An air compressor is among the essential equipment to have in your home, garage, or workshop. Unlike stationary air compressors, the benefit of owning a portable air compressor is that you can use it anywhere.

If you are not sure about the model you want for your job, then choosing an ideal portable air compressor is confusing. This is because the market has many models with different styles and sizes. For this reason, we compiled a list of the best portable air compressors in the market.

The 10 Best Portable Air Compressors in 2020

1. Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free CompressorBOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)

This is one of the best oil-free compressors in the market. It is popular for its multitasking ability. Thanks to the two universal couplers feature. This amazing feature allows you to run two tools at once. Furthermore, this air compressor has high pressure that is ideal for operating two air tools together.

The Bostitch BTFP02012 has a compact pancake design that is easy to use. You can carry this portable air compressor from one place to another. It has a lightweight of 29 pounds and a handle that makes it easier to carry.

In comparison to its competitors, it has a quiet operation system.  The noise level of this unit is 78.5decibels. This does not mean it is the quietest in the market, although it is better than many low priced air compressors.

In regards to performance, the BTFP02012 has a high-efficiency motor that starts even in cold weather. This unit has a 6-gallon tank with a max of 150 PSI, which refills again in 30 seconds. For longer run times, it delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI.

Pros

  • Runs in any weather.
  • Quick recovery and long run times.
  • Powerful enough to run two air tools together.
  • The lightweight and handle make it portable.
  • Oil-free pump that is easy to maintain.

Cons

  • Unsuitable for heavy duties.

Verdict

Bostitch BTFP02012 has a compact pancake design. This portable air compressor is durable due to the quality materials. It is affordable and ideal for different types of simple tasks. The presence of a high-efficiency motor gives you the best performance. I recommend this air compressor if you want an affordable and powerful multitasking system.


2. Dewalt DWFP55130 Heavy DutyDewalt DWFP55130 Heavy Duty

The DWFP55130 is one of the best portable air compressors for heavy-duty jobs. It has a creative design that features a roll cage to secure the main parts from any accidental damage. This compact design saves you storage space and enables you to run it in a horizontal or vertical position.

Due to its high performance, this air compressor is suitable for most heavy duties. It has a powerful 1.1HP motor that gives 3.0SCFM at 90 PSI. The maximum pressure of this unit is 200PSI, and the minimum pressure is 165PSI. Thanks to the large 2.5gallons air tank.

Because this unit is a trim compressor, you will mostly use it indoors where loud noise is a problem. However, this unit has a quiet operation in comparison to most pancake compressors. With 71.5dB, you will not shout when communicating with others as you run this air compressor.

This unit has a compact design and a lightweight of 40pounds, making it easy to store and carry around. Furthermore, it has a heavy duty free oil pump that makes the unit hassle-free to clean and maintain.

Pros

  • Strong and firm construction.
  • Two outlets for dual-use.
  • An oil-free pump for minimal maintenance.
  • Lightweight design and compact size.

Cons

  • Takes time to build pressure.
  • It has a short life span.

Verdict

The DWFP55130 is an indoor or trim compressor that is affordable, powerful, and quiet. This heavy-duty compressor packs a lot of power for any type of home renovation and repair. Despite its cons, this unit earns my recommendation.


3. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5HPMakita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5HP

The Makita Mac2400 is a heavy-duty machine that is ideal for home DIY projects. It features a 4.2-gallon twin stacked tank that enables it to run at a pressure of 130PSI. Besides that, it gives 40PSI and 90PSI, which is enough for two nailers. Also, it draws low AMP to lower cases of tripped breakers when starting up.

This machine has a roll cage construction to offer full protection when working in extreme job site environments. The design also features a durable cast iron cylinder that minimizes wear and improves the pump life. You can remove this cylinder for easy maintenance.

As the name indicates, this compressor features a cast iron pump with a piston and a big bore cylinder. The work of these features is to enable the machine to have faster recovery time and enhance its performance.

For easy maintenance, this compressor has an oil-lubricated pump. The lubrication reduces wear and tear, hence reducing the maintenance costs. It also has a built-in thermal overload that offers extra protection to the motor. Moreover, it is good for industrial use because of the large industrial air filter that increases efficiency and air intake.

Pros

  • Excellent quality.
  • Powerful and reliable.
  • Quiet operation.
  • Good for medium and heavy-duty jobs.

Cons

  • 8pounds of weight is heavy to lift and move.
  • Unsuitable for home use.

Verdict

The Makita MAC2400 Big Bore is your ideal option if you want a professional-grade air compressor. It is durable and offers value for your money.


4. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-FreePORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free

The porter-cable C2002 is among the best budget portable air compressors.  It is easy to operate this model, which offers you a lot of functionality at a low price. It features a 150-PSI pressure tank that stores enough air to make it run longer. Besides, this unit has a low-amp motor that starts easily, even in cold weather at 120V.

Furthermore, this machine has a durable oil-free pump, which does not need maintenance and has a long life. At 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, this air compressor has a quick recovery time. Thanks to the high-airflow regulator, that enables more work at higher pressure. In turn, you get adaptability to work on different jobs.

The user-friendly design makes the C2002 portable and stable. The six-gallon tank has a pancake-style to offer stability. This tank also features rubber feet to make sure it does not scratch on surfaces and a water drain valve.

With a total weight of 31.2 pounds, the portability of this unit is high. In regards to noise levels, the C2002 is louder, like most oil-free pumps. The noise level is 82 decibels, which is higher for most users.

Pros

  • Compact design and portable
  • Easy to use.
  • Large pressure tank.
  • Does not need maintenance.

Cons

  • It is noisy, especially when using in a confined workspace.
  • The manual is not clear.

Verdict

The Portable Cable C2002 is your best buy if you want an air compressor that is easier to use, portable, and with great performance. It is also affordable and ideal for consumer-grade jobs, such as filling tires and firing nailers. In short, the unit offers value for your money.


5. Tcisa 12V DC Portable Air Compressor PumpTcisa 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump

Tcisa 12V portable pump is one of the best portable air compressors for inflating tires. You can also use this digital tire inflator with other tools, as it has three different adapters to inflate items. It runs using a 12V cigarette lighter socket and wall socket adaptor, making it easier to use at home and on the road.

One of the unique features of this compressor is the smart tire inflator. This inbuilt safety feature prevents over-inflation of your tires. It auto shuts off when you reach your preset target pressure.

The other important feature is the tire pressure monitor. This monitor comprises an LCD digital screen to enable you to read the exact pressure reading. On top of that, this LCD screen has LED lights for use in the dark by switching on the independent light switch.

Finally, the Tcisa 12V compressor has a powerful inflation rate of 35L/min. A fast inflation rate that takes 2-3minutes to inflate a tire. The body has durable material and has a portable lightweight of 5.1pounds.

Pros

  • Easy to use and read the pressure gauge.
  • Prevents over-inflating of tools.
  • Digital display and fast inflation rate.
  • Small size and portable.

Cons

  • You need an adapter to power it using a wall socket.
  • Unsuitable for heavy-duty tires.

Verdict

Tcisa 12V portable air compressor is a compact and versatile unit with many digital features. It is also portable and multipurpose. A great product if you have small inflatable equipment.


6. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060SCalifornia Air Tools CAT-1P1060S

The California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S is one of the best portable air compressors in the market. It is also among the quietest air compressors. It is the best for home users and those working in places where noise is an issue. With a noise level of 56decibels, this unit has an ultra-quiet operation.

One of the advantages of using this unit is the presence of an oil-free pump. This means it minimizes the running and maintenance costs. Besides that, this pump enables the unit to work in various temperatures and uneven terrains. The pump runs at 1680RPM, hence reducing wear and noise.

Although it is small, it has a powerful 0.6HP motor with a peak of 1.2HP. The airflow rate is 1.2SCFM at 90PSI. It also has a low amp draw of 4.5amps to ensure there are no power outages when in use.

Finally, this machine has a portable design. It has a lightweight of 29 pounds, as the steel air tank has a 1-gallon capacity.

Pros

  • Ultra-quiet noise level.
  • Powerful and quick refill.
  • Oil-free pump for less maintenance.
  • Lightweight and portable.

Cons

  • Unfit for longer use due to low tank capacity.

Verdict

I recommend the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S if you want a portable air compressor for small projects. It is powerful, ultra-quiet, and maintenance-free.


7. DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake CompressorDEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor

Are you looking for a quiet and portable air compressor? Then the DEWALT DWFP55126 is your best option. It has a huge pancake design tank with a 6-gallon capacity. This tank enables you to work without taking short breaks for refilling because it provides longer tool run.

One of the benefits of using this DEWALT pancake compressor is the presence of a high-efficiency motor. It makes the tool easy to start even in cold weather. Furthermore, the couplers and a high flow regulator maximizes air tool performance.

The other advantage of DWFP55126 is that it has an oil-free pump, which means its maintenance is minimal. All you need to do is to make sure this compressor is free from dust and debris. It has a removable console that protects the controls and makes its maintenance inspection easier.

This air compressor is ideal for use in a quiet work environment because it has a low noise level of 75.5dBA. It is also easier to store because of its compact pancake design and easier to carry due to its lightweight of 32.1 pounds.

Pros

  • Ability to do two different tasks at ago.
  • Free maintenance and oil-free pump.
  • Portable due to its lightweight.
  • Sturdy carrying handle.

Cons

  • Unsuitable for use with big tools and accessories.
  • Fittings are poor and might leak air.

Verdict

The DEWALT DWFP55126 is a popular air compressor among contractors and homeowners performing small projects. This air compressor is of high quality and well built. Despite its small size, it is affordable and works great. I recommend this unit if you want a portable, lightweight, and reliable compressor to do small projects.


8. Excell U256PPE Pancake Air CompressorExcell U256PPE Pancake Air Compressor

Excell U256PPE is one of the best budget portable air compressors. To reduce the maintenance and operation costs, this tool has a universal oil-free pump and motor. The motor has a unique design that improves the cooling of the unit for better performance.

The special design encloses the pump and motor components fully to secure them from damage. Besides, there is a heavy-duty handle integrated into the motor to increase the compressor’s durability.

The convenient place of the control panel makes this tool easy to use. Indeed, the quick connect, regulator, and gauges are at your fingertips. This machine is ideal for use in older buildings and rural areas where power might be unavailable. The reason being, the startup voltage of the 6-gallon air tank is low.

Finally, the 1.5HP motor gives 2.8CFM at 90PSI that increases to 150PSI. With a lightweight of 39pounds, it is easy to transport this machine to different locations.

Pros

  • Oil-free pump for less maintenance.
  • Low voltage and ability to start-up in cold weather.
  • It is durable and of higher quality.
  • Convenient control panels.

Cons

  • Robust but a bit noisy.

Verdict

This best budget air compressor is ideal if you want a reliable machine for use in areas with cold weather. It can run two tools at ago, hence saving you time.


9. VIAIR 400P Portable CompressorVIAIR 400P Portable Compressor

If you an overland or off-road lover, you need an excellent and reliable portable air compressor like VIAIR 400P. Unlike other air compressors in this list, the VIAIR 400P comes with a heavy-duty 12V battery, the energy source.

One of the notable features is an inline inflator/deflator gauge. This allows you to check your pressure to avoid over-inflating. It also has a built-in dual-stage metal filter that blocks dust, moisture, and particles to prevent damage.

Regarding construction, the materials used in the construction of this compressor are of high quality but with low weight. In fact, it has a lightweight of 10.4pounds to increase its portability. You do not need any help to lift it from the vehicle and use it wherever you want.

Finally, this unit’s power wire has a 40-amp inline fuse that prevents any damage by breaking the circuit when the power surge occurs.

Pros

  • Highly portable and reliable.
  • Quality product.
  • Easy to use.
  • Firm and durable construction.

Cons

  • It is expensive, but worth every penny.

Verdict

If you are tired of cheap and unreliable air compressor, go for VIAIR 400P. It comes with a nice carry case, exceeds expectations, and delivers plenty of air. It is worth the investment.


10. California Air Tools 8010 Ultra QuietCalifornia Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet

The California Air Tools 8010 is popular among homeowners due to its portability, reliability, and ultra-quiet operation. With an oil-free pump, you can use this compressor in uneven terrains and different temperatures. The material used is high-quality steel that can withstand even cold temperatures.

This machine is extremely quiet in terms of noise level, as it operates without producing high noise at 60decibels. Thanks to the powerful motor that runs at 1680RPM to produce a low amount of noise. Furthermore, its recovery time from 90PSI to 120PSI is fast (30seconds).

Speaking of the motor, its power varies from 1.0HP to 2.0HP when at peak. Besides, the pump system is dual-piston, which increases durability and enhances performance for longer durations. The life cycle of air compressors from the California Air Tools company is 3,000hours.

Finally, it is has a lightweight of 37.2 pounds that makes it portable. The portability of this unit is due to the wheel kit and rust-free aluminum tank.

Pros

  • Easy to store and transport.
  • Works in uneven terrain and different temperatures.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Ultra-quiet operation.

Cons

  • Low horsepower than its competitors.
  • Short handle design.

Verdict

If you are looking for an ultra-quiet air compressor that works perfectly and is highly portable for small to medium jobs, go for California Air Tools 8010. I recommend this reliable unit for homeowners.


Portable Air Compressors Buyer’s Guide

How to set up a Portable Air Compressor?

The most step before you start using your air compressor is to know how to set the compressor. Here is how to set up a portable air compressor:

  • Electric model: if your portable air compressor is an electric model, you should first set up the compressor as per the manual before turning on the power switch. Once you are done, you can turn on the power. In turn, the compressor will start to fill the tank in the first stage. You should avoid using the tools before the pressure is around 90PSI. After the tank is full, it stops to fill. You can now use your machine. Adjust the pressure to your needs.
  • Oil-based model: if your air compressor is oil-based, the first step is to check the oil level before starting it up. Next, fill your air compressor if need be, and then connect the hose with the air regulator valve. Once you connect the hose, go ahead, and clip on your tool. For easier set up with pneumatic tools, most air compressors have universal connections. Now, crosscheck if you have connected your tools and the hose and turn on the compressor.

How to use a Portable Air Compressor?

Portable air compressors from different brands and models have a different setup. Therefore, you should follow all instructions in your manual to set your air compressor. After that, turn it on and connect its hose to the air inlet of your tool to start inflating. Once you finish inflating your tool, turn off your portable air compressor and a power source.

Why Are There Different Shapes of Portable Air Compressor?

The purpose and size of the various air compressors determine their different shapes. Air compressors for domestic uses have different shapes from those for industrial use. These different shapes are twin tank, pancake, vertical, or horizontal.


Things to Consider

To make sure your work is efficient and not time-consuming; you should consider these factors before purchasing:

  • Maximum pressure

Different air compressors have different maximum pressure levels. The maximum pressure of the compressor determines the power of the air delivered. Therefore, you should consider the maximum pressure of your tools before deciding on the ideal air compressor. Excessive max pressure might lead to damage to your tools. You should get an air compressor with a pressure regulator to avoid damaging your air tools.

  • Cord length

The cord length of your chosen portable air compressor is vital. You should opt air compressor with a long code length instead of a short one. A longer code length means you can easily access all the tires of your car.

  • Warranty

Similar to other tools, a warranty is vital when buying an air compressor. Some compressors do not come with a warranty. It is important you consider your chosen compressor’s warranty, as it determines if the company repairs your tool in case of any damage. A longer warranty is better than a short warranty.


Conclusion

To help you decide on the best portable air compressor to buy, this list reviews air compressors that suit various air needs. However, you should decide your pressure needs and budget to buy an air compressor that works with your pneumatic tools. Finally, you should consider the various factors to avoid the wrong air compressor.


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