The Best 6 Gallon Air Compressor – Our Top 10 Picks

After a lengthy process trying to find the best 6 gallon air compressor on the market, we’ve come up with a list of ten recommendations.

There’s a full guide later on, but for now take a look at the reviews below to see the top choices for price, popularity and performance.

Preview
Best Budget Option
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
Highly Recommended
PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit
Our Top Pick
BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT 3-Tool Portable Air Compressor Combo Kit
Product
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit
BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT 3-Tool Portable Air Compressor Combo Kit
Rating
4.1
4.3
4.3
Price
$137.99
from $227.95
from $99.00
Best Budget Option
Preview
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
Product
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
Rating
4.1
Price
$137.99
Highly Recommended
Preview
PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit
Product
PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit
Rating
4.3
Price
from $227.95
Our Top Pick
Preview
BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT 3-Tool Portable Air Compressor Combo Kit
Product
BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT 3-Tool Portable Air Compressor Combo Kit
Rating
4.3
Price
from $99.00

The Best 6 Gallon Air Compressors Reviewed

Finding an air compressor that’s a good fit for your garage, workshop or business can be tricky.

As you’re dealing with stored potential energy you’ll want a compressor that’s safe, reliable, and easy to use.

All of the air compressors on our list tick these boxes.  There are eight 6 gallon air compressors listed, plus one slightly larger, and one slightly smaller alternative.

1. BOSTITCH 3-Tool Portable Air Compressor Combo Kit

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

best 6 gallon air compressorThis 3-Tool Combo Kit by BOSTITCH is the Best-Seller and our Number 1 Pick.

The compressor features a 150 max PSI 6 gallon tank and a high efficiency motor that has an easy start up feature for use in cold weather.

It’s a cordless compressor with an easy to use oil-free (and maintenance-free) pump, which allows for a long run time and quick recovery.

Its operational noise level is just 78.5 dBA, which is ideal for a quiet working environment.

The air-hose is a generous 15 feet long for easy maneuverability.

The kit includes: 6-gallon Pancake Compressor; Brad Nailer; Straight Finish Nailer; Heavy Duty Crown Stapler; Air Hose; and Sample Fasteners.

It comes with a 1 year warranty, and you can purchase it without the additional accessories if you’d prefer.

This air compressor scores consistently higher than any other – the rating above is based on over 1,000 independent user reviews!

Things we like:

  • Less than 3 minutes to reach the maximum 150 psi
  • The tank fills fast, the motor is powerful and yet very quiet
  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • No air leakage
  • Easy for beginners to operate

Things we don’t like:

  • The quality of the accessories and the hose aren’t amazing

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2. PORTER-CABLE 3-Tool Combo Kit

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

porter cable 3 tool combo kitA close runner up is this Combo Kit from Porter-Cable which is includes a 6 gallon, 150 psi compressor.

It features a maintenance-free pump and an 120V electric unit which can run on a standard household current.

Weighing just 30lbs it’s super portable, and comes with a 25 foot air hose with a coupler and plug, plus a belt hook accessory and fasteners.

The compressor comes with a Finish Nailer, Brad Nailer and a Heavy Duty Crown Stapler.

A 1-year limited warranty on the compressor components is included as standard.

Very unlucky not be named number 1, this is an excellent choice.

Things we like

  • Great price for the air compressor and the three tools
  • All triggers are responsive and easy to use
  • No break-in period required, the pressure is easy to adjust
  • All couplings and gauges seem sturdy

Things we don’t like

  • It isn’t as quiet as the Bostitch

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3. DeWALT 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor

Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

dewalt 6 gallon pancake compressorThis 6 Gal Pancake Compressor from DeWALT represents excellent value for money.

It has a high efficiency motor, which starts easily in the cold.

The air compressor has a 165 max PSI air pressure, which is higher than most compressors in this category.

The 6 gallon tank can deliver 2.6 standard cubic feet per minute at 90 pounds per square inch.

It has a long time with quick recovery and works at a quiet 75.5 dBA.

The air tool is regulated by a high flow regulator, while the long-life oil-free pump allows for operation without maintenance.

Comes with two universal couplers to support two users and has thermal overload protection to prevent overheating.

The DeWalt weighs just 30 lb making it portable and easy to store.

For a standalone air compressor without all the flutes and whistles, this should be your first choice.

Things we like

  • It’s nice and quiet
  • High-flow regulator for increased performance
  • Features protective rubber leg covers

Things we don’t like

  • Two people can’t use it that effectively at the same time

Buy on Amazon

 

4. Ridgid 6 Gallon Portable Electric Pancake Air Compressor

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

ridgid 6 gallon portable electric pancake compressorThis portable electric pancake compressor by Ridgid has a 6 gallon tank that reduces the cycle frequency to 150 MAX psi for tough jobs.

It can provide 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi for high air-delivery and has a maximum performance Universal motor for superior starting, even with low voltage.

The tool works with an oil-free pump offering reliable performance and little to no maintenance.

It comes with a locking regulator to prevent unwanted pressure changes.

The ball valve drains the tank quickly with one turn.

There are also two universal couplers that are easily plugged.

Ridgid’s compressor is well made and easy to use, making it a solid choice.

Things we like:

  • Reliable, with hose connections
  • The drain valve is conveniently tucked just under the rim of the tank

Things we don’t like:

  • A bit noisier compared to some others

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5. Campbell Hausfeld Quiet Air Compressor – 6 Gallon Pancake

Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

campbell hausfeld best quiet air compressor - 6 gallon pancakeCampbell Hausfeld’s 6 Gallon Pancake Compressor is one of the quietest units on the market.

It works at just 68 dBa, which is up to 50% quieter than some of it’s main rivals to guarantee as quiet a working environment as you’re likely to find.

It features a long life, oil-free air compressor pump, marketed as maintenance-free for long term use.

Its key components apparently last up to four times longer and it produces 25% more air compared to other 1.0 HP compressor motors.

Comes in a pancake design with a dual piston pump system which results in durability and high performance.

With a max PSI of 125 it’s ideal for a variety of projects including nailing and bolting, stapling, fastening and hobby painting.

This is a great product from a great brand.

Things we like

  • Quiet operation – one of the quietest air compressors in the industry
  • Reliable power with a maximum PSI of 125
  • Oil and maintenance free, this portable air compressor offers a user-friendly experience.

Things we don’t like

  • None that we can think of.

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6. California Air Tools Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 5.5 gallon Aluminum Portable Air Compressor

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

california air tools 5.5 gallon alluminum best portable air compressorThis Electric Air Compressor by California Air Tools is an oil-free tool that boasts ultra-quiet operating levels of just 60 decibels.

It features a very powerful 1.0 HP motor.  It achieves that power with only 1,680 RPM, which results in less wear and less noise.

The aim was to increase the duty cycle to receive longer continuous run times, which it achieves.

The air compressor has a dual piston pump system for durability and high performance and a life cycle of of 3,000 Plus hours before wear.

The CAT-5510A, as its known, comes with one of the largest air tanks in the business, but at just 37.5 lbs and with a handy wheel kit, it’s very easy to move around.

Things we like:

  • Ultra Quiet air compressor of only 60 Decibels
  • Oil-Free Pump allowing for less maintenance and lower costs
  • 5 Gallon Rust Free Aluminum Tank with wheels
  • Powerful 1.0 HP Motor

Things we don’t like:

  • It’s capacity is actually 5.5 gallons, not 6

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7. Goplus Oil-Free Pancake Air Compressor

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

goplus oil free best pancake air compressorThis 6 Gallon, 150 PSI, 1.5HP Compressor from Goplus features an oil-free air pancake design that’s portable and quiet.

It’s ideal for use at home, in the machinery, chemical and mechanical industries, and other fields where compressed air is required.

The air compressor is equipped with an ergonomic handle which makes it is easy to control.

GoPlus’ leading model comes with a strong 0.5 horsepower 2 pole universal motor power, that can dramatically increase your working efficiency.

It is easy to start up in cold weather and it features a thermal overload protector and a built-in quick coupler for convenient air hose connection.

As far as air compressors go, this one’s fairly green, with energy conserving and environmental protecting features.

Things we like:

  • Oil-free pump and lightweight design
  • No maintenance needed
  • Adjustable output pressure for a variety of jobs
  • Smooth and reliable operation
  • 4 damping bases for extra stability

Things we don’t like:

  • None that we can think of

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8. JEGS Performance 6 Gallon Air Compressor

jegs performance 6 gallon air compressorJEGS’ pancake style compressor has a decent 1.5 HP motor.

It comes with an power output of 2.5 CFM at 90PSI.

The noise from the air compressor reaches 90 Db, which makes it quite noisy for indoor use, so do bear that in mind if you’re considering it.

The kit comes with a 3′ 6′ Power Cord 19.5″ H x 16″ Dia. 32.6 lbs. and an overload protection feature.

It’s fairly new on the market so user feedback is a bit scarce – time will tell if it deserves a higher place in our Top 10.

Things we like

  • The air delivery: 2.5 CFM @ 90 PSI
  • The low maintenance oil free design
  • The pancake style tank for extra stability
  • The protective shroud which prevents damage to vital motor parts and plumbing

Things we don’t like

  • The noise from the air compressor reaches 90 Db, which is quite noisy

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9. California Air Tools Oil-Free 8 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

california air tools 8 gallon ultra quiet air compressorAn alternative suggestion for those who want a larger air compressor, this ultra-quiet unit from California Air Tools , like the 5.5 gallon model reviewed above, is super quiet, working at just 60 decibels.

Again it features a powerful 1.0 HP motor that operates at only 1,680 RPM.

The air compressor uses an oil-free dual piston pump system which guarantees high performance and durability.

Its life cycle reaches 3000 plus hours and can be used in uneven terrain and a variety of temperatures.

The 8.0 Gallon Steel Air Tank is lightweight (54 lbs) and its wheel kit makes it very easy to transport.

This air compressor is ideal for anyone working inside where noise is a major issue.

Things we like:

  • Ultra quiet, just 60 Decibels.
  • The time to fill tank from empty to full – 165 Seconds
  • Less Maintenance and Costs thanks to the Oil-Free Pump
  • Maximum Pressure – 120 PSI

Things we don’t like:

  • Aesthetically the weld finish around the tank could be a bit better

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10. Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP 4.2 Gallon Portable Air Compressor

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

makita big bore 2.5 hp portable air compressorThe final product on our list is an alternative for those who’d consider a slightly smaller air compressor.

This 4.2 Gallon Option by Makita comes equipped with their Big Bore engineered pump cylinder and also a piston for higher output.

It can handle two nailers with less noise for improved job site performance.

The Makita has a highly durable build, for tough job site conditions and can deliver industrial level power to match them.

The Big Bore piston and cylinder are larger than those in standard compressors, so they compress more air on each stroke.

The twin-stacked 4.2 gallon tank maintains an operating pressure of 130 PSI, and delivers 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM).

Portability and additional protection are provided by the roll bar handle.

This air compressor gets amazing feedback from users – the rating above is abased on nearly 600 independent reviews!

Things we like

  • Versatile Design for a Range of Applications
  • Convenient oil drain and oil sight glass
  • Low noise, high output and less maintenance
  • Industrial power and improved durability under tough job site conditions

Things we don’t like

  • None that we can think of

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So, Which One’s The Best?

All of the air products on our list are excellent options.  They’ve each been around for long enough to receive hundreds, and in some cases thousands of positive reviews.  You’ll get quality, whichever one you choose.

But, if you really pressed us to pick the best 6 gallon air compressor, we’d have to go with the Bostitch.  The combo kit comes with a series of nail guns which are incredibly handy if you don’t already have them.  However the compressor itself is well worth the price, regardless of the accessories.

bostitch 3 tool portable air compressor combo kitIt’s powerful, reliable, quiet and easy to use.  Of all of the products listed it’s received the most positive feedback, and it’s the best seller by a mile.

Porter Cable’s combo kit is a very close second and to be honest if at the time of purchase it’s cheaper than the Bostitch you may as well go with it – there’s really not a lot of difference, save for the Bostitch has been around for longer.

For value for money, and for a standalone 6 gallon air compressor without that comes without any additional accessories DeWalt’s 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor should be your first choice.

Complete Guide To Buying A 6 Gallon Air Compressor

An air compressor is a device that is able to convert power into potential energy, storing it as compressed air.

They use a diesel or gasoline engine, or an electric motor, to force the air into a storage tank to increase the pressure inside.

Then, as the tank pressure reaches its limit, the air compressor shuts off, and the compressed air is stored in the tank until needed.

At the point during use when the tank pressure reaches its lower limit, the air compressor turns on and the process starts all over again to re-pressurize the tank.

The air compressor differs from the pump, since it works for any air and gas, while the pump works on liquids.

In this guide we’ll run through everything you need to know about air compressors, the different types and your options on which to buy.

We’ll also take a look at some important things you need to consider when purchasing an air compressor for a home garage or small workshop.

But before we go any further check out this handy clip on how an air compressor works, and what to look for in a good one:

Air Compressor Types And How They Work

If you are new to the world of air compressors, the impressive number of options can seem a bit overwhelming.

They are initially divided into three groups based on the pressure delivered:

Low Pressure Units

These discharge pressure of 150 psi or less;

Medium Pressure Units

These discharge pressure between 151 psi and 1,000 psi

High Pressure Units

These discharge pressure of above 1,000 psi.

Then, depending on the principle of their operation and their design, air compressors and be classified as single-stage and two –stage reciprocating compressors, compound compressors, rotary-screw and rotary-vane compressors, scroll and turbo compressors, as well as centrifugal compressors

Key Distinctions

Air compressors have a wide range of uses, which commonly include the supply of high-pressure air to fill gas cylinders, and the supply of moderate-pressure to fill tires and power pneumatic tools.

specificationsOil Injection

AC pumps can can be either oil-less or oil-injected.  You’ll probably have notice that all of the products on our list are of the oil-less variety commonly used in 6 gallon models to keep maintenance to a minimum.

Oil-less compressors are more technical and provide better air quality, but are louder and more expensive compared to oil-injected units.

Power Source

Air compressors can utilize different power sources, with gas, diesel and electricity the most common.

The power of the air compressors is measured in cubic feet per minute of intake air, and the gallon size of the tank specifies the volume of the compressed air that is available.

Those that are powered by gas or diesel are usually used in remote areas where there is no electricity. They need ventilation for the exhaust gases and are quite noisy.

Electric powered air compressors are commonly used in domestic and light industrial workshops and garages where there is a permanent electrical power supply.

Portability

Depending on their size and purpose they can be either portable or stationary. And depending on the tank shape, the air compressors could be horizontal and vertical, twin tank or pancake.

The choice of the right air compressor should be closely linked to the project that you will be working on and whether the tool needs to be portable or not.

Our guide features mainly small units that can be easily stored, but which are powerful enough to be used on various projects, including light industrial and commercial use.

Important Features

People use air compressors for a variety of jobs, but most often they’re used as air tools for pneumatic equipment like pneumatic nail guns and impact wrenches, as well as for spray painting and inflating tires.

air compressor in actionLet’s take at some important things you should know before buying one for any of these tasks.

The Tank

Most people don’t need a compressor with a large tank – a six-gallon tank can provide more than enough power for most jobs.

That said, most buyers go for a compressor between six to eight-gallons, which is why we’ve included a slightly larger option for those who might want that extra bit of capacity for bigger jobs.

Air compressors around this size are convenient and easy to use.  They require no oil changes and almost no maintenance.

They come with drain valves which allow the compressor to go from full to empty very quickly.

PSI

Pounds per square inch estimates the maximum pressure that an air compressor can produce.

This is one of the most important factors that you should consider before buying.

Units that are capable of a higher PSI can perform as good as those with a bigger tank, and better than those with equal-sized tank with less PSI.

The higher the PSI, the less time you need for the tank to refill.

A higher PSI will also allow you to take on bigger jobs, and to complete them faster.

CFM

The cubic Feet per Minute indicates the mass of the air flow at the given pounds per square inch (PSI).

Noise Levels

noisyMost of the air compressors listed operate around the mid 80 decibel range when measured from five feet away.

The ones that operate around the 60 decibel level are considered quiet.

Weight

6 gallon air compressors are intended to be portable.

No-one wants to drag a heavy air compressor up a flight of stairs, right?

So, choose the right unit for the type of job you intend to carry out.  If you do need to take it up and down stairs, consider whether the smaller 4.2 gallon compressor by Makita might be a better option.  It has a handy roll bar for protection and easy carrying, and it’s super powerful as we’ve seen.

Portable, lightweight units are now well powered, and have become very popular of late.

Oil-free air compressors have become very popular as in they avoid the hassle of having to continuously replace the oil.

However, do note that you still have to regularly drain the air tank to keep water vapour from collecting.

Routine maintenance is something that should be done regularly to ensure that your air compressor is running efficiently, and to make sure that there are no leaks.

This might include replacement of the air compressor fittings or checking the differential pressure in the compressed air filter.

Wondering how to use an air compressor?  Take a look at this clip from howcast:

Accessories

Some of the air compressors that we’ve reviewed come with a  raft of accessories.

If possible, go for a complete set to avoid searching for extra items after the event – you wouldn’t want to fork out unnecessarily for an extra piece at a later date would you?

Usually there is a main unit that could be used right out of the box, warranty information and instruction manual.

There’s no standard list of accessories for to accompany air compressors, and every manufacturer is different – save for they all want your money so may throw anything into the offer to convince you to part with it.

In the case of those on our list, in particular the Bostitch and the Porter Cable, we have to say that the additional extras represent great value for money, and that the compressor in each case is worth the price on its own.

Things You Should Look For When Buying An Air Compressor

Since, we presume, your aim is to get an air compressor mainly for home or light industrial use, the choice should be quite easy.

magnifying glassIf you live in a small to mid-size home, close to your neighbors, in a quiet neighborhood, or plan to use it in an enclosed garage, then get an air compressor with low dBA.

You can search for small units that have a large tank, which will allow you to handle a wide range of projects.

A small unit with a small tank will allow for easy storage and the noise level will still be ok.

If you live in a large home, or set away from your neighbors, then you can go for a larger air compressor, since the dBA will not be so much of an issue.

In general, all sized units are ideal for large homes, so the choice depends on the individual and the type of projects planned.

When looking for a home based air compressor that’s electrical, consider the cord length and the location of the outlet.  Sounds obvious, but we’ve made this mistake before!

Make An Informed Decision

Hopefully we’ve given you enough information to make a good decision on what’s the best 6 gallon air compressor for you.

Since there are no bad eggs on our list, and they’re all designed to last for a long time, whichever one you choose will do fine.

That said, electric powered air compressors are the models of the future, they have fast refill time and are usually quieter, so bear that in mind when making your decision.

Best Brands

attention noticePicking the right air compressor will come down to the nature of the project you’re working on, and probably price.

All of the air compressors on our list are small yet powerful enough for a large variety of projects.   They’re also all very well priced.

They all come from reputable companies that have a strong reputation in this market.

If however you’re not familiar with these brands, but do want to shop based on those with the best reputation, there are three in particular that you should consider.

They are BOSTITCH, Dewalt, and Campbell Hausfeld.

FAQs

question marksQ: How much does an air leak cost?

A: You should eliminate air leaks to save money. The cost of a 1.8″ air leak at 100 psi costs about $ 0.31 per hour.

Q: What is the hidden cost of bad air quality?

A: Bad air results in repair costs plus replacement costs and lost benefits.

Q: How much water is generated by the air system?

A: One 100 CFM compressor can generate around 18 gallons per day at 90° F and 50 percent RH. Approximately 60 % of that moisture will be removed by the after cooler. The remainder can get into your compressed air system if no dryer is installed.

Q: What size piping is needed to minimize the pressure drop?

A: This has to do with the CFM capacity of your air compressors, the required pressure and the total length of piping. A standard table can be used to determine the size of pipe required to minimize pressure drop.

Q: How much maintenance will my compressor need?

A: Change the oil filter as the manufacturer suggests. Clean or replace the air filter on a regular basis. And remember to drain condensate from the tank regularly.  That should do it.

Q: Which key areas of the compressor will need maintenance?

A: Look out for signs of wear and tear on the heat exchanger surfaces, air lubricant separators, lubricant, lubricant filters and the air inlet filter.

Wrapping It Up

Thanks for taking the time to read our guide.  We hope you found it helpful and you have everything you need to pick the right 6 gallon air compressor for you.

As you know our top pick, and the best all-round option is the 3-Tool Portable Air Compressor Combo Kit by Bostitch.

It has a 150 max PSI 6 gallon tank and a 2.6 SCFM high efficiency motor. It’s easy to start up in cold weather, comes with an extension cord, features oil-free maintenance, needs less than three minutes to reach maximum power and is relatively quiet to operate.

bostitch air compressor

Buy on Amazon

Porter Cable’s Combo kit is just as good and you should give it serious consideration if at the time of purchase the price is more competitive than the Bostitch.

If you’re looking for a standalone compressor then the Dewalt takes some beating.   You don’t get all the bells and whistles in terms of accessories that the two kits above boast, but you do get a great 6 gallon air compressor at a great price.

So, which one die you choose?  Let us know below.  We’d love to hear from you.

What next?  You might be interested in our guide to the best air impact wrench for lug nuts.

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