California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor Review

The California Air Tools 5510SE is an excellent air compressor for many of your at-home and professional needs. With a maximum of 120 PSI, it falls in the average range of PSIs for compressors of this size. As a hotdog model, it is somewhat compact, but certainly still heavy. Lucky for users that don’t regularly handle heavy equipment, it comes with a wheel kit for easy transportation!

The features of this unit are fairly standard: two pressure control gauges, one universal ¼” quick connector, a thermal overload protector, and an air filter, as well as the above mentioned wheel kit and a handle. It does not, however, come with a hose, so be sure you have one or order one separately so your use of this product is not delayed after purchase.


  • 54 pounds
  • 23 x 10 x 19 inches
  • Electric-powered
  • 1 HP
  • 3.1 CFM @ 40 PSI
  • 2.20 CDM @ 90 PSI
  • 60 dBA
  • 5.5-gallon steel tank
  • 110 volts

What it’s Good For

Per the CFM chart on this site, this unit, which has a relatively average CFM for its size, can power basic tools for a variety of tasks. It can be used with several small nail guns for framing and woodwork, airbrushes for small painting projects (a water separator is recommended, but is not included with the product), and some inflation tasks. The manufacturer claims that the unit can endure longer continuous run times and increased duty cycles, making it ideal for longer and more intense work sessions. With a noise output of only 60 dBA, this unit is also ideal for at-home  and in-home use and use in residential neighborhoods where noise levels may be a concern. The oil-free, 1-HP pump is low maintenance enough for casual use, and its variety of uses make it ideal for hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts.

The Pros and Cons

This unit is the heaviest we have reviewed so far, and is not easily carried, which is definitely a “con” for this model; however, the wheel kit does allow relatively easy movement on flat surfaces.

Also among the cons are the lack of a hose, lack of a water separator, and for some users, the length. At 23 inches, the unit is longer than some of its competitors, which may limit placement within your work space. In comparison with some other California Air Tools products, a small shortcoming might be the steel tank, which, unlike the brand’s aluminum tanks, would be prone to rusting. Proper drainage can, of course, minimize this problem.

The “pros” of this model are many. Most notably would be the low noise output, which California Air Tools goes so far as to deem “Ultra Quiet,” because it allows for use in many areas without being overly concerned about noise pollution. The longer continuous run times and increased duty cycles are a plus for any user, especially paired with the low maintenance, oil-free pump, which typically limits use and duty cycles. The tank’s fill time is about 120 seconds, which is fall somewhere between low and average as far as wait times. Additionally, this model is UL certified, so you can know that you are making a good choice in product.


Overall, this air compressor is great for a variety of users and tasks. Don’t be too worried about the weight – once you get the unit out of the packaging, the wheel kit makes for easy transportation. You can use a variety of tools thanks to decent CFM figures, but you will definitely need to buy a hose to use any of them! This quiet machine packs a punch, and you get great quality in return for a few extra pounds.


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