Best 20 Gallon Air Compressor Review [Your Top 8 for 2020]

best-20-gallon-air-compressor-review-buyers-guide

You need all the help you can get with DIY projects. The best 20 gallon air compressor is no different. From inflating tires to running pneumatic nail guns to painting or cleaning farm equipment, investing in an air compressor will add plenty of options to your at-home work repertoire.

The best 20 gallon air compressor should give you excellent performance, plenty of power, portability – all for a great price. That’s why the Industrial Air belt-driven twin-cylinder compressor is our winner today. Check it out on Amazon!

Here’s our top 3:

Best Overall
Industrial Air IPA1882054 20-Gallon Belt Driven...
Best Value
NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air...
Premium Choice - Gas
NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor -...
Preview
Industrial Air IPA1882054 20-Gallon Belt Driven...
NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air...
NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor -...
Customer Rating
-
-
-
Price
$599.99
$499.99
$1,049.99
Max PSI
155
135
130
Weight
166lb
205
217
Warranty
2 years
4 Yr Consumer/2 Yr Commercial
4-year consumer limited warranty, 2-year commercial limited
HP
1
2
4.8
Best Overall
Industrial Air IPA1882054 20-Gallon Belt Driven...
Preview
Industrial Air IPA1882054 20-Gallon Belt Driven...
Customer Rating
-
Price
$599.99
Max PSI
155
Weight
166lb
Warranty
2 years
HP
1
More details
Best Value
NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air...
Preview
NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air...
Customer Rating
-
Price
$499.99
Max PSI
135
Weight
205
Warranty
4 Yr Consumer/2 Yr Commercial
HP
2
More details
Premium Choice - Gas
NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor -...
Preview
NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor -...
Customer Rating
-
Price
$1,049.99
Max PSI
130
Weight
217
Warranty
4-year consumer limited warranty, 2-year commercial limited
HP
4.8
More details

Read on to learn more about our top 8 best 20 gallon air compressors, along with a handy buyer’s guide to help you choose. educate and inform you before you invest in one of these fine air compressors.

Best 20 Gallon Air Compressor Review

1. Industrial Air Belt Driven 20 Gallon Air Compressor – Best Overall

While many air compressors available today can lay claim to specializing in a certain feature – price, power, portability, etc. – we were on the hunt for the tool with the best combination of attributes as our top choice.

This belt-driven compressor from Industrial Air is the only and best 20 gallon compressor that can boast of excellent performance across all categories.

Sale
Industrial Air IPA1882054 20-Gallon Belt Driven...
  • Cast iron, twin cylinder, oil lubricated pump
  • Dual voltage motor is wired for standard 120-Volt outlet and...
  • 155 PSI max pressure for optimum tool performance
  • 20-Gallon ASME horizontal portable tank with pre-attached...
  • Maximum pressure: 155 PSI; CFM at 90 PSI: 5.7; CFM at 40...

First of all, the cast iron twin cylinder pump that drives the Industrial Air is built to last – just like the rest of this durably constructed machine. Capable of producing a powerful 155 maximum PSI of pressure, it outperforms any other compressor in this price range by producing an impressive 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI.

Horizontally mounted on pneumatic tires and weighing in at a svelte 166 pounds, the Industrial Air truly combines the best of all worlds. Back that up with a 2-year warranty, and it’s easy to see why we’ve given it our highest recommendation.

Features for the Industrial Air Belt Driven best 20 gallon air compressor include:

  • Cast iron construction
  • Twin-cylinder pump with aluminum head and valve plates
  • 1 horsepower motor
  • 155 PSI maximum pressure output
  • Produces 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Pre-attached pneumatic tires
  • Quick-set regulator
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Weighs 166 pounds

Pros

  • Durable cast iron construction for long-lasting performance
  • Excellent maximum power output, allowing for versatile applications
  • Relatively lightweight for a horizontal compressor, making it easily portable
  • Your investment is protected by a 2-year limited warranty
  • Corded electric power source makes it efficient and environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Manual has small print and can be confusing to navigate

2. NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air Compressor – Best Value

Of all the best 20 gallon air compressor units that we reviewed, only the NorthStar Portable Electric can lay claim to an exceptionally powerful motor at a complete bargain of a price. For homesteaders on a tighter budget, this 2-cylinder belt-driven compressor performs well beyond its modest price. It may be more expensive than our number 1, but it’s also double the HP. 

Sale
NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air...
  • 2 HP 115V/230V 15/7.5 Amp dual voltage induction motor
  • 2-cylinder cast iron single-stage pump
  • Delivers 5.0 CFM @ 90 PSI; 6.0 CFM @ 40 PSI
  • Comes wired for 115V operation with a 6ft. cord and plug
  • Can be rewired for 230V by a qualified electrician

Of course, not everything can be sunshine and roses: Weighing in at just over 205 pounds, the NorthStar is one of the heaviest vertical air compressors in our review. While at times this makes it slightly unwieldy to transport, overall the durable construction and impressive power of this compressor have earned it our solid recommendation as a budget-friendly air compressor.

Features for this best 20 gallon air compressor include:

  • Cast iron construction
  • 2-cylinder, belt drive, oil lubricated, single-stage pump
  • 2 horsepower dual voltage induction motor
  • Built-in regulator
  • No-flat solid tires
  • 20,000-hour bearing life
  • 135 PSI maximum pressure output
  • Produces 5 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Weighs 205 pounds

Pros

  • Powerful induction motor gives it fast compressed air refill times
  • Durable cast iron construction gives it long-lasting performance
  • Solid tires guarantee that you’ll never have to deal with a flat
  • Belt drive operation makes it quieter than many comparable air compressors

Cons

  • Quite heavy for a vertical air compressor

3. NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor – Premium Choice

An electric compressor is the most affordable solution for the majority of projects. However, when you’re fixing stuff out and about, a gas-powered best 20 gallon air compressors is better. You can take it with you, anywhere!

NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor -...
  • Honda GX160 OHV engine with low oil shutdown
  • Full cast iron pump for long service life
  • V-style cylinder design for superior cooling
  • Pump head made of FC35 Grade cast iron
  • Floating-type Swedish steel valves deliver much longer valve...

Though certainly more expensive than any other best 20 gallon air compressor in our review, NorthStar’s portable gas-powered air compressor also produces incredibly high power outputs with amazing consistency.

Powered by a 163cc Honda engine with low vibration technology, it can deliver over twice the CFM of comparably sized electric compressors — all while running quietly.

Features for the NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor include:

  • Cast iron construction
  • 163cc Honda engine with low oil shutdown
  • V-style cylinder design
  • 130 PSI maximum pressure output
  • Low vibration technology
  • Produces 13.7 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Weighs 217 pounds
  • 4.8HP

Pros

  • Long-lasting Honda engine is powerful, quiet, and reliable
  • V-style cylinder provides superior cooling, leading to longer engine life
  • The best CFM output of any compressor in our reviews
  • Quiet operation thanks to its low vibration technologies

Cons

  • Gas engines require consistent maintenance

4. IMC (Belaire) Portable Compressor

A significant step up in price from our best 20 gallon air compressor top 3 recommendations, what the IMC Belaire portable compressor lacks in affordability it more than makes up for in CFM output. Featuring a rugged and durable 2 horsepower engine, it’s capable of delivering over 7 CFM at 100 PSI – making it a powerful all-rounder for just about any project around the homestead.

IMC (Belaire) 5020P 2 HP 20 Gallon 115 Volt Single...
  • 8.31 ACFM @ 40 PSI; 7.1 ACFM @ 100 PSI; 130 PSI maximum...
  • 115 volt operation
  • 20 gallon ASME tank
  • Smooth and quiet running
  • Cast iron cylinder and stainless steel valves

Surprisingly, this extra power comes without added weight. At just 165 pounds, the Belaire is a wonderfully portable horizontal compressor. In short, if you have the extra money in your budget and want to upgrade the power on an electric compressor, this product from IMC is definitely the way to go.

Features for the IMC (Belaire) Portable Compressor include:

  • Cast iron and stainless steel construction
  • 2 horsepower engine
  • 130 PSI maximum operating pressure
  • Produces 7.1 CFM at 100 PSI
  • 115 Volt corded electric power source
  • Weighs 165 pounds

Pros

  • Impressive CFM output for a lightweight electric compressor
  • Easily portable thanks to its slim construction and horizontal orientation
  • Powerful 2 horsepower engine makes it suitable for many types of jobs
  • Long-lasting stainless steel and cast iron construction

Cons

  • Quite expensive

5. Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate

Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate - 2 HP, 5.5 CFM, Model#...
  • Features a cast-iron, oil-lubricated pump for solid,...
  • Quiet operation @ 75-80dB
  • Equipped with a pressure switch, pressure gauge, regulator,...
  • Meets OSHA standards

Designed with professional construction in mind, the Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate offers excellent durability and reliability thanks to its cast-iron pump and powerful 2 horsepower motor. Equipped with a belt drive for quiet operation, it’s equally suitable for use at home, in the garage, or on a job site.

While many of the Garage Mate’s features make it ideally suited for professional use, however, we think that most homesteaders will find it to be a little bit overkill. At 200 pounds, it’s one of the least portable of any vertical compressor we reviewed; add this to its higher price, and the Garage Mate may be better reserved for folks running larger-scale operations.

Features for the Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate include:

  • Cast iron, oil-lubricated pump
  • 2 horsepower engine
  • Quiet 75-80 dB operation via belt drive
  • 115 volt corded electric power source
  • 135 PSI maximum operating pressure
  • Produces 5.2 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Weighs 200 pounds

Pros

  • Durable cast iron construction gives it long-lasting performance
  • Powerful 2 horsepower engine can tackle tough jobs
  • Belt drive makes it very quiet during operation

Cons

  • Very heavy for a vertical compressor, making it more difficult to transport
  • Quite expensive

6. Campbell Hausfeld Portable Horizontal Air Compressor

Air Compressor, Portable, Horizontal, 20 Gallon,...
  • 20 Gallon portable air compressor with horizontal design for...
  • Durable oil free pump provides extended, hassle-free...
  • Optimally placed, easy to read panel for complete control of...
  • Steel handle & large wheels provide portability. Finish your...
  • Start your projects right away; bundle this unit with a...

Amazingly affordable but built with questionable materials, the Campbell Hausfeld portable horizontal air compressor left us admittedly confused. While it’s capable of operating at pressures up to 150 PSI – more than most compressors in our best 20 gallon air compressor review – it only delivers 4 CFM at 90 PSI, a less than ideal power output.

But at almost half the cost of many other electric models on our list, and weighing in at under 100 pounds, the Campbell Hausfeld might be an ideal fit for the beginning homesteader whose air compressor needs are infrequent. In that case, the steel construction and lower durability will only be a downside, not a dealbreaker.

Features for the Campbell Hausfeld Portable Horizontal Air Compressor include:

  • Steel construction
  • 1.3 horsepower motor
  • 150 PSI maximum pressure output
  • Produces 4 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Oil-free pump
  • 1 year limited warranty
  • Weighs 92 pounds

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight and easy to transport
  • Oil-free pump requires much less maintenance
  • Excellent maximum pressure output
  • Exceptionally affordable

Cons

  • Less durably constructed than many other air compressors on our list
  • Fairly loud 88 dB operation

7. Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

Stealth 20 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor,1.8...
76 Reviews
Stealth 20 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor,1.8...
  • ✦【ULTRA QUIET & 3 TIMES LONG LIFE】STEALTH innovative...
  • ✦【POWERFUL & 20 GALLON CAPACITY】High quality induction...
  • ✦【ULTRA QUIET SERIES& LONG LIFE CYCLE】Working noise...
  • ✦【DIVERSITY and VERSATILE】Peak 150 PSI, 6 CFM @ 40 PSI...
  • ✦【EASY COLD START & STURDY】Support cold weather start...

Anyone looking to use their best 20 gallon air compressor primarily indoors, for hobby and garage projects in particular, would do well to consider investing in the Stealth and saving their ears for years to come. The quietest compressor of any that we tested, it’s a lightweight and affordable machine that’s only hampered by its lack of customer service.

Being built from steel rather than cast iron means the Stealth Ultra won’t be nearly as durable as our top 3 best 20 gallon air compressor choices, making it better suited to life in a garage than work outdoors or on a job site. If noise is a primary concern for you, the Stealth may be just right for you.

Features for the Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor include:

  • Steel construction
  • 1.8 horsepower motor
  • Quiet 68 dB noise output
  • 150 PSI maximum pressure output
  • Produces 5 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 120 Volt corded power supply
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Weighs 120 pounds

Pros

  • Ultra-quiet operation makes it an excellent choice for working in enclosed spaces
  • Lightweight and very easily portable
  • Great power output makes it capable of handling a wide range of jobs

Cons

  • Steel construction lacks the durability of cast iron
  • Customers complain of a lack of responsiveness from the company

8. Porter Cable Portable Air Compressor

Sale
Porter Cable PXCMF220VW 20-Gallon Portable Air...
  • 5.0 CFM at 40 psi and 4.0 CFM at 90 psi with 1.5 RHP
  • 150 Max PSI; Running Horsepower: 1.5 ;Lubrication: Oil-Free...
  • 20 gallon tank/UL and CSA certified unit; Twin-V cast iron...
  • 7" semi-pneumatic wheels for mobility & rubber feet for...
  • Equipped with regulator, gauges, andquick connect.Decibel...

Last but not least among our recommendations, this best 20 gallon air compressor from Porter Cable is the lightest compressor on our list to still feature a cast iron pump. An excellent combination of portability and long-lasting performance, it’s a fine solution for homesteaders who won’t need a particularly powerful compressor.

The 1.5 horsepower oil-free motor provides a decent bit of power while needing very little maintenance, but comes up short on the CFMs necessary for larger jobs or extended use. Overall, it’s an affordable option that takes up very little space, making it a great choice for anyone short on storage.

Features for the Porter Cable Portable Air Compressor include:

  • Cast iron and steel construction
  • 1.5 horsepower, oil-free motor
  • 150 PSI maximum pressure output
  • Produces 4 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 7” semi-pneumatic wheels and rubber stabilizer feet
  • Weighs 97 pounds

Pros

  • Lightweight 97-pound design is extremely portable
  • Small footprint saves on storage space
  • Durable cast iron pump gives long-lasting performance

Cons

  • Low maximum CFM output limits how many jobs it can be used for
  • Prone to developing leaks at the connection points

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best 20 Gallon Air Compressor

best-20-gallon-air-compressor-review-buyers-guide

If you haven’t had the pleasure of using a variety of air compressors, choosing one just based on factory specifications will be quite the challenge. To help with that, we’ve summarized our best advice gained from years of experience in using air compressors to power our tools around the farm:

What to Look for in the Best 20 Gallon Air Compressor

When you’re looking to get the best value air compressor at a reasonable price, it pays to know which features are most desirable – and which ones don’t impact the machine’s performance.

In deciding which 20 gallon air compressors to include in this review, we took the following seven essential features into account:

  • Horsepower
  • PSI and CFM
  • Durable construction (cast iron)
  • Power source
  • Oil or oil free?
  • Noise rating
  • Easy portability

Types of 20 Gallon Air Compressors

Perhaps the most important distinction that you’ll need to make before narrowing down your options for air compressors is whether a vertical or horizontal model is better for your needs. Among all of the features that can change from one model of air compressor to another, none will affect your experience with this tool more than its physical orientation.

Vertical Air Compressors

On the one hand, vertical air compressors have the advantage of having a much smaller footprint — effectively taking up less usable space than their horizontal counterparts.

If storage or operating space is an issue on your homestead, a vertical air compressor may be the best choice to maximize your available garage space.

Horizontal Air Compressors

Horizontal air compressors, on the other hand, offer greater stability and oftentimes a less strenuous moving experience. This allows for heavier builds – and bigger engines – that can push horizontal compressors into a much more powerful pressure range without big price increases.

While they’ll certainly take up more storage space, horizontal air compressors are a better choice for owners looking to maximize their compressor’s versatility.

Is a 20 Gallon Air Compressor Big Enough?

Just how big of an air compressor do you need, anyway? With home model compressors available in a range from tiny 1-gallon models to massive 60-gallon behemoths, you’re certainly spoiled for options.

In short, the tank size for your air compressor will determine how long any attached tools can run before the motor has to kick back on and create another serving of compressed air. Measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM), the total output of a compressor will always be limited by its tank size. 

Because it’s such a versatile tool, an air compressor may be put to use for jobs from simple nailing or hobby painting to sanding or grinding – meaning that while there’s no true one-size-fits-all solution for every job an air compressor could do, it’s a safe bet for most of us to go for a model with at least a 20-gallon tank.

These provide the best combination of power, versatility, and affordability that we’ve found, as well as the potential for long-lasting reliability.

Final Verdict: The Best 20 Gallon Air Compressor for the Money

So, which is the best 20 gallon air compressor for you? 

We’re big fans of the Industrial Air Belt-Driven Twin Cylinder Compressor – owing mainly to its nearly-perfect combination of power, portability, and price. If you’re not entirely sure of what you’ll be using your compressor for, it’s a safe investment with excellent versatility.

Truth be told, every one of the compressors on this list could fit well in a your tool shed. In conclusion, we most strongly recommend considering what types of projects you’re likely to be using your compressor for and using our best 20 gallon air compressor buyer’s guide to help match the right compressor to your specifications.

Last update on 2020-10-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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