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The Best Portable Air Compressors of 2021

best portable air compressor

Every household can use a portable air compressor. We’ve all woken up to a flat tire with mere minutes to get to work. You can only use that excuse once, maybe twice before your boss will recommend you get your own portable air compressor. 

Portable air compressors aren’t just for pumping up tires, they also allow you to power pneumatic tools such as nail guns, pain spray guns, air hammers, air impact wrenches and more. A whole new category of tools will now be at your disposal to get the job done. 

Portable air compressors are no longer strictly designed for the work site as many households have their own portable air compressor for emergency situations and for working around the house. 

We’ve reviewed, tested and researched the best portable air compressors and are here to give you our recommendations. 

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP – Best Portable Air Compressor

Makita is one of the best, all-around portable compressors for air tool use at home in your workshop or on a construction project. It’s quiet and more powerful than other professional contractor style portable air compressors. The Makita is largely vibration free and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your workshop. It’s 2.5 HP with a 4.2 gallon twin stacked tank that can power an operating pressure of 130 PSI. The pump on this portable air compressor is oil lubricated and has a built-in thermal overload which gives it additional motor protection. 

The Makita portable air compressor has a roll cage construction that allows it to survive tough worksite conditions for years to come. The air filter is designed for increased air intake and the cast iron cylinder ensures your air compressor has a longer work life. It recovers faster, makes less noise and is durable enough for harsh work conditions. The Makita will outlast competitor’s portable air compressors and it doesn’t cost a fortune. 

This is one of the best portable air compressors for your home garage and it can handle some heavy-duty work around the worksite. You can easily throw it in the back of your truck and get to work on home improvement projects. It’s also one of the best portable air compressors for using air tools. 

This is a heavy-duty air compressor and it may be considered heavy by some users weighing in at 80.8 pounds, but that’s the cost of having a rugged designed portable air compressor. The best air compressor portable design allows you to carry it from site to site without much trouble. This is the industrial duty air compressor you’re looking for. 

Craftsman 6 Gallon Pancake – Best Portable Air Compressor for the Money

The Craftsman 6 Gallon is a great home use portable air compressor. It’s designed for airing up low tires and small air tools. The 6 gallon pancake design allows for maximum stored air without hampering the unit’s portability. The durable design has an oil free pump so you don’t have to perform maintenance and it will last for a long time. 

The maximum PSI is 150 that can be used for an assortment of functions such as air tools or inflating a low tire. You get a 13-piece accessory kit that has everything you need to get started in 5 minutes or less. You get a tire chuck with plug, tire gauge, 25’ x ¼” PVC air hose, blow gun with safety nozzle, 3 inflator adaptors and rubber tip. The Craftsman portable air compressor is one of the most comprehensive home use air compressor kits for the price. 

We like this Craftsman air compressor because it has a starter kit that has everything you need, provides enough power for small tools and deflated tires and it doesn’t cost a fortune. 

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AstroAl – Best Portable Air Compressor for Cars

The AstroAl Portable Air Compressor has a compact design that’s handy and perfect for vehicle use. It is strong enough to inflate vehicle tires quickly to get you back on the road with less hassle. This car air compressor can inflate a small tire in roughly 2 minutes or less and a mid-size car tire in about 5 minutes. It can inflate from 0 to 36PSI quickly and efficiently. 

If you’ve ever inflated a vehicle tire on the side of the road without a flashlight, you know just how inconvenient it can be. The AstroAl comes equipped with an emergency LED light that gives you enough light to see what you’re doing. There are 2 ways to attach to the air nozzle: the quick connector or the screw rotation will attach your air nozzle depending on your situation. You also get 3 nozzles plus an extra fuse just in case. The cord is 10 feet long and made from heavy-duty material. It’s 12V 120W and can plug into a car cigarette lighter. 

This car air compressor isn’t just for tires, you can also inflate bicycles, footballs, basketballs, camping gear such as sleeping pads and more. It’s the perfect small portable air compressor to keep in your vehicle and it only weighs 2.2 lbs. It’s also one of the best portable air compressors for off road use due to its size and dependability. You can literally take it anywhere. 

The AstroAl is one of the best car tire inflators and is great to have in your vehicle at all times. 

Ryobi 18V One+ 1 Gallon – Best Cordless Portable Air Compressor

You already know Ryobi makes great tools and the 18V One+ Cordless Portable Air Compressor is another great addition to their line of quality tools. A cordless air compressor is a great tool to have on the worksite or around the house. It’s powerful enough to deliver 120 PSI without a cord and is perfect for tire inflation and pneumatic tools. You can inflate a flat tire in about a minute and the battery is strong enough to fully inflate up to 9 car tires per charge. Cordless air compressors are convenient and extremely easy to use. You don’t have to worry about having a plug-in nearby, simply use the Universal push-to-connect quick coupler and you’re ready to inflate. It has a comfortable handle that can be used with 1 hand operation for a smooth air refill. 

While the air tank on the Ryobi One+ may be small compared to a full-size shop air compressor, it’s great for small tasks and emergency situations where you need quick inflation. It’s lightweight, compact and fits in your shop or home with ease. 

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Bostitch Pancake Air Compressor with Brad Nailer 

The Bostitch portable air compressor has a 6 gallon tank that can deliver a 150 max PSI. The motor is easy to start even during the winter months. It’s oil free and maintenance free and is the perfect size for a portable air compressor for the workshop, worksite or around the house. It’s one of the best portable air compressors for air tools and is a great addition to your garage. 

The Bostitch is equipped with a high-flow regulator that helps maximize your air tool performance without making too much noise. Many portable air compressors are loud, but the Bostitch air compressor has an 80 dBA noise level that’s great for quieter work environments. You won’t have to worry about oil stains on your concrete as the Bostitch air compressor has oil-free operation. The Bostitch is one of the best portable air compressors for carpentry. 

A portable air compressor has to be easy to use and not weight a ton. The Bostitch only weighs 29 pounds and is easy to maneuver. If you’re looking for a great portable air compressor for medium duty work, the Bostitch is a great one to check out. The Bostitch is also one of the best air compressors on a budget and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. 

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Stanley J5C09 JUMPiT – Best Portable Air Compressor & Jump Starter

You get the best of both worlds with the Stanley J5C09 Portable Power Station. You can jump start your car with 1200 peak amps plus 600 instant starting amps as well as air up your tires. This is the perfect tool to have on hand so you will always be prepared for situations while on the road. 

The air compressor can pump up your tires with up to 120 PSI to get you rolling again. It comes equipped with the SureFit air nozzle that fits every time and can be used on other inflatables such as sports balls, bicycle tires and all-terrain vehicle tires. 

Jump-start your car’s battery with up to 1,000 amps to get you back on the road. As a safety measure, it has a reverse polarity alarm that will alert you in the event you hook up the cables incorrectly. Not only is it fool-proof, but this portable power station has a powerful LED light that will help you work in the dark. The fact is most vehicles need to be jump-started or tires inflated at night, so it’s good to be as prepared as you can be. 

This is one of the best portable air compressors for cars and truck in 2021. It can jump start your vehicle or that of a friend’s and pump up a low tire to get you back on the road. 

The Stanley Portable Power Station has 3 USB ports that can power your electronics such as a computer, cell phone or tablet which makes it a great tool to bring on camping and RV trips. You will need to charge the jump starter every 30 days when you’re not using it to keep it running. 

The Stanley J5C09D Power Station is one of the best jump starters with an air compressor on the market and is worth the price. 

Frequently Bought Together

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DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Air Compressor

The DeWalt Portable Air Compressor can inflate tires and other inflatables. It comes equipped with a high-pressure inflation mode to give you more power. The air hose has enough length to reach your vehicle’s valve stems easy and it attaches in a matter of seconds. You don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road for long and a quick working portable air compressor is exactly what you need. 

The DeWalt 20V MAX cordless air inflator has the ability to run on any of 3 power sources: 12V DC, 110V AC or the 20V MAX battery. It’s good to have power options when choosing the best cordless air compressor. The DeWalt portable air compressor is perfect for worksites, home use or stashed in your vehicle for when you really need it. It features a high-pressure rubber hose that’s tough and will last you a long time. It comes with a threaded chuck so you can quickly inflate not only tires, but other items such as footballs, basketballs and bike tires. The digital gauge allows you to set your desired air pressure so you don’t over-inflate. The DeWalt 20V Max is one of the best cordless air compressors on the market. This is a handy tool that can keep your children’s toys inflated as well as keeping your vehicle tires inflated and ready to go!

We like the DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Air Compressor because it’s compact, has 3 power sources and gets the job done. It also helps that it’s considered an affordable portable air compressor that doesn’t cost a small fortune. 

TackLife – Best Portable Air Compressor 12V DC Car Tire Inflator

The Tacklife portable air compressor is designed to keep your vehicle’s tires inflated and on the road. It has a high torque geared drive that can work nonstop under 80 PSI and can inflate a car tire in less than 2 minutes. Not only can you inflate your tires with the TackLife, but you can also keep your bike tires, balls, balloons and more pumped up and ready to play. 

The TackLife plugs directly into your cigarette lighter socket of your vehicle and calibrated digital tire pressure gauge gives you a precise reading so you don’t over-inflate. The screw-on valve design allows you to work faster and more efficiently. The cords are long enough to reach your tires with ease and it can work with 8-10 amps. Since most tires issues happen at night, the TackLife has an emergency LED light so you can work at night to get your family back on the road. You can also set a preset pressure and the TackLife will automatically stop when that number is reached. 

You can inflate a car tire from 20 to 35 PSI in less than 2 minutes and from 0 to 35 PSI in roughly 5 minutes. Obviously, it will take longer if your car tire is completely flat, but most flat tires have some pressure left in them. 

Overall, we highly recommend the TackLife Portable Air Compressor for anyone who wants a dependable, safe and fast car tire inflator. It’s one of the best portable air compressors for cars in 2021. 

WEN 2281 1-Gallon Oil-Free- Best Portable Air Compressor for Home Garage

The WEN Portable Air Compressor is a great small air compressor that’s lightweight, compact and packs a punch. It’s lighter than pancake air compressors and is often used for RVing, camping and around the workshop since it’s easy to maneuver. The WEN is a great go-to air compressor due to the fact that you can power pneumatic tools, air up multiple tires and use it for other applications and it only weighs 24 pounds. 

The WEN is a great compact compressor for small jobs around the house and can handle a variety of painting and woodworking projects. Not only is the WEN one of the best small air compressors for your home garage, it’s also oil-free and does not require any external lubrication and has a drain valve for easy cleaning. 

We like the WEN Portable Air Compressor because it’s compact, easy to maneuver and it can handle a multitude of jobs around the house and workshop. 

Craftsman Twin Tank Portable Air Compressor

The Craftsman Twin Tank is a compact 2 gallon air compressor that only weighs 22 pounds and is easy to move. It makes a great mini air compressor that’s great for the back of your truck, shop, worksite and around the house. You can operate air tools and inflate vehicle tires with ease. It’s an oil-free portable air compressor that doesn’t require maintenance and won’t leave oil spots on your flooring. It’s high-performance and built tough for any jobsite. 

The Craftsman Twin Tank Portable Air Compressor comes with an air filter, quick coupler, ball valve, 6 feet of cord and 1 year manufacturer warranty in case you have any issues with it. It has a low noise level that’s below 78 decibels and stars easily without much effort. 

We recommend this twin tank portable air compressor by Craftsman for anyone wanting a powerful, yet compact air compressor for home improvement projects or for keeping vehicle tires fully inflated at home. 

Portable Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide + FAQ

Which Brand Portable Air Compressor is Best?

It may seem hard to choose the best portable air compressor with as many great choices that are out there. It’s true that most of the top brands have what you’re looking for in terms of features, power and durability. You will have to take into account what you want from your portable air compressor as far as how you plan to use it and what type of tools you will need it to power. Each product on our “Best Portable Air Compressor” list is the top product in its category and will meet or exceed your expectations. 

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need For Air Tools?

You will want to purchase an air compressor in the range of 30 to 140 CFM to power air tools. An air compressor with a CFM rating that doesn’t fall in that range is normally meant to inflate vehicle tires. A CFM rating that is higher than that range normally belongs to industrial grade air compressors. 

What Type of Work Can You Do With a Pancake Air Compressor?

Pancake air compressors are great for home use because they are easy to transport from one site to another and they provide enough air to run the type of air tools that homeowners often use. They can also power pneumatic tools for jobsites and are used by carpenters, home builders, roofing companies and more. 

Pancake air compressors have multiple uses such as: 

  • Inflating bike tires;
  • Blowing up balloons;
  • Car tires;
  • Home repairs
  • Airbrush painting around the home or jobsite
  • Automotive paint
  • Cleaning up workspaces 
  • Cleaning machinery 
  • Powering pneumatic nail guns, hammers and drills
  • Sandblasting

What is an Oil-Free Air Compressor?

You can choose between oil-based air compressors and oil-free air compressors. Oil-free air compressors don’t require oil to keep their moving parts lubricated. It used to be the case that oil-based air compressors were more powerful and quieter, but now oil-free air compressors are becoming more popular since you don’t have to perform maintenance on them. 

A few good examples of the best oil-free portable air compressors is the WEN 2281 1-Gallon Portable Air Compressor and the Craftsman 6 Gallon Pancake Portable Air Compressor

What are the Best Portable Air Compressors for Vehicles?

It’s a good idea to keep an air compressor in your vehicle. You never know when you may get a flat tire or just need to add some air to help you get home. We’ve all finished a long day at work only to find our vehicle undriveable in the parking lot due to low tire pressure. 

Also, if you routinely travel down rough roads or worksites, you know just how easy it is to get a flat tire. Here are some of the best portable air compressors for trucks, cars and off-road vehicles:

  • TackLife 12V DC Car Air Compressor
  • Stanley J5C09 JUMPiT Jump Starter + Air Compressor
  • AstroAl Portable Air Compressor for Vehicles

The Stanley JUMPiT features a jump starter for low batteries and an air compressor that pump up your car tires in emergency situations. 

What is the Advantage of a Twin Tank Air Compressor?

Twin Stack Air Compressors versus Single Tank Air Compressors

While an entire article could be written on the differences between twin stack and single tank air compressors, we’ll sum it up for you. Twin tank air compressors or twin-stack air compressors are designed with two air tanks and are able to store more air. This means the compressor doesn’t have to run as often to deliver air to your tools or for other projects. Twin stack air compressors are great for home improvement projects or DIY tasks because they have plenty of power to use air nail guns, paint sprayers and brad guns. 

Twin tank air compressors allow you to double the amount of compressed air at your disposal without having to run a second air compressor at the same time. You can work faster and more efficiently with a twin tank air compressor which makes them great for small garages or around the house. Twin tanks usually cost more, but allow you to run more tools on a single fill. If you only need air occasionally, a single stage compressor will probably be enough. 

What is the Best Mini Air Compressor?

Mini air compressors are great for inflating car tires, inflatables such as camping gear and sports balls and other situations. They’re small, lightweight and easy to store in your trunk or behind the seat of your vehicle. We like the EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump for inflating low car tires. Here’s a list of the best mini air compressors on the market that will help you decide which one is best for you.

What is the Best Quiet Air Compressor?

You may be looking for a quiet air compressor if you work indoors or need a quiet workspace. You may read descriptions that make claims such as: 

  • noise-less air compressors
  • ultra-quiet air compressors
  • silent air compressor 

These terms are routinely used to describe quiet air compressors. While they’re not completely silent, quiet air compressors can be substantially lower in sound output than regular air compressors.

Many people buy quiet air compressors so they won’t disturb the neighbors or they work in an enclosed space and loud air compressors can be quite painful to be around. You may be wondering how many decibels most quiet air compressors produce. Generally, a true quiet air compressor will be 80 Decibels or less. The quietest air compressors may have a Decibel output in the lower 50s or around that area. Manufacturers nearly always specify whether their air compressor is considered a quiet air compressor. If you don’t see any specifications, it is probably not quiet. 

Keep in mind, you will want a quiet air compressor that is still powerful enough to operate your air tools or whatever functions you expect to use it for. The Makita MAC210Q Quiet Series air compressor is one of the best air compressors in this category because it’s quiet and still strong enough for most home improvement projects. 

Here is a list of the best quiet air compressors on the market.

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