The air compressor pump is one of the most essential tools in any workshop, be it an industrial one or a small home DIY setup. From spray painting to using it in your woodworking to filling up a gas cylinder, there are umpteen tasks around the house that can be completed effortlessly and quickly with an air compressor pump. And contrary to popular notion, you don’t need a large stationary model that costs a bomb and makes more noise than what your ear drums can absorb. A compact portable air compressor pump usually suffices for most home repair jobs as well as a few basic industrial ones.
The caveat however, is to get the one that is most suited for your particular application. Portable Air compressor pumps are all about specifications and if you do not get the right specs for you job, then you may end up with one that is an expensive mistake. Here’s a small guide that helps you understand some of the basic features to look for while buying air compressor pumps.
Things to consider while shopping for air compressor pumps
There are a lot of specifications that you will be bombarded with when you go shopping for air compressors. Some of them can be misleading and can even veer you towards a wrong buying decision.
This is the most common specification of an air compressor that is thrown around. It stands for ‘pounds per square inch of air’ and it means the force of air that is generated by the compressor.
The CFM is undoubtedly more important than the PSI because it stands for the volume of air that the pump generates. In simpler terms, this number determines how fast the compressor pump supplies air to the tool Irrespective of whether you are using it to pump a tire or running pneumatic tools, you want to ensure a seamless workflow. If you get the CFM wrong, then you will have to wait until your air compressor pump catches up with the demand of the tool.
The receiver tank or the capacity of a portable air compressor pump is usually 5-10 gallons and is pretty much enough for basic tasks. If you are using specialized tools, then you may look at tanks with a higher capacity because it will allow you to work for a longer time before the air pressure begins to drop and the pump has to be refilled again by the motor.
This is the single specification in air compressor pumps that most people get wrong. While air compressor pumps normally work at 60 decibels, some can go as high as 80 decibels or more. That may seem like a small increase. The fact though, is that 70 decibels can be twice as loud as 60 decibels. 80 can almost quadruple the sound.
Air-line hook up
Some portable air compressor pumps feature a dual air-line hookup option that allows you to connect two air lines. These are however found only on higher end machines that have a PSI above 180.
Gas Powered vs. Electric
Electric portable air compressors are clearly better suited for repair tasks indoors as well as for emergency situations. For example, if you blow your tires on the road, then an electric compressor pump can be connected to your battery. A gas powered motor is usually used in a garage set up.
Last but not the least, it is always better to choose an air compressor pump that is a proven warhorse rather than getting swayed with schmancy advertising. Good positive customer rating is an indicator that the unit has a proven track record and there are very little flaws with the performance.
Which is the best air compressor pump?
Did all those specs overwhelm you? Well, we didn’t even cover half of it to be honest. But there’s no need to be overwhelmed. We have raked through the muck and picked a list of the best portable air compressor pumps in the market for you. These are rated on the basis of their features, their customer ratings and their ease of use. We hope this helps you find the best air compressor pump for your application.
1 PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor
The C2002-WK is a compact portable air compressor pump from Porter-Cable that boasts of a 90% positive customer rating and a very impressive feature bundle. It is also a bestseller in the category on Amazon due to the exceptional value that it offers.
Featuring a pancake styled design that increases the stability even on a bumpy surface, this compressor pump has a 6-gallon capacity and a 150 psi max tank pressure.
- Constructed with a pancake style tank for optimal stability
- Provides longer air tool performance
- Product dimensions: 18.3 x 18 x 19 inches
This makes the Porter-Cable C2002 a perfect choice for a wide range of applications including pneumatic fasteners, framers, automobile repairs and more. The package includes a 25 foot x 1/4 inch lightweight hose that perfectly suits portable usage.
The fast recovery time (2.6 SCFM at 90 psi) ensures that your workflow is uninterrupted. The CK2002 also has a bevy of other features that enhance the versatility and the service life of this amazing little air compressor pump.
At the forefront is a 120 PSI cut-in pressure that ensures that the compressor kicks in and speeds up recovery, while still giving you 30 psi of bonus pressure.
Compact and versatile portable unit that is perfect for both home and commercial use
6-Gallon Capacity and a 150 psi max tank pressure
25 foot x 1/4 inch lightweight hose
2.6 SCFM at 90 psi
13-Piece Accessory Kit including blow gun, ire chuck, tire gauge, coupler, Teflon tape
Soft-start motor 120V motor
Verdict: The C2002-WK from Porter Cable is a complete package that offers unbeatable value at a very reasonable price tag. The features bundle is very impressive and you cannot ask for more.
2 DEWALT Air Compressor
The DWFP55126 comes with Dewalt’s signature durable construction and top-notch components which scream quality right from the moment you set your eyes on it. A 97% positive customer rating and some very versatile features don’t do much damage to the reputation either. If you are a fan of Dewalt’s many power tools, then there is no reason for you to look for any other air compressor pump in this list. You will be thoroughly impressed with the DWFP55126.
- 165 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI pump
- High efficiency motor for easy start up in cold weather or extension cord application. [14 ga or larger, 50 ft. (15.2 m) or less]
- 75.5 dBA noise level for a quiet work setting
The tank features the extremely popular pancake design that is compact, portable and easy to carry. It has a 6.0 gallon tank at a max 165 PSI that is perfect even for the most air-thirsty pneumatic tools. The CFM is 2.6 delivered at 90 PSI.
Performance, as expected from Dewalt is flawless. The High efficiency motor kicks in easily even in cold weather or with the extension cord application. Also, it is not a very noisy compressor at 75.5 dBA. The superior quality components used in the compressor, like the high flow regulator and couplers make this one of the best ones in this list.
Compact and lightweight compressor (30 lbs.)
165 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank
75.5 dBA noise level
High flow regulator and couplers
Verdict: You cannot go wrong with the Dewalt DWFP55126. It is sturdily constructed, is feature rich and a much more reliable choice as compared to cheaper models which are ridden with problems like leakage.
3 BOSTITCH Air Compressor
A list of the best air compression pumps wouldn’t be complete without one from Bostitch, would it? This is a combination kit that includes a 6 gallon 150 PSI compressor pump and 3 different tools, a nailer gun, a finish nailer and a crown stapler.
If you are looking for a complete package of pneumatic tools along with a compressor, this is one of the best ones in the market.
- BTFP02012 6 gallon 150PSI 2.6SCFM pancake compressor with a high efficiency motor
- SB-1850BN 18 GA Brad nailer drives 18GA brad nails from 5/8" to 2" for a wide variety of applications
- SB-1664FN 16 GA Straight Finish nailer drives 1-1/4- to 2-1/2-inch, 16-gauge finish nails
At the heart, this is a Bostitch all the way. Cost effective, versatile and very reliable. The Pancake compressor with its high efficiency motor and the 2.6SCFM delivers a fast and powerful airflow even for the most demanding applications.
Club it with the oil-free pump and you have a low-maintenance power tool combo that saves time and reduces hassles. At 78.5 dBA, it is slightly more than the Dewalt. But the increase is not staggering.
A very durable impact-resistant composite shroud ensures that your controls and gauges stay protected from any corrosion or damage that can occur onsite.
Even if you do not wish to use the pneumatic tools that come with the compressor, this is an exceptional quality product. For those who are looking for the pneumatic tool bundle, it gives you some of the best tools from Bostitch’s range.
Compact sized BTFP02012 pancake compressor
1/4-inch x 15-foot PVC air hose with all the necessary fittings
2-inch 16GA brad nails
HD 3/8-inch crown stapler
18ga brad nailer
16ga finish nailer
Oil Free design for low maintenance
Verdict: With a compact size, lightweight design and some very robust features, the Bostitch BTFP3KIT is a complete value for money package.
4 VIAIR Air Compressor
The VIAIR 85P is a good quality emergency air compressor for the DIY auto repair guy or anyone who wants a compact and portable tire inflator that they can carry during those long road trips. It has an incredibly compact form factor and 12 VOLT – 60PSI Max working Pressure.
- 12 VOLT - 60PSI Max Working Pressure, engine must be running during use.
- 1.26CFM Free Flow @ 0 PSI
- Portable air compressor powered by auxilliary power outlet. (The 85P can only be used if your outlet is rated to 15 AMPS/180 Volts or more)
The VIAIR 85P is, a very useful tool to have in an emergency situation. It plugs into the auxiliary power outlet (cigarette lighter socket) of your car, has a 10 feet long cord and you can run it at 85P is you have an outlet that is rated to 15 AMPS or more. The filling rate is 2 min at 0 to 30 psi and 1 min at 15 to 30 psi for 195/70R14 tires and you can inflate up to 31-inch tires with this compressor. With the flawless air gauge mounted on the unit, you get the pressure spot-on every time.
That is fast for an emergency air compressor. It is not the fastest that you can get but considering the price and the occasional usage, that is pretty good. If you are end up with a flat at night, you can use the built-in LED workspace light.
There are a lot of small additional features like the brass components and the end of the hose which screws on to the tires unlike the toggle type hose fittings which can be plagued with leakage.
Very compact, portable unit
Plugs into the cigarette lghter socket
12 Volt – 60 PSI max working pressure
10 feet long cord
Fast filling rate
Quality brass fittings
Verdict: For an emergency air compressor pump that is priced under $50, this offers unbeatable value. It is a complete steal and worth every dollar that you spend on it.
5 EPAuto Air Compressor
An under $40 price tag and a 90% positive customer rating in a category that is flooded with cheap $20 products is no mean feat. The EPAuto 12V portable air compressor outshines its competitors with a very robust built and some very practical features that make life simpler on the road.
- CONVENIENCE: Plug directly into Cigarette Lighter Socket of your Vehicle. 12VDC 10~15 amps, 120~180W
- MULTIPLE USES: Inflate tires on cars, bikes, sedan and midsize SUV. DOES NOT SUPPORT LT, HT and Truck Tires. Adaptors for balls and inflatables included.
- EASY TO READ: 4 Display Units: PSI, KPA, BAR, KG/CM
It is a very compact unit that can fit into a corner in your car. At 3.8 pounds, it is exceptionally lightweight too and you can just pick it up and use it when the situation demands.
This is an emergency air compressor pump that connects to your cigarette lighter outlet and has a 12VDC 10AMP rating which also allows you to use it with any standard power outlet in your car.
The housing features a clear LCD screen pressure gauge that displays the pressure allowing you to take the guesswork out of your tasks. The readings are available in four different units, PSI, KPA, BAR and KG/CM. You can also set the desired pressure and the compressor stops filling when that pressure is reached.
For working at night, it has a really bright LED torchlight on top of the machine.
Amazon bestseller for tire inflators
Compact and versatile unit
Lightweight design at 3.8 pounds
Digital Pressure Gauge with LCD display
Plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet
Four different units PSI, KPA, BAR and KG/CM
Verdict: Easy to use, compact, fast filling and budget priced. This is the perfect emergency tire inflator that you need.