Air compression machines are essential to some professions and workshops. But they can also make life easier for the normal home use and DIY enthusiast. Generally speaking, most people will be interested in of two types. The very portable ones you can keep in your car trunk for emergencies. And the powerful machines with storage capacity to give you a constant stream of pressure for power tools.
For home use, you don’t need to get large machines. For the occasional tire pump or deflated ball the best thing is to focus on small, portable and cheap. It doesn’t have to stand up to huge stresses, so no need for large investments.
But when it comes to workshops and power tools the story is very different. What you need then is a constant pressure for long periods of time. And often you might have multiple tools in use at the same time.
To help you find the best tool for your needs we have put together this list of best air compressor reviews. Over months of research we brought it down to ten products that are ideal for commercial or home use. So, let’s dive right in and see what one will work best for you.
Table of Contents
- Our Top 10 Best Air Compressor Recommendations
- 1 – Campbell Hausfeld DC080500
- 2 – DBPOWER 12V DC Portable
- 3 – DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI
- 4 – AUDEW Portable Air Compressor Pump
- 5 – PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
- 6 – Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP
- 7 – Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI
- 8 – EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
- 9 – California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S
- 10 – Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP
- What Features You Should Focus On
- Maximum Pressure
- Tank Size
- Output Valves
Our Top 10 Best Air Compressor Recommendations
1 – Campbell Hausfeld DC080500
Finally, we come to one of the biggest size and more powerful machines you can buy. If you need large quantities of pressurized air then you need power and storage. With a large 8-gallon tank, you will struggle to find something bigger without heading into the industrial machine sizes and prices.
The pump is oil free, which means you don’t have to constantly check the levels and top up. Forgetting to do so can be costly. Despite having such a large tank and powerful motor it only weighs 35 pounds. And with the handy wheels you’ll be able to move it around as needed without someone else helping.
From a noise level point of view, it is pretty quiet at 68 dB so you won’t spend the day shouting over the motor and pump. The main downside to be aware of is that it’s a bit top heavy as you can see from the images. Just make sure it’s always secured in transport and on stable ground.
- Oil free pump reduces down time and running costs
- Maximum 125 PSI from 8 gallon tank provides a great constant pressure
- Great for commercial use on jobsites and in workshops
- Reasonably quiet at 68dBa
- Weighs only 35 pounds making it easy to move around
- No hose or accessories included
- It’s a little bit top heavy so make sure it’s on stable ground.
2 – DBPOWER 12V DC Portable
Another great option for portability and car use is this DBPower model, which is probably the best small air compressor. It is very simple to use and just plugs right into your cigarette lighter in the car. The valve attachment is a quick release one so it speeds up the process of inflating tires.
Of all the portable products, here it is the most affordable one you can choose. But the cheap price doesn’t mean you get a poor product. With three different nozzle sizes included, it can be used for car and bike tires as well as balls and other inflatable household items.
The 10-foot power cable is long enough for you to reach all 4 tires even on larger cars and trucks. The main downside is that there is no auto shut off feature. So, you have to keep an eye on the pressure gauge while inflating.
- Very affordable price for low budgets
- Very simple to use right out of the box
- 12V lighter plug in makes it ideal for use on cars and boats
- Power cable is 10 foot long so you can easily reach all tires
- 3 different nozzles make it ideal for many different uses around the home
- No auto shut off feature
- No place for included accessories to be stored
3 – DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI
DeWalt is one of those company names you will see all over constructions sites. Their products are exceptionally well made and trusted by so many professions because of their reliability. Despite the higher prices they command, you will be better off in the long run.
They just last longer than most other options. And that makes this one of the best air compressor brand names out there.
This model is one of the most powerful on this list. It provides up to 165 PSI from quite a small device. The whole unit only weighs 30 pounds so you can move it around by yourself whenever needed. It really is amazing how they got so much pressure out such a small machine.
The pressure gauges are very accurate. And it will take no time to get fully up and running. Even on a cold day, it will start right up with no difficulty so you avoid long waiting times.
The main downside is that some people have reported a little bit of air leakage on the hose fittings. So that is something to keep an eye on.
- Great maximum pressure of 165 PSI
- Reliable motor will start up even in tough and cold conditions
- At 30 pounds, it’s very easy to move around
- Fast and quiet filling time
- Very accurate pressure gauges
- Some air leakage can happen with hose fittings
- No accessories included
4 – AUDEW Portable Air Compressor Pump
For those looking for a small and portable device and the best air compressor for home use or in the car, then this Audew model is one of the more powerful ones to buy. It will plug right into your cigarette lighter, so if you have a flat tire you won’t end up stranded.
You can pre-set the pressure you want and the pump will automatically shut off once it reaches that level. This makes it easier to use and avoids over inflating by accident.
Because of its compact design, you won’t struggle to fit this in the trunk of even a small car. And with the LED light built in you will have no trouble seeing what you’re doing even on a dark road side.
With a very convenient 10 foot cable you won’t have trouble reaching all four tires of your car. But this is also one of the downsides. It can be quite difficult to get the cable back into its storage compartment.
- Excellent tool for car use, plugs right into cigarette lighter
- Includes auto shut off to avoid over inflation
- Very compact for convenient storage in the trunk
- LED lights included so you can see when you’re pumping in the dark
- 10 foot cord makes it easy to get to all 4 tires
- Difficult to fit cord back into its storage space
- No storage for the attachments
5 – PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
Next up is another pancake style model. These types are very effective and compact and provide great stability on busy jobsites. For such a small product, you get a huge 150 PSI output that will be enough for some very heavy usage.
The pump is designed to not require any oil, which reduces the maintenance costs. If you’ve ever had an oil based pump on a busy day and forgot to top up oil you know how detrimental that can be.
What is particularly great is that the tank has a capacity of 6 gallons. That means you get a better and more consistent pressure. And the motor and pump will not be kicking in every couple of seconds.
The main downside to this is that you will need to go through a break in process before you start using it for a job. Instructions are in the manual, but this is a bit of an inconvenience.
- Pancake style tank for greater stability
- Includes accessory kit for the most common uses
- Maximum of 150 PSI for great output pressure
- No oil required makes it cheaper to run and maintain
- 6 gallon capacity tank provides a great steady pressure
- Break in is required before regular use
- This is one of the noisier devices available
6 – Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP
The second Makita product on this list is another high-quality model suitable for busy jobsites and workshops. The 2 HP motor runs up to 1720 RPM to produce a maximum of 130 PSI. That is enough to provide constant power at a pretty low noise level.
The pump itself is oil lubricated. That does mean there is some extra maintenance involved. But, as a result the pump runs smoother and cooler, which reduces wear and tear.
The low Amp demand also reduces the risk of the voltage dropping causing unstable electric flows. This reduces the risk of problems to the motor in the long run.
Once you turn on this beauty for the first time you’ll notice how quickly the pressure builds up. That means you have less time waiting around to get started with a job.
The main downside is that it’s top heavy. Be careful when you transport it or pull on a hose, as this can quickly cause it to topple over.
- 2 HP engine keep maximum pressure of 130 PSI at low 1720 RPM for less noise
- Oil lubricated pump for lower running temps and less chance of overheating
- Low Amp reduces risk of voltage drop
- Pressure builds up fast once turned on
- Roll bar protects it from damage on busy jobsites
- Quite heavy to move by one person
- It’s top heavy and can easily topple over in transit
7 – Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI
At this stage, it is time to introduce our top candidate for pancake style compressor. It is one of the most powerful on this list with a maximum output of 150 PSI. This is generated in a very efficient oil free pump that reduces maintenance costs and downtime.
With a very easy to use set up and a reliable motor, you can be confident that it will always start up even in cold winter conditions. For a machine that produces that much pressure it is also reasonably quiet at 80 dB. You certainly won’t have to be shouting to be heard.
- No-oil maintenance free pump reduces running costs
- Maximum 150 PSI gives excellent pressure
- Very efficient motor is reliable even in cold conditions
- Reasonably quiet at 80 dB
- Max hose pressure setting is ideal for use with many different tools
- Regulator is not the most accurate
- Pressure can fluctuate with intensive usage
8 – EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
Not everyone requires an air compression machine to operate power tools. In many cases, they are just needed for home use to inflate tires and balls. Or maybe to have as an emergency pump for a flat tire on the road.
This product by EP Autos is one of the best portable air compressor options and can be plugged directly into your car cigarette lighter. The display is bright and easy to read. And you can quickly switch between different pressure units.
There is also a setting to avoid over inflation. Basically, you enter a maximum pressure value and the pump will cut out once it’s reached. With a very handy LED flashlight built in you can make sure you can see what you are doing if you had to check tire pressure at night.
The main downside is that if you’re going to inflate multiple tires it can get hot quite quickly. That reduces the output pressure and slows things down a bit.
- Very convenient use by plugging into car cigarette lighter
- Easy to read display with multiple different unit settings
- Bright LED flashlight built in for breakdowns at night
- Over inflation prevented with auto shut off function
- Great value for money
- Can get hot quite fast slowing down pressure
- Nozzle is not a quick release one
9 – California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S
California Air Tools (CAT) is a leading manufacturer of compressed air machines and is perfectly suitable for jobsites and workshops. Of all the products on this list, it is one of the quietest and lightest. Especially when you consider that the powerful pump will provide up to 120 PSI.
And consider this: it’s the best price air compressor on this list.
It weighs just 29.5 pounds, which means you’ll be able to move it around easily by yourself. You’ll also have lower maintenance costs and shorter downtime because the pump is oil free.
With a very effective motor and pump design, you can expect to use it for more than 3000 hours before you’ll see any signs of wear that will require attention. It doesn’t have the biggest tank at 1 gallon, but for the price and power you shouldn’t be turned off by that.
Just be aware that making pressure adjustments is not very precise. If you have precision tools then it might not be the best choice.
- Very quiet at only 56 decibels
- No oil required in pump for lower maintenance cost and downtime
- Weighs only 29.5 pounds making it very portable for one person
- 120 PSI maximum pressure is good enough for most uses
- Long lasting design with 3000 hours’ life cycle before signs of wear
- Adjusting for exact pressure level is difficult
- Power button is in an awkward location
10 – Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP
If you’re looking for a high-end machine that will put up with the stress of a busy jobsite, then this Makita is the best air compressor for air tools you will find. With a 2.5 HP engine, you can get a maximum of 130 PSI. That will be plenty to have two nail guns operating at the same time.
The pump system is lubricated, which does add some maintenance work and cost. But as a result, you get lower operating temperatures and less wear and tear in the long run. The RPM at max output is relatively low at 1730. That means it isn’t as noisy as many competing machines.
It also includes a great roll cage, which will protect the motor and pump if it toppled over or something fell on it. Two things that can easily happen on a busy jobsite.
The main downsides are that it’s quite a heavy machine and the front grill can start vibrating a bit.
- 5 HP motor provides up to 130 PSI for great pressure output
- Consistent operating pressure is enough for two nail guns
- Operating at 1730 RPM you end up with less noise
- Great roll cage construction for protection on jobsites
- Reduced wear and temperature through oil lubricated pump system
- Quite heavy requiring more than one person to move it
- Front grill can start vibrating which might require some adjustments
What Features You Should Focus On
As with all product searches you can quickly get confused with all the different marketing materials. Companies have this tendency to use their own terminology. That means you can encounter different names for the same features. And as a result, you become confused and are not able to do a like for like comparison.
Here are a few features that you should focus on in your research and decision process.
There are three different sizes that are covered in the above list. The first one is the very small size that fits in your trunk and is mainly used for inflating tires and household items. After that you’re immediately into the larger units for power tools and workshops. But even here there are big differences.
The second option is a unit with a storage tank usually in the 1 to 2 gallon range. These work fine for smaller projects and when space is a problem. Finally, there is the full size with a storage tank of 4 to 8 gallons. Usually, the bigger the tank and more powerful the motor the less portable they become.
Maximum pressure can vary a lot. And it’s not often something that you really need to focus on. For most jobs 130 to 140 PSI will be more than enough. What might be more important is a consistent pressure and reliable amount of output even when two tools are attached and in heavy use.
The best small shop air compressor might only have about 120 PSI. But if it provides that on a reliable and constant basis, then that will be perfectly fine. It really comes down to the types of tools you use.
This is also a very important factor to consider. The tank size will tell you how much pressure there is at any given time. The larger the tank the longer you can keep going without the pump having to kick in again.
The best air compressor for nail gun use would probably have a medium size tank. But in a busy tire workshop you would probably almost need an industrial size machine and tank.
The best compressor for air tools on our list all have two outlet valves. This is a great way to ensure that you can use multiple tools at the same time. For busy jobsites, this could mean two carpenters working at the same time with powerful nail guns. And you certainly don’t want to be awaiting to take turns.
And having a second compressor in use is also not the most ideal solution.
At this stage, you have all the information you need from these best air compressor reviews. They cover all types of machines for home use all the way to professional commercial use. Your decision now comes down to a budget and how portable and powerful the tool needs to be.