Think that any air hose will do for your new compressor? Think again. With the amount of time most people spend researching and reading air compressor reviews, the air hose usually isn’t given much thought. Most good compressors do not include an air hose and some of the lower end models include a low quality coiled air hose (typically cheap PVC).
Instead of being frustrated because you bought the cheapest air compressor hose that your local big box home improvement store carries, just get a high quality hose off the bat. Fortunately, the best air compressor hose really won’t cost much and will be frustration-free for the most part.
Goodyear air hoses are by far the most popular and they simply make the best rubber air hose out there. 100% made in the USA out of high-quality, industrial grade reinforced rubber, this hose comes with a 10-year guarantee, allows for up to 250 PSI, and has been tested to function in -40 to 190 degree F temperatures (so basically it will work well anywhere on EARTH). This new model comes with bend restrictors on each end to prevent any kinks so it’s a slight improvement from previous versions. The hose will stay soft and flexible even in the coldest days of the year. Rubber hoses are usually preferred when working on cars. A good match to that pneumatic ratchet or impact wrench, or auto tire inflator.
Yes, it’s a sturdy rubber hose so it will be heavier than others and the surface will attract dirt due to its “stickiness” but you’ll quickly appreciate how easy it is to work with. It comes in the standard Goodyear
yellow, which not only makes it easy to see, it won’t leave marks on your hands like many of the darker colored rubber hoses. (Update: Goodyear now offers their latest model in red but it doesn’t have the common issue of color rubbing off on your hands like other brands’ rubber air hoses.) This Goodyear is available in 25, 50, and 100 ft lengths but we highly recommend sticking with a 50 ft max unless absolutely necessary, you have a hose reel, or plan on using it in a Crossfit workout or something.
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If you’d rather go with a lightweight hose, Bostitch makes one of the best PVC/rubber blend air hoses on the market. Do a lot of work with air tools outdoors? This one is for you. 50 feet of this hose weighs only 4.9 lbs. By comparison, the Goodyear above is almost 50% heavier.
Rated at 300 PSI and for use in temperatures between -30 and 150 F, it stays flexible almost as much as a 100% rubber hose. Easy to roll/unroll, the Bostitch hose doesn’t have the usual tendency of having a strong memory coil so it will lay straighter and flatter than most poly hoses. Maybe not quite as durable as the Goodyear, it’s definitely lighter and an excellent choice on its own. It’s a great match to that Bostitch staple gun or brad nailer.
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Rubber vs PVC vs Polyurethane Air Hoses
All compressors use a hose to channel the air through, which can be made of either rubber, PVC, polyurethane, or some type of combination. Before choosing any ordinary air hose, you need to ask yourself what type of jobs you’ll most often be doing and under what conditions they’ll be performed. Factors like temperature and pressure must be taken into consideration in order for you to make the right decision.
Rubber and polyurethane hoses are similar in some ways, but for the most part each of them works best on different tasks. PVC hoses are the economy choice and typically come with cheap air compressors but they’re usually not recommended for regular use. It’s a good idea to take a look at the air hose material that the best air hose reels use. More often than not, these are the hoses which professionals will recommend.
Types of Air Hose Material
Rubber air hoses are what we believe to be the best air compressor hose for the garage. They’ve been around for a long time and are made of synthetic rubber and braided or spiraled yarn rubber both inside and out. While heavy, they are the most flexible out of all the materials (even in the coldest temps), extremely durable, will never kink, are easy to coil and uncoil, and simple to fix in the slight chance a leak develops. The only downside is that rubber tends to pick up a lot of dirt as it’s dragged along the floor. Match up a good rubber air hose with a wall or ceiling mounted hose reel and you have a winning combination.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) air hoses are normally the most economical choice but the material is more stiff that the others and using it in cooler temperatures makes it even worse. They are made of a black PVC compound that is used on the inner tube with a high strength polyester spiral for reinforcement. They are also difficult to uncoil, hard to fix, and almost impossible to lay flat while in use. Simply put, stay away from 100% PVC air compressor hoses.
Now, many companies are introducing hybrid PVC/Rubber air hoses and these are completely different. They take the best properties of PVC (lightweight) and rubber (easy to coil/uncoil) to cancel out the negatives of each type. The Bostitch air hose above is a great example.
Polyurethane air hoses may look similar to PVC but perform much better. They are light, flexible (even in cooler temps), and easy to fix if a leak due to puncture develops. Because of their light weight and low drag from the smooth surface, they’re a great choice if you plan on using your compressor outdoors such as for framing or working on a roof where they can slide along easier.
You’ll also need to determine the hose diameter and length you’ll need. 3/8″ air hoses are the most popular as you are future proofing in case you’ll need some air-hungry tools down the road. 1/4″ hoses still have their uses though, especially on lower-end compressors or airbrushing, using a brad nailer or blowgun. Unless you have a very large shop or garage or working outside a lot, a 25 or 50 ft air hose will be what you’ll probably want.