Small(ish) Compressors

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Ed Fasano

Senior User
FYI for those interested in a small(ish) shop compressor…

I wanted to replace my aging Devilbiss pancake compressor. My space is limited, so that narrowed my search. I did quite a bit of searching and researching. For whatever it’s worth, my conclusions included these ramblings…

The nearly undisputed pinnacles of best in class in small(ish) compressors are the Makita Big Bore MAC2400 (no wheels) and/or MAC5200 (wheels and a fold-down handle). The 2400 is $320 and rarely on sale. Amazon does, however, have it at $299 right now. The 5200 is $330. They are oil crankcase units, which (some say) last longer under heavy use, but require oil changes. They use the less-common 1,725 RPM motors and a larger (single) cylinder, which contribute to somewhat quieter operation (compared to most of this ilk), but are still noisier than what is a generation of compressors that use low-RPM motor/compressor modules that look like this.


These remarkably quiet 1,725 RPM, two cylinder motor/compressor modules once seemed to be an exclusive of California Air Tools (C.A.T.). Now, however, they are appearing on compressors offered by other brands.

I ran across this unit at Northern Tool and am very happy with it so far.


The form factor/footprint are ideal for me. It is very quiet and what noise it does make is less of less objectionable nature. With an 8-gallon tank, it’s smaller than many vertical machines, but is twice the capacity of my pancake unit. Two output connections are a nice plus and the gauges are larger and much easer to read than most. Very robust construction and heavy, but easy to move though (once it’s on its wheels). The Northern Tool store price is $319, but the website lists it as on sale at $249 (12/6/2018). With the common $20 Northern Tool discount card, it was $229. Lastly, the Northern Tool NorthStar warranty is 4-years (4 times than of anything else I shopped for).


p.s. I tried to imbed the images for easier reading, but it eluded me. Oddly, the images appear when the post is opened for editing.


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