Kobalt Quiet Tech portable air compressor

JTK

Messages
13,518
Location
Buffalo, NY
Anyone own one of these series of compressors from Lowes? I picked up the 26gal version a few days ago to replace a Harbor Freight Tools 21gal vertical, oil lubed unit I've been using for about 7yrs.

I can't get over how unbelievably quiet this compressor is. I'd compare it to the noise level of a small window air conditioner. The oil-less compressor is of the same design as the California Air Tools Ultra Quiet line, but I can't find any wording or numbers on the Kobalt unit to decipher who actually makes the thing. Anyone know by chance?

I'm a pretty light user of my air compressor and the HFT tools one I had suited my needs fine, but when I did use it, it was deafeningly loud. The loudest portable I've ever used. I couldn't take it anymore so I listed it up on the Facehole marketplace and had it sold in a couple of days. I think I paid $150 for it 7yrs ago and got $100 for it

The compressors I was considering were the Lowes unit I purchased, a Harbor Freight Tools 29gal vertical, belt drive unit or a Porter Cable 20gal belt drive, horizontal unit from Tractor supply. All are made in China and in the <$400 range. I really didn't want to spend more than $300. I pursued a few used machines off FB marketplace and CL to no avail and with much frustration.

I ultimately went with the Lowes unit because I had a gift card and had my father-in-law with me, so we used his 10% military discount. With tax it cost me ~$342

Love it so far. Just puzzled at who makes the darn thing.
 

JRed

Site Donor 2021
Messages
2,297
Location
Virginia
You're so right about the harbor freight air compressors. I have that same Central Pneumatic air compressor and it is INSANELY, deafeningly loud and it takes forever to build pressure.

Good to know about the Kobalt. I have a TON of the Kobalt cordless tools and they're all great.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK
Messages
24,162
Location
CA
I briefly considered the same compressor but was convinced (or suckered?) into paying 2x the amount for a 25-gal oiled compressor. Anyway, I was also surprised by how quiet the Kobalt oilless unit was and given my infrequent usage, I wonder if buying the oiled one was a false economy.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK
Messages
1,030
Location
Bremerton, WA
Ain't no way I'd pay that much money for 4.5cfm @ 90psi.

A cheaper, smaller ultraquiet compressor will get the same jobs done as that and have the added benefits of being portable and half the price.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JC1

JTK

Thread starter
Messages
13,518
Location
Buffalo, NY
I briefly considered the same compressor but was convinced (or suckered?) into paying 2x the amount for a 25-gal oiled compressor. Anyway, I was also surprised by how quiet the Kobalt oilless unit was and given my infrequent usage, I wonder if buying the oiled one was a false economy.

Due to the fact they're quieter, with their pumps spinning at a fraction of the RPMs of the motor, I was going to go the oil lubed, belt drive way as well, but the least expensive ones I could find were these:



If I didn't have the BLowes gift card and my FIL's military discount, I probably would have gotten that Porter Cable one.
 
Last edited:

JTK

Thread starter
Messages
13,518
Location
Buffalo, NY
I’m guessing it’s the same manufacturer as Harbor Freight’s new Fortress line of compressors. They are also incredibly quiet.

The pump on that Fortress for sure looks the same, just rotated 180deg.

There's quite a few brands now with this California Air Tools style quiet pump on them. Lots of youtube videos on how to replace wear items on them and they seem very simple to do. Problem is, who makes them and are individual replacement parts even available for the pumps? I get it that anything under ~$800 is a throwaway anyway. It's just comforting to know..

The nice thing about this Kobalt is it has a 3yr warranty on it, which is longer than the rest.

The only numbering/wording that I can find on my Kobalts compressor is here:

TryCg2xl.jpg


Z77LY8Jl.jpg
 
Messages
24,162
Location
CA
Due to the fact they're quieter, with their pumps spinning at a fraction of the RPMs of the motor, I was going to go the oil lubed, belt drive way as well, but the least expensive ones I could find were these:



If I didn't have the BLowes gift card and my FIL's military discount, I probably would have gotten that Porter Cable one.
My recollection was that your particular oil free model was in the same ballpark as mine.

This is the one I ended up buying: https://www.aircompressorsdirect.co...MIxtS1tqaS8AIVQQnnCh1fDwC3EAQYASABEgLOAfD_BwE

Paid $617 otd from HD after some price matching. Honestly I think you made the better decision. I’ll never use mine enough to reap the long life benefits of an oiled unit. Yours is more compact and a lot cheaper.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK

JTK

Thread starter
Messages
13,518
Location
Buffalo, NY
My recollection was that your particular oil free model was in the same ballpark as mine.

This is the one I ended up buying: https://www.aircompressorsdirect.co...MIxtS1tqaS8AIVQQnnCh1fDwC3EAQYASABEgLOAfD_BwE

Paid $617 otd from HD after some price matching. Honestly I think you made the better decision. I’ll never use mine enough to reap the long life benefits of an oiled unit. Yours is more compact and a lot cheaper.

Yours puts out 6.2CFM at 90psig, vs the 4.3 of mine. That's a big difference. Yours also has components that are more easily replaceable like the output pressure regulator. Mine is built into a common manifold.

That DeWalt is the most CFMs at 90psig you're going to get for that price IMO. You did good. I think that Porter-Cable unit I linked to above from Tractor Supply puts out just over 5 cfms at 90 which is inline with the HFTs unit. Those are actually good buys and IMO, belt drive oil lubed units in this ~$600 and under range are getting harder to find as time goes on. They're all going to direct drive oiled or these quiet oilless machines now.
 
Messages
5,011
Location
Southeast
I agree on the need for quieter air.... I gave my direct drive 5gal to a buddy and picked up the belt drive porter cable 20gallon. I would have gone with the California air tools design back then but just couldn’t find enough info on longevity. Im thrilled with its reduced shop noise. I hope the oil free design ends up being a solid deal.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK

JTK

Thread starter
Messages
13,518
Location
Buffalo, NY
I agree on the need for quieter air.... I gave my direct drive 5gal to a buddy and picked up the belt drive porter cable 20gallon. I would have gone with the California air tools design back then but just couldn’t find enough info on longevity. Im thrilled with its reduced shop noise. I hope the oil free design ends up being a solid deal.

They are amazingly quiet. You really have to hear one to appreciate it. They do spin at something like ~1700rpm which I'm sure helps, but what ever else is the magic in the design I have no idea.

You wouldn't think an oil free design could possibly outlive one that's got an oil sump, but if you dig into some of Porter Cables question and answers, they say this about their belt drive 20gal: "This 20 gallon compressor has been designed and tested to perform for at least 750 hours under normal circumstances and environment."

If you check California Air Tools website, they say their units are tested out to 2000 hrs.

Regardless, It would probably take me 25yrs to put 250hrs on one.
 
Messages
5,011
Location
Southeast
They are direct drive too, right? eliminating the drive belt is probably worth a few points in efficiency.

I was under the impression that the magic is in the motor.... that they turn far less than even 1700 by using some multi-pole motor arrangement, which if I understand is more complex to manufacture, but becoming more available at bearable prices. I’d love to see one in action sometime. Sounds like a really nice machine!
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK

JTK

Thread starter
Messages
13,518
Location
Buffalo, NY
They are direct drive too, right? eliminating the drive belt is probably worth a few points in efficiency.

I was under the impression that the magic is in the motor.... that they turn far less than even 1700 by using some multi-pole motor arrangement, which if I understand is more complex to manufacture, but becoming more available at bearable prices. I’d love to see one in action sometime. Sounds like a really nice machine!

Yessir, direct drive. The motor sits between the two cylinders. You may be right about the RPM thing. It's likely slower than 1700 RPM. I was also wrong about the 2000hr statement above. California air tools claims to have tested them out to 3000 hrs and still not necessarily needing a rebuild. Very far fetched to me. Here's a copy cat of a CAT unit:

201105-15777827.jpg
 
Messages
5,011
Location
Southeast
Sweet. My only thought (it’s dangerous, sorry!) would be to augment whatever air filtration it came with, unless it’s already robust. Mine is embarrassingly poor, but oil filled and crude. This is probably a precise machine with coated surfaces. My garage can get bad when I’m running the pump - sawdust or whatever, and it might be worth considering. paper element from an OPE might be good?
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK

JTK

Thread starter
Messages
13,518
Location
Buffalo, NY
meep, this is the type of air filters they come with. It's a section of pleated paper element glued into the housing. A foam sleeve or some other type of pre-cleaner would probably be a good idea for dusty work.

super_zoom.jpg
 
Messages
2,147
Location
Chicago, IL
I have a couple smaller California Air Tool compressors that I absolutely love for it's low noise. I keep the smaller one in the house for air nailer use, and a slightly larger one in the garage for airing tires. I don't have any air tools, so I don't need anything big.

For home use, I'll likely never wear it out, but I'm a fan of that style compressor and would buy it again.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK
Messages
5,011
Location
Southeast
meep, this is the type of air filters they come with. It's a section of pleated paper element glued into the housing. A foam sleeve or some other type of pre-cleaner would probably be a good idea for dusty work.

super_zoom.jpg
That’s actually not bad to my eye. That’s more than my belt drive unit has, by a significant margin.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK
Messages
2,961
Location
pa
great info + my 3rd compressor a 60 gal craftsman bolted to my garage floor running on 240 serves me well, i have a very small oilless unit as well as a medium craftsman on wheels, loud but works well + that dewalt unit looks great even thou a bit spendy at the price of my 60 gal unit about 15 years ago!
 
  • Like
Reactions: JTK
Top