8 Best 20 Gallon Air Compressors [Duty Cycle Test]
20-gallon air compressors are the most popular midsize air compressor for running low-load air tools. They’re a great tool to have for home wonders, construction sites, and all DIY’ers. Most of the 20-gallon air compressors you find today will have a 15 amp draw on a 120-volt household current.
If you want to run a 20-gallon air compressor on a generator, then you will need a generator that can provide a minimum of 2000 running watts or 4000 starting watts.
When it comes to pneumatic tools, you’ll need a 20-gallon air compressor since a pancake compressor isn’t strong enough to handle many of them. However a 20-gallon compressor won’t operate industrial-grade pneumatic tools, so it’s a better option for home or small shop use.
Construction workers would benefit from a portable 20-gallon compressor. As long as the CFM is over 5, they can run drills, sanders, airbrushes, brad nailers, and more. Additionally, this is a handy and versatile machine for home use.
If you work in a fast-paced environment, consider the maximum PSI, This is how much air pressure can be inside the tank. Anything over 120 PSI is more than enough for most applications. Home DIY’ers may not be concerned about this, but it’s ideal for automotive shops and construction sites.
We’ve reviewed several 20-gallon air compressors on the market and compared them based on CFM, PSI, and price. The DeWALT was our favorite out of all the ones we tested because of its powerful motor and high CFM rating, but the Craftsman wasn’t far behind.
Best 20 Gallon Air Compressors
|DeWALT||6.2/7.7 CFM @ 90/40 PSI||2.0||200 PSI||$778|
|Craftsman||4.0/5.0 CFM @ 90/40 PSI||1.8||175 PSI||$532|
|McGRAW||4.0/5.0 CFM @ 90/40 PSI||1.6||135 PSI||$199|
|Stealth||6.0/5.0 CFM @ 90/40 PSI||1.8||150 PSI||$319|
|Campbell Hausfeld||4.0/5.0 CFM @ 90/40 PSI||1.3||150 PSI||$496|
Our Top Picks For 20 Gallon Air Compressors
1. DeWALT DXCM201 – Best Overall
We chose the DeWALT DXCM201 as the best overall due to its high CFM and PSI ratings as well as durability and portability.
The DeWALT DXCM201 hotdog compressor is a serious machine for all types of DIY’ers and contractors. It’s a single-stage compressor that has the ability to deliver dual-stage power. It’s certainly one of the most versatile compressors we came across.
We used this compressor with many of our pneumatic tools. It has a maximum PSI of 200 and CFM ratings of 6.2 @ 90 PSI and 7.7 CFM @ 40 PSI. We successfully operated a nail gun, airbrush, impact wrench, and sander with no issues or bogging down.
It also provided us with 53 percent more run-time than most other 20-gallon air compressors.
Even though this compressor is so large, it doesn’t put out as much noise as you would expect. It has a rating of around 78 dBA. It was also surprisingly easy to carry around even though it weighs over 100 pounds. We think its large 10” pneumatic wheels had a lot to do with this.
We think that this 2.0 hp compressor is a good choice for home use, light automotive tasks, medium-duty metal working, and a variety of agricultural equipment repairs.
Our only issue with this particular compressor is that it’s oil-lubricated, so it requires occasional maintenance. This may not be the most convenient thing for some homeowners, but it does increase the longevity of the compressor as long as maintenance is kept up on it. Additionally, it’s the most expensive compressor on the list, but well worth it.
2. Craftsman CMXECXA023204 – Best Overall Runnerup
Craftsman is a name that every DIY’er and construction worker is familiar with. You can easily recognize any of their tools based on their bright red color and white lettering. This standup air compressor was a close contender for best overall, but it just wasn’t as strong as the DeWALT.
This multifunction machine did very well with our pneumatic tools. It produced 4 CFM @ 90 PSI and 5 CFM at 40 PSI with a maximum of 175 PSI. We were able to inflate tires, clean our car, and run various pneumatic tools such as a stapler, brad/finishing nailer, air wrench, paint sprayer, and more.
As far as power is concerned, it comes in at 1.8 hp. It’s not as strong as the DeWALT, but it still performed very well. The entire compressor is made of stainless steel and has rubber feet and an oil-free pump for minimal maintenance.
The compressor didn’t take very long to fill from empty to full either. It took about 4 minutes to fill and roughly 1 minute at half cycle. The gauges on top of the compressor are easy to read and keep track of PSI inside and outgoing. This is where the quick connections are as well. We were able to easily attach two pneumatic tools at once with minimal bogging.
I can’t say that this compressor didn’t come with any issues. For starters, it’s much louder than some other comparable models. Additionally, it will bog down if multiple tools are being used, even if it has the proper CFM output.
3. McGRAW 64857 – Cheapest
If you’re looking for a cheap 20-gallon air compressor that gets the job done, then you may like the McGraw 64857. It’s an oil-lubricated machine, which means it requires some occasional maintenance on your part, but it will ensure the compressor lasts.
The 1.6 hp motor did a great job keeping up with the demands of our tools. It helped put out 4.0 CFM @ 90 PSI and about 5.0 CFM @ 40 PSI with a maximum PSI of 135.
It took about 3 minutes to fill from empty to full and a little over a minute from half to full. We did notice some bogging when we used a higher CFM-rated tool, but that was to be expected.
This vertical compressor is easy to transport thanks to the large rubber tires and ergonomic handle. There are rubber feet with stabilizers that help reduce vibration. Unfortunately, this compressor is unbelievably loud, but we were expecting it based on the low price tag.
Fortunately, for a questionable price tag, this machine performed rather well other than the noise level. We were able to perform the tasks needed with little aggravation. The compressor seems very well built and durable.
4. Campbell Hausfeld
The Campbell Hausfeld is a great 20-gallon air compressor for the price. It’s made by a reputable brand, so you can rest assured knowing you’ll get a great product. It certainly served us quite well.
The first thing we experienced was how long it took to fill from 0 to 150 PSI. It took just 3 minutes to fill from empty and about 1 minute and 30 seconds to fill from half full. 150 PSI is as high as the tank goes thanks to the 1.3 hp motor. The motor doesn’t seem to bog down much when in use with multiple tools.
As for CFM, this compressor has an output of 4.0/5.0 CFM @ 90/40 PSI due to its oil-free pump. We tested the compressor with quite a few pneumatic tools including an impact wrench, sander, grinder, air chuck, and others that required a minimum of 4.0 CFM.
Since the compressor is oil-free, it means there’s minimal maintenance required. You can spend more time using the compressor than fixing it. When we were not using it, it could be easily stored out of the way thanks to its grab handle and wheels.
We were a little disappointed by the slow fill time when compared to other compressors in this price range. Fortunately, this didn’t really bother us since we weren’t in a huge hurry to use it.
5. Industrial Air IL1682066.MN – Best 20 Gallon Air Compressor For Painting
Industrial Air IL1682066.MN is designed to handle massive tasks. The quick-set regulator makes this air compressor ideal 20 gal compressor for painting. The quick-set regulator is easy to manipulate.
The lubricated pump features cast iron and V-shaped twin-cylinder for faster heat dissipation and higher durability. This unique design enhances the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) reading. The included aluminum head and reed valves further aid in the distribution of heat, rendering the machine thermally stable.
The 20-gallon ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) vertical compressor is aimed at maximum portability with front handles, pneumatic tires, and a small footprint, making it easy to use anywhere you want. One significant benefit of this machine is the heavy-duty motor.
Moreover, control functions like a set regulator, pressure gauges, air outlet, and convenient on/off button make this compressor deliver maximum performance. The 120 volts can be transformed into 240 volts with double performance.
In addition to being an excellent compressor for spray painting, it works well for nail gun applications. Finally, we considered this 20 gal compressor to be a good value for money despite the relatively high price. It works optimally, even in extreme conditions.
In conclusion, IL1682066.MN from Industrial Air features top performance, albeit at a relatively high weight.
6. P1.5IU-A9 Single-Stage Portable Air Compressor
This air compressor is perfect for DIY and professional applications thanks to its heavy-duty, ergonomic handle and semi-pneumatic tires for secure handling. It emits just 80 dBA of noise and features an automatic start/stop pressure switch control.
The side drain valve is easily accessible. 100% continuous duty is guaranteed. A very long life cycle is provided by the durable cast iron cylinder and frame, manual overload motor protection, and protective enclosed belt guard.
Operation is highly reliable with synthetic lubricant for all seasons that increases efficiency and 2,000 hours of service between change-outs. This compressor performs four times longer than those using petroleum-based oils. You may also purchase this unit at Northern Tool.
- Portable Design: Heavy-duty, ergonomic handle and semi-pneumatic tires for secure handling, ideal for DIYers or the professional
- User Friendly: A low 80 dBA noise level, an easily accessible side drain valve and an automatic start/stop pressure switch control provides a superior user experience
- Maximum Power: 100% continuous duty, along with 20-gallon receiver tank for severe applications
- Reliable Operation: All Season Select synthetic lubricant increases efficiency; with 2,000 hours of service between change-outs, it performs four times longer than petroleum-based lubricants
- Long-Life: Durable cast iron cylinder and frame, protective enclosed belt guard and manual overload motor protection provide excellent longevity
7. Stealth Ultra Quiet – Quietest
At just 68 dBA, this is the quietest 20-gallon air compressor on our list, and one of the quietest 20-gallon compressors overall. We didn’t think it could be so quiet, but it definitely proved us wrong. We were able to work in an enclosed space and have a full conversation at the same time.
As far as performance goes, it fills to maximum capacity in just 70 seconds. The maximum PSI of this machine is 150. When it fills from half full, it takes a mere 30 seconds. We thought this was pretty quick compared to other models in this price range.
We tested a couple of our heavier-duty pneumatic tools with this compressor. Since this compressor can put out 6 CFM @ 90 PSI and 5 CFM @ 40 PSI, we had no problem running a large impact gun, sander, cut-off tool, finishing nailer, angle grinder, air chuck, and more. There was very little bogging down when we pushed the machine to its maximum power.
Since this is an oil-free machine, there’s very little maintenance. This is optimal for those who don’t have the time or patience to perform frequent maintenance. This lowers the life expectancy of the machine, but overall it can last upwards of 10 years or more.
A couple of grievances we have with this compressor is that first, the hook for the hose is too low. When the hose is hanging, it interferes with the wheels when the compressor is being used. Second, the “auto” drain isn’t actually automatic. It has to be manually drained.
8. WEN 2202 Vertical Air Compressor
The WEN 2202 is a very user-friendly air compressor. There’s a lot less hassle involved if you choose this product because it has a fast coupler, a very easy-to-reach quick drain valve, and two pressure gauges, making it perfect for use with air tools.
One fascinating fact about this air compressor is that it actually comes with a two-year warranty. If anything goes wrong with it, you should be able to get it quickly repaired for free.
The product comes with a handle and two wheels on the front of it, making it very easy to move around should you need to work at a different location with it.
The compressor is 19.5 x 17.5 x 42 inches in size and weighs 86 lbs. We think this air compressor is the best to use with air tools because it is very user-friendly. Plus, it’s’s always reassuring to have an extended warranty term.
What can I do with a 20-Gallon Air Compressor?
A 20-gallon air compressor can be used for multiple things if you need to use it for more simple DIY projects it will easily be suitable for this, or if you need to use it for business use or use in a commercial shop, then it will also be ideal for this too.
How Long can a 20-Gallon Air Compressor Tank Last?
Air compressors have quite a long life and should be able to last you between 20 to 30 years, which is also equivalent to 40,000 to 60,000 hours of work.
One thing you should look out for is whether or not the air compressor comes with any key features; for instance, some guarantee that they can last up to four times longer, so this is always something you should look out for.
There you have it. Those are our top 20-gallon air compressors based on CFM, PSI, and price. They aren’t the cheapest compressors, but they certainly didn’t disappoint. Remember to check if your pneumatic tools are compatible with the ratings of the compressor or you may not receive optimal performance.