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How Much Does a Portable Air Compressor Cost?

Author: Ashley Smith

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Portable Air Compressor Prices

Portable air compressors are the perfect on-the-go complement to the stationary compressor you keep in the garage or workshop. Depending on your needs, you may find that a portable air compressor has enough power to tackle any project. Small portable compressors are light enough to be carried, while larger models have wheels that make them easy to maneuver around the jobsite and in and out of a vehicle. The information below will help you decide what type of portable air compressor is right for you, and how much you can expect to pay for it.

Major Types of Portable Air Compressors

When selecting a portable air compressor, there several important considerations. The first choice you’ll have to make is between a reciprocating air compressor and a rotary screw air compressor.

  • Reciprocating air compressors, also known piston-driven compressors, are relatively simple machines that uses a piston to compress air which is then stored in a tank. Reciprocating models are generally less expensive and designed for intermittent use (such as running hand tools), meaning they must rest for roughly the amount of time that they run.
  • Rotary screw air compressors are more complex machines that use two rotating screws to build up pressure. Although more expensive on average than a reciprocating machine, a rotary machine can run for hours and hours, and is well-suited for jobs that require you to operate a compressor continuously.

Once you’ve decided between a reciprocal and a rotary compressor, you’ll next want to weigh the benefits of gas and electric-powered compressors.

  • A gas-powered compressor is a good choice if you’re going to be moving your compressor from site to site. Because they tend to have high output, gas portable air compressors are well-suited to builders and remodelers, especially when there is no easily accessible source of electricity.
  • Electric air compressors, while ideal for indoor use, can easily be adapted for use outdoors provided there is a reliable electrical hookup nearby. A small, electric portable air compressor will run off of 110v while a motor over 2 HP probably needs somewhere around 220-240v. Make sure you know how much voltage is available.

Other factors to consider when shopping for a portable air compressor include:

  • Horizontal vs. vertical tank: Functionally, there is no difference, but a vertical tank is often easier to move around and takes up less space.
  • Single-stage vs. two-stage: Compared to a single-stage air compressor, a multi-stage compressor is typically more efficient, able to pressurize air to a higher degree and therefore store more air in the same-size tank.
  • Oil vs. oil free: Oil-lubricated compressors can sometimes introduce oil into a machine’s air supply. Although a small amount of oil won’t affect many tools, for some applications (such as food service), any amount of oil is unacceptable, and so some compressors have a separate compression chamber that ensures all discharged air is free of oil.

Average Portable Air Compressor Costs - Sample

If you’re ready to take the next step and buy a portable air compressor, the following prices will give you a better idea of how much you can expect to pay.

  • A basic portable air compressor with a 15-30 gallon tank, 1-2 horsepower (HP), and 120-200 pounds per square inch (PSI) output costs approximately $250 to $500.
  • A portable air compressor with a 6.5 HP gas engine, 10 gallon tank, and 135 PSI might cost roughly $750 to $1,250.
  • For around $2,000, you can purchase:
    • An Ingersoll Rand portable air compressor with a 7.5 horsepower, two-stage electric motor, 80 gallon vertical tank, and maximum pressure of 175 PSI.
    • A Jenny compressor with a 5 HP, two stage electric motor, 30 gallon horizontal tank, and PSI output of 145-175.
  • For around $2,500 to $3,000 you can buy a portable air compressor with an 11 HP two-stage gas engine, 30 gallon tank and 145-175 PSI output.
  • For around $7,500 to $9,000 you can buy a portable rotary screw air compressor with a 25 HP gas engine, maximum pressure of 100 PSI, and maximum output of 80 cubic feet per minute (CFM).

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