I was talking with an HVAC tech yesterday, and sold them on the Dewalt 20V Max cordless air compressor.
They had some common-seeming requirements, and my advice was fairly generalized, and so I thought a quick discussion would be interesting.
It all started with a question about Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel cordless air compressor.
They saw my M18 air compressor test sample, and asked how I like it.
I’m very pleased with this model. But, why the M18? I asked the tech, as their cordless power tools were from the Dewalt 20V Max platform.
They were considering the M18 cordless air compressor, as well as the Packout vacuum.
The tech is also considering going with Milwaukee Packout to better organize their van. For our job, the tech had a small Veto Pro Pac bag, and if I recall correctly, a small bucket with Workpro tool organizer.
The Milwaukee cordless air compressor is quite good, but it’s designed around the Packout footprint. It doesn’t attach to Packout tool boxes, but can ride on top.
Dewalt’s cordless air compressor has a more compact footprint, which isn’t very surprising as this is a major selling point of pancake-style air compressors in general.
As the tech already had Dewalt 20V Max batteries and chargers, it makes sense to stick with Dewalt.
The DCC2520B is a 20V Max FlexVolt Advantage model. When powered with a Dewalt 20V Max battery, its 2.5 gallon air tank can be pressurized to 125 PSI. If you need more than that, powering the air compressor with a FlexVolt battery allows it to be filled to 140 PSI.
Forget about storage systems. If you have to move an air compressor around, the Dewalt is noticeably lighter – the Dewalt weighs 21.5 lbs, and the Milwaukee 31.25 lbs.
The Dewalt has a higher capacity tank (2.5 vs 2.0 gallons), but is noisier (80 dB vs 68 dB).
For portability, Dewalt’s is better. If you’re already on Dewalt’s cordless power tool platform, the Milwaukee air compressor is great, but not worth the added expense of buying into another system.
If you want an air compressor that can be easily transported on top of a stack of Packout tool boxes, that’s where the Milwaukee definitely has an advantage. Or, if you need a quieter air compressor, there’s a big difference in favor of the M18 Fuel model.
As I have access to both cordless systems, I have yet to part with either model – both are fantastic performers. I tend to use the Milwaukee for longer projects where I don’t plan to move it around too much, and retrieve the Dewalt instead for quicker ones.
Dewalt’s FlexVolt model is still available, which is surprising, as I thought it was going to be replaced by the 20V Max FlexVolt Advantage model. The 20V Max model, when powered by a FlexVolt battery, achieves a higher fill pressure (140 PSI) compared to the FlexVolt model (135 PSI).
I’m wondering if I should have tried harder to steer the tech towards Milwaukee. There are other brands as well, but I couldn’t think of any that offered more than these two models, at least not for this particular user’s needs.
Would you have made a different recommendation?
The Dewalt 20V Model is available by itself (DCC2520B), while the FlexVolt model is commonly available in a kit format with FlexVolt 6Ah battery and fast charger (DCC2560T1). The Milwaukee M18 model is typically sold by itself.
At the time of this posting, the Milwaukee model is eligible for a free 5Ah battery.
You made a lot of interesting comments.
My cordless tools are primarily Dewalt 20V but my last acquisitions have been Milwaukee 12V.
I have Dewalt Tough System 1.0 & 2.0 tool boxes because I thought they would withstand abuse and had the best value; but, everything else is Milwaukee Packout. I do not wheel a tower to work everyday so the split is OK.
Selecting stuff is not as simple as once was. Think I would have gotten the Dewalt also.
I’d have pointed him to the DeWalt also as the obvious choice.
I’d have recommended an ultra quiet air compressor. We got a Husky one for the shop and it’s a game changer. When I take it on site I never notice it running, and neither do the other trades.
What model do you use?
Between the price difference, the size difference and being able to stay on one battery platform I’d lean DeWalt on this as well.
The Milwaukee is notably heavier than I would have liked it to have been. But the roll cage is an added benefit, especially for my transport and use. I like that it is quiet enough over my old Craftsman Industrial pancake to enjoy hearing it run.
I am totally vested in Milwaukee btw.
The Dewalt is nice compact form, noticeably lighter and if running Dewalt batteries already seems like a no brainer to me.
Though not knowing the warranty
A 3 year warranty on Milwaukee (seeing more and more of that) is slightly less than the usual 5 year we have been accustomed to for long while on most of their tools.
Considering the 20v FVA model almost outperforms the 60v FV model (higher PSI but lower SCFM), I’m still surprised DeWalt hasn’t come out with a newer and larger FV model. Especially since the original 60v model was one of the first 60v tools, built around the smaller 2Ah/6Ah DCB606 battery. With the advancements in battery and brushless motor tech over the past 6 years, I thought for sure one was on the way once they announced the 20v model. I’d snatch up a 6gal version myself.
You can get 60% more scfm with the metabo hpt 36v compressor. If that’s imporyant to you it’s a no brainer. Plus you can get the 36v to 120v adapter.
That’s a fantastic model as well!
I sold my Milwaukee to a guy that owned several Milwaukee & Dewalt cordless compressors. He said that when a Dewalt goes bad it is trashed, but a Milwaukee is repairable when it comes to the respective part they need.
If I used it a lot, that might sway me one way or the other, but I do prefer the size of the Dewalt more.
Not a tradesperson so keep that in mind but maybe I’m just not seeing the obvious advantages to a cordless air compressor. I see with the CFM being limited to finish nailing and if you’re doing that shouldn’t the place already have power? You’ve got an air hose to contend with so how much hassle is finding a plug? Park the compressor with a 50ft hose and you don’t have to move the unit for quite awhile. Grab a CAT silent compressor or similar and keep your hearing and sanity. The cordless unit is still excessively noisy for using indoors I think.
But based on them being already in the DeWalt battery system that would be the better choice.
Lots of jobs don’t have power where you’re working. Or you need to go up in a man lift. The use for a cordless compressor is limited but when you need one it is a problem solver.
Interesting, would have thought with trim (main purpose of these compressors) power would be on by then. Certainly one of those you have to be there to know situations. Sounds like they do fill a niche anyway.
Electricians have their own schedule often times.
I’m thinking for HVAC most of the times this will be used to clear out things like condensate lines. Which honestly I have done before in my house with a ryobi 18V inflator. Not sure if they pressure test with air anymore I think they usually use nitrogen but I’m not an HVAC guy.
I am an HVAC guy, and you’re right. I don’t know what her be using a compressor for except for condensate lines. Everything else we need a high pressure gas for needs to be completely dry air, so I’d doubt any compressor could deliver that and still be portable.
As for cleaning the condensate, I always disliked gallo guns and pig tanks because I was worried about blowing off I’ll attached fittings. I’ve never worried about the burst pressure of PVC, but rather the hasty joints hidden behind the wall.
I’m a commercial HVAC guy and we use the dewalt compressor for Genie air lifts for lifting VRF fan coils and also sometimes square duct
Yes, that was their primary intended application.
As a tech i have no use for this. It would be pretty cool with a trim gun or putting air in a tire in a pinch but other than that i don’t see many uses for it with there being so many other options.
I didn’t even know there was a 20v version. I’ve had the flexvolt version for several years and it’s great for all of my miscellaneous air uses. I decided to keep my pneumatics trim guns and use a battery compressor and I feel like that was a good decision since the dewalt cordless nailers aren’t very robust.
Hmmmm I would have a hard time not being pursuaded by the lower DB rating on the Milwaukee (assuming it’s accurate). There’s a huge difference between 68 and 80 db.
I basically shop air compressors on noise rating now. Once you go ultra quiet, it’s hard to go back.
I’m with you, PW–10db roughly equates to TWICE as loud. I’ll shoulder a bit more weight if it means a quieter worksite for me and the homeowner. Loudness is a major factor in tight spots and empty rooms.
I had the same thoughts. +10lb but -12db is a big difference. I’ll almost always go for a quieter air compressor.
The Milwaukee compressor makes more sense as the rock solid rolling base of a Packout rather than flapping in the breeze on top of a stack. Some integrated power cord and hose management would make it a snap.
While we’re at it, don’t get me started on a rolling bases to dolly caster kit.
Two nice things we just can’t have, I guess.
We can compare and debate the minutia of various tools online, but in the real world, on the job site it really comes down to one thing:
As long as the tool reliably does what you need it to do, stick with the battery platform you’re invested in. In this case I would have recommended the DeWalt too.
IMNHO, the generally small differences between the usual yellow/red/green/blue suspects is not worth the hassle of transporting and maintaining multiple battery platforms. Easier to just carry a few extra batteries and a charger than a few extra red batteries and a charger, a few extra yellow batteries and a charger, a few extra green batteries and a charger, etc.
It’s different for a DIYer,
it’s not a big deal to have 3 different chargers plugged into a power strip on the bench.
It’s not a huge deal to wait for a battery to recharge in the middle of a project.
It’s probably just a bit of an annoyance to run out and replace a failed battery or charger.
I agree with you to a certain extent- I’m not going to cross-shop something silly like an impact driver because it drives 12” screws 5% faster than my chosen brand.
That said, for larger more expensive tools I think on opposite terms- Batteries are not an investment, they are a consumable- a business expense that supports the tools we need to finish the job.
As a professional, I’m not going to get hung up on colour or battery system. I don’t care if my tools match each other. I need batteries for almost every tool, and to be honest the incompatibility can be a feature to keep kits organized and stop batteries from going missing. If there is a product outside our preferred brand that we genuinely need to improve our workflow or will make us money, it’s not ideal but still 100% justifiable.
Of course this can depend on your line of work – As a general contractor our tasks vary widely. and there is no brand that can possibly supply every tool we need. Specialized sub trades and mobile service work provide a more compelling argument for maintaining a chosen system.
I have had two of the DeWalt 20v compressors. They junk. I will never buy another. I switched to Craftsman. I own many of the DeWalt 20v tools but, one compressor appeared to have the motherhood out and the second had a leak new. I don’t need a third stroke with the DeWalt compressor. I have had very good performances with the other 20v DeWalt tools.
Oh are you gonna be surprised when you find out who makes Craftsman…
Robert W ZIEMBA
I’m sure the discussion is centered around which compressor is best, but I’m more curious about why the HVAC guy was interested in the compressor. Maybe as a tool to aid in blowing out ducts? As a service/install tech, most of my high pressure gas work is from 2K psi nitrogen tanks. You can’t pressure test AC systems with compressed air since you would be pumping moisture (or contaminants if it’s an oiled compressor) into the system. Always nitrogen, so I’m just wondering what he’d need it for.
Condensate drain lines.
I know they usually use CO2 cartridges for this, but I’m guessing some obstructions are harder to clear.
I wonder if the Milwaukee M12 Airsnake would be suitable – if they come out with adapters sized for smaller PVC pipes usually used for this.
Might also be useful for blowing the dust out of coils/condensers? I know from working on cars that compressed air is great for getting gunk out of radiator or AC condenser fins.
Possibly, that sounds familiar. I was a bit distracted since apparently one of our units (7 years old) is practically nonfunctional due to a leak (again).
Only one year warranty.
Not reliable electronic module, broken after 14th months.
Have been used approximately 20 times.
Replacement for this module is ridiculous £270.
I like DeWalt in general.
But I will never buy this compressor-piece of junk again.