When it comes to airbrushing – no matter what level of ability you may possess – you need an air compressor to provide a consistent supply of pressurized air for the best results.
Without one, the quality of your airbrush will likely suffer, whether you’re focusing on nail art, model painting, or anything else. Yes, you could try blowing it through, but it’s doubtful that you’d get very far.
With this in mind, it’s essential that you get your hands on a high quality and well-suited air compressor for your specific airbrush needs.
Therefore, this guide will take an in-depth look at 10 of the best air compressors for airbrushing on the market, including a handy buyer’s guide with all the essential information to keep in mind, as well as answers to some of the frequently asked questions.
Table of Contents
10 Best Air Compressors For Airbrushing
The first air compressor on the list is the Iwata-Medea Power Jet Pro.
Renowned for their precision engineering, this product from Iwata-Medea is a dual output compressor, which allows you to run two different airbrushes at the same time – each with their own, adjusted pressure regulation values.
This compressor is ideal for heavy airbrush users and those who like to paint with a friend at the same time.
Furthermore, experienced airbrush artists are fully aware of the value of having one airbrush for priming and base coating, and another for more intricate, detailed work.
As is the case with all Iwata Studio Series compressors, the Power Jet Pro comes equipped with an air hose and adapters, enabling hook up to any brand of airbrush.
It also has Iwata’s Smart Technology which automatically switches off the compressor when not in use.
- Dual output compressor, allowing two different airbrushes to be used at the same time
- Precise adjustment of airflow for excellent performance
- Smart technology turns off the compressor when not in use
- Equipped with air hose and adapters for any brand of airbrush
The next product on the list is this professional multi-purpose airbrushing system kit from Master Airbrush.
The single-piston compressor delivers superior powerful performance with ⅕ HP and two cooling fans which allow it to run much cooler for longer continuous periods of time.
Also included are three different types of Master Airbrushes’ popular and user friendly airbrushes, a bonus Quick Start Guide, and Airbrush Resource Center access card.
It’s also worth noting that you can buy this product with confidence. If you’re unhappy with these airbrushes at any point within the first year of purchase or the compressor within the first five years, a full refund or replacement is provided.
- Top-notch powerful performance due to ⅕ HP and two effective cooling fans
- Kit includes three highly-rated airbrushes
- Customer satisfaction guaranteed with full refunds and replacements available if unhappy with product
Badger offers products at every skill-set of airbrushing, and the TC910 provides some impressive qualities for a compressor that can be used as both a hobbyist model and for some commercial purposes.
Some of its most solid qualities include a motor which can generate ⅕ HP while still delivering a maximum of 57 psi, as well as a large air storage tank at one gallon.
This compressor was designed to be transported. The entire kit is housed in a metal box with non-slip feet and the box also features a handle on the top. All of this suggests that the TC910 is meant to be taken on your travels.
- Can be used as either a hobbyist model or for commercial purposes
- Powerful motor provides ⅕ HP while still offering a maximum of 57 psi
- One gallon large storage tank
- Easily transportable with protective metal box, non-slip feet and handle on top
The next air compressor on the list is the D3000R model from Paasche. Traditionally, one of the best and most respected brands of compressors for airbrushing on the market, Paasche has provided another fantastic product with the D3000R.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this compressor is how quiet it is.
If you’re looking for a product that won’t make too much noise as you paint, the D3000R only generates 46db when turned on. You’ll be hard pressed to find a quieter compressor with the same level of performance as the D3000R.
In terms of the compressor’s other specifications, the motor can deliver ⅕ HP which is excellent, as well as a ¾ gallon air storage tank. Its 40 psi is decent, but slightly lower than many of the other air compressors on this list.
- Super low noise production at just 46db
- Very reliable brand for producing high quality air compressors for airbrushing
- Good ⅕ HP for more than enough power
- Decent psi, but not quite as impressive as other similar products on the market
The second offering from Iwata-Medea on this list is their Ninja Jet Compressor which is very much their entry-level model. With this product you’re essentially getting a compact desktop compressor, but one of excellent quality.
The Ninja Jet comes with a carrying handle and a built-in airbrush holder, so it’s ready to be transported anywhere. It’s also incredibly low maintenance and a durable piece of equipment – thanks mainly to a protective metal cover.
Just keep in mind that with a pressure rating of 0-15 psi, it may not provide quite as impressive a performance as many of the other compressors on this list.
- High quality compact desktop product
- Easily transportable with carrying handle in built-in airbrush holder
- Low maintenance and durable so a worthwhile investment
- Below-par psi, so perhaps not the right product for some experienced and professional airbrush artists
One of the best all-round air compressors for airbrush currently on the market is the Zeny Pro Compressor.
At ⅕ HP this unit delivers more than enough air volume (CFM) and air pressure (PSI) for any airbrush demands. It also delivers smooth consistent airflow due to an integral storage tank.
It’s portable and compact with a built-in handle, and can easily be placed on the table-top or just under the workstation. Furthermore, clean and dry air is guaranteed due to the compressor’s true diaphragm pressure regulator with gauge and water-trap filter.
Another impressive feature is the product’s air-on-demand design. In other words, it’ll only produce air at a regulated temperature.
This links to the thermal protection quality of the compressor, with the device automatically turning off when the unit becomes too hot.
- Excellent portability with built-in handle
- True diaphragm pressure regulator ensures clean, dry air
- Integral storage tank provides smooth consistent airflow
- Device is thermally protected with automatic switch off in high heat
- Air-on-demand design
The next air compressor on the list is the 110-120V Professional Airbrushing Paint System from VIVOHOME. This multi-purpose system comes with a ⅕ HP air compressor suitable for pretty much any airbrush job.
The unique, well-crafted equipment provides top-quality painting performance, as the system runs with continuous pressure and is designed to switch off automatically if the motor reaches a power that’s close to overheating.
What’s more, this system is guaranteed to provide consistent performance. It’s secured by a classic piston framework and the pressures are steady – making it easier to maintain stable levels of air output. It’s also low-noise at just 47db.
- Multi-purpose system suitable for a wide range of uses, including commercial art, temporary tattoos and cake decoration
- Unique, well-designed equipment provides guaranteed high performance
- Automatic switch off if power gets too high
- Classic piston framework and steady pressures ensure air output is stable and consistent
- Low noise production of 47db
If you’re on the lookout for a quiet yet powerful device, the PointZero ⅕ HP Airbrush Compressor could be an excellent choice. This product delivers a good amount of power with approximate air delivery of 1.0 CFM.
Equipped with an oil-less design, the compressor is suitable for nail art, food decorating, and all other standard airbrushing applications.
Furthermore, it provides a smooth, precise air output due to a sensitive pressure regulator with integrated gauge and water-trap.
Another useful feature is the product’s power-saving mode. This automatic turn on and turn off runs until pressure reaches around 58 psi, then cycles off until pressure drops to approximately 40 psi.
This helps to reduce motor wear, while still maintaining enough pressure to effectively operate most airbrushes.
- Oil-less design suitable for vast majority of standard airbrushing applications
- Smooth and accurate air output thanks to sensitive pressure regulator
- Excellent power with air delivery of 1.0 CFM
- Power-saving mode helps to reduce motor wear
The penultimate product on the list is an excellent offering from TUFFIOM. Designed with a cooling fan, this airbrush compressor can run for extended periods of time without overheating.
Furthermore, its running decibel is around 47db, so it also has low noise operation.
In addition to the compressor’s cooling fan, the product is designed with an air regulator for pressure adjustment. The pressure can be controlled from 0-57 psi to suit your specific needs, with an auto on/off feature for impressive ease of use.
In terms of the overall dimensions of the product, it’s roughly 11.8” L, 5.1” W, 12.2” H. This makes it compact and portable, so you shouldn’t have any problems carrying the compressor around if you need to.
This airbrush compressor is multi-functional and can be used effectively for a wide range of activities such as model painting, nail art and cake decoration.
- Cooling fan allows the compressor to run for hours on end without overheating
- Auto on/off design provides ease of use
- Running decibel of 47db, so low noise operation
- Air regulator offers excellent pressure adjustment
- Compact and portable dimensions make the product easy to travel with
The final air compressor on the list, and by certainly no means the least, is this Dual Action Mini Air Compressor from F2C. Compact and super lightweight, this multi-purpose product works without using a big air tank compressor.
It’s the perfect airbrushing kit for beginner artists as its variable speed makes it easy to manipulate the inks on the tile, while the chord is long enough and the tool itself is comfortable and easy to control.
Just be mindful that you may need to thin your paint a little more than you would for a more powerful compressor. This is because this product can tend to spit paint if it’s too thick.
- Compact and lightweight, so easy to travel with
- Great option for beginners due to its variable speed, long chord and easy control
- Doesn’t use a big air tank compressor
When it comes to finding the best pair air compressor for airbrushing, there are a few things that you need to consider. Below, we’ll take a look at some of these important areas to focus on when scouring the market for the perfect product.
Giving a little extra thought to the following areas will hopefully help steer you towards the best-suited option, saving you a great deal of time and effort in the long run!
Type Of Application
It’s important to choose the right type of airbrush compressor based on your application type.
For example, if you’re looking to paint a large surface, a compressor with a tank is the most suitable option. This allows you to paint consistently for long periods of time without interruption.
For painting smaller areas, such as body paint, nail art or cake decoration, a compressor with no tank is sufficient. A portable and compact compressor that’s capable of delivering low air pressure is ideal.
This consideration is determined by the amount of air delivered to the compressor. Air flow is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute) and most air compressors have an air flow capacity of between 0.70 to 1.76 CFM.
For illustrators or hobby artists, a CFM of around 0.70 should be more than enough, while compressors with this type of air flow capacity are also suitable for airbrush applications such as nail art and body makeup.
If, however, you need to complete some larger jobs, you may be best choosing a compressor with at least 1.05 CFM.
This is usually measured in psi (pound per inch). It’s important to purchase a compressor that will provide the required amount of air pressure necessary for your application.
For example, spraying an item of clothing may need a higher amount of pressure than spraying on a nail.
Furthermore, if you’re looking to airbrush an extremely large surface such as a car, you may require high pressure between 80-100 psi to complete the job quickly.
It’s always a bonus if your airbrush compressor has this function. This handy feature allows you to pre-set the compressor to stop working at a specific air pressure.
Moreover, once the air pressure drops below the specific pressure value, it’ll restart again. This is great for reducing the compressor running time and limiting the motor wear.
This is an important factor to consider, especially if you’re working on a project at home or somewhere you’ll typically be surrounded by other people.
Most air compressors are pretty noisy, although this usually depends on the amount of pressure that’s applied to them.
Noise levels are measured in decibels (db), with some of the quieter compressors delivering between 50-60 db. Anything below 50 db is extremely quiet.
Portability And Size
If you do lots of travelling, you’ll need to select a portable and compact compressor. These are perfect for beginners and typically come with wheels and a carrying handle.
Just keep in mind that some models are heavier and can be quite challenging to move around.
An airbrush compressor comes equipped with motors and pumps. As a result, they can often develop reliability issues over time if you’re using an unreliable airbrush compressor.
For this reason, it’s important to buy a compressor from a reliable brand that has a solid track record of providing quality equipment. A decent warranty policy is also beneficial.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does an airbrush work?
As this guide has explained, an airbrush requires a source of compressed air to function properly.
When the trigger on the airbrush is pushed, the air is turned on and the liquid comes to the tip of the nozzle. The amount of liquid sprayed is determined by how far back the needle is pulled with the trigger. For some airbrushes, this can be set with a stop.
What psi should I use for airbrushing?
It’s recommended to use a unit that generates at least 30 psi. In fact, some applications such as t-shirt painting or other fabric painting may need to be done at higher pressures, closer to 60-65 psi.
Why is my airbrush spitting?
There are a number of potential reasons why an airbrush may spit and sputter, most commonly an incorrect paint thinning ratio and air pressure settings.
Other contributory factors include airbrush damage, moisture build-up from the air compressor, and general airbrush maintenance and use.
What size air compressor do I need for airbrushing?
The vast majority of air compressors available on the market produce less than 1 HP, with most offering between 1/12 HP and ½ HP.
However, if you’re looking for an air compressor to help you with jobs that require a lot of air pressure, a compressor with at least ⅙ HP is definitely desirable.
Is airbrushing safe?
Using an airbrush is completely safe. Just make sure that you don’t point it at anyone’s eyes. Most airbrushes come with an automatic stop function when they reach dangerous pressure levels or become at risk of overheating.
The only real danger to keep in mind when using an airbrush compressor is the risk of harmful chemicals from the paint, ink or oil. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wear a mask or respirator.
What’s the difference between a single action and double action airbrush?
A single action airbrush works by pressing on the trigger which turns on the air and sprays the liquid at the same time. This type of airbrush is mechanically simpler than a double action airbrush, and as a result, costs significantly less.
On the other hand, a double action airbrush works by pressing on the trigger to turn the air flow on and then releasing the trigger to turn it back off. Pulling back on the trigger again opens the needle valve, allowing the paint into the stream.
This type of airbrush is great for achieving fine control and works perfectly for skilled operators.
Can I use a mini air compressor for airbrushing?
Yes, a mini air compressor is the ideal choice if you’re looking for a unit to help you with small airbrushing tasks. However, for painting cars, big canvases, and other large surfaces, you’ll need an air compressor that can deliver a higher psi.
If you were to choose a high psi air compressor for small details, there’s every chance that this could result in the paint splattering and spitting all over the place.