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Husky vs Harbor Freight small compressor comparison

MEP001

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About four months ago I put compressors in two different washes, one wanted the cheapest decent thing available (Used the Central Pneumatic there), the other wanted something to last but didn't want a full sized unit (Chose the Husky). I thought this might be a good opportunity for a side-by-side comparison since the two washes are nearly identical in layout and income.

Prices at the time of purchase: Central Pneumatic was $379, Husky was $479. Both offered extended service plans.

I dealt with the Harbor Freight unit first - I had no issues with getting the compressor, I didn't get to see it in a box before purchase but I got to inspect it before loading. No issues at all. Home Depot was a completely different story. I wasn't inspired by there being two returned/repaired units on the floor next to the new ones, one of which was in a crushed box with obvious damage to the unit. I had someone get one down from an upper shelf which looked fine, but one of the air filters ended up being broken off.

Both units required a break-in run, which is running it for 30 minutes with no air load, all ports wide open. Both came filled with oil, so you can't transport them on their side.

The Central Pneumatic looks like a really high-quality unit, with a digital hour meter and a clean layout. I prefer the hard plastic/rubber tires it has since it's basically going to be a stationary unit. The Husky's tires were already flat. The plumbing on the Husky looks cobbled together. Neither has a port in the tank to use for plumbing, which would be nice for a permanent install - The Husky shows one in the website photos, but the one I got didn't have one.

The Central Pneumatic is rated very slightly higher CFM (6.2 vs 5.9) but it seems to fill a lot faster than the Husky. It's also a LOT quieter and runs very smooth. The Husky rattles the way most units that have a steel belt guard usually do, but it has a plastic one. I couldn't tell where the noise was coming from, but nothing was loose.



I will post updates when/if either unit has any problems.
 

cantbreak80

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I purchased one of those Husky compressors about 4 years ago to replace a 15 year old Sanborn “peeper”. (FYI: Peeper is what you call an engine block/crankcase with a broken connecting rod “peeping” out… AKA: Boat Anchor!)

I followed the break-in rules, torqued a few fasteners to stop a couple of oil leaks, installed an easy-to-reach ball valve on the tank drain, and changed the oil with Amzoil synthetic compressor oil.

I really liked that compressor. Relatively quiet, quick to recover from heavy drawdowns, and small enough to fit in a crowded engine room.

Well, 2 years of service ended abruptly when the motor sheave fell off…Actually, the motor shaft snapped off. A search for replacement parts on HD website showed “No parts available – Discontinued!” A few minutes looking on the www produced no results. Grainger had an “adaptable” solution…for the price of a new compressor!

Since the compressor is operationally critical, the new owner rushed out and purchased a replacement Husky…the oil-less model (Yikes!!)

Unsurprisingly, it bit the dust in less than a year.

They should change the name from Husky to NFL (Not For Long).
 

Randy

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I’m still using the 20 gallon Sanborn air compressor that I bought at Builders Square at 8:45pm on a Friday night hours before we left for a 2 week vacation back in 1993. 1 motor rebuild and 3 or 4 pressure switches later it’s still running. Sometimes it sounds like it’s really laboring to start but it always starts. The problem with the air compressors from the big box stores is the motors are junk. Everyone I know who’s bought an air compressor from one of the big box a stores has had problems with the motor at some point. I’d buy a Husky air compressor over the Harbor Freight air compressor because the pump on the Husky looks to be steel and the Harbor Freight unit is aluminum. I don’t think Harbor Freight gives a 10% discount to veterans like Home Depot and Lowes does. The oil less air compressor are nothing but junk. They run to fast and they will self-destruct in nothing flat if you try to use them in a car wash environment.
 

MEP001

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Since the compressor is operationally critical, the new owner rushed out and purchased a replacement Husky…the oil-less model (Yikes!!)

Unsurprisingly, it bit the dust in less than a year.
I've been trying to talk one guy out of buying the oil-less things since 2005. He buys one about once a year and usually pays over $500. I don't get it, between the cost, the short life, and the noise, why wouldn't you try something made to last a while? I even offered to get it and set it up for him for just the cost of the compressor.
 

Waxman

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My Husky Compressor is 2 years old. Super loud. Rattly. I've repaired the reed valves numerous times.

I should know better; don't buy an $879 compressor when you need a $3000 compressor!!!!!!
 

Sequoia

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I installed a Husky about 6 months ago. Had immediate problems with the pressure switch not working. A real headache as the model is supposed to be "not adjustable." But if you dig out a small plastic blob you can see the adjustment screw to adjust it. It never would adjust correctly.

I bought a replacement part from an online source and it has been trouble free for about 2 months.
 

mjwalsh

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This is possibly a helpful discussion for some of us. I just want to add that it would be nice for some of us to use a decibel meter & share the actual noise level rather than what sometimes the specifications say. To keep it consistent ... maybe exactly 5 feet away from motor-pulley cage.

Awhile back I was having trouble with the main check valve on our 60 gallon IR tank. One of my guys thought we were not changing the air filter often enough. That seems to have solve the frequency of that part going out so often vs when it was brand new. More time maybe to know for sure though!
 
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MEP001

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The Husky already crapped out. I haven't been able to find out what went wrong, but he was at least able to get it repaired under warranty. He had to take it to a Home Depot himself since if they came out to repair it they would have seen it in a commercial use and voided any warranty.

The Harbor Freight unit has almost 1000 hours on it and still sounds as smooth and quiet as it did when new.
 

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We gave up years ago on those cheap compressors. Ya they fix them under warranty, but sometimes had to wait 4-6 weeks to get them back. At one point we had about 12 in our warehouse that had blown heads. Max life we would get was about 24 months. Now it's all Rol Air or Quincy as those go out.
 
Etowah

mjwalsh

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STXCW,

We had good long term experience with a smaller portable with wheels 2 tube style tank Quincy that finally appears to just need an internal kit at the present moment. It was the type that tended to be sold to roofers.

My part timer is good at replacing seals in small engines etc. ... would you have a suggestion on where we could make sure we got the right seal or other overhaul kit for it & if that is most likely the problem.

Sometimes rebuilding some of the older items is better approach than just running for brand new????
 

STXCW

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STXCW,

We had good long term experience with a smaller portable with wheels 2 tube style tank Quincy that finally appears to just need an internal kit at the present moment. It was the type that tended to be sold to roofers.

My part timer is good at replacing seals in small engines etc. ... would you have a suggestion on where we could make sure we got the right seal or other overhaul kit for it & if that is most likely the problem.

Sometimes rebuilding some of the older items is better approach than just running for brand new????
Sorry I don't. We have a local guy that picks up our compressors from time to time and rebuilds the pumps for us. When we get 3 or 4 compressors that need work he swings by and picks them up and a couple weeks later will drop them off. We do the easier stuff such as belts, pressure switches and motors.
 

MEP001

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We gave up years ago on those cheap compressors. Ya they fix them under warranty, but sometimes had to wait 4-6 weeks to get them back. At one point we had about 12 in our warehouse that had blown heads. Max life we would get was about 24 months. Now it's all Rol Air or Quincy as those go out.
I'm a firm believer in having the best compressor that you can afford and have room for. Both these washes have tiny rooms, one so small there would be no way to get a 60-gallon compressor in and service it in place.
 

Randy

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The best air compressor I’ve ever had was a Saylor-Beall that was given to me, it’s got to be well over 50 years old, keeps right on making air. https://www.saylor-beall.com/ aren’t a cheap air compressor but they’ll last a long time.
 

2Biz

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FWIW...I have an old 80 gallon Campbell Hausfeld 6HP with a Cast iron pump. It must be at least 20 years old or more. I think the key to long life is have a lot of capacity and lower the pressure to kick on at 80 psi and only run up to about 100-110 psi...The higher you go on pressure, the harder it is on EVERYTHING! The head on mine doesn't even get warm....You also have to fix all air leaks. Mine doesn't kick on unless someone is using the wash. The highest pressure I have anything set for flojets, air to all LP function etc is 60 psi. So why would you need any more than 80 psi in the tank? Higher pressure only makes more heat and moisture. BTW, I don't have a moisture issue either. I only have to drain the tank 2-3 times a year.

I think Randy does something most don't and that is to slow the pump down. Running it at a slower RPM eliminates a lot of heat. So some good ideas to even make the cheaper Compressors perform just as good and last as long as the more expensive ones...
 

Randy

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I think Randy does something most don't and that is to slow the pump down. Running it at a slower RPM eliminates a lot of heat. So some good ideas to even make the cheaper Compressors perform just as good and last as long as the more expensive ones...
2Biz I don’t want to give up all of my secrets. Most air compressor manufactures will change the pulleys on the motor to turn the pump faster to get more CFM’s out of an air compressor so they can advertise that there air compressor will put out X number of CFM’s at 100psi. To do this they’ll use a larger pulley on the motor, this makes the pump put out more CFM’s because it’s running at a higher RPM. With the high RPM the pump will get a lot hotter. It’s the heat pulls the moisture out of the air, this why a lot of air compressors have a lot of the water in the tank, I very seldom drain my air compressor tank. It’s the heat that will kill an air compressor pump, the slower you can run the pump the longer it’ll last. It’s the high speed and heat that will kill an air compressor. The oiless air compressors don’t have a place in a car wash and should never be used, useless you’re a cheapster, they belong in a home garage for airing up tires once or twice a year.
 

soapy

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Quincy or Ingersol Rand are the only compressors I will buy. Prior to car wash business we had tire stores and we ran them very hard and seldom ever had a problem with either. All my original Quincy compressors are still running at my washes.
 

MEP001

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FWIW...I have an old 80 gallon Campbell Hausfeld 6HP with a Cast iron pump. It must be at least 20 years old or more. I think the key to long life is have a lot of capacity and lower the pressure to kick on at 80 psi and only run up to about 100-110 psi...The higher you go on pressure, the harder it is on EVERYTHING! The head on mine doesn't even get warm....You also have to fix all air leaks. Mine doesn't kick on unless someone is using the wash. The highest pressure I have anything set for flojets, air to all LP function etc is 60 psi. So why would you need any more than 80 psi in the tank? Higher pressure only makes more heat and moisture. BTW, I don't have a moisture issue either. I only have to drain the tank 2-3 times a year.

I think Randy does something most don't and that is to slow the pump down. Running it at a slower RPM eliminates a lot of heat. So some good ideas to even make the cheaper Compressors perform just as good and last as long as the more expensive ones...
Mine is a 20 year old Husky 80 gallon 2-stage 7.5 HP, which is a C/H with a red tank. I'm pretty sure someone put an undersize pulley on the motor which I think has been replaced, but otherwise I don't think it's been touched. There's a water filter on it but there's never any water in it, and the Flojets last many years. It still comes on at 150/off at 175.
 

Greg Pack

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Quincy or Ingersol Rand are the only compressors I will buy. Prior to car wash business we had tire stores and we ran them very hard and seldom ever had a problem with either. All my original Quincy compressors are still running at my washes.
I love my Quincy QT compressor. Very Quiet, but it was 2k.
 

soonermajic

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1.Do you guys,suggest 3phase or single?
2. 2 stage or what?
3. Larger pulley wheels are better, yes?

I found a new Curtis CT series, 24.2 cfm 175psi, 80 gal, 2 stage 3 phase. Asking $1500.
 
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