New Harbor Freight Ultra-Quiet Air Compressor is Different

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Harbor Freight launched another Fortress Ultra-Quiet air compressor (FT6150UQ), this time a 6-gallon pancake-style model with 66 dBA noise rating.

HF says their new air compressor is up to 80% quieter. They also say that it’s up to 20% lighter than others in its class, thanks to an aluminum air tank.

Another benefit to aluminum tanks is that they won’t rust, but you still have to drain the condensate regularly as per the user manual.

The new Fortress air compressor features a maintenance-free oil-free pump, roll bar, large easy-read 2-inch pressure gauges, and 2 universal brass couplers (one on the control panel, one behind it on the right side).

Harbor Freight Fortress Ultra Quiet 6-Gallon Pancake Air Compressor User Controls

The air compressor has a 6-gallon air tank and delivers up to 150 PSI max pressure and 2.7 SCFM (at 90 PSI) air flow.

HF’s spec sheet says that the compressor drawers 7.8A and weighs 43.1 lbs.

Price: $230

Discussion

Harbor Freight Fortress Ultra Quiet 6-Gallon Pancake Air Compressor Regulator Knob Closeup

How can one say no to a regulator face like this?

Quiet air compressors are great for common nailing and blowing tasks, but are also much-appreciated in hobby settings, such as for airbrushing.

Different types of equipment outside of woodworking, construction, and automotive applications require the use of an air compressor, and noise reduction is appreciated or even required.

Air compressors – especially oil-free – tend to be loud and shrilly. 66 dBA is a decently low noise rating, in my opinion.

I have not tested this model, and can’t guarantee it’s easy on the ears, but I’m optimistic about the noise level rating.

At 66 dBA, this air compressor might be quiet enough to use in workshop or room without the need for hearing protection, although that might also depend on the tool(s) being used.

$230 is about 2.3X the price of a traditional 6-gallon pancake-style air compressor with steel air tank, at last during holiday promotional seasons.

(At the time of this year-end posting, Home Depot has a Ridgid 6-gallon air compressor for $90.)

Campbell Hausfeld DC060500 Quiet Air Compressor

I’m not familiar with the Campbell Hausfeld DC060500 that Harbor Freight lists as the “compare-to” model.

Looking around, California Air Tools doesn’t seem to have a pancake-style quiet air compressor, nor does Stealth air compressors or Husky.

The CH model is $269. But, based on specs and appearances, the Harbor Freight Fortress has it beat on specs (max pressure and air flow), and features (control panel, rubber feet). The HF Fortress is also lighter and quieter by 2 dBA.

The difference in specs varies from slight to meaningful – 150 vs 125 PSI, 2.7 vs 2.4 CFM at 90 PSI, 66 vs 68 dBA – but the Fortress air compressor looks far more user-friendly than the Campbell Hausfeld.

Did Harbor Freight just launch a best-in-class 6-gallon quiet air compressor?! That’s certainly what it looks like.

Compared to other form factors, the pancake-style air tank gives it a reasonable compact footprint.

The product listing and user manual don’t make any mention of a UL-rating, which I’d like to see on equipment like this.

Here’s the user manual in PDF format.

I realize that the 90-day warranty period helps with price management, but I’d like to see a longer term. The industry standard seems to be 1 year.

Here’s what I’m seeing here – Harbor Freight launched a new ultra-quiet air compressor in a space with limited competition, and they outclassed the only directly competing model with better specs and features.

This isn’t the quietest air compressor on the market, the most compact, or the most powerful, but it does look to offer a compelling balance.

It seems that Harbor Freight has been increasingly making good on the first part of their “quality tools, lowest prices” tagline.

In no uncertain terms – this looks great.

However, I would spend a few dollars more for a UL rating. While Harbor Freight stores sell extended service protection plans, I’d still like to see a warranty period longer than 90 days.

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