant to deal with the heavy construction loads. So, there shouldn’t be any issues.


This compressor qualifies itself as a heavyweight competitor. So, if you wish to join the ‘Big Boys Club’ then having something efficient like this is probably the right way to go.

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DeWalt DXCMV5076055 Two-Stage Air Compressor

There’s no denying that the makers at DeWalt are superior in their engineering. Otherwise, why would multiple products of the same brand be in our product line up?

The DeWalt Compressor we have at hand is sure to make you happy if you’re indeed a power user. As a matter of fact, the balance of the features and pricing should make anyone happy.

Product Description

As far as the design goes, then you’ll clearly not find any hint of compromise. The shell and the components have very good rigidity overall. And the 175-PSI industrial capacity ensures better efficiency where long hours of use is in the bucket list for a user.

Any air compressor that wants the tag of professional should have the right amount of safety measures conveniently placed. Fortunately, pressure gauges are clearly visible. Even the oil drain has an extension, which is a hint of proper attention to detail.

The motor design along with its fail-safes is also an added bonus here. As the motor runs in an efficient pace, any voltage fluctuation is disregarded because of the safety measures.

And that’s why this is the perfect choice for industrial users.

Product Specification
  • It’s a 5-Horsepower machine that can go up to 175-PSI
  • It can deliver 13.5-SCFM at a 175-PSI.
  • The innovative pump design works at 230-volt that comes with overload protection.
  • The belt guard and pressure gauges are conveniently placed.
  • The oil-drain comes with a 4-inch extension.


  1. The build quality is very solid.
  2.  The temperatures remain very operable.
  3.  The industrial filter design adds to the overall efficiency.
  4.  Its voltage protection works just as advertised.


  1. It’s certainly not geared towards portability.
  2.  The instructions are hazy for anyone to understand.

Advantages – Explained

Build and Temperature:- The build quality and temperature management are both solid. You won’t find too much overheating as there are proper countermeasures in place.

Filter design and overload Protection- The filter design is one of the main plus points of this compressor. It’s got a purpose-made design that allows airflow to be unrestricted.

As for the overload protection- we would be very unhappy if it wasn’t there. It makes your life a bit easier when you have to wander around like a busy bee.

Disadvantages – Explained

Unclear Instructions– This is perhaps a really minor thing. But if something arrives in parts, the instructions should be proper for the price that you’re paying.

Will this air compressor suit you?

We would recommend this product to someone who is one the clock and wants something that will run longer and steadier. If you’re that person, then you could go for it.


There’s no arguing about the capabilities of this compressor. The final decision is in your hands.

Buying a Harbor Freight Air Compressor: Looking for the right pieces of the puzzle

This is perhaps the most important part of this entire harbor freight air compressor review.

There are two goals to this buyer’s guide. One-we wants to help you understand the functionality and the relevant search items. Two-we want to help you make the right choice and make you feel like you aren’t losing any money.

Table of Content

  1. Air Compressor: The Definition
  2. Air Compressor: The Operation
  3. Factors for Air Compressor Classification
  4. Air Compressor: The Three main types
  5. Air Compressor: The possible use cases
  6. Air Compressors: Oil-based vs. Oil-free
  7. Air Compressors: The criteria to get the best available option
  8. Pricing: The very first consideration
  9. Portable or Stationary: Making a choice
  10. Tank Numbers and Stage Numbers: Why do they matter so much?
  11. Power Choices: Electric or Gas?
  12. The Noise Levels: Factors affecting noise
  13. Product Longevity: Warranty and customer support
  14. Air Compressor: The Dangers

Air Compressor: The Definition

So, let’s start by answering the most basic question-what is an air compressor?

To put it in simple terms, an air compressor is an electro-mechanical device that can effectively compress air e.g. oxygen, nitrogen or any other industrial gas.

You achieve compression by simply getting to a lower volume, which is the primary task of a compressor.

Air Compressor: The Operation

Before jumping into the categories and other relevant stuff, it’s imperative to know how exactly an air compressor works.

First of all, it all comes down to the main operating part, which is a machine. Now the fuel may depend on the type of machine you are using, which can either be oil or electricity. It’s basically up to you as to which route you want to take.


Then comes the main operation. You have an inlet valve and an outlet valve. The air is sucked into the inlet valve, which is then compressed by lowering its initial volume.

This compressed-air comes out of the outlet.

The compression and the output can (most of the time) be controlled by the user for the most part.

And that is the mini version of an air compressor operation. It’s pretty easy enough to understand.

So, let’s go over some important terms that you may or may not know.

  • A)  The HorsePower is nothing but the power capacity of the air compressor. This mostly is subjected to the size and capacity of the machine.
  • B) The PSI or Pressure-per-Square-Inch is simply how much pressure a surface experiences on a square inch of space. This is one of the important measurements, as the power tools you may want to use may have specific requirements.
  • C CFM or Cubic-Feet-per-Minute is the measure of the volume of air passing through a confined space or shell. When it comes to the best harbor freight air compressor review, you shouldn’t take this factor lightly. If you end up with a compressor with less cfm than what your job requires, you’ve to crack some nuts to increase the cfm manually.
    • With the CFM measure, comes another term which is called SCFM. The SCFM is more of a controlled measure, where the testing is done is a controlled environment and all the factors like humidity, pressure, and temperature are taken into account.
    • The CFM and PSI measures are highly dependent on their respective weather conditions and machine designs.
    • For instance, a two-stage air compressor harbor freight will naturally have a better CFM rating. And the cold weather conditions also help out to boost the CFM ratings as well.

Now before jumping into the major types of harbor freight gas air compressor, let’s get to know the determining factors first.

Factors for Air Compressor Classification

There are three major types of air compressors, which we will be going through in a moment. But the factors or determiners of these classifications are:

  • Compression stage type and number
  •  The way of cooling
  •  The way it drives
  •  The outer shell types
  •  Lubrication methods

Air Compressor: The Three main types

The three main types of compressors are:

1. Reciprocation Compressor

– The Rotary type of compressor is basically a ‘positive displacement’ machine.

This implies that air is sucked into a confined space in increasing volumes. Then the inner mechanism takes the air to a lower volume, hence increasing the pressure. In short, you have a piston that can compress and displace air or simple compress and expand the pressure.

Based on the configuration, you can either get a ‘Single Acting Compressor’ or a ‘Double Acting Compressor’. The single-acting compressor only uses one side of the piston. And the double-sided one relies on the two sides.

Also, these compressors typically range from 1 HP to 50HP (HP= Horse Power – 1HP is equivalent to 4 CFM or Cubic Feet per minute at 100 PSI or Pressure per Square Inch.

But commercially available units are either single-stage or double-stage.

  •  Single Stage: Pressure range is 70 to 100 PSI
  •  Double Stage: Pressure range is 100 to 250 PSI

The commercial versions are of reciprocating compressors are either oil-filled or vice versa. Also, they can come in either water-cooling or air-cooling configurations.

2. Rotary Screw Compressor

– The rotary screw compressors have a single-stage option that comes with a helical lobe screw compressor. These types of compressors have rotor in them that work to compress the air. You won’t find any valves with these options.

These positive displacement machines are oil-cooled and don’t have much of a problem with heating. The main advantages with such compressors are size and operational control. They can either be controlled via variable-speed or compression control.

3. Rotary Centrifugal Compressor

– These compressors have a higher capacity than some of the other options out there. The operation of centrifugal compressors depends on the energy placement, which happens between the rotor and the air.

The centrifugal compressors are dependent on the angular momentum produced by the rotation of an impeller. This process requires high speed and power, which is quite likely to take manual action. For this reason, centrifugal compressors are more powerful and are good for heavy industrial applications.

The oiled parts of the centrifugal compressors aren’t connected, which implies that these compressors are oil-less in terms of operation. Simply because of the non-stop airflow, you can use them for higher capacity tasks.

Air Compressor: The possible use cases

There are a lot of use cases when it comes to an air compressor. Here are a few common use cases where you will find the typical use of an air compressor.

 1. Spray Painting: A practice in the modern auto shops

Spray painting has become exceedingly popular over the years. In the automotive industry, there are scientists who are solely responsible for the paint job on a car. And when it comes to spray painting, there are a lot of variables in play. You get the idea.

2. Power Tools: Compressors have a role to play

There are various power tools that need an air compressor to operate. For instance, a pneumatic air gun for construction work is the new standard in a professional workspace. There are other power tools like power welders and drilling equipment that often need the help of an air compressor.

3. Tire Pressure: The most important on them all

It is one of the many reasons as to why someone would want an air compressor.

The average tire typically needs a pressure adjustment every 3 to 4 months. That’s simply because of the fact that for an average user, tires usually loose around 3-PSI per month.

Now let’s assume that you’re a professional who needs a compressor on a daily basis in the chop shop. If that’s the case, then you probably won’t need to pay extra to get your tires pumped up and ready.

So, the benefit is two-fold here. One, you get to use your compressor for work. Two, you get to use them for your personal chores as well. It’s as simple as that.

Air Compressors: Oil-based vs. Oil-free

The title of this section is very self-explanatory.

Oil-based air compressors have oil lubricated parts. It implies that the innards of an oil-based compressor design have lubricants applied to avoid any sort of damage.

This offers two things. One, you will get better longevity in contrast to an oil-free air compressor. Two, heavy tools will be able to run longer in such configurations.

But the only problem with such designs is the fact that they need regular maintenance. The lubricant won’t last forever. Also, there are some materials that can get damaged if there are any oil spills. Sanders, for example, mostly require oil-free compressors.

Then there’s the oil-free design. These types of compressors typically have lower capacities and power output.

The main advantage with such designs is lower maintenance. As there are no lubricants involved, there isn’t much maintenance needed overall.

But the problem here is longevity. Such oil-less designs won’t last long if you’re using them for high-load applications. Also, the power ratings are much lower as well.

Overall, depending on the application, we would advise you to choose wisely.

Air Compressors: The criteria to get the best available option

Now it’s probably the right time to introduce the main observations for buying the right product in thus harbor freight air compressor review. 

Before getting started, there’s one small thing you need to keep in mind.

We can only show you the ways that can help you find the right choice. Other than that, if you don’t commit to at least the base level research, then the possibilities of you getting busted are high.

All we are asking for you to do is to maintain a sense of research. Just try and dig a bit deeper to find out exactly what you want and why you want it.


Pricing: The very first consideration

You should never compromise with pricing. It is the very thing that can make or break your day.

With pricing concerns, there are a few major considerations involved. And those are usability, spacing and resale value.

In terms of use case, you need to have a clear idea about what will you use the air compressor for. The frequency and depth of your endeavors are a big deal when it comes to spending money, whatever the amount may be.

Also, if you’re thinking of using the compressor for your workshop, then measuring the space is probably a good idea. If this becomes an afterthought, then you may be facing issues with longevity.

And the last thing you should consider is the resale value. If your needs are not that great, then you probably shouldn’t give it too much of a thought. But if you intend to get rid of your current air compressor, then you may want to go with some of the established brands out there.

If all of the above-mentioned boxes are checked out, then you are sure to come out victorious in the long-run.

Portable or Stationary: Making a choice

These are the two main options you will find out there.

In general, stationary compressors have a higher HP and CFM levels, they are very efficient when it comes to continuous workloads for longer periods of time.

But, with higher performance, you need to happy with sacrificing a few key features. One of them is portability. Moving large units from one place to the other will often seem like an impossible task if you are going for larger units.

And the second problem is maintenance.

This is the usual caveat with any mechanical part out there. After a certain period of time, it requires maintenance no matter what. And the problem with higher capacity units is the fact that they need extra care, on a regular basis in some cases. 

In contrast to the bulkier air compressor units, the miniature options are much easier to use. Usually, the best air compressor for the home garage has portability as one of its metrics.

We believe you’ve found the problem already.

Portable units are typically small and don’t take up much room. It also implies that their output is also very minor compared to the heavy industrial options.

In the end, it all comes down to your own personal preferences. Your workload will help you to make your choice for you.

Our review mostly covers some of the best portable options out there. Although the higher capacity options do have some weight to them, they cover their weight issues with the other distinctive features. So, you may want to check out the reviews for more info.


Tank Numbers and Stage Numbers: Why do they matter so much?

The rule of thumb here is very simple. The higher the number, the better the performance.

For instance, two-tank compressor setups have a higher CFM output rating than a single-tank compressor. Of course, you are sacrificing the size aspect here on a whole.

The same goes for stage numbers as well. A two-stage design offers more PSI ratings because of the compression stages. In contrast, the PSI ratings for a single-stage compressor will be much lower.

In short, it will all depend on your workflow. For hardcore professionals going with higher numbers will certainly yield higher results. But, be mindful of the fact that they will cost more than your typical options.

Power Choices: Electric or Gas?

If you’re looking for the best shop air compressor, then a gas compressor is certainly the way to go.

Gas compressors are still dominant when it comes to high-powered tool usage. They can manage higher workloads better and longer on a whole.

But electric compressors are also becoming more and more popular each day. But, due to the power management and other restraints, they aren’t really up there with gas-operated options.

We would recommend going with a gas compressor if you have to deal with heavy loads on a daily basis. If that’s not the case, then it couldn’t hurt to try out an electric compressor for a change.

The Noise Levels: Factors affecting noise

Even in an industrial setting, 80 to 90 decibels noise level is plenty. But that’s the typical noise level for an air compressor. If your model has got any higher dB label, you might have to put some extra effort to make the compressor quiet.

If the machine has only run a few weeks, then you could get away with 75 decibels. But, as the weeks and months pass on, slowly but surely, the noise levels will keep on going upwards.

When it comes to noise levels, then the intake is the first thing that you should look at. If the intake valve is somehow jammed, due to the debris, the air may not get in properly.

‘Friction’ is another name for increased noise levels. Although there are moving parts inside a compressor that will generate noise, the lack of lubrication is often a cause for increased noise levels.

Another important factor to consider here is the material along with its vibration. Usually, with high-end brands, their choice of material makes noise levels very bearable, for longer periods of time of course. But cheaper brands often try to cut corners here. And that, in time, contributes to the increase in noise levels.

All of the above-mentioned facts are crucial when it comes to getting the best air compressor. So, we would recommend talking to sales reps to verify the integrity of the compressor.

Product Longevity: Warranty and customer support

It is pretty obvious that you will run into some sort of snag every now and then. Even in this harbor freight air compressor review, we can’t guarantee that any of our options will run indefinitely without any problems.

And that’s where the aspect of warranty and customer support comes in.

Do check the warranty and the customer support options if you are about to make a purchase. Brand value is a pretty important factor in this case.

Proper brands always try to take care of their customers whatever the reason may be. But with cheap brands, claiming the warranty is often a major snag.

So, in order to get the best possible value, you should always check out the brand value. Then you should move on with a purchase. A good idea is to check out the website of the respected brand to find out more information.

Air Compressor: The Dangers

Modern air compressors are very reliable. Still, there are always some dangers that can potentially cause trouble. Here are some possible scenarios and their remedies for air compressors.

A. The first problem is the shell getting ruptured. It’s a potential hazard that is the common, but very unlikely.

In general, if the outer shell is somehow damaged or perhaps the pressure is too much, then there is the possibility of a vessel rupture.

In order to avoid such a hazard, you should consult the user manual to check on the pressure levels. Another important thing to check is the cut-off valve, which can release all the pressure inside a compressor in a jiffy.

There are also safety regulators. You may want to check their working conditions as well.

B. Excessive heating is another potential hazard that needs to address. Often times due to faulty inner parts, the compressor tries to work too hard. And this results in overheating.

In general, dirt and grime buildup is the prime reason for overheating.

If the suction pump is somehow full of dirt and grime, then the suction won’t be running in a regular way. This will cause excessive compression, which in turn causes the overheating.

Also, if the compressor is somehow choked in a confined space, it will also cause overheating.

So, the possible remedy for this problem is to simply keep the parts clean as a whistle. Also, try to keep the compressor in an open space so that the suction isn’t choked.

C. Leaking is one of the common problems with air compressors. And this problem only persists in oil-based designs.

When some sort of a leak occurs, it’s not the wise move to keep using the compressor without taking care of the problem.

The leaking occurs because of the lubrication of the inside parts. So, if you encounter oil leaking, the first thing to do is open the leaking plug or the sump bolt. This will instantly get rid of the excess oil.

After this, conduct a thorough search of the oil chamber or piston chamber. Give it a thorough clean and check for any type of damage.

D. There’s no way of getting around any physical damage. Although there are very rare instances, it’s still a hazard nonetheless.

What happens is that if you point the hose at someone’s body, compressed air may find its way into that person’s body. And that’s where the problem starts.

The compressed air can cause an embolism, which is the medical term for a blockage in the blood vessel because of the air bubbles into which somehow found their way into the bloodstream. It can be the cause of paralysis or even death in extreme cases.

So, think twice before pointing the hose of a running compressor onto someone’s body.

This section doesn’t really highlight any potential decision-making element. Still, they can help you with the searching process if something ever happens. Also, you now know how important it really is to check out the integrity of a product before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Is Central Pneumatic a good air compressor?

For a company that’s been serving its customers for more than 30 years, there shouldn’t be any question about its quality.

Is there any time limit on how long an air compressor can run?

Well, it all depends on the duty ratio.

Let’s say the compressor has a 50% duty cycle. So, if it can run for 12-minutes or so, then it will stay on for 6-minutes and stay off for 6-minutes. The higher the duty ratio, the better the overall output efficiency.

What type of oil will suit my air compressor?

You should always be careful about what type of oil you will be using.

It is safe to use a 20 or 30 weight oil. That is of course if the oil doesn’t have any detergent component within. It can cause damage to the entire system.

We would recommend checking with the manufacturer for more information on this part.

How often should I change the oil?

The answer to this question is only for the oil-based air compressors.

The general rule of thumb is to change the oil every 8 to 10 hours. Then, every 20 hours, the oil should be topped off. Sum it all up, and you have somewhere around 115 to 120 hours cycle for changing the oil.

Are air compressors loud?

You are basically dealing with a tool that pushes air into power tools. So, we think you should use earmuffs for ear protection. Because 65 to 85 decibels or higher is usually a lot. And for faulty machines, its usually more than 90 decibels.

How do you break in an air compressor?

Follow these simple steps to break into an air compressor:
1. If the compressor has an oil-based design, then fill the crankcase with oil.
2. Totally drain the tank by opening the valve.
3. Plug the air compressor in and let it run for 15 to 20 minutes.

After that, turn the compressor down and shut off the drain valve.

Is it necessary to inject air into a compressor?

Yes. Think of it as a priming process for the compressor to start.

In general, there is a pressure switch on the control array that lets the pump take in air. And that’s how the compressor starts its initial operation.

Does the ‘hose length’ variable play a role in the overall compressor performance?

It does.

In real-life situations, grabbing a hose with more diameter and length can be very helpful indeed. There are various situations where a hose with a decent length and diameter will outperform a regular hose. It may be costly, but you can always reap the fruits of the cost later on.

Is there any possibility of an air compressor explosion?

This phenomenon is rare. But there are incidences of shell rupture due to extreme level of pressure.

Usually, pressure gauges do come with air compressors these days. So, there’s really no need to worry.

You could check back with the buying guide we have included with this review. There’s a dedicated section to air compressor shell rupture.

It could come in handy.

Are there any limits to the air compressor cycle?

The usual recommendation is to run 4-cycles per hour. It’s proven to ensure a better overall lifecycle.

What are the possible reasons for an air compressor failure?

The main reason is coil failure. 90% of it’s the key issue.

The reason behind coil failure is grime and condensation. Grime and condensation are responsible for clogging up the coil. For this reason, the circulation cycle eventually breaks down.

Is it advised to leave air inside the compressor?

It is recommended that you drain the system after use.

Once you’re done with your air compressor, simply let the air out. Also, open the drain valve and let all the water out. This solves two issues.

One, there’s no possibility of water getting into unwanted areas. Two, your compressor will stay free from any sort of corrosion or damage.

How much time does it usually take to build pressure?

The CFM ratings play an important role in these timings. The higher the CFM, the better.

In general, the pressure building process shouldn’t take more than 4 to 5 minutes of time. Anything more than that usually indicates some sort of problems.

What is the average life expectancy of a reciprocating air compressor?

If it’s properly taken care of, a reciprocating compressor should last a good 10 years or even more.

Final Thoughts

We’re pretty sure you’re tired of taking in all the information.

Well, it certainly will do you no harm. As a matter of fact, we’re confident that you will find that correct option that suits you.

When it comes to tools like a compressor, our harbor freight air compressor review pretty much covers all the important aspects of making the right decision. Other than the review, the expansive buying guide should be more than enough for an average user.

And that’s what matters to us the most. We can pretty much guarantee you won’t miss out on anything important.

See you again soon.

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