Many woodworkers or home improvement enthusiasts are turning away from many different power tools. This is because they take continual battery charging, and you need to purchase a tool for every function.
Pneumatic tools are all the rage and can make light work without any charging. From a tire inflator of bike tires or trucks, or snapping on your newest impact wrenches, or using a drill bit.
Air compressors come in very handy and don’t lose power, no matter how much work you throw at them.
In our reviews, we have some of the best portable air compressors you can find. So, by the end, you can find the ideal portable tire inflator, a tool that can inflate sporting equipment, and a portable air compressor that can run a framing nailer.
You can find that is how versatile these compressors are, and there is never going to be a need to head to the gas station and find the pump broken. (Find the Best Nail Gun for Woodworking)
Why You Need a Good Portable Air Compressor
There are many reasons why a home can make use of a portable air compressor. For example, if you are into woodworking, home improvement, or have air tools to use on your vehicles or tires to inflate, you can use a portable air compressor.
Besides inflating vehicle tires, you will find nail guns are one of the top uses. It is possible to find battery-operated nail guns, yet these offer limited functions, power and are far more expensive.
Pneumatic nail guns quickly connect to the end of your air hose and can carry on nailing throughout the day without losing power.
Painting finished woodworking projects is also far more straightforward when you can spray rather than use a paintbrush. Attach your paint sprayer, and you can paint anything with a high-quality finish.
Top Portable Air Compressor Reviews
1. BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
The Bostitch pancake air compressor pump has been designed to power air tools and inflates tires in mind while remaining portable. It delivers a very high 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI, and this matches the more expensive competition.
A 120v motor that is capable of cold weather starting powers it. Therefore, even on frosty mornings, you won’t have any struggles.
It does come with a few plastic parts; however, we saw little chance of these breaking if the best portable compressor was used correctly in testing.
- Easy start in cold weather
- High 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI
- Large Six-gallon tank
- 1-year warranty
- No hose included
- Heavier than some
With a guide price of just over $95, you get a great compressor that takes only 3 minutes to reach the maximum 150 PSI from the 0.8 HP motor. It can be loud, but this is often in enclosed spaces.
It is a small price considering you have dual hose outlets and can use two tools at once. It has to be the best compact air compressor for use around the home.
2. Air Compressor, 1 Gallon, Pancake, Oilless Pump, 110 PSI w/ Recoil Air Hose & Inflation Kit (Campbell Hausfeld FP2028)
Suppose you need a compressor to tackle impact wrenches and have no space to house a big air compressor. The Campbell Hausfeld 3-gallon horizontal compressor may be enough.
It comes with lots of accessories that are suited to the 110-PSI air compressor. It’s lightweight at 24 pounds, and you can carry it around your garage, workshop, or home.
The Max PSI is 110 PSI with engine overheat protection and delivers 0.36 CFM at 90 PSI.
- Small and easy to carry
- Decent performance for size
- 25 ft. recoil hose
- 1-year warranty
- Loud in operation
- Not suitable for heavy use
With a guide price of $127, it sits among the larger compressors yet delivers less performance.
The 3-gallon air compressor comes with a 10-piece accessory kit, Including an air hose for car flat tire inflation, and is ideal for ball and sports equipment inflation, powering airbrushes, and air/ brad nailers.
3. Oasser Air Compressor Portable Mini Air Inflator Hand Held Tire Pump 2000mAh with Digital LCD LED Light 12V AC DC Lithium Battery 120PSI 20Litres/Min for Car Bicycle Tires and Other Inflatables P1S
If you need something portable, then you may need a smaller air compressor. The Oasser Mini is one of the smallest and best performing options with its Long, cylindrical design.
The mini compressor comes with a 2000mah rechargeable battery that takes around 1.5 hours for a full charge. (Read Porter Cable Random Orbit Sander)
It comes with a built-in tire pressure gauge. You can set the pressure, connect the tire chuck, and forget it until it reaches the desired pressure. It can even power through anything that reaches up to a large truck tire. You also have a LED work light for dealing with a flat tire at night.
- Can use anywhere to inflate tires
- Easy to use LCD screen and controls
- 1 year of support service
- It comes with many adaptors
- Not suitable for tool use
- Expensive for a car tire inflator air pump
With a guide price of just under $65, you have a great performing portable tire inflator for inflating tires in an emergency and inflating kid’s toys. Keep in mind; you can run this from the 12 volts lighter port in your vehicle.
4. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 hp running 1-Gallon Compressor
The Senco PC1010 is a compact compressor, which delivers enough pressure to deal with most light-duty work like inflating tires and sports equipment. You can also use it for operating finish nailers or small air-powered tools.
This compressor has a 1/2-horsepower motor and a 1-gallon air tank, producing up to 125 PSI.
The compressor is oil-less and requires little maintenance. The Senco PC1010 is extra quiet at roughly 73 dB. Thanks to the aluminum tank and frame, it weighs around 20 pounds.
- Lightweight – 20 pounds
- Great for small tool use
- Quiet when running
- 1-year warranty
- Underpowered for heavy jobs
With a guide price of just over $115, it is priced above many other better-performing compressors. It can be useful, yet as it lacks power, it won’t get much better than the runner up position.
5. PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free (C2002)
As one of the most reliable impact-wrench air compressors, the Porter-Cable C2002 is an excellent option for any home.
It is one of the easiest pancake compressors to store and weighs around 34 pounds.
It offers built-in thermal overload protection and delivers 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI with a fast recovery time. You also have a max tank pressure of 150 PSI for the most challenging tasks.
The compressor works in most conditions, and the low amp 120-volt motor runs off a regular power cord. It has an oil-free pump for ease of maintenance and runs with little interference.
- 6-gallon tank with rubber feet and drain valve
- Low amp motor for easy operation
- Oil-free for easy maintenance
- 1-year warranty
- Not very quiet
- Runs hot with extended use
With a guide price of a little under $120 for the compressor, it is a reasonable price for lots of performance. It may be hot and noisy, yet keep it in the right place, and these issues are easy to overcome with the heavy-duty compressor.
Best Portable Air Compressor Buying guide
Here’s all you need to know about what to look for when buying a portable air compressor.
Types of Portable Air Compressors
Before you purchase a portable air compressor, consider your power source.
Electricity is more popular for portable air compressors. They connect to a regular outlet and use an electric motor to pressurize the tank. Often lightweight and require little maintenance.
Gas-powered portable air compressors use internal combustion engines to pressurize air tanks. Quality depends on the engine manufacturer, and they can operate almost anywhere.
They are often heavier than electric models and need more maintenance. You can’t also use them in confined spaces because of fumes and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Air compressor motors are measured in horsepower. Horsepower also affects the maximum pressure a compressor can produce.
Small electric motors need 1/2 horsepower at least, while gas-powered can range up to 5-horsepower engines. (Find the Best Sawzall)
Portable air compressors offer various maximum pressures, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). For example, some offer 120 PSI, while others produce up to 150 or up to 180 PSI.
Max pressure is essential as some tools need more pressure to work correctly. Impact wrenches, for instance, won’t work until 60 PSI or higher. Nail guns may require more since you can fire nails in wet or hardwoods; you could need a 90 to 120 PSI range.
Volume determines how much compressed air the compressor can hold. In turn, it determines how the compressor needs to run to deliver power.
Nail guns run in short bursts and require little volume, such as 4 to 5-gallon tanks.
Impact wrenches, cutoff wheels, and pneumatic reciprocating saws use more as you pull the triggers.
They need larger tanks, or it causes them to cycle on and off more often. 20-gallon tanks and above help prevent this.
Airflow can be the most important and is stated as cubic feet per minute (CFM) and says how much air the compressor can push per minute.
Compressors need to run at the right pressure while you are using your tools.
CFM depends on tools, yet you need at least 2.0 CFM at 90 PSI.
For portable, you need lightweight to carry or chuck in your truck.
Pancake compressors often weigh around 30 pounds, so they are ideal.
You can find some air compressor kits that come with an accessories kit. Such kits are ideal if you don’t have a range of air tools and fittings. Tire inflators, quick-connect fittings, and blow-off chucks are some, as are lengths of air hose or a nail gun.
While conducting these reviews, we studied the compressor features as well as the performance. As a result, the best small compressor to cover most jobs was the BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012).
It was small enough and light enough to carry around the home, ran off the mains, and with the sizeable 6-gallon tank, there was enough airflow and reduced duty cycle to keep two tools going without slowdown.
It has easy-to-ready air-pressure gauges where you need them and inflates enormous tire pressure on the most oversized vehicle you may have.
It is small yet heavy-duty to power through any task. In addition, the noise level can be high in an enclosed area, yet it will be drowned out when you’re using a brad nailer.
The Bostitch has to be the best small air compressor, as it makes it easy to complete any task you have.
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