It’s perhaps stating the obvious to say that the job of an air compressor is to compress air! They come in all sorts of styles and sizes but this comprehensive guide will focus on helping you find the right portable air compressor for your needs.
If you’re unsure as to which model can help you get the job done, worry not. We’ve created a handy list of reviews to help you narrow down the options. Make sure you read beyond our detailed reviews for various tips and hints to help guide you to your final decision. Without any further ado, let’s get started!
|Makita MAC2400 Big Bore|
(Best for the Money)
|VIAIR 90P Portable Compressor||7 lbs||4.4/5
|California Air Tools 5510SE||54 lbs||4.3/5
|DeWalt DWFP55126||32 lbs||4.0/5
Equipped with the Big Bore engineered pump cylinder and piston of Makita, the Makita MAC2400 offers industrial power and overall excellent performance. The powerful 2.5HP motor provides excellent productivity and noise is reduced thanks to the oil-lubricated pump which runs at just 1,730 RPM. This also increases the pump’s overall durability. Noise is further reduced by the rubber feet which help absorb vibrations.
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. The roll-cage shape of this air compressor makes it particularly portable as well as offering additional protection. A handle on the top of the compressor makes it much easier to pick up and move around when needed.
However, it is worth noting that this model is made of metal and thus is on the heavier side at 77lbs. Overall this is the best portable air compressor on the market. It’s powerful yet surprisingly quiet and the quality cast iron construction means it’s very durable. This means that there is a slight compromise in portability due to its weight, but a handle and rubber feet are welcome additions.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Porter-Cable C2002 is its unique pancake style tank which offers optimal stability. The induction motor of this particular model provides improved performance as well as an extended life. From filling tires to firing a nailer, this air compressor is ideal. It has a steel construction as well as a shroud and console cover, providing vital protection to its components.
Overall this is a well-built unit with a handle on the top, making it much easier to move around. In fact, the weight of the C2002 is just 30lbs. One of the best things about this air compressor is the 13 piece accessory kit which includes a nylon hose, blow gun, tire gauge and much more.
This is a unit that has easy setup and its small size and lightweight make it particularly portable. Perhaps the main disadvantage of the Porter-Cable C2002 is that is loud though there are louder air compressors on the market. More air can be stored in the tank thanks to the 150 psi max tank pressure. This means longer tool run times. Overall it’s a great portable air compressor, particularly for light to medium use. It’s the top pick for the money thanks to its great price and excellent quality offered.
The VIAIR 90P portable compressor is the best 12-volt portable air compressor. Small but powerful, it uses its maximum working pressure of 120 psi to quickly inflate tires of up to 31 inches, making it the best for car tires. This pressure can be provided for 10 minutes at a time. It’s easy to use as you simply have to connect the power leads to your car’s battery terminal.
The cables might be on the short side for those with larger vehicles but this is unlikely to be a problem for most since the cable measures 12 foot. Despite its power, the VIAIR 90P is surprisingly quiet. At 5.78lbs it’s very lightweight and also comes with a storage and carry bag for extra portability as well as various attachments. The quality metal construction of this product ensures durability while the rubber feet absorb the vibrations.
Perhaps one area in which the VIAIR 90P portable compressor lets itself down is with the gauge which doesn’t always provide the most accurate reading. For fast and efficient tire inflation, this is a great choice. It works quickly and efficiently without making much in the way of noise though the cables may prove too short for some.
With 60 decibels of sound, the California Air Tools 5510SE is certainly on the quiet side. In fact, it’s one of the quietest in the industry. This makes it ideal for environments where excessive noise is an issue (such as indoors!). Even better, no ear protection is necessary! This is down to the 1.0 HP motor which operates at 1680 RPM. The effect of this is is less noise and also less wear, increasing the overall durability.
The 5510SE has an oil-free dual-piston pump system which offers excellent performance. Weighing 45 lbs, the 5.5-gallon steel air tank isn’t too heavy while the wheel kit makes this product even more portable for getting around garages and the like. Furthermore, it has two handles which make it easier to transport. It’s relatively compact and the build quality is solid.
One particularly impressive feature is how quickly the tank fills up – just 130 seconds from empty to full. It’s a good lightweight compressor for low to moderate use for filling tires and nail gunning. You won’t believe how quiet this product is and that is its biggest selling point. It’s impressive technology at a competitive price and is ideal for those who don’t want excessive noise as well as a tank that fills quickly.
The DeWalt DWFP55126 features a high-efficiency motor allowing it to start up easily in cold weather making it ideal for all kinds of environments. Long tool time and quick recovery are some of the obvious benefits of this product, thanks to the 165 max psi 6.0-gallon tank though some might find that this lacks a little punch. As such, it is limited to smaller tools. At just 75.5 decibels, it’s certainly on the quieter side and can be used in indoor settings, unlike some other models.
The controls of this unit are protected by a console cover. Two universal couplers mean that the DWFP55126 can support two users at a time. The unit itself is fairly compact and at just 30 lbs it’s relatively easy to move around. This is a well-built product with well-made components and it has a convenient cord wrap which allows easy storage. Protective rubber leg covers prevent damage.
It’s particularly good for small, everyday jobs such as inflating tires. It’s generally an easy air compressor to use and it’s great that it’s not too heavy or too noisy. All in all, it’s a good all-rounder and certainly worthy of mention. Perhaps the main limitation is the 6-gallon tank which might not drive certain tools as effectively.
If you’re considering buying a portable air compressor, there are several things for you to consider. From the very requirements of the air tools you’re using to the horsepower the compressor provides, we’ll give you the lowdown so that you can make the right choice without having to spend too long.
You probably already have an idea of what you want your air compressor to do. But maybe there are a few uses that you haven’t yet considered. The most obvious use for a portable air compressor is powering pneumatic tools such as nail guns. With an air compressor, you can do things such as airbrush, pressure wash, sandblast and inflate tires. A very versatile piece of equipment, an air compressor can help speed up the process, saving you valuable time.
You’re probably already sold on the idea of a portable air compressor. But just in case, here’s a quick roundup of some of the reasons to buy one for your DIY needs:
Buying a portable air compressor is much like buying a car or a new computer. There are so many choices on the market that it makes sense to take your time and explore as many options as you can. Air compressors come in a range of styles and types and horsepower, noise and overall portability are important factors.
Consider everything from what you will use it for, to where you will use it. With the right knowledge, your route to purchase will surely be made much easier. It should be of some help that portable air compressors have really come into their own in recent years, leading to so many excellent quality products. They’re smaller, quieter and faster than ever before. Even better, the prices have become even more competitive so there’s something to suit all levels of budget.
There are many things to consider but hopefully, our reviews of portable air compressors go some way to helping you decide which one is right for you. These beasts can help save you time and energy and help you produce professional quality work. We hope this comprehensive guide makes your decision that little bit easier.
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Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!