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The Best Portable Air Compressor

Last updated on July 2, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Portable Air Compressors and dug through the reviews from 93 of the most popular review sites including Best Reviews Guide, Do Best Products, Driving Life, Best of Machinery, Analysis Reviews, Garage Tool Advisor and more. The result is a ranking of the best Portable Air Compressors.

Best Portable Air Compressor

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Portable Air Compressors

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Makita

Big Bore Sir Compressor

Overall Take

One of the best features of this model is its ability to output air without drawing heavily on power supply. That keeps utility bills low, while also reducing the risk that you'll trip a breaker. Its cast-iron components and metal cage will ensure it lasts through many uses.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Budget Air Compressors, Need For Home, Toolez, Heathy Handyman, Sympathink and 3 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Scores at the top of the pack in virtually every measure of performance. It's cast iron components give it an exceptional operational life."
Cons
"First off – the weight, 81 pounds (that’s 40 bags of sugar to you and me) is a lot to carry around, especially if you need it at one end of the house and then back at the other straight..."

California Air Tools

Steel Tank Air Compressor

Overall Take

The California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor is heavier than many other portable air compressors, weighing 90 pounds. However, it comes with wheels, making it easy to transport around a specific area. Its oil-free pump reduces maintenance, and the lower noise level makes it perfect for using at home. Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Best Air Compressor Reviews, Wise Pick, Budget Air Compressors, RX Tooler. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Home Depot.
Pros
" Extremely powerful,yet quite pump. You can have a normal conversation while standing right next to it."
Cons
"On/off switch not in the best location."

DEWALT

Pancake Compressor

Overall Take

With an operating air pressure of 165 PSI, the DEWALT Pancake Compressor is a leader in portable air compressors. It's also lightweight enough to easily carry around, at only 30 pounds. One of the biggest benefits of this air compressor is its quiet operation. It has a noise output of... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Power Tool Buzz, Power Tools Zone, Top 5 Reviews, Extensively Reviewed, Heathy Handyman, Best of Machinery and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Home Depot.
Pros
" It is one of the quietest air compressors within the affordable bracket."
Cons
"Doesn't come with air hose."
  The Best Value

PORTER-CABLE

Pancake Compressor

Overall Take

The oil-free pump on the PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor makes it easy to maintain. It's a bit noisier than newer competitors, with a noise output of 82 decibels (although this is fairly standard for air compressors). At only 32 pounds, this model is more portable than other options. Its size makes... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Your Best Digs, Miranda Made, Top 5 Reviews, Compressor Force, Best Air Compressor Reviews and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Home Depot.
Pros
" Comes from a manufacturer with a great reputation for quality and durability. Has tremendous output for such a compact unit."
Cons
"The Porter-Cable model has a noticeably cheaper feel to it than most of its competitors: from the plastic of the motor housing, the connections for the air hoses and the welding on the tank."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the portable air compressors available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products to review and score.

View All Product Rankings

93

Expert Reviews Included

Reviews from our DWYM category experts and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Best Reviews Guide, Do Best Products, Driving Life, Best of Machinery, Analysis Reviews.

43,620

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot and 3 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Portable Air Compressors and also dug through the reviews from 93 of the most popular review sites including Best Reviews Guide, Do Best Products, Driving Life, Best of Machinery, Analysis Reviews, Garage Tool Advisor and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Portable Air Compressors.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor

Expert Summarized Score
9.9
9 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.0
574 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

One of the best features of this model is its ability to output air without drawing heavily on power supply. That keeps utility bills low, while also reducing the risk that you'll trip a breaker. Its cast-iron components and metal cage will ensure it lasts through many uses.

What other experts liked
Scores at the top of the pack in virtually every measure of performance. It's cast iron components give it an exceptional operational life.
- BestReviews
It has metal roll cage protects the components in case the unit is bumped or dropped.
- Power Tools Ninja
Mac2400 makes gentle use of your electrical supply at home. The 2.5 HP electric motor is designed to have a low amp draw on your supply.
- Budget Air Compressors
The motor, though, is surprisingly quiet. Its low RPM – 1720 – adds to its longevity, and you don’t have to worry about tripping breakers. With no more than 50% duty cycle, you must give the motor a breathing space...
- Need For Home
March 26, 2019 | Full review
It is less noisy compared to other heavy duty machines. This makes it possible for the user to use it at any location.
- Toolez
The MAC2400 is made of cast iron which means it’s durable enough to withstand its fair share of bumps and scrapes on the busiest of construction sites.
- Heathy Handyman
The machine boasts a roll-cage construction and an oversized automotive style air filter designed to increase air intake and boost efficiency. Made to withstand the test of time, the air compressor also comes with built-in thermal overload and a ¼-inch...
- Sympathink
We liked this product because it is actually a very powerful compressor and it will last you years and years so you won’t need to replace it.
- Best of Machinery
Most experts will tell you that having an oil-lubricated pump is important if you want longevity out of your air compressor and reduced operating temps. The Makita has this. The efficient pump is made of heavy duty cast iron and...
- Best Air Compressor Reviews
What other experts didn't like
On the more expensive end,but it's high construction quality will end up saving you money in the long run.
- BestReviews
The low tank capacity means some users won’t be able to take full advantage of the high CFM rating.
- Power Tools Ninja
First off – the weight, 81 pounds (that’s 40 bags of sugar to you and me) is a lot to carry around, especially if you need it at one end of the house and then back at the other straight...
- Budget Air Compressors
Outside of the house or workshop, the issues begin to rise, especially during colder conditions. Luckily for me, I never had to use it outside, but I’ve heard people say that it tripped their 15 amp breakers and that it...
- Need For Home
March 26, 2019 | Full review
The weight of the compressor is too much and sometimes maybe hectic moving it if the job demands.
- Toolez
However, it is worth noting that this model is made of metal and thus is on the heavier side at 77lbs.
- Heathy Handyman
Air filter doesn’t sit properly (hint: use teflon tape).
- Best Air Compressor Reviews

The Best Bang For Your Buck

PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor

Expert Summarized Score
8.7
8 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
3,112 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

The oil-free pump on the PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor makes it easy to maintain. It's a bit noisier than newer competitors, with a noise output of 82 decibels (although this is fairly standard for air compressors). At only 32 pounds, this model is more portable than other options. Its size makes it a great choice for those who pln to regularly transport their compressor.

What other experts liked
Comes from a manufacturer with a great reputation for quality and durability. Has tremendous output for such a compact unit.
- BestReviews
This compressor has a dual outlet system. The larger tank allows for plenty of air to work with and running two nailers would be no problem for tasks like framing or carpentry.
- Power Tools Ninja
Porter-Cable vibrated noticeably more than its competitors. This may not seem like a big deal, but the vibration was enough that the unit itself moved freely across a concrete floor while the motor was running. If you set the compressor in the wrong place on a table or shelf, the...
- Your Best Digs
It has an oil-free pump that requires zero to very little maintenance and ensures extended performance.
- Miranda Made
The positive things they love about the unit include the easy to carry and heavy-duty design and quick charging.
- Top 5 Reviews
It is really easy to move because of its compact shape and light weight. The Porter Cable is one of the first I recommend to those who have bad backs and would have a hard time lugging around larger compressors. With the handle being centered, the good balance makes it...
- Best Air Compressor Reviews
It has low breaking time allowing for maximum performance.
- CH Compressors
What other experts didn't like
Takes a little bit longer to fill it's tank.
- BestReviews
On the most part the unit is long lasting. With care and draining, the tank could last years. However there have been complaints from some consumers regarding the reliability of individual parts.The release valve (bleeder) seems to be a fragile part. In reviewing the unit there were no problems but...
- Power Tools Ninja
The Porter-Cable model has a noticeably cheaper feel to it than most of its competitors: from the plastic of the motor housing, the connections for the air hoses and the welding on the tank.
- Your Best Digs
The major criticisms from the not-too-satisfied customers focused on the following: “loud and noisy device”, a non-durable hose, “plastic (low quality) air gauge”, and other mostly quality-of-material issues with the accessory gadgets accompanied the main compressor.
- Miranda Made
Low quality of some included accessories.
- Top 5 Reviews
Something that has come up about this compressor is that on slick surfaces, the C2002 has a tendency to slowly spin while in operation.
- Best Air Compressor Reviews
Produces some little noise thus not effective in noise-sensitive areas.
- CH Compressors

Overall Product Rankings

1. Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor

Overall Score: 9.6
Reviews Included: 10

2. California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 8

3. DEWALT Pancake Compressor

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 10

4. PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 10

5. EPAuto Portable Air Compressor Pump

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 22

6. Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 8

7. Helteko Portable Air Compressor

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 10

8. STANLEY FATMAX Air Compressor

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 9

9. Senco Portable Compressor

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 11

10. Campbell Hausfield Air Compressor

Overall Score: 7.8
Reviews Included: 17

Our Portable Air Compressor Buying Guide

An air compressor is a must-have tool for any DIYer. Even if you only ever use it to make sure your vehicle tires stay properly inflated, it’s handy to have around. You can use an air compressor for everything from spray painting a wall to doing minor car repair work. But perhaps the biggest reason to buy an air compressor is to power tools like nail guns, air impact wrenches and air hammers. You can also use a portable air compressor to quickly clear debris from a work area, boosting its versatility.

In a portable air compressor, it’s important to take weight and size into consideration. Some air compressors come with wheels, but that won’t help while taking it up and down stairs. If you opt for a larger air compressor without wheels, consider purchasing a cart with wheels or casters if you need to even occasionally move it around.

You should also consider size when choosing an air compressor. Chances are, you’ll want it out of the way when it’s not in use, but some can be massive, especially for an air compressor billing itself as “portable.” Take a look at where you’ll store your air compressor, and pay close attention to dimensions to make sure you don’t end up with a space hog.

You’ll likely put your compressor through some challenges during use, especially if you’re transporting it on a daily basis. If you fear you might accidentally drop it, it might be worth it to look for a model that builds in protection against shock.

Of course, you’ll also need to consider noise. It can never hurt to have even a slight reduction, even if you aren’t concerned with disturbing neighbors. You’ll find many air compressors output between 80 and 90 decibels, but newer models cut this down as low as 75 dB. At the lowest ranges, you’ll find that people can even carry on conversations near where you’re working without extra effort.

DWYM Fun Fact

You probably already know you can use an air compressor as a spray painter. But did you know you can also use it to paint walls inside your home? It’s a faster, easier way to apply paint without the unsightly roller marks you risk with traditional painting. You’ll need a spray gun and your desired color of paint to get started. You should also cover all areas you don’t want painted with masking paper and painter’s tape. Before you start, check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the exact pressure level for painting with the spray gun you’re using. You’ll also need to adjust the spray from low to high as you work using the pattern control knob located on the gun.

The Portable Air Compressor Tips and Advice

  • Air pressure is important when choosing an air compressor, and that’s measured both in operating pressure and output. The DEWALT Pancake Compressor and PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor are the leaders in this area, sustaining an operating pressure of up to 165 PSI and 150 PSI, respectively. The Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor maintains an operating pressure of 130 PSI, and the California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor also impresses, maxing out at 125 PSI.
  • It’s also important to consider output, not only for effectiveness but also recovery time. The California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor handles up to 5.60 cubic feet per minute at 40 PSI and 4.40 CFM at 90 PSI. Compare this to the PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor, which outputs 90 PSI at 2.6 CFM. It’s important to pay attention to this number because some power tools have a minimum PSI per CFM. You’ll need more air output than the tool states. For instance, if a tool says it needs 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI, you’re going to need an air compressor that outputs 6.25 to 7.5 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • All that power can push your utility bills up a little, though, so consider power usage when you’re shopping. Although it’s powerful, the 2.5 HP motor in the Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor is built specifically to minimize draw on your power supply. That not only means lower electric bills, but also less worrying about tripping a breaker during your next project.
  • If you’re shopping for a portable air compressor, chances are you want it to be portable. The DEWALT Pancake Compressor is the lightest, at only 30 pounds. Its size also makes it easy to store. The PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor comes close, at only 34 pounds. Although it’s a whopping 90 pounds, the California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor has wheels, so you can easily move it around if you plan to keep it in the same area. Its massive 18.7-inch X 16.2-inch X 29.6-inch size would hardly make it inconspicuous when you aren’t using it, though. The Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor is 81 pounds with no wheels, although you could put it on a cart with wheels. Unlike the California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor, the Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor is small enough to remain out of the way when not in use.
  • Portable air compressors can go through some tough challenges, especially if you’ll be tossing them in the back of your truck to take to job sites. The Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor boasts cast-iron components, as well as a metal roll cage to protect it if you accidentally drop it. The low RPM also keeps it going longer than air compressors with more robust motors.
  • Experts differ in whether you need an oil-lubricated pump or one that is oil-free. On the one hand, oil-lubricated pumps like you’ll find on the Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor keep the air compressor going longer and avoid overheating by keeping operating temperatures low. An oil-free pump, though, like the ones found on the California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor and the PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor reduce maintenance needs, making them more convenient to operate.
  • Depending on how and where you want to use your air compressor, noise levels may be important to you. You’ll usually find air compressors put out 80 decibels or more, making it tough to work while having a conversation or in close quarters. The California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor and DEWALT Pancake Compressor operate at 75 dB and 75.5 dB, respectively. You’ll find the Makita Big Bore Sir Compressor a little noisier, at 79 dB, but still quieter than the PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor, at 82 dB.