An air compressor is a very handy, if not essential, tool for the auto mechanic. You can use an air compressor to clean things, drive pneumatic tools and equipment, inflate tires and toys, or use it to power a paint gun. But, your new and shiny air compressor would be completely useless without a rather boring accessory – an air compressor hose. There are plenty of opinions as to which is the best air compressor hose, but as with a lot of purchases, getting the best bang for the buck is an important consideration. Fortunately, we can break down the basics for you!
Most readily-available air compressor hoses are made from different materials, most commonly nylon, PVC, rubber, and polyurethane. Nylon hoses are the cheapest on the market, but become brittle in cold weather, so don’t expect them to last. We typically recommend these for light duty use. Often times you will see air compressor hoses that are coiled. These hoses are normally made from polyurethane, and they are generally quite good. However, polyurethane coiled air compressor hoses can be cumbersome to use if not placed overhead. They can be sensitive to certain chemicals and solvents, although this wouldn’t likely be a concern in a household garage setting. Rubber and PVC hoses offer very good value and are highly reliable. They last long and are resistant to many chemicals. While PVC hoses are light, the best air compressor hose material if you’re looking for longevity and durability is rubber.
The hose types mentioned above are the most common, but it’s worth noting that there are other types that are also available. These include braided lines, high temperature hoses, and industrial-spec hoses for specialized applications that tend to cost quite a bit more than standard air compressor hoses. Hobbyists have been also known to use hydraulic hoses, braided fuel/oil hoses, air brake hoses, and even hot water heater hoses as substitutes for an air compressor hose, although this is not recommended for obvious safety reasons.
As you are choosing a length, one thing to be aware of is that longer lengths will cause a pressure drop. Make sure that the flow and volume can at least match your pneumatic tool’s requirements. The fittings will also have to be the proper size and terminated properly. For a home mechanic’s setup, barbed fittings and dual worm clamps will typically do the job, as will threaded fittings. Quick-disconnect couplers are also great to have, so that you can detach and store your air compressor hoses more easily.
The Best Air Compressor Hose
When it comes to selecting the best air compressor hose, the Flexzilla 3/8″ x 50′ air compressor hose is our long time favorite (which is also available in 1/2″ diameter as well). It features hybrid polymer construction makes for a soft hose that lays flat thanks to the excellent flexibility. This flexibility is maintained even in cold weather. The bend radius on this hose is extremely good, and as such is well suited to tight garage spaces with multiple cars. Furthermore, the material is resistant to abrasion, meaning it will be pretty tough to compromise the integrity of this air hose.
Sporting a venom green (we made that color name up…we think it sounds cooler than lime green) color, this hose can withstand a maximum working pressure of 300 psi, which should be plenty for most impact wrenches. Each end features standard fittings with strain reliefs as well to prevent kinking. Quick release fittings are sold separately, but easily mate with the ends of this hose.
The Flexzilla hose is also offered in lengths of 25 and 100 feet, so if you find that 50 feet is too long or too short, you have options. As far as where to buy, Amazon’s free shipping deal is pretty much a slam dunk for cheapest price around. Overall, the Flexzilla hose is one of the best air compressor hoses around and we think it will provide many solid years of service. Happy wrenching!