Air Compressor Reviews in the UK

​Air compressors are an important part of any home or professional workshop or garage where they are useful in a number of different applications including the powering of air tools, the inflation of inflatables, and more (to see all the uses of an air compressor, see our introductory page here). However, as with all popular power tools, air compressors come in a range of different types and sizes making the job of choosing one right for the job a difficult task. In this article, we focus on the small workshop air compressors available in the UK that are most often used in the home and by small businesses. We first look into the features and characteristics found in today's air compressors and determine what aspects to watch out for when choosing one. Then we go on to examining the more popular small workshop air compressors and their specifications available on the UK market today, before completing the survey with more detailed individual air compressor reviews towards the end of the page.

What to look for in an air compressor

The best way to choose an air compressor is to already have in mind the air tools you plan on using it with as different air tools place different demands on the machine. Once you have identified the equipment it will be 'powering', you are then in a position to identify the parameters needed on the air compressor to have those air tools work properly. The two overriding characteristics of an air compressor to pay attention to are the maximum air pressure it can produce, and the free air delivery or air flow at the outlet that it is able to sustain.

Air Pressure

For the air pressure, to keep things as simple as possible, you can assume that all air tools operate at either of two air pressures. They either need an air pressure of around 40 pounds per square inch (psi), such as for spray painting guns, or air tools like air nailers require a pressure of around 90 psi to operate (most air tool categories operate in the higher 90 psi range). In general, air compressors come with an air pressure regulator to regulate the air pressure at the outlet so that you can use air tools with different air pressure requirements - but check this to make sure!

Free Air Delivery (Air Flow)

Image showing parts of an air compressor

​​Most workshop air compressors can reach the higher air pressures required to operate the majority of air tools, so arguably, a more important characteristic to concentrate on when choosing an air compressor is its ability to maintain a specific free air delivery (FAD) or air flow. This should not be confused with the free air displacement of the compressor pump which is often advertised (albeit slightly disingenuously as it is always higher then the FAD) by air compressor retailers as it does not correspond to the air flow requirements of air tools. If you are confronted with an air displacement value only, then you can assume that the free air delivery of the air compressor at the nozzle outlet will be approximately one third less than its air displacement value. The unit of measure that is best used for enumerating free air delivery (and displacement) from an air compressor is cubic feet per minute (CFM, not to be confused with SCFM), but here in the UK, we also sometimes use litres per minute (litres/min).

Different types of air tools have different types of FAD requirements. Some, like air sanders, need an almost continuous flow of air while others, like air nailers, only need air in short bursts. As a result, air tool manufacturers have often had to make certain assumptions on how active their tool will be in the hands of the eventual user in order to derive a free air delivery rating for their tool. So for air nailers for instance, manufacturers usually assume an operating frequency of 30 nails discharged within the space of a minute, or for air impact wrenches, it is usually taken that they will be consuming air for only 12-15 seconds per minute. Therefore, in order to account for higher than average levels of your own air tool use, it is always best to increase the free air delivery that you need from the air compressor by 20-50% before looking for one that can produce this sort of air flow. The table below provides a guide to the typical air flow requirements of different air tools, but it is also important to determine the exact air flow required for the actual air tool you plan to use as they can vary significantly.

​Typical Airflow (cfm) and Air Pressue (psi) values for different air tools

Air Tools 
Airflow Range
Air Pressure Range
Air staple gunair stapler
1.8 cfm
90 psi
Air nailer
2.2 cfm
90 psi
Air impact wrenchair impact wrench
5-9 cfm
90 psi
Air sprayerair sprayer
7.8 - 11.5 cfm
40 psi
Air sanderair sander
4 - 16 cfm
90 psi
Air angle grinderair angle grinder
7.5 - 30 cfm
90 psi

One other point to note here is that an air compressor that is FAD-underrated for a particular air tool can often still produce the required air flow for that air tool to function. However, it will only be able to operate the air tool for very short bursts, sometimes so short as to make the use of the tool unrealistic. In addition, most air compressor motors are not designed to run 100% of the time, and using an air tool that requires more air flow than the air compressor was designed to sustainably provide will overwork the compressor motor causing it to fail prematurely.

Air Receiver (Air Tank) Size

This is the measure of the volume of the tank that holds the compressed air. Compressors sometimes come with more than one tank connected together but the number of tanks is actually irrelevant since the total volume is what counts. The bigger the air tank size, the less often the compressor motor will need to switch on to refill it. In addition, working away from a source of electrical power (that is needed to power the air compressor motor) can be extended when using an air compressor with a larger air receiver.

Motor Horsepower Rating

This is the measure of the power of the compressor motor. Essentially, the higher the horsepower, the faster the compressed air tank is refilled. In general, the more horsepower, the better, but go for too high a horsepower and the compressor will need to be connected to a dedicated high amperage electrical circuit to avoid tripping circuit breakers.

Popular Air Compressors ​in the UK

Air Compressor Free Air Delivery
Max Working Pressure
Air Receiver (L)Power (hp)Sound Pressure (db)Weight (kg)
ORAZIO 241184
3.4 ***116 psi24 L1 hp65 dB22 kg
Draper DA25/207
4116 psi24 L2 hp71.4 dB24 kg
Parker PAC 96-24
6.4 ***115 psi24 L2.5 hp--25 kg
6.4 ***115 psi24 L2.5 hp97 dB30 kg
Hyundai HY2550
5.19115 psi50 L2.5 hp97 dB30 kg
Wolf Air Sioux
6.4 ***116 psi50 L2.5 hp97 dB35 kg
6.3 ***115 psi50 L2.5 hp94 dB--
SIP 06242 Airmate TN3.0/50-D
9.5130 psi50 L3 hp97 dB45 kg
Wolf Air Cheyenne
9.4 ***150 psi50 L3 hp--44 kg
Wolf Air Dakota
9.4 ***150 psi90 L3 hp--80 kg
-- information not available

Air Compressor Reviews

Orazio Air Compressor Review

Image of the 24L Orazio air compressor

The 24 litre Orazio air compressor is one of the budget entries into the consumer air compressor market and is primarily targeted at lower airflow applications such as airbrushing, vehicle tyre inflation or air nail gun operation. It is the mid-sized offering positioned between 9L and 45L machines from the same brand and has a number of similar characteristics to other competitor 24L budget air compressors on offer. However, the 24L Orazio machine also has a couple of standout features that differentiate it from its competitors and which can make it particularly useful for the DIYer.

Like other budget air compressors, the Orazio line of air compressors are imports from China and, as one has come to expect from other products from the Far East, component quality as well as quality control between individual units can be variable. Perhaps it is no surprise then that the technical specifications for the Orazio air compressors are incomplete and even sometimes inconsistent. For example, the airflow for the 24L Orazio machine is given as either 4.77 cfm or as 95 L / min, which is actually equal to 3.4 cfm, and it is not clear as to whether this value represents the air displacement of the compressor or its free air delivery (FAD). Given the low 1 horsepower (hp) of the motor on the Orazio machine, our inclination is to assume the lower of these two values (95L / min) should be taken as the correct airflow amount (it is also assumed to represent the FAD rather than air displacement).

As for air pressure, the 24L Orazio machine is officially supposed to reach a maximum air pressure of 116 psi or 8 bar before its motor cuts out. However, several buyers have found their machines, out of the box, actually cut out at around 7 bar (100psi). Whether this represents poor factory quality control, or whether it is done intentionally to reduce wear and tear on the machine is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, if one’s air tool or application requires it, the maximum air pressure can be notched up to its advertised specification relatively easily by using a tensioner screw located underneath the black plastic cover of the device. However, this is something that should have been done at the factory as the tensioner screw was clearly not designed to be user-friendly. The 24L Orazio air compressor also comes with an air pressure regulator to control outlet pressure for different applications, and an air hose connector that is of the 1/4” BSP kind, although this can be changed if one so desires.

The motor on the Orazio machine is one of the smaller motors available for a 24L air receiver operating at only 750W or 1 hp. This means that although it can attain the same maximum pressure level as other 24L machines, it takes longer to do so, and will not be able to produce the same level of consistent airflow as air compressors with larger motors. However, it is not all bad having a smaller motor as the flip side is that the 24L Orazio air compressor is one of the quietest in its category emitting an operating sound of only 65 dB. The smaller motor also means an overall lighter weight machine which is easier to carry around and manoeuvre compared to its competitors.

Quality-wise, the Orazio 24L air compressor does not necessarily use the highest quality components nor is the workmanship to produce it consistent. In fact, like other somewhat generic power tools imported from abroad, quality control on the machine is variable with some units arriving in a flawless state, while others have parts missing or damaged. Unfortunately, customer service from the seller is somewhat variable but at least buying through Amazon affords a certain level of protection. However, it needs to be remembered that return postage costs for the Orazio machine are usually borne by the buyer which can be relatively high for a bulky and heavy item. The ‘Orazio’ brand is marketed by AIM Tools or KATSU Tools which is essentially the same small online retailer, with the AIM TOOLS LTD and KATSU TOOLS LTD companies having been registered at Companies House to the same address and to overlapping company officers.

As for the standout positive features of the 24L Orazio air compressor compared to its competitors, these are, firstly, that it is one of the few oil-free air compressors of its size readily available to the UK consumer. Oil-free air compressors have a number of advantages over oil-dependent ones including being cheaper and requiring less maintenance. One disadvantage of oil-free air compressors is that they are usually louder than their oil-bearing equivalents. However, as alluded to earlier, this is not the case for the 24L Orazio air compressor and in fact represents its second standout feature, which is the ability to easily hold a normal conversation over the sound emanating from it. Keep in mind though that the ‘hissing’ sound at motor cutout, typical of most air compressors, is still just as noisy on the Orazio machine as it is on other machines but fortunately very brief in duration.

Overall, the 24L Orazio air compressor is a reasonable budget machine for the DIYer so long as one is not using high airflow tools. In addition, coming from a small online retailer, one also has to be a bit more cautious when buying, scrutinising and testing the machine immediately on arrival in order to make sure that it is functioning faultlessly and to one’s requirements. One should also be prepared to send back any substandard units that slip through what is clearly a limited quality control process from the manufacturer. However, assuming a faultless machine, the 24L Orazio air compressor can be particularly useful if a quieter air compressor is needed while its lack of a need for oil bodes well for low maintenance requirements and a cleaner work environment.

Cobra Air Compressor Review

Image of the 50L Cobra air compressor

The Cobra air compressor is clearly of Asian manufacture (but isn't almost everything these days!) and comes with a manual that is written in poor English, however this is not a major issue as assembling the compressor can be easily achieved using a little common sense. However, quality control during manufacture and packaging is clearly not to the highest of standards as several users have reported missing parts when buying their Cobra compressor. In addition, air tightness on the air compressor can occasionally be substandard with some users reporting a slow air leak from the air compressor during longer term storage of compressed air. This is usually not a major issue since it is generally not recommended to leave compressed air in the air tank when the air compressor is not in use, however, it is recommended to test the air compressor’s integrity over an extended period of time shortly after receiving the machine to ensure that the air compressor meets your expectations. Importantly, the Amazon seller of the air compressor is quite responsive and usually deals with any issues promptly.

Overall, the Cobra air compressor is a pretty capable machine while at the same time being a relatively inexpensive air compressor that should be within anyone's budget. It is ideally suited for the DIYer at home or in the home garage but would not be recommended for use within a higher-demand professional setting.

SIP 06242 Airmate Air Compressor Review

Image of the portable air compressor, the SIP 06242 Airmate TN3.0/50-D

SIP Industrial is a very reputable British company that has a history of manufacturing tools for both industrial and domestic users, and has been making air compressors of its own since the 1980's. Today the company is involved in producing a variety of different machinery and power tools for a variety of different industries including the consumer market. SIP Industrial sells some of the best air compressor machinery in the UK, so if you are a professional tradesman or just an overactive DIY-er and you have the money to spare for this quality product, then it definitely gets our vote!

Click here for the official webpage of the SIP 06242 Airmate TN3.0/50-D air compressor

Wolf Air Compressor Reviews

Wolf is a power tool company whose products are marketed through a number of online outlets including Amazon, the UK Home shopping network, and, to mention a few. Their range of tools also includes a range of air compressors for the home and professional user which have become very popular with both DIY enthusiasts and tradesmen alike due to their relatively high specifications at an affordable price.  In addition, their range of air compressors on offer caters to a wide range of requirements. As a result, several of their air compressors are positioned in the top ranks of air compressors popular in the UK.

Wolf Air Dakota

Image of the Wolf Air Dakota Air compressor

Wolf Air Cheyenne

Image of the Wolf Cheyenne air compressor

Wolf Air Sioux

Image of the portable air compressor, the Wolf Air Sioux 50

SGS Engineering SC24H Air Compressor Review

Image of the portable air compressor, the SGS Engineering SC24H

SGS Engineering itself is a reputable British company that makes a wide range of high-quality engineering tools, and this hand-built small air compressor is no different. Once again, you are buying quality here rather then 'quantity', and as the company is located in the UK, you can also rest assured that spare parts, oil and oil filters are all easily available, further prolonging the life of the machine.

Parker Richmond 24L Air Compressor Review

ParkerBrand PAC-96-24 air compressor

The first and overriding impression of the 24L Richmond air compressor PAC 96-24 from ParkerBrand is that it is almost identical to the SC24H air compressor from SGS Engineering save for the company logos and branding - even the operating manuals look similar. Both SGS Engineering and ParkerBrand class themselves as manufacturers but clearly almost all of the components for the two machines have been sourced ultimately from the same supplier. So for these two 24 litre air compressors at least, production in the UK is likely to be more akin to product assembly rather than full-blown manufacturing. Even so, just like the SGS air compressor reviewed elsewhere, the ParkerBrand 24L Richmond air compressor is still a good quality machine with a reasonable level of features and capability.

ParkerBrand 24L Richmond Air Compressor PAC 96-24
SGS Engineering 24L Air Compressor SC24H

Like the air compressor from SGS, the ParkerBrand 24L machine has a 2.5 hp motor and a relatively small 24 litre air receiver, which together maintain the air pressure in the tank at approximately 115 psi and provide a maximum air displacement value of 9.6 CFM. This air displacement figure is equivalent to approximately 6.4 CFM free air delivery which is the metric that should be focused on when trying to determine whether a particular air tool will work as it was designed to when running off the ParkerBrand air compressor.

Portability-wise, the Richmond 24L air compressor has an approximate weight of 25 kg and is relatively mobile with its integrated wheels and handle. Just like the SGS SC24H, the Richmond compressor has twin air outlets, both of which are fitted with 1/4-inch quick connectors for easy attaching and removal of airlines. There are also two pressure gauges on the machine, one of which is to monitor the air pressure in the air receiver, while the second gauge is used to set the desired outlet pressure.

The Richmond 24L air compressor also uses oil for lubrication of its working parts, and so requires a little extra monitoring and maintenance compared to oil-free air compressors. Fortunately, to make things a tad easier, the ParkerBrand air compressor (like its SGS Engineering equivalent) has an oil inspection window integrated into the machine allowing for closer monitoring of oil levels.

As for ParkerBrand, the company, it is a British online retailer that sources and ships a range of DIY and gardening equipment to consumers across the UK (and to some extent, Europe). Consequently, one can be reasonably sure that ParkerBrand equipment has been designed with the UK consumer in mind (so for instance, the 24 litre air compressor comes with a typical 3-pin UK plug), and a level of after-service that is to British standards. Indeed, buyers of the ParkerBrand air compressor have been quite pleased with how responsive the company is when problems have arisen especially when due to defects or problematic deliveries.

***NB: If purchasing from Amazon, beware of Amazon suggestions for add on items in the ‘Frequently Bought Together’ section. Although one might expect these items ‘recommended’ by Amazon to have been checked on being compatible with the air compressor being purchased, this is not necessarily the case. So for example, a common error is to have recommendations for UK standard (PCL) quick connector compatible accessories when they should have had Euro-style fittings, or vice-versa.

Click here for the official webpage of the ParkerBrand 24L Richmond air compressor PAC 96-24

Hyundai HY2550 Air Compressor Review

Image of the portable air compressor, the Hyundai HY2550