Sinceyou have come here for the best portable air compressor: you have to agree when I say:
Portable Air compressors are an important part of our life.
Have doubts? Let me give you some examples. The fridge in your house, the air tool which inflates your car – and the one which lifts the car for repair, and the HVAC system in your nearby arena, all use air compressors.Consequently, similar to life, death, and taxes, you cannot hide from air compressors.
However, in stark contrast to life, death, and taxes, nobody would deliver air compressors at your doorstep.You have to go hunting for them – and as veteran “hunters” might testify, there are tasks much easier than buying an air compressor.
It is here this article comes into play.
After testing umpteen air compressors – and comparing them against one another, we have prepared a list of the top ten. What’s more, in the last part of this article, you’ll get your hands on the buyer’s guide. Hence, whether or not you like our selection, use this guide to select a portable air compressor on your own.
Table of Contents
- Best Portable Air Compressor Of 2017
- 1. PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon PORTER-CABLE – Best Overall Compressor
- 2. CAT-10020 Oil-Free 2.0 HP 10.0-Gallon – Best Ultra Quiet Compressor
- 3. Campbell Hausfeld 3 Gallon Horizontal – Best Budget
- 4. Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP MAC2400 – Best Value
- 5. PC1131 Senco 2.5-Horsepower Air Compressor – Best Design
- 6. Makita MAC5200 3.0 HP Big Bore – Best for Beginners
- 7. CAT-6310 – Best Noise-Free Compressor
- 8. EPAuto Portable Air Compressor – Tire Inflator
- 9. P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator – Versatile Compressor
- 10. Runner Up, Best Budget Kensun Rapid Performance Tire Inflator
- 11. JACO RoadPro Pump Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor – Bonus Ball
- Types Of Portable Air Compressors
- Electric Vs Gas Powered Portable Air Compressors
- Which One is Right for You?
- Portable Air Compressor’s Buyer Guide
- How To Maintain Portable Air Compressors?
- How to Mute Your Portable Air Compressor?
Best Portable Air Compressor Of 2017
In this article, we have only selected best value portable air compressors. You don’t need our telling to realize this, for you can gauge the same from the table. Hence, if you want to buy a quality air compressor, this article will help.
Let’s take a comparative look at the top 11 portable air compressors of 2017:
|HP||Power Source||Tank Capacity|
|PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon PORTER-CABLE||26||0.8||electric-powered||3.5||10 A||Check Price|
|CAT-10020 Oil-Free 2.0 HP 10.0-Gallon Air Compressor||91||2.0||electric-powered||10.0||14A||Check Price|
|Campbell Hausfeld 3 Gallon Horizontal Portable Air Compressor||20.4||1||electric-powered||3||12A||Check Price|
|Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP MAC2400 Air Compressor||81||2.5||electric-powered||4.2||12.3A||Check Price|
|PC1131 Senco 2.5-Horsepower Compressor||60||2.5||electric-powered||4.3||13A||Check Price|
|Makita MAC5200 3.0 HP Big Bore Air Compressor||104.4||3||electric-powered||5.2||13.8A||Check Price|
|CAT-6310 Oil-Free and Ultra Quiet Air Compressor||49||1.0||electric-powered||6.3||8A||Check Price|
|EPAuto Portable Air Compressor||3.8||0.3||electric-powered||N/A||15A||Check Price|
|P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator||2||0.2||electric-powered||N/A||10A||Check Price|
|Kensun Portable Air Compressor||5||Negligible||ac/dc||N/A||10A||Check Price|
|JACO RoadPro Tire Inflator||4||Negligible||dc||N/A||9A||Check Price|
As you might guess from the table, the choice of options is immense. For example, while some of them have atank capacity of 10gallons, others are negligible in this regard. So, no matter which type of work you want to do, there is a compressor for you in this list.
Without wasting any of your time, let’s straight head to the best portable air compressors.
1. PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon PORTER-CABLE – Best Overall Compressor
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If all you do is engage in low to medium sized tasks, this low priced option from Porter-Cable is a noteworthy possibility. Without forcing you to break the bank, it would enable you to do medium sized tasks with aplomb.
First up under our microscope is its power. And as you might guess from its price tag, this unit is a bit underpowered. However, since it has only one quick connect coupler, you won’t feel the power lag as much. The Horsepower provided by this unit is rated at 0.8 which is not much by any means. Still, since it has a less amp draw of 10, it will easily run off if any household circuit.
As for the noise level, this unit is not quiet by any means. In fact, when you compare the 82db oozed out by this compressor, you may find it standing alongside some heavy duty compressors. That said, it isn’t as noisier as it is vibrating.
It means the surface on which you’ll place it will determine its noise level. Place it on a wooden floor and it might shake the whole ground. Place it on solid concrete and its noise level might dampen a bit. Still, the noise produced by it will be significant to detract your co-workers.
Turning our attention to its pump, I was amazed to find Porter-Cable had gone oil-free. It means you won’t have to take extra time to rid the filters of oil, ensuring thedurability of the product.
Another notable feature is the motor which starts easily with an extension cord regardless of the weather. That is, whether it is too hot or too cold out there, the motor won’t malfunction. That said, the time saved there might be spent re-filling the gallon tank because, at 3.5, it isn’t enough.
However, the limited tank capacity has no bearing on the maximum pressure delivered by this compressor. For, since it stands to pump 135PSI at max, there are not many medium sized applications which it couldn’t fulfil.
As is the norm with pancake compressors, some users complained of this unit being too loud. Others lamented the lack of accessories which means they would have to spend extra to bag those.
- Lightweight and portable
- Will easily run off of any household circuit
- Pump is oil-free
- Reliable motor
- Offers no accessories
Being a durable, powerful, and light air compressor, this compressor is a must-have if your work involves medium sized tasks.
2. CAT-10020 Oil-Free 2.0 HP 10.0-Gallon – Best Ultra Quiet Compressor
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Declaring it as the epitome of portability, this compressor comes with wheels. However, they don’t come for free, as indicated by its hefty price tag. Is the price tag justified? We find out in the next section.
How quiet it is! This was my first impression on hearing this compressor for the first time. Though I hadn’t checked its features by then, I was already sold out by its ultra-quiet nature. By churning out only 70db, this compressor will save your ears from the lifelong agony of hearing pinging sounds.
What’s more, in addition to being super-quiet, it is also equipped with an oil-free pump. That is, where at one end it cares for your ears, it saves your time on the other. So far so good.
However, if you think that the two features mentioned above were its Unique Selling points, think again. For, it is the 10 Gallon Steel tank which seems to justify its price tag the most. It doesn’t matter which task you are involved in, the tank has enough mettle to get you through it.
One problem which most users have with heavy-duty compressors arrives at the start up. Those compressors, to justify their high output, have to take a high-load start. If you are unable to provide that much load, they just won’t start. Thankfully, since it gives you the option of a no-load start, there are no such problems with this compressor.
In fact, if you are willing to start it without any load, this compressor will take only 14amps. Add it to the easy start valve, and you’ll have no problems whatsoever in starting this giant of a compressor.
As always, the buck stops with the motor. However, if you have been paying attention till now, you won’t need my telling that its motor is also power. Rated at 2HP, it can pump air out for any medium sized application without breaking a sweat.
Two major complaints have surfaced about this compressor. First, users complained that the wheels just won’t move after functioning greatly at first. Second, they complain about its price tag.
- Has a ridiculously low recovery time
- Comes with a dual port
- Equipped with automatic shut-off feature for your safety
- Too expensive
If you are in the market for a good, medium sized air compressor, consider this one. Despite the hefty price tag, it has everything which you could dream of.
3. Campbell Hausfeld 3 Gallon Horizontal – Best Budget
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Being the least expensive of the three compressors mentioned so far, it is a hit in the market. And as you might guess from its inclusion in this review, it is not only its price tag which has made this compressor famous.
What is the first thing most users demand of their air compressor? Me, I would always go for low maintenance. Thankfully, Campbell Hausfeldhas fulfilled my wish by providing this compressor with an oil-free pump. It gives maintenance-free ownership and no hassle to clean filters on monthly checks.
As humans, we love it when we get something extra for the same price. Paying heed to this aspect of our personality, the manufacturer of this compressor has equipped it with TEN extras. From inflation needles to a coiled hose – and blow gun to fittings, this compressor has got you covered.
What makes this compressor really portable are two things, first of which is the easy to read dials. Most horizontal compressors suffer from the bad positioning of their dials. However, since they have been placed at the tip of this compressor, the dials are no problem to read here.
The second feature which makes it truly portable is the compact design. Yes, it acquires more space than a vertical compressor – every horizontal compressor does, but when compared with other, like minded horizontal compressors, its compact design is a godsend. Add to it the carrying handle, and you might know why this compressor is portable.
Finishing on a low note, if your work involves anything but small tasks, the 0.33HP isn’t just enough. This view is further reinforced when you come to know that at 40PSI, the compressor SCFM is 0.70.
Put simply, this compressor is only suitable for blowing debris, filling sports balls and tires and completing furniture’s upholstery. If your work involves anything else, you need to look elsewhere.
One particular user complained about the coiled air hose, which, according to him, wasn’t easily stretchable. The majority, however, remained unanimous in concluding that this compressor is way too loud.
- Not an option for heavy duty tasks
As they say, you get what you pay for, this compressor offers a practical testament to this statement. It is inexpensive, reliable and easily portable but simply not good enough for heavy duty tasks.
4. Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP MAC2400 – Best Value
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Boasting a 2,5HP pump, this electric powered compressor has an above-average price tag. That said, if you want your compressor to be efficient, reliable and long lasting, it will justify its price tag to you.
First thing first, in order to justify its price tag, Makita has equipped this compressor with a cast iron cylinder. Though cast iron has many benefits in other applications, its usage in the cylinder has provided the MAC2400 with a better stroke power. Hence, you’d get better compression from this compressor than other, similar powered compressors.
Second, bearing a testament to its high durability, this air compressor doesn’t give off too much noise. In fact, despite weighing 80lbs, its 79db noise level rivals compressors half of its weight. More importantly, to allow you to use in rough conditions, its motor has a lower RPM, hence guaranteeing long life.
One aspect of this compressor which most users didn’t understand is the use of oil. For, when it comes to portable air compressors, most of them are oil free. The question arises: why Makita decided to lubricate it with oil?
The answer lies in its efficiency. For, you could either have a large bore and more efficiency or an oil-free pump, not both. Unsurprisingly, then, Makita decided to go for the latter, and users of this compressor should thank it for the decision. Even though you have to put up with the arduous monthly oil checks, what you’ll get in return – better efficiency and big more, seems to me as a very good compensation.
Also, given the fact that it weights 80lbs, it isn’t surprising to note that MAC2400 is designed for industrial usage. That doesn’t mean, however, that using it for home appliances will trip breakers. Rather, thanks to the low AMP draw at startup, you won’t have to deal with tripped breakers.
Lastly, it would be cruel if I decided to overlook the steel frame. Giving this compressor an air of security, the sturdy steel frame will protect it against most accidents. What’s more, you won’t get any plastic parts on it – only a mixture of a cast iron cylinder and a steel frame.
As stated intermittently throughout the previous section, this compressor isn’t light by any means. Rather, since it weighs about 80lbs, it is one of the heaviest portable air compressors.
- Perfect for heavy-duty applications
- Low Amp Draw makes it suitable for home appliances as well
- Cast Iron Cylinder with a big bore and greater stroke
- Steel frame makes it sturdy
- Very heavy
Concluding, the four pole motor, cast iron cylinder, and steel frame makes this compressor ideal for heavy duty works. That doesn’tmean, however, that it isn’t suitable for home tasks. For, it has a low amp draw feature to power home appliances as well.
5. PC1131 Senco 2.5-Horsepower Air Compressor – Best Design
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Though notcoming from as famous a brand as Porter Cable, this 2.5HP compressor has become very famous of late. It is surprising given the fact thatit isn’t inexpensive as well. So,what are the reasons of its fame?We find out in the next section.
Dispelling the myth that only top brands use the best materials, Senco has used a Cast Iron Cylinder here. In addition to making it sturdy, cast iron also protects the cylinder against excessive vibrations. Consequently, the noise coming out of this cylinder is less.
Another notable feature of this cylinder is the time required to fill its tank. At 4.3gallons, the gallon, despite being huge, has a small recovery time. For,all it would take you to fill the cylinder is 67seconds. Compare it with other mid-level options, and you might know why this compressor is so pricy.
A twin tank configuration has been at play here. Don’t know the advantages of this configuration?A mere glance at the CFM might help.
For, with the rise of pressure demand, the CFM of most mid-level cylinder drops to negligible levels. However, thanks to this configuration – even at 100psi, the PC 1131 delivers 4.3CFM without moving a muscle.
This compressor, however, is not without its shortcomings. The most important of which is the horsepower. For, despite weighing 60lbs – a significant weight for a portable air compressor, it is only rated at 2.5HP. If anything, this power renders this compressor inappropriate for dealing with medium-to-high duty tasks.
Finishing on a high note, the recovery time of this compressor has won the hearts of its users. All it takes to recover from 90 to 125PSI is 16seconds. Put simply, if you are looking for a compressor with a negligible refresh rate, go for Senco PC1131.
Apart from its incompetence to deal with heavy duty tasks – which we discussed above, this compressor has another shortcoming. It has a very heavy weight for a portable compressor, without giving many benefits.
- Cannot be used outdoor in wet conditions
Though not the best portable air compressor by any means, the SENCO PC1131 comes close to being the best. But for the shortcomings – i.e. low HP and heavy weight, it could have been a very good product.
6. Makita MAC5200 3.0 HP Big Bore – Best for Beginners
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Of all the portable air compressors we have reviewed, none has garnered as a favorable response from its users as MAC5200. You should ask: why has it earned so much praise from its users? Let us find out.
First of all, if youwant to do big things, the MAC5200 is a must-have. Whether you work on a double framing nailer or a wide number of other tools, its power would be enough. How? Say thanks to its motor!
Despite being not rated as huge – it deliversonly 3.0HP, the RPMs of its motor makes this compressor special. The motor runs at 3420RPM meaning that there is not too much noise to hurt your ears.
There is one more thing you need to know about this motor: its big bore. The big bore, in turn, equips the compressor with a larger piston. This piston, subsequently, provides a greater output than other, larger compressors.
High power output, however, doesn’t mean that this air compressor will be difficult to maneuver. In fact, thanks to the two small wheels, you can transport it easily. At the same time, it has a small size meaning you don’t have to reserve a whole room for storage.
Moving forward, the size of the motor will also impress you. For, despite being made for heavy duty applications, it has a size equal to any mid-sized compressor. When combined with the wheels, it is this size which makes this air compressor easily portable.
Also, when it comes to maintenance, it has a discharged tubing made of copper to come to your help. This discharged tubing will both reduce water in the task and increase the dissipation of heat. Consequently, the compressor will last longer.
Most users had complaints regarding the packaging in which the compressor came. They claimed that the wheels came damaged due to faulty packing. However, as you might tell, there is no fault of the compressor, as it is Makita that deserves the blame.
- Good for heavy duty tasks
- Relatively quiet
- High recovery time
- Offers better SCFM even at high pressures
- Low Motor RPM makes the compressor long lasting
- Packaging is faulty
- At above 100lbs, it is very heavy
If your luck supports you – and the product doesn’t come damaged, the MAC5200 is a brilliant air compressor to have. Despite being compact, it is powerful and is relatively quiet. All in all, these three qualities undoubtedly make it the best portable air compressor.
7. CAT-6310 – Best Noise-Free Compressor
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When it comes to designing ultra-quiet air compressors, CAT is the undoubted leader in the market. Quietness, however, is not the only thing users demand of their air compressors. Do the CAT-6310 have to fulfil other demands of its potential users?
What is the thing which makes the CAT-6310 ultra-quiet? In fact, there are two answers to this question. First, it isthe low RPM motor which – by rotating at only 1680RPM, gives off minimal vibrations. And since these vibrations are the main cause of thenoise, their reduction leads to the reduction of noise.
That said, on its own,a low RPM motor won’t be super quiet. For, vibrations will go out, and unless the body of the compressor isn’t solid, they will make noise.
It iswhere the steel tank of this compressor comes into play. Thanks to the quality of its construction, the steel tank doesn’t allow vibrations to see the light of the day. The result: an ultra-quiet compressor.
Most compressor manufacturers, overlook most features at the cost of a big one. Despite the fact that it is ultra-quiet, CAT hasn't compromised on the other features of this compressor. Have doubts? Allow the whooping 6.3gallon tank to prove my point.
Despite storing a huge 6.3gallons of air, the gallon won’t take much time to fill up, only 155seconds. What’s more, underneath the gallon you can find a wheel kit. In addition to making the compressor easy to maneuver, the wheel kit provides additional air for air storage. All hail CAT engineering!
After the sizable tank size, it was the low and quick amp draw of this compressor which attracted me. On startup, it draws only 7.6amps, meaning you can run it on your house circuit. Also, whether it is too hot or too cold out there, it will work with no issues whatsoever.
Finally, as a mereglance at abovementioned features will tell you, this is a multi-function compressor. Whether you are a homeowner, a hobbyist or even a professional, it has got something to offer to you.
Despitecosting a sizable amount, users complain that this compressor offers no accessories with the package. This despitethe fact that you have to have a good hose to draw air out.
- Huge tank size
- Suitable for a wide array of functions
- Very easy to use and requires no user maintenance
- No accessories
This is a multi-function, portable air compressor. Whether you are a homeowner, a hobbyist or even a professional, it has got something to offer to you.
8. EPAuto Portable Air Compressor – Tire Inflator
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If all you are planning to buy is a tire inflator, the EP Auto Portable Air Compressor is worth a shot. That said, it is only suitable for small tasks. Hence, even if your work involves medium level tasks, it is NOT recommended.
First of all, this compressor is convenient to use. When you are using it as a tire inflator, just plug it into your car’s cigarette holder. That should explain very well how convenient this compressor is to use.
That said, this inflator isn’t a universal one. For, there are two types of car tires: those which are rated 15A and others at 10A. As long as your car’s tire doesn’t belong to the latter category, this air compressor might be inappropriate.
Another notable feature of this compressor is its auto shut off feature. As the name implies, it will shut down on reaching the designated PSI. You don’t have to monitor it consistently to disconnect it. Also, according to some owners, the compress will pump in more air sometimes, compensating for the air loss during detachment.
Since the inflating speed of this compressor is theonly 1.06CFM, some users weren’t happy with its raising pressure. According to them, it is a bit slow in this regard.
- Has a LED light
- Offers four display units
- Auto shut off feature prevents over inflation
- Easy to read
- Due to low CFM, it raises pressure slowly
For a unit of this size, complaints about low pressure are worthless. For, for its size, it does a very good job of inflating tires and little inflatables.
9. P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator – Versatile Compressor
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Similar to the previous inflator, the P.I. Auto Store Digital Tire Inflator is a highly versatile model. As long as your needs are related to car tires, it has got you covered.
One complaint which most users had with the previous inflator was its tire inflation time. According to them – due to low CFM, it seemed to take years to inflate a car tire. Thankfully, at least in this regard, this inflator offers a solid substitute.
Even if your car tire has gone completely flat, this inflator will inflate it within a few minutes. To put into perspective its speed, it takesless than four minutes to raise the pressure from 10PSI to 30PSI. How’s that for an inflator!
As you might remember, the previous inflatorwent for an auto shut off feature. Whilethere was nothing wrong with that, thistireinflator has gone one step ahead. Tostop your car’s tire from getting over-inflated,it uses amicroprocessor monitor.
The microprocessor works something like this. You set a designated pressure for the inflator to achieve. As soon as its reaches that limit, the microprocessor will stop it. It is here that it differs from the auto shut off feature.
For, while the latter will turn off the inflator once it has achieved the recommended pressure, a microprocessor will only stop it. That is, you have no need to turn on the inflator again.
For sucha small compressor, some users have complained of it being a little noisy. Other than that, no serious reservations have surfaced so far about this inflator.
- Fast inflating time
- Microprocessor to monitor and stop the inflator once it reaches the designated pressure
- Comes with a carry case
- Adaptors for Presta bicycle valves, inflatables and sports equipment included in the package
Even if you aren’t in need of a car inflator, the low price of this compressor makes it a godsend.
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There aren’t many compressors out there which deserve such a fawning praise from their users. Hence, when the Kensus Rapid Performance gets that much praise, heads are bound to roll. We find out the reason for its popularity.
The first thing you’ll notice about this compressor is its build quality. Although its external casing is total metal – not a good sign, the internal components are not. Consequently, it gives off minimal vibrations and lasts longer.
Another notable feature of this compressor is its auto shut off feature. As the name implies, it will automatically shut down on reaching the designated PSI. You don’t have to monitor it consistently to disconnect it. Also, according to some owners, the compress will pump in more air sometimes, compensating for the air loss during detachment.
Also, some compressors restrict you in a sense that they are only AC or DC adaptable. If you cannot find their supply, you are bound to suffer. Luckily, this compressor is both AC/DC adaptable. What’s more, it has a digital pressure gauge, allowing you to see the pressure ratings with ease.
As is the case with most tire inflators, users weren’t happy aboutthe inflation time of this compressor. It takes a mammoth five minutes to increase the pressure from 10PSI to 34PSI.
- Can operate in extreme weather conditions – both hot and cold
- Has a generous cable length
- AC/DC adaptable
- LED work light for night time readings
- Works slowly
Pick out any portable tire inflator, and the complaint of slow inflating time is bound to come forward. However, not many tire inflators have as many qualities as this one. Hence, when you compare the one shortcoming with numerous advantages, this tire inflator deserves your attention.
11. JACO RoadPro Pump Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor – Bonus Ball
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Although this review was to be limited to ten products, it was its features that justified JACO’s inclusion. Beingportable, compact and efficient, it forced us to recommend it to our readers.
Do youwant your tire to last longer? Since your answer is bound to be in the affirmative, you need to get this inflator. Why? There are many answers to this question.
First, most other inflators are rated 10A or lower. Consequently, if your car’s accessory outlets are rated 15A – whichthey usually do,they are worthless.It is where this inflator comes into play. Rated14A, it will work both at 10A and 15A car accessory outlets.Hence, you won’t have to worry whether your car’s accessory outlets will accept it or not.
Second, while vibration is not a major concern with tire inflators, JACO is taking no chances. As a result, it has equipped this inflator with anti-vibration rubber feet.
What’smore, to increase your convenience, this inflator has an air hose storage pocket on its back. So, you don’t have to spend money in a bag to house the inflator. That doesn’t mean, however, that inflator is the only thing included in the package. For, if you order this inflator, a similar sized bag will come as a complement.
Thirdly, withother inflators, you may have noted how the car owner has to tighten the nozzle time and again to get a solid connection. This inflator, due to reinforced air rubber hose, will give you no such headaches. It has a twist-connect nozzle to tighten the valve. Thus, it won’t become loose without your permission.
According tosome users, they lose a pound or two of air pressure while unscrewing the inflator’s hose. They also offer a solution: pump in anequal extra amount to compensate for the loss.
- Has heat dissipating metal components
- Rubber feet dampen vibration
- Provide space for air hose and power cord storage
- Equipped with a bright LED light for night time
- Might lose a pound or two of air pressure when you unscrew its hose from the tire
For those of you wanting to get their hands on a solid tire inflator, their search ends here. Not only is it compact, but it also does the job with supreme ease. Finally, it doesn’t cost much and still comes with a 12-month warranty.
Types Of Portable Air Compressors
Pancake Air Compressors
Bearing flat, round storage tanks – which reside on the back of the units, these air compressors are more stable and require less space than other compressors. Consequently, they are relatively easy to store.
Wheelbarrow Air Compressors
Mostly, these compressors have two cylindrical tanks filled with compressed air. Due to their frame – which offers handle and wheels, they are portable despite having a bigger capacity than other, portable air-compressors.
Hot Dog Air Compressors
If youare already using a portable air compressor, it is likely that it’s hot dog air compressor. They are that common. Coming in both horizontal and vertical shapes, they are mostly available for residential uses.
Twin Stack Air Compressor
Barring one feature,these compressors are the same as hot dog air compressors. Instead of having just one horizontal tank, they have two horizontal tanks incorporated into their design.
Devoid of any storage tank,these tanks rely on their motors to ensure continuous air supply. You can employ them for inflating sports equipment, tires, and other small items.
Electric Vs Gas Powered Portable Air Compressors
Talking about the performance of a portable air compressor, the source of its power is an important contributor. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type.
Gas Powered Compressor
As the name implies, these compressors are gas powered, which, most of the times is natural gas. Consequently, they have no need of cables and cords to function. Also, since most of them run on natural gas, they have a lower running cost than electric powered compressors. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are without shortcomings. But first, we look at their plus points.
- No hassle of cord or cable
- Can operate in conditions where a sudden power burst is required
- Best for heavy duty industrial work
- Release dangerous fumes
- Cannot be used in a confined space
- Cannot be used closed to extinguishable material
- A cylinder in tow makes them difficult to transport
Electric Powered Compressor
If you are an environment friendly person, you’ll love electric compressors as they don’t pollute the environment with dangerous fumes. Consequently, they are most-suited for small, indoor applications. Also, since they run smoothly, electrically powered air compressors will be less distracting to you and other persons.
- Small and light
- Operate quietly
- Are normally equipped with automatic Start/Stop Controls
- Hassle of extension cords
- Not recommended for heavy duty tasks
Which One is Right for You?
If you are looking forward to a steady supply, invest your money in an electrically powered compressor. However, if you want a compressor that can deliver power to virtually any location, gas powered compressors deserve your attention.
Portable Air Compressor’s Buyer Guide
You might already have picked the best portable air compressor from the list above. Still, this buyer guide is important. For, if for nothing else, it will give you a know-how of the product. Conversely, if you are ambivalent about a particular model, it will tell you what to look for in that product. As a result, you’ll be in a much better position to take the decision.
Things you should look in Air Compressor
As always, I would recommend starting with features. For, while build quality is also important, it is features which distinguish a quality product from riffraff. A glance at the features which we compared to make our selection.
Motor and Power
There are two types of air compressor motors available on the market: electric and gasoline. Since they work quietly and require less maintenance, electric motors are favored by the majority. More importantly, if you work indoors, the lack of exhaust gases means you have to go with electric motors.
There is another, albeit less important factor which you should consider while choosing a motor. It should be oil free. Otherwise, if you do hard work, you’d have to change oil intermittently.
As for the power, you have to check two features: power supply and power output. While some people take them both as the same entity, they are different. For, where the former indicates the power supply to the motor, thelatter indicates how it will supply it to the application.
Consequently, while the powersupply has volt as its unit, poweroutput is measured in horsepower.
A short version of cubic feet per minute, CFM determines how fast your compressor will pump air. As you can guess, it’s the most important feature to consider. For,if your tool is using air faster than the compressor can supply, you’d have no choice but to stop to let the compressor catch up.
While buying a portable air compressor, make sure the manufacturer tested it at 90PSI. You don’t have to read the whole instruction manual to be sure. Most manufacturers mention this information on the package.
Subsequently, choose a compressor whose CFM matches your demands. If you are unsure, consider this: the greater the CFM of a compressor, the more air it can deliver, and the more suitable it is for heavy duty applications.
Though not as important as CFM, tank capacity does matter. Talking about the compressors we chose, most of them had tank capacity ranging from 1 to 6gallons. The advantage of having a bigger tank is obvious. It would hold more air and require less frequent refilling. Subsequently, you won’t have to leave your work midway just to refill the compressor’s tank.
Thatsaid, there is a reason why manufacturers don’t design compressors with unlimited tank capacity. For, a larger tank capacity means a heavier tank, making it less mobile and difficult to carry.
Asstated earlier, there is one major factor which will dictate the performance of your compressor: CFM. Ifyour compressor has a higher CFM, it will be stronger, sturdier and good for heavy duty tasks. If its CFM is nominal, it is only good for small projects.
Askmostworkers, and they will complain that their machine is loud. While we can’t do much to alleviate their misery, what we can do is select a compressor which is quiet. How can we do it? By selecting a portable air compressor with a belt-drive system.
Belt-drive systems have a belt which connects the air compressor pump to themotor with pulleys. As a result,they are more versatile inadjusting the pressure and flow of air as needed. Theyare also easier to install and maintain and are less expensive.
More importantly,for the health of your ears, they operate quietly. That said,there is one major concern of belt-drive systems: you cannot use them at lower temperatures.
Horizontal Tank or Vertical Tank
In stark contrast to other features, this one depends only on your needs. Also, it has nothing to do with the performance of the air compressor. It means whether you select a horizontal or a vertical tank, performance will be the same.
So, where do they differ? Well, there are two major differences between them. First, due to their shape, vertical tanks acquire less space. Second, because of their compact design, vertical tanks are easier to carry.
Talk about the best air compressors, all of them are shrouded. Put simply, outer casing to protect from damage is shrouding. Regardless of the vibration, the outer casing will withstand maximum load to let the compressor do its work.
However, asyou might guess, shrouded compressors are much more expensive than their un-shrouded counterparts. So, unless your work involves heavy duty applications, your pocket might side towards an un-shrouded compressor.
Single Stage or Double Stage
By stage, we mean the number of times your compressor will compress the air. While single stage compressors only compress air once, double stagecompressor does it two times. It is the key difference between single and double stage compressors.
More importantly for you, which one would suit you the best? Frankly speaking, it depends on the task at hand. If all you want to do with your compressor is inflate tires – or football, choose a single stage. However, if your work involves commercial applications, such as gas chromatography, go for a double stage compressor.
Additional Features You Might Want in Your Compressor
If you are a person who only wants the best, here are some additional features to consider. Take a look.
Auto Start/Stop Option
Some people think of the auto start/stop option as a luxury. While they aren’t totally wrong, this feature provides some safety benefits as well. A compressor’s motor is damaged when it is operated regardless of the air pressure.
If you want to avoid this scenario, go for auto start/stop option. Whenever the air pressure in your compressor is below thedesignated level, this feature will shut it down. Hence, you will have no choice but to refill it again to do your work.
As you know already, the majority of compressors provide just one air hose for drawing air out. If you perform in a team of two, you might want a compressor with two outlets.
Ball Valve Drain
Check out any old, out-of-work compressor, and you might see some rust and pinhole leaks. If you do not want your compressor to suffer the same fate, you need to drain your tank regularly. It is where the ball valve drain comes into play.
For, all compressor tanks have drains, but there are two types of them. The simplest – and mostly ineffective, is the drain cock. Not only is it awkward to use, but you may also need pliers to open it. It is this reason why we prefer the ball valve drain.
Since it works like a faucet, a ball valve drain will make drawing water out a cinch. Consequently, there will be fewer chances of rusting.
If you have asthma, you might want your compressor’s exhaust to be away from your work area. An adjustable exhaust allows just that. As its name suggests, it allows you to direct the exhaust away from the area where you’re working. In this way, you’d be able to avoid fumes.
Multiple Coupling Options
Let’s be honest: none of us like to mount and dismount each tool every time we want to use it. What we want, rather, are multiple coupling options which enable us to handle more tasks in less time. Thankfully, heeding our pleas, manufacturers have designed compressors which offer multiple coupling options.
If overload is frequent in your work, thermal protection might protect your compressor’s motor by cutting the connection.
Why Are You Purchasing It?
It might seem silly, but this question is important. For, if you are using a compressor for short, intermittent tasks, you can suffice with small air compressors. Otherwise, there is no choice but to go for a heavy duty, portable air compressor.
Where Will You Place It?
Do you live in a humid area? Where will you place your compressor while on the work? If there is even a hint of rain, make sure your compressor has waterproof features. Similarly, if you work in confined spaces, better buy an electrically powered compressor (see reason below).
What Is Your Ideal Tank Capacity?
Asdescribed above, tank capacity depends on the tasks you do. If you are unsure about the expanse of upcoming tasks,find an air compressor which is master of both worlds.
Which Features Are Important For Your Work?
Doyou work in harsh conditions? In this case, go for a cast-iron body compressor since it is long lasting in severe conditions. Doyou work close to or on the metals? Go for stainless steel body valves because they are corrosion resistant.
How Will You Power Your Compressor?
Thereare two power sources of a portable air compressor: gas and electric. While you can use the former power source anywhere, it would require having a gas cylinder in tow, always. Asforlatter, it might require an electric switch, not an ideal scenario if you are working in an under-construction building.
There’s no set amount of time. Simply listen to your body and watch for aches and pains. If you feel unusually weak or suffer new, unusually intense muscle pains, then you might need to take a week off.
Typically, those who are new to inversion therapy should only do a few minutes a week. As your body adjusts and your muscles grow, you gradually add more time.
How To Maintain Portable Air Compressors?
If not anything else, maintaining them would save you money in the long run. Hence, while it might take some time, do these checks to keep your portable air compressor in working condition.
Despitebeing the most important,daily checks are underrated. In fact,most owners do not check their compressor till it starts showing visible signs of trouble. If you want to prolong the life of your compressor, take 10 minutes daily to perform these checks.
Firstly, walk around the compressor looking for trouble – which, in most cases, would be leaked. Afterward, check the radiator coolant and engine oil levels. Now, turn your attention towards the fuel filter and drain any water present there.
Aftersome time – say six months, start checking alternator and fan belts daily. For, after constant usage, they will start showing signs of wear. Also,if your compressor is battery operated, check the terminals of the battery for corrosion. Lastly, since we are dealing with portable air compressors, check its tires each time you are moving it.
Designate a day at the end of each month to perform monthly checks. On this day, start by checking the automatic shutdown system. The air cleaner system also should be cleaned. Finally, check the tire lug nuts and hoses.
Youshould be testing your machine’s safety shutdown system on the month-wise basis. For it will make sure your machine is safe from low engine oil pressure and high temperatures
Finally,you should clean your compressor’s intake vents monthly. Otherwise, it will have to work very hard to take in air, making you lose power on the compression. Cleaning the intake vents is also crucial especially if the compressor operates in dirty or dusty environments.
At 500 Hours
Read the instruction manual of your air compressor, and you might found checks that need to be done on 500hours. Thisis the time when, regardless of their condition, all filters are to be replaced. Clean the fuel tank and tighten thefasteners to make them secure.
At 2000 Hours
If you are using a small machine, you should replace its separator element after 1000hours of operation. As for the big, heavy duty compressors, 2000hours is enough to change theirs. While you may find this task burdensome, doing it will reduce the oil intake of your compressor.
Finally,if you note that machine is getting too hot of late, check its heat exchanger. Most of the time, heat exchangers get flooded with dirt after this much usage. You may need to clean it using a blower to remove any specks of dirt.
How To Choose The Correct Compressor Brand?
As you might guess, the market is full of portable air compressors from different brands. Before you go out and purchase a product from one, ask following questions about the manufacturers:
- Does it have a good Customer Service Department? (Hint: Reviews might help)
- What is the life of the machine mentioned on its package?
- Where was it manufactured?
- Which material was employed? Steel, Cast Iron, Plastic
- How much warranty are they offering? Compare it with a similar product from different brands.
- What is the mentioned efficiency of the machine?
How to Mute Your Portable Air Compressor?
Somepeople think the noise factor is important only when you are dealing with stationary compressors. They are wrong. You cannot eradicate the noise – for it comes from the high pressure created within the compressor, whether it is a stationary or portable air compressor. What you can do, however, is mute your portable air compressor.
Here’s how you can do just that:
Wear Hearing Protection
Thecheapest method to mute your air compressor is to wear hearing protection. That said, you cannot keep on using this method for the long term. For,if the compressor is producing astronomical amounts of noise, even hearing protection might not save you. In such a scenario, consider the alternative mentioned next.
Use a Cast Iron built Air Compressor
Askexperts, and they might testify the longevity of a cast iron built air compressor. You might ask: how does cast iron ensures longevity? By dampening the vibration.
Whilevibration might still occur, cast iron will be on double shift to prevent it from disturbing the equilibrium. Consequently, most of the vibration will be dissipated in the air, saving your ears.
DIY a Soundproof Box
Maintain Your Compressor
Althougha time consuming method, there isno alternative to maintaining your compressor if you want to silence it. Itis the parts of the compressor which, on vibration, produce noise.If you keep them in good working condition, they won’t have any reason to do so.
Go for an Ultra-Quiet Option
Despitebeing the most expensive option, going for a compressor, which has an “ultra-quiet” mark, is the best option. Usually, ultra-quiet portable air compressors produce very little noise – between 56-73db. This noise level, according to experts, is borderline normal, meaning you can get away with it without damaging your ears.
Your Search for the best portable air compressor ends here. However, if you still feel we have neglected a few important points, we are eager to hear from you.