In a comment the other day, someone asked about which air fittings to equip their hose with, to use with a Craftsman 6 gallon air compressor.
To start off, Ben has a good guide to air line quick-connect couplers here.
Generally, for specific questions, it’s always good to refer to your user manual. Not knowing which model the reader was referring to, I pulled up an online user manual to Craftsman’s CMEC6150 6-gallon pancake-style air compressor.
It’s buried in the text, but it does say:
Quick Connect Type 1/4″ (6.4 mm) Industrial
Okay, great, it takes 1/4″ Industrial-type quick-connector couplers.
The commentor also mentioned having a 3/8″ air hose. Most (if not all) of the 3/8″ air hoses I’ve seen, at least those intended for portable air compressor use, have 1/4″ NPT threaded end fittings.
So, I would likely purchase Legacy/s Color Connex 3-piece fitting kit, which is priced at round $6 at the time of this posting. It comes with a quick-connect plug and a socket, both with female 1/4″ NPT threads that screw onto the ends of the hose, and third fitting, a quick-connect plug with male threads that might come in handy for future applications.
(You’ll also need Teflon tape or similar thread-sealing tape or compound for a leak-free fit.)
Buy Now: Legacy 3pc Quick Coupler Kit via Amazon
If you need to equip two hoses, such as for connecting to the two couplers built into the above-shown Craftsman air compressor, you’ll need two of everything. Two of the 3pc sets is still more economical than a 2-pack of plugs and two sockets. Larger sets, such as Legacy’s 14pc set, comes with enough accessories to outfit two hoses and retrofit a bunch of tools, equipment, and accessories (if needed).
You’ll also want to make sure that your air nailer or other tools have an appropriate industrial-type coupler on that end of things, which is why the 3pc set comes with one, just in case.
This is a good opportunity to talk about air compressor kits, and how they can be useful. Over at Lowe’s, they have the Craftsman air compressor for $99. Amazon has the air compressor kit for $119, which comes with an assortment of accessories, including an air hose fit with quick-connect couplers, a tire chuck, air blower with nozzle accessories, and some other occasionally-useful accessories.
These days, I like choosing the hose, couplers, and accessories I use with my air compressor, but my first compressor did come with an accessory kit that I made good use of for a couple of years.
Buy Now via Lowe’s
Buy Now: Kit via Amazon
Several brands also do offer air compressor accessory kits, but all of the ones I see on Amazon are from straight-to-Amazon brands I’ve never heard of before. It’s probably all the same stuff, but I try to focus on brands I know and can trust – brands that usually stand behind their products. Air tool and compressor accessories are not an area I like to cheap out on.
Craftsman offers a 12pc accessory set, CMXZTSG1009NB, for ~$15, and I’m sure there are other kits out there as well. It helps simply the accessory-selection process for new air compressor owners, and some of the components will likely still come in handy long after the hose or other components have been upgraded.
Buy Now: Craftsman Accessory Set via Lowe’s
While those coiled hoses are appealing, they’re also a pain as they catch on everything possible (seems like, anyway), and keep a lot of tension on the line.
I’ve got a “straight” hose too, but it’s kinda heavy – so if anyone says “omigod you’re right, here’s a great light one”, I’d listen.
For a good quality light weight hose I’ve always had good luck with Flexeel. There are some copycats now (which I have never tried), but it is a popular style. I only really have used them for some nailers, inflating tires, and blowing dust off of stuff, nothing heavy like running air powered sanders or air wrenches.
You need one of these. They’re amazing. (Disclaimer: I’m basing that on the power one; I’m assuming the air one is every bit as good.)
I also have a RoboReel for power and it is awesome! Crazy expensive, but I noticed once that they sell refurbished ones that they take to trade shows and stuff. They didn’t have what I was looking for at the time so I wrote to them and they had one that they sold me for a good price.
I solved it by having two hoses — a stout 3/8″ for the ugga-dugga, and a longass 1/4″ for everything else. I just don’t need much volume for common tasks like blowguns and nailers, and the thinner hose is so much easier to handle.
If I need to do lugnuts far from the compressor, I have a small receiver tank that I can hook inline, so it goes:
After a few seconds on the trigger, I ease off and wait for the tank to recover, then go again. Not a professional shop, of course, just a shadetree with the cheapest and most versatile combination I could put together.
What’s a good tire inflator?
Inflator specifically and not a compressor? Depends if you want cordless or corded.
For cordless inflators I’d probably recommend the Milwaukee M12 first (nice and compact, relatively affordable, lots of other useful tools in the lineup if you continue expanding), or the Dewalt 20v if money weren’t an object and Ryobi 18v if it was.
For all the corded inflators, none I’ve used seem to be very robust – but I’ve never spent much money on them. I consider them disposable. I suppose you could spend more on one – but I’d prefer cordless if I was doing that.
For cordless inflators the above info is good. I’ve had both the Milwaukee and the Dewalt and both are great. I prefer the Dewalt one but I also have more Dewalt tools and batteries.
For corded, check out the review that Project Farm did on YouTube. His reviews are great. Surprisingly, a corded inflator from Harbor Freight did really well.
If you want one that plugs into a cig lighter outlet, Viair makes by far the best I’ve run across. They’re pricey compared to the cheap ones you usually see, but they’re mostly metal construction, have 100% duty rated compressors, and can fill a tire pretty quickly. I have the 74p and an 88p and both have been great. Find the one that fits your budget and your tire size needs and you can’t go wrong.
I’d encourage anyone looking at one that plugs into a cigarette lighter to consider one that hooks directly to the battery. I have had multiple failures and blown fuses with the cigarette lighter models.
My “good” compressor was fine in my old car, but blew the fuse instantly in my new car. No wonder — the old lighter socket was good for 25 amps, the new one’s fused at 15!
Rather than run thicker wiring to upgrade the socket, I just bought a wimpier compressor. For the few times a year I need it, the extra minute from the smaller pump is no big deal.
It is a big deal. Those minutes of runtime, cause a great deal of heat which will wear it out much faster.
I went the other way, had an inflator that hooked to the battery and even that was too slow to suite me, so just got a small compressor and 50′ of hose in the front corner of the garage to air up anything in there or adjacent in the driveway.
I had added up the total runtime of my inflator and it ended up being under 5 hours total, and 4 repairs to get there. My replacement compressor is rated for 3000 hours… it can run continuously, but doesn’t need for me to to be reminded to go back to it because I got bored of standing there waiting.
Agreed…good point. The 88p actually has battery clips and a cig adapter, which is really nice. My car has a 20A cig port and our minivan has multiple high output accessory ports so it’s not been an issue for us.
That’s not really good, rather a sign it doesn’t draw much current so it will take much longer to get the job done and get hotter doing so. Heat is the #1 killer of these little inflators.
You’re much better off if you pick one that doesn’t need to run for over a couple minutes before you give it a break to cool down, for example between one tire and another.
English is great – it can be both precise and imprecise. “Inflator” can mean the hose end that attaches to the Schrader or Presta valve – sort of like this:
or it might be something like a cordless small air compressor like the Milwaukee 2475-20 , Ryobi P737, Dewalt DCC020IB – where “best” (or good enough) might be defined based on what battery platform you already use.
or it might be one of those little units that plug into your car – either into what I call the cigarette lighter outlet – or directly clamp onto your battery terminals. In this category, I’ve had good experience with a VIAIR 88P
Sorry, yes, I was asking for recommendations for a dial gauge inflator tool to attach to a compressor.
Then – hat Milton (link above) is worth a look
Fortunately most of us understand what context is. If it has a tank and a pressure regulator, it’s a compressor and vice versa.
I tried a couple of lock-on tire chucks, but a straight one works best, I’ve found.
SO I bought a hose from Harbor Freight that was a 3/8 hose that came as stated above with NPT fittings on the end – and I bought their accessory kit as it was cheap.
Which had the fittings I wanted. SO put the male on one end and the female on the other some teflon tape only and bkckety bam in busienss. It is a 25 ft straight hose, might be 30. and orange in color.
I hate the coil hoses.
Meanwhile I highly suggest a dial gage tire infaltor tool to go with it. easy to read easy to adjust the tire pressures. Mine is a campbel hasufield that I got off wallmart.
Now the valve clip thing doesn’t work that great – none of them do for long. SO I do hold it on the tire valve some tire valves with very fine threads don’t hold well.
Anyway – I hold it in place – pull the trigger and easy peasy. ALso if you over inflate or if you’re like me and come summer to let air back out of the tires – the deflate button feature is nice to have.
OH and cheap.
Just wanted to add, I don’t have much luck with my lock-on chucks for my compressors either. On the other hand I have the Ryobi cordless inflator with a locking chuck and I have to be careful how far I jam it onto the tire valve or it turns into a chore to remove it. Even when I only push it on part way it locks on solid. Makes me wonder why there’s such a discrepancy.
Funny, I just bought the Riyobi inflator at HD (clearanced for $15) and boy was I disappointed on how difficult that locking mechanism is to operate! It’s so much more convenient than spinning up the compressor, but I wish it was more like my push-inflator.
Yep, this guy knows. If your compressor/hose/tool setup sees any kind of use beyond “light duty”, spend a few bucks and go all Milton.
A couple years back, I somehow acquired some of those ColorConnex fittings (shown in this article) that came free with a purchase. I picked them up and thought out loud, “why are these aluminium?”. At least it was easy finding the right recycling bin.
I came here to say I like their V style couplers.
Agreed. Milton V-Style (purple) are the best ones I have found to date. Not perfect, but pretty darn good.
Amen. They even make them with 3/8″ NPT inlets, which is perfect for larger hoses or for hard-piped stations.
Best thing I did a few years ago was to purchase a wall mounted retractable air hose w/50ft of hose. Love it and wished I would have done that years ago.
Secondly those plastic coiled hoses suck big time! The cheap nylon hoses suck also and when it gets below 45-50 degrees, Damn near impossible to use! Quality rubber hoses are the ones to get. Regarding fittings, I have used a few different companies including HFT. Seems the ones with the 4 balls instead of 3 balls connect better and don’t leak near as bad so I always look at the number of balls in the quick connect fittings.
Indeed, any standard retractable hose system with a nylon plastic hose is next to impossible to use in colder climates. As soon as fall starts to end with temps dropping below 55 ish … the hose starts to become inflexible and harder to retract. I removed my reel from the garage wall since it is only useful 6 months of the year in NNE.
Great little article about the different types of air fittings. Nice job
Any opinions on using 3/8 inch connectors over 1/4 inch ones with 1/2 air line ? On a larger air compressor.
Looking it up, Legacy industrial-style couplers seem to be rated at 300 PSI and 25 CFM max.
Looking at Milton V-style high flow couplers, the 1/4″ female NPT plug is rated at 300 PSI and 74 SCFM max, and the 3/8″ female NPT plug looks to have the same ratings.
Milton M-style couplers (at least the 1/4″ NPT SKUs I checked) are said to be rated to 300 PSI and 40 SCFM.
Ben’s articles shows the difference between standard and high flow plugs (https://toolguyd.com/quick-guide-to-air-line-couplers-plugs/).
Thus, 1/4″ vs. 3/8″ NPT fitting size isn’t quite as important as the fitting style. For higher volume applications, you’ll probably want v-style quick-connect fittings.
I believe you’re still going to have a small restriction with v-style couplers on a 1/2″ air line, but not as much as with narrower-opening fittings.
I’m not familiar with what could/should be done beyond v-style fittings if you need max airflow on a 1/2″ air line.
Screw ALL those couplers! The only ones worth having are the push-to-connect type that can be operated with a single hand. Once you’ve tried these, you’ll wonder why they’re not everywhere.
What’s frustrating is that there are two types thereof, and the locking collar works in the opposite direction between them — I ordered several to try them out, and returned all but one. I’m not at home right now so I can’t tell you the brand of the one I ended up keeping.
Good material for a future post, perhaps?
I’m open-minded, would try the couplers you can recommend.
One of the problems with push-to-connect couplers, not air line couplers specifically, is that you can get push-back from spring or medium pressure, requiring two hands anyway.
I am sorry for your loss but personally, I still have both hands!
I’m running across a few female couplers that are impossible to plug in the male unless you release the pressure. In fact, I have 1 on my wife’s little 1 gallon Fortress HF compressor. The hose should never have to be removed, so I’ll let it live.
I use HF 1/4″ PVC hose on the wife’s sewing room compressor, and it’s great. Very flexible and compact, has swivel ends. It’s 25′, wish it were 12-15, the room is only 15′. I use 3/8 Goodyear Pliovic on my big compressors, and it’s been great. Some is 15 years old, and still pliable and not cracked or gummy. I use HF brass fittings, and they have always been leak free and durable.
i am not getting all the hate for coiled hose. i have a couple hundred feet of 3/8 and 1/2 air hose around here. the 1/2 only get used when i need the flow on my 1 inch impact. the 3/8 covers most jobs and has its place as most of it is on hose reels.
my coiled hose. yup it has its place. does it get caught on things? yes but so does any air hose. it is almost always on my cman portable compressor. it is one of those oiled hot dogs with a handle on top. matter of fact two of them live on there. they slide on the handle and i can pick the whole thing up with one hand leaving the other hand free to open doors or carry more supplies.
what’s good about the coiled hose you say? it is compact, has reasonable flow for many jobs, especially blow nozzles, air nailers and the like. one of the best things about it is the fact that it is clean. every other hose i have, rubber, vinyl and flexzilla gets dirty. the coiled hose can be cleaned in seconds with a damp rag so i never worry about dragging it around the house putting up trim, in the car or other places you want a clean hose.
you can always switch hoses as needs change. even using a coiled hose with a standard type hose, they each have their place.
I have both (like probably everyone here). I’m not hating on the coiled hose, but it does frustrate me more than I expect such a simple thing should. Granted, that’s my own internal problem and not actually caused by a hose, but it causes me to go to the straight as my default.
I can wipe down a straight hose more easily than the coiled one, but I get that you’re saying that the coiled one has less contact with dirt in the first place.
Always get Industrial design, always. It’s everywhere on everything.
To answer the original question, that compressor uses M style couplings.
Try the Milton couplers. High quality, easier on the ears.
+1 for Milton connectors, they work great and are made in USA (except the ColorFit series, which is imported afaik).