Senco 4.5 Gallon Roll Away Air Compressor Review

An excellent choice for furniture makers, trim carpenters, cabinet installers, and hobbyist woodworkers, this 200 psi compressor offers a fast 30-second recovery time, and delivers 4.5 scfm of air at 90 psi.


Senco 4.5 Gallon Roll Away Air Compressor

Compact, portable air compressors are among the most popular size for furniture makers, finish carpenters, cabinet installers, and hobbyist woodworkers. It used to be that compressors of this size had a cut-out pressure of 150 psi (pounds per square inch) – the pressure level at which the compressor stops filling the tank – and a cut-in pressure of around 100 psi – the level at which the compressor automatically begins to refill the tank. Increasingly, manufacturers are coming out with compressors that have a cut-out pressure of 200 psi. These 200 psi compressors can store about 33-percent more air in their tanks than a 150 psi compressor of an equivalent tank size. Assuming the same volume of air being used by a tool – for example, a brad nailer consuming 1.8 cfm (cubic feet per minute) at 90 psi – a 200 psi compressor will run the brad nailer longer before it has to recycle than will a 150 psi compressor.

The Senco 200 psi family of single stage compressors: PC0968N, PC0969, PC0970

Senco, a respected manufacturer of pneumatic tools, including nailers, pinnersstaplers, screw systems, and compressors, along with the innovative cordless Fusion nailers, recently announced a new line of three 200 psi single-stage compressors. These compressors share all the same basic features, but they differ in style and weight – the PC0968N is a 65 pound twin stack, and the PC0969 and PC0970 are single tank, roll-away units, 87 pounds and 99 pounds respectively; and they differ in tank size – the PC0968N and PC0969 have a 4.5-gallon capacity, and the PC097 has a 15-gallon tank. 

I had the opportunity of shop testing the PC0969. In general, my comments are applicable to all three models.

The single tank, roll-away, PC0969

Similar to many compressors, the PC0969 has a robust roll cage that protects the motor and compressor pump. This is a feature that will be of greater importance to anyone having to transport, and use, the compressor on a job site.

The compressor features a single 4.5 gallon tank, powered by a 1-3/4 hp, 14-amp induction motor that only uses 95 watts at startup – a real boon if you have several machines on the same circuit in your shop, or when drawing power from a generator on a job site. The motor runs at 3,400 rpm, and helps the compressor pump fill the air tank more efficiently, but it does increase the noise level.

As with most portable compressors today, this one is oil-free. While oil-free compressors are louder than oil-lube models, and have a somewhat shorter life span, they are generally maintenance-free, lighter in weight, and usually less expensive.

With the PC0969 you get 4.5 scfm (standard cubic feed per minute) of delivered air at 90 psi and 6.3 scfm at 40 psi, adequate for running most of the pneumatic tools that woodworkers, renovators, and carpenters regularly use. There is enough air volume to operate two low-air consumption tools simultaneously, such as brad and framing nailers, pinners, smaller ratchet or impact wrenches, and screwdrivers. If you plan on using real air hogs – sanders, large impact drivers, grinders, chipping hammers, demo tools, and the like – then you'll likely want to look at a compressor that delivers a greater volume of air.

It takes roughly 95 seconds to initially fill the tank. While this might seem fairly long, remember that the air is being compressed to 200 psi, giving you that extra 33-percent more air to work with. Once the air in the tank drops to 160 psi, the motor kicks in to refill the tank, which takes only 30 seconds - what I feel is an very good recovery time.

The 50-percent duty cycle for this compressor effectively means that the compressor can operate for 15 minutes over a 30-minute period, then it needs to cool down for 15 minutes. Exceeding the rated duty cycle can lead to excessive wear on the compressor pump or cause the motor to overheat. This duty cycle is more than adequate for most furniture makers, finish carpenters, cabinet installers, renovators, and hobbyist woodworkers, who generally use the compressor on an intermittent basis. 

Wheels don't engage until the compressor is tilted; convenient telescoping handle

At just under 90 pounds in weight, the PC0969 is at the upper limits of what I would consider to be a portable compressor. While there is a handle on the top of the roll cage and rubber grips on the sides of the roll cage, it's certainly more weight than I can manhandle into the back of a truck. Fortunately, moving the compressor around the shop or job site is made easier with the telescoping handle and large solid wheels. Where I really appreciate these features is when having to move the compressor up a flight of stairs. When not needed, the handle can be pushed down, out of the way. 

The 1-5/8" by 8" solid rubber wheels have fairly deep treads that provide some measure of traction when moving the compressor over smooth surfaces. A nice feature is that the wheels don't engage until you tilt the unit backwards.

Rubber feet and motor isolators absorb vibration

Four heavy duty rubber feet on the bottom of the frame absorb vibration from the motor, help to deaden sound, and, if used outdoors or in wet environments, isolate the frame from rust-inducing moisture. Nevertheless, the PC0969 is still very loud, and if using it in a confined space over a continuous period of time, where it will be regularly cycling on and off, you'll want to wear hearing protection.

Motor isolators that connect the motor frame to the roll cage, work in tandem with the rubber feet, serving to further absorb shock and limit vibration. This system works well, as I found that the PC0969 exhibited almost no vibration in use.
Good fit and finish

Overall, I found the fit and finish on this compressor to be first class. Welded joints look are well done, the enamel coating is uniformly applied, and all the lines, connectors, nuts and bolts are neatly snugged up.

Accessing the drain valve is done from the back of the unit

One advantage of the vertical tank is that moisture condensation is going to accumulate at the very bottom, making it easier to completely drain the tank. However, because the drain valve is directly under the tank, you need to tilt the compressor forward to access the valve, which is easiest done from the back side of the unit. In my small shop this means that I have to face the front of the compressor (where the controls are located) towards the wall. Fortunately, the on/off switch is easy to reach, and I usually keep the regulator setting at 90 psi, so rarely have to access the regulator or check the pressure gauges.

Air filter is easily accessible for cleaning

Cleaning the air filter regularly is fairly important as it keeps dust from entering the compressor pump. As well, a clogged air filter makes the motor work harder and can cause it to heat up more quickly. If you do a lot of sanding in your shop you'll want to check the filter more frequently. It only takes a couple of minutes to remove and clean the filter, so I try to do it every couple of weeks.

Nicely laid out control panel

Even though there aren't many controls on a compressor, its nice to have them intuitively laid out and clearly labelled. I appreciate the dual couplers as this enables me to run two hoses simultaneously, keeping the two air tools I use most frequently at the ready. In a two man shop (or on a job site) it enables two people to use the compressor at the same time.

Large, easy to read gauges

The gauges have reasonably large dials that are easy enough to read. I also like that they're tilted up, so that you don't have stoop down to read them. On the tool gauge it would be nice to have the 90 psi mark (which is the most commonly used setting) coloured, as this would make it much quicker to check and set the outlet pressure level, particularly in less than ideal lighting situations.

Doesn't take up a lot of space

I am very pleased with the performance of the PC0969. On average I was able to shoot 72 1" headless pins and 34 1-1/4" crown stables before the compressor kicked in. While Senco lists the recovery time at 30 seconds, I found it to be closer to 24 seconds. There is some air seepage from the compressor, but at a level I consider negligible – about 4 psi per hour.

What you get with the PC0969 is well built compressor that will provide you with 33-percent more air than an equivalent 150 psi compressor. The oil-free design requires minimal maintenance, the telescoping handle and large wheels make it easy to move the compressor around the shop or job site, the tank has a decent 30-second recovery time, and it will run a wide range of low to medium air consumption tools.

For anyone who uses a compressor on an intermittent basis – furniture makers, trim carpenters, cabinet installers, and the like, as well as most hobbyist woodworkers – the Senco PC0969 is well worth considering.


  • Max Amp: 14 AMPS
  • Horsepower: 1.75 (running)
  • Pump: Oil-free
  • SCFM: 4.5 at 90 PSI; 6.3 @40 PSI
  • Pump Up-Time: 95 seconds (0 - 200 PSI)
  • Recovery Time: 30 seconds (160 - 200 PSI)
  • Duty Cycle: 50-percent
  • Max Pressure: 200 PSI
  • Tank Capacity: 4.5 gallons
  • Dual Quick Connect Couplers
  • Roll Cage Design
  • Telescoping Handle
  • Tool Weight: 87 lbs
  • Dimensions: 17" H x 18" L x 27" W
  • Warranty: 1 year

SOURCE:Dealer Locator

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February 2014
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