As the name suggests, an air compressor is a device that compresses air under high pressure which can be used for multiple purposes. The device simply converts electric power to potential energy by compressing air stored in pressure tanks under high pressure. These compressors are usually heavy equipments that are used mostly in construction sites and industries. But you may need compressed air anywhere, that’s when the role of a portable air compressor comes into play. A portable air compressor is lightweight and can be transported easily. One shouldn’t be deceived by its compact size as portable air compressors come with industry standard quality and deliver higher power and improved job-site performance. A portable air compressor is compact enough to be carried in your car trunk and hence can help fix your deflated tires in no time during emergency road-side situations. There are some variants of portable air compressor units that are cordless which derive power from batteries providing hassle free work experience.
Portable Air Compressor buying guide
Buying a portable air compressor can prove to be very tricky as there are numerous variants in the market designed specifically for certain uses. Hence understanding your needs is the first and foremost hurdle you’ll need to pass. Air compressors come handy in a variety of work ranging from inflating a tire to triggering a nail gun. So it is necessary to find the right compressor that’ll handle your jobs. There are basically two types of compressors when it comes to their function, ie; Single-stage piston-type air compressors that are normally used for normal applications for home use and can somehow meet the requirements in the workshop too. This is the type you’ll prefer for day-to-day use. The other type is the Two-stage compressor which comes with two pistons. These are built for heavy duty and deliver higher pressure suitable for commercial purpose.
Portable air compressors come in several styles and one can choose among the following major four variants:
Pancake: This variant has an oval-shaped UFO type storage tank and are usually compact in size hence take up little space.
Hot dog: This variant has a horizontal single cylindrical storage tank.
Wheelbarrow: Have twin cylindrical storage tanks and come with wheels and handles for easy mobility.
Twin-stack: Have two horizontal cylindrical tanks adding more air capacity.
Where to buy?
Air compressors are sold at various hardware stores, however, the hassle of picking one up can be hectic and you won’t be able to read real-time opinions and user experience. Hence Amazon remains the best available option as it delivers the product right to your doorstep and that too with amazing discounts and customer support. Also, Amazon has the richest customer feedback system with honest reviews from real buyers. Customers usually answer the questions one may have also list pros and cons as well. So without further ado let’s check out the top Ten best portable air compressor of 2018.
The Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor comes on the top of our list as it showcases maximum customer satisfaction and performance.
Built with robust cast iron pump coupled with great bore and stroke. The size configuration of the Makita MAC700 is 18”x10”x22” making easy to fit in compact spaces. The compressor also comes with a 1/4” brass Makita universal coupler.
The Makita MAC700 delivers a whopping 2HP (Horsepower). The beast of a pump reaches up to 1,720 RPM (Rotations per minute) delivering greater displacement.
The compressor is oil lubricated and has an operating pressure range of 0-130 psi.
It accommodates a tank of 2.6 gallons.
The Makita MAC700 proudly boasts of its lower noise levels and compact design. The compact variant delivers industrial standard power with tough durability and faster recovery and yet low noise level of just up to 80 (dB).
Size and Weight
The Makita MAC700 weighs up to 59.6 pounds making it easily portable and easy to be carried around.
The variant is electric-powered and draws a voltage as low as 120 volts.
Makita also provides an attractive 30 day replacement and refund policy just in case you are not satisfied but it’s rarely possible. All parts of Makita MAC700 is warranted up to 1 year and in-case of any defects, the complete tool can be returned making it the best pick in our top ten list with a remarkable customer rating.
Oil lubricated pump hence least noise.
Compact design hence easily portable
30-day return and refund policy with 1-year warranty on parts and labor.
The Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil free compressor comes with a pancake style tank which provides added stability due to its innovative design. The variant has tons of satisfied customers and its value for money is indeed remarkable.
The tool comes with a 13 piece accessory kit which makes the whole process hassle free. It comes with factory installed air coupler and plug in air hose which makes everyday tasks easier and also prevents leakages. As it is equipped with a durable oil free pump, there is absolutely no maintenance and hence does justice to out value for money criteria.
The max tank air pressure ranges up to 150 psi delivering ample air pressure compared to its compact size. It has 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi which allows quicker compressor recovery time speeding up your usage process.
It boasts of about 6 gallon capacity and hence provides longer air tool performance.
Size and Weight:
The compressor comes with a handle, a shroud and mere 18”x18.3”x19” configuration weighing just 34 pounds which makes the unit easy to carry.
The Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil free compressor works on low amp 120-volt motor and hence triggers easily even in cold weathers and can even be used on extension cords.
The Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil free compressor comes with a 1 year Limited warranty on the compressor components.
The Hitachi KNT50AB comes with a combo including a NT50AE2 Brad Nailer and an EC710S compressor. The nailer also includes a simple flip actuation switch which lets the user easily select bump fire and sequential fire modes. It also has a metric pressure management system pre-installed.
The NT50AE2 Brad Nailer is popular for its light weight and easy maneuverability and the oil free pancake compressor delivers powerful and rugged performance and can be used on multiple nailers. The kit also includes safety glasses and a pneumatic tool lubricant. The kit is also coated with elastomer grips at required places which adds comfort and prevents accidental slippage.
It delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi making it applicable on multiple nailers depending on the application.
It has a 6 gallon pancake style tank and delivers up to 150 psi of max working pressure.
Size and Weight:
The product weighs about 47 pounds and has dimensions of 17 x 18 x 22 inches making it compact enough to be carried around easily.
The Hitachi KNT50AB draws a 120volt low-amp current and hence can be used even on extension cords.
Hitachi offers a conditional warranty on the product.
The Porter Cable CMB15 is a budget friendly portable air compressor which can meet your normal day to day household requirements.
Its small tank makes it easy to be carried around and it also contains a water drain valve which makes water drainage hassle free. The oil free pump is known for its durable nature and hence guarantees zero maintenance.
It is an oil free and fully shrouded compressor and delivers up to 2.0 SCFM at 90 psi which allows quick compressor recovery time.
It has a small 1.5 gallon pressure tank and yet delivers 150 psi of pressure.
It also has a very low noise level ranging just 70 dB and hence is a very smart buying option which at the same time won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Size and Weight:
The key specialty of the CMB15 is its very compact size of dimensions as small as 15.5 x 13.2 x 20.5 and weighing just 20pounds.
The tool works at low amp and draws 120 volt current which makes it easy to be kick started during cold weather conditions.
Porter Cable offers 1 year warranty on the CMB15 further enhancing the benefit of having one.
The MAC2400 is another cast iron pump from the house of Makita built with a big bore cylinder and piston which delivers a faster recovery time and improved performance.
The MAC2400 has a compact Roll-cage design which serves as a protective exoskeleton for the whole unit making it suitable for extreme job-site situations. It is equipped with industrial style air filter adding to increased air intake and greater efficiency. The unit also has an oil-sight glass which helps you easily monitor oil levels for making maintenance easy. It also has a built-in thermal overload that adds additional protection to the motor. The MAC2400 come with a 1/4” universal quick coupler which is the specialty of Makita variants.
The pump is an oil lubricated one which helps in run at cooler temperatures and also reduces wear.
The unit delivers a whopping 2.5 HP and 4.2 CFM at 90 psi which adds to quick recovery. The variant is indeed a heavy duty beast with operating pressure of 130 psi and is usually suitable for heavy and frequent use purposes.
It has a 4.2 gallon twin-stacked tank delivering high efficiency and power.
Size and Weight:
It is very compact having dimensions 20 X 18 x 18.8 and weighing about 81 pounds.
The MAC2400 is also a low-amp drawer and draws 120 volts and hence can be triggered without hampering your MCBs.
The eye-catching deal on this Makita variant also remains the 30 day replacement or refund policy and the warranted 1 year period of defects and workmanship wherein you can choose to return the whole unit if unsatisfied. It is a steal deal in-case of Makita variants.
The CAT-5510A of California Air Tools is an aluminum build portable air compressor specially known for its ultra-quiet working conditions.
The unit also comes with wheels unlike other portable air compressors hence carrying the unit around is easier than ever. The unit also includes an air filter for increased productivity.
It delivers up to 1.0HP and at peaks up to a whopping 2.0 HP. It records a 3.10 CFM at 40 psi so the recovery time can be extended
It holds a 5.5 Gallon aluminum tank which is absolutely rust free which makes it the perfect choice for those who won’t be using a compressor regularly.
The CAT-5510A of California Air Tools is an aluminum build portable air compressor and is specially known for its ultra-quiet working will noise levels as low as 60 decibels. It is so quiet it won’t wake a baby up!
Size and Weight:
The key feature of the unit is its light weight weighing just 34 pounds and having dimensions of 25.5 x 11.5 x 21 inches.
It draws ac current and draws low amp and works at 110 volts so triggering it at cold conditions isn’t a problem.
California air tools provides a 1 year limited warranty too on the product.
The Rolair JC10 is another great option which made it to our top 10 list which is an oil less compressor.
Rolair is definitely a reputed brand and has been delivering industrial quality products. The JC10 has a cast aluminum cylinder so the fear of rust won’t haunt you! The unit is well protected with a compact crank roll-cage exoskeleton making it durable for extreme work-site conditions.
The JC10 variant has a 1725 RPM motor with industrial level capacity.
It delivers a sound 1 HP making it equally powerful to our other picks
It has a cylindrical tank with a 2.5 gallon tank capacity.
Size and Weight:
It is a pretty light weight air compressor weighing about 42.9 pounds and hence is easily portable too also due to its compact dimension of 17 x 16 x 15 inches.
It draws low amp current and works on stable 120 volt voltage.
Porter Cable is a well sought brand and the PCFP02003 variant is a pancake compressor with a very powerful 135 psi pressure capacity. This product is indeed a wonderful buy for normal home improvement and versatile enough to be used on powerful tools and even on roofing tops.
Due to its quick recovery time, more output can be drawn and being oil free it minimizes the issues of durability. This unit is indeed a well built compressor. It comes in-built with a quick connect coupler and 2 gauges which makes monitoring and setup easy and hassle free.
It delivers 2.0 SCFM at 90 psi reducing the recovery time by multiple folds.
It comes with a 3.5 gallon tank with a durable oil-free pump reducing maintenance and extending life.
It is however a bit on the louder side measuring up to 82 decibels.
Size and Weight:
It is one among the lightest portable air compressors weighing just about 26 pounds and can be carried around even by a ten year old. It has a very compact design with dimensions of 18.1 x 17.2 x 18.5 inches.
The compressor works on a very low amp motor and draws 120 volts making it usable on extension cords and easily start-able at cold weather conditions.
The product has a limited warranty for 1 year on compressor components.
The Bostitch CAP1512 is another great option when portability becomes a major concern as this variant from Bostitch is so compact that it can be carried around by a toddler.
It has a high-output oil-free pump which reduces the hassle of maintenance and adds to the durability of the product. To add to its compact design it has an integrated control panel with a protective roll-cage which makes the product suitable for job-site environments.
It delivers up to 2 HP rather too high compared to its size and has multiple utilities.
Though compact the pressure it delivers is indeed deceiving as it ranges up to 150 psi and has a deliverance of a whopping 2.8 CFM at 90 psi making recovery a long forgotten criteria.
It has a small 1.2 gallon pressure tank yet delivering high and consistent pressure.
Size and Weight:
Its dimensions are as compact as 17 x 13 x 11 inches and weighs merely 23.5 pounds.
It draws low-amp 12 amps current which provides easy start-up and you don’t have to worry about tripping circuits anymore.
Bostitch provides a 1 year limited warranty on the product.
The DeWALT DWFP55126 is a 6 gallon monster from the house of the very reputed DeWALT producing up to 165 psi which is way higher than normal portable air compressors.
The DeWALT DWFP55126 comes with great air tool performance and its remarkable as it delivers well with high flow regulators and couplers of high quality.
It delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi air pressure which makes recovery a quick process and the high efficiency motor triggers at even very low temperatures due to low-amp working conditions.
It comes with a big 6 gallon pancake shaped tank ample enough to store significant compressed air.
The noise levels are towards the higher end ranging up to 75.5 decibels making it a little noisy for its compact size.
Size and Weight:
It weights very less ranging up to just 32.2 pounds and also has a compact size measuring dimensions of 17.2 x 16.6 x 20.1 inches.
It draws a very low-amp and works on 120 volt configurations which makes it easily trigger-able at cold conditions.
DeWALT provides with a limited 1 year manufactures warranty on parts and compressor. The product is indeed a steal deal.
Absence of protective roll-cage
Heavy on budget
Why do you need a portable air compressor?
You’d need one if you:
If you own a vehicle as you never know when you come across a deflated tire.
You fix furniture? Nailing won’t require banging a hammer anymore.
Wish to decorate your home? You will require a lot of new paint.
Paint with a brush or an Air brush?
Have some new roofing to do? An air compressor can reduce your hours in the sun.
Have an inflatable pool or perhaps a hot air balloon at the max? Inflating isn’t a hassle with your very own compressor.
Portable air compressors fit in a wide range of uses. It can be used to inflate your tires at your own will whenever you need to instead of visiting a gas station. It can be used to inflate almost anything that is inflatable. Right from a balloon to your inflatable pool or furniture. The compressed high pressure air can be used for various maintenance purposes in your households too as it can clean cervices and unreachable tight spaces on either equipment or furniture by directing air pressure.
A portable air compressor can also be used for painting with an airbrush from small recreational projects to larger surfaces like the body of vehicles and furniture.
Uses of a portable air compressor
Right from a jackhammer to inflating your tire, a portable air compressor helps ease multiple problems. Wish to change the color of your patio? Pick the spray tool and get going. Does carpentry interests you? You’ll need a portable air compressor for a nail gun and forget the noisy and hectic hammerings. A portable air compressor makes spray painting a breeze. You can keep changing colors of anything and everything. And above all, it’s a pretty cool piece of machinery as, through time and experience, you yourself can find multiple uses for it.
Types of portable air compressor:
Air compressors can be classified according to the pressure capacity. There are normally three pressure variants. The first being low-pressure air compressors (LPAC) having a pressure discharge of up to 150 psi. The second variants categorized- as medium pressure compressors range pressure discharge from 150 to 1000 psi. The third variant is High-pressure air compressors (HPAC) having a pressure discharge capacity above 1000 psi. Air compressors are also classified by their working principle and come in two variants which are Rotary-screw compressor and Turbo Compressor.
Low-pressure portable air compressor:
LPAC or low pressure air compressors have a pressure discharge of up to 150 psi and are normally considered for household use such as inflating tires, triggering a nail gun, air brush painting etc. These are normally compact and are portable.
Medium-pressure portable air compressor:
MPACs are medium pressure air compressors and can deliver a varying range of air compression ranging from 150 psi to up to 1000 psi. These are normally preferred for commercial sites and workshops for heavy duty purposes. These can be heavier than LPACs and difficult to be moved around.
High-pressure portable air compressor:
HPACs or High Pressure Air compressors have pressure delivering capacity of more than 1000psi and are used in industrial setups and constructions and demolitions sites and hence certainly not our area of interest. 🙂
What do you need to know before buying the right air compressor?
There are some aspects which should be kept in mind before buying an air compressor. Some of which are:
Power supply: Most portable air compressors are electric-powered and are preferably more suitable for household purposes. These are more suitable for indoor use and are quieter than gasoline versions. Hence an electric variants are preferred for household purposes. Gasoline powered versions are a better choice for outdoor where an electric connection may prove difficult.
Horsepower: The horsepower rating describes the power output of a compressor of the motor. Hence higher the horsepower, greater is the pressure created.
CFM and SCFM: These aspects define the volume of air delivered at specific psi levels and these can be utilized to measure the stable power delivered as per your usage. The higher the CFM rating the more air is delivered and hence suitable for heavy applications.
What to consider before buying the best portable air compressor:
Choosing an air compressor can indeed put you in hassle. The dilemma can be half sorted if you know your requirement and purpose of usage. The other half depends on the type of compressor you choose. Essentially, you’ll have to choose between two types of compressors. The first being Single-stage compressors which are adequate for powering most pneumatic tools, spray guns inflating tires, rafts, etc. The second is Two-stage compressor which compresses air up to around 200 psi and are preferred as it compresses air more quickly and suitable for higher uses.
The horsepower of the compressor is another very important aspect that needs to be considered while buying a portable air compressor. Also the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) serves a measure to analyze an air compressor. Some other aspects that need to be considered are portability, durability and power source. With the above aspects kept in mind, you are ready to go ahead get your very own portable air compressor.
Choosing the right capacity and pressure
Choosing the right capacity and pressure is the most important criteria while buying an air compressor. It’ll solely depend on the area of usage. For household purposes, portable air compressors delivering pressure of around 150 -300 psi are suitable as the range qualifies for inflating tires and triggering nailers and can also be controlled for air brush painting. The capacity of storage of compressed air in an air compressor depends solely on the tank size.
The tank in an air compressor stores the compressed air from which it can be used for multiple purposes. The size of the tank of a portable air compressor ranges for 1 to up to around 10 gallons. Normal variant come with a capacity of 6 gallons and are usually preferred. The ones with lesser capacity will definitely be compact but the unit will have to be continuously working to deliver the desired pressure. In case of bigger tanks, the stored compressed air can be used even in stand-by mode and is preferred for long duration uses.
Making the Buying decision
Making the buying decision is as easy as ever now from our top ten picks. The products are handpicked considering customer satisfaction of over 10000 customers on Amazon who have bought these portable air compressors. We have carefully weighed their reviews to reach a consensus which suits everyone. An air compressor at every household is a necessity as it serves multiple purposes. It can be a savior at emergency situations like a deflated tire perhaps. So go ahead and pick one according to your needs. Happy shopping!