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7 Best Air Compressors Australian Buyers Guide 2022

Air compressors are one of those tools that sort the snobs and purists from the ordinary (sensible) gardeners; like gas tanks or robot mowers. When you need one you need one.

I’ve always found there are two core types of gardeners; those who love the purity of every day digging, and traditional technique, and those who love gadgets and getting things done efficiently. And then there are those in between. 

For purists, shopping around for the best air compressor might seem pointless, but when it comes down to it, a garden is for enjoying, and air compressors save time on maintenance, cleaning, and DIY, which means more time to sit and enjoy.

So before you dismiss the idea of air compressors as being tools solely for contractors, think again.


Best Air Compressors for 2022

Air Compressor Buyers' Guide

What are Air Compressors?

Best Air Compressor Reviews

Air compressors are exactly what they say on the tin, they push air from the environment through pressurised pipes at speed, pulling in air from a broad space, and pushing it through a narrow space. That’s the non-scientific version, but it’s the easiest way to explain it.

Using either gas or electric power sources they create a steady supply of pressurised air that is used to quickly pump inflatables, or power pneumatic tools. 

In the guide below, we’ll explore the ins and outs of how and why you might need one.

Why Do You Need an Air Compressor?

Air compressors are most commonly used for inflating tires. It’s an obvious use, and even for amateur gardeners and DIY’ers it can come in handy to speed up car and bike tire inflation, or blow up above ground pools in summer.

But there are plenty of other brilliant uses for air compressors that will always come in handy around the house (as well as on site for any professional readers).

Most useful is their use for pneumatic tools, like nail guns, and ground breakers, or even speedy fence painting as they can be attached to spray guns to achieve perfect even finishes on boundary fences and sheds.

My favourite use though? Air compressors can be attached to industrial pressure washers (Be sure check our review on the best pressure washers here). Now I don’t know about you, but I hate scrubbing the decking, and we’ve got all sorts of wildlife here that love to make a mess of our patio. 

The wall; behind the pond is constantly covered in algae, and even the best pressure washer won’t budge the worst of the dirt. Unless of course, it’s a pressure washer connected to an air compressor!

Seriously, unless you’ve used a compressed pressure washer, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

What to Look for When Buying an Air Compressor

Buying an Air Compressor

There are a couple of key factors to look at when choosing the best compressor, which we’ll discuss below, but one simple thing to look for is size.

Air compressors are very varied when it comes to weight and size. Basically, bigger air compressors have more power, and hold more air.

Air Compressor Noise Levels

Air compressors can be incredibly loud machines, but regularly checking the oil level will help reduce sound. The noise level of air compressors can be up to 100 decibels (if it’s any louder, don’t buy it) which is the noise level of a chain saw, but the quieter you go, the better.

Air Compressor PSI

Really, the only truly important factor when choosing the best air compressor is its PSI (Pounds per square inch), which measures the pressure of gases, in this case, atmospheric air.

A less powerful air compressor can fill up a tire to the same PSI as a more powerful model, but the higher powered compressor would be faster.

Different Types of Air Compressor

Different Types of Air Compressor

Stationary Air Compressors

Firstly, it’s important to state that stationary air compressors can be moved, but they are much bulkier, and generally better just used around the house. Stationary air compressors are generally much more powerful than portable air compressors.

The down side of stationary air compressors is the noise level as they are running pressurised pistons to generate the pressure that allows us to use a constant supply or high pressure air.

If you have to use a stationary air compressor for a long period of time you should use ear defenders to protect yourself from any hearing damage, but do make sure to check the decibel of any air compressor you buy before purchasing.

Stationary air compressor are usually quite heavy, so if you do plan on keeping it in the garage, that’s ok, but if you’re buying an air compressor to spray walls, fences, or run power tools from in the garden, then look for smaller models that can be easily carried around.

Portable Air Compressors

Portable air compressors are the small air compressors that run from your car battery (either from spark plugs, or cigarette lighters). They’re great tools for an emergency, but usually only run at up to 12V so aren’t nearly powerful enough for running power tools from.

You can buy air compressors with built-in batteries, but make sure you check the battery life before you buy an air compressor. Old-fashioned compressors will run from full-charge to empty in a matter of minutes, so check if it has a modern lithium-ion battery.

How to Use an Air Compressor

How to Use an Air Compressor

Depending on the type of air compressor you have, the guidance can vary, so make sure to consult the directions supplied with your model, but there are a few general principles that should be followed:

  • Ensure the air compressor is always on flat, stable ground and stored upright, when in use, it should remain stable, and any cables should have enough excess that they trail on the floor to prevent tripping or knocking the compressor while in operation.
  • Air compressors should have their oil level clearly displayed. If the oil level is below, or neat to minimum, refill the oil. Oil is essential for the operation of the pistons that power compression. 
  • If there is a drain valve on your air compressor, close it before use.
  • Turn the compressor on, and let it run until it reaches full pressure (PSI).
  • Set the value to the minimum PSI of the tool you plan to use, or to the PSI of the tire you are about to inflate.
  • Connect the hose from the compressor to the tool / inlet valve, and turn it on. 
  • Most modern air compressors will stop pumping when the set PSI is reached, but keep an eye on the gauge and disconnect the hose and switch off the machine if it exceeds maximum PSI.
  • When finished with the tool, store it safely and upright away from moisture.

Best Air Compressor Reviews

Unimac 24L Portable Direct Drive Air Compressor

The huge tank on this air compressor makes it one of the most capable portable air compressors on the market. With a speedy refill time it’s great for painting, and even better thanks to its quiet operation. 

The Unimac air compressor runs at roughly the same volume of normal conversation, so is safe for long periods of use.

It’s really the space efficiency of this model that helps it stand out, with a tank late enough for most bog jobs, but not so big that you can’t get it up and down stairs.

Unimac 24L Portable Direct Drive Air Compressor can refill its tanks in under 70 seconds from empty which is pretty incredible


  • Fast refill
  • Free tools
  • Tank size (24L)
  • Great value
  • Quiet
  • Good power (2 HP)
  • Mains Powered
  • High pressure (116 PSI)


  • Heavy
  • Bulky
Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit

These pancake style compressors are really good at what they do. They’re really portable, and great for home use, but should really only be used for short, sharp, bursts of work, and their tanks don’t stay full for long as they work best at high pressure, which means their tanks (while big) run empty pretty quickly.

This air compressor by Bostitch is amazing value though, with three tools thrown in for free with the compressor


  • Big tank (6 gallons)
  • Great value (tools included)
  • Mains powered
  • Good pressure (150 PSI)


  • Heavy for the size (41lb)
  • Loud for the size (78 DB)
EMAX Silent Oil Free Air Compressor

EMAX don’t cut corners on their air compressors, so you know you’re getting something worth your money, but this big beast is definitely a little bit more expensive than its rivals because of it.

What I really love about the EMAX air compressor is that it’s versatile. Usually these static air compressors are designed for one purpose, high power, but for most jobs it’s a fast re-filler, that can power lower powered tools easily with an adjustable PSI, or run for short bursts at really high pressure when needed.


  • Huge tank (40L)
  • Good value
  • High power (1100w)
  • Mains Powered
  • Quiet (60 DB)
  • Fast refill
  • Good pressure (40 - 125 PSI)


  • Heavy
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Air Inflator

For a pool inflator, or tire inflator, this is a handy little air compressor, that works from main or battery power, and can be kept in the car for roadside emergencies.

It isn’t powerful enough for big DIY jobs or powering tools, but is a handy compressor for simple inflation tasks, and it’s well made by Craftsman too, so well worth the price.

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Air Inflator is a handy little air compressor, that works from main or battery powe


  • Good value
  • Light weight (3.8lb)
  • Quiet (40 DB)


  • No Tank
  • Low Power (20V)
  • Battery Powered (short life)
  • Low Pressure (35 PSI)
CRAFTSMAN Oil Free Air Compressor

On test, this is a great little air compressor, and lightweight too, so easy to move around for most DIY jobs.

It does have a slight downfall in that it relies entirely on a fairly small tank so doesn’t give continuous pressure for long enough to inflate large tires, or power tools for more than a few minutes at a time.

What it does have on its side though is its fast refill time, filling 2.6 cubic feet per minute (CSM), as if you’re using it for spray paints, it will fill up long before the paint starts to dry, and you’ll be back on your way in no time.

CRAFTSMAN Oil Free Air Compressor is a great little air compressor


  • OK refill speed (2.6 CFM)
  • Good value
  • Mains Powered
  • Light weight (32.5lb)
  • High pressure (150 PSI)


  • Average Tank (6 Gallon)
  • Average Noise (70 DB)
Makita Oil-Free Electric Air Compressor

This is a great budget air compressors for DIY use, and it takes up barely any space in the garage so would be an ideal choice for a domestic gardener just looking to paint the fences and shed, or power through dirt with a pressure washer.

It’s a tiny machine though, so definitely not one for professional use, as it wouldn’t do most heavy duty work, or be able to run machines for long enough.

That said, it’s probably the one I’d go for in my own garden if I was looking for a new air compressor. It’s more than enough for simple regular users, and probably the biggest consideration for most gardeners is whether or not they can be bothered getting it out, and setting it up.

Smaller compressors are great for that purpose, because they encourage us to use them, even if they are a bit less efficient.

Makita Oil-Free Electric Air Compressor is a great budget air compressors for DIY use


  • Good value
  • Mains Powered
  • Light weight
  • Quiet (58 DB)
  • Good pressure (135 PSI)


  • Low power (0.5 HP)
  • Small Tank (1 gallon)
  • Slow refill (0.7 CFM)
WEN Oil-Free Vertical Electric Air Compressor

The one thing letting this WEN air compressor down slightly is just that it’s a bit clumsy. It’s a good looking tool, but it’s too noisy, and it’s too heavy for the power it gives off.

Even so, it’s by no means a bad air compressor, with really good regular pressure, and reliable PSI too, so you can use it for short sharp bursts of pressure, or for constant jobs like tire inflation or paint spraying which require more regular air flow.

WEN Oil-Free Vertical Electric Air Compressor can be use for short sharp bursts of pressure, or for constant jobs like tire inflation or paint spraying


  • Huge tank size (10 gallons)
  • Quick refill (4 CFM)
  • Brilliant value
  • Good power (1.5 HP)
  • Mains powered
  • Great pressure (40 – 150 PSI)


  • Heavy
  • Loud

Aussie Green Thumb Air Compressor Top Picks

Top Rated Air Compressor

Top Rated Best Air Compressor in Australia
Unimac 24L Portable Direct Drive Air Compressor

Unimac 24L Portable Direct Drive Air Compressor gets my vote just because of how insanely quiet it is. For a compressor that can supply 150 PSI, and re-fill in under 70 seconds to run at less than 65 decibels is incredible.

You could use this all day alone if it wasn’t for safety (remember they should only ever run continuously for around 15 minutes maximum before taking a break).

And while it’s heavy, it’s still easy to move around, so for a passionate DIY enthusiast, this is a really essential tool that you can use all over the house and garden.

Best Value Air Compressor

Best Value Air Compressor in Australia
Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit

If you’re new to pneumatic tools, this is probably a good tool to start with, with everything included. Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit comes with a straight finish nail gun, a brad nail gun, and a crown stapler, which lets you do all sorts of DIY in no time, without having to splash out on separate tools.

The only thing to keep in mind with these pancake air compressors (which goes for any brand) is that they really don’t do a good job of inflating tires because they run out of air before the tires are fully pumped.

These pancake air compressors are designed for high pressure tools that run quickly, and give you time to refill between uses.

Premium Choice Air Compressor

Premium Choice Air Compressor in Australia
EMAX Silent Oil Free Air Compressor

EMAX is a company designed for one thing and one thing only – air tools. If you’re going to spend a chunk of cash on an air compressor, it’s probably sensible to spend it on a product you know is going to work, with a lifespan twice that of some of its competitors.

Not only that, but EMAX Silent Oil Free Air Compressor's 40L tank gives you the option to run low pressure tools for ages, or high pressure tools quickly making it one of the most versatile air compressors to buy online.

Air Compressor FAQs

How do air compressors work?

All air compressors have slightly different methods of pressurising air. Some air compressors work by pumping air through piston chambers which fill and empty at pace in a series of chambers.

This allows constant flow and circulation of gas, but uses more power. Other air compressors fill a pressurised tank and push air evenly through the hose. These are the best for steady tools like paint sprayers.

What size air compressor do I need?

Pneumatic nail guns require short bursts of power, so do not need a tank, and will work perfectly well on passive flows of compressed air, but for most tools, a tank is the best option as it gives a steady and constant stream of pressurised air.

Each tool should have a guide for the tank capacity required to run it efficiently.

What is a good size air compressor for home use?

For decorating, including painting walls and fences, you’ll need an air compressor with a tank, rather than a passive flow, so make sure you’re looking for air compressors with at least 5-6 CFM, otherwise you’ll be waiting for the pressure to refill every few minutes.

How much PSI do I need for air tools?

Most air tools need a PSI of around 70-90 PSI from the air compressor that powers them, which is usually in the range of any budget air compressor.

It might still be worth a mid-range compressor for these tasks though, as the compressor should have a higher capacity than the flow needed for the tool.

Other buying guides you may be interested in: 

Time to Get Your Own Air Compressor

There’s no such thing as a right way or a wrong way to garden, but I think we can all agree that the best methods are those that allow us to spend the most time enjoying our outdoor spaces, and relaxing in them.

Air compressors might seem excessive to domestic gardeners, but they certainly speed up those long laborious maintenance jobs around the garden.

For commercial gardeners and professional landscapers though, finding the best air compressors is essential, as you’ll need maximum capacity and high PSI to give you the option of using any tool you need around your clients’ gardens.

Best Air Compressors Australian Buyers Guide

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Gary Clarke

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  1. Hi Gary

    thanks for the review of these compressors. I am currently looking at buying a compact compressor for garden and small nailing jobs. I have read other good reviews of both the Bostitch and Craftsman compressors but note that both are shipped from the USA by Amazon, are these units safe for operation in Australia and do they need a step down converter to allow them to run on Australian 240V? Cheers… Howard

  2. Hi Howard,

    They won’t need a converter but will need a socket adapter to run on Australian sockets. The Bostich and Crafstman compressors are sold with Australian plugs at most retailers too, but for the price of a plug adapter, they’re considerably cheaper online.

    Best Regards,

    Gary Clarke

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