Best 6-Gallon Air Compressors for the Money

If you do any sort of work around the house, are a DIYer, work in construction, or simply want a way to fill up your car tires, you know how essential air compressors are. They’re used for everything from painting and car maintenance to drilling and framing. But getting the right compressor for the job is one of the most important things you can do. Luckily, six-gallon compressors are some of the most versatile for DIY work around the house, filling tires, and using small air tools. 

So, to help you get the best compressor for the job, here are the best 6-gallon air compressors on the market right now. 

We’ve taken a look at a number of factors, including price, quality, power, features, and customer service, to bring you only the best compressors. You can’t go wrong with any of the compressors on the list below. 

1. Metabo HPT “The Tank” Air Compressor

Anyone looking for a truly heavy-duty air compressor for use at home, on job sites, or anywhere else can’t go wrong with the Metabo HPT compressor. This compressor is called “The Tank” for a reason. Not only is it tough, but it’s more powerful than other pancake compressors. It features a whopping 200 max PSI. It’s also capable of delivering 4.0 cubic feet per minute (CFM) at 90 PSI. This makes it useful with more air tools than many other 6-gallon compressors. 

With the powerful capabilities of this compressor, you can run multiple air tools at once on its two couplers. It weighs 41 pounds, making it almost ten pounds heavier than other compressors of comparable size. However, this isn’t such a bad thing once you realize that you’re getting the extra power with that extra weight. 

We like that it comes with an oil-free pump, so you don’t have to worry about topping off the oil or changing it occasionally. Rated at 73 decibels, you don’t have to worry about shattering your eardrums when using this compressor indoors. All these factors come together to make an excellent air compressor that’s great for a variety of uses. 

  • Max PSI: 200 – More PSI than other 6-gallon compressors.
  • Capable of delivering 4.0 CFM @ 90 PSI – more power for more uses. 
  • All-metal carrying handle that’s built to last. 
  • Two couplers to run multiple tools at once. 
  • Oil-Free pump for no pump maintenance.
  • Relatively quiet at 73 decibels. 
  • Can run up to 5 18-gauge brad nailers at a time.
  • Excellent ratings.

2. Craftsman Pancake Air Compressor

A list of 6-gallon air compressors wouldn’t be complete without this one from the well-known Craftsman brand. It comes as a package with a 13-piece accessory kit, including everything you need for filling up car tires, bike tires, and sports equipment.

Let’s start by talking about the brand name of this compressor. Craftsman tools have been trusted for many years. They’re now part of the Black & Decker family, which gives them the backing of one of the largest tool manufacturers around. If you’re a fan of Craftsman tools, you can easily snag one of these compressors without a second thought. Craftsman compressors are made in the USA with global materials, which means they’re assembled in the USA. 

This 6-gallon pancake compressor has a max 150 PSI and is capable of 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI, making it great for framing and DIY tasks around the house, but not for heavy-duty jobs that require near-constant airflow. It features an oil-free pump so you don’t have to worry about topping it off or ever changing the oil. It has two couplers for running multiple air tools and has rubber feet to keep it from walking off while you’re working. Plus, it only weighs thirty pounds, making it ideal for hauling up and down ladders as well as to job sites.

  • Max PSI: 150.
  • Capable of delivering 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Carrying handle for easy transport. 
  • Two couplers to run multiple tools at once. 
  • Oil-Free pump for no pump maintenance.
  • 1-Year Warranty. 
  • Made in Jackson, TN, with Global Materials.
  • Excellent ratings. 
  • Comes with a 13-piece accessory kit. 

3. Porter-Cable 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor

Speaking of great pancake compressors, this Porter-Cable unit is a great option for anyone looking for a small but powerful compressor. Porter-Cable is a brand that’s nearly as well known as Craftsman. And you may not be surprised to learn that it’s also part of the Black & Decker family. So even if you’ve never used a Porter-Cable tool in your life, you can rely on the brand name backing the company. 

This quick-filling compressor needs just over two minutes to reach its full 150 max PSI. There’s nothing more frustrating than stopping work right in the middle of your job to wait for your compressor to refill. That’s where this air compressor excels. It also has two couplers for multiple hoses and a carrying handle for quick and easy transport. Plus, it’s only thirty pounds, making it lightweight yet durable. The one major drawback of this compressor is how loud it is. While it’s not the loudest, it’s certainly not the quietest compressor on the market.     

This Porter-Cable air compressor delivers 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI and has a fast recovery time. It has rubber feet for secure operation, even on uneven surfaces. It features a low amp motor that will start easily in cold weather or attached to an extension cord. The oil-free pump makes for essentially no maintenance aside from draining moisture out of it after use. 

  • Max PSI: 150.
  • Capable of delivering 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Carrying handle for easy transport. 
  • Two couplers to run multiple tools at once. 
  • Oil-Free pump for no pump maintenance.
  • 1-Year Warranty. 
  • Made in Jackson, TN, with Global Materials.
  • Excellent ratings. 
  • Easy start in cold weather.

4. DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor

One of the best budget options in the 6-gallon size is this DeWalt pancake air compressor. This is another compressor that’s great for things like framing, inflating tires, and using small air tools that don’t require a high airflow rate. It’s not great for larger air tools and any job that requires long airflow cycles, otherwise known as duty cycles. 

The oil-free pump on this model makes it ideal for homeowners and DIYers because it eliminates the need to check or change the oil. It features a max PSI of 165 and delivers 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI. It also features two quick-release couplers and a ball-drain valve for easy moisture elimination from the air storage tank. 

It’s right around 30 pounds, making it a good choice for those who are always on the move. It’s also ideal for those working on roofs or on uneven ground, thanks to the rubber feet and the low profile. Plus, we can’t ignore the DeWalt brand name, which is yet another in the Black & Decker family. It’s also a little quieter than the Porter-Cable compressor listed above. 

  • Max PSI of 165.
  • Capable of delivering 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Carrying handle for easy transport. 
  • Two couplers to run multiple tools at once. 
  • Oil-Free pump for no pump maintenance.
  • 1-Year warranty. 
  • Made in the USA with Global Materials.
  • Excellent ratings. 
  • Only weighs 30 pounds. 
  • Easy start in cold weather.

5. Campbell Hausfeld 6-Gallon Quiet Air Compressor

Campbell Hausfeld is a name many people know. They started back in 1836 making agricultural equipment. They now make a wide range of products, including excellent air compressors. With a company that’s been around and making quality tools for so long, it’s no wonder this 6-gallon air compressor has such great ratings. 

This compressor is one of the quietest in the industry, boasting a decibel level of only 68. Those who work inside with their compressors or who are often in noise-sensitive areas will appreciate this compressor. It has an oil-free pump, so you don’t have to remember to perform pump maintenance every other month or so. The key components are also designed to last up to four times longer than those of other compressors. 

The one-piece motor shroud protects the motor and keeps people safe from moving or hot parts. It features a max PSI of 125 and delivers 2.4 SCFM @ 90 PSI. It features a sturdy construction and is ideal for everything from filling tires and using pneumatic staplers to upholstery work and trim jobs. The one drawback is how heavy it is, coming in at upwards of 60 pounds. 

For a quiet compressor that you can use for a variety of projects, you can’t go wrong with this Campbell Hausfeld air compressor. 

  • Max PSI of 125.
  • Capable of delivering 2.4 SCFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Roll-cage design for motor protection.
  • Oil-Free pump for no pump maintenance.
  • 1-Year warranty. 
  • Quiet operation – only 68 decibels.
  • Excellent ratings. 
  • Easy start in cold weather.

6. WEN 6-Gallon Horizontal Compressor

The first horizontal tank on this list of the best 6-gallon air compressors is also one of the most powerful compressors in terms of CFM. If you’re not familiar, WEN is a company that’s well-known for its low-cost, high-quality tools and equipment. And if you’re looking for the most airflow bang for your compressor buck, this compressor might just do it for you. 

This air compressor features a max PSI of 125, but don’t let that relatively low number fool you. It provides a flow rate of 3.2 CFM @ 90 PSI and 4.2 CFM @ 40 PSI. So while it may not provide air nonstop, it does provide a high flow rate so you can use larger intermittent air tools. Of course, it’s always good to make sure your air tool requirements match any compressor you get. 

The 6-gallon tank is made of reinforced steel, which makes this a very durable compressor. However, it also makes it pretty heavy at 51 pounds. Luckily, it has two heavy-duty wheels and a carrying handle so you can wheel the compressor around the garage or job site. It also has a conveniently located quick-drain valve and a ¼” NPT coupler. To add a cherry on top of this compressor sundae, it comes with a two-year warranty

  • Max PSI of 125.
  • Capable of delivering 3.2 SCFM @ 90 PSI and 4.2 SCFM @ 40 PSI.
  • Reinforced Steel Design.
  • 2-Year warranty. 
  • Excellent ratings. 
  • Wheels and handle for easy transport.
  • Quick-Drain valve and ¼” NPT coupler.

7. Ridgid Portable 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor

Our second-to-last 6-gallon air compressor recommendation is another pancake compressor. This style is great for those who don’t have a lot of room to spare or want a compressor that’s highly portable over long or short distances. It provides value and quality all at once. 

This compressor has a 150 max PSI and delivers 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI. It’s ideal for inflating, finish nailing, framing, brad nailing, trim, and other small air tools. It has a locking regulator that holds the knob in place while you work to prevent accidental pressure changes. It also comes with two universal couplers so you can hook up multiple hoses and tools at once. 

The motor is designed to start even with low voltage or in cold weather. It features an oil-free pump so you don’t have to worry about maintenance. And it comes with Rigid’s three-year manufacturer’s warranty, which is among the best air compressor warranties in the business. The entire compressor weighs 35 pounds, which makes it easy to move with its built-in carrying handle. 

  • Max PSI of 150.
  • Capable of delivering 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Carrying handle for easy transport. 
  • Two couplers to run multiple tools at once. 
  • Oil-Free pump for no pump maintenance.
  • 3-Year warranty. 
  • Excellent ratings. 
  • Only weighs 35 pounds. 
  • Easy start in cold weather.

8. California Air Tools Ultra-Quiet Industrial Compressor

We’ve saved the best for last if you like quiet air compressors. This one from California Air Tools — a company that specializes in making air compressors and other air tools — is one of the quietest on the market. At only 60 decibels, it’s surprisingly quiet. You can have a conversation standing right next to one of these compressors! 

But its noise level isn’t the only great feature this horizontal compressor has. It’s capable of delivering 3 CFM @ 90 PSI and 4 CFM @ 40 PSI, making it one of the more powerful 6-gallon models out there. It features a max PSI of 125 and an oil-free pump. The motor/pump is designed and tested to last 4000 hours, which is about 30% longer than other compressors are tested for. The biggest drawback of this compressor is its high price. 

It features a steel tank and weighs in at 54 pounds. But it comes with wheels and a handle so you can move it around with ease. It can start up easily in cold weather and its dual-piston pump will operate well for a long life and lots of use in a variety of environments. 

  • Max PSI of 125.
  • Capable of delivering 3.0 CFM @ 90 PSI and 4.0 CFM @ 40 PSI.
  • Wheels and handle for easy transport.
  • Dual-Piston pump
  • Designed and tested to last 4000 hours.  
  • Oil-Free pump for no pump maintenance.
  • Excellent ratings. 
  • Easy start in cold weather.

What Are 6 Gallon Air Compressors Good For?

If you’re relatively new to the world of air compressors and air tools, it can be difficult to determine what size compressor you need for certain tasks. A common question we get here has to do with what certain compressors sizes are good for. Since this article is about 6-gallon air compressors, let’s discuss what they’re good for. 

The 6-gallon size is a favorite of homeowners, DIYers, weekend warriors, and those who do a lot of carpentry work. They’re ideal for light-duty tasks and many small air tools. They’re good for jobs that don’t need a continuous flow of air. The specific air tools you can use effectively will depend on the specific compressor’s CFM capabilities. 

Most 6-gallon compressors offer airflow rates of around 2.5 to 3.5 CFM. The most affordable options on the market have a 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI.

To give you a better idea, we’ve included some common uses for these compressors below. 

Common Uses and Tools for 6-Gallon Air Compressors:

  • Nail Guns
  • Staple Guns
  • Inflating Tires
  • Inflating Rafts, Sports Equipment, Air Mattresses, etc. 
  • Air Drills
  • Die Grinders
  • Small Impact Wrenches (¼” to ⅜”)
  • Air Blow Guns
  • Light-Duty Cutting

It’s always best to check your air tool requirements to make sure the air compressor will supply adequate airflow and pressure. It’s also good to keep in mind that 6-gallon air compressors are best used with shorter air hoses of 25-feet or shorter. The longer the hose, the more air pressure you’ll lose. 

How Long Do 6 Gallon Air Compressors Last?

It’s hard to give a lifespan for any compressor of a given size. There are so many factors that determine a compressor’s lifespan. It’s not like their motors have odometers on them to tell you how many hours they’ve been used (although that would be a nice feature). 

Taking the California Air Tools compressor on our list as an example, we can look at the average lifespan of these 6-gallon compressors. The California Air Tools Ultra Quiet compressor is tested and rated to run for at least 4000 hours. This is better than most other air compressors of comparable size. 

For your typical 6-gallon compressor, you can expect to get 3000+ hours out of it with proper care and use. 

Things like draining the tank regularly, replacing air intake filters, and keeping the compressor away from the elements are essential for a long compressor life. Most of today’s 6-gallon compressors are oil-free, but if you do have a compressor that’s oil-lubricated, you’ll also need to stay on top of changing the oil or topping it off when it gets low. 

Also, using a 6-gallon compressor for jobs better suited for a larger compressor will certainly make the pump and motor wear down quicker than otherwise. Most of them aren’t designed for continuous use day in and day out. If you find that your compressor is overheating from continuous use, it could be a sign that you’re pushing it too hard.  

Is a 6 Gallon Air Compressor Right for Me?

No one other than you can determine if a 6-gallon compressor is right for you. However, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re getting the right compressor. Let’s go over them now. 

  • Air Tool Requirements – The most important thing to do is check your air tool requirements in terms of CFM. Find the air tool you’ll be using often that requires the highest CFM and make sure a 6-gallon compressor is rated to provide more than the air tool needs. The rule of thumb is to multiply the air tool’s CFM by 1.5. So an air tool that requires 2.0 CFM would need a compressor that supplies 2.0 * 1.5 = 3.0 CFM.
  • Portability – 6-gallon air compressors are all pretty portable. However, some are more portable than others. Pancake compressors don’t have any wheels because they’re small enough to carry, weighing between 30 and 40-pounds, on average. Others have wheels for transport because they’re too long or awkward to pick up and carry. If portability isn’t an issue and you need a more powerful compressor, you may want to look at those with larger tanks and higher CFM ratings. 
  • Noise – If you’ll be working in a noise-sensitive area or indoors a lot, you’ll want to consider noise levels. Some 6-gallon compressors are pretty loud, while others are rated as quiet. If this isn’t a concern for you, then just look at air tool requirements and portability as your two main deciding factors. 

Most of the time, you don’t have to worry about PSI or HP ratings on your compressor. If the CFM rating is adequate for your needs, then you can expect the compressor to provide enough pressure. HP is simply a rating of the power of the motor and only matters in terms of how much airflow the compressor can provide. 

If you need a compressor for activities or tools we haven’t discussed in this article, you may want to do some more research on what exactly your requirements are and then match them up with a compressor. But for most common projects, household tasks, and small air tools, a 6-gallon compressor will do well.

Justin

Justin is a full-time blogger with a passion for anything DIY. When he's not hanging out with his wife and son, you can find him putting the finishing touches on yet another home project he's taken on. He's also the creator of AllAboutAirCompressors.com.