Purchasing your first air compressor is a rite of passage. It’s that important in your development as a man. Compressors open up a new world – pneumatic tools. From nailers to paint sprayers to filling your truck tires, it’s a big step forward. When you look at all of the styles, motor ratings, PSI, CFM, and connections, things can get confusing in a hurry. Of course, most pros already know what they’re looking for when they go to pick up a new one, so why are we bringing this up in a review? Simple. If you’re not paying attention, you may think we’ve misclassified the Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Compressor.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to also check out our recommendation for the best air compressor for your home garage
One of the decisions you normally have to make is the amount of air volume you need to be delivered. When you start getting around 4.5 – 5.0 CFM, it typically means moving from direct drive to belt drive motors… and a jump in price. The Rolair VT25BIG is a single-stage direct drive compressor that puts out a massive 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI – well beyond the reach of most competitors.
Before we dive in, Rolair may not be a name you’re really familiar with. You won’t find them in big box stores. The Wisconsin-based company appears to prefer it that way. While it’s clear to me that the Rolair VT25BIG is a pro-level compressor just on initial inspection, they seem to want to keep that pro reputation in place with a careful selection of their retail partners as well. But I digress, you came here to read about more than where to buy it!
Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Compressor Specifications
- Power Source: AC electric, 15 amp
- Motor Power: 2.5 horsepower
- Motor Speed: 3400 RPM
- Max Air Pressure: 135 PSI
- Air Delivered: 6.5 CFM @ 90 PSI
- Overload Protection: Yes, with manual restart
- Lubrication: Oil Splash (10 ounce capacity)
- Tank Capacity: 5.3 gallons
- Noise Rating: 86 dBA
- Dimensions: 29″ x 22″ x 44″
- Weight: 108 pounds
- Price: $514
Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Compressor Key Features
- 100% Duty-Cycle Motor
- Fold Down Handle
- Two Quick-Disconnect Couplers
- Safety-Relief Valve
- Intake Filter Silencer
- Cord Wrap
Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Compressor First Impressions
Right out of the box, the Roliar VT25BIG suggests solid build quality. Closer inspection reveals that it’s built like a tank. A steel roll cage and handle system surround the tank and motor. Rolair green paint (not as light as John Deere green) further protects the surfaces that can be painted. The wheels aren’t those cheap, solid plastic – they’re pneumatic and make maneuvering around varying terrain easier.
The handle design is actually rather intuitive. It collapses down on the top of the roll cage to provide for more compact storage. That’s nice, but there’s more. In the extended position, the handle works great to make this a pull-behind system. The Rolair VT25BIG is balanced so that keeping the handle down at your natural arm length is a very comfortable and easy way to move it around. It’s also been designed to keep your heels from kicking the frame as you walk. Nice job, guys!
This model is an oil-splash air compressor. You’ll need to fill the oil tank with the included 10 ounce bottle of oil prior to starting it up for the first time. No complications there. You won’t even need a funnel. There are a pair of quick disconnect couplings next to the regulator. These couplings don’t require you to push the collar down to install the hose connection. Just press down on it and it will lock itself in place. The only time you need to push the collar down is when disconnecting your hose.
The Rolair VT25BIG air compressor is a 100% duty cycle model. In other words, it’s rated to run non-stop and won’t affect your warranty if it does.
Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Compressor Performance
After ensuring the Rolair VT25BIG compressor was dead empty, I clocked it to see how long it would take to fill. 5.3 gallons of air compressed to 135 pounds took just under 67 seconds. Not bad at all.
I had a few tasks to do. The first was fill my tires since the indicator light told me they were low. After allowing the tank to charge, we took a little field trip out to the car. It may not have been a far walk, but sugar sand and bumpy terrain was a good way to see how well those pneumatic tires would compare to cheap ones. I was grateful for them. Bumps were more easily absorbed and the tires didn’t sink like narrow, dense plastic ones would. Like I expected, there was no issue filling my vehicle tires quickly.
The second task included the Rolair VT25BIG being paired with Paslode’s new 21 degree framing nailer. My goal was to shoot as fast as I could to see if I could stress the system enough to fire nails short of being fully driven. Even with a test designed to fire more shots than you normally could with any accuracy, I couldn’t outpace the Rolair’s 2.5 horsepower motor. Having to reload every 2 strips left the compressor enough time to stay ahead, though not fully recharge.
Fully charging the tank, then shutting it the motor off, I was able to fire fifteen 3″ framing nails before reaching the nailer’s 90 PSI minimum. Given the 6.5 CFM volume at 90 PSI and recharge rate, you can easily shoot a single framing or roofing nailer without dropping below the minimum threshold. Two framers shouldn’t be an issue, but a pair of efficient roofers could get ahead of the compressor.
The Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 horsepower compressor offers outstanding air delivery while still being paired with a direct drive motor. Performance and build quality are excellent as well. The 108 pound weight is offset by a well-balanced and well-designed frame that makes portability much easier.
There is a premium to be paid with Rolair’s compressors. The VT25BIG currently sells for just over $500. Part of this is offset by the aforementioned build quality and the 100% duty-cycle motor that should get 5000+ hours and outlast the warranty by a significant margin.
For running pneumatic nailers, trim carpenters and framers can put two shooters on here easily. One roofer is no problem, but two have a chance at getting ahead of air delivery. With its design, build quality, and performance, the Rolair VT25BIG absolutely gets my pro recommendation.