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Item: 2-hp, 8 gallon, 115 psi portable air compressor
Item number 40400/95386
Retail price: $139.99
Frequent sale price: $99.99
Target price: $89.99 (with coupon)
Best price: $79.95 (with coupon)
Well, they did it. They placed my favorite air compressor on sale for even $20 less than I paid for it two or three years ago. How do they keep their prices so low? Don't expect it to stay at $79.99 (with coupon) for long; the imports from China have been edging up like everything else at Harbor Freight and the other discount stores.
Light enough to be portable, large enough to be a man-sized tool (on wheels, fortunately), this compressor provides enough oomph for most around-the-house and light shop tasks. Don't expect to spray paint your car with it and it does need time to refill the air tank when running at maximum capacity--technically it just barely provides enough cfm/psi for intermediate sized tools, but realistically it falls a bit short for heavy, sustained use of the typical air tools sold at Harbor Freight. No problem, I need a break every minute or two myself, so I consider this the perfect size at the right price. On the other hand, the nominal cfm/psi rating for this air compressor seems very 'optimistic' considering that it won't sustain the 'action' on their medium-duty air tools rated at even lower cfm/psi. Hum, sounds like the fable of Chinese horses all over again (FYI: Chinese horses are notoriously small, meaning that a 5 hp rated engine seems more like 3 hp by US standards.) It's the smallest compressor that I would consider reasonable for inflating the tires on my motor home and it really inflates my bicycle tires in a flash (pun intended).
This is the size compressor you want for keeping those MoHo tires inflated. Capable of running many air tools in short bursts, it's the ideal compromise between power and portability for most home use.
Two points worth noting if you do buy this air compressor. First, keep the oil tank filled at all times. The compressor will overheat and seize very quickly if it runs out of lubricating oil. Second, if you don't use the compressor for a few weeks, expect some difficulty in starting it up. It usually takes several on-off cycles before mine sustains its pumping and yes, it dims the lights on the 15-amp circuit shared by our garage and my wife's computer (not good, but it does test out the surge protector). After a few on-off cycles it has to-date started, although occasionally with considerable animation and vocalization on my part. Certainly don't rely on this compressor for a mission-critical task if you don't 'exorcise' it regularly (oops, another pun slipped in there ). But then, it sells regularly for around $99 dollars with Harbor Freight's frequent sales and quite often dips all the way down to $79.99 (with coupon).
Bottom line: This is a must have item from Harbor Freight for those of us who don't require a larger air compressor and for those needing portability. Overall it works very well for light to moderate use, running most of Harbor Freight's air tools adequately for light work. Do expect some difficulty starting it up if it hasn't been used for a month or so, and keep it well oiled.
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This review and discussion forum was created for those of us who love Harbor Freight(tm). It's well known to those who frequent the store that the prices are always cycling up and down, and most of us usually accept it as a personal challenge to get the lowest price possible. It's also well appreciated that some products at Harbor Freight are good, even very good, but that many others are also substandard, yes, even junk. This review and discussion forum is dedicated to the savvy Harbor Freight shopper and is intended to provide some guidance to the best and the worse buys. Similar products from other retailers will also be reviewed from time-to-time. Please be advised that everyone's experience is unique, and what works well (or doesn't work at all) for the reviewers here may or may not suit your personal needs. With this caveat and with notification that Harbor Freight Reviews assumes no liability for the accuracy of information provided here for educational purposes, enjoy the forum and good 'sa(i)ling' at Harbor Freight!