Air compressors are a must-have appliance for any professional or at-home DIYer who wants to utilize air tools. But even so, not everyone is familiar with how an air compressor operates. Primarily, these units use a form of internal displacement to create pressurized air.

This air can then be directed for a variety of uses, with everything from nail guns and drills to pistons and jackhammers included. This guide and its reviews of the top 7 best 30-gallon air compressors will help you learn to do just that using insights from me, a knowledgeable mechanic who has used air compressors time and again.


Preview

Model

Motor (HP)

Max Pressure (PSI)

Check Price

Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Belt...

Industrial Air

ILA1883054

1.9

155

NorthStar Portable Gas Powered Air Compressor...

NorthStar

459382

13

175

Powermate Vx PLA1683066 30-Gallon Portable...

Powermate Vx

PLA1683066

1.6

155

Vertical 30 Gallon Portable Air Compressor -...

Campbell Hausfeld

VT6358

2

135

Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM Garage Mate 15 Amp 2...

Ingersoll-Rand

SS3F2-GM

2

135

DeWalt DXCMLA1983012 30-Gallon Oil Free...

DeWalt

DXCMLA1983012

1.9

155

DeWalt DXCMH1393075 Two Stage Industrial Air...

DeWalt

DXCMH1393075

13

175


How Air Compressors Work

Though there are different methods for accomplishing their primary task, all air compressors are designed to force as much regular air as possible into a storage tank. This causes the air to become pressurized over time.

Then, the user can utilize the kinetic energy trapped in this pressurized air by channeling it into (among other uses) the air tool of their choice. To this end, air compressors with a larger capacity (30 gallons and up) are usually favored by professionals because they can power multiple air tools at once.


Advantage of Using a 30-Gallon Air Compressor

A 30-gallon air compressor adds a great deal of convenience to your professional or DIY workshop. That’s because you won’t need to rent an air compressor every time you want to make use of your preferred air tools. In the same vein, an investment in a 30-gallon air compressor can save you a lot of money in the long run because you won't need to plop down extra cash to temporarily secure an air compressor week in and week out.

When it comes to 30-gallon air compressors specifically, their primary advantage over other air compressor sizes is their ability to reliably supply multiple tools with compressed air at once. This can be a significant advantage over time as you convert more and more of your tools over to safe, reliable air power.


Choosing a Quality 30-Gallon Air Compressor

Noise Level

Air compressors are noisy by nature, and 30-gallon units are no exception to that rule. However, you can gauge how much noise your prospective models produce by comparing their dB (decibel rating). Modern air compressors have greatly improved on this front, though the average dB rating remains between 60 and 70.

Air Tool Requirements

If you already own some air tools, be sure to reread their specification sheets to ensure that your chosen compressor can meet their usage requirements. This is especially important when it comes to pressure and volume, which can vary significantly between larger and smaller compressor units. 30-gallon compressors, though, can usually satisfy most air tool requirements without trouble.

Power Source & Horsepower

Modern air compressors are built with varying power sources, though electricity remains the most common and affordable option for most users. These power sources can directly impact the unit’s ability to utilize its main motor during the pressurization process. This capability is measured in horsepower (though not all models include this metric in their listing).

Max Pressure (PSI)

An air compressor's maximum pressure rating is almost always communicated in PSI (pounds per square inch) to demonstrate what that unit is capable of when fully utilized. Keep a close eye on this metric, though, as exceeding this threshold can result in a major drop in performance for all air tools in use.

Tank Size, Style, & Shape

Air compressors come in several primary styles based upon the size and shape of their storage tank. Horizontal units are among the largest and most common, though pancake-style units have become increasingly popular for users on the go. Twin tank models are a great option as well, especially if you want to make the most of an air compressor’s 30-gallon capacity.

Portability

Portability may be critical if you need to use your air tools at multiple locations. Standard air compressors are very bulky and heavy, so those interested in attaining any level of portability may need to also settle for a capacity smaller than 30 gallons.

Price & Warranty

Price should always be a prime consideration while shopping for a 30-gallon air compressor on a budget. Most models in this class are comparable in price, so try to identify those options that provide extra features or accessories without incurring an additional cost. This goes for warranties as well, as they can save you a lot of money if your new air compressor breaks down in short order.


7 Best 30-gallon Air Compressors Reviewed

1. Industrial Air ILA1883054

Our Top Pick!

Dimensions

24.8 x 24.8 x 49.8 inches

Motor (HP)

1.9

Max Pressure (PSI)

155

CFM @ 90 PSI

5.7

Noise Level

N/A

Warranty

Yes, 2 year

“It's a great compressor! It runs quietly and does not leak down. It was shipped and arrived in perfect condition! I couldn't ask for more!” – Steve from Fargo, ND

Have you heard of the Industrial Air ILA1883054? If not, then you’re missing out on the best 30-gallon air compressor on the market today. While you may not be wowed by ever individual specification and feature on this model, it really is the full package when you take it together.

For example, this model’s CFM at 90 PSI and max PSI are both exceptionally reliable when this compressor’s dual voltage induction motor is fully engaged. Once the Industrial Air ILA1883054 reaches its 155 max PSI, you shouldn’t expect it to lose any efficiency due to poor construction. 

That's because this unit's twin cast-iron cylinders are ASME certified to prevent leaks, even at max capacity. The Industrial Air ILA1883054 also comes with a substantial amount of added value, starting with its pre-attached pneumatic tires and continue through its packed in accessories – including a free bottle of synthetic air compressor oil.

Pros

  • Dual induction motor reliably allows for 155 max PSI
  • Pre-attached pneumatic tires allow for optimal portability
  • Cast iron twin cylinders are durable and hold 30 gallons of compressed air without leaking
  • Saves user money by shipping with synthetic air compressor oil

Cons

  • Lacks RPM and noise rating
  • Hookup points may not be compatibly sized

2. NorthStar 459382

Best 30-Gallon Horizontal Air Compressor

Dimensions

41 x 19 x 40 inches

Motor (HP)

13

Max Pressure (PSI)

175

CFM @ 90 PSI

24.4

Noise Level

N/A

Warranty

Yes, 4-year

“Flawless product shipped well, started right up and used daily, quality is solid…can't beat the Honda engine.” – SRS16

While it may take up a little bit of extra space, the NorthStar 459382 and its 41” x 19” x 40” dimensions represent the best 30-gallon horizontal air compressor around. This is a direct result of its Honda GX390 OHV engine, which can operate at up to 1,300 RPM and output 13 horsepower when fully utilized. As a result, this compressor can fill its 30-gallon storage cylinder in just a matter of minutes and then turn around to output 24.4. CFM at 90 PSI without any trouble.

NorthStar has made a name for itself in this business for providing reliable durability in all of their compressors. The 459382 model fits comfortably into that high standard, as evidenced by its steel belt guard and floating-type Swedish steel valves. Even this model's V-style cylinder can maintain its own structural integrity using the enhanced cooling architecture built into its frame.

Pros

  • Honda GX390 OHV reliably reaches 1,300 RPM
  • Durability throughout, including steel belt guard and floating-type Swedish steel valves
  • 24.4 CFM @ 90 PSI rating is among the best in class
  • V-style cylinder design provides for enhanced cooling while in operation

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Unclear manufacturing origin

3. Powermate Vx PLA1683066

Best 30-Gallon Portable Air Compressor

Dimensions

25 x 24.5 x 49 inches

Motor (HP)

1.6

Max Pressure (PSI)

155

CFM @ 90 PSI

5.3

Noise Level

77 dB

Warranty

Yes, 90 days

“This unit is awesome! I can spray anything I may need in cabinetry. The make air is as fast as described…I used a $5000 unit before. This unit does all that unit did and it is transportable.” – mark9494

Portability can be an issue when it comes to 30-gallon air compressors. But for the best 30-gallon portable air compressor – the Powermate Vx PLA1683066 – moving from work site to work site is not a hassle at all. To that end, this model’s broad wheels ensure that its 25” x 24.5” x 49” can easily roll in and out of your truck.

It’s impressively quiet for such a compact unit, too, with only 77 dB of noise emitting when this compressor is engaged at its 155 PSI maximum. All things considered, the Powermate Vx PLA1683066 is relatively affordable. But that being said, it’s clear that Powermate had to lower the specs on this model in order to make it more affordable and portable. 

For example, this model’s 1.6 horsepower is a little lower than I would have expected; the same goes for this model’s 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI. I do wish the Powermate Vx PLA1683066’s 90-day warranty were a little longer, too, even if it is fairly cheap.

Pros

  • Slightly cheaper than comparable models
  • Easy to transport on broad wheels
  • Belt-driven motor only creates 77 dB of noise
  • Solid specs for horsepower and CFM @ 90 PSI

Cons

  • Very short 90-day warranty
  • Tires are not pneumatic and are prone to damage

4. Campbell Hausfeld VT6358

Best 30-Gallon Vertical Air Compressor

Dimensions

28 x 28 x 59 inches

Motor (HP)

2

Max Pressure (PSI)

135

CFM @ 90 PSI

5.5

Noise Level

82

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

The best 30-gallon vertical air compressor will save you a lot of space, regardless of if you store your work appliances in your workshop or your garage. So, you won't need to rearrange your toolboxes when you roll the Campbell Hausfeld VT6358 in. Speaking of rolling, this model’s semi-pneumatic wheels roll the absolute smoothest in their portability class and won’t degrade rapidly (even you routinely take this compressor off the beaten path).

After checking out the Campbell Hausfeld VT6358 for the first time, I immediately took note of its heavy-duty cast iron frame. Though I haven’t stress tested it myself, I would expect it to stand up to the demands of a DIYer or a contractor without ever breaking down or deteriorating. Because this compressor features a fully enclosed metal belt guard, you can expect a similar degree of durability internally.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty cast iron frame can stand up to commercial and DIY use with ease
  • Fully enclosed metal belt guard protects all internal components
  • Semi-pneumatic wheels roll smoothly and don’t degrade rapidly
  • Dual voltage motor provides 2 HP of power over many years of use

Cons

  • Lower-than-average max PSI
  • Not 100% duty rated

5. Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM

Best Quiet 30-Gallon Air Compressor

Dimensions

25 x 46 x 35 inches

Motor (HP)

2

Max Pressure (PSI)

135

CFM @ 90 PSI

5.7

Noise Level

80 dB

Warranty

Yes, 12 months

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t believe my coworkers when they said that the Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM was the best quiet 30-gallon air compressor. After all, its spec sheet says that it usually operates at 80 dB. But when put to the test, this compressor easily operates with a fraction of that much noise. For a 2 horsepower engine, that kind of practical performance really allows it to stand out.

Speaking of the Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM’s engine, it was built to operate as a workhorse. In fact, it is able to provide a 100% continuous duty that won’t cause the central motor or compression unit to burn out. Should this unit heat up at all, though, you can count on its overload motor protection module to kick in and prevent any internal damage from compromising the otherwise durable cast iron frame.

Pros

  • 100% continuous duty allows for unyielding use at maximum capacity
  • motor protection allow for great longevity
  • Side drain valve and an automatic start/stop pressure switch are easy to access
  • Ergonomic handle and semi-pneumatic tires allow for simplified portability

Cons

  • A little loud at 80 dB
  • Build air pressure to max rather slowly

6. DeWalt DXCMLA1983012

Best 30-Gallon Air Compressor For The Money

Dimensions

24.5 x 23.5 x 51 inches

Motor (HP)

1.9

Max Pressure (PSI)

155

CFM @ 90 PSI

6

Noise Level

82 dB

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

At this point, almost all air tool users have a DeWalt tool or two in their tool chest. But even if you don’t, you likely know that DeWalt always provides a great deal of value (including a reliable warranty) in all of their tools and appliances. The DeWalt DXCMLA1983012 provides proof that this high standard is still alive and well, making it the best 30-gallon air compressor for the money.

When it comes to specifications, DeWalt hasn’t short-changed its customers. This model offers one of the highest CFM at 90 PSI output ratings in its compressor class, for example, at 6. Even its max pressure is higher than I would have expected based upon its price, at a full 155 PSI. Because the DeWalt DXCMLA1983012 also operates oil-free, you can expect it run smoother and require less costly maintenance over its lifespan.

Pros

  • Oil-free operation allows for lower maintenance costs long term
  • One of the highest CFM output ratings in its compressor class
  • Thermal overload protection protects against power surges

Cons

  • Noise due to reduced size
  • Very difficult to get replacement parts

7. DeWalt DXCMH1393075

Best 2-Stage 30-Gallon Air Compressor

Dimensions

46 x 23.8 x 50.2 inches

Motor (HP)

13

Max Pressure (PSI)

175

CFM @ 90 PSI

22

Noise Level

75 dB

Warranty

Yes, 3-year on engine, 1-year on other parts

Finally, if pure power is what you are seeking, then you simply must go with the best 2-stage 30-gallon air compressor – the DeWalt DXCMH1393075. Compared to the other models in this collection, it clearly has the best specifications. This model's 13 horsepower engine is only the tip of the iceberg.

 If anything, I was most impressed by its whopping 22 CFM at 90 PSI. And even with all of that capability, you can expect this 2-stage unit to only output around 75 dB of noise. There's no question that the DeWalt DXCMH1393075 is super heavy. But to ensure that this unit is at least slightly portable, DeWalt has designed this compressor to include a frame suitable for mounting in a truck bed. 

Even in this orientation, you can expect the DeWalt DXCMH1393075 to remain cool and ready to operate at the drop of a hat. This compressor's asymmetrical cooling fins play a significant part in that self-preservation, thus justifying its exceptionally high price tag.

Pros

  • Frame designed for mounting in a truck bed
  • HONDA GX390 OHV gas engine can reach an impressive 13 horsepower
  • Industrial-grade Solberg air intake filter quiets operation to 75 dB
  • Asymmetrical cooling fins allow for greater efficiency by cooling the entire unit effectively

Cons

  • Low availability online
  • Very, very heavy

Types & Styles of Air Compressors

Tank vs. Tankless

Most 30-gallon air compressors are “tank” units simply because they need more built-in power to reach their larger-than-average capacity. “Tankless” units, by comparison, lack a storage tank and use a modified compression to create pressurized air with a lower degree of efficiency.

Electric vs. Gas Powered

Electric air compressors are by far the most common and reliable for folks working in a traditional workshop environment. Gas-powered options are available, though, for professionals and DIYers who want to make the most of their existing gas-delivery infrastructure.

Oil-Free vs. Oiled

“Oil” in this context refers to the method of lubrication used on an air compressor’s main piston. “Oiled” implies that a unit uses a liquid lubricant to maintain the speed and reliability of said piston. “Oil-free” units, on the other hand, make use of a more permanent lubrication method (such as Kevlar sleeve), thus requiring less maintenance over time.

Vertical vs. Horizontal

“Horizontal” and “vertical” in this context simply refers to the air compressor’s architectural orientation. This is usually based upon whether the unit’s air tank is oriented up-and-down or side-to-side and can be significant for folks who only have a limited amount of space in which to install their new air compressor.

Reciprocating vs. Piston Compressors

Reciprocating compressors and piston compressors are actually the exact same. Both accomplish pressurization via positive displacement. Mechanically, this is accomplished using a powered piston, which is driven into a "reciprocating" cycle when in use.

Rotary Screw Compressors vs. Rotary Vane Compressors

Rotary screw compressors are utilized in many heavy industrial settings due to their ability to produce a high capacity of pressurized air rapidly. This is accomplished via a “sweeping” motion created internally by this type of compressor’s eponymous “rotary screw.”

A rotary vane compressor, by comparison, relies on positive displacement to create pressurized air. However, unlike its reciprocating counterpart, this positive displacement occurs when vanes are compressed inside of a rotor cavity.


30-Gallon Air Compressor Applications

30-gallon air compressors are used in a variety of situations and work environments. Here are just a few ways you can make full use of your new 30-gallon air compressor:

  • Low-load air tools (such as a brad gun or a vehicle buffer)
  • High-load air tools (such as a jackhammer)
  • Blowing up inflatable items (such as balloons or tires)

Using a 30-Gallon Air Compressor

Setting up your 30-gallon air compressor can be critical to making full use of its capabilities. In the same vein, a proper set up can keep you and your associates safe while the air compressor is in use.

While you should always read through your chosen air compressor's user's manual before starting the setup process, this video guide can give you a lot of insights into this process as well as the safest ways to use your air compressor from day to day.


Air Compressor Maintenance

If you take care of your air compressor, it will take care of you and your air tools. As such, you should follow every maintenance recommendation set forth by your unit’s manufacturer. However, if you’ve misplaced your user’s manual, this guide will help highlight some of the routine maintenance procedures you should undertake after purchasing a new air compressor.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How often should I change the oil in an air compressor?

When it comes to changing the lubricant in an oiled air compressor, you should always follow the recommendations printed on the oil bottle. However, most experts recommend changing air compressor oil once every 7,000-8,000 hours of use to ensure maximum protection and performance.

How do you drain a 30-gallon air compressor?

Draining an air compressor can be a little tricky for a novice user. However, as long as you are well acquainted with your unit’s architecture, you can finish the job in just a few minutes. This video guide will also make it easy to know what to look for when it comes time to drain your new air compressor.

How big of an air compressor do I need to run air tools?

This depends strongly on what types of air tools you intend to use, as well as how many tools you intend to use concurrently. 30-gallon units tend to work in most set-ups, though, because they can output a larger-than-average amount of pressurized air without taking up too much space in your workshop or garage.

What is the difference between 2-stage and single-stage air compressors?

As their name implies, these types of compressors differ when it comes to the number of “stages” they utilize. A single “stage” describes how many times a given load of air is forced into the storage tank. Accordingly, a 2-stage unit completes this task twice to increase the unit's maximum PSI significantly.

What are the top brands of 30-gallon air compressors?

There are several popular 30-gallon air compressor brands today. However, when you’re looking to get the most band for your buck, brands including DeWalt, Ingersoll-Rand, and Industrial Air are preferred by most mechanics and at-home DIYers.

What other additional equipment/essentials one will need together with air compressors?

At a bare minimum, you should ensure that you have proper PPE (including safety goggles) before ever turning on your air compressor. Also, if you plan on using your air compressor a lot, then it would be worth your while to keep a spare air tank handy, as well as extra regulators and lubricants (for oiled units).


Conclusion

So, now you know nearly everything there is to know about picking out a 30-gallon air compressor. With my expert insights as a seasoned mechanic, you should be able to easily find the compressor unit that will meet your functional needs without burning a hole in your wallet.

That being said, I want to take a moment to provide one final endorsement to the Industrial Air ILA1883054. As my top pick, I simply have to emphasize how capable this air compressor is when it comes to providing a reliable 155 PSI output while remaining durable across its cast iron twin cylinder architecture.

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