California Air Tools 5510SE review

California Air Tools 5510SE

California Air Tools 5510SE is an oil-free air compressor with a 1hp motor and 5.5 gallon steel tank. This is the unit to go for if you are looking for a small quiet air compressor to be used at home or for light professional work. The 1hp motor proves to be quite powerful for any type of home DIY tasks, and strong enough to withstand some light professional work.

It is aimed to perform when air brushing and hobby painting; blow cleaning and inflating; brad nailing and stapling and will also deliver when used for surface preparation.

California Air Tools 5510SE tech specs as per the manufacturer:

  • Model – California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor
  • Maximum Pressure – 120PSI
  • Horsepower – 1.0 hp
  • Motor capacity – 8.5 A Electric, Low Amp Draw
  • Tank – 5.5 gallon, steel
  • Tank fill – 120 seconds
  • Recovery time from cut of at 90 PSI – 40 seconds
  • Sound Level – 60dB
  • Pump – oil free
  • Output at 40 PSI – 3.10 CFM
  • Output at 90 PSI – 2.20 CFM
  • Quick connector – 1 x1.4” Industrial Connector
  • Dimensions – 23 x 10 x 19 inches, 50 pounds
  • Voltage – 110 Volts
  • Thermal Overload Protector
  • Comes complete with Wheel Kit & Air Filter

Here we offer the main features of California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor

  1. 5.5 Gallon Steel Tank – The California Air Tools 5510SE is not designed to be an industrial air compressor, but it is powerful enough to put up with any home DIY work or light professional use. The 5.5 gallon steel tank takes only 120 seconds to go from empty to 120 PSI. In reality, it might take about 30 seconds longer, but still it comes to its full capacity quite fast due to the two piston pump. The fact that the tank is made out of steel allows its longer life and prevents any rust building inside it. The downfall is that steel is heavier than aluminium and this is reflected in the 50 lbs the California Air Tools 5510SE weighs.
  2. Low maintenance – The California Air Tools 5510SE is an oil-free air compressor with a 2 piston direct-drive pump. No maintenance should be required, apart from the usual emptying of the tank after use. The manufacturer promises 3000 hours of service.
  3. Fast recharge pump and strong performance – The dual piston pump operates with 1hp, which allows air to be replenished quickly. The pressure builds up in 120 seconds from empty and recovers from cut of in 40 seconds. The California Air Tools 5510SE is equipped with the SP series motor which is designed for longer duty cycle and allows the use of some continuous airflow tools.
  4. Portable – The California Air Tools 5510SE comes with a wheel kit, which unfortunately doesn’t come assembled, but in the user’s manual the instructions are quite clear. Although it has wheels, with it’s 50lbs of weight it turns out to be a bit heavy to move around. However, if you are to do so and if you need to use an extension cord, it is good to know that you have to go for one no longer than 25’ (7.6m) and at least 14 gauge.
  5. Ultra quiet air compressor –  California Air Tools have already proved to be one of the leaders when producing quiet air compressors. They have a whole range of air compressors operating at the impressive 60 dB and the California Air Tools 5510SE is no exception.
  6. Thermal overload protector – as you can use the air compressor continuously for up to an hour, this might cause the internal temperature to raise too much. Here is where the thermal overload protector will kick in and switch the unit off in order to prevent overheating.
  7. Low Amp Draw-  the motor draws only 8.5 Apm when working, plugged in a standard home outlet.

Here is a summary of all the PROS for California Air Tools 5510SE Air Compressor

    • Quiet – as we have already established, the 5510SE is one more model air compressor of the developed by California Air Tools series which operate at 60 dB. This is a very important feature and a big PRO when it comes to small air compressors, aimed to be used at home.
    • Fast recovery time and strong performance – the combination between, powerful 1 HP motor, the durable dual piston pump and the good size tank capacity is a factor which makes the 5510SE excel in performing when used at home and even stand up to some light professional work. It allows being used with some continuous airflow tools as long as they match its CFM rates.
    • Low maintenance – the pump is oil-free and the tank is steel rust free.
    • 3000 hours of lifecycle guaranteed by the manufacturer for the oil-free dual piston pump
    • Portable – it comes with wheels kit
    • Easy to read gauges, controls with a good grip and easy to reach drain valve
    • Excellent customer service and user friendly instructions manual




Here are the CONS for California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor

  • Heavy – the unit’s weight is 50 lbs, which is relatively heavy for a portable air compressor
  • Some customers might not be happy about assembling the wheel kit
  • Only 1 year limited warranty


 California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor is what it is designed and advertised to be. It is a great unit to have at home, as it will deliver more than enough and it is capable of even being used for some light professional work. There is not much to fault it about and even if any unit occasionally has issues, the customer service of California Air Tools are polite and helpful. The price is fair for the quality you will receive with this model, so if it fits your needs and the tools you will be using it with, it is a great buy.

About the author

Thomas Haugen