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Ultimate Review of the Best Portable Air Compressor in 2021

by Lisa Hayden
Best Portable Air Compressor

Can you recall a thing that annoys you the most? You’ve got to think quite a lot, right? It’s not easy to decide what we should mention when there are so many things that annoy us. Is that it? 

Let’s turn the question into a specific one. What annoys you the most when you are ready to go out and find something wrong with the car? Dust? Low gas? Flat tire? 

All three of them maybe! And why not? They cause us unnecessary delays and upset our entire schedule. While we can’t do much about flat tires due to punctures, we sure can keep them from running on low air. Your car might have the latest technology like TPMS, but the use of air compressors hasn’t gone down. Having under-inflated or over-inflated tires can result in tire wear, low fuel efficiency, driving discomfort, and even accidents. 

But what if you can’t get the air pressure checked and corrected immediately? It’s not always possible to go to the gas station, right? 

Who said we need to visit the gas station to inflate the tires? We can do it at home if we have the right tool. Are you thinking about the kind you find in gas stations? Wondering why you’d want to have it at home? We are talking in circles after all. 

Okay, we’ll make it simple and straight. Have you considered buying a portable air compressor? It is easy to carry and helps you to inflate the tires of your vehicles and fill the air in balls, balloons, inflatable pools, tubs, sofas, etc. 

It’s a compact and handy device that can be a part of your tool kit and various other useful machines such as drills, staple guns, etc. You can make use of the portable air compressor to operate an air-powered drill, air ratchets, and such tools. 

Interesting, isn’t it? Buying one such tool can be highly beneficial, especially if you love doing things on your own. But as always, the question arises- which model and which type of air compressor should you buy?

Also, you would want to know how it works, the different types and their purposes, and finally, the factors to consider when buying a portable air compressor. 

Well, we are here to provide you all the required information. There is no need to read a dozen articles anymore, now that you can find everything in one place. 

Should we move forward and start with the top 5 best portable air compressors in the market? Yes?

Awesome! Let’s start. 

Quick Comparison Table & Our Picks! 

This as you would expect from us is an EPIC post so grab a coffee before you start  and see how we cut through every product and review it with precision. IF YOU ARE SHORT ON TIME and need to know the results of our reviews , CHECK THE RESULTS TABLE BELOW!

Product

Weight

Dimensions

Max PSI

Capacity

BUY NOW

31 lb

17” x 17” x 19.25”

150

6 gal

77 lb

20” x 18” x 18.75”

130

4.2 gal

29 lb

12.5” x 4.7” x  4.75”

120 

1 gal

Other Great Recommendations

32 lb

17.2” x 16.6” x 20.1”

165 

6 gal

10.7 lb

10.87” x 5.83” x 7.48”

150 

Tankless

Best Top 5 Portable Air Compressor in the Market for the Money 

Best Top 5 Portable Air Compressor in the Market for the Money

Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free Compressor - Editor’s Choice 

The first model on our list is BTFP02012 by Bostitch. The brand is famous for manufacturing and supplying various portable air compressors. This model is oil-free and runs on electricity. With max 150 PSI and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, the compressor is one of the best in the market. 

The model has two high flow couplers, making it a convenient unit that can support two users. Another advantage of this model is the high –performing motor. It doesn’t cause any trouble when starting even during colder seasons. That’s indeed a plus point, isn’t it? You don’t have to worry about how it’ll work during peak winters. 

Shall we take a look at more information about the unit? 

Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free Compressor

Features and Benefits 

Design and Build 

The pancake compressor is yellow in color with a 6-gallon tank. The unit weighs about 31 pounds and can be easily moved from one place to another. The 0.9 HP motor runs at 2700 RPM and delivers high performance. You can happily use the existing power outlets you have at home. The unit looks compact and stays firm on the ground when you are using it. 

Performance 

As it is an oil-free model, the compressor is easy to use and maintain. Even though it produces noise at around 78.5 decibels, it doesn’t hurt your ears. The best part of the compressor is that it can max out in just 2.5 seconds. It is highly efficient while having a really long life. It has a one-year limited warranty period from the manufacturer's end. 

Usage 

The recovery rate of the model is 25 seconds, which is very convenient. The tank capacity makes it easy to use the compressor to power many tools such as drills and nail guns. You don’t have to wait every now and then for the air tank to refill. That said, you will need to take a break after nailing ten nails at once. 

Pros 

  • The pump is maintenance-free
  • Cold weather startup (saves time)
  • Easy to start and use
  • Durable and has high flow regulators 

Cons 

  • Not noise-free; can be loud at times 
  • Need to wait after screwing ten nails

Check Bostitch Oil-Free Compressor Price on Amazon

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP - Best Heavy-duty Compressor 

If you want a sturdy and heavy-duty model to assist with some major DIYs at home or outside, MAC2400 by Makita is the best choice for you. The 2.5 HP 4-pole motor is strong, efficient, and powerful. One look at the unit will give you the confidence that you can rely on it. 

As you would be aware, Makita is one of the leading brands in supplying power tools and compressors in the market. It comes with an operating pressure of 130 PSI. The model runs on oil and has a built-in thermal overload for extra protection. Let’s check out the other details, shall we? 

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP

Features and Benefits 

Design and Build 

The unit comes in a teal color and looks compact and stable. It has a 4.2- gallon twin tank cast iron pump with a big bore cylinder and piston that helps increase recovery time and efficiency. The pump is oil-lubricated, and the thermal overload gives additional protection. As the unit draws low amp compared to other heavy-duty models, it cuts down the tripped breakers’ chances when you start the motor. 

Performance 

Do you know that the unit has an air filter? Yes. It is similar to the one you will find in a car used to filter the air and provide cleaner air for intake. The advantage of using a big bore piston is that it can compress more air. This directly results in faster recovery and quick airflow. Aren’t they both important? An appealing thing about this is you can use two nail guns at once. Yes! 

Usage 

You must be wondering if MAC2400 is suitable for commercial or industrial use, right? With such power, it is absolutely useful in small scale industries. Along with having as many advantages, it is easy to maintain. Totally. With basic maintenance and regularly changing the oil, the unit will last you for a long time. You might find the compressor’s noise level a bit high, but it’s not annoying for sure. 

Pros 

  • Cast iron cylinder- durable and long-lasting 
  • 2.5 HP 4- pole motor 
  • Easy and simple maintenance 
  • Suits carpentry and automotive requirements 

Cons 

  • Heavy at almost 80 pounds 
  • Can be noisy at times- 79 dB 

Check Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Price on Amazon

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S - Ultra-Quiet 

After checking out a sturdy model, we come to a small, compact, and cute little compressor that’s suitable for primary home-usage. Weighing around 30 pounds, the unit can be stored in smaller spaces with ease. The lack of noise makes it ideal for indoor use. And since it has an oil-free piston pump, you don’t have to worry about fumes either. 

It does have its disadvantages, but if you want an air compressor to fill the air in the tires, balls, balloons, toys, tubes, etc., this model meets your requirements. Let’s scroll down to check a little more information about this noise-less unit. 

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S

Features and Benefits 

Design and Build 

The unit comes with a handle and grip that makes it easy to move it around as per convenience. You get a limited warranty of one-year from the manufacturer. It is easy to use and maintain and runs perfectly well, even in colder temperatures. However, if you find any troubles with the unit, make sure to contact the customer service rather than repair it. 

Performance 

The 0.6 HP motor runs at 1680 RPM and delivers steady performance. With a max pressure of 120 PSI, it produces 1.2 CFM at 90 PSI. You can connect it airbrushes, blowguns, staple guns, and nail guns. The size of the tank is only 1.0 gallons, which can cause issues with break time. Yet, it works well for those who pursue their hobbies in art and craft at home, like painting, carpentry, and even baking, etc. 

Usage 

When you set up the unit for the first time, make it a point to open the release valve and drain the tiny metal pellets in the air tank. While it is no major concern, leaving them inside can lead to the pellets blocking the airway or entering the tires or tubes. A benefit of this model is that it doesn’t get hot from continuous use. That’s cool, right? 

Pros 

  • Can be used for smaller air-powered tools 
  • Efficient motor with quick refill speed
  • Very quiet- no motor sound
  • Small in size- easy to store 

Cons 

  • Small tank capacity- need frequent breaks 
  • Cannot use all air-powered tools 

Check California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Price on Amazon

DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor - High-Efficiency Air Compressor 

This pancake portable air compressor is efficient, powerful, and useful for domestic purposes. The high flow regulator provides maximum output with an air delivery rate of 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI. The two couplers allow you to connect and use two tools at once. Yay!

The noise level at 75 dB is quite decent, even when you are working indoors. You can hear mild humming in the background, which doesn’t cause much disturbance. While you cannot use it continuously for a long time, it does its job well. Shall we check the additional details below?  

DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor

Features and Benefits 

Design and Build 

Lightweight, rubber legs, and super stability- these features attracted us to this model. The rubber legs make sure that the surface remains free of scratches as you drag and move the unit along with you. This is one of the popular models by the brand as it provides less noise in contrast to other pancake air compressors. It has a handle at the top to makes it easy to lift and carry the compressor. A one-year limited warranty is offered by the manufacturer on the unit. 

Performance 

Since a good number of air-powered tools operate around 90-120 PSI, this model is indeed useful for connecting with these tools. The 6-gallon tank capacity makes it possible to use the tools efficiently. However, the tools cannot be used for more than a few minutes at a time. The compressor takes a break and then starts again. The oil-free pumps make sure the unit is almost maintenance-free. Phew! 

Usage 

Are you worried about the low temperatures? DWFP55126 doesn’t cause any issues when the temperatures dip to colder points. We’ve used the compressor for inflating tires, balls, and balloons. We also successfully tried air cleaning small spaces. You can air spray small to medium cakes and boards, but can’t use it for larger versions without taking a break. 

Pros 

  • Maintenance-free pump 
  • Large tank capacity 
  • Two hose connectors
  • Highly portable and easy to use 

Cons 

  • Cannot be used for large spraying jobs 
  • Cannot be used for continuous air-powered tools 

Check DEWALT Pancake Compressor Price on Amazon

VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor - Best Tankless Air Compressor 

The last portable air compressor on our list is a tankless model by Viair. It is a small unit with enough power and capacity to inflate your car tires when traveling long distances. It has the least weight among the compressors we’ve listed in the blog. Weighing just 10 pounds, you can carry it along without any issue. 

So how does it get the power to fill the air? Simple. It draws power from your vehicle’s battery, but only as much as it needs so that you won’t end up another trouble in the middle of nowhere. It turns hot, so you need to be careful not to touch the unit when in use. Here’s more information about the compressor. 

VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor

Features and Benefits 

Design and Build 

The compressor comes in silver color with a sturdy handle and deluxe bag that makes it effortless to carry it around. The anti-vibration tray comes with the kit and makes the unit stable and easy to use outdoors. It operates at 12 volts with 150 PSI max when the car battery is running. 

Performance 

The unit can fill the air in a 35” tire in less than 5 minutes. It goes from 0 PSI to 30 PSI to inflate the tire. It has a power cord of 8 feet and an air hose of 30 feet. It means that you can use this compressor even for larger cars without facing any trouble in maneuvering the unit and the hose. 

Usage 

It is generally made of metal and feels sturdy. This is no delicate piece for sure. It has an automatic shut-off switch, which is good as the unit heats up quite a bit. The duty cycle is 33%, meaning you will need to take long breaks between filing air in each tire. While that does cause some inconvenience, it should be too hard either. The unit is quiet and barely makes any sound. That was something we liked about it. 

Pros 

  • Best for air compression when traveling
  • Compact size- fits in the trunk of the car 
  • Doesn’t need much setup 
  • Anti-vibration tray is included in the kit 

Cons 

  • The pump turns very hot when using 
  • Not for industrial or commercial use 

Check VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor Price on Amazon

Best Portable Air Compressor Buying Guide 

Best Portable Air Compressor Buying Guide

The list of top 5 portable air compressors did give us some idea, right? It’s time to learn a bit more so that you can set up the compressor and use it without hurting yourself or others in the process. 

The first step to set up the air compressor is to read the instruction manual thoroughly. Don’t assume you don’t need guidance. It’s better to be safe. Wear safety equipment if necessary. Start by checking the oil level, and then make sure that the air valves are closed. 

The usage method will vary from one model to another. It will take a while to get the hang of the process. Be a little patient and try to master the art. Don’t take out the portable air compressor for the first time if you are in a hurry to get going. Learn how to handle it only when you are free. 

Once the set up is complete, turn on the unit and connect the compressor hose to the inlet of the thing you want to inflate. Keep an eye on it and stay focused. Once it reaches the required pressure level, turn off the air compressor before detaching the hose. 

A little regular maintenance will go a long way in increasing the portable air compressor’s life. The user manual will list the instructions for maintenance. However, you can-

  • Check for air leaks periodically 
  • Check for oil leaks 
  • Check the operating temperature 
  • Listen for any odd sounds 
  • Drain condensation from air receiver tanks 

Types of Portable Air Compressors 

The word portable means that the unit can be carried and moved from one place to another, right? But don't you think there many ways to do it? Yep. Similarly, we have different types of portable air compressors as well. Hand carry is the most preferred type and is again sub-classified in different kinds. Apart from that, we have wheeled and mobile air compressors as well. For now, we are going to take a look at the types of hand-carry air compressors. 

These are nothing but light-duty versions that come in various sizes and shapes. They can either be powered using electricity or oil/ gasoline. 

  • Pancake Air Compressor 

The air compressor doesn’t really look like a pancake. But it is small, round, and cute with a little tank, gauges, and regulators. It is an entry-level model and is perfect for filling the air in smaller objects and tires. 

  • Air Inflator 

These are exclusively created for inflating pool toys, bikes, and small vehicle tires. They are easy to carry, being the smallest of air compressors. However, these cannot power air tools or RV- sized tires. 

  • Twin Stack Air Compressor 

As the name suggests, the air compressor has two tanks, making it simple and fast to fill the air in the desired item. You can use the compressor to power air tools and also require less maintenance. That said, the oil-free compressor needs lubricant to oil the pump. Make sure there is enough lubricant to not wear out the compressor due to friction. 

  • Hot Dog Air Compressor 

The tank of the air compressor does look like a hotdog. First, we had a pancake model and now a hotdog one. The compressor has rubber feet and carrying handle so that it can be moved to different places without causing any scratches on the surface or the compressor. It’s a good choice for small to medium projects you take up at home. 

Benefits of Portable Air Compressor 

Shall take a quick look at the benefits of portable air compressors? 

  • You get air for free. Not just around us, but even to fill the air tank. At most, you have a pay a few pennies. 
  • Portable models can be quiet and compact. You can easily fit these in your car’s trunk car’s trunk and the corners of your garage. 
  • They are useful in diverse locations- home, garage, construction sites, painting/ woodwork sites, etc. 
  • With multiple attachments, you can use an air compressor to blow away the debris as well. 
  • From tires to balloons to inflated toys and air-powered tools, buy one portable air compressor and use it in various ways. 

Parameters to help you Select the Best Portable Air Compressor

We can see that you are totally geared up to know the most important factors to keep in mind when selecting a portable air compressor. With all the information at your fingertips, you can go ahead and order the one that best suits your needs, isn’t it? 

  • Electricity/Gas Powered 

Portable air compressors are either powered by electricity or gasoline. The gasoline models emit fumes and are used outdoors by builders and contractors. They are convenient and deliver high output. 

 Electricity powered compressors are designed for indoor use as they do not emit any fumes. They work on the standard household voltage of 110V to 120V. If the motor has two horsepower or more, it will need 220V to 240V outlet. Remember not to use the compressor through generator power. The motor will be damaged. 

  • Air Flow (CFM) 

CFM denotes Cubic Feet per Minute, which is a measurement of airflow. It tells us how much air is flowing into a tire or a ball from the compressor. You should consider the delivered CFM number to get the right idea about the compressor. Always choose an air compressor with bigger CFM. This will allow you to continue using air-powered tools for longer durations. 

  • Maximum Pressure (PSI)

Pound per Square Inch is the measurement of air pressure. When choosing an air compressor, you should check the maximum PSI it provides. Portable air compressors have max PSI ranging between 50 and 230. The standard is 150 PSI, which is enough to fill the air in tires as well as using air-powered tools. But if you want a heavy-duty compressor, you will need to pick the one with more than 200 PSI. 

  • Power Capacity of the Motor 

Motor power is measured in HP- Horsepower. Gasoline compressors have peak and running HP. While 0.5 HP motor is enough for personal and household use, 2 HP is required if you want to power most of the tools. Electric compressors use volts for the same. We measure its power capacity using the Ah mentioned on the battery along with the runtime. 

  • Length of the Cord

Even though this is not a technical point, it is equally important. If the cord's length is short, you will find it hard to connect it to the power supply and maneuver it around your car to fill the air in all the tires. Compressors usually have a cord length of 10 feet or 15 feet. Depending on where the outlet is and where the car is, you will find it convenient to buy a compressor with a longer cord.

  • Duty Cycle 

The term duty cycle denotes the duration for which the compressor can be used without taking a break. The number is usually given in percentages- time for which you should run it to the time, it should cool down. For example, a compressor with a 30% duty cycle can continuously be used for 3 minutes and needs 7 minutes to cool down before it can be used again.

 Some models have thermal protection that automatically shut off power so that the motor doesn’t get overheated and result in accidents. 

  • Weight of the Air Compressor 

The weight of the unit is surely another factor to keep in mind. If you want to carry it along with you, it has to be light enough to be lifted and moved without straining your arms and back. Air compressors weigh with anything between 80 pounds and 20 pounds or less. Choosing the one around 20-40 pounds should provide for your usage. 

  • Size of the Tank 

Portable air compressors have a tank capacity of 0-6 gallons. If your usage is going to be domestic, a tank size of 3 gallons should be sufficient for more purposes. If you plan heavy usage, picking the one with 5-6 gallons is the best choice. This also allows the compressor to inflate tires, balls, and balloons without requiring a refill in between the task.

  • Direct Drive/Belt Drive 

A belt drive compressor uses a belt to connect the motor with the pump. The belt helps you in adjusting the air pressure and flow based on how much you need. A belt drive model is easy to set up, maintain, and suitable for domestic use. But it doesn’t work well in harsh conditions or extreme temperatures as direct drive compressors do. 

  • Vertical/Horizontal Tanks 

This is more of a personal choice though you will notice that most air compressors come with horizontal tanks. That’s because they are more stable and sit firmly on the ground. Vertical tanks take less space but tend to topple if you are not careful.  

  • Speed Settings 

Auto start and stop, the continuous speed with adjusted airflow, and dual-speed control are three common ways the air compressor is used.  

Conclusion 

As with every other gadget or machine, check the manufacturer's warranty and the quality of the components used. If the portable air compressor has any additional features such as low oil protection, it would be a bonus. 

Since you have gathered the details about what you need to invest in the best portable air compressor, we sign off with a satisfied smile and hope you will make the most of the portable air compressor you purchase. See you soon. 

Current Best Selling Portable Air Compressors!

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