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Air compressors improved for do-it-yourselfers

More choices available as makers solve portability, cost issues

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For everything from painting to installing trim, and framing to inflating tires, an air compressor can be one of the handiest pieces of equipment to have around the house. Cost, size and complexity once limited air compressors to professional uses only, but today's compressors are affordable, easy to use, and offer plenty of power to handle any task you're likely to encounter. Gas or Electric? The first thing to consider is whether you want a compressor that is powered by a gasoline motor or an electric one. For most applications, you're better off with an electric-powered compressor, which is quieter and requires less maintenance than a gas air compressor, and also doesn't produce fumes. Gas motors have the advantage of being able to be used where there are no electrical outlets, so if you do a lot of work on construction sites, farms or other places where power might not be available, consider a gas-powered compressor. CFM and PSI: The ability of a particular air comp...