A portable air compressor might seem like a simple machine but it has a number of uses around the home. It’s a great tool for filling tires back up, for operating small pneumatic tools, for spray painting and for blowing dust particles and sawdust off of workshop tables. And the best portable air compressor models also have attachments that allow them to be used for a variety of inflatables.
Determining which models are the best portable air compressor models isn’t always that easy, however. There’s a number of things to take into consideration including power, price, and versatility. Which is why I’ve decided to do some research and find ten of the best models currently available. And I’ve sorted them from the models which are merely good for around the home to the ones which are great for home use.
10. Jaco Road Pro 12-Volt Tire Pump
This model is great for keeping in the trunk of the car to handle deflated tires on the road or for keeping in the home for inflating airbeds, sports balls and other types of inflatables. It can air car tires up to a pressure of 45 PSI and bicycle tires up to a pressure of 100 PSI and has a 25-foot rubber air hose with a twist connect nozzle. This unit also has a long, 10-foot power cord and a power plug that connects to a 12-volt DC accessory outlet. Other features which can be found in this compressor include a metal body with anti-vibration rubber feet, an LED safety-light, and a built-in glow-in-the-dark pressure gauge.
9. Fortem the Extra Mile Tire Inflater With Pressure Gauge
Designed to be used as not only a tire inflater but also for a variety of other purposes, this unit comes with advanced features that make it easy to use and very versatile. It can be plugged into a 12-volt power outlet in the car and attached to a tire so it can be inflated. It can also be used with several different nozzle attachments which allow it to be used on everything from air mattresses and sports balls to motorcycle and bicycle tires. For added roadside safety, this model also comes with a built-in LED flashlight. Other features include a high-quality plastic body with a high-pressure hose and a digital LCD display.
8. Noox Electric 12-Volt Car Pump
This electric tire inflator has a number of features which make it a useful addition to just about any roadside emergency kit. It can be used to inflate a variety of vehicle tires from cars to SUVs tires to bicycle and truck tires up to 150 PSI. It’s also a useful tool for using around the house and can be used to inflate airbeds, sports balls or inflatable toys. Other features which can be found in this unit include a stable triangular design with anti-slip mat, a 9-foot power cord, an LED light and an easy-to-read digital tire gauge. And since the unit is small and lightweight, it can be taken just about anywhere.
7. Jaco Smart Pro Digital Pump
Equipped with smart pressure technology which allows the user to set the PSI level of the object they are airing, to prevent over-inflation, this pump is ideal for anyone looking for an easy-to-use compressor. It also has a digital air gauge with an LCD back-light display and is accurate with 1 PSI. This model also has a heavy-duty 24-inch air hose with a twist-connect nozzle that provides a secure seal to the tire valve while the tire is being inflated. It also includes 2 adapters that can be used for airbeds or sports balls. Other features include a LED light with 4-settings, a 25-liter per minute inflation rate and a 10-foot power cord.
6. Viair 000888 Compressor
Designed to be used by car owners, this portable pump is equipped with a number of great features. It has a 120 PSI maximum working pressure, a 1.47 CFM flow rate and can be used on cars, trucks, and SUVs with tires up to 33-inches. Some of the features which can be found on this unit include a 10-foot power cord, a 16-foot air hose, a 3-piece inflation tip kit, an LED power indicator and alligator clips that allow it to be directly hooked-up to the car’s battery. This makes it an ideal tool to keep in the backseat or trunk of any car or truck.
5. Wikolia 12-Volt Small Tire Inflator
Although this is a small and portable, it still packs quite a number of different features and some power. It has an LED light that allows it to be used at night, has a digital LCD display, an auto shut-off feature that automatically turns off the compressor when it reaches a preset PSI level and comes with three different nozzle adapters that can be used for balls, air mattresses, tires and pool floats. This pump can also inflate tires up to 130 PSI and has a maximum air outflow rate of 15 PSI. All of which makes this device a user-friendly tool for keeping tires inflated.
4. Earthland 12-Volt Compressor Pump
This device uses two gas cylinders to give the user they need to inflate their tires. Two air cylinders ensure that this device lasts sixty percent longer than single cylinder pumps because it can alternate the workload of each cylinder. It also means that this unit has the power to inflate up to four tires continuously without having to stop. This 15-Amp pump has a max. working pressure of 150 PSI and an air flow of 45-liters per minute. It has a pressure gauge display, an LED light and a hose length of 2-feet. Everything a person needs to get their tires inflated quickly.
3. Helteko Portable 150 PSI 12-Volt Pump
This small but powerful portable pump quickly makes itself a useful tool to just about anyone who decides to use it. It’s made of durable ABS plastic that ensures that it will hold up to regular use and has a number of features built into it that make it quite useful. It has a digital LCD display, and emergency LED light, an 11.5-foot cable that can connect to a 12-volt cigarette lighter, three additional nozzles for inflating a variety of other objects, and an auto-shut off feature that turns the unit off when it has reached its preset pressure level. All in a unit that can deliver up to 150 PSI.
2. Brill’s 12-Volt DC Tire Inflator
Power and performance can both be found in this portable unit. It can inflate a fully deflated tire up to 30-PSI in under 5-minutes and has the capability of pumping tires up to 150 PSI. It can be used not only on car tires but can also be used on a variety of bicycle and motorcycle tires or used to inflate pool inflatables and sports balls. This unit has a digital LCD display gauge, a standard flashlight, a flashing red SOS light and a helpful user’s manual. It also has an air hose with a 2-foot reach and a power cord with a 12-foot total reach.
1. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP
Although this unit isn’t as portable as some comparable compressor models, with a size of 22x18x10-inches and a weight of approximately 60-pounds, this unit can still be carried from location to location a lot easier than full-size compressor models and has a convenient carrying handle. It’s made out of cast-iron and has an operating pressure of 130 PSI, yet doesn’t produce the amount of noise bigger compressors do. Other features which can be found in this unit include a low amp draw that prevents it from tripping breakers, an oil-lubricated pump and 2.6-gallon “hot dog” air tank.
A Guide To Portable Air Compressors
Air compressors come in a variety of different sizes—from pancake and hotdog compressors to twin-stack or wheelbarrow air compressors. However, the ones that are probably most useful for home or DIY use is the portable air compressors. Not to be confused with air inflators, which aren’t equipped with a tank, these compressors have small tanks and are useful for powering nail guns and/or spray guns.
Choosing a portable air compressor shouldn’t be too difficult of a process for most people. That’s because there are a ton of great models out there that are capable of getting the job done. However, that doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t consider a few features before they run out and buy their next portable air compressor. A little bit of due diligence before making a purchase can be the difference between buying a model that has all of the features it needs to have and a model that doesn’t.
Anyone who is reading this article is looking for a few suggestions on how to buy the best portable air compressor, so we decided to work up a little guide that will help everyone find the perfect model. As we said earlier, there’s not a whole lot to consider when buying a new portable air compressor, but there are a few features that people are going to want to be especially aware of when they’re purchasing one. Now let’s get on with it and check out some of these important features that need to be considered.
Portable Air Compressor Versus Air Inflators
Portable air compressors often get mixed up with air inflators and vice-versa. That’s because they’re pretty similar. After all, they are both air compressors. The only real difference between the two is that portable models have a small air tank that can hold air and dole it out as needed, while air inflators dole out air continuously. Air compressors are also good for use with nail guns or spray guns, while inflators are most used for inflating sport’s balls, tires, and other such inflatable items. In other words, if a person needs to operate a tool, then they’ll need an air compressor, if they need to inflate tires, they should buy an inflator. It’s that simple.
AC & DC Compressor Models
The next thing to give careful consideration is how the compressor is going to be powered. When it comes to full-size compressors, people have a good amount of choices available to them. That’s because there are gasoline-powered, AC-powered, and DC-powered units. When it comes to portable air compressors, the options available are just a little bit different. All the models that exist are AC, DC, or AC/DC combination models. The one that you buy depends on your specific needs.
If a person is powering spray guns or nail guns, then they’re probably going to want to choose a model that can be plugged into a physical AC outlet. That’s because battery power is not reliable enough for these types of jobs. However, if you need to be able to use the device for off-grid applications, then you’re probably going to want to get a DC unit or a combination AC/DC unit that can be used for both types of applications.
Choose The Right Amount Of Power
Another thing to look at is the cubic-feet-per-minute, or CFM, of a portable air compressor, especially if you’re buying something other than an air inflator. That’s because if you’re using it for powering tools, you want to make sure that it has just the right amount of power. For example, if you’re using it with a nail gun you want to make sure that it doesn’t have too much or too little power. If it has too much power for the nail gun and doesn’t have a variable pressure control that can be adjusted, then it can blow a nail right through the material being fastened. If it’s not powerful enough, it won’t be able to drive the nail the proper depth into the material. That’s why it’s important to consider the CFM of the model before purchasing it.
After you have determined the CFM of the compressor being considered, you should then add 30% to this number. That 30% is considered a safety buffer and provides a little bit of extra power when the tools need it. After that’s been done, it’s important to compare the CFM requirements of the tool against the adjusted CFM of the compressor. This will ensure that you buy a compressor powerful enough for powering the tools you may need to power, and will also help you avoid spending extra money on a larger compressor than you may need.
The next thing that needs to be considered is the size of the compressor’s tank. You’ll want to make sure that you buy one with a large enough tank for your needs, but not one that’s makes it too hard to transport. It’s this balancing of size and performance that will ultimately determine whether you purchase the best portable air compressor for your personal needs or one that doesn’t quite get the job done.
Some Final Things To Consider
Just by following the above recommendations, a person is going to be able to buy a pretty good air compressor. But maybe that’s not good enough, and you want to make sure you buy the absolute best. If that’s the case, then below are just a few more things to consider before purchasing your next mobile air compressor.
Roll Bars: These are protective components that line the outside of the small compressor and protect it from incidental damage.
Dual Air Outlets: Although most compressors only use one air hose, some bigger models allow two air hoses to be connected at the same time. That allows 2 people to work together quite easily. However, compressors with this feature are usually too big to be considered portable.
Cord Wrap: If the compressor has a cord, then a cord wrap is a great way to protect that cord and keep it organized during storage or transport.
Ball Drain Valve: If your compressor has a tank, no matter how small, then it probably has a valve-drain. Unfortunately, a lot of them use a drain cock, which can be difficult to use. However, models that use ball valve drains are easier to use and simply allow the user to drain the air that develops in the compressor’s tank by simply opening a faucet.
Price: And of course, price is another thing that needs to be considered. These compressors come in all price ranges, so be sure to choose one that not only fits your needs but one that also fits your budget.
That’s all there is to it. If you follow the recommendations listed above and look over our top ten list, then the odds are that you’re going to find the best model for you and your needs.