At 2.5 gal. and 1 hp, the new Rolair JC10 falls right in the middle of the portable-compressor range
At 2.5 gal. and 1 hp, the new Rolair JC10 falls right in the middle of the portable-compressor range. In other words, it wouldn’t be my first choice for running a framing or roofing nailer all day, but it’s perfect for trim.
Weighing in at 39 lb., the JC10 is a bit heavier than some comparable compressors, but its weight comes from a well-built motor and heavy-duty roll cage designed to protect its valves, gauges, and other vital parts.
I also liked the inclusion of a braided airline from the gauges to the motor. Compared to the standard copper lines, the braided airline seems as if it might be less prone to damage and easier to replace.
This compressor didn’t need a break-in period. Because it’s oilless, all I needed to do was turn it on, and it was ready to go. When I fired up the compressor the first time, I noticed its pleasant, deep rumble. Then I noticed how quiet this compressor was while running. I’ve used smaller compressors that are even quieter, but I could barely hear the JC10 when it turned on just a few feet away. I clocked an average time of 50 seconds to fill the tank (from 0 psi to 135 psi) and a quick recovery time of about 17 seconds (from 90 psi to 135 psi), which helped minimize noise.
In use, the compressor (rated 2.35 cfm at 90 psi) ran two 15-ga. finish nailers with no problem. With the compressor set between 90 psi and 100 psi, I averaged 12 15-ga. nails before the compressor kicked on. Even when firing nails as fast as the nailer would allow, the compressor consistently sank every nail without any skips.
I also tried a framing nailer with the JC10 and was able to fire an average of nine 12d nails before the compressor cycled on—a solid showing for a compressor of this size. Also, without constantly cycling the motor, I was able to use a small blowgun, a tool I rely on fairly often for blowing off sawdust.
For such a powerful little compressor, the motor draws only 8 amps, a major plus when working at the same time as other tools or doing remodeling work in older homes where clean power is at a premium.
Bottom line: This little $200 compressor is dynamite. I wish it were about 10 lb. lighter for easier one-handed carrying, and that the gauges were on top of the compressor instead of facing to the side. Neither of these faults is a deal breaker, though, especially in light of the apparent durability of this unit.