Have you ever been driving along when your tire catches a flat? Calling for help can take hours, and repairing the tire can make the process even longer. If you have a spare tire, you can simplify the process, which is where a portable air compressor comes into play. If you have one of these devices, you can ensure that your spare tire has enough air in it to get you to the garage to get the tire replaced. If you have tire sealant, you can event repair the tire and use the compressor to fill it with air alongside the road. Before we jump into the review for the best portable air compressors, let’s start with the different types of portable compressors that you can purchase.
- Electric Air Compressors – These types of compressors are often the smallest portable variety. Typically, they are powered with batteries, and they are actually eco-friendly because they do not release toxic fumes into the air. One caveat though, these electric compressors may not have the power of a mechanical compressor that utilizes gas, so it may not be capable of performing some tasks.
- Gas Air Compressors – This type of air compressor is typically the stronger of the two; however, burning gas results in air and noise pollution that you may want to avoid. It is also advisable to use this type outdoors because of it flammable design. These are perfect for when your car tire needs air because there may not be an electrical outlet in sight.
Features to Look For
When you are looking to purchase a portable air compressor, there are a few considerations that you should make first. Let’s take a look at some features that you should look for.
- Size – Sometimes small tanks are limited. They may not have the power or the capability of inflating your tire, but it is easier to take with you on the road. You need to decide if you need a powerful compressor or if you need a more portable unit that you are using to inflate something simple like rafts on a camping trip.
- Power – Power in an air compressor refers to a few different aspects of the device. Make sure that you have enough horsepower to inflate the object that you want to inflate. It also refers to the cubic feet per minute, which is the rate that the air is delivered at, and the pounds per square inch or the discharge pressure.
- Duty Cycle – This refers to the amount of time that the air compressor can run at once. For example, if an air compressor has a 75 percent duty cycle, it can be used for 45 minutes straight, but then it will need a 15 minute break before it can be used again. The shorter the recovery time, the quicker that you can finish the task at hand.
|Item||Best Design Feature||Price||Rating|
|PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor||This unit comes with an accessory kit that includes tips and other useful air inflating tools.||$139.99||Stars 4.8/5|
|Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor||The machine is oil lubricated to ensure it runs cool, which means less wear.||$207.99||Stars 4.8/5|
|DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor||It features a high efficiency motor that is easy to start, even in the cold.||$164.29||Stars 4.6/5|
|BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF 1.2 Gallon Oil-Free High-Output Trim Compressor||This device features a roll cage design to protect it from damage.||$137.99||Stars 4.4/5|
|California Air Tools 5510SE 1.0-HP 5.5 Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor||The motor of this air compressor features extra quiet technology.||$150.83||Stars 4.5/5|
|PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Fully Shrouded Compressor||The oil-free pump should not require maintenance during its lifetime.||$97.99||Stars 4.4/5|
|Kensun YS-205 Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator||It comes with a nearly ten foot power cord and three nozzle adaptors.||$39.99||Stars 4.5/5|
|Rolair JC10 1 HP Oil-Less Compressor||This device comes complete with overload projection to ensure the safety of you and the machine.||$239.00||Stars 4.7/5|
1) PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
This portable air compressor is a machine that is battery powered. It features a pancake style body that improves the stability of the machine, and it is only about 34 pounds, so it is easy to carry to any location. The 110 volt battery provides 0.8 HP to the motor, and the device comes with a six gallon tank of air, which means that the compressor is designed to last for quite a while before it needs a new air tank. The low voltage also makes it easier to power up in cold weather.
The air compressor has a maximum pressure capability of 150 PSI. This amount of air means that the compressor can run for an extended period of time. In addition, this machine features an oil-free pump that is designed to extend the amount of times that it can be used before maintenance is required. This unit also comes with an accessory kit that could prove to be very useful.
2) Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor
The next portable air compressor on this list is manufactured by Makita, which is a well known company when it comes to power tools and devices. This device is built with a cast iron construction that is extremely durable; in fact, this air compressor will last for a number of years before it needs to be replaced. This device is also oil lubricated to keep the machine running smoothly, which will extend the life of the device quite a bit.
The device features a low RPM level of 1720, which gives the air compressor a longer lifespan, but it also ensures that the machine does not produce a lot of sound pollution. In addition, the machine has a 2.6 gallon tank of air that operates with 130 pounds of pressure. There is a roll bar on the air compressor to help protect it from damage; in addition, there is also a one year warranty on the unit.
3) DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
DEWALT is a well-known name when it comes to power tools, and it is also a manufacturer that makes durable products that you can trust. This next portable air compressor is another pancake-shaped device that is built to have a long life that does not require much maintenance. The unit features a six gallon tank that produces a maximum PSI of 165, but 90 is the average amount of PSI that the system compresses.
This machine is capable of operating for long periods of time without requiring a break; in fact, it can even work at this performance level when the temperatures are below freezing. The design of this air compressor gives the unit a quietly operating motor that can only be heard at a maximum of 75 decibels. Since this device is powered with electricity, the air compressor can be used indoors without disturbing your family in the next room.
4) BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF 1.2 Gallon Oil-Free High-Output Trim Compressor
The next air compressor on our list is one that is extremely portable. Weighing in at 25 and a half pounds, this compact machine is easy to maneuver to any location that you desire, whether it is indoors or outdoors. This small design also unfortunately means that the unit is slightly less powerful, but unless you need it for really draining work, the horsepower of the device will impress you.
The device runs on a 110 volt battery that actually holds a decent charge. The pump that pushes the air out of the machine is an oil-free device that operates with a maximum PSI level of 150, but it typically runs at 90. The control panel on the device is easy to use; in fact, it even includes a LED light that lets you know that the unit is powered on. In addition, the body of the air compressor is fitted with a roll cage that is designed to give it a layer of protection.
5) California Air Tools 5510SE 1.0-HP 5.5 Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor
The California Air Tools compressor is a five and a half gallon device that features a durable steel construction that will last for years. The device only weighs about 46 pounds, so it is very easy to transport when needed. It features an oil-free dual piston design that is environmentally friendly and it requires less overall maintenance. The dual piston design enables the machine to deliver a maximum pressure of 120 PSI quickly.
This air compressor is also designed to help eliminate noise pollution, so the one horsepower motor only creates 1680 RPMs, which reduces the vibration and the wear and tear on the unit. The result of this feature is that the unit only produces 60 decibels of sound, which makes this air compressor one of the quietest ones available for purchase. In addition, this device is created to have an increased duty cycle, which means that it can be run for a long period of time before the machine will need a break to cool down.
6) PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Fully Shrouded Compressor
This device is a lightweight unit that merely weighs 20 pounds, which makes it great for portability. The device is also fitted with rubber feet to make sure that it can remain stable while it is being used. The durability of this unit is exceptional, and the maintenance requirements are rather low. Insofar as power, the 120 volt motor functions with a maximum PSI of 150, but it typically only utilizes 90 PSI.
The tank carries a gallon and a half of air, which is not as much as some of our other reviewed items, but it is sufficient for an emergency situation. Since the device has such a low amp output, it is easy to power up the air compressor, even in excessively cold temperatures.
7) Kensun YS-205 Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator
Our next product is a great, portable air compressor that is great for use when you’re on the road and need compressed air. It has a very small form factor; in fact, it’s only 11.7 inches in length, 6.3 inches in height, and 5.1 inches in width. This small size makes it perfect for keeping in your car or in a small alcove in your garage.
This small compressor doesn’t skimp on functionality either; its compressor tube has optional connectors for Schrader valves and the needles for sports inflatables. When it comes to connections, you can power this device through a standard wall outlet by connecting the detachable cable, or you can power it through your car’s cigarette lighter. A feature that we thought was very useful is the fact that when you are running power through the device either through the lighter or an outlet, there is another cigarette lighter connector that will allow you to power another device through the compressor as well.
8) Rolair JC10 1 HP Oil-Less Compressor
The Rolair JC10 Oil-Less Compressor has a lot going for it in the realm of portable compression. Many compressors on the market today claim the "quiet" title, but this particular compressor really does have a very quiet operation and a great overall output. Whereas many compressors produce a relatively loud thudding noise that vibrates everything in the area, the Rolain JC10 produces more of a hiss that’s hardly noticeable, especially if you’re doing work.
In addition to its quiet operation, this particular compressor also has a very sturdy construction. It has a strong roll cage that will save it from a tumble and tough braided tubing that is a step above the standard copper tubing used on many compressors. This compressor puts out about one horsepower of output and only weighs an astonishing 39 pounds. When it comes to capacity, this product has a 2.5 gallon tank.
Having a portable air compressor in the trunk of your car is important, but it is also a device that can be useful on camping excursions, fishing trips, and even on a day at the park. An air compressor can inflate bicycle tires, rafts, basketballs, and much more, so if you enjoy these outdoor activities, hopefully this guide has helped you prepare for the unexpected.
If you are looking for a recommendation of which is the best out of the products in this guide, we like the Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor. It is an extremely durable device that is quite enough to use in the park without disturbing others nearby. It performs excellently, but it is a bit heavy, so make sure it is actually a portable device that you can carry.
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, then the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor may be the device for you. It is an extremely durable unit that comes with a high performance as well as an accessory pack that includes 13 parts to help you with your inflating needs. All-in-all, the products on this list are great, so take a look at each review and see which one works for you.