A quiet air compressor is a pneumatic device that uses either an electric motor, gasoline or diesel engine to transform power into potential energy that’s stored in the form of compressed air/ pressurized air.
A compressor forces air into a tank hence increasing the pressure. Upon the air stored in the storage tank reaches the engineered upper limit, the air compressor automatically shuts off. The compressed air in the storage tank is held until when needed for use. After the air in the storage tank is used up or reaches the engineered lower limits, the air compressor turns on again to repressurize the tank.
According to a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website, the use of regular air compressors (over 100 decibels) is one of the leading causes of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.
If you frequently use air compressors and want to avoid the risk of NIHL, it’s highly recommended you invest a quiet air compressor and implement other measures that will keep noise levels down.
The best quiet air compressor is California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor with 56 decibels noise ratings.
What to Consider When Buying a Quiet Air Compressor
There are factors to consider when investing in the best quiet air compressor. It’s essential to take these factors into consideration to get a compressor that meets your specific requirements.
It’s obvious you want a quiet air compressor- for this reason, the decibel levels play an important role.
As earlier mentioned, something below 79 decibels is considered quiet to avoid the risk of induced hearing loss and noise pollution to your next-door neighbors, a quiet compressor is a must.
The quietest air compressor in this guide is California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor rated 56 decibels. However, other options are considered quiet, with all below 79 decibels.
PSI CFM ratings and HP
Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) ratings are important when buying an air compressor. They tell the amount of air the unit will supply during a cycle.
Compressors with higher CFM ratings will provide more air, making them best for larger applications.
Your best would be something with a range of 0.6 to 5 CFM at 90PSI. If you’ll be using the unit as a supplementary compressor for a larger one, consider a range between 0.6-2cfm.
A compressor with 3CFM is excellent for powering light tools and other DIY projects, while 4-5CFM is perfect for a busy workshop.
Another important factor is pounds per square inch (PSI), which measures the amount of pressure per square inch of space. It’s the amount of force your compressor can deliver.
Horsepower (HP) is the amount of power a motor can perform. This factor is not as crucial as CFM and PSI because newer models work just fine even with less HP. Less HP will help save energy bills.
The bigger the tank capacity, the more air it will hold. Large tanks are great, especially if you will be undertaking major projects and can handle two or more tools simultaneously.
However, for simple DIY projects, you’ll do fine with a medium-sized tank.
Oil-Free or Oil Lubricated
Oil-free air compressors require little to no maintenance. They are mostly preferred over oil-lubricated counterparts.
Lubricated ones require regular maintenance checks and you to continually check that oil doesn’t drip into the air tank.
For example, Makita MAC2400 Big Bore is the only air compressor in this guide that requires oil lubrication.
Types of Quiet Air Compressors?
Air compressors are essential tools in a rental or construction business. These devices power a wide range of tools from air sprayers, pneumatic wrenches, paint sprayers, and nailers.
It’s important to note that not every air compressor is ideal for every use. Because different air compressors compress air at different atmospheric pressures, it’s important to know which one fits a specific job.
Below is my guide on the different types of air compressors you can get on the market today.
Reciprocating Air Compressors
Reciprocating air compressors are popular in smaller job sites such as home construction or garage projects. They fall under displacement class air compressors.
They are not designed for continuous use and have more moving parts than rotary screw compressors. The moving parts are lubricated with oil, allowing efficiency and smoother operation.
Reciprocating air compressors use a piston located inside a cylinder that compresses and displaces air, resulting in pressure buildup.
There are two reciprocating air compressors: single and multi-stage air compressors.
Multi-stage provides more power and are ideal for intense construction sites such as auto maintenance or assembly.
Rotary Screw Air Compressors
Rotary screw compressors are fall under the positive displacement class. They are ideal for manufacturing industries.
An industrial rotary screw compressor offers a 100% duty cycle and can operate for 24 hours nonstop. Constant flow is ensured through a pair of screws that rotate in opposite directions to operate the air sealed in the chamber.
They are durable and ideal for heavy-duty use, such as powering sand-blasting machines or jackhammers.
Axial Air Compressors
These are found in high-speed engines found in planes or ships. They are highly efficient but quite expensive than other types of compressors. Since they give thousands of horsepower, it’s the reason they are reserved for aerospace research.
They are known to slow and cool the incoming air in a diffuser to build potential energy. The multi-phase compression process results in a high amount of energy in a tiny machine.
They don’t require much maintenance compared to reciprocating and rotary screw compressors, with some producing oil-free air. They are found in demanding construction sites, such as steel manufacturing plants or chemical plants.
What’s the Best Quiet Air Compressor?
The quietest air compressor on the market today is the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air.
With 56 noise decibels rating, this unit is quieter than a normal conversation with a person 3ft away. It’s as quiet as a household refrigerator.
It’s lightweight, weighing 29.5 lbs only- for this reason, you won’t have to worry transporting it around from your garage to worksite or to your backyard.
The compressor is powered by a 0.6 horsepower motor with airflow of 1.20CFM @90 PSI. However, the maximum PSI for this unit is 120 psi.
It features a 1.0-gallon steel tank and an oil-free motor for less maintenance and reduced costs of maintenance, and it’s designed to have a 3000+ hours life cycle before wear.
It’s perfect for use with brad nail guns, staple guns, nail guns, blowguns, airbrushes, and finish nail guns. Also perfect for inflating tires, toys, beds, and sports balls.
It’s great for anyone working indoors in a neighborhood where noise is a major issue.
- Quiet operation- 56 decibels
- Lightweight- 29.5lbs
- 6 horsepower- 1.20 cfm @90psi- max 120psi
- 0-gallon steel tank
- Oil-free pump
Quietest Oil-Free Air Compressors
Oil-free compressors are more affordable, portable and require less maintenance. They are great for non-commercial projects and hence ideal for home use where usage is less. However, it’s important to note that oil-free air compressors are not as durable as oil air compressors.
1. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor
DEWALT DWFP55126 produces a maximum of 75.5dBA noise level ideal for those who prefer a quiet working environment.
It’s a heavy-duty 6-gallon air compressor that delivers 165max PSI with 90 standard operating PSI. It’s powered by a 120V, 60Hz 10ampheres universal motor.
The unit is equipped with a high flow regulator and couplers for maximum performance When in use, it should be placed at least 12 inches away from the wall or any other objects that can interfere with the airflow.
It weighs 30lbs, and hence it’s easy to carry around and store. The ball drain valve will allow for quick and thorough tank draining.
It comes with protective rubber leg covers that help absorb vibrations and protect the floor against damage.
- Silent Operation- 75.5dBA
- 0 Gallon tank and 165maximum PSI
- Lightweight- 30lb
- Protective rubber legs cover
- 120V, 60Hz, 10 amps universal motor
2. BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor
The BOSTITCH BTFP02012 produces 78.5dBA operational noise making it great for workspaces where noise is a major concern.
It’s lightweight, weighing 29lbs, and a narrow tank diameter design that makes it easy to carry. The oil-free motor doesn’t require daily maintenance and therefore reduces maintenance costs and also eliminates the risk of oil stain on your gear and surfaces.
The high-flow regular helps maximize air tool performance. A 6.0-gallon tank helps produce 150max PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90PSI.
In addition, it comes with a 50′ rubber/PCV blend hose that retains its flexibility even in cold temperatures. It’s also resistant to abrasion and lighter than regular rubber hoses.
The accessories included with this unit include; various inflation attachments, rubber tip, safety nozzle, blow gun, 1/4″ NPT male plugs, chuck, and gauge.
- 78.5dBA operational noise levels
- Lightweight- 29lbs
- 150max PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90PSI
- 50′ rubber/PCV blend hose
3. Hitachi EC28M Ultra Quiet (59 DB)
The Hitachi EC28M guarantees a quiet operation at only 59 decibels. You can hold a normal conversation with your partner when this unit is cycling without any interference.
It’s powered by a 120v 2.8amps 0.451 horsepower motor that gives 0.8cfm @90PSI and 1.3cfm @40PSI.
In addition, this compressor is equipped with a quiet industrial oil-free pump that requires little to no maintenance. In the long run, it saves you on maintenance costs.
The industrial regulator and gauges allow for easy and precise PSI adjustments. Additionally, the steel roll cage with rubber grip helps protect all the important components as well as support during transport.
The rubber feet help absorb vibrations, shock, and minimize crawling. Vibrations can cause structure-borne/impact noise.
- 120v 2.8amps 0.451 horsepower motor
- Quiet operation- 59 decibels
- Industrial gauge and regulator
4. Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Portable Quiet Compressor
This unit produces just 68dBA, and it’s up to 50% quieter than regular compressors in the same class. Its quiet operation makes it great for both indoor and outdoor use.
The unit boasts a maximum PSI of 125, making it great for a variety of projects, including stapling, nailing, bolting, inflation, fastening, and hobby painting.
It features an oil-free dual-piston pump that requires little to no maintenance.
Although it’s bulky (weighing 67 pounds), the large wheels make this unit easily portable in different terrains while the rubber-grip steel handle allows for easy transportation from one workshop to another.
Even though this air compressor is powered by a 120V 1.0 horsepower motor, the dual-piston pump produces 25% more air compared to 1.0HP compressors with single-piston pumps.
- Dual-piston pumps- 25% more air
- 68 decibels- quiet operation
- 120V 1.0 horsepower motor
5. Briggs & Stratton 4.5-Gallon Quiet Power Technology Air Compressor
While no decibel ratings given for this unit, the manufacturer claims that it’s 80% quieter than standard oil-free air compressors.
It’s equipped with a four-pole1HP induction motor that operates at 1700RPM and two pumps that ensure that airflow is evenly distributed, resulting in quieter operation.
Produces 2.4CFM at 90PSI. Additionally, the large regulator knobs help you regulate the air pressure.
For portability, this unit is equipped with an adjustable sliding control panel and large solid wheels.
The Quiet Power Technology (QPT) utilized in this unit not only makes it quieter but makes the unit last 3times longer than a regular air compressor.
- 4CFM at 90PSI
- Quiet Power Technology motor- 3X longer lifespan
- Four pole induction motor
- 80% quieter than regular compressors
6. Stealth 4.5 Gallon Ultra Quiet Compressor
As the name suggests, this unit delivers a quiet operation producing 65 decibels max noise. It’s equipped with a 2horsepower induction motor with a life cycle of up to 1000 hours.
This 12-gallon compressor produces 4cfm @40PSI and 3cfm at 90PSI with a peak of 150PSI, and this allows the unit to recover quickly after the first tank charge is exhausted.
For portability, its equipped with an adjustable handlebar with a rubber grip and 6-inch rubber reinforced wheels designed to handle different terrains.
In addition, its compact enough, measuring (20 inches/ 16 inch/ 22 inch), and its upright design takes less workspace– making it a great space saver. Like all other air compressors in this guide, this unit is oil-free and requires little to no maintenance.
Inside the package, you get Stealth SAQ-1413 Air Compressor x 1, User Manual x 1, 6′ and Electric Cord x 1.
- 4cfm @40PSI and 3cfm at 90PSI
- 65 decibels
- 2horsepower induction motor
7. Quipall Oil-Free Hotdog Air Compressor
The Quipall Oil-Free air compressors are powered by a 1horsepower motor with a 3 times lifetime compared to traditional air compressors. The unit is ultra-quiet, producing only 62 decibels which is relatively quieter than traditional air compressors.
The 1.6-gallon tanks deliver up to 2.2CFM at 90PSI, 3.2CFM at 40psi and a maximum PSI OF 125. It’s equipped with quick connect couplers for dual usage and fitted with an easy-to-read control panel.
And since it’s an oil-free motor, you incur less maintenance and get cleaner air. The unit is equipped with a handle making it easier to move it around from one location to the other.
8. DEWALT Quiet Operation (DWFP55130)
This is a powerful and quiet oil-free air compressor ideal for home and commercial projects.
The unit produces 71.5 decibels allowing for a quieter operation for all your projects. It delivers 3CFM at 90PSI with a maximum of 200 PSI. A durable oil-free pump allows for years of service without maintenance.
Weighing only 36 pounds, this unit is highly portable, allowing you to move it from one workstation to the next. And the best part is that you can operate the compressor either in the vertical or horizontal position, depending on your preference.
9. Makita MAC210Q Quiet Series
Just as its name suggests, the Makita MAC210Q Quiet Series delivers a quiet operation at only 60 decibels, making it ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.
Additionally, the unit runs at lower RPM, typically 1750. This results in a longer pump and motor life. The complete roll cage design provides the air compressor with protection to survive a variety of job sites, storage environments and transportation
And since it’s an oil-free piston pump, you’re guaranteed durability and efficient operation without too much maintenance.
The lightweight design makes it easy to transport this air compressor from one jobsite to the next or from one position in a room to the next.
- Quiet operation at 60 decibels
- Lightweight 44 pounds
- Powerful 1 horsepower motor
- Roll cage design for protection
- Oil-free, maintenance-free
10. PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor (C2002)
The Porter-Cable C2002 is a quiet oil-free air compressor with a 150-psi tank pressure allowing more air in the tank for extended runtimes. The unit delivers up to 2.6CFM at 90PSI, allowing fast compressor recovery time per ISO1217 requirements.
The 6-gallon Pancake style tank is designed for durability stability and includes rubber feet and a drain valve.
And like most of the air compressors in this guide, the Porter C2002 weighs only 30 lbs, and it’s compact, making it highly portable.
- 120V cord included
- Lightweight: 30 lbs
- 150 max psi tank pressure
- 2 regulated couplers for two users
11. California Air Tools 8010 Ultra-Quiet, Oil-Free Compressor
The California Air Tools 8010 is one of the quietest oil-free air compressors on the market today. It has a sound decibel rating of 60 decibels and produces 30% less noise than standard air compressors.
The unit is equipped with a 1.0Hp motor that delivers 2.20CFM and 3.10 CFM at 90 and 40 PSI, respectively. It only takes up to 130 seconds to fill a tank from empty.
Even though the compressor uses an 8.0 gallons tank, portability is assured by the handle and wheels, making it easier to move the entire thing around quickly.
There is a fast recovery time of 30 seconds from 90PSI to 120 psi, making it ideal for demanding jobs.
- 1horsepower motor/pump
- 30 seconds recovery time
- 60 decibels- 30% less noisy than regular air compressors
Quietest Oil-Lubricated Air Compressor
Most air compressors are oil lubricated. The oil helps lubricate the parts within the air compressor to ensure that the compressor works efficiently. The cylinder is lubricated to protect the pump during operation, and an intercooler is used to keep the heat as down as possible.
12. Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Air Compressor
The Makita MAC2400 is fitted with a 2.5 horsepower 4-pole motor that produces 90PSI for increased performance and quieter operation.
The compressor is designed to run at lower RPM resulting in a quieter operation and improved pump durability. It produces 79 decibels. The tank is made of sturdy cast iron that reduces wear and tear and prolongs pump life.
The low AMP draw eliminates the cases of tripped breakers during startup. Roll cage design provides protection for the compressor to survive in different job site environments.
The 4.2-gallon twin tank can sustain projects at an operating pressure of 130PSI and delivers 90PSI (4.2CFM) and 40PSI (4.8cfm) enough for two nailers.
Unlike the other air compressors in this guide, this unit is equipped with an oil-lubricated pump for reduced wear and cooler running temperatures.
- 5Hp 4-Pole motor
- 79-decibel quiet operation
- Durable iron cast cylinder
- 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM) and 130 max PSI
13. DeWalt Oil Lube Air Compressor
The DeWalt is a single-stage oil portable air compressor. It’s a powerful compressor with a 1.6 horsepower motor and a 30-gallon tank with oiled pumps that allow for maximum functionality and efficiency.
It’s powerful enough for use in both residential and commercial setups. This unit is designed to offer up to 155PSI, making it ideal for handling household tasks and powering pneumatic air tools.
The compressor provides airflow rates at 5.0CFM t 40PSI 3.8CFM at 90PSI. The quick drain valve is easy to reach. Onboard wheels and handles make transportation easy from your house to job sites and vice versa.
The compressor features a quick-set regulator, tool pressure gauges, and quick connect air outlets. The dual voltage motor can operate on a standard 120volt outlet and can also be converted for a 240-volt application.
14. WEN 2202T Vertical Electric Air Compressor
- 15-amp motor
- 8 HP motor
- Maximum pressure: 135 PSI
- 1/4″ Quick Coupler
The WEN 2202T is a heavy-duty portable vertical air compressor that’s quiet and designed to last for many years to come.
The 20-gallon tank boasts a reinforced stainless-steel construction that can withstand a maximum of 135 PSI of pressure. Additionally, the unit provides airflow rates of 5.0CFM at 40PSI and 3.8CFM at 90PSI with a cut-in pressure of 105 PSIG.
It features an easy-to-reach drain valve, pressure gauges, and a coupler. Large wheels and handles make the transportation of this 20-tank gallon air compressor much easier.
15. DEWALT D55151 Twin Hot Dog Compressor
This is a portable yet super quiet air compressor designed for demanding projects. The oil-lubricated motor delivers up to 3.2CFM of compressed air at 100 PSI.
The gas tank comprises cast iron which significantly improves the pump life. Unlike the other oiled air compressors in this guide, this unit is heavy, weighing 56 pounds and measuring 20 x 18.5 x 17.9 inches.
The engine provides up to 2 horsepower, and the included components in the package are automotive air tools, pneumatics, and the compressor unit. The unit can operate in both cold and hot weather conditions.
Quietest Air Compressor for Airbrush
Airbrush compressors provide a continuous supply of compressed air for airbrushing projects. While propellant cans are available for such operations, they tend to be expensive in the long run. Below is my guide on the quietest air compressors for airbrushing.
VIVOHOME 1/5 HP Air Compressor
- Quiet operation at 47 decibels
- 8 cfm air volume
- Versatile- ideal for multiple airbrushing projects
- 23-25 litres per minute airflow
- 1/5 horsepower
The VIVOHOME is a multipurpose high-performance airbrushing compressor with three multipurpose fluid tips. The three tips are great for inflating, spraying, painting and other airbrushing projects.
It comes with a compressor-mounted airbrush holder that will accommodate two airbrushes. The unit is equipped with a water filter and air filter and can deliver 0.8cfm air volume and 23-25L/min air flow.
It’s also equipped with a piston framework that allows steady and sufficient airflow while operating at only 47 decibels.
You can use this airbrushing compressor for various functions, including temporary tattoos, commercial art, cake decoration, illustrations, cosmetics, and other airbrushing projects.
16. ZENY Professional Airbrush Compressor (47 decibels)
- Moisture filter
- Quiet operation: 47 decibels
- Thermally protected
- 1/5 horsepower
- Oil-less motor
The ZENY is a 1/5 horsepower compressor that delivers air pressure (PSI) and air volume (CFM) than most airbrush compressors on the market.
It’s a portable, lightweight and compact compressor with a built-in handle that makes transporting easy. The compact size allows it to be place on a table or just under your workstation. And like most of the airbrushing compressors in this guide, this unit is great for cake decoration, painting, makeup, tattoo, costume makeup, etc.
For precise adjustment, it boasts a true diaphragm pressure regulator with a water trap filter. The unit works on air-on-demand, meaning it works only when you do. It’s thermally protected; hence it auto shuts off when the unit becomes too hot.
It’s equipped with an oil-less piston motor which is fairly quiet, producing only 47 decibels at maximum operation.
17. Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor
The Master Airbrush is a powerful 1/5 hp single-piston compressor with two cooling fans to run longer than most competitors without overheating.
It’s ideal for professional airbrushing projects, comes with 3 airbrushes and includes a bonus book guide and resource center access card.
It comes with 3 types of master airbrushes which include:
- Model G25 dual-action with a 1/16 oz
- Model G22 dual-action with a 1/3 oz
- Model E91 single-action siphon feed
Quiet Industrial Air Compressor
Quiet industrial air compressors are powerful and highly efficient air compressors made from powerful horsepower motors. They can deliver higher CFM at high PSI, and these heavy-duty workhorses are designed to operate at higher pressure levels than their commercial counterparts.
Eaton 5HP Quiet Air Compressor
The Eaton is a heavy-duty quiet industrial air compressor with an 80-gallon tank. The unit is designed for up to 50,000 hours with proper maintenance. It features a low RPM pump that delivers 19CFM @ 100PSI, allowing utmost flexibility to meet your air compression needs.
The pump is made from solid cast iron; this guarantees durability. This two-stage air compressor has a noise rating of 73dBa and comes with a 5-year warranty.
According to the manufacturer, this unit uses a noise-suppression technology developed by Polar Air Engineers. This results in a noise reduction of 25% compared to standard air compressors.
This technology reduces noise and saves you money which you’d otherwise use to build a structure to isolate the air compressor from the work environment.
The built-in intercoolers allow the air to be cooled between stages, while the aftercoolers allow for a second cooling stage which further cools the air before it’s stored in the tank.
EMAX Quiet Industrial Air Compressor
Like the EATON above, the EMAX quiet air compressor uses a silent air technology that lowers the noise output by 25%.
This is a vertical 2-stage 80-gallon air compressor with a 209-230 voltage rating that delivers max performance for longer periods. The unit utilizes a 1750RPM motor that runs quieter and cooler and increases the pump life.
You get a 5-year warranty upon purchase.
Compressors play an integral part in our day-to-day life. And while most of these devices might look resembling each other, they are not as they seem. They are also designed differently and for specific tasks.
For example, airbrushing compressors aren’t designed for high functionality, such as powering pneumatic tools. Consequently, you won’t need a commercial compressor for airbrushing projects.
Where you intend to use your compressor will also affect the type of compressor you’re limited to.
In my case, I have a tiny garage, and my wife got a baby to take care of upstairs. I only got to go for a vertical air compressor rather than a horizontal one. But even when you have a tiny garage like me, you could go for a horizontal air compressor, especially if you’ve cabinets where you can hide the unit.
If you require an industrial size compressor, choosing one that’s already “soundproofed” will go a long way in saving you money in soundproofing costs.
If you’re ever caught at crossroads between oiled and oil-free, remember that oil-lubricated compressors are durable and quieter than oil-free. But you will spend more time and money on maintenance.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.