Harbor Freight vs Costco Portable 12v Air Compressor - In Depth Review w/ Pictures - JeepForum.com
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Unread 02-20-2007, 10:33 PM   #1
RickyN29
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Harbor Freight vs Costco Portable 12v Air Compressor - In Depth Review w/ Pictures

Hey everybody,

I was doing some testing when I realized it would make a great little write up for the boards.

I bought both a Harbor Freight (Central Pneumatic) and a Costco (MasterFlow) and did some in depth testing.

Took too many pictures, but some people love pictures....

So here we go:

Harbor Freight Tools - Central Pneumatic brand High Volume 12v Air Compressor
Item number: 93186
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=93186
$59.99 online plus shipping
$69.99 in store price

Costco Warehouse - MasterFlow Q-Max High Volume 12v Air Compressor
Item number: 133660
Not Available on Costco.com, in store purchase
$48.99

(No costco? No membership? Contact me for help, I can ship)

Here they are in the package:















Removed from packaging:








Continue to next post

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*CSF Open Cooling System Conversion
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*The Doors are off again for summer!

Last edited by RickyN29; 02-20-2007 at 11:09 PM..
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Unread 02-20-2007, 10:38 PM   #2
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Some notes:

The power cables on the HF unit are substantially beefier. This is important too because as discussed later, these units pull about 30amps under load. Both cables get very warm during operation, I prefer the HF cables. Thicker gauge, and heavier duty clamps:


HF:



Costco:



The Costco unit has a handy little feature, the nozzle acts as a tire deflator. Once screwed on to the valve stem, simply turn and it will deflate the tire, handsfree. Very handy and easy to use. The HF unit does not have this feature




Although not important, I do like that the power switch on the Costco unit is weather/dirt proofed.

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1990 XJ Laredo 4x4 Auto
*Rusty's ~6" Lift
*Dana30/Dana44 3.55's
*Pacer Wheels/High-Tec Retreads 31" MT
*KargoMaster Safari Rack
*CSF Open Cooling System Conversion
*Hayden Tranny Cooler
*Flowmaster 40 Delta & High-Flo Cat
*PORC SYE / FRT DS Combo
*The Doors are off again for summer!
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Unread 02-20-2007, 10:47 PM   #3
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Here are some comparison pictures between the two units:










































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Unread 02-20-2007, 10:53 PM   #4
RickyN29
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Noise:

Both units are extremely quiet. They both have rubber feet. (HF Unit has rubber feet attached to metal base, Costco just has rubber feet).

Decibel wise, both units are almost the same. Costco unit has a higher pitch compared to HF unit.

Air intake (filter unit) is easily replaceable on Costco Unit and does a good job of muffling the sound. It is also higher up to avoid sucking in loose dirt/dust from trails.












Storage:

One of the selling points on the Costco unit is it's small footprint and case. The HF unit comes with a very nice hard case, however, as you can see in the photos at the beginning, it takes up substantially more room. The Costco unit comes with a much smaller canvas storage bag which holds all pieces in nice separate compartments.








WD-40 Can for comparison:












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1990 XJ Laredo 4x4 Auto
*Rusty's ~6" Lift
*Dana30/Dana44 3.55's
*Pacer Wheels/High-Tec Retreads 31" MT
*KargoMaster Safari Rack
*CSF Open Cooling System Conversion
*Hayden Tranny Cooler
*Flowmaster 40 Delta & High-Flo Cat
*PORC SYE / FRT DS Combo
*The Doors are off again for summer!
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Unread 02-20-2007, 11:03 PM   #5
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Power Consumption:

Both units under full load exhibit and very similar amperage draw (around that rated 30amps:



HF Unit (@ full load):




Costco Unit (@ full load):




At no load, both units drew about 18amps:


----------------------------------------------

Now the most important part!

SPEED!

The Costco unit is substantially faster.

Costco: From 0-40psi on a 31" tire took 3 min 10 seconds
HF: From 0-40psi on a 31" tire took 5 min 30 seconds

An important note: The HF unit runs EXTREMELY HOT. Touching the head of the unit will result in a severe burn. The Costco unit runs warm, but within an acceptable handling temperature.

If you plan to hardwire either of these into your Jeep, make sure to use properly gauged cables as these units draw 30amps continuous. Depending on length of cable, I would recommended 8 gauge +/-.

Costco Unit in Action



Begin:


5 minutes later:




--------------------------------------


Conclusion:

In my opinion, the Costco unit is the way to go. It is faster, smaller, runs cooler, and comes with a more flexible storage case. Not to mention it is also cheaper in price! The Costco unit claims on the box to fill up a 33" tire in 4 minutes or less. I find that to be a fair estimate.

The HF unit is definitely pretty, but takes up more space, runs too hot, and takes longer. With the excessive heat the HF unit generates, I foresee it wearing out with a lot of use. The case is nice, but too bulky.

I would give the HF unit a 7/10 and the Costco unit a 9/10 (for average users).
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1990 XJ Laredo 4x4 Auto
*Rusty's ~6" Lift
*Dana30/Dana44 3.55's
*Pacer Wheels/High-Tec Retreads 31" MT
*KargoMaster Safari Rack
*CSF Open Cooling System Conversion
*Hayden Tranny Cooler
*Flowmaster 40 Delta & High-Flo Cat
*PORC SYE / FRT DS Combo
*The Doors are off again for summer!

Last edited by RickyN29; 02-20-2007 at 11:14 PM..
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Unread 02-20-2007, 11:06 PM   #6
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are they comparable in output?


EDIT: i scrolled too far...disregard =-D
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Unread 02-20-2007, 11:27 PM   #7
sixshooter
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If you look in the more recent Quadratec catalogs, you will see that if you take the handle off of the HF pump and paint the filter black....it is identicle to one of the ViAir pumps they sell for like $275.00

I bought the HF pump and am using it for my OBA, mounting it in a "box" where my airbox used to be and having it fill 2 tnaks where the spare used to be inside.
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Unread 02-21-2007, 12:01 AM   #8
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Did you test more realistic pressures? Like 8psi to 30psi?
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Unread 02-21-2007, 12:17 AM   #9
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Sweet! Just what I have been looking for!
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Unread 02-21-2007, 12:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Srhmn8r
Did you test more realistic pressures? Like 8psi to 30psi?
Yes, but I didn't document it. (It was an impromptu test actually right in the Harbor Freight Parking lot!)

8psi to 32psi took 2.5 min (on the HF unit) Costco unit was not tested for the 8-32 yet.
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1990 XJ Laredo 4x4 Auto
*Rusty's ~6" Lift
*Dana30/Dana44 3.55's
*Pacer Wheels/High-Tec Retreads 31" MT
*KargoMaster Safari Rack
*CSF Open Cooling System Conversion
*Hayden Tranny Cooler
*Flowmaster 40 Delta & High-Flo Cat
*PORC SYE / FRT DS Combo
*The Doors are off again for summer!
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Unread 02-21-2007, 01:31 AM   #11
paultyler
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First, I have never seen that many pictures of an air compressor.

Second, I have the red one. The more realistic air pressures are from 15-30. On my 33 x12.5x15 tires is only takes about 1.5 - 2 minutes to air up. Really fast.

Thanks for the writeup.
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Unread 02-21-2007, 01:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paultyler
First, I have never seen that many pictures of an air compressor.
Too many? I can take some down (like, does it slow down the forum or something?) Sorry about that.
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Unread 02-21-2007, 01:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickyN29
Too many? I can take some down (like, does it slow down the forum or something?) Sorry about that.
No, leave them there. Its fine.

As for the heat, I found that the red one also gets too hot to touch after airing up all four tires. In fact, the first time I used it I thought something was wrong.
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92 YJ, 35' MTR Kevlars, Klune/Dana 20, 4.88s, SYE, Rubicon D44s w/Rubicon lockers, front and rear Alloy USA chromoly shafts with 30 spline outers, JK electric swaybar, T&T tube fenders, custom cv driveshafts, RE 4.5 XD springs, M.O.R.E. 5/8'' boomerang shackles + 2' BL, 15lb Powertank, 4.0L TB & TB spacer, ARB Snorkel, K&N filter, rear bumper and tire rack, Rancho 9000s, AtoZ Rockers, Skid-Row Engine skid plate, Teraflex Bellyup, JCR Offroad 1 Ton TieRod, rock lights, RE hand throttle, M.O.R.E. roll cage, corners, 9000lb winch with synthetic cable in-cab winch controller (12voltguy.com), Dual Blue Top Optimas with 12voltguy dual battery controller, a/c (ackits.com)

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This Uncle Paul guy seems to know what he's talking about.
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Unread 02-21-2007, 07:23 AM   #14
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This is a good posting! Thanks for trying the water for those of us who are looking for OBA. Great pics too.
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Unread 02-21-2007, 08:06 AM   #15
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Nice work, Ricky.

Bill
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