Best 20-Gallon Air Compressors of 2021

Edited by Sensible Digs
Updated
20-gallon air compressors give you the power to tackle any task.

If you are using pneumatic tools, you need an air compressor. Air hammers, wrenches, spray guns, and ratchets all connect to an air compressor to get a supply of pressurized air.

20-gallon air compressors are versatile and have enough capacity for both commercial and home use.

In this guide, we look at the best 20-gallon air compressors on the market to help make your buying decision as easy as possible.

Our Top Picks

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Model
Compare the Best
Features
Product Image of the P1.5IU-A9 2hp 20 gal Single-Stage Compressor (115/1)
Best 20-Gallon for Home Garage
Ingersoll Rand Air Compressor
  • Quiet 80 dB operation
  • Maximum of 135 psi
  • 2,000 hour runtime
Product Image of the Porter Cable PXCMF220VW 20-Gallon Portable Air Compressor
Best Upright Air Compressor
Porter-Cable Air Compressor
  • Lightweight design
  • Maximum 150 PSI
  • Oil-free pump
Product Image of the NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor - Honda 163cc OHV Engine, 20-Gallon Horizontal Tank, 13.7 CFM at 90 PSI
Best Horizontal Air Compressor
NorthStar Portable Air Compressor
  • Gas-powered
  • Quality Honda motor
  • Low vibration technology
Product Image of the WEN 2202 20-Gallon Oil-Lubricated Portable Vertical Air Compressor
Best Budget Air Compressor
WEN 2202 Vertical Air Compressor
  • Maximum 135 PSI
  • Weighs 86 pounds
  • Highly-portable
Product Image of the California Air Tools 20020 Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free Air Compressor 2.0 Hp, 20.0 Gal. Steel Tank Air Compressor
Best Quiet Air Compressor
California Air Tools Air Compressor
  • Oil-free pump
  • Only 70 decibels
  • 2 hp motor
Product Image of the Air Compressor, Portable, Horizontal, 20 Gallon, Oil-Free, 4 CFM @ 90 PSI, 150 PSI (Campbell Hausfeld DC200000),Blue
Best Oil-Free Air Compressor
Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor
  • 17-piece accessory set
  • Fully enclosed motor
  • Weighs 92 pounds
Product Image of the DEWALT DXCMPA1982054 20-Gallon Portable Air Compressor
Best Portable 20-Gallon Air Compressor
DeWALT Air Compressor
  • Dual voltage
  • Maximum 155 PSI
  • Quick-connect air outlet

What Can I Do With a 20-Gallon Air Compressor?

A 20-gallon air compressor is a useful bit of kit. It has enough capacity for commercial and home use. Here is a list of the things you can use a 20-gallon air compressor for.

  • Air Hammers.
  • Nail guns.
  • Air wrenches.
  • Air ratchets.
  • Inflate a swimming pool.
  • Spray paint a car.
  • Complete home projects.
  • Inflate tires.

How to Choose the Best 20-Gallon Air Compressor

Choosing the best 20-gallon air compressor takes a bit of research. There are fundamental features you should look for before you buy.

Check the PSI

The pound per square inch (PSI) indicates how powerful the air compressor is. The higher the PSI, the more punch it has. The numbers can vary, depending on the model of compressor. And you should also check whether your air tool is compatible.

The rule of thumb is the air tool should not exceed 80 percent of the compressor’s PSI, so if your air hammer has a PSI of 80 and your compressor runs at 100 PSI, you will be fine.

Tank Size

It’s a bit of a moot point, given that we’re talking today about 20-gallon air compressors, but the sizes do vary. You need a certain tank size to complete particular tasks. Spraying a car would need a 20 or 30-gallon air compressor because the job takes longer to complete.

A larger tank gives you more air before the pressure starts to drop as the tank empties. It also decreases the chances of the tank cutting out on you mid-task.

Oil-Free

Some air compressors are oil-free, and some need lubricating oil. The oil-free varieties require less maintenance and are cheaper to run because they don’t need oil to lubricate them. They are also better for the environment because you don’t have to dispose of the old oil.

How Are You Using It?

If you are using the compressor for commercial purposes, then you will need sufficient PSI and capacity. This is less important for home and hobby use. If space is a premium, consider getting an upright air compressor. They take up less space and store away easier.

Flow Rate

The flow rate is the speed at which the air gets delivered. Check before you buy because the flow rate can determine how quickly you get the task done, especially if you use the compressor for inflatables.

If time is money, get a compressor with the fastest flow rate.

Portability

Air compressors are not the lightest tools, but they still have to be portable. Make sure the compressor you choose has a large handle and sturdy wheels. Remember that most of the time, the compressor will be employed in a commercial setting where the conditions may be a little rough.

Uneven floors and rubble are commonplace on some construction sites, and your air compressor needs to cope.

115 Volts Vs. 240 Volts

Check the voltage of the machine you buy to see if it is compatible with your power rating. 115 to 120 volts suit the American and Canadian supply, but some countries operate on a 240-volt system.

Commercial settings typically have 240-volt sockets installed because the voltage indicates how powerful the compressor is, and you guessed it, 240 volts trumps 115 volts.


The Best 20-Gallon Air Compressors of 2021

Here are seven great 20-gallon air compressors to consider.

1. Ingersoll Rand 20-Gallon Single Stage Air Compressor

Best 20-Gallon Air Compressor for Home Garage

Ingersoll Rand is a trusted name in the world of air tools and compressors, so it is only fitting that we start the review with this model. It has a low decibel level at 80, which is quieter than some vacuum cleaners, and it has an ergonomic handle and semi-pneumatic tires to make it easy to cart around.

Instead of oil-based lubricants, this compressor uses a synthetic version that is more efficient and gives you a longer run time between changes. You get 2,000 hours, which is 4 times longer than traditional lubricants provide.

It has a 2 horsepower motor that delivers a maximum of 135 PSI, so it is ideal for commercial and home garage duties. It has a protective belt guard and a manual overload motor to ensure smooth running and a very long lifespan.

Why We Love It

Great Brand Name

Ingersoll Rand makes excellent products that are loved by professionals and hobbyists alike across the globe. This model is undoubtedly popular, given the high rating it gets on Amazon.

Quiet Operation

Running a compressor for long periods can damage your ears, so it is recommended you use ear defenders to quell the noise. However, some are louder than others, and this compressor is among the quietest.

Maximum of 135 PSI

135 PSI is more than enough pressure to handle a multitude of air tools. You can connect nail guns, air hammers, spray guns, and just about anything else to this compressor.

Keep In Mind

Steep Price

Ingersoll Rand is not a budget brand. They provide high-quality products, and you have to dig deep to buy them. While this is not the most expensive air compressor to make the list, it is up there.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 200
Dimensions (inches) 22 x 23 x 43
Voltage 115
Max PSI 135
Decibels 80
Price $$$$
Warranty 1-year

2. Porter-Cable PXCMF220VW 20-Gallon Air Compressor

Best 20-Gallon Upright Air Compressor

This Porter-Cable compressor has 7-inch wheels to make it more portable. It also has an oil-free pump, a low voltage startup, and no belts or pulleys to maintain. It has a maximum PSI of 150, making it one of the most powerful compressors you can buy. It certainly meets the needs of professionals and hobbyists.

The working components are fully enclosed to protect them from the elements, and it has a consumption rate of 5 CFM (cubic feet per minute) at 40 PSI and 4 CFM at 90 PSI. The tank is made of stainless steel, and the twin-V pump is cast iron.

This model is slightly louder than the Ingersoll Rand model, at 84 dB, but not so much that you would notice. Where this does differ is in the weight. This compressor weighs 97 pounds, compared to 200 pounds for the Ingersoll, making the Porter Cable easier to move.

Why We Love It

Lightweight Design

At just 97 pounds, this is one of the lightest air compressors around. Coupled with the large, 7-inch wheels, you have a highly-portable compressor, which is great for professionals and hobbyists alike.

Affordable Price

This model is almost half as much as the Ingersoll Rand, and yet you get equivalent quality. It produces more PSI and weighs half what the Ingersoll does.

Oil-Free Pump

The oil-free pump makes this such a convenient compressor. It requires minimal maintenance to keep it in full working order, which has to be a bonus. It is the ideal compressor for a beginner.

Keep In Mind

Quality Control Issues

It seems that several buyers have complained that parts were missing when they opened the box or that the compressor leaked, resulting in a low-pressure reading. Others expressed their frustration that the compressor failed to work from day one.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 97
Dimensions (inches) 17 x 18 x 43
Voltage 120
Max PSI 150
Decibels 84
Price $$
Warranty 1-year limited

3. NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered 20-Gallon Air Compressor

Best 20-Gallon Horizontal Air Compressor

The first and most obvious difference with this NorthStar air compressor is that it is gas-powered. This makes it the best compressor for taking to the job-site because it needs no electricity supply.

The pump head is constructed from FC35-grade cast iron, so you can bet it will last the distance. The motor is a Honda GX160 OHV, which has a low oil shutdown feature. The pump has superior cooling qualities, and the Swedish-style valves ensure a longer operating lifespan.

The CFM rate is 13.7 at 90 PSI, and the maximum PSI is 130. This is slightly less than the Porter-Cable model, but still plenty for most applications. The motor runs at a lower RPM to keep the efficiency and cooling qualities of the engine.

Why We Love It

Gas-Powered

If you want complete portability, this gas-powered compressor can go anywhere. It works independently of an electrical supply, so it is ideal for the job-site.

Quality Honda Motor

The Honda GX160 OHV is a class-leading motor that delivers fuel-efficiency, better performance, and a longer lifespan. It also needs fewer services to keep it in working order. This engine sets the standards.

Low Vibration Technology

NorthStar has developed LVT (low vibration technology) to deliver a smoother operation when running the compressor. Less vibration preserves the integrity of the compressor and expands its lifespan.

Keep In Mind

Incredibly Expensive

It is not an air compressor that most home and hobbyist users would buy because it is incredibly expensive. This model will set you back almost double the cost of the Ingersoll Rand model.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 196
Dimensions (inches) 40 x 21 x 33
Voltage N/A
Max PSI 130
Decibels Not stated
Price $$$$$
Warranty 4-year domestic and 2-year commercial

4. WEN 2202 20-Gallon Vertical Air Compressor

Best Budget 20-Gallon Air Compressor

This is the budget model, and it costs a fraction of the price of the most expensive compressors to feature. This model has a CFM of 3.8 at 90 PSI and 5 at 40 PSI, as well as a maximum pressure of 135 PSI.

This oil-lubricated vertical compressor is the ideal tool to use when space is limited, thanks to its smaller footprint. It has an auto-shutdown feature, which turns off the compressor when the correct PSI gets reached, and two large wheels and a prominent handle to make it maneuverable.

The best thing, by far, is the price. You could buy 5 of these and still have change compared to the NorthStar!

Why We Love It

Budget Price

The price alone justifies its entry in the review. It’s 5 times cheaper than the most expensive and just under 3 times the cost of the Ingersoll Rand model. And yet, you don’t seem to suffer from a lower quality or performance.

Weighs 86 Pounds

At just 86 pounds, this might be the lightest 20-gallon compressor to make the review. It means you won’t put your back out when you are maneuvering this to the worksite.

Highly-Portable

The large handle and big wheels with a chunky tread make this a portable compressor. Couple that with the lightweight design, and you have one of the most portable air compressors available.

Keep In Mind

Build Quality Issues

Many customers have complained about damaged packaging and missing parts on delivery. Others remarked that the compressor failed after a couple of uses.

Poor Customer Service

The company’s response to complaints has left a few customers feeling like they received terrible service. They didn’t feel like WEN took their issues seriously or responded efficiently.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 86
Dimensions (inches) 19.5 x 17.5 x 42
Voltage 110
Max PSI 135
Decibels 86
Price $
Warranty 2-year

5. California Air Tools 20020 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

Best Quiet 20-Gallon Air Compressor

This is the quietest air compressor to make the list, operating at just 70 decibels. That is about the same noise as the inside of a car doing 60 MPH. It has an oil-free pump for less maintenance and better convenience. It also means this is an ideal beginner’s compressor.

The motor is 2 horsepower, and the CFM rate is 5.3 at 90 PSI. This compressor is designed to have a longer continuous runtime thanks to the dual-piston pump, designed to run for 3,000 hours at a minimum.

It also has an easy start valve that uses fewer amps when you initially fire it up. It releases a small amount of air to give the motor just enough to spin freely under no-load conditions.

Why We Love It

Oil-Free Pump

If you are the sort of person who hates maintaining their tools, this could be the answer. Oil-free pumps reduce the amount of time you spend keeping the compressor working smoothly.

Only 70 Decibels

70 decibels! That’s how quiet this model is. Compare that to the others, and this compressor is as quiet as regular office noise or the inside of a car doing 60 MPH. That’s about 30 percent less noise than the competition.

2 Horsepower Motor

The 2 horsepower motor is a class-leader. It delivers 1,680 RPM to reduce the wear and tear on the engine and help dampen the sound. It’s the reason why this air compressor is so quiet.

Keep In Mind

Reasonable Price

Okay, so it isn’t the most expensive air compressor, but watch the price as it is still a large chunk of money to spend. It is unlikely for beginners to spend this much, but professionals certainly would.

Build Quality Issues

For the price-tag, you would expect that the build quality would be better. Some have complained about substandard welding on the tank and wheels unevenly set, so it doesn’t maneuver well.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 134.7
Dimensions (inches) 20 x 20 x 45
Voltage 110
Max PSI 125
Decibels 70
Price $$$
Warranty 1-year limited

6. Campbell Hausfeld DC 200000 Oil-Free Air Compressor

Best 20-Gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor

This Campbell Hausfeld 20-gallon air compressor features a 1.3 horsepower motor that delivers a maximum 150 PSI. It has a CFM of 4 at 90 PSI and an oil-free pump for convenience and reduced maintenance.

The control panel is placed to make it easier to read, and the large wheels and handle make it simple to move around. The induction motor is fully encased to preserve the integrity of the working components and increase the lifespan of the compressor.

It even comes with a 17-piece accessory set, which includes a 3-in-1 inflation gun, a 25-foot air compressor hose, and a chuck and gauge. It is the best compressor to use for completing your DIY projects.

Why We Love It

17-Piece Accessory Set

You can start your projects straight away with the accessories included with this air compressor. It comes with a 25-foot hose, a 3-in-1 inflation gun, and gauges. It is the perfect starter compressor.

Mid-Price

Campbell Hausfeld has cleverly pitched this compressor in the mid-price range to appeal to both hobbyists and professionals. The costs are still within reach of most people, making this a good choice and great value for money.

Fully Enclosed Motor

The induction motor is fully enclosed to protect it from the elements and wear and tear. It increases the lifespan of the engine and decreases the instances of malfunctions.

Weighs 92 Pounds

This compressor weighs just 92 pounds, making it one of the lightest to feature in the review. It aids maneuverability, which is always a good thing when moving large industrial-size air compressors.

Keep In Mind

Lacks Power

The motor is only 1.3 horsepower, which is light when you compare it to the California Air’s 2 horsepower motor. While the horsepower doesn’t affect the PSI it produces, the engine has to work at capacity, putting it under unnecessary strain.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 92
Dimensions (inches) 31.5 x 14.9 x 30.3
Voltage 120
Max PSI 150
Decibels 88
Price $$
Warranty 1-year limited

7. DeWALT DXCMPA1982054 20-Gallon Air Compressor

Best Portable 20-Gallon Air Compressor

While this DeWALT may not be the lightest air compressor, it is equipped with pneumatic wheels and a large handle that make moving this compressor easy. It also has easy controls that are large and clear with a quick-connect air outlet and easy to read gauges.

With twin cylinders and an aluminum head and valve plate, the cast iron pump ensures that it is robust and handles heat better. The regulator delivers 20 percent more torque to aid the removal of rusted bolts when using an air wrench.

It produces a maximum of 155 PSI, the most of any to feature, and a CFM of 5.7 at 90 PSI. The other neat thing is the motor is dual voltage, wired to run on 110-volt systems, but it can be adapted to work with a 240-volt supply.

Why We Love It

Dual Voltage

The clever people at DeWALT have given this motor a dual voltage, meaning it can switch between 110 and 240-volt systems with some minor adjustments. This makes it a versatile tool for home and commercial use.

Maximum of 155 PSI

The 155 maximum PSI makes a world of difference when dealing with stubborn applications. It makes removing stripped and rusted bolts a breeze with an air hammer or wrench.

Great Brand

If you use tools, you will know the DeWALT name. They are an international success story with a global following. If it has that distinctive yellow livery, it is a quality item and one you can trust to last for decades.

Keep In Mind

Quite Pricey

It’s a DeWALT, so you are going to pay for the quality. This compressor is not cheap, so it may appeal more to professionals, especially as it produces 155 PSI. It is still a great home air compressor, but the price-tag could put off some occasional and DIY users.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 166
Dimensions (inches) 32 x 21 x 32
Voltage 110/240
Max PSI 155
Decibels 78
Price $$$
Warranty 2-year

20-gallon Air Compressor Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Dimensions Voltage Max PSI Decibels Warranty
Ingersoll Rand Air Compressor Home Garage 200 lbs 22 x 23 x 43″ 115 135 80 1-year
Porter-Cable Air Compressor Upright 97 lbs 17 x 18 x 43″ 120 150 84 1-year limited
NorthStar Portable Air Compressor Horizontal 196 lbs 40 x 21 x 33″ N/A 130 N/A 4-year domestic; 2-year commercial
WEN 2202 Vertical Air Compressor Budget Pick 86 lbs 19.5 x 17.5 x 42″ 110 135 86 2-year
California Air Tools Air Compressor Quiet 135 lbs 20 x 20 x 45″ 110 125 70 1-year limited
Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor Oil-Free 92 lbs 31.5 x 14.9 x 30.3″ 120 150 88 1-year limited
DeWALT Air Compressor Portable 166 lbs 32 x 21 x 32″ 110/240 155 78 2-year

How To Use a 20-Gallon Air Compressor

There are 4 main parts to an air compressor: the pump, the tank, the motor, and the controls. Mastering how to use one is easy.

Before starting, if you have an air compressor in need of oil lubrication, make sure you fill the pump first.

  1. Attach a hose to the regulator valve and connect the other end to your tool.
  2. Power up the air compressor by attaching the plug to a wall socket and flipping the on switch.
  3. Wait as the tank fills and pressurizes. Check the gauges to determine the pressure levels and when it is safe to use.
  4. Once the correct pressure gets reached, turn off the switch and start working.

How Long Can a 20-Gallon Air Compressor Tank Last?

Air compressors are reliable and built to last. You should expect a working life of between 20 to 30 years. That’s about 40,000 to 60,000 hours of work!


Under Pressure

If you feel the pressure of choosing the best air compressor, think about what you want it for. The types of applications you undertake directly affect the make and model of air compressor you need to buy. Do you go upright or horizontal? What about the PSI?

There are many considerations, but hopefully, you can see the wood for the trees thanks to our review of the best 20-gallon air compressors.

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