An airbrush compressor is a fantastic tool to have in your studio if you are into painting, model making, food decoration, makeup application, or tattooing. An airbrush compressor is a great accessory that can help you create the perfect masterpiece, whether you’re creating designs on walls, cakes, or cars. With a high-quality airbrush compressor, your art can reach new heights, and it will help you create designs that would have been impossible to achieve otherwise.
So, whether you are a professional artist or simply a hobbyist, there are a whole lot of airbrush compressors out there that you can choose from, and in this buying guide, we will give you a complete lowdown on the best airbrush compressors on the market and what to look for when buying one.
Best Airbrush Compressors
- Best Airbrush Compressor Kit — Master G22 Multi-Purpose Airbrush Kit with Compressor: The kit includes a 24 airbrush paint set and a powerful yet lightweight airbrush compressor.
- Best Quietest — Master Airbrush Model TC-40T: The compact and lightweight compressor is extremely quiet with a noise level of just 47 dB.
- Best Maintenance-Free — Badger TC910 Aspire Pro Compressor: The lightweight airbrush compressor with a 3-liter tank is extremely easy to maintain.
- Best All-Rounder — California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Air Compressor: The versatile airbrush compressor has a 1-gallon tank and 57 dB noise level and can be used for many other applications other than just airbrushing.
- Best Budget — PointZero 1/5HP Airbrush Compressor: This low-priced compressor has a 3-liter tank capacity and just a 55 dB noise level.
The Master G22 is easily among the best for beginners, as well as professionals. The kit has an airbrush depot compressor, which delivers more air volume, as well as air pressure, compared to any other airbrush compressor.
It delivers an air pressure of around 35-75 psi to a maximum of 85 psi before it shuts off automatically. The compressor is compact, lightweight, and portable, and it has an in-built handle for convenient handling and storage.
- Automatic shutoff
- Dual-action airbrush
- Air regulator with gauge
- 0.3mm nozzle/ needle
- 6 feet braided air hose
- 1/3oz. fluid cup
- It comes along with 24 colors paint set
- It comes with an airbrush cleaning pot, holder, and cleaning solution
- Reasonably priced
- Wide pressure range
- Portable compressor
- Large tank capacity
- Loud when in operation
- The hose is quite short
If you’re a serious artist and are looking for a compressor for your work, then the Master Airbrush TC-40T is worth considering. The single-piston compressor is equipped with a powerful 1/6 HP motor that delivers strong airflow that gives consistent and rich color coverage. The 3-liter air tank of the compressor offers constant pressure with 0 pulsation, which ensures precise delivery on the most intricate artworks. The compressor has a built-in cooling fan that prevents the motor from overheating and allows a longer duty cycle. The compressor is lightweight and has a carrying handle that lets you carry it around conveniently.
- Single-piston airbrush air compressor
- Air storage tank with air regulator
- Gauge and water trap filter
- 6 feet braided air hose
- 2 holders
- In-built cooling fan
- Air on demand
- 5-year warranty
- Quiet operation (47 dB)
- Thermally protected
- Easy to use
- Oil-less and maintenance-free compressor
- May develop pulsation problems over time
- Does not come with instructions on how to install the airbrush
The Badger TC910 is a 1/5HP, on/off switch compressor that delivers a maximum pressure of 57 psi. It has a 3-liter (1 gallon) in-built tank, an in-built moisture filter, and 2 airbrush holders. The compressor has a pressure gauge and an adjustable air regulator. The Badger TC910 Aspire Pro has a strong outer case made of metal with a handle, which makes carrying the compressor around very easy.
- Automatic shutoff compressor
- 1/5HP compressor
- Pressure gauge
- 3-liter (1 gallon) in-built tank
- In-built moisture filter
- Airbrush holder
- Thermal overload protection
- Maximum Pressure: 57 psi
- ETL certification
- 1-year warranty
- Lightweight compressor
- Quiet operation
- Durable and long-lasting
- When the pressure is increased, the motor kicks in, which may be inconvenient.
The 1/5HP PointZero Airbrush Compressor is perfect for both professionals as well as hobbyists. The compressor delivers a powerful performance, yet its operation is very quiet. The piston is precision-forged and delivers 1 CFM, the constant pressure ensures that your output is precise, and the regulator offers complete control. The smart power-saving mode helps to reduce wear on the motor and makes the compressor long-lasting. The oil-free design of the compressor makes it portable and easy to carry around.
- 1/5HP airbrush compressor
- 3 liter (0.8-gallon) tank
- 1.0 CFM power
- Precision-forged piston
- Quiet operation (55 dB)
- Sensitive pressure regulator with water trap and integrated gauge
- Constant pressure, zero pulsation
- Smart power-saving mode
- Includes 7 airbrush guides
- The professional-grade compressor delivers high performance
- Dual-operation mode helps to save power when the maximum psi of 85 is not required
- The compressor’s rubber feet make it stable on any kind of surface
- The multi-purpose airbrush compressor can be used for varied projects, including body and nail art, food decoration, etc.
- The water trap gets filled very quickly and needs to be changed quite often.
- Reserve tank capacity is quite small.
Equipped with a 0.6 HP motor, the California Air Tools air compressor is among the quietest airbrush compressors because it makes very little noise when in operation. The compressor has an oil-free pump, which makes it maintenance-free, and there are no hassles of filling the tank or rusting. The compressor has a 1-gallon steel tank, and the lightweight construction of the compressor makes it very easy to transport. In fact, the California Air Tools air compressor is quite versatile and you can use it as a brad nail gun, staple gun, blow gun and also use it for inflating objects such as balls, tires, etc. and also for cleaning.
- 0.6 HP motor (1.20 CFM @ 90 psi)
- Oil-free pump
- Ultra-quiet (57 dB)
- 1-gallon steel tank
- Produces less heat
- Maintenance cost is very low
- Low power consumption
- The tank is quite small
- It does not come with a hose
How Does an Airbrush Compressor Work?
An airbrush compressor is essentially an air compressor, which enables you to operate the airbrush and helps to spray media such as paint, ink, foundation and dye. An airbrush compressor is a machine equipped with 1-2 pistons, which helps to compress the outside air and generates air pressure by using a tube and makes the airbrush function. The piston compresses the air into the storage tank, and it creates pressure there. The air is then released to the airbrush, which then starts functioning and allows you to spray freehand images. The pressure that the airbrush compressor produces is very important, keeping in mind the application you will be using the airbrush for.
Types of Airbrush Compressors
There are 2 kinds of airbrush compressors:
These compressors are generally considered as compressors for beginners and can be a great choice if you are starting out on airbrushing. The pulsating membrane in the diaphragm compressor helps in compressing the air. Generally, these compressors deliver a maximum pressure of 40 psi and so, they are ideal for connecting one airbrush and are good for spraying small plastic models. Diaphragm compressors do not have an air tank and run continuously, which can cause them to be quite noisy when in operation. Also, it is recommended that you don’t use the compressor for too long, as they can get overheated and damaged.
These have 1-2 pistons, which help in compressing the air. The 2-piston compressor will compress more air than a 1-piston compressor. Piston compressors are more powerful compared to diaphragm compressors and you can attach many airbrushes to a single compressor easily and you can also run the piston compress continuously for a longer time when compared to diaphragm one. To control the air pressure that reaches the hose, an air regulator must be attached to the compressor. The air compressors are also usually equipped with a moisture trap that helps to filter particles and fluids for the air line. There are two types of piston compressors:
Oil-Free Piston Compressor
Although these compressors are less quiet than oil-filled piston ones, they are fairly quiet, especially in comparison to diaphragm compressors. The biggest plus is that these compressors are low maintenance and do not require oil check or oil change. Oil-free piston compressors are best for applications such as body art, cake decorating and nail painting because you can be very sure that no oil will mix with air.
Oil-Filled Piston Compressor
This is a very quiet compressor because the oil works as a lubricant and if noise is a problem for you, then an oil-filled piston compressor is the best option. This compressor is best for fine art or illustrations as it will allow you to focus on your work. An oil-filled compressor needs an oil filter to be attached between the air filter/ regulator and the air hose. This will prevent oil from going through the airbrush and mixing with the paint. However, an oil-filled piston compressor needs regular maintenance because you need to check the oil and replace it like in a vehicle.
Things to Look for in an Airbrush Compressor
Airbrush compressors are extremely versatile tools and here are some things to consider before you buy one:
- Power: The strength of airbrush compressors is usually measured in horsepower (HP) and generally, the best brands deliver around 1/5 to 1/8 HP. However, you must always choose an airbrush compressor that will offer you sufficient power needed for your job.
- Air Volume: You must consider the air pressure of the airbrush compressor required to operate an airbrush. You can use a pressure of 1 psi; however, thicker mediums will not come out of the brush at this pressure. The ideal air pressure is around 10-30 psi.
- Tank Capacity: Choosing a compressor with the proper tank capacity will help in working uninterrupted without stopping frequently to refill and wasting excessive painting oil. So, depending on your job, you must decide whether to get a compressor with a large tank capacity or a small one is sufficient.
- Size: You must select an airbrush compressor that is the correct size for the kind of work you will be using it for. If you want a compressor for small DIY jobs, then a compact, lightweight compressor will work well because it will occupy less space and you can also move it around easily.
- Length of Hose: Many airbrush compressor models come along with hoses which are usually around 6 feet in length, which is an ideal length.
- Noise: If you’re working on a construction or work site, then the amount of noise does not really matter. However, if you’re working from home, then you must consider the noise produced by the airbrush compressor and opt for one that works quietly, producing around 50dB of sound or less.
Airbrush Compressor – the Do’s and Don’ts
- Place the airbrush compressor on a completely flat surface and ensure that it does not move around when it is in operation.
- Keep pets and kids away from the airbrush compressor when it is in operation as the moving parts may cause injuries.
- Read the airbrush compressor’s instructions manual before operating the machine to ensure safe operation.
- Ensure that all the shields and guards are in place and are working properly before turning on the airbrush compressor.
- Do not operate the airbrush compressor until all the fixtures and hoses are intact and each connection is connected properly. Loose parts and leaks can cause injury while you’re operating the compressor.
- Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry when operating the compressor as they could get entangled and cause injury.
- Don’t use the airbrush compressor to clean dirt or dust off your pets or people because it can seriously damage your eyes, ears and skin.
Do I need an airbrush compressor with a storage tank?
No. A storage tank basically has 3 uses. It lets the compressed air to cool, which enables it to shed the excess moisture and the storage tank stores this moisture. The storage tank also stores air, which prevents the compressor from running continuously, thereby, reducing wear.
What is the best air pressure that must be used?
The air pressure depends on the surfaces you plan to spray and also on the type of paint you’ll be using. For instance, for cosmetics, makeup and nail art, the air pressure is less than 20 psi. For car painting, the air pressure needed is around 30-65 psi and for airbrushing T-shirt, you will need around 55-65 psi.
How much air is required to operate an airbrush?
Around 0.5 CFM at 30 psi is sufficient to propel the airbrush. You can work at either lower or higher pressure depending on the material you are spraying and the effect you are looking for, but generally, the CFM requirement is the same.
There are various types of airbrushes on the market and you need the best air compressor to operate these airbrushes for various applications. When buying an airbrush compressor, there are a few things you must keep in mind, such as low operational noise, thermal protection, the capacity of the compressor tank, etc. So, it’s a good idea to do your research and evaluate the various airbrush compressors and find the one that will suit your requirements the best.