In case you’ve spent the past few years in a galaxy far, far away, the trend in the tool industry is toward a cordless job site. Banish all those pesky extension cords and hoses RIGHT NOW, dammit! While that idea has a lot of merit, the reality is that there are a LOT of tools in use that still rely on those pesky cords and hoses. I have a fair bit of money invested in several pneumatic nail guns, ranging from 23-ga. pinners to framing nailers, that still have a lot of life left in them. This means I’ll be schlepping a compressor around, at least some of the time, for the foreseeable future. On the bright side, the arrival of a Ridgid Quiet Compressor may mean that I won’t scare the neighbors three blocks over every time I fire that sucker up.
Marketed with finish and framing nailers in mind, the Ridgid Quiet Compressor can puff itself up to 200 psi, and deliver 5.1 SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet per Minute) at 90 psi. That’s plenty of pressure to run a gun or two in normal conditions. The 4.5 gallon tanks provide enough capacity to keep the compressor from cycling frequently, which can get annoying, no matter how quiet the compressor is. Here’s the full list of features and specs from Ridgid:
Ridgid Quiet Compressor Features
Strong Start technology – reliable starting in any power condition
Lightweight design – for easy jobsite transport
Locking regulator – holds knob to prevent unwanted pressure changes
1/4 turn ball valve tank drain – drains tank quickly and easily with a quarter turn
200 psi – provides the ideal pressure for the toughest applications
5.1 SCFM at 90 psi – high-air delivery for peak performance
4.5 Gal. tank – large tank capacity to reduce cycle frequency
2 universal push-to-connect quick couplers – accepts both 1/4-in. automotive and industrial plugs with easy single-hand connection
2 in. pressure gauges – for better viewing of regulated and tank pressure
Ergonomic handle design – for easy mobility and comfort when carrying
Powerful compact design – up to 61% smaller than leading competitor brands to take up less space, and lighter body for easy carrying
Depth: 23 in.
Height: 21.3 in.
Width: 15.60 in.
Max Pressure: 200 PSI
Horsepower: 1.6 hp
Weight: 61 lb.
Sizing Up The Ridgid Quiet Compressor
My first impressions of the Ridgid Quiet Compressor? Orange and beefy. The compressor is very well put together, and the tanks are made of heavy-gauge steel. This is apparent when you pick it up; the Ridgid Quiet Compressor may be compact, but at 61 lbs., it’s not lightweight. The weight is still less than some competing compressors with less capability, and the price you pay to get a compressor with this much capacity.
Although it takes a bit of muscle to schlep the compressor around, it’s not terribly awkward, thanks to the size and position of the carry handle. Once you get where you’re going, the no-mar rubber feet let you get it set down without trashing the flooring. The feet also help keep the compressor from going walkabout once it’s fired up, and help reduce vibration and noise.
My old pancake compressor has only one hose connector. This is fine if you’re using the same nailer all day. On a job where you’re using a couple of nailers, a finish nailer and a pinner, for example, swapping the tools out can get tedious. I actually built my own dual connector for the pancake compressor; it may not be a masterpiece of engineering design, but it sure sped things up.
Fortunately, I wasn’t required to repeat this feat with the Ridgid compressor, which comes with two push-to-connect quick couplers. Simply push the hose connector in and you’re good to go, and the coupler accepts both both 1/4” automotive and industrial plugs.
For you freshness fanatics, there’s an expiration date printed on the compressor’s label. This is apparently for those who don’t want their nail guns using stale air. Or it may be Ridgid’s way of giving you a heads-up that after about 11 years of vibration, holding pressurized air, being generally banged around and abused (I know, not YOUR compressor!), and possible corrosion from condensation, it’s time to have the unit checked out.
A replaceable air filter (Ridgid part # 311836001) is mounted on the motor housing. It’s easy to remove, and should help keep that pesky moisture and other debris from ending up in your pricey nailer.
To drain any condensation from the tanks, each one has a quarter-turn valve mounted near the bottom. This makes it fast and easy to drain the tanks, something you should do after each day’s use. Since the valves aren’t on the very bottom of the tanks (for protection), it requires you to roll the compressor a bit, first to one side, then the other, to get the nasty agua out. Not a huge deal; I have to tip the pancake compressor to drain it, too.
A Moment Of Silence? Firing Up The Ridgid Quiet Compressor
For its maiden voyage, I toted the Ridgid Quiet Compressor into the garage. In addition to preserving marital harmony, this also meant I just had to schlep it a few feet, from the back of my truck. I made sure the pressure regulator was turned all the way counter-clockwise, aka zero psi. Before using the compressor, Ridgid recommends that you run the air compressor at zero tank pressure, with the drain valves fully open, for 30 minutes. I wanted to break the unit in right, so that was my first step.
Even though it was a chilly day in March, and the compressor had been sitting outside quite a while, it started right up with no sluggishness at all. This is likely due to Ridgid’s “Strong Start” technology; hopefully a version for humans will be available soon, I’ll be first on the waitlist. Actually, per Ridgid, the Strong Start feature is designed to enable the compressor to run in any power condition.
My first thought on firing it up was “Hmmmm…that’s louder than I thought it would be.” While the noise level wasn’t ear shattering, it wasn’t whisper quiet, either. After running the Ridgid Quiet Compressor for its thirty minute break-in, I shut it off, and immediately fired up the pancake compressor. Holy crap – what a difference!
While the Ridgid Quiet Compressor wasn’t really quiet, it wasn’t over-annoyingly loud, either. By contrast, my first impulse after turning on the pancake compressor, as is always the case, is to get as far away from it as possible. The noise level was noticeably louder, along with being higher-pitched. The sound from the Ridgid was much lower in tone. Running the compressors in the garage, on a concrete floor, undoubtedly made both units sound louder. The pancake compressor was the only one that made me feel like I needed immediate hearing protection, though.
Since the compressor has two connectors, I decided to hook up two nailers. I closed the drain valves, and again powered up the Ridgid Quiet Compressor. I grabbed my framing nailer and a 15-gauge finish nailer, attached the hoses, and pushed them into the quick-connectors. It was easy to do one-handed, and they clicked solidly into place. I turned the pressure valve clockwise, until the pressure read about 125 psi.
To see how well the compressor could keep up, I loaded up the framing nailer with 16D nails, and took it out into the driveway, along with a couple of pieces of scrap lumber. Even though the garage door was open, putting about 15’ between me and the Ridgid Quiet Compressor made a huge difference in sound level. When the compressor kicked in, the noise wasn’t bad at all.
With the framing nailer in bump mode, I bounced my way along the scrap boards, firing as quickly as I could. The compressor kicked in after about 25 nails, and kept running until I stopped. Almost all the nails were sunk flush or sub-flush, and the ones that weren’t were likely due more to poor technique than lack of power.
I emptied the nailer, about 100 nails in total, and the Ridgid Quiet Compressor kept right up. While it ran continuously after cycling on, it was never given a break to catch up. In real-world use, there’s no way you’d be continuously using a nailer that fast. I ran the same test with the finish nailer, and it went even longer before cycling on the first time, and again had no trouble keeping up.
I used the Ridgid Quiet Compressor on several projects over the past couple of months. The compressor was indoors for all these projects, and it seemed noticeably more quiet than it had in the garage. Using a 23-gauge pin nailer to shoot about 50 pins while tacking some small pieces, the compressor never cycled on. While building a small bulkhead with the framing nailer for a kitchen remodel, the unit cycled on only once, when I was almost finished.
The best part? I was able to work in the same room as the compressor without needing hearing protection – or fresh underwear every time the thing cycled on. The Ridgid Quiet Compressor isn’t a whole lot bigger than the old pancake compressor, but it’s definitely got a lot more capacity – and a lot less noise.
Final Thoughts On The Ridgid Quiet Compressor
The folks in Orange did a pretty nice job designing the Ridgid Quiet Compressor. It looks and feels solid, is well laid out, and is pretty user friendly. It is relatively quiet, and has very good capacity. The tanks hold their pressure very well; I pressurized them and left the compressor for several days, not something you want to do on a regular basis. If it lost any pressure it wasn’t noticeable.
The gauges for tank and outlet pressure are each 2” in diameter, and pretty easy to read. The pressure adjustment knob makes it fast and easy to dial in the pressure out to the tool, and you can lock it in once it’s set. Using the knob, you can totally drain the air pressure from the hose in just a few seconds, making it easier and safer to swap out tools, or to get disconnected at the end of the day.
Is the Ridgid Quiet Compressor silent? Nope. But it’s a whole lot quieter than many other compressors in its class, and it’s sure as hell WAY more quiet than my pancake compressor. It’s rugged, has a good mix of features, and it’s backed by a three-year limited warranty and a 90-day return policy. If you still have tools that need to be tethered, try hooking them up to the Ridgid Quiet Compressor.
Buy from the Home Depot for around $299