Complaint - 21 1/2 Gal, 2.5 HP

by Jim Perry
(York, SC U.S.A)

I hope this helps Harbor Freight with this and other compressors such as mine. I bought this compressor from Harbor Freight (21 1/2 Gal. 2.5 HP) after my Porta Cable compressor was stolen.


I would really like to give their supplier, Central Pneumatics some "Quality Control" lessons because theirs stinks. Good thing I bought the 2 year replacement warranty because after a week the first compressor kept tripping the int. overload. I carried it back and they supplied me with another one with a different skew number but basically the same compressor. The new compressor (2nd. one) was worse than the first one.
The problem is: (Which does not cover every issue)
A- The motor is over rated, it barely gets over the 1 3/4 standard rating, so it is not strong enough to start the compressor and is worse when the ambient temperature is under 65 deg. F.
B- The un-loader valve is not sized properly and closes to soon on start up to allow the motor to get out of the start windings and this causes the internal overload to trip on the motor. The more it trips, the weaker it gets and the quicker it trip
C- The piston and rings to tight in the cylinder or jug is way to tight so that puts an extra strain on the motor start-up.

I have 2 years to work with it or take it back and get my money back. I should charge them labor for putting 2 of these things together and millage for 3, 48 mile trips when I take this one back. What do you think?

I hope this helps you to make a good choice on the purchase of your new compressor. Harbor Freight is still a good company but I would rather pay a little more and get quality.

Comments for Complaint - 21 1/2 Gal, 2.5 HP

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Mar 28, 2016
Harbor Fgt. Air Compressor
by: Jim Perry

Hi Bill and Jerry,

Just a short comment about this compressor. Same ole' story as for the design.

My theory I think is proving pretty much right.

The item is designed at the bottom. I thought I would try to work with it to either burn it up or make it run.

It still has all the same issues but if it doesn't start, it doesn't start.

Over the winter I have left the power on going to it and after it has gotten about 35-40 hrs. running time, it has started up about every time.

SO, my suggestion is opt. #1 go to another company and get another compressor or opt. #2 put an open mail disconnect in and give it more break in time(not worth it).

OK, that's it, and good luck on this one, I'm out of here. I still like Harbor Freight.

Mar 25, 2016
Agree completely
by: Jerry Lumpkins

I bought a 21 gallon Harbor Freight compressor last weekend, and the only way I can get it to restart without completely draining the tank is to hold down the pin in the unloader valve until the motor reaches speed. I'm trying to decide whether to just return it, and go somewhere else, or if I should have them replace it, and then buy the extended warranty. After reading your comments, I'm leaning toward just getting my money back, and going somewhere else.

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