20 Best Portable Air Compressor in 2021 (All Price Ranges)

A dependable air compressor is a must-have if you own a garage and one or more vehicles. They allow you to conduct necessary maintenance on your vehicle like powering air tools or simply inflating a tire. However, picking the right air compressor for your needs may be a tough challenge to tackle. There are plenty of brands out there and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the number of choices, but don’t worry we’ve got you covered! Here at Mechanic Approved we have done our best to collect and catalog what we think to be the best portable air compressors on the market to help narrow your search.

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These portable air compressors are perfect for the DIY garage guy or gal that doesn’t have much space and doesn’t feel like using a bike pump to air up a car tire. They are guaranteed to last and will get you rolling on the pavement in no time!

As you proceed through the list of products you may notice that we have selected a few air compressors that we think are the best bang for your buck in their respective price ranges such as “Best Under $300”, “Best Under $200”, and “Best Overall”. We have done this in hopes that it might narrow your search so you can get back to work as soon as possible and we hope it helps.

Product Name

Product Image

Key Specs.

Price Range

Full Review

1. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor 6-Gallon Tank and Oil-Free Kit with Mechanic Tools (Best Overall Air Compressor)

CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor 6-Gallon Tank and Oil-Free Kit with Mechanic Tools

6 Gallon steel tank

2.6 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $185

2. PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon Tank, Pancake style, and Oil-Free

PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon Tank, Pancake style, and Oil-Free

6 Gallon steel tank

2.6 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $130

3. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor and 6 Gallon Tank with 165 Max PSI (Best Under $200)

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor and 6 Gallon Tank with 165 Max PSI

6 Gallons Tank capacity

2.6 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $165

4. BOSTITCH Air Compressor and 3-Tool Combo Kit (Best Under $300)

BOSTITCH Air Compressor and 3-Tool Combo Kit

6 Gallon Tank

2.6 CMF at 90 PSI

Around $265

5. California Air Tools 8010A Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

California Air Tools 8010A Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

1 Gallon Tank capacity

0.6 HP

Around $220

6. California Air Tools Model CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor

California Air Tools Model CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor

1.0 Gallon Steel Tank

1.2 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $135

7. WEN 2287 6-Gallon Air Compressor with Oil-Lubricated Pump and Portable Design

WEN 2287 6-Gallon Air Compressor with Oil-Lubricated Pump and Portable Design

6 Gallon steel tank

3.2 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $120

8. DEWALT FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Air Compressor Kit (Most Versatile) 

DEWALT FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Air Compressor Kit

2.5 Gallon Tank capacity

1.2 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $295

9. BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI

6-Gallons Tank capacity

Oil-free Pump

Around $125

10. Campbell Hausfeld Pancake Style with 1 Gallon Tank and 110 PSI Kit

Campbell Hausfeld Pancake Style with 1 Gallon Tank and 110 PSI Kit

Very compact

0.36 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $145

11. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower and 1-Gallon Air Compressor

Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower and 1-Gallon Air Compressor

1 Gallon Tank capacity

1-2 HP Peak / 0.5 HP Running

Around $120

12. California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ Quiet Compressor

California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ Quiet Compressor

4.7 Gallon steel tank

2.0 CMF at 90 PSI

Around $125

13. California Air Tools 2010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 HP Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

California Air Tools 2010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 HP Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

2.0 Gallon Aluminum Tank

2.20 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $200

14. Makita MAC2500 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

Makita MAC2500 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

4.2 Gallon Tank capacity

4.2 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $305

15. California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Oil-Free and Ultra Quiet Air Compressor with 4.6 Gallon Twin Tanks

California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Oil-Free and Ultra Quiet Air Compressor with 4.6 Gallon Twin Tanks

9.2 Gallon Twin Tank Total Capacity

2.20 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $300

16. Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series 1-½ HP Electric Air Compressor with Oil-Free Pump and 3 Gallon Tank

Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series 1-½ HP Electric Air Compressor with Oil-Free Pump and 3 Gallon Tank

3-Gallon Tank capacity

1-2 HP

Around $295

17. Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-Less Air Compressor

Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-Less Air Compressor

2.5-Gallon Tank capacity

2.35 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $275

18. Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

4.5 Gallons Tank capacity

3 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $235

19. Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Air Compressor with Wheels and Overload Protection

Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Air Compressor with Wheels and Overload Protection

5.3 Gallons Tank capacity

6.5 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $420

20. Craftsman Air Compressor, 10 Gallon Tank Size, 1.8 Peak HP, Oil-free and Max 150 PSI

Craftsman Air Compressor, 10 Gallon Tank Size, 1.8 Peak HP, Oil-free and Max 150 PSI

10 Gallons Tank capacity

4 CFM at 90 PSI

Around $305

Contents

Here Are The Best Portable Air Compressors

1. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor 6-Gallon Tank and Oil-Free Kit with Mechanic Tools (Best Overall Air Compressor)

CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 gallon, Oil-Free Kit with Mechanics Tools

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $185
  • 6 Gallon steel tank
  • 150 Max PSI
  • 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 13-piece accessory kit
  • Additional CRAFTSMAN Home Tool Kit, 57 pieces

My Review: The very first and best overall air compressor we recommend is the CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor. In our opinion, this is the best overall air compressor you can currently get in the market. It has a lot of features you want in an air compressor, at an affordable price too. The 6-gallon storage tank is designed to maximize storage and portability. The pump is very durable and oil-free, ensuring a longer lifespan with very minimal maintenance.

We’ve also found that this air compressor easily starts up even in cold weather, compared to the other models we’ve tried. This is ideal for any winter project you may be planning. Its 150 max PSI is more than capable of powering a variety of tools you may need. On top of this, this bundle also has a CRAFTSMAN Home Tool Kit as a bonus. This kit has 57 pieces, full of all the tools you’ll need for home projects and maintenance.

The icing on the cake is the full-time warranty on the home tool kit, you can easily get a replacement, hassle-free. This air compressor from CRAFTSMAN is very well-rounded.

Bottom Line: If you don’t have the time to pick and choose a specific air compressor, you should check this one out. It has everything you will need to perform your tasks, at an affordable price too.

2. PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon Tank, Pancake style, and Oil-Free

PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $130
  • 6 Gallon steel tank
  • 150 Max PSI
  • 120-Volt Motor
  • 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 6-gallon pancake-style storage tank
  • Water drain valve

My Review: If you work while moving around, a reliable portable air compressor is the way to go. The PORTER-CABLE air compressor is our top pick for the best value because of a few reasons. Its biggest perk is its excellent portability. This air compressor weighs about 34 lbs, making it very easy to move around. Additionally, it has an oil-free pump, making it ideal for work in and around the house. You can do a wide range of jobs, from inflating air mattresses to installing trim.

What we liked most about this air compressor is its built-in automatic thermal overload protection, ensuring a longer lifespan. For its price range, this air compressor is quite powerful and very efficient. This is thanks to its fairly low-amp, 120-volt motor. Also, the motor is very easy to start even in cold weather.

Bottom Line: Overall, this is our best top pick for the best value due to its low maintenance, user-friendly design, and high efficiency. All of this at very affordable prices, what more can you ask for.

3. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor and 6 Gallon Tank with 165 Max PSI (Best Under $200)

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $165
  • 6 Gallons Tank capacity
  • 165 Max PSI
  • 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 75.5 dB noise level for quieter work
  • 120V Power Supply

My Review: This DEWALT pancake-style air compressor is a worthy addition to your garage. It features 165 max PSI, which can handle any home air tool you want to use. Our favorite part about this DEWALT air compressor is it is relatively quiet to work with. At 75.5 dB noise level, your family won’t be too annoyed whenever you work on your projects anymore.

It has a 120V power supply, sufficient enough and safe to plug into your home wall outlets. We do recommend placing the air compressor at least 12 inches away from any walls or objects that may obstruct the flow of air. It also has much-appreciated rubber leg covers to prevent any scratches or marring.

Bottom Line: If your budget is under $200, you might want to take a look at this air compressor by DEWALT. It features 165 max PSI, The lesser noise levels alone makes it worth checking out.

4. BOSTITCH Air Compressor and 3-Tool Combo Kit (Best Under $300)

BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit, 3-Tool

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $265
  • Cordless Air Compressor
  • 6 Gallon Tank
  • 2.6 CMF at 90 PSI
  • 150 PSI
  • 2.6 CFM
  • 15-foot PVC air hose

My Review: This BOSTITCH Air compressor and kit combo makes it into our list because it combines portability with efficiency and power very effectively. The 6-gallon tank fills up rather quickly and the motor was pretty quiet, even for how powerful it is. The air hose is very durable, there were also no leaks that happened in our testing over a weekend. The build quality is top-notch for its price, being under $300.

The finish nailer is also very effective and efficient, we haven’t encountered any glitches or problems so far. Although, the pressure adjustment knob could be better. We found it to be sloppy and hard to use sometimes. Overall, working on home repairs and projects went very smoothly using this air compressor and tool kit combo.

Bottom Line: If you want an all-in-one, high-quality, air compressor and tool kit combo, BOSTITCH has got you covered. This air compressor and the 3-Tool kit combo will aid you in completing your home projects faster.

5. California Air Tools 8010A Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

California Air Tools 8010A Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $220
  • 1 Gallon Tank capacity
  • Electric
  • 0.6 HP
  • 1.20 CFM at 90 PSI

My Review: When talking air compressors, California Air Tools will always be in the discussion. This company produces top quality air compressors for home and hobby use. The 8010A comes in either aluminum or steel. It features a wheel kit for easy mobility and maneuverability. However, there is no hose included. A ¼ inch universal or industrial male quick connector will be needed to attach your hose to this air compressor. This can be a hassle but only a minor one for us.

The pump is also oil-free, which means you can use it effectively on uneven terrains and various temperatures. Moreover, this compressor is one of the most silent compressors we’ve worked with. It operates at an impressive noise level of 60 dB. Its quietness is the main feature and star of this compressor. Its portability is excellent, the 8010A is light enough to be taken around the home or job sites.

Bottom Line: If the noise is a huge problem for you, we can’t recommend this air compressor enough. Not only is it extremely quiet, but the 8010A is also very easy to maneuver. You’ll be able to work anywhere in the house in relative silence.

6. California Air Tools Model CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $135
  • 56 dB Noise-Levels
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 1.0 Gallon Steel Tank
  • 1.2 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 29.5 lbs in total weight

My Review: Lightweight and super silent, the 1P1060S Air Compressor is also up there as one of the quietest air compressors available on the market today. It produces only 56 decibels of sounds, you could say that this air compressor produces less noise than a conversation. The oil-free pump is designed to last for a long time. It has a life cycle of 3000+ hours before wearing down. This is quite impressive compared to other air compressors in the market.

We found that this air compressor produced less heat compared to other portable air compressors. It also features a thermal overload protector, for safety backup. If you’re in a pinch, you don’t have to worry about filling the tank. Its fill rate from being empty to a full tank is around 50 seconds.

Bottom Line: We highly recommend this if you’re looking for a durable, lightweight air compressor to be used around the house. Your family will also thank you for not annoying them with noise.

7. WEN 2287 6-Gallon Air Compressor with Oil-Lubricated Pump and Portable Design

WEN 2287 6-Gallon Oil-Lubricated Portable Horizontal Air Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $120
  • 6 Gallon steel tank
  • 125 Max PSI
  • Onboard wheels and handle
  • 3.2 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 4.2 CFM at 40 PSI

My Review: For its price point, the WEN 2287 6-Gallon portable air compressor is a steal. It’s available in 3 different Tank capacities; 6-Gallon Horizontal, 10-Gallon, and 20-Gallon Vertical Tank capacity. Each Tank capacity will have a different max PSI, CFM for every PSI, and of course, the price will also vary.

However, all of the different tank capacity will have an onboard handle and wheels for portability and easier handling.

Its smallest tank capacity option, the 6-gallon, still offers plenty of potential power at 125 max PSI. You will be able to power a lot of air tools with no problem. It is a great addition to any garage or workshop. You can pretty much hook on tools such as spray guns, nailers, staplers, etc, for your painting and woodworking projects. Our favorite feature of the WEN 2287 is the automatic shut-off when max PSI is reached. Additional safety measures are always appreciated.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an air compressor with plenty of options, the WEN 2287 is for you. You’ve got 3 options for tank capacity, with different specs that will suit your various needs.

8. DEWALT FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Air Compressor Kit (Most Versatile)

DEWALT FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Air Compressor Kit, Cordless, 2.5 Gallon

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $295
  • 2.5 Gallon Tank capacity
  • 79 dB
  • Oil-free pump
  • 135 Max PSI
  • 1.2 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Cordless

My Review: Super powerful yet lightweight and portable, the DEWALT FLEXVOLT may be the perfect air compressor for your home project needs. It features a heavy-duty and oil-free pump for maximum durability and less maintenance. One premium feature we really liked on the DEWALT FLEXVOLT is the one turn regulator. This is a patented regulator that lets you adjust the air pressure quickly and accurately.

You can easily adjust the regulator knob until the indicator is pointing to your needed PSI level. The air compressor will then automatically regulate itself. This cuts off all the hassle when trying to reach a specific PSI level. The price point for this air compressor is pretty hefty compared to its competition, but still justifiable. You get a lot of power and features inside a very compact and portable machine.

Bottom Line: In short, this compact and portable air compressor form DEWALT will assist you in any home projects you’re working on. Whether it’s a small or huge project, the DEWALT FLEXVOLT will do the job.

9. BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $125
  • 6-Gallons Tank capacity
  • 150 Max PSI
  • 78.5 dB
  • Oil-free Pump
  • 31 Lbs Total Weight

My Review: This 6-Gallon 150 PSI Air Compressor by BOSTITCH joins our list because of its moderate price and great performance. Weighing at 29 lbs, this air compressor is portable enough to be carried between job sites without much hassle. The pancake design maximizes stability and space-saving. Its motor is built to be highly efficient and easy to start up in cold seasons.
Its 150 Max PSI will help you with any home projects you’re working on. So far, all of our tests have not found major problems with the air compressor. One thing we noticed however is that this air compressor is quite loud, compared to others on the list.

Bottom Line: Solid Air Compressor for any housework or hobby projects you need to be done. Its 6-gallon tank and 150 Max PSI will do the job efficiently and effectively.

10. Campbell Hausfeld Pancake Style with 1 Gallon Tank and 110 PSI Kit

Campbell Hausfeld FP2028

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $145
  • 120-Volt
  • 110 Max PSI
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • Pancake-style
  • 0.36 CFM at 90 PSI

My Review: This air compressor will tackle your DIY needs with no problem. The lightweight pancake-style is designed for maximum stability and durability. Weighing just under 13 lbs, this air compressor is very easy to carry around the house for multiple projects. This model operates on a common 120-volt household current. The 110 Max PSI can support all your DIY tools effectively. We also appreciated the easy-to-read gauge that allows you to glance at what air-pressure you’re currently on.

It has plenty of additional accessories included in the kit, these are a needle adapter, air chuck, 25-foot recoil hose, and 2 inflator nozzles. Additionally, on-board storage is available to store all these accessories and organize them.

Bottom Line: Overall an affordable and reliable air compressor. The icing on the cake is the extra tool and accessory kit available.

11. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower and 1-Gallon Air Compressor

Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $120
  • 1 Gallon Tank capacity
  • 115-Volt
  • 1-2 HP Peak / 0.5 HP Running
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • Electric-Powered

My Review: Ultra-light and ultra-quiet, the Senco PC1010 are perfect if you constantly move from worksite to worksite. This compressor weighs only around 20 lbs and produces almost 0 sound. It’s electric powered and has an oil-less pump for easy maintenance. The 1-gallon air tank will fill up in no time. This small and compact portable air compressor is perfect when you just need to do minor work and don’t have to bust out the big compressors.

It’s extremely well-built, especially for its price point which we always appreciate. You’ll know that this small air compressor will last for a long while. We haven’t found any major problems during our extensive testing in light-duty work.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a small companion air compressor to go along with your big ones, this one may fit your needs perfectly.

12. California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ Quiet Compressor

California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ 4710Sq Quiet Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $125
  • 4.7 Gallon steel tank
  • 2.0 CMF at 90 PSI
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 43 lbs in total weight
  • 1 HP
  • 110-volts

My Review: Another compressor to be added to the list is the California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ. We’ve chosen this compressor for its durability and efficiency, while also staying relatively quiet. The oil-free pump design is a huge plus when it comes to maintenance. You can pretty much use it in uneven terrain and various temperatures.

The anti-rust steel tank will ensure you won’t experience any problems when it comes to storing the air. The super-compact design will also enable you to bring the CAT-4710SQ around the house or to different project sites easily. Its dual piston pump is rated to have a life cycle of 1000 plus hours before wearing down, this is pretty impressive compared to other similarly sized air compressors; which have life cycles of 500 hours or less.

Bottom Line: The CAT4710SQ is perfect for people who work inside often, where noise can be a huge issue.

13. California Air Tools 2010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 HP Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

California Air Tools 2010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 HP 2.0-Gallon

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $200
  • 2.0 Gallon Rust-Free Aluminum Tank
  • 1 HP Running / 2 HP Peak
  • 60 dB Noise-Level
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI

My Review: This air compressor is another entry from the California Air Tools lineup, the 2010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free. Capable of running at only 60 dB noise-levels, the 2010A is another ultra-quiet model. If you’re experiencing major noise issues with your air compressors, we highly recommend checking out the California Air tools lineup, including this one. Not only is it quiet, but it’s also extremely light and easy to carry around, weighing only 35 lbs.

Its 120 PSI maximum pressure will handle most if not all air tools you may need for home and hobby projects. The time to fill up the 2-gallon tank from empty to full capacity is around 50 seconds, ensuring no time wasted. The motor housing and aluminum tank design ensure that the compressor is rust free and extends the lifespan while also reducing the overall weight.

Bottom Line: Another excellent air compressor from California Air Tools, the 2010A is ultra-quiet and ultra-durable. Its build quality is a cut above the average portable compressor.

14. Makita MAC2500 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $305
  • 4.2 Gallon Tank capacity
  • 130 Max PSI
  • Oiled-Pump
  • 4.8 CFM at 40 PSI
  • 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI

My Review: The Makita MAC2500 is a very interesting compressor and is worthy of your attention. It features a twin 4.2 Gallons twins tank which can sustain pressures of up to 130 PSI during operation. It can deliver 4.8 CFM at 40 PSI and 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI, which is perfect for operating two nailers at the same time.

Unlike most of the air compressors listed here, the Makita has an oil-lubricated pump to achieve cooler temperatures and reduce wear and tear during operation. It also features a thermal overload for more much-appreciated motor protection. This pretty much means that you can run the Makita MAC2500 a lot longer compared to the other air compressors on this list.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a heavy-duty air compressor that can withstand long hours of hard work and extreme job sites, we highly recommend checking out the Makita MAC2500. It’s reliable, extremely durable, and is designed for easier maintenance.

15. California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Oil-Free and Ultra Quiet Air Compressor with 4.6 Gallon Twin Tanks

California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp 4.6 gallon

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $300
  • 9.2 Gallon Twin Tank Total Capacity
  • 60 dB Noise-level
  • 1 HP Running / 2 HP Peak Motor
  • 3.10 CFM at 40 PSI
  • 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI

My Review: California Air Tools is back at it again with another great air compressor for us. The CAT-4610AC is a portable, aluminum twin tank electric air compressor. It runs at 110 volts and produces very low sounds, only 60 dB noise-levels. As for a lot of California Air Tools compressors, this has oil-free pumps for easier maintenance and lower costs. The CAT-4610AC motor is rated at 1 PH which can peak at 2 HP.

Its dual piston pump is designed to last for a long while, approximately 3000 of use. Each tank can hold up to 4.6 Gallons, which totals to 9.2 Gallons max capacity. Overall, the build quality is top-notch, as expected of a California Air Tools air compressor. It’s fast to recharge and can easily keep up with the demand for a long day’s work.

Bottom Line: California Air Tools is very well-known and reliable when it comes to high-quality portable air compressors. The CAT-4610AC is no exception. It has a very high tank capacity, powerful motors, and is ultra-quiet.

16. Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series 1-½ HP Electric Air Compressor with Oil-Free Pump and 3 Gallon Tank

Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $295
  • 3-Gallon Tank capacity
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • Electric-Powered
  • 1-2 HP
  • 60 dB Noise-Levels

My Review: Another air compressor from Makita, the MAC320Q Quiet Series. This air compressor is specifically designed for comfort and ease of use. It only produces around 60 dB, which is perfect for indoor usage. Unlike the previous Makita air compressor in our list, the MAC320Q has an oil-free dual-piston pump for zero maintenance needed.

The MAC320Q is also extremely durable while being lightweight. It can withstand transporting to different job sites and any storage environments. We really liked the large pressure gauges are clearly visible at the front of the compressor. You can easily tell in a glance how much PSI you’re currently at and other important information.

Bottom Line: Highly durable, portable, easy to maintain, and very quiet; the Makita MAC320Q combines excellent performance with even more excellent convenience.

17. Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-Less Air Compressor

Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-Less Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $275
  • 2.5-Gallon Tank capacity
  • 2.35 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 1725 RPM Motor
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 60 dB Noise-Levels

My Review: The Rolair JC10 Plus is worth checking out if you’re looking for a quiet compressor that can take on the demand during long days of work. It only produces 60 dB noise-levels, which is quieter than a normal human conversation. However, it doesn’t trade away its performance for quietness. It produces 2.35 CFM at PSI, perfect for any finish or trim works. It’s built to be lightweight and extremely portable.

If you’re tired of bulky and noisy air compressors, then we highly recommend checking out the Rolair JC10 Plus. Additionally, this air compressor also comes with a muffler/filter. This drops the noise levels even more. For further quietness, the Rolair JC10 also has rubber mountings on the frame. These rubber mountings will help lessen the vibrations.

Bottom Line: If you’ve got the cash to invest in an ultra-quiet yet powerful portable air compressor, the Rolair JC10 is a great choice to consider.

18. Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $235
  • 4.5 Gallons Tank capacity
  • 150 Max PSI
  • 3 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Handle and Wheels Included
  • 1.3 Max HP

My Review: The Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor is a very interesting mode aesthetically. It features a 4.5-gallon tank capacity which can peak at 150 PSI with 3 CFM at 90 PSI. This air compressor is easy to start even in cold weather, perfect for any long term projects. It has a peak horsepower of 1.3. Not only is it powerful, but it also lives up to its name as Ultra Quiet. It operates at around 65 dB.
Our favorite part about the Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor is its portability and easy maneuverability. It comes with built-in handles and wheels. The handle can be pushed down for easier storage when not in use which is a huge plus inconvenience.

Bottom Line: All in all, the Stealth Ultra Quiet is a solid air compressor that can assist you in various projects while not blowing your ears out with noise.

19. Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Air Compressor with Wheels and Overload Protection

Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Wheeled Compressor

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $420
  • 5.3 Gallons Tank capacity
  • 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 3400 RPM Motor
  • 108 Lbs Total Weight
  • Cast Iron Cylinder

My Review: Another entry from Rolair, this time with a huge wheeled compressor. The Rolair VT25BIG is a 2.5 HP machine that will take care of any air pressuring needs. It has a 5.3-gallon tank capacity and features a pump with splash lubrication. This is to lessen the wear while expanding the compressor’s lifespan significantly. The whole air compressor weighs about 108 lbs, this is why a handle and two wheels are needed.

We’ve tested this a few weeks now and we didn’t encounter any huge problems. People we know that have this air compressor also state that they’ve been using it for months, and some even years yet the durability still stands.

Bottom Line: If space isn’t an issue, the Rolair VT25BIG can be a great one-time investment. Even though it’s huge, you can still easily move it around your home or other job sites fairly easily.

20. Craftsman Air Compressor, 10 Gallon Tank Size, 1.8 Peak HP, Oil-free and Max 150 PSI

Craftsman Air Compressor, 10 Gallon Peak

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Key Specifications:

  • Around $305
  • 10 Gallons Tank capacity
  • 1.8 Peak HP
  • 4 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 5 CFM at 40 PSI
  • Handle and Wheels

My Review: Last on our list is the Craftsman Air Compressor Model: CMXECXA0331042. This air compressor has a huge tank capacity of 10 Gallons, perfect for long periods of continuous work. It features an induction motor which peaks at 1.8 HP. The time it takes to fill the full 10 Gallon tank is around 180 seconds, very impressive stuff. It also has a max PSI pressure of 150. You won’t need as many breaks for the air compressor to recover because of its tank size and raw power.

The pump is oil-free for that maintenance free perk. To move the air compressor, it has a rubber enhanced handle and an 8-inch wheels’ kit.

Bottom Line: If you’re one to use air compressors daily and long periods too, this may be the one for you. Extremely durable, easy to handle, and has impressive capacity.

Buying Guide – Choosing the Right Air Compressor For Your Needs

It can quickly become a confusing mess when it comes to discussing air compressors and all the details they have. Air compressors are found all over and in different industries, from a car garage, your dentist’s office, to large industrial factories, there is no mistaking it air compressors are everywhere.

However, we’re only going to expand on air compressors that are used in garages. In this section, we will explore the basics of what an air compressor is and what you should look out for when shopping for one.

Basics of Air and Air Compressors

In the most basic process, a compressor works by sucking the surrounding air and squeezing it inside using internal mechanical moving components. This squeezing portion is what makes the air into a usable force that is strong enough for powering almost any air tool.

The maximum air pressure of an air compressor is called the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). All of this pressurized air is then stored in a measured storage tank. Once the max PSI is reached, the duty cycle is complete. The duty cycle refers to the duration of time a certain air compressor can be safely operated. When this is reached, the compressor stops running entirely, this is to prevent any serious accidents from overusing.

Another term that you’ll hear often when air compressors are involved is CFM. CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute. This is how the overall air volume a compressor can effectively generate is measured. The CFM of an air compressor is often the most important factor when it comes to choosing which one to buy. Different types of tools require varying degrees of CFM to function properly.

Different Types of Air Compressors

There are plenty of types of air compressors available on the market today. We believe it is very important to know the basic mechanics of a machine such as an air compressor. This is so that you get a general idea of what could go wrong. You could even help professionals diagnose a faulty machine faster. Air compressors can also fall into two categories: Positive displacement or dynamic positive displacement compressors. Let’s look at the different types of air compressors that you will come across.

Reciprocating Piston Compressors

These types of compressors are the most popular and widely used. They can be commonly found in either home or work environments. A reciprocating piston air compressor operates similar to a car’s engine. There is an internal crankshaft that drives the pistons located inside the cylinders. It does this in a back-and-forth motion. This process creates a vacuum that sucks in the surrounding air when retracting and pushes the pressurized air into the tank when extending.

However, a huge disadvantage of reciprocating piston compressors is that its internal components frequently touch and rub against each other. This creates lots of friction, heat, and sound when running continuously. This is also why these types of compressors aren’t meant to be used for long periods. Although, innovation in technology such as dual-piston and oil-less compressors can significantly reduce the amount of heat and noise a piston-type compressor produces.

Scroll Compressors

Also known as a scroll pump or scroll vacuum pump, scroll compressor technology is also very common all around our environment. It is used in a wide variety of ways; from turbos in fast cars, electronics manufacturing, and even refrigeration. Scroll air compressors utilize two spiral-shaped components that rapidly rotate around each other, resulting in compressed air. This works by having one scroll securely fixed in place, without moving, while the other scroll is placed inside the stationary scroll. The second scroll movies in a very tight circular motion without rotating.

Scrolls compressors are great because according to the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), these compressor types produce the cleanest air. The reliability and efficiency of scroll compressors compared to reciprocating compressors have made them more popular, especially in home cooling and heating systems. A huge advantage that scroll compressors have is that they have a lot less torque variation and moving parts compared to other compressors such as the reciprocating compressor. This means that scroll compressors operate a lot quieter and smoother operation.

Rotary Screw Compressors

True to its name, rotary screw compressors use two rotors to push and trap air while also reducing the volume of said air while it passes through the rotors. This process of reducing the air volume results in the desired compressed air. Rotary screw compressors are generally used to replace reciprocating piston compressors when a large volume of pressurized air is needed. This is why you can commonly find rotary screw compressors in large industrial settings.

Small rotary screw compressors aren’t the most effective because of the inherent leakage in the rotors. It makes it very unsuitable for small-sized air compressors. They work best for applications that require a constant amount of large pressurized air. A good example is the food packaging factory.

There are also two types of rotary screw compressors, oil-free and oil-injected. Oil-free rotary screw compressors are used when oil carry-overs from processes aren’t allowed to happen. A good example of this is machines used for medical research, where they don’t want any contaminants affecting the results. Oil-injected rotary screw compressors, just like the name says, have oil injected straight into the compression cavities. This is to help in sealing and providing extra cooling.

Axial Compressors

Axial compressors are extremely powerful and very efficient at what they do. Because of this, they are very expensive and are only really utilized by high-speed engines on planes or ships. You won’t find these compressors in your ordinary projects. It can output thousands of horsepower, making it great for large scale projects in aerospace research and the likes.

Axial compressors have both stationary and rotating components. It can continuously and effectively pressurize large amounts of gases. This results in a larger mass flow rate and excellent efficiency. However, these two traits are related to the size of the axial compressor. The bigger, the better. This is the reason why axial compressors are very expensive. They are an integral part of the engine designs of jets, high-speed boats, etc.

Centrifugal Compressors

Centrifugal compressors, also known as dynamic compressors, are widely used in large-scale manufacturing plants due to its high amounts of energy while still remaining relatively small in size. These compressors utilize a series of stages to effectively compress and cool down a continuous flow of air. The great thing about centrifugal compressors is that they require less maintenance compared to reciprocating or rotary screw compressors. Some centrifugal compressors can even produce oil-free air, which can be very advantageous for particular jobs.

You can commonly find centrifugal compressors in places such as steel manufacturing, oil & gas industries, etc. These sectors require vast amounts of energy while saving on space. Centrifugal compressors are also designed to perform their best in high capacity settings. This is why they are best suited for these large industries.

The only air compressors that you will come across in a daily setting would be reciprocating compressors or scroll compressors. Even so, learning about other air compressors and the differences can be very helpful. In the next section, we’ll talk about the different sizes of home air compressors and their features.

Home Air Compressor Size and Portability

The air compressor’s size will greatly affect multiple factors. These include energy output, energy usage, and portability. The smaller the air compressor, the less power. Let’s look at the sizes of air compressors commonly found at home in the garage or at businesses.

Stationary Air Compressors

Stationary air compressors are large, cumbersome devices, designed to be placed somewhere safe such as a garage or shop. These high-horsepower air compressors will feature large storage tanks that allow for continuous uninterrupted usage for long periods. Stationary air compressors mostly have a vertical design, this is to reduce the amount of floor space they take up. The list of reviews you can find below will consist of the best stationary air compressors available on the market today.

Portable Air Compressors

Portable air compressors feature smaller storage tanks. Some may even have wheels or handles that make moving them much easier. If you constantly change work areas, a portable air compressor may be the best for you. These air compressor models are a lot more compact compared to stationary air compressors. Take note that portable air compressors also come in various styles that suit specific situations. These styles are:

Hot Dog Compressors – These compressors have single, cylindrical tanks which have a horizontal design. This is to be compact and save as much space as possible.

Pancake Compressors – These compressors have storage tanks that are round and flat in shape. It is typically mounted under the unit. This design also saves a lot of space while also maintaining stability.

Wheelbarrow Compressors – Just the name suggests, a wheelbarrow compressor features handles and a wheel for convenient mobility. It has two cylindrical tanks for improved storage, while not sacrificing mobility and compactness.

Inflators – Inflators are the smallest type of air compressors available. These don’t even have a storage tank to store the pressurized air. Inflators have to continuously run to supply air. This makes them not suited for long periods of use. Inflators are commonly found inside cars, boats, etc. They can be used as a backup to inflate flat tires, floats, and also sports equipment.

How Are Air Compressors Powered

You’re going to need the appropriate power supply when choosing an air compressor. For home use and projects, there are two options. Electric air compressors or Gasoline-powered air compressors. Electric compressors are by far the most popular models when it comes to home or small business use. This is because compared to gasoline-powered air compressors, electric compressors are quieter and require less regular maintenance. Electric compressors can also work in any dry area with the appropriate electrical supply available.

This makes electric compressors suitable when working indoors. A lot of home-use air compressors can effectively function on a 120-volt current. But, the larger models may require more power from your household current. An important thing to take note of is that portable electric compressors require a compatible extension cord to run properly. This can limit its mobility. You can follow your air compressor’s manufacturer specifications to find out the details of compatible extension cords. For Inflator compressors, where you plug it depends on the model. It can either plug into a 12-volt vehicle outlet or a 120-volt house outlet.

However, Gasoline-powered air compressors aren’t totally outmatched. They are great to use when you’re doing more outdoor projects where access to electricity may be challenging. Gasoline-powered air compressors also tend to have higher horsepower compared to electric compressors. This means they can generate higher PSI.

Air Compressor Terms

As a beginner, there will be plenty of confusing terms that you will encounter when dealing with air compressors. You may have already encountered some of them reading the article, PSI, and horsepower. In this section, we’ll outline the meaning of these important terms so you can better understand them.

Air Pressure (PSI)

This is one of the most common terms you will encounter. Air pressure is generally measured in pounds per square inch, also known as PSI for short. Most of the air tools you may use will require at least 90 PSI to function properly. To maintain this minimum required PSI, you will need an air compressor that has a high shut-off pressure. A lot of industrial air compressors are considered two-stage. This means that the compressor builds up to its shut-off pressure in two stages. Most of the home or commercial-use air compressors are single stage. They shut off around 125 – 135 PSI.

This may sound like a high amount of PSI, but multiple factors can lessen this. Single-stage air compressors usually kick in around 100 PSI, on top of this, restrictions from couplers and hose may further drop the pressure. In the end, you might now have enough PSI to power your air tool. This is why it is advised to get air compressors with higher shut-off pressure. You’ll have more leeway to account for other factors that can lower air pressure.

Horsepower (HP)

Horsepower or HP is another common term in the world of air compressors. Checking what the horsepower rating of a tool is a great way to determine what size compressor you need. However, you need to be wary about horsepower ratings. Marketing has been greatly exaggerating horsepower ratings so that big-box stores can sell a lot more compressors.

Industrial compressors are generally very accurate when it comes to their ratings. This is why an industrial compressor that has 5 HP is about three times larger and more expensive compared to an overrated or inaccurate home-use 5 HP compressor. The more horsepower a compressor has, the larger it is.

A great way to tell if a compressor has a legit or accurate HP rating is to look at how much electricity it takes to power it. Just take note that a 5 HP motor will draw around 24 amps on a 220-volt circuit. On the other hand, overrated home or hobby-use compressors will most often run on a standard 15 amp 110-volt circuit, which is capable of only running about 2 HP. In short, if you can plug it into your house’s wall plug, it won’t exceed more than 2 HP.

Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)

All air tools will require a certain volume of air to keep operating effectively. The volume of air that compressors produce is rated as cubic feet per minute or CFM. You will most likely see multiple CFM ratings at different pressure levels on a compressor. In some models, you will see a high rating for displacement CFM. This rating is calculated based on the speed and size of the compressor’s pump.

But you don’t have to worry too much about CFM displacement ratings. It does not consider the various inefficiencies that the pump may have. The CFM rating you should keep an eye out for smaller compressors is its rating at 90 PSI. This is because 90 PSI is the standard requirement for most tools to function properly. Also, CFM ratings tend to be exaggerated to boost more sales, the same as HP ratings. Just remember that you should have 3-4 CFM for every real HP at 90 PSI.

Air Compressor Tank Capacity

The Tank Capacity of an air compressor doesn’t matter too much. This is because it only stores the air, not produce it. The pump and motor of a compressor are a lot more important. If you are producing as much air as you intend to use, you’ll never run out of it, no matter the size of the tank.

Even so, there are some situations where you can save money by going for a smaller size compressor with a large tank. This is only if you’re using air irregularly. Take note that a large tank does not mean the compressor runs less; it just starts and stops less often, compared to smaller tanks. The running time for both is essentially the same. Lastly, most Tank Capacities are measured in US gallons.

Duty Cycle

This is a very important term to learn when it comes to buying air compressors. The duty cycle refers to the number of minutes a compressor is allowed to operate out of 10 minutes. This is commonly expressed as a percentage. If you continuously exceed the duty cycle, it will get too hot and deteriorate the compressor’s lifespan. You’ll receive better value for your money when you purchase a compressor with a 100% duty cycle instead of something lesser.

A super-duty 5 HP air compressor that has a 100% duty cycle will produce a lot more continuous air compared to a heavy-duty 7.5 HP air compressor that has a 75% duty cycle.

What Should I Consider When Buying an Air Compressor?

Now that you have basic knowledge about air compressors, let’s look at what you should consider when buying one.

1. Consider all the air tools you will be using.

Your compressor will be useless if the tools aren’t compatible with it. You need to take into account the different volume and pressure requirements for each tool you’re using. Heavy-duty tools will require higher pressure and volume. Work efficiency and safety will greatly suffer if you have the wrong air compressor for the job. Some examples of tools that require an air compressor are:

  • Staple and nail guns
  • Paint sprayers
  • Ratchets
  • Impact Wrenches
  • Air hammers or chisels
  • Rotary tools or grinders
2. Consider how you will power the air compressor

Before anything else, you should look at how you can actually power the air compressor. You can choose either gas-powered or electricity. If you’ve got ample access to gasoline and have large projects, gasoline-powered may be the better choice. Gasoline-powered compressors tend to have larger PSI and HP. For casual hobby-use, electricity may suit you better. However, electrically powered compressors may have their portability hindered due to the reliance on an electric source close by.

3. Take a close look at the CFM or Cubic Feet per Minute

Just as stated in the previous section, CFM measures the volume of air a compressor produces at certain PSI levels. For most home-use compressors, the most important CFM measurement is at 90 PSI. This is the PSI level where a lot of home-use compressors operate at. The CFM can give you a great idea of how powerful the air compressor is.

4. Take note of the air compressor’s horsepower (HP)

An air compressor’s horsepower is also an important factor when shopping. For home-use compressors, accurate HP ratings should be around 1-2 HP. Anything above this is most likely an exaggeration. High HP ratings such as 5 HP are mostly reserved for industrial-grade air compressors. So you need to watch out for inaccurate HP ratings. The most simple way to find out is if you can plug it into a normal wall plug, it isn’t higher than 1-2 HP. However, the HP isn’t the best indication of how powerful an air compressor is; refer to the CFM for a more accurate indicator.

5. Consider the air compressor’s portability

The air compressor’s portability is one of the biggest factors you need to consider. Your compressor should complement your work area. If you work primarily outside, without much access to electrical outlets, you may opt for gasoline-powered air compressors.

If you’re constantly on the go and work on different sites, an injector or portable compressor may be for you. People who primarily work in garages and permanent locations will benefit from larger, more stationary air compressors. Stationary compressors will be securely bolted on the ground to avoid any movement. Consider the kind of projects you want to do, their locations, and go from there.

6. Consider the noise levels

You should also consider the noise levels of the air compressor you’re getting. You may have family or a partner that can’t stand the noise gasoline-powered compressors make. Some compressors rattle quite a lot during operation yet there are some like electric or oil-free compressors that can be much quieter. The downside is that they aren’t the most efficient for larger tasks. However, they make up for it by being quite versatile. You can place electric compressors on any surface, compared to gasoline compressors because gasoline-powered compressors require a completely flat surface for the oil to properly circulate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Compressors

Where should I install my air compressor?

Ideally, the compressor should be placed very close to the area compressed air is used. Additionally, the location should be dry, cool, clean, and well-ventilated. Dirt, volatile fumes, and vapor should be avoided at all costs to prevent clogged filters and valves; which then lead to overheating.

How big of a compressor do I need?

It depends on the workload, just keep in mind that the bigger the compressor, the larger horsepower, and CFM. The larger size also means much more power consumption and needed space.

How often should I change the oil?

The frequency for oil changes depends on what type of air compressor you have. For rotary screw compressors, oils are recommended to be changed every 7000 – 8000 hours. As for reciprocating air compressors, you should change the oil every 3 months or so. If you want more accurate time frames, you should call the place you bought it from and provide the model number. They will recommend a more accurate oil changing schedule for your air compressor.

What voltage do I run on?

The required voltage (V) depends on the size of your compressor. Most home/hobby use air compressors are designed to run on single 110V outlets. Your home wall outlets are most definitely 110V. Larger compressors will naturally need more voltage. These models tend to range from 110V to 460V. Most large models won’t be compatible with your wall outlet.

When should I replace the air intake filter?

Some compressors will have an air intake filter. If yours has one, it is highly advised that you should clean it every week. However, only do this if you use your air compressor at least 3 days a week. You need to replace your filter if you notice any holes or tears and when you notice cleaning out debris is becoming harder every time.

What happens if water gets inside my air compressor?

Getting water stuck inside an air compressor can become a huge hassle. Air compressor tanks are made of steel, thus, rust will quickly develop if the water is present. You should contact your air compressor’s local service center to determine the severity of the situation. If you know that only a small amount of water got in, you can purchase an air dryer to quickly eliminate the moisture problem.

Final Thoughts

Here at Mechanic Approved we hope we have supplied you with some powerful knowledge so that you can choose the best portable air compressor to suit your needs. Feel free to leave a comment below no whether or not this article was helpful to you as well as any good or bad experiences you might have had with any of the products on this list. After all, your comment might help someone who has narrowed their choices down to two portable air compressors.

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