What are the best Portable Air Compressors?

What are the best Portable Air Compressors?
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Portability is one of the key factors in looking for an air compressor because owners want to be able to take their compressors practically anywhere to power up their pneumatic tools. These tools are nail guns, hammers, spray guns, wrenches, drills, sprayers, sanders, saws, tire inflators, etc.

Air compressors work by squeezing air into a steel storage tank. This compressed air, when released, uses pressure of a force wind that is capable of powering pneumatic tools.

More handyman and DIY enthusiast shift to using air tools from conventional power tools because pressure-powered tools have more torque and power, and are generally easier to use.

Compressors are available in a wide array of sizes and styles. Picking the right one depends on the manner and frequency of use as well as personal preference.

To narrow down your search, we have listed here a few portable compressors that are capable of doing light or heavy tasks that will surely not punch a hole in your pocket.

Comparison Chart

PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit

BLACK+DECKER ASI300 Air Station Inflator

Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor

Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor

Best ​Portable Air Compressor Reviews

1. ​Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit

This portable compressor with boasts of its unique pancake style design that houses an induction motor capable of filling tires or firing a nailer. It has a 150-psi tank that stores air pressure more than the average portable air compressors out there.

The pancake-style tank has a capacity of 6-gallons and includes water drain valve and rubber feet for added stability. This electric compressor has a low amp 120-volt motor that starts easily even if it has been stored for a long period or during cold weathers.

What's to like about the ​Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit

​It comes with an extension cord so as not to limit your movement while working with your tools. It is equipped with a durable oil-free pump for long life and requires no maintenance.

What's not to like about the ​Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit

​The only con is that this compressor is prone to having defects out of the box; users complained about the regulator valve that failed only after a few times of use. Although it comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, users reported that after they have contacted Porter Cable for technical assistance, the company said that their warranty is limited and some repairs are not covered.

PROS

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    Includes water drain valve and rubber feet for added stability
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    Has a low amp 120-volt motor that starts easily
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    Equipped with a durable oil-free pump

CONS

  • Prone to having defects out of the box
  • ​Warranty is limited and some repairs are not covered

2. ​Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station Inflator - Electric Air Compressor

This compressor is a lightweight type of machine that is recommended for inflation of tires (bike, vehicle, lawnmower, etc), sports balls, and others.

All hoses, wires, and adaptors can be installed inside the unit itself for neatness. There’s also a built-in handle that makes it easier to lift and transfer. While some consider that the 12V auto power cord is too short, some say that it’s more than enough.

What's to like about the ​Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station Inflator - Electric Air Compressor

​It is quite small, very portable, and can be easily stowed away. It features an EZ air dial for instant shut-off when correct air pressure has been reached and only weighs 6.1 pounds, allowing you to practically take it anywhere you please, and even store in the trunk of your car for emergency uses.  

Because it can power up through any electrical outlet, you can use your vehicles’ lighter socket when needed. It also includes standard tire nozzle, needle inflator, and extension nozzle.

What's not to like about the ​Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station Inflator - Electric Air Compressor

​Users reported a few cons including the air hose, which is fairly short, as well as the loud noise when in use. The valve and some of the body is made of plastic and doesn’t feel sturdy.

Otherwise, users reported that it works well and that the negatives aren’t a deal breaker.

PROS

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    Quite small, very portable
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    Features an EZ air dial for instant shut-off
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    Can power up through any electrical outlet

CONS

  • Air hose​ is fairly short
  • Doesn’t feel sturdy
  • ​Has a loud noise when in use

3. ​Campbell Hausfeld FP209499 3-Gallon Air Compressor

This compressor features a user-friendly design and control panel. It is also easily assembled through the use a user manual that comes with it. You also don’t have to worry about the tank losing power as it’s three-gallon tank is capable for filling air to your tires as well as using simple tools for your DIY projects.

The manufacturer recommends it for inflation, brad nailing, stapling, and airbrushing.

What's to like about the ​Campbell Hausfeld FP209499 3-Gallon Air Compressor

​Conveniently placed gauges allow for easy monitoring of air pressure. It also comes with an accessory kit, which includes 25-foot recoil hose, blow gun, female coupler, two inflation needles, two male plugs, air chuck, inflation adapter, tapered inflation nozzle and PTFE tape.

What's not to like about the ​Campbell Hausfeld FP209499 3-Gallon Air Compressor

​It’s motor, although a little bit loud, runs cool so there won’t be chances of overheating.

PROS

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    User-friendly design and control panel
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    ​Easy assembly

CONS

  • ​Bit loud when operating

4. ​VIAIR 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor

This 12-Volt portable compressor is recommended for light to medium inflation jobs. It comes with a deluxe carry bag where you can store this compressor and take anywhere you go. Like the Black & Decker compressor, you can put it in your vehicles’ trunk for use during emergencies.

For an air pump like this, it seems a bit on the expensive side; users said they have bought compressors for about $20, but have reported breakage for only a year of use. Therefore, they’re willing to spend much more on this portable compressor as it lasts much longer.

What's to like about the ​VIAIR 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor

​The best aspects users loved about this portable air compressor are the sturdy construction that doesn’t feel like cheap plastic, the smooth and quiet run, and the cool motor operation. It also inflates sports tires in a matter of seconds and can inflate other stuff like beach toys and sports equipment.

What's not to like about the ​VIAIR 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor

Be careful when using it though as many users have experienced the fuse blowing up after few uses. Customer service said that the car engine must be running while using this portable compressor, otherwise, the fuse has a tendency to blow up or break. This tip is not in the user’s manual, so Viair should at least put that in.

PROS

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    ​Sturdy construction
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    ​Runs smoothly and quietly
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    Inflates sports tires in a matter of seconds

CONS

  • ​A bit expensive
  • ​Fuse has a tendency to blow up

​Conclusion

​Different types and brands of portable air compressors have its own pros and cons and it’s really up to the user to decide which one tickles their fancy. Finding the best portable air compressor is difficult, and worse, it may be a series of a long trial and error.

To avoid this, make sure to research a lot about the portable compressor that you are eyeing and then read some reviews about it. Generally, users are very transparent about what they write, which may give you a lot of insight.

You would want to read more ​air compressor reviews with our article, "​​​What are the best Air Compressors?".

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