The 2 gallon air compressor has become the most popular size for most general home use applications since they are almost always small, fairly light-weight, and easily portable though they still generate enough pressure to make them useful. In the world of air compressors, bigger typically means more powerful, so these small 2 gallon air compressors are about the smallest compressors available that are still able to do more than blow up inflatable tires and toys or operate an airbrush. Depending on how you intend to use it, this compressor may very well be the best option available to you.
A 2 gallon air compressor is defined as such because it has a 2 gallon tank, which may be either one single tank or a pair of one gallon tanks connected to each other. The net result is the same whether there are one or two tanks, so this should not be a major concern. The tank(s) play two primary roles both of which are very helpful and are why almost all serious use air compressors have tanks. The first is that they build up a reservoir of compressed air in the tanks and once the tank’s limits are reached the compressor stops building up more. This prevents the compressor – or the tool or device receiving the compressed air – from exploding and also allows the motor to rest periodically, letting it run longer. Second, the tanks allow the stream of air coming from the output to remain steady, despite any fluctuations in the motor’s performance.
Although a lot of variety exists, the 2 gallon air compressor is almost always small and easily mobile. In fact many 2 gallon air compressors sold are sold specifically along with a “kit” which provides all the accessories needed for a particular process. For example, you can buy a nail gun kit or a paint sprayer kit that comes with a nail gun, paint sprayer, and other accessories as well as a 2 gallon air compressor altogether as a single item. Even if bought as a separate unit, most of the time the 2 gallon compressor is meant to operate at least one pneumatic tool, so most will generate at least 90 psi (pounds per square inch of pressure) and at least three to seven cfm (cubic feet per minute of air flow).
Most 2 gallon air compressors are designed to be plugged in and use an electric motor powered through a standard household electrical outlet. There are portable versions available, that operate on gas or on a battery pack, but these are not really practical and not common. Although there are oil-lubricated 2 gallon compressors available, this again is largely impractical for such small compressors and not very common either.
The 2 gallon air compressor is generally designed to be useful and operate at least one serious tool. As such, many people see them as an excellent compromise between the tiny 12 volt compressors that are too weak to power anything and the larger 6 gallon compressors that are probably too powerful for most people’s household applications. Although again there is plenty of variety, one can usually expect to spend about $150 to $250 for a new 2 gallon compressor, though obviously used and refurbished units will cost less.