Are you looking for the best portable air compressor to power your pneumatic tools such as nail guns, brad nailers, and more? With so many different power tools you can use as either a professional or hands-on person, you need the right air compressor on the job site to get the job done with the most efficiency.
If you might be moving around to various work locations such as the workshop, the home, and other job sites, it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality portable air compressor. We have put together a list of 10 of the best portable air compressors for your convenience. When choosing a portable air compressor, you have to balance the functional aspects of the machine with cost considerations. You can find out everything you need to know about picking an air compressor and getting the best value for your money.
Top 10 Portable Air Compressors
Having a portable air compressor can be a lifesaver at home when you are on the road and have a flat tire, and while you are working with pneumatic tools like nailers at the workshop. In this section of the review, you can learn about our top three picks for a portable air compressor from all the diverse options we found. It was a stiff competition because so many of the equipment options are high-performance and have a lot to offer in a wide range of jobs.
We understand that you might want to use an air compressor for a very different reason from the next person. It could be that you want to be able to inflate your own tires or air mattress. or maybe you are a contractor who needs an on-the-go source of compressed air to power up some of the tools of the trade. Nailers, a nail gun, a paint gun, or a brad nailer are just some examples of some of the pneumatic power tools you might want to connect your air compressor to. For this reason, we included a range of machines that are ideal for many of the on-demand jobs for various professions and task requirements.
Our top 10 picks were from three categories for portable air compressors. These are the best machine for quiet operation, the best overall from all the products looked at, and finally, the best for cars. You can learn a little about each of these picks, and then find the full review for these products and seven other excellent choices, and more in the following section.
California Air Tools 1P1060S Best for Quiet Operation
Makita MAC5200 Air Compressor Best Overall
AstroAI Air Compressor Best for Cars
Ontel Air Hawk Pro Automatic Cordless Air Compressor HIGH IN-DEMAND
Best Portable Air Compressors: Full Review
Finding the right air compressor can bring a lot of benefits. You can keep your inflatables at the right pressure for your use and enjoyment. You can power those pneumatic tools at the construction site, the workshop, or in a household setting with DIY projects.
When we reviewed some of the top portable air compressors on the market, we looked at a range of things including affordability, portability, functions, features, and how user-friendly the unit is. When you have a set budget, you need an air compressor that can perform with high efficiency and without any issues. Whether it is to fill up the tires of your vehicles or bicycles or to power up your pneumatic nailer, there’s great air compression that can meet the requirements.
Take a look at our list of top air compressors we compiled. You can see a full review of all of them below.
The California Air Tools 1P1060S is our best portable air compressor for quiet performance. When you work in a quiet residential area or office complex
- Low noise level of 56dB
- No maintenance required
The California Air Tools 1P1060S is our best portable air compressor for quiet performance. When you work in a quiet residential area or office complex, for example, the last thing you want is to have a very noisy compressor. If you have to run your compressor continuously, then it becomes a challenge between you and your neighbors. This portable air compressor offers a lot of great features and functions. It stood out from all of the other options we considered. It is suitable for home, professional, and industrial use.
- The tank capacity is 1 gallon, and the item weighs 29.5 pounds.
- It is a single-phase compressor with a voltage of 110 volts, a max peak horsepower of 1.5 HP, and a running horsepower of 0.6 HP.
- The airflow capacity is 1.2 CFPM.
- It is quiet, maintenance-free, and oil-free.
You can use this air compressor at home or the workshop. Although you pay a little more for it compared with other alternatives, it is highly durable and requires no maintenance at all.
The pump of the Makita air compressor has oil lubrication, which means that you can run the machine at cooler temperatures and with less wear and tear.
- High performance
- Less maintenance required
- Fast recovery time
- Easy to fold away and store
- None found
After looking at many portable air compressor choices, we picked the Makita MAC5200 as the best option from all the ones on the market. This portable air compressor can do so much and is easy to love around if that is required of your work. The motor has a powerful 3.0 HP, and the tank capacity is 5.2 gallons. This compressor has an excellent design, high productivity, and is easy to push around and fold away for storage, thanks to the handles, wheels, and foldable structure.
- The Makita air compressor has a cast iron pump with a Big Bore cylinder and piston, which provide impressive performance and fast recovery time.
- There is a powerful motor with a horsepower of 3.0 HP and producing an airflow of 6.5 CFM at an air pressure of90 PSI.
- The Makita air compressor pump has oil lubrication, which means that you can run the machine at cooler temperatures and with less wear and tear.
- You can expect this portable air compressor to have a higher pump life and reduced wear on the cylinder because it is made of a durable form of cast iron.
- It is very easy to remove the cylinder when you want to perform the light maintenance work required.
- The Makita portable air compressor also features rugged wheels and foldable handles.
- There is a 1-year warranty from the original date of purchase.
If you want an air compressor that you can wheel around the house or job site easily, then the Makita air compressor is a great buy. When it is time to put it away, the handles fold easily, thanks to the low profile design.
You can use it to pump the tires of your car with 35L/min and can inflate a tire from 0- 35 PSI in less than 5 minutes.
- Fast, safe, and accurate
- Programmable inflation
- Automatic shutoff
- A wide range of jobs
- Very affordable price point
- Not for jobs that demand high-pressure air or high volume
- Requires 10- 15 minutes of rest after continuous use for the same amount of time
The AstroAI Air Compressor has a lot to offer, and we rated it as the best portable air compressor for cars. Learn more about it here.
- The AstroAI air compressor is made from high-quality materials.
- You can use it to pump your car’s tires with 35L/min and inflate a tire from 0- 35 PSI in less than 5 minutes.
- The accuracy of the calibration is within 1.5%.
- You can program the inflation to the desired pressure level.
- There is an automatic shutoff feature when the pre-set pressure is reached.
- You can change the pressure units with one click of a button.
- There is a large backlight LCD screen to help you read the pressure in dark settings.
- An emergency LED flashlight is integrated and available to use when needed.
- The portable air compressor cable is a heavy-duty 10 foot, 12V, 120 watts cigarette lighter cord.
- This portable air compressor can be used with cars, trucks, bicycles, balls, mattresses, balloons, and more.
- The machine comes with three nozzles, a valve extender, a quick connector, a screw rotation attach, the user manual, and an additional fuse in terms of accessories.
- There is a 3-year manufacturer warranty on this item.
It’s very easy to fill up the tires of any of your vehicles and other inflatables with the AstroAI portable air compressor. You can preset the required air pressure and let the equipment do the work for you. Once the pressure setting you opted for is reached, the compressor shuts off automatically. This method provides a high level of efficiency and prevents air leakages.
The pressure rating of this compressor is 150 PSI max, which can work in many different tasks.
- No maintenance requirements
- Easy start-up in cold weather
- A wide range of accessories and connectors for various tasks
- Not the most lightweight alternative
The Craftsman pancake air compressor is one of the best portable air compressors. Find out more about what it has to offer in the full review below.
- The tank capacity of this portable air compressor is 6 gallons, and it weighs 32.5 pounds.
- There is an oil-free, durable pump that does not require any maintenance.
- The pressure rating of this compressor is 150 PSI max, which can work in many different tasks.
- With this Craftsman portable air compressor, you get 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI and a voltage of 120 volts.
- As far as accessories, the machine comes with a 13 piece kit. You get a PVC air hose with the plug and coupler assembled, a tire chuck with the plug, a tire gauge, three inflator adaptors, a blow gun with a plug, a blow gun complete with a safety nozzle, and a rubber tip.
- With this compressor here is a 1-year limited warranty.
Many times, it can be hard to start-up an air compressor during cold weather. With this model, you are not going to have any issues when you need to use the machine in the cold. It starts up very easily.
The air compressor has a cylinder design and can handle a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, an airflow of 70 L/min, and can inflate a standard tire within 1.5 minutes from 0- 40 PSI.
- Fast inflation
- Stability technology
- High efficiency
- Not for heavy-duty applications
We picked the GSPSCN silver air compressor as one of the top selections if you have to look for a portable solution. Learn more about what you can expect here.
- The air compressor has a cylinder design and can handle a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, an airflow of 70 L/min, and inflate a standard tire within 1.5 minutes from 0- 40 PSI.
- With this portable air compressor’s stability technology, there are rubber feet that can keep the 12-volt pump in place during operation to reduce noise levels and vibration.
- The direct-drive inflation leads to low rotation speed, stability, and high machine efficiency.
You can use this portable air compressor anywhere. It is suitable to utilize with a truck, van, RV, trailer, golf cart, bicycle, and a range of other vehicles. It also makes a great compact gift item for someone to carry in their car and travel around with.
It is the ideal piece of equipment to carry in your vehicle. You can use it to turn pneumatic finish nailers when you are inflating a tire by the roadside.
- Very portable
- Fast inflation of car tires
- The batteries are not included in this purchase.
If you are looking for an excellent portable air compressor that is also cordless, then we recommend this Ryobi air compressor.
- This portable air compressor is cordless and requires a P108 4.0 Ah lithium+ battery to operate.
- It has a tank capacity of 1 gallon and weighs 15.27 pounds.
- The compressor has a voltage of 18 volts and can deliver 120 PSI of compressed air.
- As far as the manufacturer warranty, it extends for 3 years.
- It takes just 1 minute and 20 seconds to inflate just one tire with this air compressor.
- The handles have a runner over-mold for increased user comfort.
The Ryobi cordless air compressor can be an asset during roadside incidents. It is the ideal piece of equipment to carry in your vehicle. You can use it to turn pneumatic finish nailers when you are inflating a tire by the roadside.
The Ontel Air Hawk air compressor is an advanced alternative you can use to inflate any flat tires. It’s an excellent lightweight pick.
- Very lightweight
- Fast inflation
- Automatic shut-off
- LED display light and digital gauge
- Limited to low-volume tasks
The Ontel Air Hawk air compressor is an advanced alternative you can use to inflate any flat tires. It’s an excellent lightweight pick.
- This cordless CR123A battery-powered model weighs only 2.93 pounds, making it highly portable and easy to store.
- It has a digital LED tire gauge.
- A built-in LED light allows you to use the compressor in a dark environment.
- The air compressor kit comes with a 6-inch pressure hose with a threaded connector, pin attachments, an AC charger, a rechargeable battery, a travel carrying bag, and a 12V cable adaptor if you want to plug in the device for continuous use and power supply.
This portable, lightweight, handheld gadget can be used in many different areas, including auto, household use, tool shops, and a wide range of home improvement projects.
There is a high-precision, large-sized display to read off the pressure reading during the day and the night.
- Compact and lightweight
- LED display and lighting
- Very affordable price tag
- Durable construction
- Not for heavy-duty applications
Another excellent air compressor/ tire inflator is the Helteko Air Compressor. With this small multi-purpose air compressor, there is a lot you can do with this machine.
- This air compressor is made using durable, high-grade ABS plastic and stainless steel.
- It only takes 3- 5 minutes to inflate a standard mid-sized car tire.
- When you buy this gadget, you also get an 11.5-foot long cable cord to inflate the tires of your vehicles.
- There is a high-precision, large-sized display to read off the pressure reading during the day and the night.
- You have the choice to select the unit of measurement you prefer from bars, PSI, KPa, and Kg/cm2.
- The weight of this small air compressor is only 2.58 pounds, and the voltage is 12V.
- After the desired pressure is reached, the car air compressor shuts off automatically, making it easy to get the perfect tire pressure.
- This air compressor is a handy tool to have in emergencies because of the compact design and LED lighting.
- There is a 2 year extended warranty on this product.
You can easily change the unit of pressure used on the machine display. This means you don’t have to calculate and convert the pressure rating between different units.
You can use this device for a wide range of jobs such as tire inflation for your vehicles, inflating your mattresses, boats, sporting equipment, and other inflatable items.
- Fast inflation
- Powerful motor
- Low noise
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Extended power cord
- None found
If you are looking for a heavy-duty pump to inflate care tires and mattresses, then consider the Smashier Portable Air Compressor.
- The motor is twice as fast as a normal motor and has a power of 120- 180W, and can reach speeds of 35L/min to increase the tire pressure from 0 to 30 PSI in just 2- 3 minutes.
- There is a unique cooling design that acts fast.
- You can use this air compressor continuously for 15 minutes, after which, you must rest it.
- The machine’s service life is 4- 5 years so that you can cut down on gas station visit costs.
- The air pump has an accuracy of 99.7% and an error of less than 0.5 PSI.
- When the preset pressure value is reached, the machine stops automatically to stop the leakage of air.
- The display is bright and clear, and it allows you to change the pressure reading between four different pressure units.
- For clear vision, even at night, the tire air compressor has LED lights.
- This air compressor is stable and has a noise reduction design to ensure that the would level stays below 50dB so that you do not disturb the neighbors.
- You can use this device for a wide range of jobs such as tire inflation for your vehicles, inflating your mattresses, boats, sporting equipment, and other inflatable items.
- There is an extended power cord of 11.5 feet to allow you to reach any inflatable you want to fill up with compressed air.
- It only takes two steps to snap the metal connector on and start the inflation process.
- The kit comes with the power cord, three nozzle adaptors, a spare fuse, a carry bag for your convenience, the user manual, an additional multitool, and the mini compressor itself.
- There is a 30-day money-back guarantee to let you try out the machine, and you can also make use of the 2-year warranty period in case anything goes wrong or you notice any damage to the air compressor.
You can maximize the extended cable to reach inflatables you might not have been able to reach due to a short cable length.
This air compressor has a double cylinder made of pure copper, which makes it more durable than a small single-cylinder tire air compressor.
- Double cylinder for rapid inflation
- LED display
- Quiet operation
- Fast inflation
- None found
The Wolfbox portable air compressor is a great machine to use for inflating tires at home, work, or on the road should you encounter a flat tire. Find out more about why it made our list of the best portable air compressors.
- This air compressor has a double cylinder made of pure copper, which makes it more durable than a small single-cylinder tire air compressor.
- It weighs 5.9 pounds.
- The maximum pressure it can reach is 150 PSI, with an airflow of 70L/min, and taking a standard tire all the way to 35 PSI in just under 2 minutes.
- There is an LCD to allow you to accurately view the air pressure in any of four different pressure units, depending on your preference.
- When the preset pressure is reached, the air compressor shuts off automatically.
- This air compressor operated quietly and with great stability compared with many other air compressors.
- The compressor features independent LED lights that allow you to use the machine comfortably even in a dark environment and at night.
- You can plug this tire inflator into the cigarette lighter socket of your car or truck for ease.
- Besides small trucks, campers, and SUVs, you can also use this air compressor to inflate balls, boats, ar cushions, and other inflatables.
- There is a 3-year warranty, and you also get 90 days to return and exchange the machine if there are any issues.
- You can also make use of the after-sales support service available in the manual.
There are two ways to get electricity to power the air compressor from your car. You can either muse the cigarette slot or make use of the alligator clamps to get power from the car batteries.
An air compressor has many uses. This buyer’s guide gives you some general information about what an air compressor is, how it works, and what you should look out for when buying a portable one. In the FAQs section, you can also find answers to some of the questions you might have about these machines.
How Air Compressors Work
Air compressors can come in different forms and have many different uses. The basic functional operation of these machines is to convert regular air into dense, high-pressure air for use in a wide variety of applications.
The main principle of air compressors can be simply explained. These machines force air into a container and pressurize it during this process. The air is then forced through an opening in the tank to build up the pressure. When you release the pressurized air, it has the energy to power something. A simple way to understand how air compressors are useful is to think of releasing the air from a blown-up balloon. The greater the pressure of the air coming from the air compressor, the greater its potential use cases.
In general, there are three main types of air compressors. These include a rotary screw air compressor, which works by positive displacement of air. Onside some casing, you can find two rotors that compress the air internally. The most common option in this category is a single-stage helical screw air compressor or ar spiral lobe oil flooded one.
Another type of air compressor is the reciprocating air compressor. The way this works is to reduce the volume of the air to increase its pressure. They are considered positive displacement machines. In terms of how these machines are cooled, there are various methods. These include water-cooling and air-cooling in lubricated or non-lubricated models.
The third type of air compressor is a centrifugal one. This category is distinct from the other two. A rotating impeller transfers energy to the air. This air compressor option might be suitable when a continuous operation is needed and a high-capacity compressor is a must-have.
Air compressors can last for well over 10 years, and they are built to be very durable and reliable. With some types of air compressors, you may be required to do more or less maintenance, depending on whether the machine is a reciprocating, rotary screw, or centrifugal type of air compressor.
What Are the Applications of an Air Compressor?
The applications of an air compressor extend to consumer, industrial, and professional situations. You can find them in agriculture, construction, engines, manufacturing, spray painting, HVAC, and pressure washing, just to name some common examples.
With an air compressor, you can supply high-pressure air to fill gas cylinders. Moderate-pressure clean air that you produce with an air compressor can be used to drive a wide range of pneumatic power tools, including a jackhammer.
Power tools can make a significant difference in the work that you do, be it as a professional in a construction or woodworking setting, or someone who likes to involve themselves in DIY projects around the house. Pneumatic power tools are an alternative to electrically-powered models. Many of these tools are compact, and this makes them portable for use in various work and home settings.
There’s not just one type of air compressor available on the market. Finding the right piece of equipment for your particular application is crucial to its success. If you plan to use a light-duty power tool to perform some minor home DIY job, then you may not need to have a large and powerful air compressor. On the other hand, if you have heavy-duty work to do, then you are going to need a more powerful source of high-pressure air. Read on to find out what kind of criteria you should use when selecting an air compressor.
What Should I Look for in a Portable Air Compressor?
There are many air compressor models available. If you want to have a mobile source of pressurized air to take with you to various job sites, then you probably want to consider buying a portable air compressor. This machine is likely to be much smaller than some of the heavy-duty options you can find on some sites.
When it comes to picking a portable compressor, there are several things you should be watching out for. It’s also a good idea to take a look at the features and specifications of each sir compressor model that you find. You can compare these with the requirements of what you need to make sure you are going to be able to perform the tasks at hand.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a DIYer or a contractor. You need an air compressor that can handle your work requirements.
Here are some of the main features you should inspect for a portable air compressor:
- Horsepower (HP) – Once you know the horsepower rating the tool you want to power, for example, can help you decide on the size capacity of the air compressor that you need. To ensure that you have an accurately rated air compressor, you can also take a look at the current and voltage ratings. As an example, if an air compressor has a 5HP rating, you can expect that to draw about 24 amps on a 220 volt single-phase power circuit. Air compressors are powered by either gas or electricity. When comparing gas air compressors and electric motor air compressors, you can expect to require double the horsepower in the former to produce the same volume of air.
- Air pressure (PSI) – The pressure of air is commonly measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). A 90 PSI rating on an air tool is very common. For two-stage industrial air compressors, you might e looking at an initial air build-up of 0 PSI in the first stage, followed by a build-up of 175 PSI. When you are dealing with a light-duty hobbyist air compressor, then you can be looking at a single-stage operation of 125- 135 PSI.
- Cubic feet per minute (CFM) – You are going to need a certain volume of air to keep your air tool operating. An air compressor is going to have various CFM ratings for different pressures.
- Tank size – The size of the air compressor tank is not too significant because this is only used to store air and not to produce pressurized air. Having a smaller tank size is, therefore, not as big a limitation as having a pump or motor that is too small for your applications. If you do not use your air compressor continuously, then you can cut the cost by opting for a smaller machine with a large tank.
- Stage operation – As we mentioned, an air compressor can be single-stage or two-stage. You are likely to look into a two-stage air compressor when you have a high-pressure air application. In most cases, only moderate-pressure air is required, making a two-stage compressor less common. As far as quality, there is not much difference between a single and two-stage compressor, almost many people hold the opinion that the latter is of higher quality.
There are many other features and specifications that you can look at to get a better idea of how an air compressor performs and whether it is suitable for your application. These include what kind of drive the machine has: direct or belt, whether it is an oil or oil-less model, as well as information on the duty cycle and any moisture problems that the equipment might have.
You might also want to look at the size and shape of the air compressor. There are various shapes and models available. There is the pancake air compressor, then there are also the vertical electric air compressor and horizontal models.
For proper comparison of air compressors on the market, you can also look at maintenance requirements, price point, brand, warranty information, and reviews or recommendations from another user’s experience with a particular model.
You can find our expert answers for some of the questions that are asked often about how air compressors work and finding the best portable option.
How long does a portable air compressor last?
Air compressors are very durable machines and can last for many years. If you have a rotary air compressor you can expect 40,000- 60,000 hours of operating, which adds up to at least 25 years of continuous operation. If you have a reciprocating air compressor, then regular maintenance can get you about 10-15 years of operation.
What’s the best brand air compressor?
As you saw in the review section, there are so many brands that produce very high-quality air compressions, so this makes it challenging to single out one particular producer for producing the best air compressors on the market.
What’s a good size air compressor for home use?
The size of an air compressor tank is measured in gallons. You can find air compressor tank sizes across a wide range, and it all depends on the application you are looking to use it for. You can find small, portable air compressors with a tank size of 1 gallon. On the other end of the spectrum, heavy-duty, commercial air compressors can have 80-gallon tanks. Depending on what you want to use the compressor for, a tank size of 2.6- 20 gallons should work well for most home applications.
Can you use a portable air compressor to fill the tires of cars?
The answer is yes. When the wheel pressure of your car or truck is low, if you have an air compressor on site, it is possible to adjust the pressures as required. You can find out what the recommended wheel pressure is by looking at the sticker by the driver’s side of a car or by referring to the vehicle manual. On average, you are going to be looking at a tire pressure of about 32- 35 PSI.
Once you have one of the best small air compressor choices, you can do a lot whether you enjoy DIY work at home or artwork as a contractor, or like to have your own pump for filling vehicle tires and inflatable items. There are a few things you should look out for when choosing an air compressor.
These include horsepower, tank size, airflow, and air pressure rating. You also need to consider price, portability, and any additional features that make the machine easier to use and control. In this review of the top products, we ranked three of the best small air compressors based on different categories. We picked the California Air Tools 1P1060S for the best for quiet operation. Our overall winner was the Makita MAC5200 air compressor, and our top pick for use in cars was the high-selling AstroAI air compressor.