When looking for a high CFM air compressor there are many things to take into consideration. Not the least of these is noise. If you want a powerful compressor for your garage or shop, yet you want to keep the noise volume down, what can you do? It is not an easy combination to find. Why?
The problem is the correlation between higher CFM – cubic feet per minute – of power and decibels of noise. The more power you have, the more noise you have. As you move from the smallest of air compressors to the largest industrial air compressors, the noise level increases. For example, here is one of the smallest units on the market compared with one of the largest.
Types of Air Compressors
The reciprocating or piston air compressor is the most common and the easiest for most of us to understand. This is the up and down piston motion you find in your car or any basic internal combustion engine. These types of air compressors can be very noisy. The single-piston makes a lot more noise than a duplex or two-piston engine.
The rotary screw air compressor runs on a positive displacement system with two matching helical screws. The design of this compressor is in some ways like a turbocharged engine on a race car. They are quieter than the piston-driven, reciprocating engine because those two helical screws never come into contact with one another.
This is the one air compressor that can produce a good amount of CFM with a smaller amount of dba. It is exceptionally efficient and exceptionally quiet. They are made for work environments that are highly regulated and require both high production and low noise. Yet they still run on a low CFM.
The Scroll air compressor uses two metal pieces that are spiral-shaped. One-piece does not move while the other fits inside the first and going in a circular motion create the air compression. Of these types of air compressors, only the reciprocating piston-driven air compressor is feasible. The average cost of these air compressors is:
For the shell type of air compressor, the cost is between $15,000 and $30,000. For the rotary type of air compressor, the cost is between $3700 to $27,000. The reciprocating air compressor is the least expensive costing under $100 and going up to several thousand dollars.
5 Highest CFM Air Compressors
The five products we are comparing below are from the home shop/small business lines and the larger industrial lines. It does appear that the larger industrial lines can offer more power with less noise than the small more portable units and the stationary home shop units. These five air compressors are very different in many ways, though they all still meet the minimum in features everyone looks for in an air compressor.
|Ingersoll Rand 15-HP 120-Gallon Two-Stage||85.1||50||best high cfm air compressor||More Details|
|California Air Tools 10020DC-22060||70||5.3||quiet high cfm air compressor||More Details|
|Champion L18RS||68||107||100 cfm air compressor||More Details|
|Industrial Air ILA188354||78||5.7||highest cfm 110v air compressor||More Details|
|Campbell Hausfeld 5-HP 80-Gallon||87||15||15 cfm portable air compressor||More Details|
Our Top Choices
1. Ingersoll Rand IRT45465770 Compressor – The 50 CFM Air Compressor
This is a very high CFM air compressor that is expensive and can be used for both industrial applications and large home businesses – body shops, car restoration and more. You have to have space for this kind of unit but with a CFM of 50, it is probably one of the last level units that could be both for a home shop and an industrial plant.
This is a high-efficiency unit with an intercooler, stainless steel valves and inlet air filters that include sound attenuation baffles to reduce the noise on this big unit. The intercooler reduces water and cools the unit at the same time.
Why is it The Best High CFM Air Compressor?
We chose it as the best high CFM air compressor for that reason. If you have a large metal shop or auto body shop at home; if you restore classic cars on the side; this is the air compressor for you. It is expensive, so you have to be in the market for a large unit like this 120-gallon tank, 175 PSI compressor. Anything you need in your shop or business this unit can give you.
It is solid cast iron – pumps, cylinders and belt wheel, two stages, from the belt-driven Ingersoll Rand series. It is oil lubricated with low oil shut off. The Ingersoll Rand 208V 3 phase has 15 HP and a lot of power. In addition, it comes prewired and pretested, easy to install.
- Enough power for anything you want to do
- Constant cooling to lower operating temps
- Safe and fully OSHA Compliant
- One year warranty
- 85.1 dba rating is not bad for a compressor with this kind of power.
- Might be noisier than you want
- Continuous run too much/shop
2.California Air Tools 10020DC-22060 – Best Quiet High CFM Air Compressor
This is a great home or small shop unit with a lot of power for the absolute quiet it provides. This unit presents with a decibel rating of 70 and a CFM of 5.3 at 90 PSI for a small home unit. It is 6.4 CFM at 40 PSI. Users rave about how ultra-quiet this unit is. It has an HP of 2.0 with 7.0 amp draw. The 10-gallon tank is on wheels and great for portability as well as an at-home small shop. The unit is well finished and looks good. It comes on, powers up and automatically shuts off as advertised.
The unit has a quick fill from empty to full pressure in less than 3 minutes, even running at a lower RPM than may single cylinder air compressors. In addition, the compressor will run a 6CFM air wrench to change out tires with no problems at all. It has all the fittings, and everything is connected and ready to go right out of the box.
Why We Think it is the best quiet high CFM Compressor
The CFM of 6.4 or 5.3 might not seem like much compared to the previous unit we reviewed, but this is not an industrial unit and has a lot of power for a smaller home shop unit. That 6.4 is enough to power for all your typical pneumatic tools such as wrenches, nail guns, and screwdrivers. It is not strong enough for a paint sprayer.
The maximum PSI is 125, yet you can run this compressor 24/7 without ever getting a complaint from neighbors or family about the noise. You can stand right next to the compressor and hold a conversation without any problems hearing anything that is said. That is the real beauty of this unit.
- Very quiet
- The motor is well-built unit and handle sturdy
- Holds air for weeks without leaks
- Great for low volume power tools
- durable – don’t try to use with
- Quality of built in connectors
- Not industrial-strength – not as
- paint sprayer
3. Champion L18RS Compressor – Best 100 CFM Air Compressor
When looking at a really high powered air compressor with a CFM of 100 you are looking at an industrial unit. This unit is not designed for home use but rather for an industrial plant. Because of that, it is very expensive compared with the home/shop units we are looking at.
Unlike the previously reviewed unit, this is a rotary screw compressor, not a reciprocating unit. This allows for more CFM power and at the same time, the rotary screw design allows for less noise than the reciprocating style. All stationary units are also able to have some vibration control and less noise, therefore. This Champion L18RS unit is variable speed and boasts up to 190 PSI. At 110PSI the CFM is 107.8. The motor and 25 horsepower and yet the decibels are only rated at 68. This unit is a part of Champions LRS-Series compressors with the latest technology developed for air compressors.
- Clean and simple to operate. Too much power for home use
- Intuitive layout. Expensive
- Allen Bradley inverter drives.
- Pilot microprocessor controllers.
- Quiet enclosures.
- So easy to service setting new service standards.
- Compact Design
- No cons to say actually
4.Industrial Air ILA188354 – Best High CFM 110 Volt Air Compressor
Here we looked only at 110-volt air compressor which is portable and smaller. Some of them can run on both 110 and 240 volts, but all of them are able to run on just 110. This makes them a great choice for your garage or small shop without having to rewire for 240V.
The Industrial Air ILA188354/054 has 155 maximum PSI with a 30-gallon tank. The 110V application can easily be converted to 240V. With a CFM from 5.7 to 7.0 depending on PSI being used, this unit has plenty of power for its size. This compressor is part of the Industrial Air belt-driven series and features cast iron two-cylinder, oil-lubricated performance on just 1 horsepower. However, the unit does have an induction motor that regardless of horsepower is heavy-duty in the performance category.
Why it is the Best 110V Air Compressor
It is the performance of the unit that brings it to the top of the page of 110V compressors. This unit has a high PSI and CFM for the lower voltage level. It is also one of the quietest units for its power levels. As a portable unit, it is extremely well made in terms of noise. The two cylinders are bolted directly to the crankcase and the head bolts directly to those cylinders.
Put this together with the balanced cast iron flywheel means nothing is vibrating to make extra noise.
- Very Quiet Tubing from pump can get hot
- Convertible to 240V Drain cock is difficult to reach
- Plenty of power for most tools Wheels on unit lose air regularly
- High PSI and CFM with only 110V
- Not that much cons.
5. CAMPBELL HAUSFELD VT6275 3RHP60GAL – Best 15 CFM Portable Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld 5 HP 80 Gallon 2 Stage Air Compressor with 240V 1 Phase has 15 CFM with 87 decibels. Technically this is an industrial unit which allows for the quieter environment. The two-stage pump is oil-lubricated and cast iron. This unit is part of the Campbell Hausfeld belt-driven series of air compressors.
Even though it is an industrial-sized unit it is great for a large shop or a car restoration business. It can run a wide variety of air tools including sanders, paint guns, grinders, and sheet metal cutters.
Why is it the best 15 CFM air compressor?
It is the combination of power and low noise, along with the ability to be efficient in both the commercial environment and the home environment. The ability to run more than 20 air tools makes it a great fit for the home shop or small business.
- Can run more than 20 tools. Expensive for a home unit
- Safe with enclosed belt guard. No power chord, no on/off
- 12000 hours of run time at 90 PSI
- Space-Saving Design
- switch, filter, cut off valve or pads
CFM & Decibels
Since we already know that increasing the CFM increasing the dba, we are going to look more closely at a few air compressors that offer you a choice among these factors. There are five units we will look at, each presenting different features.
We will compare the CFM and dba on these 5 models along with other features so that we can see if there is a unit that meets the criteria for high CFM and low dba.
Buying Guide: What To Look For
Depending upon your needs one of these air compressors should fit your job. The air compressor must meet your needs for all features such as:
cubic feet of air dispersed per minute – is the amount of power you need. As you can see the Champion L18RS Variable Speed Rotary Screw Compressor has the highest CFM of the compressors we are reviewing. It is also an industrial-strength system.
Once again, the dba is the amount of noise the compressor puts out. In our reviewed products the least amount of noise comes from the industrial product. However, you can see that the Campbell Hausfeld has 15 CFM but a loud 87 decibels.
this is the materials that the cylinders are made from. This is often a safety concern if your compressor overheats. Our first choice is for cast iron cylinders. They are durable and they are the safest materials.
Pressure per square inch like CFM air dispersed per cubic foot – is a variable depending on your needs. But it is the variable that together with CFM makes the system work for you. All your pneumatic tools will have a PSI rating and you will need your air compressor rating to be higher than your highest level tool.
Horsepower determines the amount of power the engine on the compressor is putting out. The more HP the more power the compressor gets from the engine.
In plug-in units, you are looking at either 110 or 240 current level, but many of the smaller portable units will run off 12V from your car lighter port.
Air compressors come in different levels or stages. The more stages you have the longer running time you will have in each session. 2 Stage Air Compressors usually are associated with high CFM rating.
Size of Tank
How much air do you need? This really depends on how continuous your work needs to be. You can actually use any size unless you need to work with the compressor nonstop for hours at a time.
The number of cylinders
impacts how efficient your unit is, how long you can run it and what it costs to run it. More cylinders are more efficient.
Oil or no oil
An oil-dependent air compressor is durable and longer-lasting than the environmentally compliant no oil units. The no oil units have less maintenance.
Portable or stationary
Do you want your compressor to be movable? The stationary units have more voltage use and more power. The stationary units are always electric-powered.
Electric or gas powered
Stationary units must be plugged in whether in your garage, home shop or an industrial area. Portable units can be powered by gasoline, plugged into your cigarette lighter port in the car or plugged into a wall outlet or car outlet.
There are other features you might be interested in as well and we will mention which ones the products we review have available. These are things like pressure gauges, pre-sets, heat reduction systems, heat-reducing coverings, auto shut off, and drainage valves.
Frequently Asked Questions
The higher CFM the better air compressor?
Not always. It depends on what the air compressor is needed for. It simply means they provide more air so they are better for larger projects. If all you want is to inflate tires, more expensive, high CFM units are probably not worth it.
How many CFM air compressor do I need?
Again it depends on what you are using your air compressor for. CFM is beneficial in conjunction with the PSI or pressure per square inch. It can be confusing but basically, you need enough CFM for your tools to work properly. You need to know how much CFM 90 PSI gives you. This is because most air tools require 90 PSI. The general rule is that 90 psi gives you 3-4 CFM. If your tools need 90 PSI you need 3-4 CFM.
How does PSI relate to CFM?
As noted above, the Pressure per Square Inch together with the Cubic Feet per minute tells you how much air you have and how much it is moving. In fact, the CFM is how much airflow and PSI is how much resistance there is to the flow. The CFM and PSI work together depending upon how much CFM you need to push the pressurized air through the nozzles.
Does CFM increase as PSI decreases?
Yes, it does. As the air is compressed and 1 CFM at 1 PSI = ½ CFM at 2 PSI. It is easier to push a small amount of air at a high pressure OR a large amount of air at low pressure. To get both a large amount of air at high pressure you need a very large and powerful air compressor.
How many CFM do I need for a paint gun?
The answer to this really depends on how much CFM and PSI your particular paint gun needs. There will be a rating on your spray gun. You need CFM more than PSI so that you have enough volume for the pressure. Your paint gun with tell you it needs 2CFM for every 90PSI or 1 CFM for every 45 PSI.
How many CFM do I need for sandblasting?
The answer to this is more complicated than the paint gun. The more CFM the better if you are sandblasting. Yet there is more to consider. You have to know the CFM of the sandblaster, the compressor and the size of the nozzle. The compressor CFM must be larger than the blaster CFM. To determine how much CFM you need add the CFM of the sandblaster to the CFM of the nozzle. This amount must be below the CFM of the compressor. For example – your blaster needs 13 CFM and your nozzle needs 11 CFM. Any compressor with CFM over 24 will do.
How many CFM does my HVPL gun need?
An HVLP gun is a High Volume Low-Pressure paint gun – an innovation in paint guns. However, most compressors will not give you enough volume for the amount of CFM the gun needs. If you have an HVLP gun that requires 12 CFM, you will need a more powerful compressor than any small home or car unit. You need more than 12 CFM and you can see just from the units we reviewed, the smaller units run at >1 to about 5 CFM at 90 PSI. Your gun will tell you how much CFM it needs at 90 PSI.
What is the difference between SCFM and CFM?
CFM Rating at a time the most popular way to determine your pressure and volume. Currently, most pneumatic tools are rated their SCFM. Furthermore, the Standard Cubic Feet per Minute(SCFM) is the current industry standard. However, one may ask what is the difference between them?
The CFM is a guideline or a “typical” amount of displaced CFM, while the SCFM is a more scientific measure. The CFM calculates how much air per RPM (Revolutions per minute) does the air compressor’s cylinder put out? The SCFM measures the CFM flow and adjusts it according to the standards that have been set by the industry and its engineers and scientists. This is more accurate because it takes into account the atmospheric pressure, the temperature and the relative humidity percentage.
What is the CFM?
Cubic Feet per minute of airflow put out by the compressor or used by the pneumatic tool. The bottom line is that for the most part there is a direct correlation between the CFM and the noise level of the compressor. The more airflow you have (CFM) at how much resistance to that flow (PSI) the higher the decibels of noise there will be.