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Best portable air compressors

If you are already on the hunt for an air compressor, you are probably familiar with how it works, you know about its benefits and also what are you going to be using it for. However, if you still have questions and doubts about that, please have a look at our article “Most Important facts about air compressors” (link to main page).

Apart from the engine power, air delivery rate, tank size and level of maintenance required, one of the biggest positives what you should be looking for is the portability. If you are about to use your unit for different DIY tasks around the house or you are a professional, you want to have a powerful air compressor, which you can also carry around.

Usually, the pancake air compressors offer great portability due to their lightweight design and being equipped with handles with easy grip. However, there are some models on the market which are not as lightweight, but having a set of wheels they are easy to move around in the house or at a working site.

Below we will be looking at short short description of the main types of portable air compressors and reviews of the best portable air compressors, so you can receive a wider point of view and choose the best air compressor to suit your needs.

Types of portable Air compressors

Portable Gas Powered Air Compressor

There are obviously a number of benefits when it comes to choosing a portable gas powered air compressor such as its low noise even when working to full capacity. They run on gas and that is why you wouldn’t be needing an electric outlet, which makes your unit perfect to move it around and it can be used even in remote locations where electricity could be an issue. When one spends some time and finally manages to find the best gas powered air compressor there is no doubt that it could go a long way in making heavy duty application simple and easy.

Electric Portable Air Compressor

The electric portable air compressors are obviously better, when there is a need to avoid fumes and pollution, so when it comes to indoor use, there is no doubt that this type of compressor is the best to go for. They are available in different sizes and capacities and going through some good electric air compressor reviews would probably help you find the one that suits your needs. You could choose lightweight electric compressors weighing around 34 pounds. On the other hand there are large compressors which run on electricity. They work on 120 volts and also have relatively higher noise levels exceeding 78 DB.

Portable 12v Air Compressor

If you are going to be using your unit in the car, there are many reasons as to why it would make sense for you to go in for a portable 12V Air compressor. They are perfectly suitable for those who drive 4WD cars. They can help a lot in checking air pressure while on the move and when in remote locations. They are very small and portable and therefore can be easily transported in the boot of the car. They can also be carried in a convertible or hatchback. When buying a 12v compressor a few points must be taken into account. You should know how to make use of the portable air compressor 12v or otherwise it would be a wasteful expenditure. It does not require even the basics of mechanics to check pressure of your tires using a good quality 12v portable air compressor. It should also be taken in mind keeping a check of car tire pressure helps to increase the life of the tires quite significantly.

Here are some short reviews of the best portable air compressors on the market at the moment

ARB CKMTA12 '12V' On-Board Twin High Performance Air Compressor

ARB CKMTA12 '12V' On-Board Twin High Performance Air Compressor
ARB CKMTA12 kit

The ARB CKMTA12 is compact on-board twin motor air compressor, which has proven to be great for inflating tires, although it was originally designed to be used with ARB Air Lockers. The ARB CKMTA12 has 6.16 CFM airflow rate which is one of the highest in comparison to any other 12V air compressors on the market.

PROS for ARB CKMTA12
  • ​One of the best 12V air compressors at the market with an airflow rate of 6,16 CFM
  • Quality components, EMF suppressed for use in proximity to sensitive electronic equipment, CE and C-Tick compliant
  • Quiet when operating
  • Very quick when inflating any size of tyres
  • Can be used with Air tools rated up to 3 CFM at 90PSI continuous supply, or even with higher ratings when used with tank.
CONS for ARB CKMTA12
  • Air Locker Manifold Kit required in order to be used for ARB Air Lockers
  • ARB Forged Aluminum 1-Gallon tank required when in need to be used with more powerful air tools.

Senco PC1010

Senco PC1010 for home use
Senco PC1010 for home use

The Senco PC1010 is a lightweight, portable air compressor. It is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a small and compact air compressor to be used for quick in and out jobs. It would be very suitable for those working with crafts too. The machine will certainly get through with a few dozen nails, but it is definitely not a compressor built for heavy work.

PROS for Senco PC1010
  • Portable - The Senco PC1010 air compressor is a compact, lightweight and portable air compressor that can be moved from one place to another with ease. You will be able to carry it without any effort at all, as if you were carrying a small, light bag. You will even be able to take it along with you when you travel from. The machine is also fitted with a cushioned handle bar for even better portability. This 1 gallon air compressor can easily fit into your back seat or your boot. In addition, due to the machine’s small size, you will be able to store the 1 gallon compressor almost anywhere, without taking up much space.
  • Low maintenance - Another good side of the Senco 1 gallon air compressor is that, the unit is maintenance free. The air compressor comes with a durable oil-free pump, which makes it more convenient for its users, as messy oil replacement will not be necessary.
  • Quiet - Adding to its numerous good sides, the Senco PC1010 is also very quiet. At the rate of 69 dB, the unit never fails to impress its buyers when it comes to quiet operation.
  • Strong build - Another plus point about the Senco PC1010 is its durability. The 1 gallon tank is made out of aluminum, which is a smart move, as aluminum is durable and lightweight.
  • No additional assembly required - Upon purchase, the unit is readily usable. This is because, all the parts are factory installed and you will not be facing unnecessary problems assembling it, like many other portable compressors out there. You will be able to use this unit right out from the box.
  • The Senco PC1010 is fitted with rubber-covered feet, so you will be able to place it on the top of your working surface without worrying about scratches. In addition, the rubber-covered feet will also keep vibrations at bay during operations, which eventually reduces noise during operations.
  • Fast recovery time - The Senco PC1010 air compressor has a recovery period of 30 seconds. Keep in mind tho, that even with fast recovery time, you still won't be able to use the unit with tools that need constant air flow.
CONS for Senco PC1010
  • Small tank size - Being a portable air compressor, the Senco PC1010 also comes with a 1 gallon tank. If you are looking for a portable compressor, with a fairly sized tank, then this unit would not be your choice. There are, of course, other portable air compressors with bigger tanks.
  • It is important to understand that the Senco PC1010 is a small machine made for small jobs. Therefore, the unit will certainly not be able to handle or withstand too much or continuous work, like powering a grinder or inflating large tyres.

California Air Tools CAT-8010

California Air Tools CAT-8010
California Air Tools CAT-8010 air compressor

California Air Tools CAT-8010 is an oil-free, ultra quiet air compressor with a 1hp motor and 6.3 gallon steel tank. This is the answer for everyone who is looking for a small air compressor to be used at home or for light professional work. The 1hp motor proves to be quite powerful for tire pumping or any DIY projects around the home and robust enough to stand up to a handyman’s hard working day.

PROS for California Air Tools CAT-8010
  • The 6 gallon capacity of the tank turns the CAT 6310 in an excellent oil free air compressor for home and light professional use. Allows good airflow and pressure levels when demanded in bigger projects.
  • The dual piston pump operating with 1hp helps the quick refill of the tank and assures the continuous airflow needed for some tools used in light professional work.
  • Being oil-free also means that no maintenance is required, apart from emptying the tank after use in order to prolong the unit’s life. In this sense, the manufacturer guarantees pump durability of 3000 hours, which is way more than any other similar air compressor can offer.
  • What also makes the California Air Tools CAT-6310 so great is the fact that it’s portable. It is lightweight and its compact dimensions allow the air compressor to be stored almost anywhere.
  • Without a doubt the best thing about this model is that it is ultra quiet. This makes it suitable for home use, in compound spaces or for overnight work, without any worries about noise disturbance. Here is a video where a couple of other air compressors of the same grade are compared to our ultra quiet CAT 6310 in regards of the noise level
  • The price is quite fair for the quick and quiet performance, the quality and size of the tank.
CONS for California Air Tools CAT-8010
  • Probably the most reported issue about the model are the wobbly wheels that are made of plastic and in a few cases end up in need to be replaced.
  • For the ones that expect the unit to come completely assembled out of the box, the bad news is that there are wheels, front end bumper and air filter need to be attached before operating the unit.
  • Also here is good to mention that the user manual is quite small and doesn’t provide a lot of information.
  • Reading the gauges, draining the tank and making any adjustments is fairly easy, but on the down side the regulator may take some time to stabilize.
  • There have been reports that sometimes there can be a bad odour around the Air compressor, but in most cases it turns out to be in result of excess sealers and lubricants used when the unit was assembled or due to poor maintenance (not draining the tank after use).

DEWALT DWFP55126

DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
DEWALT DWFP55126 in use

The DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor is a light-duty pancake air compressor. It is quiet and fills the tank quickly. It is great as it is compact and light-weight and can be easily stored or moved around the house.
This is an air compressor which is easy to maintain and works perfectly in cold weather or when used with an extension cord. The DWFP55126 is equipped with two hose connectors and a thermal overload protector, which prevents the unit from overheating. If you are looking for a small portable air compressor, but powerful enough for pumping tires and powering tools which need quick bursts of air, the DEWALT will suit you.

PROS for DEWALT DWFP55126
  • The DWFP55126 is a small portable air compressor, which makes your work easier as you can carry it around and also doesn’t take a lot of storage space.
  • A 6 gallon pancake air compressor like this one is powerful enough for long work and some big tools.
  • The brand of DeWalt is a guaranty for quality and strong build.The DEWALT DWFP55126 is very quiet.
  • It is maintenance free, you only need to empty the tank after use in order to prolong the life of your unit, which is quite easy to do.
  • It benefits of two hose connectors, which is very handy when you need to run two tools at the same time, or you have somebody to help you with the work.
CONS for DEWALT DWFP55126
  • This air compressor is not suitable for work with tools needing a continuous air flow.
  • Not powerful enough for bigger spray painting tasks.

California Air Tools CAT-10020

California Air Tools CAT-10020 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 2.0 HP 10.0-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor
California Air Tools CAT-10020

California Air Tools CAT-10020 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 2.0 HP 10.0-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor is a powerful electric air compressor, which stands out with a big 10 gallon steel tank, the possibility to be moved around on its wheels and the fact that it is one of the quietest air compressors in its class.

It is aimed not only for home, but also for professional use. It comprises of two 1.4” Industrial Connectors, which allow running two tools at the same time. The Oil-Free Dual Piston pump is maintenance free and fills up the tank in less than 130 seconds. The delivered air is 5.30 CFM at 90 PSI and in combination with the big capacity of the tank means the unit can be used with some bigger tools which require continuous air flow.

The California Air compressor 10020 is a great choice if you are looking not only for a unit to be used for pumping tyres or home DIY, but also for shop owners and professionals working on bigger projects.​

PROS for CAT-10020
  • The 10 gallon capacity of the tank makes the CAT-10020 in an outstanding oil free air compressor for professional and home use. The delivered air flow and pressure levels are impressive when demanded in bigger projects.
  • The dual piston pump combined with 2.0 HP motor assures the quick refill of the tank and the continuous airflow required for bigger tools for professional use.
  • Low maintenance - nothing more than emptying the tank after use, which would also allow your unit longer life. California Air Tools promises 3000 hours of pump durability, which is no way near the competitors have offered so far.
  • Portable and easy to store - we have decided that this is one of the PROS for the CAT-10020. However, you need to bare in mind that with its 88 lb it is quite heavy despite being equipped with wheels and handle for an ease to be carried around. But this can be compensated in a way with the fact that it’s only 32” tall and allows easy storage.
  • Quiet - an absolute gem with impressive 70 dB while operating and for the taken in mind motor power and tank capacity. It also comprises of a quick start valve designed for a non loud start.
  • 2 Hose Connectors
  • Fast recovery time - it takes only few minutes to fill the tank from empty.
  • Easy to read gauges, controls with a good grip and easy to reach drain valve
CONS for CAT-10020
  • Questionable wheel set - very much like the CAT - 6130, the wheels for this model seem to be of a poor quality. Another downfall is that you have to assemble the wheels yourself.
  • Heavy - the 88 lb definitely are not a plus, but this is what we need to compromise with when we talk about a 10 gallon tank.
  • Made in China - in many cases this means poor quality. However, with this model we think think only the wheels can be at fault.

When you are looking for the right air compressor, you have to put your priorities straight as sometimes portability is great, but you might have to compromise with some other features such as power or tank size for instance. You also need to be careful as there are models on the market, which really are pushing the limit of the word “portable” and it might be used as an advertisement trick.