The California Air Tools (CAT) 10020C is a sleek, ultra-quiet, yet powerful oil-free air compressor option.

It is powered by the all-new 2.0 HP SP-9421 motor that operates at about 1680 RPM, resulting in less wear and noise (less than 70 decibels). 

Additionally, the SP series motors have been designed to offer an increased duty cycle to ensure that you get the longest continuous operation from your compressor.

The oil-free Dual Piston Pump System used on this unit delivers superior performance and extended durability. 

Being one of the best CAT models, the 10020C air compressor allows for easy and fast cold start. This makes it ideal for use in a vast array of temperature and terrain conditions.

Throughout this CAT 10020C Air Compressor Review, you will learn what makes it so unique and desirable. 

Top Features

The California Air Tools model 10020C features a compact design for enhanced portability. Even so, the unit is designed to deliver 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI.

This may be attributed to the new SP Motor Series by the CAT manufacturer. 

All the controls, twin air pressure gauges, and dual-quick connectors on this model are easily accessible on its rugged front control panel.

The panel is installed on a protective steel roll cage to protect it from any form of damage. 

The ease of use and exceptional performance of this model may be attributed to its distinct combination of features and capabilities, including: 

New SP Series Motor/Pump

The California Air Tools 10020C air compressor is powered by the new SP-9421 motor/pump that had been proven to be relatively easy to repair. This motor is designed to offer enhanced durability in demanding conditions.

As a matter of fact, you can use it for up to 3,000 hours before carrying out any repair on the motor. 

The motor also boasts of other innovative Capabilities that make it superior to other air compressors in the industry, such as:

Improved Heat Dissipation 

The motor on the CAT 10020C produces a relatively lower amount of heat in operation. Additionally, the unit is designed to dissipate this heat more efficiently. This improved cooling efficiency allows for an increased duty cycle. 

This has resulted in amazingly longer continuous run times of the unit before you need to shut down in order for the motor to cool down.

This comes in handy when you are working on projects that require a continuous supply of compressed air since the reservoir tank has a capacity of only 10 gallons.

Increased Airflow and Reduced Noise 

The new design SP pump features a cast aluminum construction. The pump is equipped with two extra-large pistons. The pistons are then fitted with Teflon coated rings.

Such rings, in addition to the fact that the unit produces just 1680 RPM, has reduced noise production considerably. 

This construction has also played a role in optimizing airflow in the 10020C model. The airflow is further enhanced by the resigned valve plate and the improved stainless-steel Swedish reed valves.

Thermal Overload Protector

The 2-horsepower brushless motor is UL listed. The motor also features a thermal Overload Protection, helping protect the motor against damage as a result of accidental overheating.

The protector will also prevent the motor from overheating. 

In its functioning, the automatic pressure switch automatically turns the motor off when the air pressure level reaches the pre-set maximum level.

When the pressure drops below the minimum pre-set level, the pressure switch will restart the motor. This helps prevent your air compressor motor from overheating as a result of continuous running. 

4-Pole Brushless Design  

The four-pole brushless motor design of the unit has been proven to generate less noise as a result of the lower operating speed of 1680RPM. This feature also goes a long way in reducing wear and tear on motor components.

This design also allows for easy starting of the compressor and makes the model more efficient on energy. 

Low Amp Draw

Owing to its improved starting efficiency, the CAT 10020C requires less current to start. As a result, it draws only a few Amps while starting.

As a matter of fact, it only requires about 14.0 amps to start. This being the case, you can connect the compressor to the conventional 15 amp outlets, and still have it running efficiently. 

Low Noise Production 

The 10020C California Air Tools air compressor is meant for indoor use. As such, it has been designed to comply with noise level requirements in such environments.

In this regard, the unit only produces a noise level of 70dB. 

Oil-Free Dual Piston Pump 

The CAT 10020C air compressor uses an oil-free dual-piston pump system that has been engineered for Improved durability and performance.

The Oil-Free Dual Piston Pump System allows the air compressor to work more efficiently, for a longer period, with minimal wear and tear on parts. 

The use of an oil-free pump allows for the production of clean compressed air that is free of any oil for applications that require such.

Many users also find the unit more convenient as they are not required to monitor oil levels or even refill the unit every once in a while. 

The oil-free design makes the model usable in a wide array of temperatures, including freezing conditions. Again, you can operate it while resting on any terrain as you do not need to worry about even distribution of oil in the pump.

Extra Large Dual Pistons

The pump features two extra-large pistons that ensure faster displacement of air. The Dual Piston pump also provides faster air delivery, and improve air compression.

These result in faster air displacement in the tank, which reduces recovery times significantly. The pistons are equipped with Teflon cylinder rings, which offer improved durability in various conditions.

CAT 10020C Air Compressor Alternatives 

Summary of 10020C ‘s Benefits 

  • The compressor is quieter in operation, and produces cleaner air for better tool operation, yet requires minimal maintenance 
  • Fitted with a thermal overload protector, two pressure control gauges and two 1/4″ hose connectors
  • Can produce up to 125 PSI of pressure with Kick-on pressure set at 95 PSI and Kick-Off pressure at 125 PSI 
  • Requires minimal recovery time, about 25 seconds to recover from 95 PSI to 125 PSI 
  • Equipped with a 10-gallin tank, that takes only 120 seconds to fill from empty
  • Backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty 

Possible Drawbacks 

You may need to run the air compressor every now and then because the compressed air storage tank is rather small. The compressor is costlier, as compared to other air compressor models in the same range.

The Pressure Switch

The pressure switch on the California Air Tools 10020C is factory pre-set to shut off at between 125 and 130 PSI. The switch is factory pre-set to restart at 95 to 100 PSI.

The switch doubles as thermal overload protection. If the air pressure in the tank rises to the maximum value, the switch will automatically turn the motor off.

Again, the switch will trigger the motor to turn on when the pressure in the tank falls below the minimum preset value. 

Adjusting the Pressure Switch 

The pressure switch is used to control the automatic stop/start function of the compressor.

This ensures that the correct pressure is maintained in the tank without having to overwork the motor.

Depending on the intended application, you may also re-adjust the pressure switch settings on your air compressor. 

To adjust the pressure switch on your 10020C compressor, you need to open the casing in order to access the pressure switch. You should then adjust the set screw for the maximum pressure activation point.

Turning the screw clockwise raises the pressure. You may also need to adjust the pressure difference setting screw to the right level.

Turning the screw clockwise increases the pressure difference. You need to alter this setting in gradual adjustments. 

Automatic Drain Valve 

The California Air Tools EZ-1 Automatic Drain Valve is designed to eliminate the need for manually draining the air compressor tank.

It features an integrated timer that allows you to manually set the duration and frequency of the automated draining process. The valve has a forged brass body, which makes it very durable and suited for heavy industrial use.

This feature helps prolong the life of your air compressor tank as well as prevent moisture from entering the line. This, in turn, prevents the air tank from rusting. 

Manual Draining of the Air Tank

The frequency at which you need to drain your CAT 10020C air compressor will depend on the prevailing environmental conditions.

The draining frequency will also depend on the amount of operating time logged for the model. 

On average, you should consider draining the Tori tank every two to three days. To drain the tank, you should place the compressor above a container to drain water.

With compressed air still in the tank, slowly turn the drain valve knob counterclockwise. This will drain water from the tank.

Once all the water has been drained, turn  the drain  valve  knob  clockwise  until  it  is  tight, to  avoid leakage

Final Verdict 

The California Air Tools model 10020C is a great choice for those looking for a portable, lightweight, durable, and ultra-quiet air compressor.

The unit is designed for indoor use, making it a perfect choice for DIY hobbyists and small workshops. 

The oil-free pump design makes the unit efficient, and powerful enough to deliver up to 125 PSI of pressure.

The model is also fitted with safety features, including a highly-efficient pressure switch. Such aspects make the CAT 10020C one of the best oil-free air compressors you can buy today.  You may be interested in California Air 5510se Review