Best 2 Stage Air Compressors: Big Tools and Big Jobs Need More Air and More Power

Have all of the power you need with a two-stage air compressor.

Best Overall

DeWalt 20 Gallon Oil LUBED Belt Drive Electric Air Compressor

Best Value

Stealth 20 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

Honorable Mention

MegaPower Vertical 20 Gallon Air Compressor

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Do you have the ultimate versatile tool in your garage? An air compressor can do everything from fill your truck tires to run your pneumatic tools. While a small pancake compressor is suitable for small, one-off jobs, it won’t keep up for bigger tasks. What you need is a two-stage compressor. These compressors are bigger and more powerful, making them capable of maintaining pressure over long periods. While these larger tools are typically meant for commercial and industrial use, they can also be the answer to your air pressure needs in your home garage. This guide will help you find the perfect two-stage compressor for your garage.

Benefits of Two-Stage Air Compressors

  • More power. The two-stage air compressor process helps these compressors to achieve a higher overall air pressure. They can also compress more air at a single time. This gives you more power to operate larger tools or several tools at once. 
  • Faster recovery. The two-stage process helps these compressors to fill faster, which gives them a quicker recovery time. You’ll have fewer and shorter down moments while you wait for the compressor to refill. 
  • Use less energy. Because two-stage compressors are better able to maintain pressure and are faster at refilling, they are also more efficient. This means they use less energy to get the job done. 

Types of Two-Stage Air Compressors


A vertical air compressor refers to the shape and position of the tank. The engine is positioned on top of the tank to reduce the amount of horizontal space the compressor takes up. The small footprint is perfect for those who don’t have a lot of floor space. 


This style of compressor is low and long. It’s essentially the equivalent to the vertical tank, laid on its side. Then the engine is either placed on top of or next to the air tank. They fit nicely under shelving or a counter. 

Top Brands


Founded in 1924, DeWalt is known for producing high-quality consumer and commercial tools. Air compressors are just one of the many products produced by this Pennsylvania-based company. The DeWalt 20 Gallon Belt Drive Electric Air Compressor will perform well and look great with its bright yellow coloring. 


Founded in 1897, FS-Curtis is one of the most well-known and trusted names in air compressors. Its products deliver dependable performance, durability, and quality. Based in California, its products are engineered to last a lifetime. The FS-Curtis 60 Gallon Air Compressor is a high-quality compressor that’s built to last. 

Two-Stage Air Compressor Pricing

  • Under $1,000: Two-stage compressors in this price range are better suited for personal garage use. They will have less powerful engines and smaller air tanks. 
  • $1,000 to $2,000: The majority of two-stage compressors fall into this price range. They’ll have air tanks that are in the 80-120 gallon range and suitable for consistent commercial use. 
  • $2,000 and up: The compressors in this price range are typically designed for commercial use. They have air tanks that are 100-200 gallons and several nice features, such as a quick starter, quiet operation, and automatic drain valves.  

Key Features

Horsepower (HP)

As a general rule, the more horsepower your compressor has, the more power it has to achieve a higher air pressure rating. However, keep in mind that you aren’t buying a sports car, so don’t buy your compressor based solely on horsepower. One horsepower of force lifts 550 pounds one foot in one second. Consider the horsepower in combination with the CFM. 

Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)

More importantly, the CM will tell you how the compressor will perform. Look at the tools you want to use and find out their CFM requirements. This will tell you how powerful your compressor needs to be. The higher the CFM rating, the more air volume is required. If you plan to use more than one tool at once, you’ll need to add the individual CFM ratings together for your total power pull at a time. 


There are single and three-phase voltage models. If you’re buying a compressor for a residential setting, then you’ll buy a single-phase voltage unit. Commercial applications use the three-phase option. What this refers to are the waves that electricity moves in. The up and down motion of the wave can create dips in power. A three-phase system uses three waves, so there’s a steady power level at all times. 

Other Considerations

  • Gallons. Compressors will have a gallon size listed. This refers to the size of the tank that holds the compressed air. Typically, two-stage compressors are meant for heavy-duty work, so their tanks are large. You’ll find them in sizes between 60 and 200 gallons. Keep in mind that while larger tanks hold more air, they are also heavier and harder to move. 
  • Style. There are two tank styles to choose from, vertical and horizontal. If you don’t have a lot of floor space, then consider buying a vertical compressor. If you have height limitations, then consider a horizontal compressor. There is no difference in how the machines perform; it’s simply how the tank and motor are arranged. 
  • Noise. Generally, two-stage compressors are louder than single-stage compressors. They are larger and more powerful, which translates to more noise. Some compressors have additional features that help them to be quieter. If you plan to use your compressor in a residential area, look for a quieter machine.

Best 2 Stage Air Compressor Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall

DeWalt 20-Gallon Electric Air Compressor

Best Value

Stealth 20-Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

Premium Pick

MegaPower Vertical 20-Gallon Air Compressor

Best For Commercial Use

Speedaire Electric Air Compressor

Honorable Mention

BelAire 80-Gallon Two-Stage Air Compressor with Starter

Most Durable

Emax Industrial Two Stage Horizontal 80-Gallon Piston Air Compressor

Honorable Mention

California Air Tools Two-Stage Air Compressor

Honorable Mention

Ingersoll Rand 80-Gallon Two-Stage Air Compressor

Honorable Mention

FS-Curtis 60-Gallon Vertical Two-Stage Air Compressor


  • Consider how many tools you want to run at the same time with your compressor since you’ll need one that’s powerful enough to run all of them.
  • If you plan to run your compressor in a confined space, then look for one with a quieter operation. The decibel rating will tell you how loud it is. 
  • Look for extra features, like automatic drain valves and easier starters. This will make using and maintaining your compressor easier. 


Q: What does a two-stage air compressor mean?

The term two stages refers to how the compressor operates. It compresses the air twice with two pistons. This lets it achieve a higher pressure rating. The two-stage process helps the compressor to have a faster recovery time. 

Q: When would a two-stage air compressor be used?

Large crews and those who need high amounts of pressure should use a two-stage compressor. If you plan on using your compressor for extended periods, then consider a two-stage compressor. You can operate multiple tools at once with a two-stage compressor. 

Q: What is better: a single-stage or a two-stage air compressor?

A two-stage compressor is nice because it can achieve high air pressure. They are best suited for commercial and industrial applications. If you plan on constantly using your compressor, then the two-stage model will be able to perform better. 

Q: How do I know if my air compressor is two-stage?

Look at how the machine operates. A single-stage air compressor has one piston that draws the air in and directly sends it to the tank. A two-stage air compressor has one piston that draws the air in and another that pushes the air into the tank. 

Final Thoughts

Our top pick for the best two-stage air compressor is the DeWalt 20-Gallon Oil Lubed Belt Drive Electric Air Compressor. It has a decently sized 20-gallon tank, runs for longer, and is quiet to operate. 

For a more affordable option, the Stealth 20-Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor is a great alternative. It’s 80 percent quieter than comparable machines and refills in 70 seconds. 


Andra DelMonico has dedicated her writing career to sharing her passion for cars and motorcycles. She has 15 years of experience owning, riding, and working on both sportbikes and cruisers, at one point rebuilding her Kawasaki ZX14. She also has a fully modified Toyota XRunner. As a young girl, she would routinely attend classic and high-end car shows with her father, who she credits with instilling her passion for automobiles. As a writer, Andra has utilized her knowledge and passion to write compelling and detailed content for a wide variety of automotive and motorcycle industry clients.