We’ve received a ton of email from folks asking, “Do you know of a decent starter air compressor that’ll run air tools?” Our answer: yes, we do. Here it is.
We spent eight weeks with Husky’s 26-Gallon compressor and the bevy of air tools that come with it — enough time to discover that it offers some serious value for its price and a great way to add air tool functionality to your home or small shop. Read past the jump for our hands-on experiences and lots of pictures.
The Husky ships packed tightly into a very heavy, big-ass box. Seriously. If you’re picking this up from the ‘Depot or the post office by yourself — don’t. Bring some help.
It’s a “vertical” style compressor, which means that the tank stands up instead of lying down. It takes up surprisingly little floor space — about the same as a small pancake compressor — covering a 21” x 21” patch of concrete and standing 45-1/2” tall. It also features wheels on the bottom so you can roll it around the shop or out to a wounded vehicle in need of some air.
Perched atop the 26-gallon tank you’ll find a 110V-powered, 1.5 HP electric compressor motor which turns on and off with a smart-looking red switch. Two gauges on top monitor air pressure inside the tank (right) and the pressure going to the tool attachments (left). A knob allows you to adjust the output pressure according to the need of the tool you’re using at the moment.
The quick connect hose fitting located on the left rear of the compressor is like every one you’ve seen before.
As it says prominently on the box, this is a “quiet” compressor. By twisting a knob at the rear of the compressor to select “light duty,” “medium duty,” or “heavy duty,” you can limit the speed of the compressor to “shush it up” as my grade school teacher used to say.
The Husky can handle a maximum pressure of 155 PSI — enough, even, to pump up those old Cadillac’s air shocks that the pump at the gas station leaves flat — and can deliver 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI.
While the tank and compressor are probably what drew you to the product in the first place, Husky also throws in a full complement of pneumatic goodies. This is where the value really starts to kick in as those goodies are air tools. Lots of air tools.
The tools that came with our Husky had a quality feel to them. Most were fitted with red flexible rubber grips that felt good to hold and provided good purchase during heavy use. Our shop and the tasks we take on it it aren’t always spotless, though, which means the nice red color will likely convert into a dirty rust/blackish patina over time. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Each tool is also clearly labeled with a marker for oiling spots for tool care and warning labels for safety — though we suspect the warning labels will wind up slipping off in a days time under hard use if not mindful of them as we were.
Let’s take a look at each tool individually:
Whenever movie makers want you to know that you’re in some sort of repair facility, they always throw in the sound of an air ratchet. That’s not surprising as air ratchets are extremely useful in the shop. The 3/8” ratchet included with the Husky is pretty much like every other ratchet you’ve used. Its controls are simple: a direction selector switch on the located on the back of the head and an activation lever.
The Impact Wrench
The 1/2” impact wrench is large and heavy. As with the ratchet, the controls are simple. There’s a front-to-back-style directional switch above the trigger — push in for forward and push out for reverse. There’s also a knob at the bottom that controls the wrench’s torque output. It’s labeled 1 (lowest power) to 4 (highest).
The Spray Gun
We’ll be the first to admit that we don’t really know a lot about spray guns, but this one looks about average for an inexpensive gun. The spray pattern is adjustable horizontal to vertical via the rotating nozzle, and there’s a washable aluminum paint container. We didn’t really have a chance to use the spray gun in our testing.
Read on to page two for more tool unboxing.