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Putting together a professional-grade air tool setup is quite the undertaking. Not only does it require some fat stacks of cash—for the compressor alone—but also some know-how and planning. How much will you use it? How many people will be using it at once? What will it be powering? What sort of jobs will you undertake with its pneumatic output? It's all a bit daunting.
One type of air compressor that's generally regarded as a good size for many applications is the 60-gallon size. Depending on its motor, build quality, CFM (cubic feet per minute) airflow, it can provide adequate pressure for a wide variety of jobs. Though, might come up short in others, especially if it doesn't sport the best specs. This is why we put together this list of quality 60-gallon air compressors; We hope it helps you in your pursuit of building out your dream garage and/or workshop.
DeWalt 3.7HP 175PSI 60 Gallon Vertical Single-Stage Stationary Air Compressor
- Good power
- Great PSI/CFM
- Made in USA
- A little noisy
- Occasional longterm reliability issues
California Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Ultra Quiet 60 Gal Compressor
- Very powerful
- Very quiet
- Excellent PSI/CFM
- Minor reliability issues
NorthStar Electric Air Compressor - 3.7 HP, 60-Gallon Vertical Tank
- The least expensive on this list
- Good CFM
- Easy to set up and use
- Some longterm reliability concerns
- Very, very heavy
Summary List of the Best 60-gallon Air Compressors
- Best Overall: DeWalt 3.7HP 175PSI 60 Gallon Vertical Single-Stage Stationary Air Compressor
- Best High-End: California Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Ultra Quiet 60 Gal Compressor
- Honorable Mention: Ingersoll-Rand 2340L5-V 5hp 60 gal Two-Stage Compressor
- Honorable Mention: NorthStar Electric Air Compressor - 3.7 HP, 60-Gallon Vertical Tank
We did not plug in each of these units with our own bare hands, connect some tools, and get to work respraying car bodies, powering impact guns, and providing air pressure to CNC machines. While that all sounds like an immense amount of fun, it just wasn't in the cards this time. We did, however, read through a massive amount of consumer reviews, figured out 60-gallon air compressors' key qualities, immersed ourselves in the ups and downs of various units' spec sheets, and compared all of it to the price that they're offered at.
For more on The Drive's methodology, have a look at this.
Best 60-gallon Air Compressors Reviews & Recommendations
Made in USA
A little on the noisy side
Occasional long-term reliability issues
Contrary to popular belief, DeWalt is a name rather than French for the Walt. Kidding: Of course, we all know this top brand in tools! This unit is generally regarded as a quality piece of equipment, sporting a single 3.7 horsepower motor, 11.5 CFM at 90 PSI, and can work at varying voltage levels. Though, like every model in this comparison, it should only connect to a 240 volt, 60 Hz, AC power supply—consult with a qualified electrician if you need this level of service installed in your home.
Users say the DeWalt 60-gallon is a bit on the heavy side, loud (the dB rating in the retail listing is probably not correct), and some have even had trouble with long-term reliability. But the vast majority are positive, from both hobbyists and business owners with several employees using it at once. $1,408 is no small piece of change, but it seems to be about average for a quality unit. Be sure to read the terms of the warranty upon receiving.
Dual motor speed fills the tank quickly
Overall solid build quality and longterm reliability
Does a great job at keeping moisture out
Easy oil-free operation
Some minor reliability issues, but they largely seem solved
By all accounts, it looks like this California Air Tools option is not false advertising: It's indeed quite quiet. Well, you might not be able to listen to Brian Eno's Ambient 1: Music For Airports while laying down coats on your prized project car. But for a big and powerful unit, it's impressive.
The CAT-60040CAD's twin motors total four horsepower in output and push 10.60 CFM at 90 PSI, 12.60 CFM at 40 PSI. That's a hair lower than the DeWalt unit, but the higher horsepower output means quicker cycling. Users salute this unit for its long-term reliability and parts quality—after all, it too is assembled in the USA. It also has a moisture purge that works quite well to keep water out of your precious tools. Some folks aren't as pleased about its output for heavy-duty work, and others complain of not receiving the best customer support, but the latter seems largely solved since the pandemic. It's also pricy, but then, it's the top dog for a reason.
Honorable MentionSEE IT
Sturdy continuous cycle operation
Quieter than most units
Expensive (though, that depends on the application)
Ingersoll-Rand is a well-known name in all things pneumatic tools, and its 60-gallon compressor certainly lives up to it. This unit is powerful with an output of five horsepower, 175 PSI of maximum pressure, and a reported 15,000 hours of trouble-free use. Users' reviews certainly match these claims, too, as they're generally glowing. Between heavy hobby work and commercial use, it fits the bill. It's not as quiet as the California Air Tools unit above, but it's still quite quiet by industrial tool standards.
Some users complain of not pushing the advertised 175 PSI, and others aren't as keen on the fact that it's an oil-operated unit. That means regular maintenance and oil isn't included with the purchase. There are other concerns about customer service, and the thing is quite big and heavy, even for an air compressor. So be prepared with a team of friends to help lug it around and install it.
Good CFM at 90 PSI
Sturdy cast iron pump
Easy to set up and check
Only 135 PSI max pressure
Louder than the other units
Some reports of tank leaks after a few years
Finishing off our list is Northstar Electric's entry in the 60-gallon arena. This unit sports good CFM for the price, which is the lowest on our list. Like the units above, reviews are generally positive, in fact many folks say it's up to the task of any job that its specs can support—painting, nailing, air tools, and the like. However, it might not stand up to constant commercial use.
Some users reported that it needs a little checking over before going into service and that some have developed leaks in the tank over a few years of use. It's also quite heavy and doesn't push out as much PSI as the above competition. But still, it's the least expensive here and could be a solid value for the intrepid air tool user.
For good all-rounder performance, you can't beat a trusted name like DeWalt and its 3.7HP 175PSI 60 Gallon Vertical Single-Stage Stationary Air Compressor. For top-level performance, California Air Tools' CAT-60040CAD Ultra Quiet 60 Gal Compressor is a mighty contender.
You have questions. The Drive has answers!
Q: What are the main advantages of running a 60-gallon air compressor?
A: They're big enough to have longer run times, yet not so massive that they won't fit in most garages and shops. They're capable enough to provide ample power to air ratchets, impact wrenches, spray guns, air hammers, and more.
Q: How do I know what specs I need in a 60-gallon air compressor?
A: Easy: combine the CFM requirements for all the tools you intend to run, as well as the peak PSI each one needs. This gives you plenty of wiggle room when determining how much of each you'll need when selecting a unit.
Q: What's to stop me from just buying a much smaller air compressor?
A: You might only need a small 4-10 gallon compressor; The bigger the capacity, the longer the continuous use can be. Airing up tires, using a nail gun, and other short use is fine for smaller stuff, but impact wrenches, spray guns, and similar equipment require more air.