California Air 5510se Review | Top Features & Ratings

The 5510SE by California Air Tools is one of the most highly reviewed compressors currently on the market.

With that in mind, our team is taking a closer look at what makes the 5510SE tick, examining things like RPM, voltage, PSI, and noise level. The best air compressor for the job is about more than just maximizing power.

For example, there are many instances when a compact air compressor might be more suitable than a full-size compressor.

Similarly, there is a lot of demand for a compressor that can operate with less noise. The 5510SE is a quiet but powerful addition to the catalog at California Air Tools.

California Air Tools 5510se

Here’s what we think:

Who the CAT 5510se is Really For

This is a great little compressor for anyone who has to work in confined spaces. Doing projects in basements small rooms, and other indoor spaces can become quickly cramped. Small rooms also have a tendency to reverberate, which is not only annoying but can also be harmful to ears. 

Being a portable air compressor it is a good choice for anyone who isn’t interested in doing a whole lot of heavy lifting.

Yet the relatively lightweight construction (46 LBS) puts it well within the range for a compressor that can be thrown in the back of the truck.  


  • Oil-free motor system
  • Dual-piston compressor pump
  • Cast aluminum construction
  • Manual drain valve
  • Max decibel output of 60
  • Operating RPM of 1,680
  • 120 maximum PSI
  • 110v voltage capacity
  • 46 LBS overall weight
  • Dimensions: 25.5” x 11.5” x 21”

Brand Overview

Although they have only been around since 2002, California Air Tools (CAT) has managed to build a reputation for engineering products that are innovative, affordable, and from what we can tell, highly functional. 

CAT offers a wide selection of air compressors, including both residential and industrial compressors.

California Oil-Free Air Compressor

Other products they make include auxiliary air tanks, spray guns, and other smaller accessories. The 5510SE represents the newest model in their ultra-quiet series of small air compressors. 

High-Power & Low-Noise

So here’s the deal about the 5510SE: it’s a high-performance compressor designed to operate at a significantly reduced noise level. It’s relatively small design adds portability that none of the larger models can offer.

Considering these two things, the 5510SE becomes the perfect compressor for projects in small spaces. As a part of the CAT “Ultra Quiet” series, this compressor lives up to its promises of smooth, quiet operation.

Yet at the same time it manages to provide a reliable output and an impressive blend of RPM and mac PSI. This blend of power and quiet operation makes the 5510SE one of the best mid-range compressors on the market.

Unlike the comparable CAT 4620A or similar models from Bostitch, the 5510SE is truly a great all-around compressor.  

What We Like

  • Even at full capacity, this compressor is remarkably quiet (Max 60 decibels)
  • Rear-mounted wheels make it easy to move from site to site without heavy lifting
  • Relatively compact design make it ideal for confined work sites

What We Dislike

  • Smaller tank capacity might make it unsuitable for contractors and large projects
  • CFM is too low for continuous operations of high-pressure tools

Frequently Asked Questions

Is This Really Quieter Than A Pancake-style Compressor?

There are a number of reasons that pancake compressors have become really popular, affordability and portability chief among them. But most pancake compressors can also be unbearably loud … partially as a result of their smaller construction.

The key to the quiet operation of the 5510SE and other ultra-quiet compressors is a relatedly reduced RPM. 

How Does the 5510SE “reduce wear”, as it is Advertised To Do?

Even the best air compressors only have so much life in them before one or more components need replacing. Generally, these operational limits are expressed in hours, which is the total hours of operation before failure.

Entry-level air compressors can often hit many hundreds of hours of operation before maintenance is required. Industrial air compressors and larger models have no problem operating for thousands of hours without issue. 

The key to mechanical wear is RPM. The higher the RPM of a motor, the more wear and tear is going to occur inside the mechanical components. Unlike competing air compressors, the 5510SE operates at a maximum of 1,680.

This is a relatively low RPM that allows the compressor components to last for much longer before maintenance is required. 

When Should I Replace The Air Intake Filter?

Not all air compressors include an air intake filter, but those that do require some additional maintenance. If the compressor is being used regularly, then it is recommended to clean out the air filter every week.

Usually, the air filter can be cleaned out many times before becoming too damaged to re-use. If you notice that your air intake filter has become ripped or torn then you should replace it immediately. 

With So Many Models Available, How Do I Choose An Air Compressor?

Choosing the right air compressor requires the consideration of a lot of factors. But the most important factor to start with is the air consumption requirement of the tool you will be using.

Every tool has an air consumption requirement, so it is always possible to make this determination. 

As an example, your air-powered tool might have a consumption requirement of 2.5 CFM @ 90 PSI. It is important to pay attention to both CFM and PSI in order to make sure that everything operates correctly.

However, if you want to operate your tool on a continuous basis, it’s a good idea to double your required CFM rating. This is because most tools are rated for intermittent use, as opposed to continuous operation. 

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