LAST UPDATED: April 29, 2021
Best 30-Gallon Air Compressors: Power Your Pneumatic Tools
Portable and powerful air compressors for home and professional use.
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PUBLISHED ON April 29, 2021
You have decided that the best type of tools for your job site or automotive shop are pneumatic (air-powered), probably because they are safer to run. However, you realize that you first need to find a reliable air compressor that can power all of your tools but isn’t so large that it takes up a lot of shop space. Enter the 30-gallon air compressor. Unlike the 60-gallon option, it’s more space-efficient and can power pneumatic tools for a longer period than mini-air compressors.
The best part is that they don’t have to be used at professional job sites alone. Even hobbyists or workshop enthusiasts can use these air compressors in a smaller household setting, so there’s no reason not to get one. However, you shouldn’t just buy the first 30-gallon air compressor you find out there. First, read our buying guide for some insights on how to pick the right one that matches your needs.
Featuring a vertical portable tank, this electric air compressor is designed to deliver maximum performance and efficiency. It can provide up to 155 PSI of maximum pressure.
- Pre-attached with pneumatic tires for easy portability
- Can be converted from a 120-volt to a 240-volt application
- Backed by a two-year limited warranty
- Somewhat unreliable in freezing temperatures
- Electrical cord not included
This electric air compressor is designed to outperform most 30-gallon and 175 PSI air compressors. It also has a vertical tank that's fitted with wheels.
- Provides enough pressure for almost all pneumatic applications
- Almost quiet operation
- Takes up limited space in your garage
- Comes fully assembled
- Not the most durable option
- Requires regular maintenance to maintain proper oil levels
This gas-powered air compressor features a full cast iron pump, a horizontal tank, and a V-style cylinder design. It can provide up to 175 PSI of maximum pressure.
- High PSI rating
- Durable, heavy-duty construction
- Easy setup and easy to operate
- V-style cylinder design allows for better heat dissipation
- Not portable
- Takes up floor space
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Benefits of 30-Gallon Air Compressors
- Versatile application. Thirty-gallon air compressors can be used for both household and industrial applications. They can be used at home to inflate bike tires and balls, and can also be used in the automotive industry for more complicated detailing projects.
- They store unused air. Another benefit of having a 30-gallon tank is that in instances when not all the air is used up, it can be stored and dispensed the next time the compressor is turned on. Since pressurized air is already available, it won’t take a lot of time to start up the machine.
- Accomplish multiple tasks. Since these air compressors have a relatively larger air capacity than mini air compressors, they can provide enough power to help you complete multiple tasks such as inflating, spraying, nailing, and sanding within a short period.
- Easy to use. Most of these air compressors come fully assembled, so all you will have to do is to plug it in to get it running. Also, the pressure gauges are easy to read and the oil-lubricated versions usually have an oil level indicator.
Types of 30-Gallon Air Compressors
In a single-stage air compressor, the air is sucked into the compressor and is compressed to the preset pressure by a single-piston stroke. So the air is only compressed once. Ideally, the air is compressed to a pressure of roughly 120 PSI and, thereafter, is moved to the storage tank where it can be dispensed and used to power an assortment of pneumatic tools.
A two-stage, or dual-stage, air compressor has an extra piston, so as the air gets sucked into the compressor, it’s first compressed by the first piston stroke, and then it’s pushed to the second piston for another stroke. This double-pressurized air is then delivered to the storage tank, and it can be about 175 PSI. For this reason, these machines are more expensive than the single-stage version, and they are typically used to power larger, power-hungry tools.
DeWalt is a subsidiary brand of Stanley Black+Decker and is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. It was started by Raymond DeWalt in 1924 and specializes in manufacturing hand and power tools that can be used in the woodworking, construction, manufacturing, and automotive industries. It also manufactures power equipment such as air compressors, electric chainsaws, push mowers, and more. DeWalt tools and equipment are a great choice if you are looking for an affordable yet high-quality product.
Also a subsidiary brand of Stanley Black+Decker, Porter-Cable is a Tennessee-based power tools and equipment manufacturing company that was founded in 1906. R.E. Porter, G.G. Porter, and F.E. Cable founded the company in New York. Some of its popular products include portable belt sanders, drill presses, circular saws, and portable air compressors.
In 1905, a merger of the Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company and the Rand Drill Company led to the formation of Ingersoll Rand. The company specializes in manufacturing power equipment for residential and commercial use. It is headquartered in Swords, Ireland, and has more than 90 manufacturing facilities worldwide. Some of its best-selling products include air conditioning units, air compressors, electric winches, and more.
Pricing for 30-Gallon Air Compressors
- Under $500: Budget this much for a standard electric air compressor. Most options here have a compact design and can be used in almost any environment. Since most have less than two-horsepower motors, they are a good choice for small-scale projects.
- $500 and up: Expect to find both electric and gas-powered air compressors within this price range. The lower-priced units are ideal for small projects, and most come with pneumatic wheels so you can easily transport them to multiple sites. The higher-priced options usually have a higher power rating so they can be used to power multiple tools in a commercial setting, such as a construction site.
Electric Vs. Gas-Powered
Electric air compressors need to be plugged into a power outlet, so they are best used indoors or at job sites where there’s access to electricity. If you work outdoors where there’s no access to power, then consider going for gas-powered air compressors. They are efficient and cheaper to run than the electric alternatives.
Ensure that the air compressor can supply enough pressure for your air tool. The pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). If it doesn’t supply enough pressure, the air tool won’t work correctly, while too much pressure can damage the air tool. Most pneumatic tools require a pressure of about 40 to 90 PSI.
The capability of an air compressor can also be measured by the volume of air generated, or the airflow. It's measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Ideally, your air compressor's CFM should be 1.5 times higher than your air tool’s rating so it can handle supplying enough power to the tool continuously or in quick short bursts.
- Fixed Vs. Portable. Most 30-gallon air compressors are heavy and on the larger side, so prioritize options that come with wheels so you can conveniently move them around your garage. If you only work indoors, you can have a fixed compressor that’s usually bolted to the ground to prevent movement.
- Oil-Lubricated Vs. Oil-Free. Oil-lubricated air compressors are usually more powerful, durable, and better for powering heavy-duty tools. However, they require regular maintenance like changing the oil. On the other hand, oil-free air compressors are more eco-friendly and are low maintenance. They are also cheaper and operate more quietly than the alternative. However, they are not as long-lasting.
Best 30-Gallon Air Compressors Reviews & Recommendations 2021
If you are looking for a versatile air compressor that’s easy to operate, then you are going to want this Industrial Air Electric Air Compressor. It’s an electric, single-stage air compressor with its main selling point being its 1.9 horsepower, dual voltage motor that’s designed for a standard 120-volt outlet, although it can be converted for 240-volt application and still maintain its efficiency. A quick-set regulator lets you adjust the pressure from 40 PSI to 90 PSI, and it can deliver a maximum pressure of 155 PSI. Besides that, the steel tank has a space-efficient, vertical design to save on floor space, and is fitted with pneumatic tires for easy portability. Plus, it has a long-lasting, cast iron, twin cylinder that utilizes an oil-lubricated pump, which runs almost quietly at 78 decibels. You can use it to run framing, nailing, airbrushing, or blow-cleaning tools.
Unfortunately, we noted a few complaints indicating that its cold-weather performance is a bit subpar. It may take too long to start or may not start at all in below-freezing weather. A possible way around this may be switching the motor oil and lubricant to formulations with a higher cold temperature tolerance so it can turn over even in the coldest months.
To help you easily take on framing, sanding, blow-cleaning, drilling, wrenching, and inflation jobs, Husky offers a 30-gallon electric air compressor that can take on light- and medium-duty projects. It’s a two-stage air compressor that’s equipped with an oil-lubricated, V-twin cylinder pump system that’s made of cast iron for durability. Superior O-ring seals allow for leak-free operation, while an aluminum head and valve plate ensure optimal heat dissipation for safe operation. Additionally, quick-connect couplers ensure that you can easily connect or disconnect air tools. To give you value for your money, this unit is designed to have a 20 percent longer run-time, 54 percent faster recovery time, and to be 71 percent quieter than similar 30-gallon air compressors with a 175 PSI pressure rating. Besides that, it has a 76-decibel noise rating so it’s ideal for indoor working environments.
However, we are disappointed that it’s not one of the most durable options on the market. So instead of pushing its limits with heavy-duty projects, limit its use to medium- or light-duty projects if you want it to last longer.
If your last air compressor broke down due to quality issues, then consider upgrading to the NorthStar Gas-Powered Air Compressor. It features heavy-duty construction with a cast iron pump and a steel tank. Also adding to its long service life, the unit utilizes Low Vibration Technology (LVT) to reduce wear on components and to keep the pump dynamically balanced for smooth operation. It’s powered by a reliable Honda engine that runs relatively quiet and promotes better fuel efficiency than most gas-powered engines. It’s also easy to operate thanks to the electric start with recoil backup, and for safety, it includes a low oil shutdown control. Moreover, the engine provides 24.4 CFM at 90 PSI and can push out a maximum pressure of 175 PSI.
The main limitation of this tank is its fixed design with a horizontal tank that takes up floor space. Also, it has no wheels, so you can’t move it around easily.
Sporting a portable, low maintenance design, the Dewalt Electric Air Compressor is a great choice for job sites with access to electricity. It’s a single-stage air compressor that requires little maintenance since there aren’t any belts to tighten or replace, and there’s no oil to refill or change. It features a space-efficient vertical design with a steel tank that’s equipped with a pair of wheels for portability. Also, onboard the unit are quick-access controls such as the on/off switch, quick-connect air outlet, pressure regulator, and tool and tank pressure gauges. As for the performance, the unit runs at a peak 1.9 horsepower and provides a maximum pressure of 155 PSI. It can also deliver 90 PSI at 5.7 CFM and 40 PSI at 7 CFM. What’s more, the pump features Dewalt’s patented two-piece cooling system that helps to increase the pump's service life by dissipating heat. You can use this air compressor to power framing, nailing, airbrushing, bolting, and spraying tools.
However, with an 82-decibel noise rating, it’s not the quietest air compressor out there, so it's best used outdoors where the low vibration can be drowned out by the ambient noise.
Ideal for both home workshops and job sites, the Ingersoll-Rand Hot Dog Compressor is a powerful single-stage air compressor sporting a horizontal (hot-dog) tank design. With the help of a two-horsepower motor, the unit can deliver up to 135 PSI of maximum operating pressure, and you can expect a 100 percent continuous duty cycle when you need to run multiple tools. You can get about 2,000 hours of continuous service between changeouts. It also operates at 80 decibels, so you can use it indoors. This unit utilizes an all-season synthetic lubricant that increases efficiency and offers reliable operation no matter the season. Plus, the combination of semi-pneumatic wheels and an ergonomic handle help you move the unit around effortlessly.
However, an issue plaguing most users when it comes to assembling the unit is that attaching the handle on the compressor can be a bit challenging. However, once you fix it and fasten the nuts and bolts, it can be quite sturdy.
Porter-Cable brings you a reliable single-stage air compressor that’s oil-lubricated and uses electrical power. It relies on a 1.6 horsepower, dual-induction motor to deliver a maximum pressure of 135 PSI. It also provides decent airflow that can let you power almost any air tool. It delivers 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI and 6.2 CFM at 40 PSI. For easy mobility, it features a vertical design with pneumatic wheels and an overall weight of just 165 pounds. The unit is also built to last with most parts, including the v-twin cylinder, being made out of cast iron. Also, so you can keep up with the oil changes, the unit is further integrated with an oil-level monitoring glass for easy viewing.
Unfortunately, it has a lower horsepower rating than most of the top air compressors on our review. This means that it may take longer to refill an empty tank in comparison.
- If you are buying an air compressor for a private workshop or garage with limited space, prioritize vertical machines — they have a smaller footprint. You can choose a horizontal unit for outdoor job sites.
- It’s a good practice to occasionally run the air compressor, even if you aren’t using it for work. This helps to keep the pressure regulator in good condition.
- Replace your air compressor hose when it gets damaged or starts to show signs of damage such as fraying. This helps to prevent energy loss from a leaking hose.
- If you live in a humid environment, consider purchasing a dehumidifier or an air dryer so it can help in removing moisture in the ambient air. Also, consider buying an air filter that removes fine dust particles and other air contaminants. This ensures your air compressor has access to dry, clean air so it can stay in good condition for longer.
Q: What is the quietest 30-gallon air compressor?
Any air compressor that does not exceed 80 decibels is sure to run almost quietly. From our review, the Industrial Air Electric Air Compressor and the Husky Electric Air Compressor are some of the quietest options on the market— they have a noise rating of just 78 and 76 decibels respectively.
Q: What size of air compressor is best for home use?
Portable air compressors with air tank sizes of about two to 20 gallons should be compact enough for home use. Vertical style, 30-gallon air compressors are also compact enough to be used in a household.
Q: Should I drain the air compressor after every use?
If your air compressor doesn’t have a water drain valve at the bottom and you don’t plan on using it for the next couple of days, then you can drain it to keep water vapor from condensing in the air tank and possibly corroding it. However, if you use it frequently as part of your work, you can only drain it at the end of the day so it doesn’t constantly have to work to build pressure in between jobs.
Q: How much horsepower is required for a 30-gallon air compressor?
A standard 30-gallon air compressor may need roughly two horsepower to work properly. However, since these machines come with different designs, you may find an air compressor that demands a slightly higher horsepower, which is a good thing since it means that the motor can refill the tank quickly.
The Industrial Air Electric Air Compressor earns our top spot because it can be converted from a 120-volt to a 240-volt application. This offers the versatility of running it in a home garage or at a job site depending on where the job takes you. If you’re not looking to break your bank, you can consider the Husky Electric Air Compressor, which is a more affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice its efficiency.