Which portable air compressor is best?
Portable air compressors are versatile tools that can help you take on your project list with power and provide emergency support in a potentially dire situation. Whether you’re framing a client’s house or need to fix your flat tire in a pinch, you can rely on a quality air compressor to get the job done.
Air compressors tend to be optimized for one of two things, inflation or power delivery. However, the best air compressors draw a bridge between these two worlds and can easily blow through both tasks. If you’re interested in a powerful, portable and practical all-in-one solution we recommend considering the DeWALT portable air compressor.
What to know before you buy a portable air compressor
The most important thing to consider when purchasing a portable air compressor is what you intend to use it for. If you’re looking for something to carry in your car, you don’t need a compressor with storage capacity. If you’re looking to power pneumatic tools in addition to robust inflation capabilities opt for a compressor with at least 1 gallon of storage.
PSI (pound force per square-inch)
Like most power tools, choosing the appropriate amount of power to deliver is key to achieving successful results. Getting a compressor with too much PSI increases the likelihood of blowouts and misfires. Most compressors put out 125 PSI, which is enough to pump a car tire, power a nail gun or even a paint sprayer. If you’re looking to pump commercial tires or run multiple pneumatic tools at once, consider a pump with 150 PSI or more. Check out the full portable air compressor buying guide from BestReviews to learn more about how to choose the right PSI.
Weight and Size
If you want to carry your compressor everywhere you go, pay close attention to the dimensions and weight. The more portable you go, the less versatility you have in terms of using it for projects beyond inflation. However, if you’re looking for consistent power on the job site, overall size and weight may not matter as much.
What to look for in a quality portable air compressor
Although it’s not absolutely necessary, top quality air compressors will come with easily legible digital gauges. Digital gauges tend to be more accurate than their mechanical counterparts so you dial in the right pressure for performance tires and pneumatic tools.
While all of the compressors in this guide are portable, some are easier to transport than others. However heavy-duty your compressor may be, it should come with convenient transport features such a cord storage compartment, ergonomic handles and multiple power-reception options (car battery, standard AC outlet or car outlet).
Top quality portable air compressors will come equipped with an extendable hose, cable management cleat and built-in LED light to illuminate your workspace. Many air compressors also come with various nozzles for different types of tires or that attach to pneumatic tools.
How much you can expect to spend on a portable air compressor
Expect to spend around $65 for an entry-level air compressor kit and up to $200 for heavy-duty kits that may even come with a pneumatic tool.
Portable air compressor FAQ
Why does my air compressor start-up on it’s own sometimes?
A. Quality air compressors come with automatic shut-off and turn-on capabilities. These prevent over-pressurization while you’re filling the tank and then keep the pressure level consistent to prevent misfires and jams. In most cases, if you leave the air compressor plugged in and switched on it will run through off and on cycles until it’s powered off.
What tools can I use with an air compressor?
A. Most people think air compressors are only good for powering various nail guns and fastening devices when it comes to tool versatility. In reality, those are only the tip of the iceberg. You can hook up a pneumatic sander, paint sprayer, air drill or even air hammer to your portable air compressor.
What ARE the best portable air compressorS to buy?
Top portable air compressor
DeWALT portable air compressor
What you need to know: Capable of pumping out up to 135 psi, this heavy duty air compressor can handle everything from DIY upgrades and tire inflation to structural framing and construction projects.
What you’ll love: Manufactured in America and backed by DeWALT’s stellar customer service and 1-year warranty you can try to find its limit in the most demanding conditions. Although it’s only 9 inches wide and 24 pounds, this compressor’s low-noise 2.6 amp motor and oil-free pump pack a serious punch.
What you should consider: Hose must be purchased separately.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top portable air compressor for the money
AmazonBasics portable air compressor
What you need to know: Don’t let the brand name fool you, this compressor is loaded with useful features like car battery connectors
What you’ll love: Compact design and portability characterize the AmazonBasics air compressor. Weighing only 7 pounds and capable of pumping out up to 120 PSI it’s performance is hard to beat. It conveniently includes dual alligator clamps to attach to your car battery in case you get a flat tire. This compressor is ideal for those looking to pump things up.
What you should consider: Poor cord storage design makes this compressor a pain to pack-up after use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
GSPSCN Dual Cylinder portable air compressor
What you need to know: Complete with all the bells and whistles, this portable air compressor is versatile, quiet and efficient.
What you’ll love: Made from lightweight yet durable steel and powered by a 12V motor, the Dual Cylinder air compressor from GSPSCN puts out a whopping 150 PSI. Ideal for heavy duty use, this compressor can pump the tire of a loaded truck or van. It also comes with a convenient carry handle, 11.5 foot air hose, spare fuse, built-in led light and numerous nozzle adapters.
What you should consider: Some users reported that the gauge was inaccurate.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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William Briskin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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