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8 Best Pancake Air Compressors of 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

man using Metabo KNT50AB HPT Air Compressor

Air compressors are essential for all sorts of tools and projects. Whether you’re using a nail gun or filling up a tire, air compressors are an essential tool.

They can also take up quite a bit of space, which is where pancake air compressors come in handy. They’re a bit shorter than other options, which makes them easier to carry around and store. Still, not all pancake air compressors are made the same. Below, you can read our reviews of the top pancake air compressors on the market.

Hopefully, our guide below helps you figure out exactly which air compressor you need!

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor
  • High flow regulator
  • Oil-free
  • High-efficiency motor
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Central Pneumatic ha95275 Air Compressor Central Pneumatic ha95275 Air Compressor
  • Very portable
  • Build-in storage
  • Easy to read pressure gauge
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Metabo KNT50AB HPT Air Compressor Metabo KNT50AB HPT Air Compressor
  • 6-gallon storage tank
  • Lightweight
  • Durable hose included
  • PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor
  • 150 PSI
  • 6-gallon storage tank
  • Water-drain valve
  • CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor
  • 6-gallon capacity
  • Oil-free
  • Accessories included
  • The 8 Best Pancake Air Compressors

    1. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor – Best Overall

    BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor

    Though we did review many different air compressors, the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor is the best on the market. It has a high-efficiency motor for easy start-up in colder weather. It is also decently quiet – when compared to other air compressors, at least. A high flow regulator and couplers help the machine perform better and maximizes airflow. This air compressor does not use any oil, which means it requires much less maintenance than other options.

    With a capacity of 6 gallons, this air compressor should have plenty of air for most jobs. It has enough capacity to run most tools without sputtering and stopping often. It weighs about 31-pounds. That’s enough for you to transport it around semi-easily.

    We also liked that this air compressor wasn’t expensive, making it a good option for most homeowners and some professionals.

    Pros
    • High flow regulator
    • Oil-free
    • High-efficiency motor
    • Six gallons
    Cons
    • Regulator is less-than-stellar

    2. Central Pneumatic ha95275 Air Compressor – Best Value

    Central Pneumatic ha95275 Air Compressor

    For those who are on a strict budget, the Central Pneumatic ha95275 Air Compressor is the best pancake air compressor for the money. It is a smaller gallon tank than most options at only 3 gallons. While this is smaller than most, it should be enough for most tools and smaller jobs. Of course, air compressors continuously refill themselves, so the capacity doesn’t matter all that much.

    This air compressor has built-in storage as well, which is of moderate quality. It isn’t the best accessory storage we’ve seen, but it should work for the majority of users. The pressure gauge is pretty easy to use and reaches up to 100 PSI. Because it is smaller capacity, it is also more portable as well. It is lightweight, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to move around by yourself.

    This machine is only useful for small jobs and takes a bit of time to build pressure. It isn’t suitable for most professionals, but it is a cheaper option for some homeowners.

    Pros
    • Very portable
    • Build-in storage
    • Easy to read pressure gauge
    Cons
    • Takes a while to build pressure

    3. Metabo KNT50AB HPT Air Compressor – Premium Choice

    Metabo KNT50AB HPT Air Compressor

    The Metabo KNT50AB HPT Air Compressor is lightweight and well-balanced. It is made to be moved around easily and is extremely portable. It has a 6-gallon storage tank. Because of this, it should have plenty of power for most projects. Despite the high capacity, it is also relatively lightweight. The industrial hose has industrial fittings for durability and features heavy-duty bend restrictors. The hose even remains flexible in extreme cold, which is more than could be said for hoses.

    This kit also includes safety glasses and a pneumatic tool lubricant. These items aren’t necessary in the least, but some people may consider them decent add-ons. However, most people will not need these extra items, so they’re mostly filler.

    The major downside to this air compressor is the high cost. However, it is of higher quality than most air compressors. You’re getting what you pay for.

    Pros
    • 6-gallon storage tank
    • Lightweight
    • Durable hose included
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor

    PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor

    The six-gallon PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor is pretty average. It can run at 150 PSI max, which allows it to run most tools. It includes a water drain valve and rubber feet as well. The tank can store quite a bit of air, which allows your tools to run for a decent period before starting to spit and sputter. It can refill decently fast as well, so it should be able to run most tools without a problem.

    This air compressor is a bit expensive for what it is, though, which is one of the main reasons we rated it so low on our list. You can purchase an extra accessories kit with this compressor. However, the accessories aren’t incredibly exciting, either. You could likely purchase them for cheaper elsewhere.

    All in all, this isn’t a bad air compressor by any means, but it is significantly more expensive than we think it worth it. You’re much better off spending your money elsewhere.

    Pros
    • 150 PSI
    • 6-gallon storage tank
    • Water-drain valve
    Cons
    • Expensive for what it is
    • Not many features included

    5. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor

    CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor

    Though the CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor isn’t one of our favorites, we didn’t dislike it either. It has a 6-gallon capacity, which seems to be about average as far as pancake air compressors come. It doesn’t require any oil, so you won’t have to change the oil either. It is designed to start up quickly and easily in cold weather, and we didn’t have any complaints there. It comes with 13 different accessories, including a blowgun, tire gauge, and air hose. The air compressor has everything you need to get started.

    This air compressor is advertised to run up to 150 PSI. However, it does not seem actually to get that high. It will hold 150 PSI for a few seconds, but it quickly drops down once the tank begins to empty. It is not suitable for tools that need 150 PSI to run. There seems to be a multitude of problems involving the safety control valve as well. Sometimes, it tends to leak, which can make the air compressor practically worthless.

    Pros
    • 6-gallon capacity
    • Oil-free
    • Accessories included
    Cons
    • Does not reach 150 PSI
    • Defects are common

    6. Campbell Hausfield FP2028 Air Compressor

    Campbell Hausfield FP2028 Air Compressor

    The Campbell Hausfield FP2028 Air Compressor is very small. It only has one gallon of capacity, which is far smaller than most of those we reviewed. This makes it easy to store away or take with you. However, the small capacity also means that it can only perform specific jobs. It has a hard time running some tools like nail guns and paint sprayers. It can do things like fill up small tires, but that is where its practicality ends.

    Despite its small size, it is not cheap. It is more expensive than some of the other models on the market, especially when you compare it to those that are about the same size as it. In the end, we just found that it wasn’t worth the price at all. It does include a few accessories, but these are sub-par quality, and it is missing a few accessories that most other air compressors included.

    Pros
    • Portable
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Mediocre accessories

    7. Briggs & Stratton 074019-00 Air Compressor

    Briggs & Stratton 074019-00 Air Compressor

    The Briggs & Stratton 074019-00 Air Compressor is expensive. It can hold 6-gallons in all, which is about average. It can reach 135 PSI. This is a decent amount. However, it is less than much of the competition (and most of the competition is much cheaper as well). It has 1.5 horsepower and is oil-free – two features that we can’t complain about. It comes with built-in accessory storage but doesn’t come with any accessories.

    This machine is also quite heavy, so you may have difficulties moving it around. It is also quite large, so it isn’t exactly easy to store away when you aren’t using it. It is made out of steel, which makes it more durable but also heavier.

    Despite the high price, this compressor is not exceptionally durable. It seems to develop problems after only moderate use.

    Pros
    • 6-gallon capacity
    • 5 HP
    Cons
    • Heavy
    • Expensive
    • Not very durable

    8. PowerMate Air Compressor

    PowerMate VNP0000101.01 Air Compressor

    The PowerMate VNP0000101.01 Air Compressor was promising but ultimately didn’t live up to our expectations. It has a lightweight design and is very compact. But it only holds one gallon, which makes it incapable of performing some jobs. It has an integrated handle to help move it around quickly. With that said, the portability was about the only thing that was good about this air compressor.

    It does include accessories, but some essential accessories are not included. For example, it does not come with a quick coupler or a female adapter. It takes a long time to pressurize air and is not suitable for larger tires or any tool. It is also deafening – to the point that we would recommend hearing protection while you’re using it. It is not suitable for use indoors due to the noise level, and you may want to beware if you have neighbors close by.

    Pros
    • Portable
    Cons
    • Missing some accessories
    • Takes a while to build pressure
    • Very noisy

    Divider 2

    Buyer’s Guide

    When you’re purchasing a pancake air compressor, there are quite a few factors you should consider. With just a few pieces of information, you can easily pick the best air compressor for your situation. Below, we’ll discuss some of these essential features.

    Portability

    The main point of a pancake air compressor is portability. Most other air compressors have to be wheeled around, and some are so large that you can’t even do that. Pancake air compressors are designed to be carried around. Some are particularly good for running tools because of this.

    However, some pancake air compressors are more portable than others. Some are quite heavy and may need two people to move them. Others are light and can be effortlessly moved around. Often, the weight is tied to how many gallons of air the compressor can hold at a time. Other factors, such as a handle, also affect how portable specific air compressors are.

    Using Tools

    Like we previously stated, some pancake air compressors are suitable for running heavy-duty pneumatic tools. However, this is mostly going to be larger machines. Most smaller ones can’t run many tools. For example, most pneumatic tools require short bursts of air. This isn’t a problem if you’re working very slowly, but it may be an issue if you work quickly. You can easily overwhelm your air compressor, which can create all sorts of problems.

    The very small pancake air compressors are simply too small to run tools efficiently. If you need an air compressor for your tools, be sure to purchase a larger option with more storage.

    Oil-less vs. Oil

    Old air compressors usually use oil. This means you’ll have to change and empty the oil every once in a while, to keep everything working well. Otherwise, there won’t be enough lubrication, and the pump will break down.

    Oil-less machines do have a bit of oil. However, it is kept in a sealed container, and you never have to change it or add to it. These machines also have less oil than usual. Instead, they usually rely on Teflon, which helps reduce the friction between moving parts. However, Teflon does not last forever. Eventually, the movable parts will meet, and this will create issues.  When this happens, you’ll probably need to purchase a new air compressor.

    Pumps that require oil are more expensive (and messier) to maintain. However, an oil-less pump does need any oil or maintenance. But it will wear down eventually and probably won’t last longer than a decade.

    man using PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor

    Tank Size

    We’ve already touched on this a bit throughout this buyer’s guide, but it is important enough to deserve its section.

    The larger the tank of an air compressor, the more compressed air it can hold at a time. Of course, air compressors are always compressing air if they have room in their tanks for it. Furthermore, as long as the air compressor is making more compressed air than you’re using, you will never run out – even if the tank is tiny.

    However, air compressors rarely compress air faster than you’re using it. Eventually, you’ll probably have to stop using your tools to let your air compressor catch up. You may also notice performance drops in tools as the air compressor reaches empty. By purchasing an air compressor with a larger tank, you can keep going for longer.

    With that said, not everyone needs a larger tank. The more capacity an air compressor has, the more expensive it will likely be. It will also be larger, which usually makes it heavier as well. Both of these factors can dissuade you from purchasing a machine with more capacity.

    Cost

    The cost is also an important consideration. Your budget is going to be specific to your situation. You may have lots of money to spend, or you may be looking for the cheapest air compressor you can get away with. Either way cost matters!

    Many factors go into the cost of an air compressor. Larger air compressors usually cost more. Most budget options have tiny tanks, which limits the projects they can be used for. What the machine is made out of also matters, as well as the accessories it comes with.

    If you decide to go for a more expensive model, just be sure the value is there. Purchasing a better machine for more money isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you don’t want to purchase an average air compressor for more money than most of the competition. What you’re getting for the exact dollars matters.

    For example, our premium pick above is more expensive, but you get a lot of useful features for the extra money.

    Here are some other useful compressor articles:

    divider 8

    Conclusion

    There are many different pancake air compressors out there. On the surface, they can all look very similar. However, some key differences between them are essential to consider. We hope this article helped you sort through these critical differences and choose the right air compressor for you.

    During the review process, the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor jumped out as the best air compressor available. It is oil-free and has a six-gallon capacity. Plus, it is also decently inexpensive.

    If you need to spend as little money as possible, the Central Pneumatic ha95275 Air Compressor is another reliable option. It is tiny, with only a one-gallon capacity. However, it is very portable and easy to move around on top of being very inexpensive.

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