Buyer's Guide & Information

Best Portable Air Compressors Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best portable air compressors on the market. These are the top-rated portable brands for car tires, trucks, 12V, and more.

There are many times in our daily lives where having an air compressor comes in handy. You may need to add air to a car or truck tire before heading to work, for example. Or you might need to inflate a pool or pool toys without getting light-headed. You can even use compressed air in the garage or shop to power air tools.

Whatever the case, having a portable air compressor with you will be helpful or even a lifesaver. Portable air compressors are designed to be lightweight, easy to use, and move around as well as being affordable to be purchased by anyone. This review looks at the best portable air compressors and explains each model for your specific needs.


How Portable Air Compressors Work

Portable air compressors work by using a motor to run a pump or impeller filling a tank with air. The tank then releases the air in a controlled, steady pressure. This pressure is measured in pounds per inch (PSI) and is a higher pressure than the collected air to use force to inflate tires or run power tools.

Not all portable air compressors will use a tank to store air. In these cases, the air compressor converts the air to a higher pressure pushed through the delivery hose and nozzle. Known as air-on-demand, tankless air compressors are generally used for smaller jobs and road-side emergencies.


Advantage of Having a Mobile Air Compressor

As you can imagine, there are several advantages to having or owning a portable air compressor. For starters, the peace of mind knowing you don’t have to worry about a flat tire is always going to be a benefit. Early mornings, late nights, or long road-trips, having a mobile air compressor will ensure you can get home or to a service station when needed.

Second, there are multiple uses for most air compressors, so it isn’t an investment wasted. You can use a lot of the models listed in this review for inflating sports balls, pools and accessories, or other inflatables. They are also able to inflate bike tires. Knowing you have a supply of compressed air whenever and where ever you need, it is a great comfort.

Finally, if you do a lot of work with air tools, you most likely have a large, permanent air compressor in your garage or shop. Being able to load your air tools and take the portable compressor with you means you don’t need to spend more money on another style of tools.


Types of Portable Air Compressors

Portable air compressors vary in size, power source, capacity, and many other factors. When it comes to the types of air compressors, there are individual options you need to consider. Each type has its own pros and cons, based on your specific needs; one will be a better fit than the rest.

Tank vs. Tankless

The two most prominent styles of portable air compressors are tank and tankless models. A model equipped with a tank pulls air in when you turn the motor on and stores the air in the tank until it is needed. The air comes out of the nozzle in a steady stream. However, when the tank gets low, the air compressor will need time to refill before it can be used again.

A tankless model pulls air in and compresses it sending out highly compressed air in short bursts. These models are compact and easy to transport in a trunk or even a glove box. They generally provide less air pressure and take longer to complete larger jobs.

Electric vs. Gas Powered

The air compressor motors are going to be an important decision as well. Primarily you will choose between gas-powered or electric motors. The differences are relatively straight forward. Gas-powered air compressors can be taken anywhere. They don’t require an electric power source to run. However, they are typically loud when running and will eventually need the gas tank filled.

Electric models don’t have a gas tank and can more safely be transported inside the cabin of your vehicle. However, they do require a power source such as an electrical outlet or a 12v power source such as the car cigarette lighter. Most electric models are dual-source and can run off 12v or 110/220v power supplies.

Oil-Free vs. Oiled

Finally, oiled and oil-free air compressors have been heavily debated on superiority for decades. That debate is even closer now with newer technology allowing the oil-free compressors to keep up to demand.

Oiled air compressors are usually more powerful and can withstand higher temperatures. They can dissipate heat more effectively, and the oil helps them avoid rust. They are pretty loud, however, and must be perfectly positioned to operate.

Oil-free compressors, on the other hand, are light, easily portable, and don’t need to be upright to function. The interior parts are coated in low-friction materials such as Teflon to avoid binding and work better in colder temperatures where oiled units might sludge up. For the most part, oil-free compressors don’t last as long as their oiled counterparts but are more mobile.


Choosing a High-Quality Portable Air Compressor

When it comes to making your final selection, you have to be sure that you are selecting the highest quality and most durable unit your budget will allow. There are certain things you should look for when making your purchase selection. We outline those below.

Max Pressure/PSI

The output pressure of the air will determine the uses that the compressor has. Most air compressors will produce a PSI that can inflate a tire, but not all of them, for example, can power an air tool. When you have decided on the primary use of your air compressor, you need to check that the max pressure and PSI rating are high enough to get the job done.

Performance Rating / CFM

Most portable air compressors will have a performance rating that is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). This is a measurement of the airflow that the unit can produce, and in most applications, higher is better. However, if you have a sensitive duty, such as inflating balloons, you may not want the highest-rated CFM on the market.

Style, Tank Size & Shape

The type and size tank you select is vital to your duties or needs. A pancake tank is a smaller tank that sits below the motor housing. The tank is more flat, as the name suggests, and has a lower capacity than most. Pancakes are ideal for smaller spaces, though. A hot dog tank is similar to a pancake in that the motor sits on top of the tank. Capacities are larger, and the CFM is higher, which gives you more useful options.

Twin tanks have two air tanks mounted on the side of the motor and are pretty heavy, comparatively speaking. Their performance rating is much higher, and they tend to last longer than other models, but they take up a lot of space. They are also the heaviest models on average, so make sure they have a good handle or wheels for transport.

Air Tool Requirements & Environment

Air compressors do have strict guidelines they must follow. Safety is a concern since high-pressured air can cause injury or worse. Energy conservation standards are in place to protect the environment, you, and the air compressor — such things as not producing more than 30PSI at the nozzle, for example.

For these reasons, you must check your current or future tool inventory to find out the maximum and minimum PSI and CFM ratings required for use. Check those numbers against the ratings of the air compressor you have in mind for purchase. Personal protective gear should be worn at all times, including gloves, goggles, and ear protection.

Power Source & Horsepower

Where and how you plan to use your portable air compressor will also play a significant factor in your purchase decision. If you want a portable unit to keep in the car, for example, you will want to ensure the machine has a 12v power supply plug. Using gas is acceptable, but isn’t allowed transport inside a car. If you decide to use an electric compressor, you should ensure your plugs meet the minimum requirements, 110 or 115v, for example.

Horsepower (HP) is another stat you should pay attention to. The higher the HP, the more air and higher compression you will receive. Gas-powered units are generally more powerful (though not always), and your specific needs for the compressor will dictate how many HP you need.

Noise Level

Noise is a byproduct of the motors and compressing of the air. These aren’t going to be silent operating machines, and you need to understand that. Where you use your air compressor will play a large roll in the audible comfort you have while using it. For example, the air compressor will be louder if used inside a garage. Ear protection might be a necessity.

The typical range for an air compressor will be between 64 and 90dB, which for prolonged exposure, especially in tight spaces, can lead to hearing problems. Make sure you know the decibel rating of the air compressor and the area you will use it in the most.

Other Accessories & Features

You will find that most of the portable air compressors on our list come with extras, bonus features, or product inclusions to make the purchase more appealing. There are certain things you should check that the compressor does come with, though.

Pressure gauges, for example, are crucial for keeping an eye on what you are working with. When the pressure begins to drop, you will need to wait for the tanks to refill. Having a gauge to monitor will allow you to stop work before you lose air pressure at a critical moment.

Other items of interest will be hoses, power supply options (such as a 12v source and a 115v source), as well as a nice selection of couplers for your air tool needs. The more you can get with a bundle, the better off you are int eh long run. While you may not need that ¾ inch coupler today, next month, it could be the difference between being late for dinner or missing it entirely.

Price & Warranty

Finally, we look at the price tag and the warranty card information. It is crucial to get a warranty with your purchase. This will protect your investment should anything be wrong with the motor, hoses, or safety devices under normal wear and tear.

Make sure you always read the warranty information. Sometimes the wording can be tricky, making it difficult in the future to file a claim. Some manufacturers will want you to register your purchase, or hold on to original packaging to make a claim.

Your budget will have a lot to say about the model and size of the air compressor you can purchase. While we can’t parent you and tell you what to do with your money, we can promise that you will have less buyer's remorse and more user satisfaction if you stick within your allotted budget when making your purchase.


10 Best Portable Air Compressors Reviewed

Below we offer you our list of the 10 best portable air compressors. We have reviewed, evaluated, and explained the best use for each model. You should have no problem finding the best portable air compressor for you and your needs.

1. Makita MAC700 Big Bore

Our Top Pick!

Horsepower

2 HP

Power

115v

Tank Capacity

2.6 gallon

Max Pressure

130 PSI

Weight

52 pounds

Warranty

Yes 1-year warranty

Makita is a name well known in the professional contractor world and comes in as our top pick. Their products continue to stand the test of time, and the MAC700 portable air compressor is no different. With a full 1-year warranty, the big bore, the single-piston electric compressor will give you more power than you can use.

The 2.6-gallon tank offers up to 10 minutes of continuous use before needing to be refilled. The cast-iron makes the unit heavy, at 52 pounds, but once it is set up, and connected you won’t have to worry about it tipping over if you reach the end of the hose length.

The electric motor runs off of a standard 110/115v outlet and, when in use, produces about 80dB, which is lower than most compressors this size. Powerful enough to inflate any tire, it is designed to run air tools, compact drills, air chisels, and other high-end air tools.

Pros

  • Easy maintenance, includes oil and site gauges
  • Set up is quick, with only a 15-minute break-in period
  • The easy-carry handle makes light work of the 52-pound compressor

Cons

  • 2.6-gallon tank lasts 10 minutes on continuous use, much less than other of this size
  • Not a lot of extras included with the purchase, except for maintenance oil and a universal coupler

2. PORTER-CABLE C2002

Best Oil-Free Pancake Air Compressor

Horsepower

1 HP

Power

115v

Tank Capacity

6 gallons

Max Pressure

150 PSI

Weight

30 pounds

Warranty

Yes 1-year warranty

If you need reliable performance in a small package, you want a pancake air compressor. The best oil-free pancake air compressor is the C2002 model from Porter-Cable. With a huge 6-gallon air tank, you can complete most jobs without having to wait for a refill.

The light-weight design, only 30 pounds empty, will help your transportation needs. The pancake-style tank will also go into small spaces with you. You get a 1-year warranty to cover craftsmanship, durability, and the included gauges.

For long jobs around the garage or in the home, you can switch to running the air compressor at 40 PSI. This will give you a power of 3.7 SCFM and helps refill the tank much faster. If you need the power, though, you can ramp it up to 90 PSI (2.6 SCFM) and get the job done quickly.

The Porter-Cable C2002 is designed for home use and smaller tasks in the garage. It will run air tools such as staplers, chisels and impact drills, though it is quite adept at inflating tires on bikes, cars, trucks and even tractors.

Pros

  • Ideal for jobs in the shop, garage, or around the home with standard 110v power supply
  • Maximum power from a small package
  • Adjustable gauges help you maintain tank levels
  • Maintenance-free, oil-free design

Cons

  • Smaller 1HP motor needs manual adjustment for power and tank refills
  • It doesn’t include any hoses, couplers, or extra items

3. DEWALT DCC2560T1 FLEXVOLT

Best Cordless Portable Air Compressor

Horsepower

Approx 1.5 HP

Power

60v lithium-ion battery

Tank Capacity

2.5 gallon

Max Pressure

135 PSI

Weight

21.5 pounds

Warranty

Yes 3-year warranty

The FLEXVOLT air compressor from Dewalt is genuinely one of a kind., With a 60v lithium-ion battery pack, you can go virtually anywhere to use. The primary use of this machine is for tire inflation and air tool sage. It isn’t as powerful as a gas-powered model, of course, but will run a brad-nailer or staple gun with ease.

The 2.5-gallon tank takes about 5 minutes to refill, and you can get about 15 minutes of use per tank. The battery will provide enough power at 90 PSI to refill the tank about five times. You can easily inflate all four car or truck tires or run an entire room full of nails before you need to recharge the battery.

The best cordless portable air conditioner comes with the lithium-ion battery as well as a Dewalt quick charger. You’ll be back in action in about an hour. It also comes with an extensive 3-year limited warranty, which is handled directly by Dewalt or through the purchasing retailer.

Easily packed in a truck or carried with you to the shop, this 21.5 pound, the light-weight unit won’t wear you out. You do need to be careful that it doesn’t tip over if you pull on the hose, though. Full site gauges and adjustable pressure give you ample room for various tasks around the garage.

Pros

  • Long-lasting lithium-ion battery and quick charger included
  • 2.5-gallon tank can last up to 15 minutes per fill
  • Light-weight and extremely portable

Cons

  • Isn’t suitable for impact drill or mechanic work
  • It doesn’t cool off as fast as other models

4. EPAuto

Best Cheap Air Compressor For Any Car

Horsepower

N/A

Power

12v

Tank Capacity

N/A

Max Pressure

40 PSI

Weight

3 pounds

Warranty

Yes 1-year warranty

If you are looking for the best cheap air compressor for any car, look no further. The EPAuto air compressor is explicitly designed for light-duty tire inflation. The unit comes in a carrying case and weighs less than 3 pounds.

If you have a flat tire, pool accessories, inflatable kayak, sports balls, or anything else of the same nature, this little guy will get the job done. It comes with a 12v adapter plug to fit in your car’s cigarette lighter or 12v power supply. It also has a bright LED flashlight on the front so you can see the task at hand even at night.

The hose is quite short, only about 2-feet long, which is also routed to the back of the unit. This makes it challenging to use the flashlight while filling a tire. It is also not rated for any truck or heavy-duty tire. If your car tire is inflatable to 35 PSI or less, though, the EPAuto air compressor will handle the task.

Set your desired PSI range and let the EPAuto compressor go to work. It has an automatic shut off to avoid over inflation, and an overheat sensor to prevent damage to the unit.

Included in the packaging is a needle for inflating sports balls, a long and short cone adapter for inflatable devices such as pool accessories and camping gear, and a universal Schrader valve for multiple-adapter use. You also get a large LCD screen for viewing the pressure in 4 measurements (PSI, Bar, kpa, and KG).

Pros

  • Easy to carry, transport, and use at only 3 pounds
  • Bright LED flashlight for seeing in the dark
  • 12v adapter fits any car light port or 12v power supply

Cons

  • Works for car tires only, LT and HD truck tires will not get inflated
  • Short hose for connections makes some usage instances difficult

5. Viair 00088 88P

Best 12v Portable Air Compressor

Horsepower

Approx. 1.2 HP

Power

12v (battery clips only)

Tank Capacity

N/A

Max Pressure

120 PSI

Weight

4.5 pounds

Warranty

Yes 1-year

The best 12v portable air compressor is the 88P from Viair. The unit comes with a long, 12-foot air hose to make reaching your tire's valve easier. The Viair compressor is powered from your car or truck's battery using alligator clips on a 10-foot power cord. There isn't' a tank to fill, and you get free-flow air as soon as you turn it on.

Like the EPAuto model above, the Viair comes with a sports ball needle and a short and long cone for pool and camping accessories. The iron housing makes the weight more than three pounds, though, but at less than 5 pounds, it is still sturdy enough to be used roadside in any conditions.

The downside to the power source is that there isn't another option. You cannot plug it into a cigarette lighter port and must rely on the vehicle's battery for power. This makes it virtually unusable anywhere else except near a car battery.

However, unlike the EPAuto model, it is strong enough to inflate truck tires, tractor tires, and inflatables. With the extended reach power cord and air hose, it is an ideal air compressor to carry in your lifted pick up truck.

Pros

  • Powerful enough to inflate truck and HD tires
  • Durable construction will last for years in any condition
  • Light enough to carry with you camping, boating, or in the car

Cons

  • Will only receive power from vehicle 12v battery
  • Analog gauge doesn’t light up
  • No automatic shut off feature

6. Kensun

Best Portable Air Compressor For Car/Bike Tires

Horsepower

0.5 HP

Power

115v/ 12v

Tank Capacity

N/A

Max Pressure

60 PSI

Weight

5 pounds

Warranty

Yes 2-year warranty

Kensun brings us the best portable air compressor for your car and bike tires. There are many other features of the compressor that make it a worthy competitor for a higher spot on this list. A large carry handle easily transports the light-weight unit (only 5 pounds).

The powerful electromagnetic motor is capable of pushing up to 60 PSI of air in a free-flow manner. It is powered by either a 12v cigarette lighter-style power adapter or a 115 v ac outlet in your home. This makes it ideal for travel or in the garage.

The Kensun model is specially designed for lighter work. You won't be driving nails or placing any staples with air tools. However, you can inflate light-duty car tires, bicycle tires as well as camping and sporting goods accessories.

The compressor comes with power adapters as well as three nozzle valves for balls, tires, and equipment. You also get a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts 2-full years from the date of purchase.

This unit is ideal for parents with kids into sports or those that enjoy camping and swimming that need their inflatables blown up. It also has a super-bright LED flashlight and a crystal clear LCD screen for viewing pressure readings.

Pros

  • Quick pump-action inflates tires and balls in seconds
  • Dual-power source capabilities perfect for on the go or at home
  • Full 2-year warranty on motor, pump, and housing

Cons

  • Hose for inflation is shorter than most others in this price range
  • Not the most reliable for 35 psi+ car tires

7. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S

Best Ultra Quiet Portable Air Compressor

Horsepower

0.6 HP

Power

110v

Tank Capacity

1 gallon

Max Pressure

120 PSI

Weight

29.5 pounds

Warranty

Yes 1-year warranty

If you are worried about your hearing, then you need to check out the California Air Tools (CAT) 1P1060S model. The best ultra-quiet portable air compressor on the market, when in full power mode it only produces 56dB of noise. At these sound levels, you don’t even need to turn the volume up on the TV.

The sound levels and lightweight (less than 30 pounds) make this air compressor ideal for indoor use or use in smaller spaces where sound can echo. The motor is only a 0.6 HP rotary motor, but it is capable of pushing enough power for lighter hand tools like staplers and brad-nailers.

If you are into airbrush art, the CAT is a perfect match, allowing you to work with your paints without being overrun by noise. You also have dual pressure control gauges for monitoring the airflow and tank pressure. It will need to refill more often than some of the others on this list, but it does so quickly (less than 5 minutes).

You will achieve a steady stream of air rated at 1.2CFM at 90 PSI. For even more airflow, you can reduce the flow rate to 40 PSI, which will achieve a 1.6 CFM rating. Constant enough for airbrushes, inflating tires and sports equipment, or pushing a nail gun.

Pros

  • Ultra-quiet air compressor at 56 dB max
  • The lightweight model can be moved anywhere you need it
  • High flow rate for a lower-powered motor

Cons

  • The tank empties readily
  • It will only work with an AC power outlet

8. Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR

Best Portable Jump Starter & Compressor

Horsepower

Approx. 0.4 HP

Power

12v

Tank Capacity

N/A

Max Pressure

120 PSI

Weight

25 pounds

Warranty

Yes 1-year warranty

Clore Automotive develops the Jump-N-Carry Air compressor (JNCAir) that is arguably the best portable jump starter and air compressor combo on the market. Ideal for road trips, keeping in the car for emergency use and for having in the home “just in case,” this model does it all.

The jumper aspect will produce enough voltage to jump-start any car or truck with #2 AWG welding cables to attach to your battery posts. Cold start and cranking amps are high enough for all car and truck applications.

The air compressor has a maximum output of 120 PSI and will inflate a flat tire on your car, truck, SUV, or bike. It also has adapters for sporting equipment and ball inflation. Weighing only 25 pounds (cables and hoses included), it fits easily behind the seat or in the trunk.

The 12v power supply lead will plug into your car cigarette lighter port for quick power and easy inflation. The onboard battery comes with its own voltmeter gauge to monitor battery power, as well. You can charge it in the car and take it with you to the campsite to inflate your mattresses and river floats.

Pros

  • Battery-powered compressor and jumper cables
  • Strong enough for truck batteries and tires
  • Lightweight for easy transportation

Cons

  • 2200mAH battery can die quickly
  • Recharge times can exceed three hours

9. Master Flow MF-1050

Best For 35 Inch Tires

Horsepower

Approx 0.4 HP

Power

12v (alligator clip only)

Tank Capacity

N/A

Max Pressure

90 PSI

Weight

10 pounds

Warranty

Yes 3-year warranty

The best portable air compressor for truck tires is the Master Flow 1050. This air compressor designed for 35-inch tires will inflate all four tires to 35 PSI in less than 5 minutes. Super powerful, it runs off of the 12v circuit from your truck using alligator clips to connect directly to your battery.

You won’t even need to move the unit to inflate your ties since it uses a 16-foot air hose to reach even the furthest wheel. It comes with a standard M-type fitting for all-wheel valves and a twist-on brass valve for the specialty tires.

If you own a truck, this is the must-have air compressor for your road trips and in the garage for emergency use. It doesn’t have a tank, and the electric motor won’t power any air tools, but it will inflate anything with a valve or inflation needle hole.

Not only will it inflate your truck tires, but it will also fill up your sports balls, camping gear, pool accessories, and bike tires. Highly durable, easy to use, and it comes with a full 3-year warranty to give you peace of mind in the most troubling of circumstances.

Pros

  • A powerful motor produces highly compressed air for quick inflation
  • Add 10 PSI of air to 35-inch tires in less than a minute
  • The 3-year warranty is among the best in the industry

Cons

  • Only powered from 12v alligator clips
  • Only portable as far as you can take your truck battery

10. Ingersoll Rand

Best Twin Tank Portable Air Compressor

Horsepower

2 HP

Power

110/115v AC

Tank Capacity

4 gallon (2 x 2 gallon tanks)

Max Pressure

135 PSI

Weight

77 pounds

Warranty

Yes 1-year warranty

If you are looking for a reliable, durable name-brand air compressor for your shop, garage, or on the go, the Ingersoll Rand is it. Rounding out our top 10, the Twin-Stack P1IU-A9 is designed for the professional and the at-home DIYer.

The twin tanks hold a total of 4 gallons of air and are refilled independently, giving you near 100% constant airflow. It comes equipped with dual hose connectors so you can run multiple tools at the same time.

Capable of driving nails and torquing lug nuts, you can run virtually any air tool from this machine. The oil-based motor uses synthetic lubricants for accelerated cooling and longer life. It will need to be changed out every 2,000 hours of use, though.

Best used indoors, it does produce a lot of noise. When running at full capacity, it nears 80dB of sound levels. Hearing protection is advised. If you must work in an enclosed area or a smaller space, be sure to take constant breaks to help alleviate hearing damage and to allow the machine to cool down properly.

The 1-year warranty protects against craftsmanship, the tanks, connectors, gauges, and motor. It does weigh 77 pounds, so proper lifting techniques are also required. Once set up (with a 20-minute break-in period), the air compressor can run for hours without a break (provided there is enough cooling ventilation to prevent overheating).

Pros

  • Dual-tanks provide near-constant airflow
  • 2 HP motor offers enough power for any air tool
  • DIYers, as well as professionals, can use this air compressor for a myriad of purposes

Cons

  • The unit is heavy and loud, requiring extra care during transport and use
  • The synthetic lubricants must be changed every 2,000 hours to prevent damage and maintain the warranty

Air Compressor Applications

Air compressors have a multitude of uses. Here we will briefly cover the applications for which you can use the various types of air compressors.

  • Inflation.
    The most used application of any portable air compressor is inflation. Emergency roadside assistance for inflating flat car and truck tires is among the most accepted use. However, with valve adapters, air compressors can inflate swimming pools, air mattresses, balls, bicycle tires, cushions, toys, and even balloons.
  • Mechanics tools.
    You can use tank air compressors to provide the power to use air tools for mechanics. This includes impact guns, air sockets, and chisels
  • DIY tools.
    Woodworkers, contractors, and builders use air compressors for powering their tools as well. These applications include air nailers, brad-nailers, staplers, drills, and impact wrenches.
  • Painters.
    Painting tools use air compressors to spray paint on walls or to supply the air for airbrushes in fine artwork. Smaller air compressors are even quiet enough to be used in a shop or studio without disrupting the workflow.

Setting Up & Using Portable Air Compressors

Setup is an integral part of owning a portable air compressor. If not done correctly, you can cause damage to the air compressor, your tools, or even yourself. The proper setup procedure will be listed in your owner's manual. As a quick guide, we have provided the basic information for most standard tanks (pancake, twin tank, hot dog, etc.) air compressors.

  1. 1
    For oil-based compressors, check the oil level before anything else. If the oil level is low, add oil.
  2. 2
    Attach the air hose to the regulator valve (if equipped) or extend the permanent hose out.
  3. 3
    Securely plug your air tool into the air hose and ensure a tight, locking fit.
  4. 4
    Plug your air compressor into an approved outlet. Do not bypass the grounding plug if your power cord has three prongs.
  5. 5
    Ensure you are wearing the proper safety gear, including safety goggles, gloves, and hearing protection.
  6. 6
    Test the safety valve by pulling the ring until you hear air hissing. Push the ring back in place to operate the compressor.
  7. 7
    Pressurize the tank by flipping the power switch to the on position. For new applications, you will need to run the compressor according to the "break-in" specifications in your owner's manual. Usually, this is a 10 to 20 minute period where the air compressor fills and holds air before the air is released through the hose.
  8. 8
    Adjust the regulator valve to the proper PSI for the tool you are using.
  9. 9
    Use your air tools as needed while the air is filled in the tank. Small tanks or high-use tools may require resting periods so the tanks can refill.
  10. 10
    After use, release the condensation valve to remove the condensate in the lines.
  11. 11
    Turn the compressor off and allow the tank to purge.
  12. 12
    Unplug the power cord and remove the hoses and tools.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Now we will answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding portable air compressors and their functions.

What’s the difference between CFM and SCFM?

CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, while SCFM is Standard Cubic Feet per Minute. The difference between the two is that CFM is the airflow rating while under pressure, and SCFM is the airflow rating when there is no load on the air compressor.

What is the difference between 2-stage and single-stage air compressors?

The difference here is how many times the air is compressed between the tank and the tool. Single-stage compressors will compress the air one time, while 2-stage compressors compress the air twice.

What is the advantage of a twin tank air compressor?

A twin tank air compressor can generally run wide open without pausing to refill the tanks. They also have a larger air capacity and often the ability to use multiple tools simultaneously.

What are the differences between cheap and expensive models?

The most significant difference in cheap and expensive air compressor models it the motor type and the build materials. Expensive models will have highly durable materials such as cast iron, steel, or aluminum with brass or gold fittings. Cheaper models may use molded plastic for the housings and steel or Nickle fittings. The motors are also larger, capable of withstanding more heat transfer and work faster on more expensive models.

How big of an air compressor do I need to run air tools?

A lot will depend on the requirements of your tool. The PSI rating will need to be met. If your air tools require a minimum of 50 PSI to operate, you need an air tank with a maximum rating of at least double.

How big of an air compressor do I need car regular car tires?

Car tires take less PSI to fill than a truck or heavy-duty tires and don’t require as large of an air compressor. You can use a battery-powered compressor or a light-duty 12v air compressor for most car tires. Truck tires will require more power, and even 12v supplies need to come off of the battery of the vehicle instead of the cigarette lighter 12v port.

What other essentials will I need when using these machines?

Depending on your needs and which model you decide to purchase, you will find that there are essential accessories that you will want to purchase. Air hoses are a must. You cannot use any air hose for compressed air. A hose specially designed for the high pressures of compressed air, like the Flexzilla air hose, is a must-have. You will also need air blow tools, such as a blowgun, inflation needles, and other tire or valve adapters. The Hromee brass kit has everything you will need.

This YoToo kit comes with the air hose and the blow tools altogether, if you don’t like separate purchases. Air couplers are an essential item to have as well. The Wynnsky 7-piece kit will have you covered. Finally, the DIYer should have a set of air tools for any job. Briggs & Stratton’s kit contains air tools for mechanics, woodworkers, and general contractors at a fantastic price.


Conclusion

As you can see, you have a lot of top-tier options to choose from. While the final choice may seem daunting, as long as you have an idea of your planned usage and needs in mind, the purchase decision is much easier.

We recommend the Makita MAC700 Big Bore as our top pick. It is easy to set up, quick to fill the 2.6-gallon tank, and won’t tip over as easy as some of the other options. With a full 1-year warranty and the Makita name on the side, you know you won’t have to worry about losing air pressure or power during even the toughest jobs.

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