Best Portable Air Compressor of 2021 (Review and Buying Guide)

2021-12-12 13:28:26 By : Mr. SEAN LIU

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Author: Lisa Conant / Last updated on April 27, 2021

The portable air compressor is a convenient tool to carry around. Many people keep one in their vehicle as part of an emergency roadside assistance kit in case they encounter flat tires or engage in a lot of cycling and mountain biking, which may require frequent tire filling.

If you work in agriculture, construction or any type of machinery, having a portable air compressor allows you to remotely operate critical machinery. Power everything from nail guns to pneumatic drills in different work locations. There are also many household uses that require portable air compressors.

Whatever the reason you need a portable air compressor, we can help you choose the perfect compressor. Our comprehensive product reviews and detailed buying guide will help you categorize the various options available on the market today, so you know you will get a powerful and reliable product that can meet your needs.

This 6-gallon pancake air compressor has a compact and relatively lightweight design, which maximizes portability and can be used anytime, anywhere.

Economical and ultra-compact air compressor, easy to carry. Its maximum PSI is 90, which is very suitable for smaller items, including tires, sports equipment, small paint sprayers, nail guns, etc.

The kit uses the low ampere current provided by a 12V battery and can use its maximum pressure of 120 PSI to inflate the tires faster. It is equipped with a tire pressure monitor, which can be inflated safely and conveniently. In addition, it is equipped with different valves suitable for various applications.

Our reviews are driven by hands-on testing by actual buyers, expert opinions, "popular wisdom" evaluations, and our own expertise. We always strive to provide true and accurate guides to help you find the best choice.

The screw air compressor uses a positive displacement to output a large amount of air pressure. Portable compressors in this category are quieter and can act as old-fashioned piston air compressors. They can be used to power heavy equipment.

These compressors are used for high output tasks due to their high air flow rate, low maintenance requirements and energy efficiency. They work by sucking in air from the inlet, passing the air through the rotor and creating a vacuum. This air enters the separator tank in stages. Then it moves to service the air valve for use.

Most portable air compressors are reciprocating air compressors. They use a mechanism called positive displacement. Air is drawn into a chamber where the reciprocating piston compresses the air in a degressive manner. As more air is drawn into the chamber and compressed, the pressure will increase.

When the tank is full, the excess air is discharged through the discharge valve, while the pressurized air is stored, ready to be used in various applications. These air compressors can be driven by gas or electricity. Most portable air compressors use electricity as a power source.

Dewalt is a US subsidiary of Black & Decker. It was established in Pennsylvania in 1924. Currently, its headquarters are located in Baltimore. The company is a leader in manufacturing power tools and hand tools for different industries. Its commitment to quality has always been the driving force for products such as DeWalt air compressors equipped with Brad Nailer.

Husky was founded in 1924 and recently became famous as Home Depot's own brand. The company specializes in the production of hand tools, pneumatic tools and storage products. Its hand tool series is particularly popular, including Husky 144 tooth machine tool set and other products.

California Air Tools is located in California and assembles its products in San Diego. It prides itself on its quiet portable air compressor, which is the quietest on the market. Due to the advanced technology it uses, some of its products are expensive. However, you can still find good quality air compressors at reasonable prices, such as the California Air Tools 8010 air compressor. 

Founded in 1915, Makita is a well-known reliable and affordable power tool manufacturer in Japan. The company has global brand influence in more than 40 countries/regions and has 10 manufacturing plants in 8 countries/regions. Its two best-selling products are Makita CT226RX 12V Max CXT lithium ion cordless combination kit and Makita-UC4051A chain saw.

The previous name of Bostitch was Boston Stitcher® Corporation. It was founded by Thomas Briggs in Arlington, Massachusetts in 1896. Briggs' popular invention is a machine that uses coils to stitch books together. Over time, the company began to design fasteners, fastening tools and other products. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 pancake-free compressor is the pride and joy of the company.

This is one of the most important features to look for when buying a portable air compressor. The automatic shut-off function determines when the pressure is sufficient and shuts down the air compressor. When you inflate the tire, it will automatically disconnect the compressor once it reaches the required pressure. This means you can perform most tasks hands-free without worrying about your machine. 

The charging cable is an emergency feature that may come in handy when you least expect it. For this, please buy a portable air compressor with a cigarette lighter power extension cord. Make sure that the charging cable is long and strong enough to withstand a lot of movement. Most manufacturers include a cable in the package. 

The display shows important details of any operation in the air compressor. It shows the volume of air in the tank or the speed at which the air is discharged. Some manufacturers provide large LED displays for their portable air compressors. The display is backlit and bright, making your work easy whether you are working during the day or at night. 

Portable air compressors have many uses. Each function may require a different nozzle. Most companies are happy to include additional nozzles in your packaging-sometimes for an extra fee. Even if you need to pay more, the additional nozzle attachment is a feature worth buying.

More information about garage tools/accessories

This portable air compressor is an oil-free, maintenance-free option and weighs approximately 30 pounds. It is very easy to transport around the job site, different rooms in the house or around the workshop. Its space-saving design is suitable to be placed in many cabinets to achieve remote storage.

This special model has a maximum capacity of 150 PSI and is suitable for various applications. It also comes with a 13-piece accessory kit, which includes a PVC air hose with pre-assembled connectors and plugs, a tire pressure gauge, an air blow gun with a plug, an air blow gun with OSHA safety nozzles, and three An inflator adapter.

We appreciate the one-year limited warranty, but it would be better if it could be longer. The equipment is also much noisier than other equipment on the market during operation. Another thing to note: Make sure to check whether the air release valve at the bottom of the water tank is closed when you first start it, otherwise the device will not be pressurized normally.

Quipall 2-.33 1/3 HP 2 gallon oil-free hot dog air compressor is a reliable and well-performing option that will not exceed your budget. The device is an oil-free, maintenance-free air compressor, which is very suitable for pumping up car or bicycle tires or sports equipment. The maximum PSI is 90, which is strong enough for binding, nailing, fastening or hobby painting.

The sturdy and gripping suction cup feet provide stable and safe installation and give you worry-free operation. It also has an installed flip handle for easy transportation and storage. This lightweight device is equipped with two meters and a large and easy-to-operate adjuster knob. 

It comes with additional nozzles to accommodate various connectors, but it would be better if the device had an onboard location to store them so that they would not be lost. In addition, please remember that this is a very small air compressor, not suitable for large construction or agricultural equipment.

The Viair 90P portable compressor has some features that we like. It uses a heavy-duty clamp to connect directly to your car's battery to inflate the tire to 120 psi. More importantly, it consumes very little power and does not deplete battery power. Although it does not have an LED display, it has a pressure gauge that can notify you of the maximum pressure and inflation rate.

The portable air compressor is equipped with a 5-foot-long air hose to ensure you reduce movement. Its sand table minimizes vibration and prevents you from feeling uncomfortable at work. Despite its size, it is a fast inflator and does a great job. The manufacturer provides a storage bag with additional pockets for storing additional valves and couplers.

However, this type of tire inflator has its disadvantages. It cannot inflate tires larger than 31 inches. It also has a problem of overheating, and it takes about 40 minutes to cool down after each use. In addition, it is not suitable for car cigarette lighter plugs.

The RIDGID 6-gallon portable electric pancake air compressor provides 150 PSI and is an excellent choice for trimming and finishing work. Equipped with dual universal quick connectors, multiple people can use two nailing machines at the same time. The connector accepts 1/4-inch automotive and industrial plugs and is easy to connect with one hand.

The device is also equipped with a super reliable oil-free pump, which can achieve easy and maintenance-free performance. This special compressor also has a lock regulator knob to help prevent unnecessary pressure changes. We like that this compressor offers an impressive three-year warranty.

However, this specific model is not suitable for roof nailing, spray guns, purging, bolting, or wrench tightening or spraying.

DeWalt 6 gallons. The No. 18 Brad Nailer and heavy-duty pancake electric air compressor combo kit is a good combo tool. This 6-gallon pancake-free compressor includes a precision point 18 size 2-1/8 inch nailing machine, which provides you with outstanding job site versatility. 

This sturdy small device has a tool-free paper jam release mechanism, which can easily remove nails and adjust the driving depth without tools to accurately set the nail head. The maximum output of this compressor is 165 PSI, which can handle a variety of small and medium-sized tasks.

One disadvantage of this compressor is that it has only one pressure gauge, and it has two air connectors. In addition, if you want to use this compressor to inflate bicycle or car tires, you need to purchase a separate adapter kit because it is not included.

If you want a rugged portable air compressor suitable for most garages and industrial scenes, the Husky 20-gallon vertical electric silent air compressor is for you. This compressor provides 4.0 SCFM at 90 PSI and a maximum capacity of 200 PSI. 

One of its biggest selling points is that it operates at noise levels below 73 decibels, making it 57% quieter than many other models of the same capacity. It adopts a space-saving vertical design with sturdy rubber wheels for easy operation in the workshop or work site. However, it weighs more than 100 pounds and certainly not the lightest model on our list.

Using two metal casing gauges and two quick connectors, you can easily run two tools at the same time. Although this is a super versatile machine, it is not suitable for sanding, spraying or surface treatment. You also need to purchase the adapter kit separately.

Makita 5.2 Gal is a portable product. 3.0 horsepower electric single tank air compressor. Although it weighs 88 pounds, it is equipped with a folding handle, low-profile design and sturdy wheels. This unit is one of the most powerful on our list, equipped with a 3HP motor that can produce 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI. Its maximum PSI is 140.

Unlike many other options, this air compressor has a cast iron pump with a large-bore cylinder and piston designed to speed up recovery time and improve performance. It has a built-in storage box and tool rack for easy access to accessories. Unfortunately, you must purchase the accessory adapter separately.

This is not an oil-free model, so it requires more maintenance than the other models on our list, but it is a trade-off for more power. It does have a convenient drain port on the front of the pump for easy access. This particular model is best for framing and roof work.

California Air Tools has launched an ultra-compact, ultra-light, ultra-quiet portable air compressor, which is very suitable for small jobs in garages or home workshops. With a noise level of only 60 decibels, it is definitely one of the quietest air compressors of its kind on the market. 

This battery-powered 2-gallon air compressor weighs only 36 pounds, making it one of the most portable air compressors on our list. Its maximum pressure is 120 PSI, and the air power at 40 PSI is 3.1 CFM. Its fast recovery time from empty to full is only 50 seconds. This model is very suitable for small projects such as spray guns, balsa woodworking, filled tires, etc.

If you do not have male 1/4 inch quick couplings and air hoses, we recommend that you buy them. Unfortunately, this compressor is just a compressor without any accessories.

Another excellent combination kit is the BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT compressor combination kit. This portable air compressor kit includes a size 18 Brad Nailer, which can use nails from 5/8 to 2 inches for various projects. You can also get a straight nailer that can accommodate 16 size nails with a drive depth of 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches, and a heavy-duty 3/8-inch crown stapler with a drive depth of 1/4 to 9/ 16 inches.

The unit weighs only 45 pounds and is an ultra-compact pancake compressor that can be easily carried with you. With a maximum power of 150 PSI and an air delivery capacity of 2.6 SCFM, it is very suitable for small jobs around garages or workshops. Oil-free and maintenance-free pumps are the standard of the course. 

Dual couplers and dual meters allow you to operate two tools at the same time, providing you with many options to complete your work. However, this model is not suitable for larger jobs, such as roofs or framing.

The WEN 20-gallon portable vertical air compressor is a durable, mid-range choice, and very economical. The device has a 15 amp motor and can provide a maximum pressure of 135 PSI. At 90 PSI and 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI, you can get an airflow rate of 3.8 CFM.

The compressor is equipped with an on-board handle, two sturdy wheels and two rubber feet, allowing the 86-pound unit to be easily moved around the store. It provides a two-year warranty to prevent any manufacturer's defects. Unlike most other devices on our list, this device is an oil-lubricated pump that requires more care and maintenance than an oil-free pump.

The device is also not equipped with any quick adapters or air hoses, so if you don’t have them yet, please be prepared to purchase them separately. This compressor is very suitable for finishing and hobby work, but can also easily handle roof nailing, sanding, spraying and surface treatment.

The pressure you need depends on how you plan to use the compressor. If you plan to use a compressor to inflate tires, the pressure you need depends on the requirements of the tires (30 to 35 PSI for passenger cars). However, if you plan to use pneumatic tools (more than 100 PSI), you may need more pressure.

Yes, most 6-gallon air compressors are very portable. If you noticed in the "Product Reviews" section, the 6-gallon air compressor weighs between 30-40 pounds, making it one of the most versatile portable air compressors on the market.

Yes, it is possible to add additional tanks to compressors that already have tanks or even tankless compressors. Adding a fuel tank can prevent pressure loss, increase capacity, and increase the consistency of airflow. However, you will need more time to fill the compressor.

Duty cycle refers to the amount of time the compressor runs at 100 PSI and a standard temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit in a given period of time. The higher the duty cycle, the better the compressor's ability to handle heavy usage.

If you are looking for the best combination of performance, reliability, durability and value, check out the CRAFTSMAN 6-gallon pancake air compressor. This ultra-light, compact compressor has a respectable 150 PSI output and comes with a 13-piece accessory kit for added versatility.

For a rugged and reliable portable air compressor that will not damage your bank account, we like the Quipall 2-.33 1/3 HP 2 gallon oil-free hot dog air compressor. 

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