Best Reciprocating Air Compressor 2018 – Buyers Guide (April update)


The best reciprocating air compressor 

Choosing the best reciprocating air compressor can be a daunting task especially when we have too many types of compressors out there with so many variations. Ranging from small air compressors to powerful industrial grade reciprocating compressors they can have multitude of uses for small time DIY projects to professional services.

We know how hard it is to find out the air compressor you need for your needs. We did the hard work for you and narrowed down the 3 best reciprocating air compressor.

Please continue reading if you

  • You want to buy an air compressor but unsure what type you need?
  • You aren’t sure what’s the best place to buy from?
  • You’re overwhelmed by too many types!
  • You are confused between the sizes, air pressure and air compressor models
  • You need single stage, dual stage or duplex air compressor

Or skip to the top three compressors section if you are already familiar with compressors and simply want to find out the best compressor.

However, in this buying guide I will help you decide the best reciprocating air compressor. I will cover everything you need to know about reciprocating compressors so you can take an educated decision.

Let’s find the top three compressors first. If you need help deciding please check out our buyers guide after the top three reciprocating air compressors review.

best reciprocating air compressors
ModelHorse PowerPressureCFMStageTank sizePrice
#1 Quincy QT-545140 - 17515.4 @ 90
15.2 @ 175
260Check Price
#2 Quincy QT-7.5
14160 - 17523.8 @ 100
23.6 @ 175
230Check Price
#3 3. Ingersoll Rand Type-30
517514 @ 175
280Check Price

If you’re wondering why I prepared a top three reciprocating compressor list, a friend of mine wanted to buy a reciprocating air compressor for his shop and since I’m the tech guy he wanted me to help him. I thought what’s the catch? Picking a compressor should be easy right? Hell I was wrong! It took me 4 days to decide the best compressor for his shop. I didn’t find any good resources online that could help me decide. It’s only then when I thought I would build a reciprocating compressor buyers guide.

These are the top compressors I could find on Amazon. Why Amazon? Because Amazon is a trusted site, you can read real opinions of people there.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best reciprocating air compressors of 2018.

1. Quincy QT-54

Best Reciprocating Compressor - Quincy QT 54

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Features at a glance

Max. PSI 175
Air Tank Size (gal.) 60
CFM at 90 PSI 15.4
CFM at Max. PSI 15.2
Air Outlet Size (in.) 1/2
Duty Cycle 100%
Working Pressure (PSI) 140–175
Tank Fill Time (min.) 6 1/2
Regulator Included No
Stage 2
Motor Phase(s) Single
Oil Required Yes
Lubrication System Splash
HP 5
Amps 24
Volts 230
Motor RPM 3,450
Drain System Manual
Pump Life (hrs.) 50,000+
Pump Material Cast iron w/aluminum head
Noise Level (dB) 75
Dimensions L x W x H (in.) 29 x 21 x 64
Manufacturer’s Warranty 12 months parts / 12 months labor
Ship Weight 475.0 lbs

QT-54 is our chart topper. This well priced reciprocating air compressor is a fantastic choice for home or light commercial uses. Quincy QT-54 has been designed to last long, built for efficiency and lower operating cost. This compressor produces more compressed air at a lower horsepower as well as runs at a slower RPM. Which means cooler operation and more air consuming less energy. The life rating for the pump is 50,000 hours. The compressor comes with 1 year warranty and can be extended to 2 years package warranty and 3 years pump warranty with the purchase of extended warranty kit (parts and labor included) on the same receipt.

The pump is built using cast iron and produces 5 horse powers. The pump produces 15.2 cubic feet per minute of air at 175 psi and 15.4 cubic feet per minute of air at 90 psi with a working pressure of 140 – 175 psi with a max psi of 175 which is among the highest. It’s a single phase motor.

The compressor sports 60 gallons tank. It’s a 2 stage compressor. It’s a single phase 230 volt electric compressor and weighs about 475 pounds powerful enough to play with multiple tools on the go. With more air in the tank there will be space available to run most demanding tools. Higher psi means faster recovery time. With a smaller tank size compared to other high tank capacity models it will fill up the tank faster.

The compressor is 100% US made with solid build quality. Very low vibration and relatively quiet. The tools may be slightly louder than the compressor while running, but not by much so not to worry. It will run for long hours without the air heating up too much. You can use a Milton filter-regulator and won’t have to worry about water in the line.

When you use a two stage compressor you’ll never go back to a single stage compressor. The higher pressure and increased efficiency will spoil you. Due to it doesn’t heat up that much it hardly builds up any moisture. While most manufacturers overrate their CFM, Quincy under rates theirs.

This is one of the best choices for anyone looking for a future proof reciprocating air compressor, with a great price to match. If you’re looking for a good compressor and don’t want to spend fortune for it this reciprocating compressor is for you.

  • Motor comes with built in Thermal overload
  • Low oil carry-over rating which is less than 5PPM
  • 1310 RPM pump speed
  • All electrical work should be done by a licensed technician
  • It is recommended that you use a 50Amp circuit breaker along with properly sized wires
  • ASME-coded steel tank and pressure relief valves
  • Splash lubricated
  • Fly wheel is made of cast iron for energy efficiency and durability
  • Aluminum head dissipates the heat evenly
  • Oil reservoir includes extra-capacity, this keeps the oil temperatures low
  • 3450 RPM motor
  • Finned tube intercooler cools fast and increases the valve life and efficiency
  • The pump is belt driven with a solid cast iron cylinder, the pump is 2 staged
  • Ball valve is easy to reach and heavy duty
  • Ships in a heavy duty crate and comes with oil in the pump

Note:

– Some users have reported warranty issues with Quincy. In order to stay safe, make sure you get the extended warranty package and have it on the same receipt.

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Pros
  • The performance is impressive as it’s very quiet and vibrates relatively low.
  • Fast recovery time
  • The price is reasonable when you compare it to the other compressors.
Cons
  • There were several reports of failed pumps, pressure switches, dryers within 6-12 months after purchase. You should be fine with the warranty though.

2. Quincy QT-7.5

Quincy QT-7.5 Best Reciprocating Air Compressor

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Features at a glance

Max. PSI 175
Air Tank Size (gal.) 30
CFM at Max. PSI 23.6
Air Outlet Size (in.) 1/2
Duty Cycle 100%
Working Pressure (PSI) 160–175
Stage 2
Engine Kohler
Lubrication System Splash
HP 14
Amps 40
Volts 230
RPM 1060
Drain System Manual ball valve
Pump Life (hrs.) 50,000+
Dimensions L x W x H (in.) 37 x 24 x 74
Ship Weight 720.0 lbs
Manufacturer’s Warranty 12 months parts / 12 months labor

Quincy QT-7.5 Splash lubricated air compressor makes sure your money is well spent. It’s a well-designed heavy duty compressor that will last for a long time. The compressor runs at slower RPM which is why it manages to run cooler which means much less operating cost for you.

The pump life of the motor is 50000 hours, best in the industry. It comes with aluminum head which dissipates the heat better. The compressor includes a magnetic starter for load and power failure protection. It has a horizontal 30 Gallon tank that can store more compressed air which means less use of the compressor and more use time of your air tools and equipment.

The compressor is famous for its quiet operation. Thanks to its slower RPM motor and lower horsepower the compressor manages to run quieter than the other similar models. Quincy QT-7.5 Splash lubricated air compressor sports a working pressure (PSI) of: 160-175 which makes it ideal for most air tools and equipment.

Quincy QT-7.5 is a stationary compressor so you need to find a place for it. The compressor is a stage 2 compressor with a single phase motor. The pump is made of cast iron with a CFM of 23.8 @ 100psi and 23.6 @ 175 psi. Amp requirements is 40 Amps. The motor is an industrial-duty motor. The compressor includes a starter which is general-purpose mounted and wired.

The Pump is a 2-cylinder pump with a RPM of 1060. The ball valve is heavy duty, manual and easy to reach. The cylinder of the pump is solid cast iron and is driven by a 2 stage belt. It also includes finned tube intercooler which makes sure maximum cooling which in means increased valve life.

The fly wheel is made of cast iron and is energy efficient as well as durable. All electrical components are UL and CSA approved.

  • Heavy duty motor
  • Heavy duty industrial strength general-purpose mounted and wired magnetic starter
  • Blow by Oil carry over rating is less than 5PPM.
  • Working pressure is in between 160-175 PSI
  • RPM of the pump is 1060
  • The pump is designed as a 2-cylinder pump
  • The ball valve is heavy duty and easy to reach
  • The pump has solid cast iron cylinder and a 2 stage belt drive.
  • Finned Tube intercooler is used for maximum cooling and increased valve life
  • Heat gets dissipated by aluminum head
  • Oil temperature stays low because of the extra capacity reservoir
  • Fly wheel is made of cast iron. Cast iron increases energy efficiency and durability
  • Duty cycle is 100%
  • Splash Lubricated

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Pros
  • Very quiet operation
  • Good tank size
  • Made and assembled in the USA
  • 14 Horse power Motor
  • 1060RPM motor which is fairly quiet
  • Automatic drain
  • Easy to setup
Cons
  • No low oil protection
  • No After cooler included
  • No on/off switch

3. Ingersoll Rand Type-30 Model# 2340N5-V 

Ingersoll Rand Type 30 Reciprocating Air Compressor

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Features at a glance

Max. PSI 175
Air Tank Size (gal.) 80
CFM at Max. PSI 14
Air Outlet Size (in.) 1/2
Duty Cycle 100%
Stage 2
Motor Phase(s) 3
Lubrication System Splash
HP 5
Volts 230
Drain System Manual
Pump Life (hrs.) 10,000+
Pump Material Cast iron
Dimensions L x W x H (in.) 24 x 33 x 67
Manufacturer’s Warranty 12 months parts / 12 months labor, can be increased to 24 months with maintenance kit.
Ship Weight 430.0 lbs

Ingersoll Rand Type 30 air compressor comes with a heavy duty industrial strength motor. The compressor sports a working pressure of 175 PSI and comes with a 10,000 hours pump life rating. Features include manual tank drain, low oil shutdown also included heavy-duty after cooler.

These compressors include 80 gallon air tank with a single phase motor and cast iron pump. Sports 5 horse powers. It’s a two stage, belt driven compressor with a 100% duty cycle.

The compressor contains a stationary type tank which is vertically aligned and produces 14 CFM at 175PSI. The compressor comes with a low oil protection system. These compressors run at 230volt power. The compressor includes aluminum head for better heat dissipation and balanced cast iron fly wheel which provides better energy efficiency and durability.

  • Heavy duty industrial strength motor
  • Noise level is at 78 decibels, estimated by the manufacturer
  • General purpose heavy industrial duty mounted and wired magnetic starter for load and power failure protection
  • Working pressure is in between 175PSI
  • Dual cylinder pump
  • Solid cast iron pressure relief valves and tank
  • 80 Gallon air tank
  • 2 stage belt driven pump
  • Heat dissipates evenly because of Aluminum head
  • Oil temperature stays relatively low thanks to its extra capacity oil reservoir
  • Duty cycle is rated at 100%
  • Includes cast iron fly wheel which makes sure of prolonged durability and max energy efficiency
  • Splash lubricated

Check It Out

Pros
  • Quiet, heavy duty and smooth operation
  • Quick recovery
  • Max option provides good air quality
Cons
  • Manual tank drain

Best Reciprocating Air Compressor buying guide

What is Reciprocating Air Compressor?

The type uses piston-cylinder to compress the air. The term comes from reciprocating motion since the piston moves back and forth.

Reciprocating compressors have reciprocating piston. The piston increases air pressure by reducing the space that contains the air. The mechanism is basically the same as an internal combustion engine. The compressor has a cylinder a valve head, a piston, crankshaft and connecting rod. The piston moves up and down compressing air which then gets stored in the storage tank. The compressor can be powered by an electric motor or a gas engine. This allows mobility.

(Check out the image to understand the mechanism).

Reciprocating compressor

How to choose the right reciprocating compressor?

Air compressors can have multitude of uses from leisure and maintenance to heavy duty business tasks, criteria to choose should be by capacity, air pressure, horse power of the motor and if you need more than one stage models.

To make your life a little easier we have selected the three best reciprocating air compressor for consumer to professional grade uses based on user reviews, quality, effectivity and power. So without further ado let’s check out the three best reciprocating air compressors on Amazon.

Do you need a reciprocating air compressor?

This type is perfect for:

  • Garages
  • Workshops
  • Homemade/DIY projects
  • Small businesses
  • Construction work
  • Professional work

So how do you buy the right compressor from tons of different types of reciprocating compressor out there? Not to worry as our buying guide will help you with:

  • Finding the right type of reciprocating compressor
  • Deciding the right size of the cylinder
  • The most common mistakes when buying a reciprocating air compressor
  • What options you need and what you can ignore
  • Saving money on your purchase

Reciprocating compressor types

Below are the types

  • Single stage compressors
  • Two stage compressors
  • Duplex
  • Electric and gas driven
  • Oil flooded vs Oil free

Single stage reciprocating compressors

These types have only a piston/cylinder in which the air is compressed in 1 stage. These types are cheaper and simple in design with a maximum capacity of 20 cubic feet per minute (CFM) and pressure up to 10 bar (140 PSI).

These are mostly used for home or light commercial uses. If you’re thinking about commercial uses, we would recommend a two stage compressor.

Two stage air compressors

Two stage, also referred as double stage units do have more than 1 piston/cylinder. They have 2 cylinder with two pistons. One of the cylinders is a low pressure cylinder and the other is a high pressure. The low pressure cylinder pumps up to about half of the high pressure cylinder. The air is then cooled and compressed further by the second cylinder which is a high pressure one.

These units have more capacity and higher air pressure than 1 stage compressors. The capacity goes up to 50 cubic feet per minute (CFM) with a pressure of up to 12bar (175 PSI). This makes the compressors suitable for commercial and industrial uses.

Duplex compressors

Duplex units contain two separate single stage compressors installed on one tank. The compressors can be two stage as well for the heavier units. Duplex units have bigger capacity and higher pressure. If one compressor breaks you can always use the other compressor although that may reduce the capacity.

Electric or Gas driven?

Gas driven compressors work anywhere. Ideal for onsite or professional work and mostly for the places with no electricity. They come with the same types of pumps as electric air compressors and has gas powered engines with single stage, dual stage and duplex variations.

Note: Although gas powered compressors are way more convenient and hassle free the issue with them is they produce way more sound and exhaust fume. When used indoor, use with caution. Also not all of the gas powered compressors are portable. There are bigger units that weigh up to 600lbs (300kg’s). Of course you can install them on truck or mobile equipment in that case the weight shouldn’t be an issue.

Oil-flooded vs oil-free

Choose the oil flooded version for in home maintenance and semi-professional or professional work. Oil free version is mostly used for jobs like spray-painting a or breathing-air. Most don’t need oil free compressors for workshops, garages, small businesses and construction jobs.

Note: Oil free versions are more expensive, makes more noise and requires extensive maintenance. You don’t need one if you don’t need 100% oil-free air.

Choosing the right capacity and pressure

Before you decide you need to make sure what air pressure and capacity do you need. These are the two most important specifications to check when buying.

  • Capacity is expressed in CFM (cubic feet per minute) or liters per second or cubic meters per hour.
  • Pressure is expressed by PSI or bar.

Capacity is ‘HOW MUCH’ and pressure is ‘HOW STRONG’.

What capacity do I need?

Capacity defines the amount of air a compressor pumps out.  Capacity is expressed in CFM (Cubic feet per minute). Capacity is what determines the size of the compressor. Two compressors can have same pressure but vastly different capacity.

(insert low and high capacity compressor images)

Most compressors that are sold at shops, online and dealers are between 8.5-12 bars (125 to 175 PSI). The pressure you need is determined by the types of tools/equipment you use. Say a machine operates at 110 PSI, a nailer needs 90 PSI. The capacity you need is determined by the air consumption of all the tools/equipment you use together.

What pressure do I need?

Because most of the tools are designed to operate in between 90-100 psi (6-7 bar) you can get away with a 7 bar of maximum air pressure.

If you need higher air pressure then choose an air compressor with higher pressure.

Determining the pressure required for your work

Take a look at your tools and machines, they should have the minimum required pressure listed. If there’s nothing written then you can consider 100 psi (7 bar) a safe measurement. If you’re in doubt you may contact the original equipment manufacturer to find out the actual requirements.

Size of the Tank

Tank size doesn’t matter much. Check out the ‘liters per minute’ capacity of the compressor, not how much it can store (say 100 liter compressor). Remember the bigger the tank is the more ‘liters per minute’ compressor power you need. Getting a big size tank and a small compressor will take a lot of time to fill up the tank.

How much capacity do you need?

Count all your air tools and machines, add them up and this is the maximum capacity your machines need together. You probably won’t use all the tools together but it’s a safe measure.

I hope this guide helped you find the best reciprocating air compressor for your need. If you want to learn more check out this Wikipedia link about reciprocating air compressor.

Hey, I'm Eric. I love to find out the best products and review them. I'm a full time product tester and a dad of two beautiful kids.

1 Comment
  1. My Quincy QT-54 is more than 2 years old and running great, no issues at all. Quincy support is great at answering questions. Definitely recommended.

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