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7 Best 20-Gallon Air Compressors

If you’re seeking a blend of mobility and performance, a 20-gallon air compressor fits the bill perfectly. These compressors stand out as the preferred choice among midsize options, catering to a wide range of users. Specifically crafted for occasional and low-load air tools, they are ideal for homeowners, small-scale projects, and DIY enthusiasts alike. 

Whether you’re tackling household repairs or working on creative projects, a 20-gallon air compressor offers the versatility and reliability you need to get the job done efficiently.

Just like any other tool, you have to consider certain factors to purchase the best 20-gallon air compressors. Some of them are mentioned below… 

  • Maximum Air Pressure: This indicates the maximum air pressure that the air tank can hold. For most users, any value exceeding 120 PSI is more than sufficient.
  •  Motor Power: All air compressors employ an electric motor to compress and store air in the tank. Due to the sizable tank and the need for high air pressure, this process can be time-consuming. Opting for a higher motor rating ensures more efficient results. Single-stage compressors typically range from 1 to 5 HP, while two-stage compressors span from 1 to 14 HP.
  • CFM Rating: The CFM rating informs you about the volume of air delivered by the compressor, measured in Cubic Feet per Minute. This metric is particularly useful for various applications. A CFM rating of 5 or higher is deemed excellent for 20-gallon air compressors, ensuring ample airflow for various tools and tasks.

Explore additional considerations for selecting a 20-gallon air compressor in our comprehensive “Buying Guide” Drawing from these considerations, we’ve identified the leading contenders.

7 Top 20-Gallon Air Compressors – Table

20 Gallon Air CompressorsMaximum PressureMotor PowerCPMNoise LevelBuy Now
DeWalt Portable 20-Gallon Air Compressor155psi1.9 HP6.2 SCFM78 dBCheck On Amazon
Ingersoll 20-Gallon Air Compressor135 psi2 HP80 dBCheck On Amazon
California 20-Gallon Air Compressor90 PSI2. 0 HP5. 30 CFM70 dBCheck On Amazon
Industrial 20-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor135 PSI1 HP6. 2 CFM65 dBCheck On Amazon
NorthStar20-Gallon Air Compressor135 PSI2 HP5.0 CFM80 dbCheck On Amazon
Porter Portable 20-Gallon Air Compressor150 PSI1.5 HP5.0 CFM84 dBCheck On Amazon
Craftsman 20-Gallon Air Compressor175 PSI1.8 HP4 SCFM80 dBCheck On Amazon

7 Best 20-Gallon Air Compressor Reviews

1. DeWalt 20-Gallon Portable Air Compressor

DeWalt 20-Gallon Portable Air CompressorWith an impressive maximum psi of 200, DeWalt’s 20-gallon air compressor takes the lead. It surpasses 20-gallon 155 psi models by delivering 53% longer air tool runtime. With a capacity of 6.2 SCFM at 90 psi, it extends its utility across various air tools, catering to diverse needs. Operating at 78 dBA, it creates a quieter work setting compared to direct drive oil-free compressors, thus enhancing user convenience. Moreover, the incorporation of a high-flow regulator and coupler ensures maximum air flow to tools, thereby optimizing overall performance.

Best Features:

  • 200 maximum psi for extended air tool runtime
  • 6.2 SCFM at 90 psi for versatile tool operation
  • 78 dBA operational noise level for quieter work environment
  • High-flow regulator and coupler for maximum air flow
  • Heavy-duty pneumatic wheels for portability

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2. Ingersoll Air Compressor

Ingersoll Air CompressorWe were impressed by the compact, wheeled design of Ingersoll’s 2 HP 20-gallon compressor. This compressor, highly favored by both DIY enthusiasts and professionals, boasts a powerful 2 horsepower motor and can reach a maximum operating pressure of 135 psi, providing a steady and dependable air supply for a variety of air-powered tools, from impact guns to drills.

Constructed from robust cast iron, this compressor ensures durability, while its oil-lubricated belt-driven mechanism ensures smooth and quiet operation, registering at only 80 dB. Moreover, it comes equipped with manual thermal overload motor protection and a fully enclosed belt guard, adding an extra layer of safety during operation.

Best Features:

  • Easy-to-transport wheeled design
  • 2 horsepower motor with a maximum pressure of 135 psi
  • Robust cast iron construction for durability
  • Oil-lube belt-driven design for quiet operation
  • Semi-pneumatic tires and ergonomic handle for effortless mobility 

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3. California 20-Gallon Air Compressor

California 20-Gallon Air CompressorCalifornia Air Tools has established itself as a noteworthy choice for those prioritizing portability and noise reduction. With a focus on industry-leading quietness and remarkable performance, this compressor has become a game-changer. Operating at a mere 70 decibels, it distinguishes itself as one of the quietest models in the 2.0 HP category. 

Its robust 2.0 HP motor runs at a relaxed 1680 RPM, effectively reducing both noise levels and wear. The Oil-Free Dual Piston Pump System ensures superior performance and longevity, boasting an impressive life cycle exceeding 3000 hours, a significant advantage over its competitors.

Best Features:

  • Ultra Quiet operation at only 70 decibels
  • Oil-Free Pump for reduced maintenance costs
  • 20.0 Gallon Steel Tank with wheels and Automatic Drain Valve
  • Powerful 2.0 HP motor with a life cycle of 3000 Plus hours
  • Easy Start Valve for smoother startups in cold temperatures

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4. Industrial 20-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor

Industrial Air Compressor

The Industrial Air 20-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor stands out as a dependable workhorse engineered for optimal functionality and convenient portability. Equipped with a 1.6 HP dual-voltage induction motor, this compressor is initially configured for standard 120-volt outlets, but can effortlessly adapt to 240-volt setups, offering adaptability across various worksites. 

Boasting a maximum psi of 135, it delivers a substantial 6.2 CFM at 40 psi and 5.3 CFM at 90 psi, catering perfectly to rigorous tasks like drilling, airbrushing, spraying, and nailing.

Best Features:

  • 1.6 HP dual-voltage induction motor for reliable power
  • 135 max psi for versatile tool operation
  • 6.2 CFM at 40 psi and 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI for efficient performance
  • V-twin, cast-iron, oil-lubricated pump for durability
  • Pneumatic tires for superior mobility

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5. NorthStar Air Compressor

NorthStar Air Compressor

Ranked fifth among the top 20-gallon air compressors, NorthStar presents a robust option suitable for diverse tasks. Our testing revealed its remarkable blend of compactness and power, with commendable engineering evident throughout. 

Featuring a 2 HP, 115V/230V dual-voltage induction motor, this compressor boasts a substantial output of 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI and 6.0 CFM at 40 PSI. The presence of a 2-cylinder cast iron single-stage pump not only ensures longevity but also facilitates efficient heat dissipation, thereby optimizing performance.

Best Features:

  • 2 HP dual-voltage induction motor for robust power
  • 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI and 6.0 CFM at 40 PSI for efficient operation
  • 2-cylinder cast iron single-stage pump for durability
  • Copper finned inter- and after-coolers for effective heat dissipation
  • Ball bearings on each side of the crankshaft for smooth running

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6. Porter Cable 20-Gallon Portable Air Compressor

Porter cable air compressor

The PORTER-CABLE 20-Gallon Portable Air Compressor offers a flexible solution, blending reliable performance with effortless portability. With a 5.0 CFM at 40 psi and 4.0 CFM at 90 psi, driven by a sturdy 1.5-HP motor, it caters to a range of tasks like drilling, air brushing, spraying, and nailing. 

Its sizable 20-gallon tank guarantees ample air reserve, while the maintenance-free, oil-free motor minimizes the need for frequent inspections and oil replacements.

Best Features:

  • 5.0 CFM at 40 psi and 4.0 CFM at 90 psi for versatile tool compatibility
  • Heavy-duty 1.5-HP motor for reliable performance
  • 20-gallon tank capacity for extended tool runtime
  • Oil-free motor for low maintenance operation
  • Portable design with semi-pneumatic wheels for easy transportation

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7. Craftsman 20-gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor

Craftsman 20-gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor

Craftsman Air Compressor is a dependable and effective solution crafted for effortless handling of diverse tasks. With a spacious 20-gallon tank and a maximum pressure of 175 PSI, this compressor guarantees prolonged tool operation for a wide range of industrial and household uses. 

The robust 1.8 HP motor, generating 4 SCFM at 90 psi, ensures swift compressor recovery, making it capable of effortlessly powering various tools such as drills, wrenches, paint sprayers, and nailers.

Best Features:

  • 20-gallon ultra-large tank for extended tool run times
  • Powerful 1.8 HP motor for quick compressor recovery
  • Max 175 PSI pressure for versatile tool compatibility
  • Sturdy stainless steel construction with rubber feet for durability
  • Two quick couplers for convenient tool connections

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How to Choose Best 20 Gallon Air Compressor?

To make an informed decision, it’s essential to consider key factors that can significantly impact performance and efficiency. In this guide, we’ll delve into the essential aspects to consider when choosing the best 20-gallon air compressor for your needs.

1. Types of Air Compressors

Air compressors come in two main types: single-stage and two-stage.

a. Single-Stage Air Compressors

Single-stage compressors operate with a single cylinder that directly pumps compressed air into the tank. These compressors typically have a compression ratio of 120 psi. They are well-suited for lighter tasks, simple applications, as well as activities like sawing and nailing. If your needs involve relatively straightforward work, a single-stage air compressor may be the practical choice.

b. Two-Stage Air Compressors

As the name suggests, two-stage air compressors are equipped with two cylinders, offering enhanced performance capabilities. In this design, air is initially compressed in the first cylinder before being transferred to a cooling tube. From there, it moves into the second cylinder for additional compression at 90 psi before finally reaching the tank at a maximum pressure of 175 psi. This design is ideal for applications that demand higher pressure levels.

2. Noise Level

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB), and a lower rating indicates quieter operation. A good benchmark is to look for compressors with noise levels around 70 dB or less. Some premium models even boast noise levels as low as 60 dB. Investing in a quieter compressor not only contributes to a more comfortable working environment but also reduces the risk of hearing damage over prolonged use.

3. CFM Rating

All air compressors come with a CFM rating which is very essential to consider while analyzing the models. Cubic feet per minute (CFM) measures the airflow capacity of a compressor, a vital specification to match the requirements of your tools. For instance, a pneumatic tool like a framing nailer might need around 2-3 CFM at 90 PSI, while a paint sprayer could require 4-6 CFM. 

Therefore, choose a compressor with a CFM rating that meets or exceeds the demands of your most air-hungry tools, guaranteeing consistent and efficient operation.

4. Maximum Air Pressure

The maximum air pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), is a critical determinant of an air compressor’s versatility. For most applications, a compressor with a PSI range between 125 and 150 is sufficient. 

However, if you are working with higher-demanding tools like impact wrenches or sandblasters, consider a compressor with a PSI of 175 or more. This ensures compatibility with a broader range of pneumatic tools, making your compressor a versatile workhorse.

5. Motor Power

You should also check the motor power of the air compressor you are buying. A powerful motor in your air compressor makes it quite practical for many users. The motor of an air compressor is responsible for storing the air inside the air tank. But since the size of the air tank is quite large with high air pressure inside, this process can take a lot of time.

Based on how quickly you deplete the tank, having high motor power can be quite a bit of use. Keep in mind that air compressor that has higher motor power is capable of filling then tank much quicker than others. However, it can get hotter as well. Single stage compressors come with 1 to 5 HP while two stage compressors come with 1 to 14 HP.

6. Duty Cycle

When considering the purchase of an air compressor, one crucial factor to assess is its duty cycle. This specification, typically represented as a percentage, indicates the amount of time the compressor can operate within a given time frame, often expressed in a 10-minute duration.

For instance, a compressor with a 50% duty cycle means it can run for more than 5 minutes within a 10-minute period. On the other hand, higher-quality industrial-grade compressors often boast duty cycles of at least 75%, with some models reaching 100%. A 100% duty cycle indicates that the compressor can operate continuously without the risk of overheating or performance degradation.

To better illustrate the significance of the duty cycle, consider the following scenario: You and a friend are tasked with painting a barn using a 10 CFM compressor. Your compressor has a 65% duty cycle, while your friend’s compressor has a 50% duty cycle.

In practical terms, this means:

  • With your compressor, you can paint for 6 ½ minutes before needing to allow for a 3 ½ minute cooldown period.
  • In contrast, your friend’s compressor can only run for 5 minutes continuously before requiring a 5-minute cooldown period.

Another example highlights the impact of the duty cycle on motor power: A 5HP air compressor with a 100% duty cycle can operate continuously, whereas a 7.5HP compressor with a 75% duty cycle must allow for downtime to prevent overheating.

7. Oil Filling or Oil-Free

When considering an air compressor, one crucial aspect to evaluate is whether it requires oil for lubrication or operates oil-free. Each type has its advantages and is better suited for specific applications. Let’s delve into the details of both oil-filled and oil-free air compressors:

a. Oil-Filled Air Compressors

Oil-filled air compressors, also known as lubricated compressors, utilize oil for lubrication within the compression chamber. This lubrication reduces friction between moving parts, resulting in smoother operation and extended longevity of components. 

b. Oil-Free Air Compressors

Oil-free air compressors, also known as oil-less compressors, utilize alternative methods for lubrication, such as Teflon-coated pistons or self-lubricating materials. 

Certainly, here’s a comparison between oil-filled and oil-free air compressors:


Oil-Filled Compressors

Oil-Free Compressors


Utilizes oil for lubrication

Uses alternative methods like Teflon or self-lubricating materials

Durability and Longevity

Generally has a longer lifespan due to reduced wear and tear

May have a shorter lifespan due to increased wear on components

Noise Levels

Operates quieter due to oil dampening noise and vibration

Tends to be noisier compared to oil-filled compressors

CFM Output

Often delivers higher CFM output

May have slightly lower CFM output


Requires regular maintenance including oil level checks, filter changes, and oil changes

Requires minimal maintenance, no oil changes, and lower upkeep

Clean Air Output

May introduce oil contaminants into the air output

Produces clean air, making it suitable for applications requiring pristine air quality


Typically heavier and less portable

Generally more compact and lightweight, suitable for portability


Ideal for heavy-duty applications and continuous use

Suitable for clean environments, portable applications, and intermittent use

Overall Consideration

Best suited for applications with higher demands and continuous usage

Ideal for users prioritizing low maintenance, clean air output, and portability

8. Tank Style

When selecting a 20-gallon air compressor, one crucial aspect that often goes overlooked is the tank style. The design and configuration of the tank can significantly impact the compressor’s performance, stability, and overall user experience. Let’s look into the various tank styles and why they should be a key consideration in your decision-making process.

a. Horizontal Tanks

Horizontal tanks are a common tank style for 20-gallon air compressors. They are characterised by their wide and low-profile design, making them suitable for situations where space is limited in the vertical dimension. These tanks offer stability and are often preferred for their ease of manoeuvrability. The low centre of gravity provided by a horizontal tank contributes to better balance, reducing the risk of tipping during transportation. 

b. Vertical Tanks

Vertical tanks, on the other hand, have a more upright design, taking up less floor space. This style is advantageous in workshops or garages where floor space is at a premium. The vertical configuration allows the compressor to be tucked into corners or tight spaces, optimising the overall layout of the workspace. 

c. Pancake Tanks

Pancake tanks represent a unique and space-efficient tank style. Characterised by their flat, disc-shaped design, these tanks are typically smaller in capacity but are highly portable. Pancake tanks are ideal for those who prioritise compactness and portability over larger air storage capacity. 

d. Twin-Stack Tanks

Twin-stack tanks feature two separate air chambers, providing increased air storage capacity without sacrificing portability. These tanks are stacked horizontally or vertically, and the dual-chamber design allows for continuous operation by alternating between chambers. Twin-stack tanks are an excellent compromise for those who need a balance between air capacity and mobility. 

9. Tank Material and Models

While analyzing this factor, you have to check out the space requirement and how portable the air compressor has to be. A 20-gallon air compressor has a medium storage footprint which satisfies both the above requirements.

If you want an air compressor that can be installed in a garage and is mostly used for vehicle work, then check out the model that is suitable for that particular requirement, rather than the one that has large wheels and a sturdy carriage.

However, if you have to move around the air compressor to your workplace, then choose a model that comes with large wheels and easy mobility.

When it comes to the sturdiness and durability of the tank, you have to look at the tank material. Some of the materials are solid cast iron, aluminum with cast iron coating, and aluminum. We recommend going for cast iron as it is the most durable option.

10. Control Systems

They help you operate the compressor easily. Some of the control systems often found with different air compressor models are – start and stop systems, constant speed controls, and several others.

11. Other Features to Consider

  • Air Cooling System: It cools down the pumping machinery and also extends the motor life as well.
  • Thermal Overload Switch: It will automatically shut off whenever the motor overheats. This will increase the life span of the air compressor and protect your investment.
  • ASME Certification: It indicates that only high quality materials and craftsmanship is used. This label often states that the unit will meet the standards of American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  • Roll Cage: It protects the compressor or battery from crushes. If you are planning to use the tools for just one project, then you can rent the air compressor instead of purchasing one. 

How to Use a 20-gallon Air Compressor?

Using a 20-gallon air compressor isn’t as difficult as it may seem. For using it, you can just follow some simple steps. We have mentioned them below for your reference.

  • Initially, you have to identify whether it is oil-free or oil air compressor. If it is an oil one, then make sure it is properly lubricated.
  • Once you have followed this process, you have to move on to fix the hose to the regulator valve.
  • Now attach the power tool to the hose.
  • Plug the compressor into the nearest plug socket.
  • Once the air compressor is set up properly, you have to turn it on by pulling the safety valve.
  • Look out for the specific tool you are using and find out how much air pressure it needs to work.
  • Make sure the pressure on the air compressor is similar to the pressure the tool requires.
  • Now, it is ready to use.

20 Gallon Air Compressor – FAQs

1. What can I do with 20 gallon air compressor?

Ans: 20 gallon air compressor can be used for multiple things ranging from simple DIY projects, business use to commercial purposes.

2. How to Use a 20 gallon Air Compressor?

Ans: Using a 20 gallon air compressor isn’t as difficult as it may seem. For using it, you can just follow some simple steps. We have mentioned them below for your reference.
* Initially, you have to identify whether it is oil-free or oil air compressor. If it is oil one, then make sure it is properly lubricated.
* Once you have followed this process, you have to move on to fix the hose to          regulator valve.
* Now attach the power tool to the hose.
* Plug the compressor into nearest plug socket.
* Once the air compressor is set up properly, you have to turn it on by pulling the safety valve.
* Look out for the specific tool you are using and find out how much air pressure it needs to work.
* Make sure the pressure on air compressor is similar to the pressure the tool requires.
* Now, it is ready to use.

3. How Long Does a 20 Gallon Air Compressor Tank Last?

Ans: Usually, air compressors have a long life and you should be easily use for at least 20 to 30 years which is similar to 40,000 to 60,000 hours of continuous work. However, this range can increase or decrease based on some features. Some brands market that their models last for even more than we provided. So, check out carefully and make your choice wisely.

4. Can 20 gallon compressor run on an impact wrench?

Ans: It can probably run an impact wrench for up to ½ inch drive. You can also use ¾ inch or even larger however you cannot get full torque out of the tool. They are suitable for inflating tires or running air ratchets. When it comes to carpenters, they are an overkill for running multiple tools simultaneously.

5. What size of generator is suitable for running a 20 gallon air compressor?

Ans: Most of the 20 gallon air compressors we have analyzed in the market draw 15 amps on 120 volt household current. If you want to run these air compressors on a generator, then you will need a model that can provide at least 2000 running watts or 4000 starting watts. However, for best performance we recommend to choose a model with 3000 running watts/4000 starting watts.
Manufacturers usually don’t recommend using generator for powering an air compressor. According to them, these compressors can get damaged due to sudden fluctuations in the power. Using generator will be considered as improper use and void the warranty of compressor.

6. How to Drain the Tank Easily?

Ans: Draining compressor tank is an important part of improving the durability and lifespan of an air compressor. So, easy process will help you properly maintain the unit.
* First switch off the compressor and unplug it from the electrical outlet or power source.
* You have to eliminate the internal pressure and for doing that you can pull then tank’s safety value. It releases the pressurized air present inside.
* Now locate the tank’s drain valve. This is usually present at the bottom of tank.
* Open the drain valve and make sure the moisture is completely out. 


So, in this article, we’ve covered some top-notch 20-gallon air compressors, detailing their key features and options. You’ll also find a handy buying guide for air compressors. All this info should make it easier for you to pick the perfect air compressor. But if you’re still unsure, here are a few recommendations to help you out.

  • If you want one of the best-performing 20-gallon air compressors out there, then you can go with the DEWALT Air Compressor. While it is slightly expensive, you get a maximum air pressure of 155 PSI along with a highly powerful 1.9 HP motor. Since this is a reputable brand, you also get a 1-year warranty along with great build quality.
  • You can also go with the Porter-Cable Air Compressor  if you are on a budget. Despite the lower price tag, it can offer a 150 PSI maximum air pressure limit. It uses a 1.5 HP motor to quickly fill its 20-gallon air tank. And despite its affordable price tag, you get a 1-year warranty with it making it a reliable option for a lot of users.
  • For Professionals in Noise-Sensitive Environments California Air Compressor With an ultra-quiet operation at only 70 decibels, this air compressor is a perfect fit for professionals working in environments where noise reduction is crucial. Its durability, easy start-up valve, and automatic drain valve add to the convenience, making it an excellent choice for professionals who prioritize both performance and reduced noise levels.

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