8 Best Pancake Air Compressors [For Car & Home Use]
Pancake air compressors are all about functionality. Homeowners and contractors frequently use these for their own personal use, as these products can be used to inflate motorbike tires, pool rings, and even air mattresses. Although compact in size, they’re still quite practical and come at reasonable prices.
When looking for a decent pancake air compressor, we believe the most important factors are the CFM rating and the weight of the unit. After all, those units need to be powerful but easy to carry. Some users, like carpenters, will find it useful to have a quiet unit as well since they are working indoors.
If you are considering metrics alone, the Fini pancake air compressor is the best pancake air compressor. The unit offers the highest PSI rating, HP and CFM. In terms of quietness, it ranks second best to the Campbell Hausfeld unit. It offers good value since it is reasonably priced.
We’ve reviewed over 30 pancake air compressors and rated them based on their CFM, horsepower, price, as well as other factors. Below you will find the 5 units that made the cut.
Pancake Air Compressors Comparison Table
|Product||SCFM (@90 PSI)||HP||Price||Max PSI||Decibel|
|Campbell Hausfeld||2.4 SCFM||1||$259||125 PSI||68 dB|
|Rigid||2.6 SCFM||1.5 hp||$129||150 PSI||93 dB|
|McGraw||0.6 SCFM||⅓ hp||$49.99||110 PSI||84 dB|
|Fini||2.8 SCFM||1.5 hp||$162||150 PSI||76 dB|
|DeWALT||1.2 SCFM||0.4||$406||135 PSI||79 dB|
|Porter-Cable C2002||2.6 SCFM||0.8 hp||$169||150 PSI||78 dB|
|Bostitch BTFP02012||2.6 SCFM||$129||150 PSI||82 dB|
|Metabo HPT Air||2.8 SCFM||1 HP||$149||150 PSI||73 dB|
Best Pancake Air Compressors
1. Campbell Hausfeld Six Gallon Electric Pancake Compressor – Best Overall
The Campbell Hausfeld is one of our favorites for a variety of reasons. It may not seem like the better choice when you look at the characteristics of some of the others on the list, but hear us out.
First, it’s unbelievably quiet. We were honestly stunned by how quiet it was. It has a Decibel rating of just 68, which is lower than any other pancake compressor on the list. You can safely use the compressor in an enclosed area without suffering the least bit of hearing damage.
It has a great CFM rating of 2.4/ 3.5 @ 90/40 PSI. We tested it with a variety of tools including a finishing nailer, a small paint sprayer, and an air chuck for tire inflation. These three tools performed extremely well.
We even got a full-sized nailer and impact wrench to work for a little while. Those two pneumatic tools require more CFM than this compressor offers, but it still works periodically.
We also want to mention how easy this compressor is to maintain. Its oil-free 1 hp motor is durable and provides extended operation that’s 4 times longer than most air compressors in this category.
2. Rigid Six Gallon Electric Pancake Air Compressor – Best For Framing Nailer
We enjoy using Ridig tools because of their durability and longevity. Their pancake compressor is one of our favorites because not only does it provide 150 PSI, but it has 2 universal push-to-connect quick couplers. We were able to use two small pneumatic tools at once, which not only saved us time, but also the headache of constantly having to switch tools.
It has a large 6-gallon tank, which is bigger than most pancake compressors. This allows for more stored air and a powerful 2.6 CFM rating at 90 PSI or 3.5 CFM at 40 PSI. We were able to use two nailers at the same time. The compressor provides enough CFM for about half an hour of continuous use since it’s a 50% duty cycle.
The 1.5 HP motor did well when it came to using those two tools at the same time. Our only concern was the placement of the drain outlet.
The legs of the compressor aren’t quite tall enough to protect the outlet. Additionally, we thought that the compressor was rather loud. It measures roughly 93 Db, which is loud enough to need ear protection
Due to its narrow shape, it’s easy to store away. We have limited space in our garage, but we managed to squeeze this compressor into a corner. It has more of a taller pancake shape to it rather than a long, flat shape, making it simpler to store.
3. McGraw 3 Gallon Air Compressor – Best for Car Tires
If you need a simple air compressor for tire inflation, then the McGraw 3 Gallon Air Compressor is your best bet. It’s a compact compressor that can easily be stored away when it’s not in use. Additionally, it’s lightweight enough to carry around from the garage to the driveway.
It has an oil-free pump for no-maintenance operation, which means it’ll last longer before needing to be tuned. It has a maximum PSI of 110, which isn’t as much as the others that we reviewed, but it with the inflated tires, which was all we were concerned about. It helps that the CFM rating is 0.6/0.9 CFM @ 90/40 PSI.
We discovered that the compressor takes about 4 minutes to fill from 0-110 PSI and a little over a minute to fill while being used. Unfortunately, we didn’t want to be near it while it was filling because it was so loud as It measures about 84dBA.
We were overall impressed with the performance of this small, compact compressor Even though it’s quite noisy, it puts out optimal CFM for tire inflation and other small applications. Fortunately, there’s a 90-day warranty against manufacturer defects.
4. Fini Six Gallon Electric Pancake Air Compressor – Best For Framing Nailer
You can’t efficiently use a framing nailer without the proper CFM or PSI. Fortunately, the Fini Six Gallon Electric Pancake Air Compressor. It’s a great little compact compressor with the power to run various pneumatic tools.
We tested this compressor with a framing nailer and the results were far from disappointing. Since most framing nailers require at least 2.5 CFM @ 90 PSI and this compressor puts out 2.8 CFM @ 90 PSI, it was more than enough to run it efficiently. Additionally, there are two air outlets that allowed us to run more than one framing nailer.
This is all powered by the 1.5 hp oil-free motor. There’s no maintenance needed on this unit since it doesn’t require oil.
The drain valve is easy to access and the legs keep it up far enough off the ground to avoid damage. We easily drained the excess moisture out of the tank in just a matter of seconds.
Even though the CFM and PSI ratings are higher for this model as opposed to the Campbel Hausfeld, it seemed that the tools still ran a tad sluggish. Additionally, the unit is noisier than we would have hoped for.
5. DeWALT Flexvolt 2.5 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor – Best Combo Kit
Last up is the DeWalt Flexvolt 2.5 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor Combo Kit. DeWALT is another brand that we enjoy using. They’ve always manufactured high-quality tools and accessories that are helpful around the house.
This combo kit comes with the compressor, 18-GA brad nailer, 50ft hose, 6.0 AH battery, and charger. It’s everything you need to get started on a job or for a home project. The tank holds 2.5 gallons of air with a maximum pressure of 135 PSI.
We liked using this compressor because of the OneTurn regulator that allowed for fast and accurate pressure adjustment. The 0.4 hp motor is oil-free, so there’s no need for annoying maintenance on it. When we didn’t need to use it, it stored nicely under one of our cabinets.
The compressor does a fantastic job of keeping up with the tools thanks to the 1.2/1.5 @ 90/40 PSI. There was a little bit of slack when it came to running tools that required 2.0 CFM, but it still worked.
Our only concern with this air compressor was that it was very loud. It’s honestly too loud to operate in an enclosed area. Otherwise, we were impressed with the overall performance of the DeWALT air compressor. You can also buy it at home depot.
6. Porter-Cable C2002 – Best Budget Portable Air Compressor
Porter-cable has been in the air tool and compressor business for many years, and the quality of its products is unsurpassed.
The Porter-Cable C2002 pancake compressor is no exception. This compressor reflects Porter-Cables history of providing high-quality tools to the construction sector at reasonable prices.
If you are looking for a full feature, construction-grade air compressor at a budget price, the Porter-Cable C2002 should fit the bill nicely. It doesn’t lack anything you could want on your job.
- 6-gallon pancake-style with rubber feet for stability
- Durable oil-free pump for long life with minimal maintenance
- 2.6scfm means quicker recover and cooler running
- Lightweight construction for easy portability
- Twin factory-installed regulated couplers support two users
- 2 gauges
- Includes regulator
The 0.8 horsepower motor still manages to reach this maximum psi within a few minutes. We like the device’s high-flow regulator and couplers that offers great air tool performance and recommend this as an ideal air compressor for airbrush devices.
BOSTITCH brings us a pancake compressor at a price that isn’t too steep. This is probably one of the best pancake compressors based on value alone. Let’s check out some features.
The BOSTITCH pancake compressor runs up to 150 PSI with air delivery of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. The two gauges will allow you to keep track of the air pressure in the tank as well as how much air is being delivered.
You can adjust the flow by using the high flow regulator. This compressor may be small, but it works great for medium to heavy-duty jobs. Additionally, it won’t give you an issue when it comes to starting it in cold weather.
When it comes to durability, the BOSTITCH ranks very highly. It is constructed from steel, which means it won’t corrode or rust over time. It will ensure a long-lasting piece of equipment. You will also find thick rubber feet at the bottom of the compressor to ensure it does not move from the vibration.
So not only is this compressor durable and powerful, but it’s portable and lightweight. It only weighs 31 pounds, which is lighter than most of its competitors. It also has a handy carrying handle at the top of the machine that allows you to carry it from room to room.
Some times you need a tool that stands head and shoulders above the rest. In the case of pancake portable air compressors, that would be the DEWALT DWFP55126.This pancake compressor rises to the top as an exceptional piece of job site equipment.
DEWALT has been manufacturing tools for years. Their reputation for innovation and quality is well known and they haven’t left anything on the table in designing the DWFP55126 portable pancake air compressor.
Looking at the features that come with the DEWALT DWFP55126 portable pancake air compressor makes it clear why this is our pick for the best portable pancake air compressor. Very similar to hyper tough.
- 165lbs Max pressure for longer work time with fewer compressor starts and stops.
- Quiet operation at 75.5 dB for a quieter work environment
- Oil-free operation for less maintenance
- Two factory-installed outlets support dual users
- High flow regulator for higher performance
- high-efficiency motor optimized for easy start-up in cold weather
- Lightweight 30lb weight for easier deployment
- Ball-type drain valve for quick removal of water
- Low profile stable design for maximum job site safety
Craftsman is another name that you see a lot in workshops, on construction sites, and more. It’s as popular as DEWALT and is the same cherry red color as the Porter-Cable equipment. There are a lot of great features that come with this compressor. Let’s check some of them out.
CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free with 13 Piece Accessory Kit (CMEC6150K)
21 used from $126.45
This Craftsman compressor is rather powerful. It has a 150 PSI maximum air pressure rating and 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI. It runs off of a 0.8 hp motor when plugged into a 120V outlet. Since it has such a large 6-gallon tank, it’s able to hold pressure longer, but it may take a little longer to fill up.
For such a small compressor, it sure can do a lot. It has a front-mounted regulator with quick-connect outlets. These allow you to easily and quickly switch between different air tools.
13 accessories come with the compressor that includes a 25’ ¼” PVC air hose, blow gun, tire gauge, tire chuck, three inflator adapters, and three male fittings. You can use these accessories to run power tools, inflate tires, toys, and more.
Maintenance Free Pump
There is a maintenance-free pump equipped on the compressor as well as heavy rubberized feet. These feet will keep the compressor from walking from vibration. Additionally, there is a should and console cover to protect the components inside of the compressor as well as a handy handle.
How To Choose The Pancake Air Compressor
It takes more than just looks and power to be considered a great air compressor. There are many other considerations that have to be made for it to work for you the best that it can. Here are some of the characteristics of a great air compressor that you should be on the lookout for:
One Of the first things you should look at when comparing air compressors is the CFM. This is what tells you how fast the compressor can supply the air.
If you are using a tool that uses air quicker than the compressor can give out, you will have to stop doing what you’re doing and wait for the compressor to catch up. So with this said, you will want to make sure that the CFM is enough to keep up with your tools.
You will find that most small compressors for home use are between 1-6 gallons. The larger tanks will hold more air than the smaller ones and will allow you to work longer. However, this also means that it will take longer for the tank to fill.
As for the smaller tanks, you won’t be able to work as long as you would with the larger tank, but it also won’t take nearly as much time to fill back up. With that said, if you need a lot of air volume, tank size won’t matter, CFM will.
There’s no denying that air compressors can be noisy, sometimes requiring you to wear earplugs or headphones. Noise is measured in decibels, and most smaller air compressors run at around 60 to 87 dB. The lower the number, the quieter the machine is going to be.
A machine that is rated at 70 dB will be twice as loud as 60 dB and an 80 dB compressor is going to be four times louder. Consider where you will be using the compressor. Is it going to be in a garage? In a workshop? Outside?
If you have a job where you frequently travel and need to take your air compressor with you, it’s best to consider its weight and shape of it. If you are going to be carrying it around a lot, you may want a slim compressor as wider ones are a bit awkward to carry. Also, does it have a handle? If so, this is an important feature as it makes carrying a lot easier.
When investing in a machine like this, you will want to ensure that it will last for many years to come.
Look for a compressor that is composed of heavy-duty material that won’t corrode or rust. Also, you may even be able to find one that is surrounded by something like a roll bar. This will keep your compressor protected from accidental drops and dings.
What PSI Is A Pancake Air Compressor?
A majority of the smaller pancake compressors put out 150 PSI or less with the 6-gallon tanks having over 150 PSI.
You will find that a majority of the air compressors can offer 150 PSI or less. Generally, the more CFM you get out of a pancake air compressor, the more PSI it has. Most of the time, a pancake compressor with 150 PSI will deliver 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI.
The only time you really need a PSI of more than 150 is when you are doing automotive repairs or for industrial purposes. Remember, the higher maximum pressure in a pancake compressor equals longer runtime. It seems that 2 to 3-gallon air compressors record sluggish performance above 100 PSI.
What Is A Pancake Compressor Good For?
Pancake compressors are good for small home projects such as filling car tires, basketballs, inflatables, brad nailing, frame nailing, trim, blowgun cleaning, and small ratcheting.
If you’re looking for something that can handle pneumatic painting, grinding, drilling, cutting, sanding, and heavy-duty air ratcheting, you won’t find it in a pancake air compressor. Pancake air compressors are good for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy working on smaller projects.
The most common size is 6 gallons and most of them can deliver roughly 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI. Since the CFM is relatively low, pancake compressors are limited as to what they can handle in terms of air tools. You won’t be able to run anything over 3.0 CFM without a struggle. Even 2.6 CFM may be a struggle if you’re running multiple pneumatic tools at once.
In addition to being great around the home, they’re also lightweight, easy to store, sturdy, require minimal maintenance, and affordable.
How Long Do Pancake Compressors Last?
The longevity of a pancake air compressor depends on how much you use it and how often the tank is drained of moisture.
The number one cause of premature air compressor failure is corrosion from moisture left inside the tank. For the most part, a pancake air compressor will last 2,000 operating hours if it’s well-maintained. In terms of years, it could be 10-15.
More often than not, pancake air compressors are oil-free, which means they don’t require oil to keep the moving parts lubricated. If there’s a pancake compressor that requires oil, there’s more maintenance needed, and people tend to forget about that. So they don’t lubricate their machine and it results in failure.
What Kind Of Pancake Air Compressors Are There?
There are several types of pancake air compressors available including oil or oil-free, cordless, and quiet.
Most pancake compressors are oil-free, as we’ve mentioned. This makes them easier to maintain because there’s nothing you need to do with them. If you have an oil-lubricated compressor, you need to occasionally change the oil and make sure there’s always enough.
Some models can’t be overturned because the oil can seep into some parts of the compressor where it shouldn’t be. On the other hand, oil-lubricated compressors last a little longer than oil-free models that use Teflon for their lubrication.
In terms of portability, you can choose a pancake compressor that operates via cord or battery.
The battery-operated compressors are great for places that have no electricity. They can last quite a while nailing or filling car tires. Unfortunately, they’re more expensive than corded models.
Lastly, noise level. You can find compressors that are “quiet”, which are rated under 80 decibels. These are considered to be “quiet”, but they’re not really quiet in general. You won’t find a silent air compressor, but anything under 75 is a good number in our opinion. The two quietest air compressors on our list are the Campbell Hausfeld and Fini. These rank at 68 decibels and 76 decibels.
Purchasing an air compressor can be confusing and frustrating, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Fortunately, we did all of that legwork for you! As previously mentioned, we suggest the Campbell Hausfeld to anybody looking for a pancake air compressor.
It only puts out 68 decibels of noise, it’s pretty affordable, it has a decent CFM and PSI rating, and it’s from a reputable company known for their industrial air compressors.
In our opinion, pancake compressors are worth buying if you’re using it around the house. You should first determine if a pancake compressor will meet the CFM and PSI needs of the various tools you may be using.
If it doesn’t, you may have to upgrade to a hotdog or twin-stack compressor. These are a little larger and can provide you with more power.