Best Small Portable Air Compressors for Home & Garage – (With Reviews)

Best Air Compressors For Your Home And GarageSmall portable air compressors are one of the most versatile tools out there allowing you to operate multiple different air tools. A small air compressor combines the power of traditional models with portability and compact design. And best of all, they are one of the most affordable types of air compressor, so you won’t have to spend a lot of money to get a unit with great performance.

But which small air compressor should you choose? There are a lot of different units out there, many of them promising you high end performance for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, most of them don’t deliver on this promise. Choosing the right small air compressor that is portable doesn’t have to be hard. Here, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about the smaller air compressors that easy to move around your home, garage, or worksite. We will be highlighting the main features that you should look out for when searching for the perfect unit.

There won’t be one air compressor that will be right for everyone. You’ll have to consider a lot of factors to find the perfect portable air compressor. What types of tools do you plan to use? How much space do you have? How much money are you willing to spend? The answers to these questions will help determine which air compressor is the right fit for you. Here we are looking at small air compressors suitable for various tasks around your house.

To help make the process easier, we’ve combed through all of the different models out there to pick some of our favorites. By comparing the different units, you’ll be able to find the best portable air compressor for your needs.

Best Portable Air Compressor Reviews

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Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Makita MAC2400 Air Compressor
This air compressor comes with a serious kick, making it a great choice for those looking for a high end air compressor.
PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
Porter-Cable C2002 Air Compressor
This makes it a great choice for those that need to power air-intensive tools for prolonged periods.
Air Compressor, Portable, 3 Gallon Horizontal, Oilless, w/ 10 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Inflation Gun (Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV)
Campbell Hausfeld Portable Air Compressor
These criticisms, although accurate, don’t detract from the fact that this is an excellent choice for those that value portability over performance.
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
California Air Tools 1P106S Air Compressor
The motor is just 0.6 horsepower, which may not be as much as some people are looking for.
3PLUS HCB0504M02 1 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor, Portable, Oil-Free Air Compressor, w/11 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Blow Gun
3Plus HC0540GM Air Compressor
The performance isn’t exceptional, but it’s not bad, either. You’ll get 0.7 CFM at 90 psi with its 0.5 horsepower motor.
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
Dewalt DWFP55126 Air Compressor
The compressor gives you a maximum pressure of 165, a pretty impressive number for such a small unit.
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Makita MAC2400 Air Compressor
This air compressor comes with a serious kick, making it a great choice for those looking for a high end air compressor.
PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
Porter-Cable C2002 Air Compressor
This makes it a great choice for those that need to power air-intensive tools for prolonged periods.
Air Compressor, Portable, 3 Gallon Horizontal, Oilless, w/ 10 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Inflation Gun (Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV)
Campbell Hausfeld Portable Air Compressor
These criticisms, although accurate, don’t detract from the fact that this is an excellent choice for those that value portability over performance.
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
California Air Tools 1P106S Air Compressor
The motor is just 0.6 horsepower, which may not be as much as some people are looking for.
3PLUS HCB0504M02 1 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor, Portable, Oil-Free Air Compressor, w/11 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Blow Gun
3Plus HC0540GM Air Compressor
The performance isn’t exceptional, but it’s not bad, either. You’ll get 0.7 CFM at 90 psi with its 0.5 horsepower motor.
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
Dewalt DWFP55126 Air Compressor
The compressor gives you a maximum pressure of 165, a pretty impressive number for such a small unit.

Makita MAC2400 Air Compressor

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Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
  • The 4.2 gallon twin-stacked tank
  • 130 PSI, and delivers 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM)
  • Oil lubricated: Cooler running pump, minimizes wear
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
  • The 4.2 gallon twin-stacked tank
  • 130 PSI, and delivers 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM)
  • Oil lubricated: Cooler running pump, minimizes wear

The first unit on our list is also one of the most powerful out there. This air compressor comes with a serious kick, making it a great choice for those looking for a high end air compressor. Unfortunately, all of this power comes at the cost of portability. Although it’s still portable, it’s going to take some effort to move.

The motor delivers some serious power, giving you 2.5 horsepower. This will give you 4.2 CFM at 90 psi, enough to run air-intensive tools that would be beyond the reach of a lot of portable compressors. It also has enough air that you’ll be able to power 2 tools at once, making it a great option for worksites where you’ll be busy on multiple jobs simultaneously.

The pump is oil lubricated, which means it can be a bit more of a mess than some models. But the benefit is that it keeps the pump from overheating, and wear is minimized.

It operates at 79 decibels, which is about middle of the pack when it comes to noise level. You will struggle to hear people talking around you, and you won’t want to run the device in crowded apartment buildings. But it won’t sound like a jet engine, either, so you don’t need to worry about damaging your hearing.

The roll cage is tough, giving you protection from most bumps and drops. However, some of the components stick out a bit, so not every part of the device is well protected. The twin-stacked tank has a capacity of 4.2 gallons. That means you’ll get enough air to power more air-intensive tools such as grinders and sanders.

The main downside of the Makita is its weight. At 81.5 pounds, it’s not a light piece of equipment, and may be hard to move around job sites and transport. If you need high end performance, the Makita is one of the best options reviewed here, although you may have some issues with transporting it.

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Porter-Cable C2002 Air Compressor

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PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
  • 150 psi max tank pressure
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi
  • Durable oil-free pump for long life and no maintenance
PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
  • 150 psi max tank pressure
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi
  • Durable oil-free pump for long life and no maintenance

Porter Cable make some of the best air compressors out there, offering a great blend of performance and portability. And the Porter Cable C2002 lives up to the company’s heritage, offering top of the line air flow and a tough build that can take a beating.

It has a maximum pressure of 150 psi, which makes it a great compressor for those that need to run more demanding tools. It runs at 2.6 CFM at 90 psi, so you’ll get more than enough air to drive nails and quickly inflate tires.

At 6 gallons, the tank is large for a portable air compressor. This makes it a great choice for those that need to power air-intensive tools for prolonged periods. You won’t have to spend much time waiting for the tank to refill, unlike some other portable options.

Despite its high volume tank, it weighs just 31.3 pounds. It can easily be moved around to different worksites, and it’s compact enough to make storage simple.

One of the downside of this air compressor is that it’s pretty loud, operating at 79 decibels. If you’re worried about waking your neighbors, this isn’t the best choice. But if you’re working it areas where noise isn’t a significant issues, then it will be fine, and it’s not so loud that you have to worry about damaging your hearing. This is an all around performer, giving you an excellent blend of portability and performance.

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Campbell Hausfeld Portable Air Compressor

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Air Compressor, Portable, 3 Gallon Horizontal, Oilless, w/ 10 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Inflation Gun (Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV)
Air Compressor, Portable, 3 Gallon Horizontal, Oilless, w/ 10 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Inflation Gun (Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV)
  • 3 gallon horizontal tank and 0.36 CFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Oil-less pump for maintenance-free ownership
  • Equipped with 10 piece accessory kit
Air Compressor, Portable, 3 Gallon Horizontal, Oilless, w/ 10 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Inflation Gun (Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV)
Air Compressor, Portable, 3 Gallon Horizontal, Oilless, w/ 10 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Inflation Gun (Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV)
  • 3 gallon horizontal tank and 0.36 CFM @ 90 PSI.
  • Oil-less pump for maintenance-free ownership
  • Equipped with 10 piece accessory kit

Campbell Hausfeld make a wide range of quality air compressors that combine performance and affordability. And that’s exactly what you get with this small air compressor.

This unit received mixed reviews, due to its small volume tank and limited airflow. These criticisms, although accurate, don’t detract from the fact that this is an excellent choice for those that value portability over performance. You’ll get 0.36 CFM at 90 psi. This isn’t great airflow if you are looking to run powerful tools. But you’ll be able to get smooth performance from most nail guns, and it still has enough air flow to inflate tires.

The tank is 3 gallons, which is enough for your run of the mill pneumatics, like nail guns. But if you’re trying to power some more heavy duty, air-intensive tools, you’ll run out of air quickly, and spend a lot of time waiting for the air compressor to recover.

It comes with a 10 piece accessory kit, which is a nice bonus, especially for such an inexpensive package. Unfortunately, a lot of these accessories aren’t much more than cheap throw ins. If you don’t want to shell out for the accessories separately, or aren’t too worried about their quality, then the accessory kit may be useful.

It’s not the most durable air compressor, and some of the components may show wear over time. But overall it holds up well enough, especially if you aren’t putting it through the wringer every day. Homeowners will get years of use without any issues.

Where stands out is with its price. This is one of the most affordable portable air compressors out there, costing about a third of some other portable options. It’s one of the best options for those that aren’t worried about running air-intensive tools, and just need an air compressor that can handle jobs around the house.

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California Air Tools 1P106S Air Compressor

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California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
  • Oil-Free pump for less maintenance & costs
  • Lightweight for easy transporting – 29.5 lbs
  • 1.0 gallon steel tank
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
  • Oil-Free pump for less maintenance & costs
  • Lightweight for easy transporting – 29.5 lbs
  • 1.0 gallon steel tank

California Air Tools make some of the best air compressors you can find, giving you the perfect blend of performance, durability, and affordability. This compressor offers everything you would expect from a California Air Tools unit.

The motor is just 0.6 horsepower, which may not be as much as some people are looking for. But horsepower doesn’t matter much if the pump is efficient, and this one is. You’ll get 1.2 CFM at 90 psi, a pretty remarkable number for such a small, quiet air compressor.

The tank is just 1 gallon, which is one of the unit’s biggest downsides. Unless you are using it to just drive a few nails, you’re probably going to have to spend a decent amount of time waiting for the tank to fill up.

But the benefit of such a small tank is that the unit is quite light, weighing just 29 pounds. If you need an air compressor that you can move around easily and load into a van, this is a great option. And it’s compact, so you won’t have to clear out a corner of your garage just so that you can store it.

One of the best features of this air compressor is how quiet it is. At just 56 decibels, this unit operates at a whisper. You’ll be able to carry on conversations with those around you without feeling like you have to shout. If you’re looking for a high performance and affordable portable air compressor, the 1P106S is one of your best options.

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3Plus HC0540GM Air Compressor

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3PLUS HCB0504M02 1 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor, Portable, Oil-Free Air Compressor, w/11 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Blow Gun
3PLUS HCB0504M02 1 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor, Portable, Oil-Free Air Compressor, w/11 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Blow Gun
  • 1 gallon tank and [email protected],125 PSI max.
  • Features a direct-drive, oil-free pump
  • Lightweight and compact design
3PLUS HCB0504M02 1 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor, Portable, Oil-Free Air Compressor, w/11 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Blow Gun
3PLUS HCB0504M02 1 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor, Portable, Oil-Free Air Compressor, w/11 Piece Accessory Kit Including Air Hose & Blow Gun
  • 1 gallon tank and [email protected],125 PSI max.
  • Features a direct-drive, oil-free pump
  • Lightweight and compact design

If you’re looking for an ultra light compressor, this is one of your best options. This compressor weighs just 25 pounds, making it the lightest air compressor reviewed here. And it’s compact too, so transport and storage are easy. The oil free pump works well, giving you smooth operation and very little noise. This unit runs at just 65 decibels- the sound of a typical conversation.

The performance isn’t exceptional, but it’s not bad, either. You’ll get 0.7 CFM at 90 psi with its 0.5 horsepower motor. And it has a maximum pressure of 125 psi. These numbers don’t stand out as good or bad. If you’ve been waiting to try out some high powered pneumatic tools, this isn’t the air compressor for you. But if you need to drive nails or trim, you’ll get more than enough performance.

If you need one of the best small air compressors to break out for those odd jobs that come up a few times a year around the house, this is an excellent option. It’s super lightweight, affordable, and gives you reliable performance when using tools that aren’t too demanding.

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Dewalt DWFP55126 Air Compressor

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DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
  • 75.5 dBA noise level for a quiet work setting
  • High flow regulator and couplers to maximize air tool performance
  • Power Supply – 120V, 60Hz, 10 amps., universal motor
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
  • 75.5 dBA noise level for a quiet work setting
  • High flow regulator and couplers to maximize air tool performance
  • Power Supply – 120V, 60Hz, 10 amps., universal motor

This 6-gallon beast from brand leader Dewalt is a high-priced 165 max PSI model with 2.6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI. Because of the high efficiency motor of the DWFP55126, the unit can start up in cold weather, and even at peak use has a rated 75.5 dBA noise level to keep you from disturbing people nearby. Air tool performance is maximized by the high flow regulator and couplers, both of high quality. There is little to worry about in terms of maintenance; for the most part it takes care of itself. It was built from the ground up to withstand tough, long hours of heavy workload so out of the box it is more capable than half of the air compressors on the list. With an oil-free pump and easily removable console cover, this unit will spend more time working for you than the other way around.

The included couplers are universal meaning that two users can use the unit simultaneously. Tank draining is quick and easy with the ball drain valve. When moving the unit, the floor as well as the machine itself is protected by rubber leg covers. At 30 pounds, it’s not as portable as some of the other units on the list, but is convenient enough to have a cord wrap feature so it can easily be tucked away where you need it. This is a powerful air compressor that will meet your needs far beyond tire, sport, and toy use. It’s powerful enough to use with tools like a brad nailer and beyond, but with that extra power you will lose some portability. This is, however, one of the best on the list, and will last you for years.

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PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 135 PSI Pancake Compressor

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PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
  • Durable oil-free pump for long life and no maintenance
  • Low Amp 120V motor
  • Only 26 lbs. for easy portability
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
  • Durable oil-free pump for long life and no maintenance
  • Low Amp 120V motor
  • Only 26 lbs. for easy portability

Another sought-after name brand is Porter-Cable’s powerful 135 PSI pancake compressor with 2.0 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI pump in a 3.5-gallon tank. Not only will you be able to output more power, but you’ll have an incredibly quick recovery time in the process. The pump is oil-free to help with durability issues that plague less expensive air compressors. The price for this unit is in the high range, but it’s not outrageous. Like the previous unit the weight may be an issue since it clocks in at 26 pounds, but it makes up for its size with a 120-V motor with low amperage. It’s a bit on the loud side with a dbA of 82 but comes with 2 gauges and a quick-connect coupler.

For the ambitious user, it supports multiple trim finishing nailers for bigger projects beyond inflating tires and sports products. It can be used for home improvement, to power tools, even on framing or roofing jobs. The one thing lacking from this great purchase is accessories, which isn’t a big deal if you already have them. For a new user, this is going to result in an extra purchase that may hinder their decision on buying the unit in the first place. This is still one of the most powerful units on the list, even if it doesn’t have the portability of the smaller units. For someone looking for a unit that will last them for years, this is easily in the top 3 on the list. If you can tolerate the high noise levels and vibration then this is the one to buy, especially since it is brand named. But if you’re looking for something to carry in your car, then you may want to opt for a smaller unit.

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PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor

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PORTER-CABLE CMB15 (1.5 Gallon) Oil-Free Fully Shrouded / Hand Carry Compressor Kit with 25' Hose
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 (1.5 Gallon) Oil-Free Fully Shrouded / Hand Carry Compressor Kit with 25' Hose
  • 2.0 SCFM at 90 psi
  • 1.5 gal tank
  • 150 psi max tank pressure
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 (1.5 Gallon) Oil-Free Fully Shrouded / Hand Carry Compressor Kit with 25' Hose
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 (1.5 Gallon) Oil-Free Fully Shrouded / Hand Carry Compressor Kit with 25' Hose
  • 2.0 SCFM at 90 psi
  • 1.5 gal tank
  • 150 psi max tank pressure

This interesting unit from Porter Cable is the last on the list, and is a high-priced shrouded compressor with some unique features. The 2.0 SCFM at 90 PSI saves you a lot of time during use, and doesn’t slow over time. The tank capacity is 1.5 gallons with a water drain valve and rubber feet to protect the unit and your floors. It amazingly has a 150-PSI max that stores a lot more air in the tank than other models, and gives it longer tool run time. The pump is of course oil-free and easy to maintain over the years with light up-keep. If using in cold weather it starts up easily due to the 120-volt low amp motor. The design and the weight of 20 pounds makes this an ideal enough unit to use around the house for heavier work but just light enough to bring along in your car. It’s right at that tipping point of not light enough but also not too heavy.

For noise concerns it is basically average, pumping out 79 dBA, so not great but also not bad. Concerns about touching hot or moving parts are alleviated with the enclosed design that protects you. A long, 25-foot coil hose and generous 8-piece accessory kit handles a variety of inflation and tool tasks. The warranty is decent enough, and covers compressor components from general failure. The universal tips included are great to have, but are much lower in quality than the unit itself. So even when you have the adapters you need, for optimal performance it may be necessary to make an extra purchase online or at your hardware store. The size is perfect for small tasks and some around the house, but with a 1.5-gallon tank you’re going to run into problems that wouldn’t arise if it was at least 2 gallons. It’s still good enough for its size to be worth a look, and with all of the included accessories, despite their quality, this is still a nice buy.

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Buying Guide For Portable Air Compressors

Best Portable Air Compressor ReviewsWhen looking for a portable air compressor, there will be a lot of models to choose from. Unfortunately, there are a lot of units that don’t offer enough performance for the money you’ll have to spent. And others will fall apart as soon as you turn on the motor.

Fortunately, finding the right small portable air compressor doesn’t have to be a challenge. You just need the right advice. Here, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about portable air compressors, as well as pick some our favorites in different categories. Remember, there’s no one portable air compressor that will be right for everyone. You’ll have to consider your specific needs before which unit is the best portable air compressor for you.

What Exactly Counts As A Portable Air Compressor

There’s no exact definition on what counts as a portable air compressor and what doesn’t. In general, they tend to be much lighter and more compact. They also tend to be a bit less powerful than stationary air compressors. They are designed with ease of movement in mind, rather than pure power.

Aside from the differences in size, portable air compressors work just like any other air compressor. There is a motor that powers a piston, which draws air into the tank. This pressurized air is then released through a valve and can be used to power a wide variety of tools.

Who Should Get A Portable Air Compressor

Best Portable Air Compressor ReviewsPortable air compressors are an excellent choice for those that need a device that they can easily move around and transport to job sites. They tend to be lightweight and compact, so they are also easy to store, making them a great option for homeowners who don’t play on using their compressor more than a few times a year. You can also check out our air compressor for home and garage guide if you are looking for something different.

Although many portable units still feature plenty of power, they won’t be able to pack quite as much of a punch as heavy units.  If you need to power specialized tools, or you need consistent air flow for prolonged periods, you may want to consider a less portable but more powerful air compressor.

If, however, you need to move your compressor around to different sites and want one that is easy to store, than a portable air compressor is the perfect choice. Most jobs won’t require the power that you get from the more expensive, high end air compressors. If you are mainly planning on using your air compressor to trim, drive nails, or inflate tires, you’ll get more than enough power with the portable air compressors reviewed here.

Some Important Units Of Measurement

When you are comparing different options, you’ll see various units of measurement. Here are some of the most important for you to know.

– PSI

PSI, or pounds per square inch, is the main unit used to measure pressure in air compressors. The psi you see for a unit tells you how much pressure the air is exerting on the inside walls of the tank.

Different tools will require different pressure, so choose a portable air compressor that will be able to power the tools you have. And remember, psi is just one of many numbers that you’ll need to consider when buying an air compressor. Just because a unit has a high maximum pressure doesn’t mean it’s a good air compressor.

– CFM

This is the other main unit of measurement used for air compressors. CFM tells you how much air your compressor can deliver at a given pressure. The CFM rating is the most important unit for pairing an air compressor to tools, so always make sure you know all of your tools’ CFM requirements.

You’ll want to choose an air compressor that can give you a bit more than the minimum CFM required by your tools. For example, if you have a nail gun that requires 1.0 CFM at 90 psi, you should get an air compressor that can deliver around 1.2 CFM at 90 psi. This will ensure that you always have enough air for your tools to run smoothly.

– Decibels

Decibels are the unit used to measure the sound an air compressor produces. They measure the force of a sound wave, which tells you how loud a sound is.

The decibel ratings of portable air compressors varies widely. Some will operate in around 65 decibels, which is about the noise level of a typical conversation. Others will run at near 80 decibels, which will drown out voices and might get you some noise complaints.

Sounds beginning around 90 decibels can be harmful to your hearing, so if you are using a louder air compressor for prolonged periods, you may want to consider ear protection.

– Horsepower

This will tell you how much power the motor is producing. Keep in mind that horsepower alone doesn’t mean much when you’re looking at an air compressor. You should focus on what the unit is actually using that horsepower for. Pay more attention to the air measurements, such as psi and CFM, if you want to how much performance you’ll get from an air compressor.

Important Factors To Consider When Choosing A Portable Air Compressor

Best Portable Air Compressor ReviewsThere are many different factors to consider when you’re looking for the right portable air compressor. Here are some of the most important.

– Pressure

Portable air compressors won’t be able to the deliver the same level of air pressure as what you’ll get with higher powered unit. But many models still give you plenty of power, and should be able to power just about any tool you have lying around at home without any issues.

The maximum pressures of the models reviewed here vary from 110 to 165 psi, so pick one that matches the minimum requirement of the tools you plan to use.

Keep in mind that psi is not everything that you should be looking for in an air compressor. It’s an important unit, to be sure. However, if you get too wrapped up in psi, you may miss out on portable air compressors that offer better all around performance.

Most air compressors won’t be running at their maximum air pressure for routine jobs. And even when they are, there are also wait times, so you’ll have to sit around until your air compressor can reach its maximum pressure. Instead of spending more money on a unit with a maximum psi you’ll never use, consider a more affordable option that still has enough pressure to power your tools.

– Air Flow

Air compressors are much more than just the maximum pressure. You also have to consider how much of that high pressure air they can deliver. The air compressors reviewed here have very different air flows. Some will give you around 4.0 CFM at 90 psi, while others can manage less than a tenth of that.

Although the air compressors featured here will vary widely, all of them will have great air flow at lower pressures, which means they’ll easily be able to run less air intensive tools, such as nail guns. Don’t worry too much about getting the unit with the highest CFM if you are only planning on driving nails. You’ll spend more money than you need to, and not be able to use all of the added power.

– Tank Size

Because they are designed to be easy to carry, portable air compressors tend to have smaller tanks than what you’ll find on some other high capacity units. But there’s still a wide range in tank sizes among portable air compressors.

Some have tanks that can run air intensive tools, while others have tanks that are barely even 1 gallon. If you plan on mainly driving nails or inflating tires, you’ll do just fine with one of the models that has a smaller tank. If, however, you plan on running tools such as sanders and grinders for prolonged periods, you may want to choose of the options that has a higher volume tank.

– Durability

Although the models reviewed here all feature excellent durability, they still vary a bit in their toughness. If you need an air compressor that can take a beating at a worksite, you’ll want to make sure you choose a unit that is built to last, like the Dewalt.

If, however, you plan on using your portable air compressor for jobs around the house, you won’t have to worry as much about durability. Go for a unit like the Campbell Hausfeld and save money.

– Weight

Although all of the air compressors featured here are portable, some are more portable than others. The weights of the units reviewed here range from 25 to 81 pounds, so you have plenty of choices depending on how portable you need your unit to be.

Do you need an air compressor that you can easily lift and move around job sites, and then throw in a van? Then choose a lighter unit, such as the 3Plus. If you need an air compressor that is high powered and aren’t as worried about transporting it, so may benefit from a unit such as the Makida, which weighs over 80 pounds.

– Price

Portable air compressors tend to be more affordable than their larger stationary cousins. But you’ll still find a find range in prices among different models.

You’ll have to consider how much power and air flow you need when choosing a portable air compressor, as higher performance options will cost you a lot more. And consider how often you plan on using your air compressor. If you’ll only be using your unit a few times a year for odd jobs, then you might want to pick one of the lower priced options.

– Power

The units reviewed here are all portable electric air compressors. But some units are gas powered. When you are looking for a portable air compressor, always check what the power source is.

Gas powered units will tend to be much louder. And they emit fumes, so indoor use is not safe. Electric powered air compressors tend to be much quieter, so you can run them in areas where noise is a concern. And they don’t emit fumes, so indoor operation is safe.

– Accessories

The extras that will come in the package vary widely by model. Some will come with a wide range of tips or adapters, and some will come come with nothing except the air compressor.

Note that a lot of these accessories aren’t always very high quality. They are thrown into the package as a sweetener, but don’t add that much value. When comparing units, keep this in mind, as you may end up wanting to buy accessories separately.

Different Types Of Portable Air Compressors

Best Portable Air Compressor ReviewsThe models reviewed here are all portable air compressors. But there are some other types of portable air compressors as well, if you’re looking for a more specific use.

Tire Inflators

These portable air compressors are designed specifically to inflate tires on the road. Most are designed so that they can be stored in your car, so they’re fairly lightweight and compact. Most models run by connecting to your car’s battery or ash tray, although some are battery powered.

They can be used to inflate other objects, but aside from that they are fairly limited. You won’t be able to run any tools, so they really are a one trick pony. But they can get you out of a tight spot on the road.

Handheld Air Compressors

These air compressors are designed so that you can easily carry them around with one hand. That makes them one of the most portable types of air compressor. They are also one of the easiest units to store.

The portability, however, comes at the cost of power. Most handheld models won’t be able to handle much more than simple nail drivers. You’ll be able to run small nail guns and inflate tires, but not much else.

They are great for those that need a lightweight and compact air compressor for odd jobs around the house. And they are also an excellent choice for those that need an air compressor that they can travel with.

Quiet Air Compressors

Most people won’t associate the word “quiet” with air compressors. But there’s a wide variety of air compressors that produce a minimal amount of noise, allowing you to run them indoors without getting a noise complaint.

Most quiet air compressors feature motors that are fairly small, which helps keep them quiet. This means that they are also one of the more portable types of air compressor. Since they value quietness over everything else, these air compressors are a bit less powerful than other portable options.

They are a great choice if you need portability and quiet operation, but aren’t too worried about power. If you want more information on low noise air compressors, head to our guide.

Cordless Air Compressors

Cordless air compressors are one of the most versatile types of portable air compressor. Powered by battery, they are easy to travel with, and can be used in areas where the power supply is not reliable.

Because they are powered by batteries, their air flow is a bit limited. And they tend to have smaller tanks, as the battery doesn’t have enough power to pump high volumes of air.

They make up for their lack of power with their portability. They are some of the lightest air compressors you can find, with some units weighing less than 15 pounds. This makes them an excellent choice for those who need to move around between outdoors job sites.

Brands You Should Know

When choosing a portable air compressor, you’re going to find a lot of different air compressor brands. Unfortunately, a lot of them make products that aren’t worth your money, giving you poor performance and shoddy construction. Here are some brands that you can trust when you are looking for a portable air compressor.

California Air Tools

California Air Tools make some of the best air compressors you can find. Whether you’re looking for an installed unit for industrial use, or an ultra quiet air compressor to run in an office, California Air Tools has a model for you.

Their units offer a high level of performance without costing you too much. And they are long lasting, so you don’t have to worry about the unit wearing down.

If you’re looking for a quiet and portable option, their 1P106S is one of the best units out there. It gives you excellent airflow and operates at just 56 decibels.

Dewalt

Dewalt are regarded as one of the leading manufacturers of high end tools. Their air compressors come with the same attention to detail and high end performance. If you are looking for a top of the line air compressor, Dewalt is always a great place to start.

They can be a bit more expensive than some other companies, so they’re not a great option if you’re looking for an air compressor to use on rare occasions. But if you need a portable air compressor that you will use often, and subject to a beating, then a Dewalt is a great choice.

Campbell Hausfeld

Campbell Hausfeld are another big name in air compressors. Their units often don’t have quite the same level of performance as what you’ll get with a compressor from California Air Tools or Dewalt. However, they are a great option for those looking to save some money but still get a reliable unit with decent power and performance.

Their portable air compressor is one of the best budget air compressors out there, giving you enough performance for simple jobs in package that costs significantly less than other units.

Porter Cable

Porter Cable are one of the leading producers of air compressors, making a wide range of units for different uses. Their units aren’t always the most portable, but they offer a high level of performance with excellent durability. If you want a portable air compressor that will last you years, then a Porter Cable unit is a great choice.

They also make a variety of tools that pair well with their compressors, if you are looking to upgrade your toolkit.

 

Conclusion

Portable air compressors are one of the most versatile tools that you can own. They won’t give you as much power as you’ll get with units meant to stay in one place. But for most jobs, you won’t need that much power, and you’ll end up lugging around a hundred pound piece of equipment for no reason.

Portable air compressors strike the perfect balance between portability, performance, and affordability. But picking out the right compressor can be hard. There are a lot of models to choose from, and it can be difficult to see what makes them all different.

There won’t be one portable air compressor that is best for everyone. You’ll have to consider a wide range of factors when deciding which option is right for you. What type of tools do you plan on powering? How lightweight do you need it to be? How much space do you have? The answers to these questions will help determine which air compressor is right for you.

With the reviews and buying guide, you’ll be able to find the air compressor that suits your specific needs. Have any more questions about air compressors? Whether you are looking for the best handheld air compressor or the best tire inflator, you’ll find all the information you need at Air Compressor Talk.

Last update on 2019-05-21 at 11:24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API