Best Portable Air Compressors

Portable air compressors must have wheels. It may seem obvious but while doing research, we found many air compressors that were incorrectly labelled as portable.

Portable air compressors’ primary application is in the construction and infrastructure industry (also called wheelbarrow air compressors). Residential portable compressors are used by DIY homeowners, general contractors, framing contractors and carpenters.

On the commercial side, portable air compressors are used to power jackhammers. However, those are usually referred to as tow behind air compressors.

While pancake air compressors could be portable, we did not include them in this guide, since they don’t provide enough airflow for most users and don’t have wheels. Similarly, mini air compressors, handheld and small compressors did not make the cut for the same reasons.

In this buyer’s guide, we highlighted the best portable air compressors based on CFM, max PSI and weight of the compressors. We felt the ideal portable compressors should be somewhat light while still providing powerful airflow.

Given that the focus of this review is medium-duty, we looked at how quiet those units are. Based on our research, the most powerful unit (gas power), is Makita MAC5501G. Let’s check the other choices.

Comparing Portable Air Compressors 

Product nameMax PSICFMWeightNoise dB
Califorina Air 1P1060S
120 psi1.2 cfm29 lbs56 dB
Campbell H. DC080500125 psi2.4 cfm67 lbs 68 dB
Jenny J5A-30P125 psi19.0 cfm490 lbs10 dB
Makita MAC5501G
135 psi12.5 cfm235 lbsN/A
Eagle EA-5000125 psi5 cfm86.3 lbs49 dB
DEWALT D55146225 psi5 cfm80 lbs 78 dB

1. Campbell-Hausfeld DC080500Best Portable Air Compressor

111Campbell-Hausfeld DC080500 is somewhat lightweight (60 lbs), quiet and offer decent power for a portable air compressor. It is one of the quietest air compressors on the market producing only 68dB.  

The oil-free, maintenance-free pump is designed to last up to four times longer than most other oil-free compressors.

Horizontal or Vertical Tanks

Horizontal tank portable air compressors tend to be more stable than vertical tank air compressors. The trade-off of taking more floor space versus an accidental tip that can damage valves, fittings, or even the pump itself is worthy of consideration.   

For home use, a horizontal tank lends itself to being put under a workbench or other location out of the way.

Vertical tanks tend to stand too high to fit in out of the way places, making them more of a problem if you are short of space. The DC080500 air compressor is as close to having a true commercial-grade compressor without the much steeper cost.

In terms of features and ability, the Cambell-Hausfeld DC080500 will get the job done. If you need a larger air tank and want the long life offered by the dual piston oilless air pump offered by the Cambell-Hausfeld DC080500 air compressor, you won’t be disappointed.

The Specs 

  • 120V, 60mHz
  • 125psi max
  • 2.4cfm @ 90psi
  • 8-gallon large tank
  • Weighs 60.8 lbs
Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor...
  • QUIET: The DC080500 air compressor is up to 50% quieter than comparable compressors, producing just 68 dBA which it makes the unit ideal for indoor and outdoor use
  • VERSATILE: This compressor is perfect for inflation, hobby painting, stapling, fastening, nailing, and bolting projects
  • DURABLE: The compressor's key components last up to four times longer due to its oil-free, maintenace free, dual piston pump

2. Makita MAC5501G – Portable Air Compressor Gas Powered

The Makita MAC5501G is highly portable and therefore is also referred to as wheelbarrow air compressor. The 5.5 horsepower gas peered twin stack air compressor offers what any worksite requires.

This unit delivers up to 12.5 CFM (at 100 PSI) which is three times the CFM the other portable compressor provide.

The V-Twin style air pump is oil-lubricated and designed stay cool even after prolonged use. In addition, it has a large flywheel fan for extra cooling capacity.

Safety & Economical 

Fully enclosed belt drive meets all safety regulations. In fact, all gauges (oversized gauges for easy reading) and connectors are located under the pump and motor for improved protection. The Automatic idle control provides economical operation. Finally, it has Automotive-style air filter which makes easy to replace.  

Gasoline Power A Good Idea?

Sometimes the choice of whether to opt for gasoline or electric air compressor is forced on you by the requirements of the job. Generally, electric air compressors make more sense. They require less maintenance. You don’t have to refuel them or change the engine oil. However, gasoline compressors provide more power.

Makita MAC5501G 5.5 HP Gas Air Compressor
  • "V" Twin Style Pump runs cooler and provides 12.5 CFM at 100 PSI
  • Powerful Honda GX160 4-stroke engine for increased performance and superior reliability
  • 10-gallon twin tanks provide air supply to multiple nailers

3. Jenny J5A-30P – Portable Air Compressor High CFM

This electric power portable air compressor has 24 CFM (at 100 PSI), which double the CFM of the above Makita unit.

The 5 hp power (single phase) is comparable to the Makita gas engine. Above all, this unit is made in the USA (state of Pennsylvania). 

The Jenny air compressors are well respected for their dependability and quality.

The unit, which has Two-wheel configuration is easy to move, operate and maintain. The 30-gallon tank makes this portable compressor economical to operate as well. Finally, the noise level is only 10 dB, which is greater for a portable air compressor, which tends to be noisy. 

Features 

  • Dual controls 
  • Dual Voltage Switch
  • Oil sight glass for easy maintenance
  • Airline filter included
  • Lubricator include
  • V-Twin air pump
  • Thermal overload protection

4. Eagle EA-5000 – The Light-duty Option 

One of the biggest concerns with portable compressors is that wheels fall off. In most cases, the reason wheels fall off is the size of the compressor does not match with the size of the wheels.

In this case, the Eagle manufacture got everything right. The two wheels on both sides of the unit and the comfortable handle make this compressor portable, yet very stable.

In terms of power, the compressor can generate 125 PSI maximum pressure and deliver an incredible 5 CFM of airflow at 90 PSI

Finally, the oil-free double-piston pump and a 2-HP electric motor that is very quiet.

Sleek Design 

The sleek, steel face offers extra protection for the pressure gauges. The compressor also features a maintenance-free oil-less head and a lever-type drain valve. The two quick-connect air fitting allows users to easily attach and power two air tools at the same time.

Pros

  • Incredibly powerful for its size
  • Very mobile
  • Manufactured from top-quality materials

Cons

  • The output may drop over time
Eagle EA-5000 Silent Series 5000 Air Compressor 125 psi MAX...
  • Ultra Quiet operation
  • Oil free double Piston Pump
  • Low amp draw increases life expectancy by 4 times over the Average Compressor

5. DEWALT D55146 – High PSI Portable Compressor

This undeniably is the most potent small air compressor on our list.  It is capable of generating a massive max air pressure of 225 PSI and can deliver 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI despite its small 1.5-HP motor.

This model’s vertical stand and the collapsible handle make it very ergonomic and easy to transport or store.

Air Free Tires

The 10-inch non-flat foam tires further facilitate transportation. At the same time, this unit’s 78 dBA operational noise level makes it one of the quietest air compressors at this level of air output. Its dual air couples allow workers to simultaneously use up to three framing nail guns or two roofing nail guns. 

Highly Versatile

This air compressor can be used for both small framing projects and larger remodelling projects. DEWALT’s D55146 is the perfect compressor to choose if you need a lot of power from a unit that requires very little maintenance.

Pros

  • High-quality components manufactured by DeWalt
  • The highest CFM  (Cubic Feet per Minute) on our list
  • The highest maximum PSI on our list

Cons

  • The product’s warranty is just one year
DEWALT Air Compressor, 225-PSI Max, Hand Carry with Wheels,...
  • 225 PSI max tank storage pressure provides a user with 80% more usable air than the industry leader; Tool Length : 33.5 inches
  • 5.0 SCFM at 90 PSI allows the compressor to recover quickly after its initial tank charge is exhausted
  • vertical stand feature and collapsible handle allows a user to save space by transporting or storing the compressor in a vertical position
ProductCFMMax PSIWeightDb
SPEEDAIRE 8.4 PSI/90 PSI
13.9 CFM @125
125 PSI171 lbs74.8
Industrial Air5.7 CFM @ 90 PSI155 PSI190 lbs68
P1.51-U-A92.5 @ 90 PSI
4.6 @ 135 PSI
135 PSI200 lbs80
WEN 22873.2 CFM @ 90 PSI
4.2 CFM @ 40 PSI
125 PSI51 lbsN/A
California Air Tools 6.40 CFM @ 40 PSI
5.30 CFM @ 90 PSI
125 PSI82.5 lbs70
Ford Silent Series2.9 CFM @ 90 PSI
3.9 CFM @ 40 PSI
125 PSI88 lbs59
Stealth Ultra Quier 3 CFM @ 90 PSI150 PSI61.7 lbs65
Stark Portable Air Compressor7.2 CFM @ 40 PSI
3.5 CFM @ 90 PSI
125 PSI55 lbs70
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6. SPEEDAIRE 6.5 HP Air Compressor 

The SPEEDAIRE 6.5 HP air compressor is an affordable machine for its amount of horsepower and size. It is a gas-powered wheelbarrow-style compressor that weighs 171 pounds. It’s a powerful compressor that can run all of your air tools with ease. Here are some other notable features: 

Engine Power

As previously mentioned, this is a 6.5 horsepower Honda engine. If you didn’t know, Honda engines are one of the strongest on the planet. They have been known to last in vehicles for over 300,000 miles. It’s a 1-stage engine with a 20 oz oil capacity. 

Air Output

The SPEEDAIRE air compressor features an 8.4/13.9 CFM @125 PSI/90 PSI. The pump turns at 1,320 RPM, allowing the motor to pump out the pressurized air. This is plenty enough to run a paint sprayer, impact gun, nail gun, and more. 

Durability

This air compressor has an average pump life of 2,000 hours. If you only use it once in a while, it’s going to last for many years to come. Combine this with the powerful Honda motor and the solid steel frame assembly, your product will hold up on even the toughest jobs. 

Pros

  • Durable frame
  • Powerful Honda motor
  • Acceptable CFM
  • Gas-powered

Cons

  • Wheelbarrow-style may be inconvenient

7. Industrial Air 30-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor

Looking for a smaller air compressor that runs on electricity rather than gas? The Industrial Air 30-Gallon compressor does just that. It can run off of 120v and can be converted to 240v.

Not only is this smaller compressor powerful enough to run the necessary applications, but it’s also easily portable so you can take it where you need it to go. 

Optimal Durability

This compressor offers unbeatable durability. There is an array of durable parts within the machine including a cast iron crankcase, stainless steel reed valves, cast iron cylinder body, aluminum head, and valve plate, and more. 

Impeccable Power & Performance

The Industrial Air Compressor is equipped with a powerful 1.9 hp motor that’s powered by either 120v or 240v. The engine can put out a maximum of 155 PSI for ideal power tool operation. It delivers 5.7 CFM @ 90 PSI and holds 30-gallons of air. The sturdy dual voltage induction motor can ensure flawless performance. 

Simple Operation & Portability

This particular air compressor is very simple to use. There are on-board controls that allow you to easily access the quick-set regulator, view working pressure gauges, and control the on/off switch.

Additionally, there are pneumatic wheels for easy portability. There is an easy access front handle for transportation to various locations. 

Pros

  • Small but powerful
  • Optimal durability
  • Portable
  • Quiet
  • Dual voltage motor

Cons

  • Reports of leaking oil
  • Poor recovery time

8. P1.51U-A9 2hp 20-Gallon Single Stage Compressor

The P1.51U-A9 compressor is a reliable and durable machine for all of your air tool applications. This air compressor is by Ingersoll Rand, a company known for industrial innovation for over 100 years. This air compressor is one that you can depend on for many years to come, and here’s why: 

Power for Your Demands

This 2hp engine delivers a maximum pressure of 135 PSI. There is a CFM rating of 2.5 @ 90 PSI and 4.6 @ 135 PSI. It holds 30-gallons of air in the tank so you can work continuously for a longer period.

The oil-lube single-stage unit consists of a belt-driven operation for optimal quietness. It only puts out 80 dBA of sound and continuously cycles for ideal performance. 

Durable & Easy to Use

Not only is the compressor powerful, but it’s also quite durable. It’s constructed of a cast iron frame and cylinders for long-lasting use. It also has a discharge-mounted check valve, side drain valve, manual thermal overload motor protection, and more. The ASME National Board-coded receiver tank will remain intact longer than most others. 

Portability

You can easily move the compressor from place to place with the convenient wheels located at the bottom of the unit. The heavy-duty handle allows you to easily roll the compressor wherever you need to. It weighs about 200-pounds, but the semi-pneumatic tires make it seem like much less. 

Pros

  • Optimal portability
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Powerful motor
  • Quiet operation
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • May pop breakers

9. WEN 2287 6-Gallon Oil-Lubricated Air Compressor

The WEN air compressor allows you to power your pneumatic tools, blow up your tires, and clean up sawdust all at the same time. There’s no need to separate devices to help you achieve those tasks.

This compact air compressor tucks neatly in your garage for easy access and use. Here are some more notable features of the WEN 2287: 

Powerful Motor

The WEN 2287 has a 13A 1.5 HP motor and single-stage operation. It provides the 6-gallon unit with airflow rates of 3.2 CFM @ 90 PSI and 4.2 CFM @ 40 PSI. This allows you to use all of your air tools with ease. Once the compressor reaches its maximum PSI, it will trigger an auto-shut-down function for safe operation. 

Durable

This handy air compressor features two pressure gauges. One monitors the internal pressure within the tank and the other regulates the airflow that’s dispersed. The unit itself is a hotdog style and reinforced with steel.

It’s durable enough to accommodate the occasional ding from transportation. If anything is to happen to the compressor, you are backed by a two-year warranty. 

Portability & Stability

The attached handle makes transporting this compressor a breeze. Simply grab the handle and the wheels will help you move it wherever you need it to go. When set, the compressor is stabilized with a rubber-footed leg. This also ensures that the compressor stays in place while in use and does not tip. 

Pros

  • Optimal stability & portability
  • Powerful engine
  • Durable shell
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • May be difficult to keep running without flipping the breaker
  • Issues with shipment

10. California Air Tools 10020C

The California Air Tools 10020C is a quiet and powerful 10-gallon compressor. It requires very little maintenance and money. This is an ideal compressor for home or shop use as it’s durable and safe to operate. Let’s check out what more it has to offer. 

High Air Delivery & Power

Thanks to its powerful 2 hp motor, the 10020C delivers 6.40 CFM @ 40 PSI and 5.30 CFM @ 90 PSI. This allows you to run all of your pneumatic tools with ease. It has a low amp draw, only 14 Amps, keeping your breakers from flipping. It fills from empty to full in 120 seconds and takes around 25 seconds to recover from 95 PSI to 125 PSI. 

Ultra Quiet

If you’re working in a shop, the last thing you want to deal with is a loud compressor leaving you with ringing ears well after you’re done using it. This compressor only puts out 70 Decibels of sound, which is a lot quieter than most of its competitors. 

Durable & Oil-Free

This compressor requires absolutely no oil. It features large dual pistons, a cast aluminum cylinder, Teflon cylinder rings, and a stainless steel reed valve. These are durable materials meaning that they will require very little maintenance, saving you money in the long run. Additionally, since it’s oil-free, there’s cleaner air coming from the machine to allow for better tool operation. 

Pros

  • Durable parts
  • Quieter than competitors
  • Oil-free pump
  • Less maintenance required
  • Powerful CFM

Cons

  • Complaints of leaks

11. Ford Silent Series 15-Gallon Vertical Tank

Built Ford tough, right? This is what you would expect from a Ford Silent Series 15-Gallon air compressor. This rugged air compressor is exceptionally quiet, requires little maintenance, and features never-flat wheels for maximum portability. Let’s check out some other features: 

High Air Pressure

This 15-Gallon tank can put out 2.9 CFM @ 90 PSI and 3.9 CFM @ 40 PSI thanks to the powerful 2 hp motor. It has a maximum PSI of 125 and runs off of 120V, 60Hz, You can keep an eye on the air pressure with the two easy-to-read pressure gauges located on the top of the unit. 

 

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Unbelievably Quiet & Portable

This is by far the quietest air compressor on the list. It only puts out 59 Decibels of sound while being operated. You can use this compressor anywhere you need to without worrying about earplugs or disturbing the peace.

Additionally, you can move the compressor wherever you need to thanks to the mobility kit. The compressor has a handle and never-flat tires with some pretty snazzy F-150-inspired rims on it. 

12. Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor

If you’re a professional, there are a few things you need from an air compressor. You need them to be portable, durable, and flexible with the tools you are using. The Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor gives you all of that plus more. Let’s take a look at what else it has to offer: 

Powerful & Quiet

Sometimes you just can’t find both of these options when it comes to air compressors, but this one does have both. It features an innovative <65 dBa quiet system that is 80% quieter than its competitors and has a 3x longer life.

It has a 1.3 hp motor in it that drives the dual air pump to give you continuous compressed air. It will start in even the coldest temperatures. 

Ideal Air Flow Output

The strong 1.3 hp motor can give you 3 CFM @ 90 PSI with a peak of 150 PSI. It only takes 70 seconds for it to recover from an empty tank, which holds around 4.5-gallons of air combined. The twin stack tanks allow more air capacity without compromising storage space. 

Portability & Durability

The Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor can be toted around easily and quickly thanks to the handy rubber reinforced handle. There are two 6-inch rubber wheels on the bottom of the unit so the tank can be easily transported.

When done, wheel it to where you’re storing it for later use. Don’t worry about dings and dents. The housing is constructed of Q235B steel for optimal durability. 

Pros

  • Powerful air output
  • Quiet operation
  • Can be easily moved
  • Oil-free
  • Durable housing

Cons

  • None

13. Stark Portable Quiet Air Compressor

Last on the list is the Start Portable Quiet Air Compressor. It has a 10-gallon air capacity and a 3.5 hp motor. It’s a great addition to any shop, home, or industrial setting. It can accommodate all of your air tools easily and without hesitation. Let’s check out some more of the features it has to offer: 

High Air Output

The Stark air compressor has a maximum air compressor of 125 PSI. The CFM output is 7.2 CFM @ 40 PSI and 3.5 CFM @ 90 PSI. This is plenty enough airflow to get your air tools working the way that they need to.

The low AMP draw reduces the chance of flipping breakers when started. When the air is done pumping, the auto-shutoff stops the machine when the item is inflated completely for safety. 

Durability & Quick Recovery

Once the compressor has used all of the air, it takes just a short amount of time to recover from the loss. This is due in part to the cast iron pump with a large-bore cylinder and piston.

The industrial air filter allows for greater air intake and efficiency. Additionally, the cast iron cylinder increases pump life and reduces the amount of wear the machine takes. It’s also removable so you can easily maintain it. 

Portable & User Friendly

Lastly, this air compressor is easily portable and very user friendly. There is a convenient pressure gauge located on the machine so you can monitor what’s going on within your machine. It has a handle on the top of it as well and wheels so you can bring the compressor with you wherever it needs to go. 

Pros

  • Portable
  • Quieter than others
  • Efficient
  • Powerful 3.5 hp motor
  • Low AMP draw

Cons

  • Difficult to assemble
  • Loud

Honorable Mention:  CAT-1P1060S 

The CAT-1P1060S model is lightweight, quiet, and portable. The California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S is listed in the California Air Tools product list as a contractor grade air compressor. Being a contractor grade, it is ideal for blowing sawdust away in your carpentry or furniture workshop.

Frankly speaking, you cannot expect much more from a unit with a tank capacity of just one gallon. The tank itself can hold a maximum pressure of 120 PSI.

Ultra-Quiet Operation

Its 0.6-HP electric motor has a noise level of just 56 DB when in operation, which is extremely quiet. It is capable of generating 1.2 CFM at 90 PSI. The motor powers a single-piston, oil-free pump that requires little maintenance.

Good For Light Use

The manufacturer claims that the motor is powerful enough to support staple guns, brad nail guns, finish nail guns, airbrushes, and blowguns. However, we recommend that you use it for lighter jobs such as cleaning, inflating car tires, beds, toys, and sports balls.

Multiple Options Available

The whole unit weighs in at 29.5 lbs and has got an ergonomic handle for portability. Its small, horizontal tank is mounted on either four rubber-clad stands or wheels, depending on which model you choose. 

Sale
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air...
  • Ultra quiet only 56 Decibels
  • Oil-Free pump for less maintenance & costs
  • Lightweight for easy transporting - 29.5 lbs

Pros

  • Ultra-quiet operation
  • Great for your garage
  • Generates less heat

How To Choose a Portable Air Compressor?

Choosing a portable air compressor is more involved than finding one that is a color you like. More important to the decision are variables like:

  • What power source is the best of you. Do you need a 12-volt compressor or one that runs on 110 volts or even a gasoline engine?
  • How are you going to use the air compressor? Will it be used to fill a tire when you are away from home? Do you need to be able to run one or more pneumatic tools? Is your air compressor going to be used on a job site?
  • What Size compressor best fits your needs. Will a small portable 12-volt compressor be adequate or do you need a tank large enough to maintain air supply for a busy workshop?

These are all questions that you will need to answer to find the right combination of features, capacity, and power to make an informed decision about the best portable air compressor for your needs.

Buyer’s Guide: What To Look For

Power Source: Gas or electric

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How and where the portable air compressor will be used is another consideration.  Electric air compressors tend to need less maintenance and upkeep. Gasoline-powered compressors tend to be larger and heavier. However, some job sites may not have electricity, and a gasoline-powered air compressor is the only option.

Tank Size

The larger the tank, the expectation is that the air compressor itself will not have to work as hard to keep up with demand and that you can use more tools. This is partially true. Tools that use a higher CFM of compressed air will benefit from a larger tank to buffer the air pump from the rise and fall in demand that most air tools create.

Airflow

Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and determines how many tools you can safely run from your portable air compressor. You should know the CFM requirements of your tools and plan your air compressor purchase so that you have adequate airflow for your tools with a bit of extra margin.

Oil-free or oil flooded

Portable compressors offer two options in the way the air pumps are lubricated.  Most of the smaller portable air compressors are now considered oil-free.

These compressors are engineered to use special alloys of metal in the cylinder and special sealing piston rings made of Teflon or carbon fiber that doesn’t require any kind of liquid lubricant.  

Oil-flooded compressors use a lubricating oil that helps cool the air pump as well as make the moving parts slide easily together with without damage or excessive wear.

Making the Decision

With an understanding of how to choose a good air compressor for your needs, we hope that this article helps you find the portable air compressor that is a fit for your situation. In the end, starting the process armed with the best information gives you a head-start on the decision-making process.  

Last update on 2021-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API