North Star 3HP or 5HP
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Thread: North Star 3HP or 5HP

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    North Star 3HP or 5HP

    I've been looking at 60 gallon air compressors. Northern Tool brand offers a 60 gallon 3HP or a 5HP. My compressor use is low. I do some spray painting with it on tractor projects. The rest of the use is basically filling tires, some light to medium air tool use, blowing off dirt etc. & some nail gun use.

    So my question is how important is the HP rating. I am assuming that for my described usage the 3HP could be ok. And I'm not sure about Northern Tools house brand-North Star quality-reliability. The price on these units is $599. & $899 respectively. That's a big difference in cost Vs. benefit? I was considering a Ingersoll Rand 60 gallon 5 Hp. which is about the same price as Northern's 5 hp. After HP it just comes down to what you want as far as air output goes. Anyone have any experience with the North Star compressors or the HP. issue. I'm assuming that the only thing the HP rating affects is how fast I can fill the 60 gallon tank. Is there any other concern over Hp. And like everything else these days, it's all Chinese noodles. So quality & reliability is always an issue. Thanks for your opinions.

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    I have had one of their pressure washers for three years and very happy with it. I believe their equipment is ok.
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    Either should serve your needs. Running thing like a nail gun or doing tings like filling tires are minor tasks for a compressor.

    Your spray painting is probably your only "demanding" task and that's more about volume of air than anything else. Typically you want to have at least 12 CFM available for spray painting. The NorthStar 3hp model comes in just short of that at 11.3CFM @ 90PSI. The 5HP model kicks out 15.5 CFM @ 90PSI. I think you'd do fine with the 3HP model.

    I haven't used a lot of NorthStar branded stuff but those that I have used seem to be pretty reliable. It seems to me that Northern Tool opted to not cheap-out with their house branded equipment. Maybe other's have had a different experience.
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    Exclamation 90psi

    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    Either should serve your needs. Running thing like a nail gun or doing tings like filling tires are minor tasks for a compressor.

    Your spray painting is probably your only "demanding" task and that's more about volume of air than anything else. Typically you want to have at least 12 CFM available for spray painting. The NorthStar 3hp model comes in just short of that at 11.3CFM @ 90PSI. The 5HP model kicks out 15.5 CFM @ 90PSI. I think you'd do fine with the 3HP model.

    I haven't used a lot of NorthStar branded stuff but those that I have used seem to be pretty reliable. It seems to me that Northern Tool opted to not cheap-out with their house branded equipment. Maybe other's have had a different experience.

    All my spray painting is done at 37-40 PSI(including aircraft). The 3HP would be fine for JD tractors.
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    I wouldn’t not hesitate to buy anything branded Northern Tool. Have a 10,000 watt generator from them and I have had 0 issues


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    I have a Northern 2 stage compressor, 80 gallon, and love it. I am not sure what the HP is on the compressor, probably somewhere around 5 or 7. It replaced my Craftsman 40 gallon.

    Things to think about with buying a compressor:

    1. How much CFM do you need and at what PSI? Look at your air tools and see what they require. Make sure you compressor and can push the amount needed for the tool that uses the most.

    2. How often when you are working do you cycle the compressor constantly? I ended up getting a new compressor because when I was using the Craftsman to grind on a on car I was working on, it was constantly running. In other words it was too small for the jobs I was using it for. If you are just an average homeowner and use it for filling tires, rotating tires, general work on an occasional basis then a single stage compressor at whatever HP and CFM you think works for you should be fine.


    3. What kind of electrical power do you have available? If 110v outlet is all you have access too then that narrows your selection down to most likely a single stage compressor. I prefer the most gallons you can get so the compressor isn't constantly running. Whether that's the right approach to the problem, I am not sure but it works for me.


    As with most things on this forum, with compressors I buy the biggest I can afford. After having a single stage for 20 years, I finally got a two stage. Mad a huge difference for my use. Whatever you get, get a good water filter, your tools will thank you. I would not get an oiler as that will jack up any paint sprayer you connect to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 69project View Post
    I have a Northern 2 stage compressor, 80 gallon, and love it. I am not sure what the HP is on the compressor, probably somewhere around 5 or 7. It replaced my Craftsman 40 gallon.

    Things to think about with buying a compressor:

    1. How much CFM do you need and at what PSI? Look at your air tools and see what they require. Make sure you compressor and can push the amount needed for the tool that uses the most.

    2. How often when you are working do you cycle the compressor constantly? I ended up getting a new compressor because when I was using the Craftsman to grind on a on car I was working on, it was constantly running. In other words it was too small for the jobs I was using it for. If you are just an average homeowner and use it for filling tires, rotating tires, general work on an occasional basis then a single stage compressor at whatever HP and CFM you think works for you should be fine.


    3. What kind of electrical power do you have available? If 110v outlet is all you have access too then that narrows your selection down to most likely a single stage compressor. I prefer the most gallons you can get so the compressor isn't constantly running. Whether that's the right approach to the problem, I am not sure but it works for me.


    As with most things on this forum, with compressors I buy the biggest I can afford. After having a single stage for 20 years, I finally got a two stage. Mad a huge difference for my use. Whatever you get, get a good water filter, your tools will thank you. I would not get an oiler as that will jack up any paint sprayer you connect to it.
    Good information. I'm leaning towards the North Star 60 gallon 3HP for a few reasons.
    1) My use of a compressor is not daily. It has some hobby applications for me like tractor painting now & then. Air to lbow out dust & dirt from tractors. That's the heavy duty use if you can call it that. The rest is to run a framing nailer & a couple of other finish nailers & staplers. Those use almost next to nothing.

    2) I have no pneumatic tools like sanders, grinders, etc., but I might get one or two later on so I will see what those use. The only other thing I might get is a small sand blast cabinet & that would probably be the only item where tank size might be an issue. But even that considered, my use is so low I would not worry about it.

    So I think the 3HP North Star single stage would be good enough for me. If I had the bucks I would probably buy a Quincy two stage but they are too pricey for my low end needs. The power supply is not an issue. I have both 240 volt & 120 volt lines available & those are single tool dedicated lines. There is nothing else being run on those lines so I don't have to worry about power drops on start ups.

    I'm currently using a older model Grainger 20 gallon & it works great. But when it comes to running my Ingersoll Rand spray gun I'm always having to stop shooting so the compressor can play catch up. But I'm pretty sure a 60 gallon 3HP will deliver what I need & like I said, I'm not at it every day. It's hobby stuff most of the time & I'm not on the clock.
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