Best Portable Air Compressor Reviews [2020 Guide]
- Best Air Compressor For Home Use
- Best Air Compressor For The Money
- Top Compressor For Garage
- Best Air Compressor (12 Volt)
- Top Quiet Air Compressor
- Best Air Compressor For Car Tires
- Top Compressor For Shop
- What is an Air Compressor?
- How to Choose the Right Brand?
- Factors To Look For Before Buying?
- Which Type to Choose: Varieties and their Descriptions
- Important Guidelines for Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you are in hurry then I would suggest the following options :
- Best Value Pick : Porter Cable C2002 is a popular pick which has received large number of reviews & good ratings on Amazon. You can find a good deal on this compressor here.
- Best of Best Pick : Porter Cable PCFP02003 is best compressor for your home as it is highly portable and has got enough power to help you complete small DIY tasks at home. It is also highly efficient. You can get a sweet deal on this compressor here.
I have listed CFM requirements of some popular DIY tools which will be useful for you to decide type of compressor you would need.
- Brad Nailer – 0.3 CFM
- Framing Nailer – 2.2 CFM
- Drill – 3 to 6 CFM
- Impact Wrench – 2.5 to 5 CFM
- Ratchet – 2.5 to 5 CFM
- Angle Grinder – 5 to 8 CFM
- Orbital Sander – 6 to 9 CFM
Best Air Compressor For Home Use
The Good Part
- Very compact size, can be carried anywhere with ease as it weighs only 26lbs.
- 3.5 Gallon Tank with max 135 PSI means it has long run time and quick recovery.
- Excellent machine which can handle home tasks like inflation, powering pneumatic tools with ease.
- Value for money.
The Bad Part
- Little Noisy at 82 decibel level.
- You need to purchase a separate hose with this unit. Hose not included in package.
Best Air Compressor For The Money
The Good Part
- Excellent Pancake variety which can handle most household tasks like inflation, spray paint, nailing.
- 6 Gallon Tank with max 150 PSI means it can operate for extended duration and recover quickly.
- Best Value Compressor and comes with 13 piece accessory kit which includes 25 foot hose, tire gauge, tire chuck and lots of other interesting stuff.
The Bad Part
- Little Noisy at 80+ decibel level.
Top Compressor For Garage
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air CompressorThe Good Part
- This unit is our favorite from the lot. It has right balance of features, design, performance and above all a great price.
- It has cast iron components allowing it a long operational life. Very neat design, has a roll bar to give protection to the pump.
- Low noise producing machine suitable for all difficult job conditions.
The Bad Part
- It cannot be termed super light weighing 77 pounds due to the cast iron cylinder.
Best Air Compressor (12 Volt)
Kensun Portable Air Compressor Tire InflatorThe Good Part
- Encased in metal, built solid, has an oil free pump.
- Comes with handy case so that you can carry it without hassle in your vehicle.
- Comes with a pressure gauge, light to see tires in dark, and other accessories to inflate tires, sport balls.
- Weighs only 4.3 lbs and comes with a long cord for reaching back tires.
The Bad Part
- Takes little more time to fill the tire due to lower air flow.
Top Quiet Air Compressor
The Good Part
- 1 HP Power which is good enough for most tasks
- Oil Free Pump
- Ultra Quiet (60 db) but still powerful enough
- Weighs 20 pounds which makes it easy to carry
The Bad Part
- Takes little more time to fill up
Best Air Compressor For Car Tires
The Good Part
- Easy to use with Inflation Gun, chuck & gauge all clubbed in this machine
- Metal body means good build quality
- Great Value Product suited for all type of tire inflation needs
The Bad Part
- Chuck coupler needs some fixing at the start of usage
Top Compressor For Shop
The Good Part
- This is the machine to go for if you are looking to complete big jobs done.
- Packed with airflow of 6.5 SCFM at 90 PSI, 3.0 HP engine and can be an excellent choice for your workshop or garage jobs.
- Roll cage construction meaning sturdy design and can operate in harsh conditions.
The Bad Part
- Tires are a little concern with users, as they are made from injected molded plastic.
- Little noisy and heavy machine.
What is an Air Compressor?
It is defined as any device that increases the volume of air which is contained in a specific space.
Packing in the air within the space increases the air pressure. Thus, a force is created that can be used for a range of purposes including personal, commercial, industrial and manufacturing purposes.Being a multi-purpose device it can perform a range of tasks when attached to pneumatic tools (air tools).
A portable air compressor is an a device which can be transported with ease. However, the term portability means can mean a world of difference to different people.
Generally, a portable variety is regarded as one which can be moved by hand. In such scenarios, the small air compressor is used often in emergency roadside circumstances like for instance, when a tire has to be deflated. To do this, machine’s hose is connected to the tire through a valve stem, and the tire can then be inflated with relative ease.
It should be borne in mind that portable devices do not frequently pack as much energy as the other types do.
For instance, a tire may be easily inflated in less than a minute using a larger air device. However, this might take longer with a small type. Also, many of them are equipped with a tire pressure gauge that can allow users to monitor the tire to ensure that it reaches its desired pressure.
These differ in price depending on the power each of them is capable of attaining and whether it is cordless.
Some come with additional features like flashlight and flashing emergency lights to alert other motorists to keep off.
It can be used with air tools for repair jobs in garages, building projects on job sites, industrial projects in shops and maintenance as well as craft tasks in a home.
Using devices such as pneumatic nail guns, spray guns, hammers, wrenches, drills, sanders, sprayers, tire inflators and numerous other air tools, you can do a lot.
This includes pumping up tires, painting a fence, building a deck, repairing your car or truck, roofing your home, or modifying your house.
Device can be used creatively to customize things such as vehicles, scooters, motorbikes and even a motorbike helmet. Small size top rated portable air compressors are used in doing this.
Pressure washers are fast and enjoyable when it comes to cleaning driveways and cars.
However, they should be used with care and not pointed at people or pets. Also, they should never be used when one is up a ladder since they can cause one to loose balance and fall off.
Inflating tires is something that should be done on a regular basis for the safety of the vehicle. Compressors are used to inflate cars, vans, motorbikes, and bicycle tires, among others. The ones used vary, with the smaller ones (pumps) being used for bicycles.
Air Blow Gun
An air blow gun is handy for cleaning dust off work benches or out of machines.
The pressure is lower than a pressure washer’s since it could damage the item being cleaned. This is only a tool used to blow out dust and dirt in a certain way.
When it comes to sanding an object smooth, the air sanders are more preferable than the electric sander. This is because they don’t heat up and also they can be used over a longer time.
In nail or staple gun, there is direct drive or indirect drive, with the gas pressure pushing the head of the nail in order to drive it into the timber or pushing a piston that drives the nail.
The two types can be used on stone, concrete and steelwork. However, nail guns may not be safe and cases of injuries to hands and feet are reportedly commonplace.
How to Choose the Right Brand?
When it comes to choosing the correct brand, you are likely to feel completely lost if you have no idea of what to look for. The devices power a wide variety of tools over several applications. So how do you ensure that you choose the best? You need to have the right knowledge about air compressors.
Considering the following factors will be useful to you:
- Evaluate the requirements of the air devices – If you will be putting the device to industrial use, then you will possibly require a piston one with a tank. However, if you will plan to merely use it around the house for odd jobs then a portable one without a tank will be most appropriate.
- Pressure and volume requirements of the tools – In case you don’t select a type that is not equal to your intended use, your work efficiency will be decreased because you will be forced to wait periodically for the tank to fill up. For instance, if you intend to use it for airbrushing, then a 5 litre tank capacity and about 30 PSI of continuous air pressure would suffice.
- Compressor’s HP (horsepower) – Horsepower on it commonly ranges between 1.5 and 6.5 HP. There are units with a greater HP capacity but they are normally reserved for industrial use. They usually offer greater psi and such will not be necessary for small-scale uses.
- Piston type or Portable ones – These are basically the two different types available. Piston-type depend on a motor which builds up air pressure the moment it is exhausted. These units store compressed air inside the tanks, while portable ones don’t have tanks. They have to keep running continuously so as to deliver air. Another thing to look at while evaluating these is the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) which is a measure of volumetric flow. Most home improvement projects will not need anything above 6.0 CFM/90 PSI. But to be on the safe side, you should go for a higher number. When purchasing these for certain tools, it is best to go up to 40 percent above the recommended pressure.
- Space and Portability – For instance, whether you will be able to roll the unit or lift it from the ground if necessary. Portability is quite convenient; however, if it will remain in one corner of your garage, then instead of having a higher capacity type, you may be able to use longer hosepipe.
- Power Source – Whether you will always have electricity or will be in settings without it. If you will constantly be near an outlet, it’s most appropriate to choose a drive system which has an electric motor. If that will not be the case, you will have to power it using a gasoline engine.
- Tank Size – A small tank will be ideal if you will need to use your for only short blasts of time, for instance when using a nail gun. But if you will be working for longer periods, then you need a variety with a bigger tank. The measurements of tank sizes are in gallons.
Factors To Look For Before Buying?
It is not all that easy to find a compressor which can provide everything that you need because there are numerous numbers of different models found on the market today. Therefore, if you think of buying it, it is imperative for you to take certain factors into consideration, or else you will end up buying one that will not meet your specific needs. Among the things you need to consider are its reliability and quietness.
Firstly, you should ask yourself what you plan to do with the unit. They come in different sizes and with varying abilities in processing and delivering compressed air. Things such as Maximum Pressure PSI, Tank Size in gallons and Power output in HP, Noise level, weight and usage are important.
For instance, it would be fine to choose to buy a type which has ample air compression capability to use for driving an automatic nail gun if you intent to use it in pressure washing the outer surfaces of buildings.
Compressors come in a wide range of sizes and styles. Picking the one that is appropriate for you largely depends on the purposes it will be used for and personal liking.
You will need to be sure of the following:
- Where you will be using it
- Whether there is a ready electrical supply at the location
- Whether you will be working in cramped areas
- Which tools you will require your device to operate
The above factors will determine the type of device you need, and particularly the tools you will want your device to operate. The majority of air tools have particular requirements when it comes to volume and pressure, whereas compressors are rated based on the factors listed below:
- PSI (Pounds per square Inch) – This is the amount of air pressure which is delivered by your device. The greater the PSI, the further the air can be compressed. This means that a greater volume of compressed air can be held in the tank.
- Horse Power – Although it may be fine to buy a unit with slightly more horsepower than you actually need, there is likely to be failure if you settle for less power. This means that you should go for a unit that has at least the horsepower that matches your present need. At the same time, you should think of a unit which has a pressure regulator and interchangeable valve system which you can use for manifold purposes. This way, you will be able not only to meet your present needs but also provide a leeway for additional heavy duty projects that may come along in future.
- Storage Tank Size – One of the most important aspects of the is the storage tanks. Equipment with more powerful motors and bigger tanks (measured in gallons) can produce greater levels of PSI for longer periods of time thus offering more power to your air tools.
- Noise Level – It is difficult to concentrate on what you have to do, with machine beside or near your work place due to its irksome noise. It is therefore vital that you look for one that can provide quieter environment.
Which Type to Choose: Varieties and their Descriptions
- Electric vs Gasoline – It can be powered by electricity or gasoline. It can be used both in home and industrial setting. The type of the job at hand should guide you when choosing gas vs electric. Both electrical and gas powered ones can do the same job. However the gasoline powered one has pistons, allowing it to suction air and compress and can be a power source. However the electrical one is more convenient and less expensive compared to the gas powered one. It is small, portable, and stylish and comes with a permanent stop and start. In performance, the there is little difference since both pumps can provide the same amount of pressure.
- Oiled vs Oil Free -It can easily be hooked to any powered tool. The oil and the oil free compressors differ in the sense that the oil based can only work when the level of oil is at a particular level. The oil free ones have their own oil which they use in their lifetime. The oil based ones are normally larger in size than the oil free ones which is ideal if you are going to move it around. The oil based ones are large and more powerful, hence are more costly. Thus, if you want cheaper ones consider buying the oil free ones. The oil free one can run two nail guns and is good for home use while the oil one is ideal in a factory or at site. The oil free one is more durable compared to the none-oil one.
There are various styles that are available on the market today. These different designs have been created in order to suit the needs of the diversity of uses that exist for air compressors. Even though there is a slight overlap, each of them is basically created for a particular purpose. Still, in nearly all cases, the compressor and motor are fixed on the top of the tank, with the exception of twin tank and hotdog varieties. The two do not follow this rule.
- Pancake – The pancake is the carpenters’ most preferred style. As its name indicates, it has a 6-gallon air tank shaped like a pancake, with the compressor and motor fixed on top of it. They are designed to be very portable without having to use wheels. They are fairly easy to carry anywhere including over uneven terrain and they provide ample air volume to power just a single air nailer, not two.
- Hotdog – The hotdog portable is yet another design that has been created and it competes with the pancake. This is because it is much smaller and has only a 1- or 2-gallon tank which makes it lighter and enables it to be placed in a smaller area when space has to be considered.
- Twin Tank – The twin tank type is basically akin to a hotdog one. It has two tanks mounted one on top of the other. Just like its counterpart, the hotdog, it is styled to be very portable and roughly equals the pancake’s capacity. One design detail that is advantageous about this design is that it is usually equipped with a control panel and the power switch, air gauge and air outlet(s) are mounted inside it. It is this feature that makes this style the darling of amateur users.
- Wheelbarrow – This is also a double tank unit; however, it is much bigger than the twin tank that has already been discussed. The tanks are roughly 30 inches long and they have one wheel stacked between them at one end and handles at the other. This is what makes it possible for the device to be moved around like a wheelbarrow. It is very popular with contractors since it is low to the ground making it very difficult for it to tip over.
- Horizontal – This is the commonest of all styles. When it comes to this type, the single tank is stacked horizontally. At one end there are twin wheels, while at the other end there is a handle for moving it. The problem with horizontal type lies in their lop-lopsidedness and their tendency to tip over. However, they are the most affordable when compared to their size. This is because, of all the varieties, they are the most common.
- Vertical – As the name indicates, vertical type have a vertically mounted tank. The vertical design provides for a lesser footprint, such that the device only occupies less space in a workshop. Vertical designs are normally larger than any other kind and are created to be installed in a shop. They are not fitted with any wheels to move them around.
Important Guidelines for Maintenance
Having now made investment in a compressor to run all your air tools, it is vital to learn how to maintain it in order to keep it running smoothly. Appropriate maintenance is crucial to having your system function at efficient levels. Once basic maintenance is avoided, the systems start to slow down and finally fail. When your machine begins to lag, your business will also slow down.
Basic maintenance and checks should be done to systems to ensure that they keep working smoothly. Once you detect any issues, the worst thing you can do is to put the problems off until another time – or for another person to act on them. You should act immediately to resolve the problem because this could save you lots of money at the end of the day.
Since the standard handyman’s compressors don’t usually need daily maintenance, forgetting about them and neglecting their upkeep is very easy. This mistake can cost you a lot. You will therefore need to keep an eye on the following upkeep tips:
- Ensure that you read your manual and follow guidelines – There are some simple instructions about simple things you need to do to enhance the life of your device. You would probably have not thought to do them if you don’t read it. There is the possibility of you voiding your warranty if you don’t follow the rules of your device manual. This alone should prompt you to read it.
- Keep it in a clean ambient – The atmosphere should be debris-free and clean. In addition, the area should have proper ventilation to allow for proper cooling. Once the machine is unable to ventilate properly, it will overheat and the system will overheat as well.
- Safety – Operating with huge machinery, electricity, and compressed air can be risky. Any time you are carrying out maintenance duties always ensure that the electrical supply is disconnected and locked out. The systems ought to be completely relieved of all pressure before any maintenance work can begin.
- Ensure you drain moisture from the tanks – The receiver tank tends to collect moisture from the air that it is compressing. This is especially if you reside in humid environment. Most tanks are fitted with a valve for this purpose and it is your duty to drain the accumulated moisture regularly. But ensure that you release the air pressure from the tanks before draining the water.
- Keep the intake vents clean – Don’t force your device to work extra hard to intake air because you will be losing power on it. This will lead to gradual degradation of the quality of your tool. Ensure that you clean and check your intake vent on regular basis especially if you are operating in a dusty or dirty location.
- Tighten up all fasteners – Since your device is a running and vibrating engine, its screws, nuts, and bolts will definitely loosen regularly. You will need to check them occasionally and tighten up any that have loosened.
- Check and replace Air Filters when necessary – A grimy air filter only hurts your device since it allows dirty air from the outside, thus forcing it to work harder in order to intake air. In case you notice a heavy accumulation of dust and dirt, check your filters and change them. It is recommended that you change them every six months or so, if you use it occasionally.
- Clean the Fuel Tank – Just like any other engine, you need to occasionally clean out the fuel tank. You should clean out your equipment’s’s engine at least once a year to clear out any residual accumulation from the fuel. This will not only ensure optimal operating conditions but also prolong the life of your engine.
- Check and Change the Oil – If it uses oil, be sure to check it every day to ensure it is topped off. To ensure maximum performance of your tool, you should be changing this oil after every 500 -1,000 hours of use.
- Remember to Test the Safety Shutdown System – There are some types that have a built in safety shut down. This system shuts off when it is heating up excessively or when the pressure of the engine oil is extremely low. Carrying out this test will help in ensuring that your device lasts longer.
- Change the Separator Element – The separator element checks the undue use of oil. However, it has to be replaced occasionally. Your machine will remain in best condition if you replace the separator element every 1,000 hours of operation.
- Clean the Heat Exchangers – Your heat exchangers which reduce the operating temperatures of your operator will not do their job if they are dirty. If your operating temperatures are to remain down and the life span of your device increased, you will need to clean them on regular basis.
There are a number of accessories available for compressors which help and ensure that your machine is trouble free, reliable and has a longer lifespan. The following are some of them:
Spare Hose and Hose Reel
When people purchase a compressor, manufacturers usually include a basic hose and a number of adapters. A spare hose is necessary as hoses normally require replacing due to damage or age.
Hose come in two varieties: coiled and retractable. Retractable hoses are straight and have neither bends nor coils. They can be manually curled into a circle for easy storage. Alternatively, they can be used with a hose reel.
A hose reel is a device that is used to curl the hose around a spherical base electronically or by turning a handle. It is necessary because it makes the handling of the hardware more efficient and safe. The hose reel makes the hose give you service for a long time and if well managed it can even serve you for a longer period.
This is necessary since it decreases many coils and the chances of injuring yourself. You also save on costs of having to replace the cords, cables and the hose every now and then. There are also many reasons which can cause trips and falls. Hose reels will help reduce all this.
Compressors are subjected to a rough life and they experience many things. This includes damage from rubble, being tossed around in the back of pickups trucks, and sometimes falling down from a truck when not well secured. The pressure gauges and drain plugs which stick out of the tank are especially at risk. The role cage protects these components from damage, which results in longer life span and decreased downtime of the machine.
Adapters come in a variety of male and female connection types. Quick connect adapters ought to be used on your device at the tip of the line to which it is connected. Whereas it is possible to hard line connect a device that you use constantly, a quick disconnect will enable you to remove the tool from the line when cleaning and repair is required. It would be good if you can add flexible adapters to your tool as they will provide you with more freedom while you are using your tool.
Filters form an important part of the accessories you require for the device. Their work is to eliminate any foreign particles that may be sucked into the system that would cause blockages. It may be dry although you can get an oil bath type.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long should it take before the oil is changed?
- If your compressor is a rotary screw type, oil should be change after between 7000 -8000 hours. If your system is the reciprocating type, you should change it after every 3 months.
- When should the air intake filter be replaced?
- The filter should be cleaned weekly. Check when it starts developing debris which are harder to clean or holes in the filter and have it replaced.
- What is the difference between constant run and stop start?
- Start stop the compressor has a switch that turns the pressure on and off while the constant run means that the pump will continue running, and continuously turns the pump on.
- Can my compressor run on a generator?
- Yes, if the requirements are met, your machine should be able to run on the generator. However, care must be taken since generators have fluctuating power. Generators should only be used if power is not available.
- If water stays in the compressor does it affect it?
- Yes, since the tank is made from metals, it may rust if water is allowed to overstay.
- What should happen if water is in the lines?
- Water in the lines may be caused by failed condensation. You can use a dry cleaner or have it replaced.
- Can someone drain the water manually?
- Yes, you can purchase a drain valve which may include the float actuated, electronically actuated, and time sequence actuated.
- What size of the hose is the most ideal one?
- It all depends on the type of machine you have but the larger the device the larger should be the diameter of the hose.