If noise is a factor in your workshop, going down the road of the quietest air compressors is a fair option. Many handymen give up their beloved hobbies because the tools they use are too loud. However, this does not have to be a problem if you pick a compressor that operates at a quieter level. You don’t have to worry about bothering your neighbors or family members when you use these units – they are made to create less noise while remaining powerful and durable enough for domestic use.
In these quiet air compressor reviews, we will go through a detailed list of specifications of each model that made the cut. Furthermore, we will give you some tips to help you make an informed choice and find the right unit for you. Let’s jump right into it!
Why Is a Quiet Air Compressor Good for Your Health?
Imagine yourself constantly standing in a concert room, for several hours, right next to the stereo that blasts the music at max volume. When you get out of the room, you can already feel the ringing in your ear, and you are screaming so that the person next to you can hear you.
The same thing happens when you use an air compressor. Being exposed to high decibels for high amounts of time may affect your eardrums – which might cause hearing loss as time passes.
You may use earplugs to cancel out the noise – but wearing them continuously may put you at risk of ear infections. Not to mention that they are highly uncomfortable and may affect your productivity. For this reason, you may want to go for a nice, quiet air compressor that will reduce all these health problems.
Who Needs a Quiet Air Compressor?
Whether you’re just looking for a tool to speed up fixing the good, old deflated tire or you have a big spray painting project for your kitchen elements, chances are – you’ll find a good use for an air compressor. While it could be interesting to try doing these tasks manually, painting by hand or using a simple air pump is tiring. Many people will soon find that it’s not nearly as easy as it might seem at first. Most of the time, using the air-powered version is just more enjoyable, easier, less tiring, and less time-consuming.
Pneumatic (air-powered) tools are a joy to work with, as they require very little strength, and very often spare you the frustration of an empty battery. This can be attested by both the hobbyists who enjoy an occasional DIY spree, and workshop professionals who utilize these tools for their daily jobs – pneumatic tools are easier to use and maintain, and they have a very long life-span.
Professionals who need to use pneumatic tools (f.e. the best air hammers or top-rated pneumatic framing nailers) at their workshops often prefer to get quiet air compressor units since they need to be around them for a prolonged time span. Using a standard loud air compressor can cause permanent hearing damage, and anything that creates over 85 dB of noise requires safety noise-reducing equipment like noise-canceling headphones, earplugs, and earmuffs.
This equipment is effective for reducing the damage made by the noisy environment, but it also means that people cannot hear anything. As communication is key in most workshops where more than one person works, this solution is often less than ideal for handymen who need to work with pneumatic tools. As there are even professional-grade air compressors that have some noise-reduction properties, it’s always the best to check out if there are suitable quiet unit versions available.
On the other hand, crafty people often wish they could tackle some DIY projects at home but shy away from starting them as they don’t want to bother their family members, pets, and neighbors by using loud machines. Whether you want to repaint your kitchen but don’t want to make a mess doing it with a brush, or use the nail gun (you can check our pneumatic nail gun reviews) to fix up your garden fence, having an air compressor is no longer the luxury reserved for people with a garage. The quiet models are now available to everyone!
Quietest Air Compressors Comparison Chart
Campbell Hausfeld DC080500
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California Air Tools 2010A
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California Air Tools CAT-4620AC
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Briggs & Stratton 1.8-Gallon Quiet Power Technology Air Compressor
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Hitachi EC28M Ultra Quiet
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California Air Tools 5510SE
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Ultra Quiet Air Compressor Reviews (Updated List)
1. Campbell Hausfeld DC080500
If you’re looking for a large hot dog tank to do some bolting and tightening work, but still want a machine that won’t bother your neighbors, Campbell Hausfeld has got you covered!
Holding up to 8 gallons of air, this model is great for anyone who requires a large tank on a portable model. In fact, while relatively heavy at 67 pounds, this model has a set of wheels that make it easily transported. While being one of the louder models on our list, making 68 dB of noise, its tank size and PSI power make up for it. Holding up to 125 pounds per square inch of air, and flowing 2.4 CFM at 90 PSI, this is a great model that easily handles most home maintenance, repair, and hobby needs. It comes with a 1-year long warranty.
This is a great, powerful model for an affordable price. However, this model is also very heavy. It’s not the quietest model on the list either – while 68 dBA is tolerable for a home environment, there are quieter models available on the market.
2. California Air Tools 2010A
This well-balanced California model comes with a 2-gallon aluminum tank and it weighs 36 pounds. Producing 60 dB of noise while working, it can be used inside without a problem – a normal conversation can be carried out over this noise level.
The leverage of this simple hot dog model? The horsepower of its motor. At peak performance, the motor can create up to 2 HP, and it runs at 1680 revolutions per minute, which is exactly what allows it to stay so non-intrusive sound-wise. Its performance is quite solid as well – it can put out up to 3.10 CFM at 40, and 2.20 at 90 PSI. Coming with a 1-year long warranty, this model is great to have around!
This model gives great performance at a reasonable price. It has a 2-gallon air tank, and only weighs 36 pounds. However, it does not have a clear benefit over other models. It can be a perfect match if you’re looking for a well-balanced domestic use machine.
3. Excell SAC22HPE
Starting at less than $150, this is by far the cheapest air compressor on our list. Excell’s well-balanced model has very similar performances to our last pick, but it’s a tiny bit heavier, weighing about 45 pounds. This hot dog style tank can hold up to 2 gallons of air, pressurizing it to 125 PSI.
Its output does not lag much behind our previous pick, outputting 3.0 CFM at 40 PSI, and 2.0 CFM at 90 PSI. The noise rating is estimated at 61 dBA, this model is suitable for indoor use – even if you need to use it in an apartment block.
It can easily start in very cold temperatures – the proprietary cold weather starts as low as 14° F.
It’s the most affordable model on our list, and it provides great value for such a low price. On the other hand, it’s a little bit too heavy for such a small machine.
4. California Air Tools CAT-4620AC
This model is by far the most powerful one – and for a reason. This is the only twin stack model.
Twin stack models feature two hot dog tanks, usually on top of each other. Of course, this means double the capacity, but double the weight as well.
Twin stack models aren’t typically very portable – at 68 pounds, this model is not lightweight. However, it comes with a 4.6-gallon capacity in its two tanks. The model can put out up to 6.40 at 40, and 5.30 at 90 PSI, which makes it the strongest air compressor featured on this list. You can run pneumatic drills, chisels, and even some orbital sanders with this compressor. Its 2 HP and 1760 RPM motor can handle most garage work!
The surprising thing is – the noise levels it produces remain reasonable throughout – it produces no more than 70 dBA while working.
This is a very powerful machine with 5.30 CFM at 90 PSI – and considering its performances, it’s quite affordable. However, it’s not very portable, weighing 68 pounds.
5. Dewalt DWFP55130
The most expensive, but also the most powerful hot dog style model on our list comes from Dewalt.
This impressive home-use model features a 2.5-gallon tank that can pressurize up to 200 PSI. In the output, this pressure translates to 3.0 CFM at 90 PSI. With a 1.1 horsepower strong motor, this is also the loudest machine on this list. It creates 71.5 dB of noise while working.
This noise level is very similar to a regular non-commercial vacuum cleaner, so you probably don’t want to keep working next to it for extended periods of time. Still, this noise level isn’t unbearable and you don’t have to use protective gear like you must with regular air compressors.
Weighing about 40 pounds, this machine is reasonably portable as well. It comes with a 1-year warranty – just like other models on our list, which is not ideal considering it costs twice as much.
This is the most powerful hot dog style machine on our list, running up to 3.0 CFM at 90 PSI. This means it can even handle powering some ratchets and drills. However, the power comes with a price – this model is the most expensive and the loudest one on our list.
6. Briggs & Stratton 1.8-Gallon Quiet Power Technology Air Compressor
This small model coming from Briggs & Stratton is not the most powerful, but it is the quietest model on our list.
Measured to go as low as 54 and topping at 61 dB, this model is perfect for indoor use, and you surely won’t need ear protection with it. For reference – a typical vacuum cleaner produces around 70 dB while sweeping the floors goes up to about 50. However, peace and quiet come with a price in power. This model can only produce about 1.8 CFM at 90 PSI, and it’s powered by a 0.75 HP motor. At 1.8 gallons of air held by its hot dog style tank, it’s a medium-grade sized model compared to other domestic use machines.
However, while the tank size is rather commonplace, its weight exceeds expectations, and not in a good way – the machine weighs 44 pounds. It leverages its shortages by having an easy to use control panel, storage for accessories and a simplified connecting system – making it an ideal starter model. This model is perfect for indoor hobbies and home maintenance, but it’s not created to handle heavy-duty work.
This model is very quiet, making it perfect for home use. Its simplified control panel and the quick connect coupler make it very easy to use, even for first-timers.
However, it can’t handle heavy duty work as its run by a 0.75 HP motor, and only produces 1.8 cubic feet of air per minute at 90 PSI.
7. Hitachi EC28M Ultra Quiet
Hitachi’s small model comes at a small price of $150. This compact machine is both easy to use and to carry, making it a fantastic beginner model for hobbyists.
Its performances are quite low, as it only puts out 0.8 CFM at 90 PSI. Still, it does so at no more than 59 dBA, making it a perfect model for indoor use. However, the best thing about this model is how portable it is. Not only are the components put in a convenient and easy to carry cage, it only weighs 25 pounds. This makes it the lightest model on our list. It has a tank that holds 1 gallon of air, pressurizing it up to 125 PSI. Overall, this is a perfect model if you’re looking for a light-duty machine that is easy to carry around and transport.
Hitachi’s model is surprisingly lightweight at only 25 lbs. It’s also very affordable.
On the other hand, it’s not very powerful – at only 0.8 CFM at 90 PSI, and running on a motor of about 0.45 HP, this machine is only suitable for hobby work.
8. California Air Tools 5510SE
The first on our list is a solid hot dog style air compressor from California Air Tools.
This model balances the performance and noise ratio perfectly, which makes for a 60 dBA loud air compressor. Since it maxes out at 120 PSI, this machine is perfect for regular domestic use. It can power your pneumatic tools at 2.20 CFM, going at 90 PSI, or if you’re using something smaller, 3.10 CFM at 40 PSI.
Its motor has decent horsepower at 1.0 HP, but what makes California’s models so quiet is the unique 1680 revolutions per minute motor. Weighing 38 pounds, this model is quite portable. Though lightweight, this model does not lack in tank capacity – the tank can store as much as 5.5 gallons of air! With a one-year-long warranty and at a cost of less than $200, this model is a perfect choice for regular domestic use!
This model is a great choice for those who are looking for a great performance-cost balance. It has a large 5.5-gallon tank but remains lightweight at 38 pounds – even lighter than some 2-gallon models.
Overall, this is a very reliable and balanced model.
Read More: California Air Tools 5510SE
How Quiet is Quiet?
So, what exactly does the dB measurement mean? How loud is a quiet air compressor, and how do these numbers compare to other sounds you know?
A decibel (dB), the measurement unit we use here is not as easy to understand as pounds or inches. It actually represents a ratio between two numbers. Measuring the intensity of sound is not as simple as measuring length, so we will also use a comparison to illustrate the noise that listed air compressors make.
1. Decibel Rating
Think of a calm fall afternoon in a remote, rural area. You’re in a tranquil room, so silent that you can hear yourself breathing while the fire crackling. This happens at around 10 dB. Somebody enters the room and sits next to you, but doesn’t speak. You can hear a bird singing outside. The sound levels reach 40 dB. If your friend starts talking to you in a normal conversational tone, the sound levels in the room are likely to reach 60 dB. About 10 ft away from you, somebody starts vacuuming. The noise levels go up to about 70 dB. If you decide to go outside and mow the lawn with your gas mower – it will likely produce a noise of about 100 dB.
Typically, air compressors create anywhere between 70 and 90 dB. If you’re exposed to sound levels of above 85 dB for prolonged periods of time, you might want to consider using hearing protection gear or try some ways to make your air compressor quieter.
While the sound that the quiet air compressor models create is constant, it’s not an easy task to handle sounds above 70 dB. The best thing about getting the quiet version is that a normal conversation can be carried out over it – making cooperation while working easier than ever.
2. Where Does the Noise of an Air Compressor Come From?
There is not just one, but several things that can cause a noisy air compressor. The noise may be caused by vibrations or by the parts of the air compressor. Overall, here is where the noise tends to come from.
2.1 The Intake
This is generally one of the most common problems – and probably where most of the noise tends to come from. Your air compressor will take the air in and absorb it – sort of like a vacuum cleaner. This is why it tends to make quite a lot of noise. However, with a little bit of ingenuity, this can be easily fixed with an intake silencer.
2.2 The Air Exhaust
The air exhaust is one more thing that might cause your air compressor to be extra noisy – particularly if you have a gas model. This is because the byproducts that are produced inside will go straight through the exhaust portion – causing it to be quite noisy.
2.3 The Vibrational Noise
While the vibrational noise might not be the main reason why your air compressor is being noisy, it still manages to add to the bulk. It will have a very repetitive (and quite annoying, we might add) beat to it, which will make it fairly noticeable.
How much your compressor vibrates will depend on your compressor’s structure, as well as its placement. Overall, if there are hollow parts in your compressor, that is where the noise will come from.
The metal used in the construction of your air compressor will also determine the noise level of your unit. A cheaply made air compressor that uses low-quality metal will obviously make more noise compared to one that uses high-quality materials. This is why it is worth investing in products that have a superior grade of metal.
2.5 The Compressor Type
A direct-drive compressor will sound different compared to a belt-driven one. Granted, they will usually have the same decibel level – but the sound will be different based on their method of operation. Something as simple as the belt pulling things around may cause your compressor to be slightly noisier.
2.6 The Position
You may have the quietest air compressor out there that barely lets any noise out from the intake and the exhaust – the main sources of noise. However, if you place the compressor on a surface that is very shaky, it will create a rattling noise that will drive anyone insane.
If your compressor seems to be making quite a lot of noise, before taking it apart, you might first want to make sure that you have placed it on a straight, solid surface. This should certainly help keep the noise down.
3. What makes quiet air compressors different than regular compressors?
So, what are the features that make the decibel measurements so low on these machines compared to other, regular air compressors? There are many different aspects tweaked to design these models and make them produce less noise, so we will only list the most crucial ones. These are the things that set the quiet models apart from the regular ones:
- RPM, or revolutions per minute
- Rubber isolation pads to absorb vibrations
- Electric power supply compared to gas-powered
What Are The Features of Noise Reduction?
As you might have noticed, we listed a measurement unit RPM, talking about how many revolutions the unit’s motors make while doing their job. As with most machines, starting with a simple cooling fan, the rotary motor is the component that creates by far the most noise and vibrations. With motors that keep their revolution per minute on an average low, you get less vibration, meaning, less noise.
Another way to cancel out some of the noise made by the machine is by minimizing the number of vibrations that reach the floor or the table they sit on. Improving the unit’s stability and giving it additional parts like rubber feet make less sound that is produced by slight shaking. Whether in a form of feet or full-surface stand, rubber helps to absorb most of the vibrations that the machine produces, making it much less noisy.
Finally, units that are powered by electricity create far less noise than their gas-powered counterparts. In short, the models that use gas as a source of power need to utilize an engine to convert that gas. These engines are often very loud, so picking an electricity-powered unit is perfect for domestic work. By the way – all of our picks on this topic use electricity, so you don’t have to worry about that!
Quietest Air Compressor Buying Guide
Whether you need to get an air compressor that’s suitable for use inside an apartment building, or you simply want to protect your hearing, in the long run, getting a quiet air compressor is a great decision! The idea of a machine as powerful as an air compressor being near-silent was unimaginable a few years back, but today its reality – and an affordable one as well.
Machines made for domestic use are not as powerful as industrial-grade, but they offer us benefits in terms of noise control and portability. And just as top-rated portable air compressors need to balance portability and output power, so do quiet ones.
If you’re running an artistic hobby shop or a jewelry store, the small, silent air compressor might be a dream come true, but if your goals depend on strong CFM output, it might be a better option to get a larger, louder machine. Still, the models that made the cut and ended up on our list offer the best power-silence balance available on the market. In this buying guide, we will go through the information from a quietness point of view. If you want to see overall research, you can check our comprehensive buying guide for air compressors.
Now that you know what distinguishes quiet air compressors from their more massive, and noisier counterparts, we should get deeper into the subtle details and features these machines possess. If you are planning to upgrade your garage or home workshop, the criteria we are going to address in the next section should be factored into your final decision. We encourage you to make a checklist using our guide and sort the models you were eying. Let’s go!
The very first thing to factor in is the overall size of the compressor. Being that you are already here looking for a quieter model, you probably need a more compact machine that can fit into secluded, tight spots. Even though it is not a rule, we can safely say that the larger the air compressor, the more noise it will make. But, in the case of models specifically made with lower noise levels, any popular quiet model is going to be quiet enough. The real question is how much space can you afford.
Smaller models are usually designed to fit under your works station or desk. Some DIYers even decide to put them on a shelf, provided that the model is small enough. When it comes to the total weight an air compressor has, we are talking about a range between 25 and 70 pounds. Heavier models usually have larger tanks, thus lasting longer on a single charge. Which brings us to the next important topic.
2. Tank Capacity
While it is directly connected to the weight and size of the model, tank size will determine how long (and in some cases with what force) you will be able to use the air compressor. As you might have already known, air capacity is measured in gallons, and the general rule of thumb is the more, the better.
In the case of a quiet-operating air compressor, you can find tanks that hold 3 to 4 gallons of air on average. There are exceptions for ultra-compact models that sacrifice gallon size n the name of convenience and sound muffling. On the other hand, if you so wish, you can get a silent air compressor model with a tank capacity size of 8 or more gallons. The key to making a valuable choice is to assess your needs (and logistics at home) and choose accordingly. And, of course, check on what kind of power your air tools need before you continue with the choosing process.
3. CFM and PSI Rating
We do not need to go full-on technical to find out if you need a compressor with more CFM or more PSI. Cubic Feet per Minute (or CFM for short) rating can tell you how big of a volume of air the compressor can get out in a minute. This roughly translates to the potency of the compressor and determines what kind of air tools are fitting to be powered by it. We all want to have the most powerful machine out there, yes, but sometimes picking a compressor solely based on a high CFM rating can be an overkill. Check the tools you are using, and make the pick based on the info you find there.
The other notable performance characteristic is the Pounds per Square Inch (or PSI for short). This stat tells how strong of a kick the compressor can provide. Most compressors available on the market clock at 90 PSI because the majority of tools require up to 90 PSI to work. Sure, they can be put into a boost to provide up to 125 PSI, but when it comes to silent models, that will rarely be the case.
The thing is, you do not need to chase higher PSI as a stat of power but look for a model that gives you the option to adjust the PSI for different tools. This is usually done through gauges or separate regulation valves.
4. Motor Maintenance
Most electric motors onboard quiet air compressors have a similar HP rating, and that is no the issue. The maintenance process, however, comes into focus when the motor needs to be oiled up. The choice you have to make is whether you want an oil-free or an oil motor inside the air compressor model you wish to get. We will try to explain the practical difference in short, because to explain the whole thing would take a long, long time.
Essentially, an oiled motor’s best advantage is that it makes less overall noise. The whole point of lubrication is to make the parts inside fit better together. And when everything fits together tightly, the motor produces fewer vibrations, and fewer vibrations translate to quieter operation. Oil-free motors, on the other hand, function without the mentioned lubrication, but make a bit more overall noise.
The main difference between the maintenance of these two different systems is that you will have to re-lubricate the oil motor. This requires a lot of hassle, but you will get the hang of it with a little patience by your side. Oil-free motors, logically, require little to no maintenance, and they are becoming more and more popular because of that fact.
5. Additional Muffling Systems
Lastly, if you really want to eliminate as much noise as possible, there are some additional measures some air compressor manufacturers build into the models they create. There is no one single formula on what to look for, so we will just leave a list of the most common muffling systems out there:
- Rubberized body – when it comes to noise suspension, rubberized parts are always a good thing to have. No matter if we are talking about rubberized legs or some minor parts, every piece of extra rubber will lower the total decibel output.
- Tightly packed body – the more empty space there is between the compressor parts, the larger are the chances of additional noise. If you see a compressor model that is tightly packed inside the housing, you can bet that it is quieter than average. Just remember to check the size as well.
- Rotational mufflers – some manufacturers have a unique set of mufflers inside and around the rotating parts of the motor. They come with various names, but the principle is the same: if the rotations are stable, fewer vibrations are made, and you know the rest already.
6. Oil Lubricated vs. Oil-Free
An oil compressor will draw air buy using a piston, comprising it into a storage tank. For it to provide maximum efficiency, the chamber will need proper lubrication – for which you will obviously use oil. Since the pistons will be protected and made more durable, these air compressors will be less noisy – which is precisely what you are looking for.
Oil-free compressors also do a good job, and they also require very little maintenance. It is not like the oil-lubricated model, which must have its oil changed every so often. However, for that convenience and lack of maintenance, you will have to sacrifice the quietness. Oil-free units are less troublesome, but oil-lubricated ones allow your neighbors to sleep.
FAQ About the Quietest Air Compressors
1. Can I punt my air compressor under the counter, or inside a box below the table I work on?
This is one of the most common questions, especially when it comes to quiet, compact units. The short answer is: yes, you can. But you must also be aware of the potentially dangerous situations regarding the sole positioning of the air compressor.
If you decide to put the compressor inside a closed space (like a box or a crate), then you should always leave enough space around the unit. This will help it cool easier and represent less of an overall hazard. The safest bet would be to make an empty designated spot just for the air compressor.
2. How often should I drain the condensed water from my quiet air compressor?
There is no single answer to this question because the amount of condensed water depends on the environment you work in, and the tools you work with, as well as the frequency of compressor usage. If you are working outside, the chances are that the compressor will condensate more water, and if you want to make sure everything goes ok, you can drain it after each outdoor session. If you work inside, you probably do not have to do it every time, but every once in a while.
Now, if you work with short burst tools (like nail guns), you do not have to worry about extra water being added to the tank. On the other hand, paint tools and airbrushes, due to their operating nature, increase the amount of condensed water, and the tank should be drained more frequently.
3. Are there any ways of furtherly quieting down the air compressor?
If you are not satisfied with the noise levels your quiet air compressor makes, there are a few steps you can take to muffle it down a bit more.
- Make sure that the surface the compressor is standing on is perfectly stable. Clunky screws and non-leveled work stations will surely make additional vibrations, thus creating more noise. Tighten the screws and level the tables.
- Put some sound-proof material in the corners of the room you are working in. Sounds tend to scatter all over the place, and edges are the pain points when it comes to the noise levels. By filling the upper corners of the with sound-absorbing material, you make sure that fewer sound waves hit your ear.
- Use the right amount of power. When you crank up the gauges to the maximum, the air compressor will make more noise, and often times there is no need to go “pedal to the metal.” Always aim to use the correct amount of pressure for the job at hand.
Air compressors are not heavy machinery reserved for professional handymen and industrial settings anymore. You should consider what’s important for you. If what worries you is the noise that these machines often make, consider some of the models described above, in our quiet air compressor reviews.
If you’re thinking of getting one for yourself, we strongly encourage you to get one of these quietest air compressors for home use. Considering the vast variety of fantastic units available, why not get one that won’t damage your hearing?