There are all sorts of portable air compressors out there, and if you have your sights set on purchasing one, you may be wondering what the ideal tool is for your situation. Of course, all types of tools have advantages and disadvantages, and we certainly don’t have time to go over every individual portable air compressor here.
However, we can tell you what to expect out of a good air compressor; what aspects of one would be considered exceptional, and which would be considered average.
As you probably know, the most important aspect of an air compressor’s portability is its weight. It’s much easier to tow light tools around than heavy ones, even if the latter have special assets to help.
The average weight of a portable air compressor on the market is thirty pounds. Of course there are compressors that weight both more and less than this, but this is the average weight you will encounter the most.
Any weight above that is not ideal, and any weight below is better than average. Keep this in mind if portability is one of the most important factors for you.
Maximum Pressure Output
Maximum pressure output is the max PSI that an air compressor uses. A higher max PSI means a more powerful air compressor capable of tackling tougher jobs. The average max PSI for air compressors on the market is 150 PSI.
The vast majority of portable air compressors will have this max PSI, so if you encounter one that puts out less you may want to consider passing it by.
If you can find one that is even more powerful, you’ve potentially found a good deal.
The gallon capacity is how much your portable air compressor can hold. Larger capacity means you can take on more work before having to resupply the compressor.
The most common gallon capacity across the board is six gallons. Many portable air compressors top out at around this capacity.
Unless you don’t plan to use your compressor for much, you probably won’t want to purchase a compressor with a lower capacity than this. You may wish to purchase one with a higher capacity, but keep in mind that it would probably weigh more than the average variant.
Most air compressors perform the same in their basic functions, governed by their max PSI output. The place where performance really makes an obvious difference is in voltage startup and cold weather startup ability.
Everyone knows it is harder to start a machine in cold weather, so be sure to look for a compressor that specifies its ability to start in cold weather environments. As for voltage startup, this is how much power you’ll need, at the minimum, to start the compressor.
There’s no real average for this across the board: just keep in mind that the lower the voltage/wattage listed, the easier it will be to start the compressor.
Package and Warranty
The package is everything that is included in your purchase of a tool. Most tools come with just the air compressor and nothing else. So if you find a good deal that offers not only the tool, but also extensions or a sturdy hose, it might be worth considering.
As for warranty, a one-year limited warranty is the norm for nearly all power tools. It’s not much, so if you find a tool that offer a more comprehensive warranty, you might want to look into it.
Air compressors are very simple. They don’t have much in the way of special features. However, they do have some you can look out for. Ergonomic handles, easy-access control panels, and oil-free pump systems are a few of them.
While these features are minor, they stack up to make the tool easier to use. You should probably also look out for wheels on heavier air compressors.
Naturally, pricing is one of the things customers care about the most. What price is actually considered a ‘good’ price? Are you getting a good deal or paying way too much for way too little?
Well, the average price of a solid portable air compressor is $150.00. Of course there’s a bit of leeway here, but within twenty bucks of that in either direction would be considered the average range.
That said, anything under $130 would be very affordable, and anything above $170-180 would be a bit expensive.
However, you have to keep in mind whether or not certain prices are warranted.
A more expensive air compressor may be marked up because it actually has features or specifications that are worth paying more money for. You should compare its specs to the averages we’ve mentioned here and see if you’re paying for something that is actually better than normal.
On the flipside, a compressor that is cheaper than the norm may be more affordable because it is not as reliable, or just isn’t as powerful.
Once again, compare it to the mentioned averages to see if it falls short on too many areas, which may be the reason for its low price. That said, if it is mostly average or even better than average and is still below $150, you’ve likely found a very good deal, and should consider taking it if the compressor matches what you want and what you need for the kind of work you handle.
Best Air Compressor
Here is the list of the best air compressor that you can use either at home or at work. Feel free to check each one of them.
- PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Compressor
- Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 Air Compressor
- Excell U256PPE Pancake Air Compressor
- BOSTITCH BTFP02012-WPK Compressor Kit
- VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor
- DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Unique Feature: With Accessory Kit
- Cords mean you can use the brad nailer for an essentially unlimited amount of time
- You won’t have to invest in very costly batteries or battery chargers at any point, which saves you a significant amount with the lifetime cost of the tool
- Is quite affordable considering that you will be getting two tools in total
- Doesn’t come with any accessories other than those that go immediately with the pancake compressor. All other accessories must be purchased separately
- The pancake compressor is quite heavy at thirty four pounds and may be a hassle to lug around
With dimensions of 18.3 x 18 x 19 inches, the CW2002-WK is an average size kit. This size is not overly cumbersome or difficult to maneuver, and it doesn’t make it any harder to store.
The pancake suppressor in and of itself weighs approximately thirty four pounds, which is of course rather hefty.
It will definitely be a hassle to move around, but on the flipside, the actual brad nailer is only a little heavier than a pound. Obviously it’ll be a bit of a struggle to lug the pair of tools around, but when you do arrive the weight of the nailer won’t be an issue of any sort.
The Porter Cable C2002-WK Compressor is a corded electric power tool. Corded tools have some benefits and some disadvantages.
The CW2002-WK possesses many special features that make it an efficient tool. It has a tool-free depth-of-drive adjustment with detents for proper setting of nail heads, a tool-free jam release mechanism for easy nail removal, and a rear exhaust to keep contaminates away from work.
This combination of tools works especially well together. Both tools are durable and tough, and have power and versatility. While their combined weight is rather significant, they aren’t exactly difficult to maneuver and use.
And of course, there are many special features present that make them far easier to use both alone and in conjunction with one another.
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Unique Feature: Durable & Rubber Grip
- Has a larger gallon capacity than most air compressors at eight gallons compared to the usual six
- Is made of steel and is oil free, making for a much tougher, longer lasting compressor than some others
- At an astounding weight of sixty-seven pounds, it is more than twice the weight of nearly every other portable compressor
- Has less maximum PSI than most of the competition, at 125 PSI compared to the average maximum of 150
- Is more costly than much of the competition, being almost a hundred dollars more expensive than the average cost of $150.00.
- Does not come with a hose in the initial purchase, so a hose must be purchased separately
The weight of the DC0 is definitely its greatest drawback, at sixty-seven pounds. There’s no denying that this weight is more than twice the weight of most average portable compressors.
The DC0 has an eight gallon capacity, which is somewhat larger than most of the competition (six gallons is the norm).
Has an oil free universal maintenance pump and motor, so the tool’s overall lifetime is longer.
It is also significantly quieter than most of its competition, with a decibel rating of 68 Dba. The compressor is made of steel and is therefore especially durable and resistant to damage. Being wheeled allows for easier access to some areas.
It certainly weighs far more, at more than double the weight of your average air compressor. It has wheels to offset this, but the weight difference is still significant. It has about thirty percent more capacity than most of the competition, but has about fifteen percent less maximum PSI.
In the end, the DC0 fills a certain niche. If you value capacity more than power, it is a good buy, but otherwise there are lighter and more powerful options available.
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Unique Feature: Low Voltage Start Up
- Is extremely affordable at approximately a hundred dollars, roughly thirty percent cheaper than the norm
- Keeps the most vulnerable components of the compressor well protected, ensuring a longer operational lifespan.
- Control panel is located in an intuitive position that makes it easy to access during operation
- Is able to start in cold weather conditions, and doesn’t need a lot of power to do so
- Oil free pump system ensures a longer operation lifetime, and results in a less need for regular maintenance
- Is heavier than most of the competition by a solid nine pounds, making it around thirty percent heavier than the norm
- Does not come equipped with any noteworthy special features, performing only as well as the average air compressor
With dimensions of 17.9 x 17.3 x 21.7 inches, the U25 is a bit on the larger size for portable air compressors, but that size doesn’t necessarily translate into a massive increase in weight. It is a bit larger than a lot of the competition, but that generally translates into more survivability and power.
The U25 is a corded electric power tool that does not require batteries. It has a maximum PSI of 150, and has a six gallon capacity. It has a low voltage startup threshold of 64v and uses 7.5 Amps. It also has 2.8 SCFM at 90 PSI.
The Excell U256PPE Pancake Air Compressor is not all that different in performance compared to its name brand competition. It has the same max PSI, and a very similar gallon capacity. Like the competition, it is able to start up without much power and it is still able to function well in cold weather environments.
On the other hand, it weighs a bit more than its competition, so you are not actually getting much of anything special in exchange for that extra weight.
Has an oil free universal maintenance pump and motor, so the tool’s overall lifetime is longer. The control panel for the air compressor is also intuitively located in an easily accessible spot so you don’t have to struggle to operate it during use.
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Unique Feature: Low Noise Level
- Is very lightweight and also quite small, making it very portable and easy to maneuver
- Is a great cost considering everything that is included in the package, which is more than most alternatives for the same price
- Is still very powerful considering its size, with a max output of 150 PSI
- The warranty is lackluster, not being any better than the average, though this can be rectified for little cost
At approximately twenty nine pounds, this Bostitch air compressor is a remarkably low weight compared to its larger, heavier counterparts.
That said, most portable air compressors do fall around the thirty pound range, so this particular air compressor is not actually especially lightweight, at least not relatively speaking in regards to the competition. Either way, the compressor most certainly is portable.
This Bostitch pancake compressor is a corded electric type tool that has a maximum output of 150 PSI.
No batteries means you can work almost indefinitely, and of course you won’t have to invest in batteries or battery chargers, which would significantly increase the long term cost of the tool.
It also comes with a 50′ Rubber/PCV Blend Air Hose, which is a flexible polymer design and is abrasion resistant, while maintaining flexibility even in cold environments.
Finally, it comes with a ten blow gun and air accessory kit. This includes a tire chuck and gauge, several inflation attachments, a blow gun and rubber tip, a safety nozzle, and 1/4″ NPT male plugs.
With lots of power and a tough metal body, as well as a flexible hose, this all around very light weight pancake compressor is a solid combination of every aspect one would look for in an air compressor.
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Unique Feature: Includes Deluxe Carry Bag
- Is lighter than almost any other air compressor, making it more portable than nearly any other compressor out there
- Is still very powerful and durable considering its small size and weight, and it has quite a high damage tolerance and versatility
- Made by a specialized company that focuses on air compressors, you can rely on the 400P to be an excellent quality tool
- It is quite affordable for such a specialized tool that still possesses a great deal of durability and power
- It does have good power for its size, but that size still limits its maximum output to 150 PSI
With a size of 13 x 11 x 9.5 inches, the Viair 400P truly is a portable tool. It is quite small for an air compressor, being extremely easy to carry with just one hand.
You’ll have no trouble lifting and maneuvering this air compressor. The small size also makes it very easy to store.
The Viair 400P is a corded electric power tool. It does not operate on batteries, which is good since batteries and battery chargers tend to be very expensive when it comes to the lifetime cost of a tool.
The compressor uses twelve volts and has one hundred and fifty PSI max working pressure, though the engine must be running during use.
The only real drawback to a corded power tool is that cords occasionally make the tool more difficult to use, but this shouldn’t be much of an issue for an air compressor.
It has a high performance PTFE piston ring, a gearless direct drive motor, and an automatic reset thermal overload protector. It has dual forty amp battery clamps, a dual stage metal air filter, and a special carry bag.
Ultimately, this air compressor possesses a great deal of features that make it quite powerful and efficient.
The viair 400P is an excellent tool. Having been made by a company that specializes in air compressors, you won’t find too many more reliable air compressors out there.
This one is made of durable material, has a very long hose, and has enough PSI output power to take care of most jobs. And of course, it comes with a carry bag, so it even has extra security.
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Unique Feature: Maximizes Air Tool Performance
My Rating: 9.1 out of 10
- Has a very low noise setting that is much quieter than most compressors, allowing for quieter work
- Has a high capacity and above average pressure output, making for a more powerful compressor than most
- Very low weight compared to most compressors, making it easier to move around and put into storage
- Warranty is not spectacular, though it is the norm for most tools
With dimensions of 17.2 x 16.6 x 20.1, this compressor is about as large as you would expect considering its intended purpose and its six gallon capacity. There are no notable pros or cons about this size, since it is mostly average and expected.
This pancake compressor has a one sixty five PSI maximum for its tank, as well as 2.6 SCFM, delivered at 90 PSI from its pump.
This combination of capacity and power output means this DeWalt pancake compressor has the capability you need for nearly any job.
The DWFP55126 is a corded electric power tool. It has a universal motor that uses ten amps, sixty Hz, and one hundred and twenty volts.
It should be noted that the compressor should be kept at least a foot away from walls or other obstructions that could block the flow of air. But as long as the compressor is deployed properly, it has enough power and output capacity to take care of most jobs with relative ease.
This pancake compressor has a high capacity and a lot of power, allowing it to exert the force you need to take care of most jobs.
It is small but powerful, durable and easy to carry, and has almost no issue so long as you deploy the compressor away from any obstructions that would prevent air flow. The tool is capable to a satisfactory degree, but is not anything unusually extraordinary.
These are just some of the best air compressor that you can use either at home or at work. I hope that this buyer’s guide will be able to help you in choosing the best power tool.