Best portable air compressor: Which One to Get?

Now that you’re here I assume you are looking for a portable air compressor. Regardless, whether you are a professional construction guy or you like to build things as a hobby, it’s always good to have something portable with you. Cause you never know what you might need next.

But finding the best portable air compressor is not an easy task. Trust me I’ve been there and I know how confusing things can get. With so many options available with so many price ranges it’s easy to get lost in the maze. That’s why this review piece might cut you some slack and make your life a lot easier.


My top pick:

Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor. It’s powerful, comes with enough SCFM and is really portable. This product is what defines a portable air compressor.


Tips: For the hobbyists, I suggest you look for something that is not only portable but also provides a decent amount of power. Because, there is no point in having something that is just portable but can’t get any job done. It would be more like an air toy rather than an air tool.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

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1. Viair 88p portable air compressor: Editor’s Choice

Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor

VIAIR

With portability in mind, the manufacturer of this tool has pulled a miracle. If you ask me personally this is something I’ve always wanted and now this is my daily driver for a very long time. Without any more chitchats let’s see what this thing has to offer us.

  • It comes with a 12-volt adapter. It also draws only 20 Amps.
  • The tank has a 120 PSI max working pressure. Even some industrial air compressors come with less than this.
  • We all know how important SCFM is. This one comes with 1.47 SCFM running at 0 PSI max pressure.
  • This tool is powered by alligator clamps directly to the battery.
  • Ideal for small ATVs, trucks SUVs or anything that has tires up to 33 inches.
  • The LED power indicator is very convenient.
  • The 10 ft power cord is more than enough for most use cases.
  • Comes with a 16 ft air hose, 3pc inflation tip kit.

Pros

    12v power adapter.
    120 PSI max tank pressure.
    1.47 SCFM delivered at 0 PSI.
    Very portable design.
    Very lightweight.
    Compact and modern design.
    10 ft extension cord.
    Great value in a small package.

Cons

    Too much toll can cause some trouble.

2. Porter Cable c2002 air compressor: Close Runner’s up

PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor

PORTER-CABLE

Ah! Porter cable. These guys are notoriously known for making some of the best portable air compressor for construction. This one is no different either. The porter cable C2002 follows the company tradition and brings everything to portable tooling world as well.

  • Capable of handling anything 150 PSI max tank pressure.
  • Fast and easy recovery time thanks to 2.6 SCFM running at 90 PSI.
  • The six-gallon tank makes it a double duty portable air compressor.
  • Comes with a standard certification.
  • Starts in any weather with ease thanks to the low amp motor.
  • Large extension cord provided. Now, that’s what I call convenience.
  • Oil free motor for zero mess. Also, it’s environment friendly.
  • Durable and sturdy design with rubber feet.

Pros

    Runs at 150 PSI max tank pressure.
    Certified by iso standard.
    Quick recovery time.
    2.6 SCFM running at 90 PSI power.
    Durable and maintenance free.
    Environment friendly with an oil free motor.
    Lightweight helps portability.
    Stable and sturdy feet.
    Very portable.

Cons

    Doesn’t comply that well with heavy tools.

3. Senco PC1010 Portable Air-Compressor: Powerhouse

Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 hp running 1-Gallon Compressor, Gray/Red

Senco

With 1 HP peak power, this one is something you should definitely consider before making the final decision. If you want something that is portable and just as powerful as the industrial ones, lookout for this one.

  • Running at 120 PSI max pressure.
  • 1.4 SCFM being delivered at 90 PSI.
  • It comes with a one-gallon compressor tank.
  • As mentioned above, 1 HP raw power is already there.
  • With only 20lbs weight, this one is something you can carry anywhere.
  • Very quiet operation. At low pressure it’s almost inaudible.
  • Environment friendly with oil free motor.
  • With so much power, it drives only 20 to 44 drives per minute.
  • Best suited for home improvement jobs considering the power and portability it provides.

Although it weighs very less, the overall design language of the product was a bit bland. Moreover, the design somehow hurts its portability despite weighing only 20 lbs.

Pros

    120 PSI max tank pressure.
    Completely oil free.
    1.4 SCFM running at 90 PSI.
    Comes with 1 HP power.
    Weighs only 20 lbs.
    Comes with 1-gallon air tank.
    Very quiet operation.

Cons

    Not suitable for heavy workflow.
    Portability needs improvements.

4. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor: Best small air compressor

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI (DWFP55126)

DEWALT

This pancake style air compressor is what you call a workaholic. You give this thing to do something and it will nail it every single time. With so many important features, this one easily makes it to our list of best compact air compressor. Let’s see what all this fuss is about.

  • With 165 PSI max tank pressure this one is definitely worth every penny.
  • 2.6/3.7 SCFM running at 90 /40 PSI pressure.
  • For quick start up it comes with a high efficiency motor.
  • Made for a heavy duty job on any kind of weather condition.
  • Large six-gallon air tank is enough for any kind of need.
  • 50-meter long extension cord for extra convenience.
  • Working noise level is 75.5 dB. For something this powerful, it’s considerable.
  • Comes with 120V, 60 Hz motor.
  • Rubber feet for extra stability.
  • Very durable and maintenance free.

If you are looking for something really portable, I’d suggest you steer way from this one. Although, it comes with so many features and raw power, this one is just not portable enough. Also, it gets noisy under heavy pressure.

Pros

    Very powerful.
    165 PSI max tank pressure.
    2.6/3/7 SCFM running at 90/40 PSI.
    Large air tank.
    Long extension cord.
    Efficient motor.
    Compact design.
    Durable and very sturdy.
    Comes with a pancake style tank.

Cons

    Not as portable as some might want.
    Can be noisy at times.

5. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor: The Power House

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

Makita

With such great build material and raw power this one also had to make it the list. Makita is a very well-known name in the game. With so much reputation to keep, they surely did a great job with the new MAC2400. Let’s have a look.

  • It comes with a 4.2 gallon twin stacked tank.
  • The max tank pressure is 125. This is more than you’ll ever need for home improvement jobs.
  • The low amp usage reduces the rate of tripped breakers at startup.
  • 4.8/4.2 SCFM running at 40 and 90 PSI tank pressure.
  • The protective cage protects internal components. This something you never knew you needed until you had them.
  • They use oil to keep the motor cool. This also ensure less internal friction.
  • Design is compact and solid.
  • Made of cast iron. It comes with a huge bore cylinder to help improve performance.
  • Peak power is 2.5 HP.

Although it’s really powerful and compact in design, it’s not that portable. It weighs over 75 lbs. If you ask me, that’s a bit too much.

Pros

    Very well built.
    Low amp usage.
    Very powerful.
    Durable cast iron cylinder.
    125 PSI max tank pressure.
    4.8/4.2 running at 40/90 PSI pressure.
    Best for heavy workflow

Cons

    It’s too heavy to be portable.
    Got a unit without an oil filter.

6. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver

California Air Tools

Are you looking for something very quiet and powerful? Well, look no more. This air compressor by California air tools is the one you’ve been looking for all your life. I think this one is definitely the best portable air compressor for car tires. Let’s see what this one has to offer.

  • It’s the quietest air compressor I’ve ever used. The working noise level for this one is only 56 dB.
  • Complies with eco-friendly product guidelines.
  • The low amp motor draws only 8.5 amp from the source.
  • It’s really fast too. It can fill up an empty tank in 165 seconds.
  • Comes with a whopping 8-gallon tank.
  • Lightweight air compressor. It weighs only 29.5 lbs.
  • a 1-gallon steel tank is very convenient.
  • Runs at .6 HP at peak power.
  • 1.2 SCFM running at 90 PSI.

The design definitely needs a lot of improvements. Despite being lightweight, poor choice in design hurts its compact nature.

Pros

    The quietest in the list.
    Oil-free motor.
    Powerful. 1.2 SCFM running at 90 PSI.
    Fast filling time.
    Convenient wheel kit provided.
    Quick recovery.
    Steel tank.

Cons

    Design needs improvements.
    Not as portable as some others.

7. DEWALT DWFP55130 Portable Air Compressor: Heavy Duty

DEWALT Air Compressor for Trim, 200-PSI Max, Quiet Operation (DWFP55130)

DEWALT

DEWAl is old chap in the air compressor game. They make both heavy-duty air compressors as well as less demanding ones. This one however, tries to bridge the gap between both worlds. With portability and power in mind, this one hits every sweet spot.

  • This on runs at a whopping max 200 PSI tank pressure.
  • The SCFM of this unit is 3.0 which is delivered at 90 PSI.
  • It also includes a 2.5-gallon air tank. This is more than enough for most people.
  • The pump spins at 2300 rpm. That’s what I call super-fast.
  • It’s an oil-free pump. So, less mess for all of us.
  • It’s durable and completely maintenance free.
  • Max running noise level is also pretty low. It runs at 71.5 dB.
  • Low amp drive makes sure high performance and easy start up.
  • It’s pretty lightweight as well. It weighs only 36lbs.
  • Compact design and portable. It’s only 12.5 inches thick.

The valve definitely needs improvements. If you can ignore that this one would fit just right for you.

Pros

    200 PSI max tank pressure.
    3 SCFM running at 90 PSI.
    2300 rpm speed.
    Oil-free pump.
    Very portable design.
    Durable and strong build material.
    Runs at 71.5 dB at max pressure.
    Heavy duty.

Cons

    Valve definitely needs improvements.

8.BOSTITCH U/BTFP02012 6 gallon Pancake Compresso: Beginner friendly

BOSTITCH U/BTFP02012 6 gallon Pancake Compressor (Renewed)

BOSTITCH

BOSTITCH is the one company every tool guy ever knows about. Hey make all sorts of great tools. An air compressor was not an exception for them either. This one by BOSTITCH I think is the best upright air compressor.

  • This one has a max tank pressure of 150 PSI.
  • Comes with a large 6-gallon tank. It fits right with almost everything.
  • This one is also an oil-free tank. They use hardware-based solutions to reduce friction.
  • It’s very lightweight and portable.
  • With a pancake style bottom, this one is very stable.
  • High-efficiency motor pick up everything with ease. Even in extreme weather.
  • Proprietary high flow regulator for enhanced performance.
  • Max operating noise level is 78.6 dB.

For those who prefer a quiet working environment, this one is not an ideal choice. Although it provides great features, if a quiet environment is not something you can ignore, this is not the one for you.

Pros

    150 PSI max tank pressure.
    Easy to use for beginners.
    Proprietary technology.
    Stable bottom with rubber feet.
    6-gallon tank.
    Efficient motor.
    Portable and compact

Cons

    Not very quiet in nature.

9. California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet: The quietest

California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp Steel Tank Air Compressor, 8 gal, Silver

California Air Tools

California air tools make some of the quietest air compressor available in the market. Just like the previous one in this list, this one is also not different. For quiet working environment nothing beats products from California air.

  • The max operating noise level is only 60 dB.
  • The motor draws 8.5 amp from the source. This ensures easy start up even in extreme weather.
  • Fills up an empty tank within 165 seconds. That’s really fast.
  • It’s an oil free tank. So, it actually hits every eco-friendly guideline it can.
  • The peak power of the motor is 2 HP.
  • Comes with a huge 8-gallon tank. You can’t possibly need more than that.
  • It comes with a convenient wheel kit.
  • 3 SCFM running at 40 PSI is the icing on the cake.

This would have been an easy recommendation for everyone, but the design holds me from doing it. The design actually hurts its portable nature. I just hope they had put some more thoughts in the design of such a great air compressor.

Pros

    As quiet as it gets.
    Oil-free pump.
    Convenient wheel kit included.
    Powerful with 2 HP peak power.
    Fast to fill the tank.
    Fast recovery time.
    3 SCFM running at 40 PSI.

Cons

    Design needs improvements.
    Not as portable as one might need it to be.

Best portable air compressor: buying guide


So, that was the review of the top 9 best portable air compressor. I hope you agree with the list I provided. In case you don’t and want to choose one for yourself, I’ve got you covered there too. This will serve you as your one stop guide for all things air compressor. By following this guide, you’ll be able to make your own decision. Without any further ado, let’s take a walk through this.

  • Portability:

Well, this goes without saying. This one is actually the most important factor you should consider before making the buying decision. A portable air compressor without portability is next to useless. As you are going to want to bring this thing anywhere you want to work, you definitely need the portability.  So, make sure you choose something that is portable and easy to carry.

  • Power options:

There are basically two types of portable air compressors. One that run on electricity. The other on gas. Electric ones usually use the standard household voltage source. The gas ones run on gas and they emit gas fumes. These gas fumes are really bad for the environment and the people around. That’s why I always prefer the ones that run on electricity. I think you should also follow the same trail.

  • SCFM A.K.A performance rating:

SCFM is the unit through which the performance of an air compressor is measured. All air compressors have this rating. SCFM or standard cubic feet per minute tells you how much air the compressor can deliver per minute. The higher the value the better. Every tool has this rating associated with it. For instance, if you want something to run that has an SCFM rating of 4.0, you’d ideally want something that can deliver this much air.

  • Tank size:

This is also something that you must consider. All air compressors come with a tank that stores compressed air. This air is later used to run different types of air tools. As you might have already guessed, the larger the tank, the longer the runtime. But portability of the compressor can get hurt if the tank is too large. That’s why I always try to find a balance between them. That being said, if you really need the extra air, maybe you should consider different types of air compressor. Or you can use a spear tank to store the compressed air.

  • Price to performance ratio:

There are compressors which will cost you an arm and a leg but will not deliver. I’m not saying that they’re bad or something. I just don’t think the price to performance ratio is not up to the mark. So, make sure you choose something that has a high price to performance ratio.

Do I really need a portable air compressor?

Well, this actually depends completely on your need. I’d suggest you first list out what types of work you plan on doing with the air compressor. Or sort the list by precedence. If you find heavy duty works on the top half of your list, then a portable air compressor might not be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you find fewer demanding tasks in the top half, then you should definitely get a portable air compressor over the industrial ones.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)


Can an air compressor be used indoors?

Of course. If it’s portable and or has a wheel kit, you can easily use it indoors.

What type of air compressor is the quietest?

California Air makes some of the quietest air compressors available in the market.

How big of a compressor do I need to run air tools?

Depends on the air tool you want to run using it. Pay close attention to SCFM rating.

How do I install an air compressor in my garage?

Follow the tutorial we have at this post.

How do you soundproof a compressor?

You can add soundproofing foam all around the compressor to make it soundproof.

Final thoughts

So, there you go. To this end of the review of the best portable air compressor, I hope it was worth some information to you. The purpose of this post was to give you an insight to the portable world of air compressors. If you are still here, that means you are looking for my recommendation. Here goes nothing – 

Editor’s choice: Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor

Close Runner’s up: PORTER-CABLE C2002   

If you choose either of them, you are all good to go. Both of them are perfectly good for any sorts of DIY and some heavy-duty workflow as well. They have enough power and a large enough tank to store compressed air.

As always, work hard and stay safe.

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