Airbrush Compressor Guide

If you frequently work with airbrushes for nail art, cake decorating, etc., then you will definitely need a quality air compressor to deliver a consistent flow of air.  In the following article we will review several of the most high-quality and bestselling airbrush compressors on the market today, and discuss the pros and cons associated with each model.

We have also included an Airbrush Compressor Buyer’s Guide, in which we will highlight and explain the various factors and characteristics you should consider when purchasing one of these items.

Last update on 2020-09-19 at 17:07 / Affiliate disclaimer / Images via Amazon Product Advertising API

PointZero 1/3 HP Twin Piston Airbrush Compressor

Both quiet and powerful, the twin cylinder PointZero 1/3 HP Twin Piston Airbrush Compressor offers plenty of punch with roughly 1.3 CFM of air delivery; and the precision-forged pistons produce very little noise—less than 59 decibels.  The oil-less design of this compressor makes it suitable for airbrush-based food decorating and body/nail art in addition to many other standard airbrush applications.

The PointZero 1/3 HP Twin Piston Airbrush Compressor boasts a sensitive pressure regulator with an integrated gauge; and a water trap on the compressor allows for precise, accurate adjustment and control of airflow to guarantee clean, dry air with every application.  Equipped with dual operating modes, when the compressor is switched on in the primary position, the compressor runs until the pressure reaches approximately 60 pounds per square inch (PSI).  It then cycles off until the pressure drops below 40 PSI, when the unit restarts.  This power-saving feature reduces motor wear, while maintaining sufficient pressure to operate most airbrushes.  In the secondary switch position, the compressor runs continuously, when the maximum output of 85 PSI is required.

Pros

Quiet.  With only about 55 decibels of noise output, the PointZero 1/3 HP Twin Piston Airbrush Compressor is very quiet.
Power-Saving.  The compressor has dual operating modes, helping it to save power when working on projects in which the maximum PSI of 85 is not needed.
Stable.  The PointZero 1/3 HP Twin Piston Airbrush Compressor is equipped with rubber feet, making it very stable on any flat surface.

Cons

Smaller reserve tank.  Because the PointZero 1/3 HP Twin Piston Airbrush Compressor has a smaller reserve tank than other similar products it may not last as long.

Water tank fills quickly.  Because the water tank tends to fill quickly on this compressor, users will need to stop their project and empty the tank frequently.

Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Single Piston Air Compressor

Lightweight and portable, the Master Airbrush Multi-Purpose Single Piston Air Compressor packs a huge punch despite its small size.  The compressor features an “Air-on-demand” system that conveniently shuts down the airflow when the airbrush is not in use, saving the duty cycle of the compressor until it is needed most.  Users will receive precise air adjustment control thanks to the true diaphragm pressure regulator with gauge, and a water trap filter that catches any excess moisture before it gets to the hose.

The Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Single Piston Air Compressor can be pre-set for automatic shut-off when the maximum air pressure reaches 50 PSI; and pre-set for automatic turn-on once the gauge reads 25 PSI, giving users a constant delivery of air while also helping them save power and unnecessary wear and tear on the motor.  The oil-less piston is maintenance free, and the compressor comes complete with a beginner’s airbrush starter kit.

Pros

Efficient. With its 1/5 horsepower motor, the Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Single Piston Air Compressor is very efficient.
Long hose attachment.  The long hose attachment on this compressor makes for easier, tangle-free airbrushing.
Consistent pressure.  The Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Single Piston Air Compressor delivers consistent pressure thanks to the outboard regulator.

Cons

Some components fragile.  Some components on this unit, according to users, are a bit fragile and can break easily.
Not compatible with all airbrushes.  The Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Single Piston Air Compressor may not be compatible with all airbrushes.

Iwata-Medea Studio Series Smart Jet Single Piston Air Compressor

Perfect for beginners, the 1/8 horsepower Iwata-Medea Studio Series Smart Jet Single Piston Air Compressor delivers a maximum operating pressure of 35 PSI.  The fully adjustable air pressure gauge allows users to monitor the pressure as they work, and the moisture filter prevents pulsation for a hassle-free airbrushing experience.

When pressure accumulates on the Iwata-Medea Studio Series Smart Jet Single Piston Air Compressor, users can utilize the bleed valve adjustment to lower the pressure with a single turn.  When not in use, the compressor shuts itself off to save on energy costs; and the oil-less piston translates to little or no maintenance with this compressor.

Pros

Compact.  The Iwata-Medea Studio Series Smart Jet Single Piston Air Compressor is very compact and portable.
Auto-shut off.  The auto-shut off feature helps save energy costs and undue wear and tear on the motor.
Bleed valve.  The bleed valve adjustment on the compressor is a convenient way to lower the maximum air pressure quickly.

Cons

Not very powerful.  Offering just a maximum of 35 PSI of pressure, the Iwata-Medea Studio Series Smart Jet Single Piston Air Compressor is the least powerful compressor on our list.
Noisy.  Due to the oil-less piston, the compressor is a little louder than the other smaller models with an oiled piston.

Airbrush Compressor Buying Guide

Before setting out to purchase an airbrush compressor, there are many things you should consider.  To assist you in selecting the ideal compressor for your airbrush and the applications for which you use it, below we have highlighted some of those considerations.

Types of Airbrush Compressors

When shopping around for an airbrush compressor, you will notice there are two basic types of compressors available for purchase:  diaphragm compressors and piston compressors.  Let’s look at both of these briefly:

Diaphragm Compressors

Often considered the best type of compressor for beginners, a diaphragm compressor may be the perfect choice if you are just starting out with your craft.  On these types of compressors, the air is compressed by a pulsating membrane.  The maximum outflow of air delivered by diaphragm Compressor is typically about 40 PSI.  Diaphragm Compressors do not have an air tank.

Piston Compressors

In a piston compressor the air is compressed with the help of one or two pistons, with a two-piston compressor able to compress a larger amount of air than its single-piston counterpart.  Most experienced airbrush enthusiasts will want to go with a piston style compressor, as they are much more powerful than diaphragm compressors and can easily accommodate several airbrushes at a time with more power.  On a piston compressor, an air regulator is attached to control and restrict the air pressure before it reaches the hose.  They also usually have a water trap to help filter the fluids and particles from the compressed air line.  There are two kinds of piston compressors:  those with oil-filled pistons and the oil-less piston variety.  Oil-filled pistons tend to be quieter because the pistons are lubricated, but they also require more maintenance than the oil-less variety.

Power

The power of an airbrush compressor is typically measured in watts.  This will also have a bearing on how much air the compressor can pump.  Typically, airbrush compressors range from 150 to 200 watts of power.

Airflow

When we speak about the airflow of an airbrush compressor, that measurement is usually expressed in cubic feet per minute (CFM) or liters per minute (LPM).  Most airbrush compressors have an airflow capacity ranging from 0.70 to 1.76 cubic feet per minute—or between 20 and 50 liters per minute.

Maximum Working Capacity

The maximum working capacity of an airbrush compressor is a measurement that is expressed as “pounds per square inch,” otherwise known as PSI.  When shopping you will need to make sure that the compressor has a maximum capacity that is up to the particular job you are seeking to do.  For example, airbrushing on a T-shirt requires far less PSI than spraying nail or body art.  If you are not sure of the capacity you need, be sure to check with a salesperson or read some reviews from other users.

Tank Capacity

The tank on an airbrush compressor (piston compressor)  serves to eliminate any pulsing and cools the air so that the moisture separator will work efficiently and effectively.  Most of the smaller piston compressors also have smaller tanks, with a capacity of about 1-15 liters.  Heavy duty airbrush compressors can have a tank capacity of 25 liters or more.

Output Thread or Outlet

When shopping for an airbrush compressor it is absolutely crucial that you know the size of the output thread or outlet—the part of the compressor onto which your airbrush hose will be affixed. Hoses usually have an output thread of 1/8 inch or ¼ inch, so be extra careful that you purchase a compressor that matches up with your hose.  Otherwise it will be worthless to you.

Auto-Stop Function

An auto-stop function on an airbrush compressor enables you to set the compressor to automatically shut down when a specific air pressure is reached, and to restart once the pressure goes under a certain pre-prescribed range.  This convenient feature will reduce the overall run time of the compressor, saving on power and preventing unnecessary motor wear.

Noise Level

How loud is the airbrush compressor you are considering purchasing?  Loud noises, over a long period of time, can damage your hearing.  Standard compressors put out about 85 to 90 decibels of noise.  Fortunately, most airbrush compressors are much quieter than that, but some are still noisier than others.  If you are concerned with the noise, be sure to get one with an oil-filled piston, as the lubrication will cut down on the noise.  As a general rule, you should always work with a compressor that puts out less than 60 decibels.

Duty Cycle

Finally, the duty cycle of an airbrush compressor is the amount of time the compressor can run continuously until you MUST shut it down and rest the motor.  A compressor with a duty cycle of 50 percent, for example, can run continuously for 30 minutes, but then the motor must cool down for 30 minutes until you can use it again.  This is a very important consideration that can impact the type of work you plan to do with the airbrush.

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