Could you use some help choosing the right horsepower air compressor for your roofing project? Are you not sure about what the technical features like CFM or PSI mean? Well, you’re not the only one; we’ve gotten tons of emails asking to explain these issues.
To help you choose the best air compressor for roofing nailer, we’ve put together a list of our five favorite ones on the market. These products range from amazing budget-friendly options to full-blown professional tools. And the buying guide at the end will make choosing yours easier.
5 Best Air Compressor for Roofing Nailer
There are hundreds if not thousands of air compressors on the market. Finding the best one for you might take some time, and each one appeals to a user with unique needs. So, here are our top five picks to make things simpler.
1. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor
At the top of our list, we have the top pancake air compressor you can use to power your roofing nailer. It turns heads with its great PSI to SCFM ratio, its efficient motor, and surprisingly affordable price. The Bostitch is an absolute bang for the buck.
Since pancake gas tanks are smaller in size, great air pressure is essential. This 6-gallon tank can store a maximum gas pressure of 150 PSI. But you’ll get the best flow at a moderate pressure, which clocks in at 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI.
There are couplers and a high flow regulator included in the box to best utilize air pressure. You can comfortably punch in 6-7 nails on your roof before taking a minute for the tank to refill. And its operational noise level is 78.5 dBA, making it one of the quieter models out there.
It can be hard to work in the cold and harder when the air compressor won’t work. But you get a high-efficiency motor for colder weather or if you want to use an extension cord. And this 0.8-HP machine doesn’t use any oil for lubrication, so don’t worry about stains.
2. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Pancake Air Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
Having the right accessories can make or break your roofing project. The problem is that you usually have to buy a couple of nozzles and cables even if you have a great compressor. Well, you used to, because this item comes with all the essential plug-ins you will need.
The Craftsman pancake model is pretty similar to the previous one we looked at; it’s a great oil-free 1/3-HP compressor at a competitive price. And the manufacturers complement it by including a blowgun, tire chuck, PVC hose, and ten other accessories you might need to fix your roof.
Of course, this capable 120V compressor can push out 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI pretty comfortable. It peaks at 150 PSI, which is impressive for a pancake design. You can use it for nearly ten completely sunk nails before you let it re-pressurize.
If you’re worried about the compressor not starting in the snow, don’t. Its motor can muster up enough power to push through the chill. Try not to fall off the roof, though. And the motor is completely oil-free, so that’s one less concern.
3. MAKITA MAC100Q Quiet Series Electric Air Compressor
You don’t want to get a noise complaint when you’re nailing your roof on the weekend. And it’s pretty chaotic to work with a loud air compressor too. Makita’s Quiet lineup solves this issue with some of the quietest items on the market, especially the MAC100Q.
The compressor works at an average of 58 dB, which is perfect for long hours of work. And you’ll find no better option for indoor use. This low noise is surprising when you look at the 0.5 HP motor it uses. And you don’t have to worry about maintenance since it’s oil-free.
If you invest in a machine like this, you wouldn’t want it to break down in a year. That’s why it runs at only 1750 RPM to keep the pump and motor under minimal stress. But you won’t notice any poor performance unless you’re a professional.
Since professionals use this product, it has a roll cage build for carrying around a construction site. And it’s not too heavy either, so you take this 30-lbs compressor around the workplace as you need. Note that the tank holds only 1 gallon, so you might want to use it plugged-in.
4. METABO HPT EC710S Pancake Air Compressor
We know you can finish nailing that roof all by yourself, but a helping hand can’t hurt. And if you need to power two roofing nailers, you’ll need an air compressor that’s up for the job. That’s where Metabo’s surprisingly dependable pancake compressor comes in.
This 1-HP engine can handle some extra air pressure, peaking at an industry-standard 150 PSI. Ideally, you’ll get 2.8 SCFM flow at 90 PSI, which is impressive when you’ve plugged up two nailers into the 6-gallon tank. And the included regulator and gauges are quite accurate too.
Even with all this power, this machine weighs only around 37 lbs. It’s pretty portable, which is important when you’re hauling it up to the roof. And the steel roll cage keeps all the internal components safe from moderate impact.
You get two quick universal couplers with the compressor so that you can switch between tools fast. The motor can start up easily even in chilly weather, which is useful if you live in the North. However, users complain that it’s a bit loud, even though the manufacturers claim it maxes out at 73 dB.
5. MAKITA MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Breaking conventions, we’re ending the list with the biggest air compressor to power your roofing nailer. Again, we’re back to Makita because they never disappoint with their pro-tools. And the Big Bore is no exception with its 2.5 HP motor and 4.6-gallon tank.
Of course, professionals are more likely to get this model, and we can’t argue. This beast performs better than any competitor. It can maintain an operating PSI of 130, but you get a whopping 4.8 CFM at 40 PSI (and 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI, which is enough for a single nailer).
You can power two powerful roofing nailers with this compressor. The motor keeps a low amperage on start-up, so you don’t blow a breaker. And it keeps a low 1730 RPM to minimize noise while you’re working (usually around 79 dB).
The vertically-stacked twin tanks can hold 4.6 gallons of compressed air. And the oil-lubricated motor might need maintenance now and then, but it will last years without any substantial wear. This thing is extremely durable, which is exactly what pros need.
What to Look for Before Buying?
Which air compressor you choose for your roofing project can affect how long it takes and how well you do it. And finding the right one for you can be trickier than simply using it. Well, here are the things you’ll want to consider.
More horsepowers mean more power. So you should get the most horsepowers in your budget, right? Well, maybe not. A powerful motor will fill your air tank quicker and punch in more nails in one go. But it’s also going to be louder.
If you’re a professional and need the strength of two-and-a-half horses plugged into your nailer, go and get that compressor. But if you’re working on a DIY project in your neighborhood, you might want to think about whether it’s worth the noise complaint.
The air pressure unit inside your compressor’s tank is PSI, which means “Pounds per Square Inch.” It essentially indicates the maximum air pressure the tank can hold. The higher the PSI is, the more nails you can punch in.
Usually, air compressors have a working PSI of 90, which comfortably gets the job done. However, high-performance models might have a higher pressure capacity to ensure heavy-duty work.
CFM or SCFM
CFM means Cubic Feet per Minute, which is the unit of the volumetric flow rate of the air passing out of the tank. A higher CFM means more air coming out of the compressor. SCFM means Standard Cubic Feet per Minute, and most companies use this measurement nowadays.
Your compressor’s CFM will be inversely proportional to its PSI. There’s a higher flow rate when there’s less stored pressure inside the air tank. Look for a good CFM rating when you’re making your choice.
Size and Weight
Compressor technology has come a long way in the last few decades. Each machine is getting smaller and more compact, which is a blessing for the people on the roof. And many great compressors today don’t weigh much.
Lightweight machines can be pretty useful for DIY projects. And even professionals prefer a lighter compressor to carry around the job site. However, more powerful models still might be on the heavy side, so think about your priorities.
Traditionally, air compressors used oil to lubricate the moving parts like pistons. While oil can increase mobility, it takes regular maintenance, and its use is outdated. There are several options on our list that don’t need oil at all. These make fewer stains and need infrequent maintenance.
Another old feature is vertically-placed air tanks. You’ll see very few of these because pancake tanks are all the rage nowadays. And the newer models are less likely to suffer damage with their roll cage designs that resist impact.
Your compressor’s power source matters in terms of its performance capability. Usually, these machines either run on a direct electric line or gasoline. Gasoline can be useful when you’re working in remote areas without any power connection. But you might need a generator too.
On the other hand, an electric connection in a compressor is far more common. And it has some advantages too. First of all, you can regulate its output easily by adjusting the amperage. And higher voltage machines can give superior performance when needed.
Consider Your Budget
This should go without saying, but don’t cross your budget unless you have to. There are hundreds of cool options on the market, and it’s tempting to get the best compressor to power your roofing nailer. But try to only pay for the features you’ll need.
Frequently Asked Questions
What size air compressor do I need for a roofing nailer?
Suppose your air compressor can maintain between 72 PSI to 110 PSI and manage a 2 to 2.5 CFM flow rate. It should be able to power a roofing nailer adequately.
Can a pancake compressor run a roofing nailer?
Pancake compressors get their name from their compressed size and shape. These tanks can hold less air than bigger tanks but run a roofing nailer just fine. However, you’ll have to stop and let the tank refill after a fewer number of nail insertions.
Do you need an air compressor for a nailer?
Pneumatic nail guns (that run using compressed air) are the most common in roofing jobs. They’re efficient and powerful, but there are battery-powered options available too. However, batteries drain pretty quickly, and professionals prefer pneumatic options.
Can a 3-gallon air compressor run a nail gun?
Pneumatic nailers don’t need a continuous flow of air from the source as long as there’s sufficient pressure in the tank. If your compressor can hold between 2 to 6 gallons of air at 2 CFM, it can run a nail gun.
Is oil-free oil better than a lubricated air compressor?
Oil-free compressors are usually far more affordable than lubricated ones. However, if your air compressor uses an oil-based lubrication system, it’s likely to last much longer.
Well, that wraps up our list. Whether you want the best air compressor for roofing nailer for professionals or an oil-free and budget-friendly option, there’s a great choice for you here. Stay safe while you’re on the roof, though.
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