Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or if you use air tools for work from home opportunities.
Mini air compressor can save you time and money. But finding the right compressor for your needs can be challenging, especially if you have never shopped for compressors before.
But we have your back and have created this shopping guide to help you choose the best mini air compressor for in-home use.
What Are Mini Air Compressors
Mini Air compressors are handy devices to have around the house. Many compressors are built for job sites and construction work but portable mini air compressors are designed for everyday use. Compressor powered airbrushes make painting fences easier.
Compressors are perfect for inflating tires, toys, and balls. Let’s not forget the many air tool options that DIY enthusiasts could use to speed up work with less stress and strain.
For all these reasons and more, it’s important to choose the right air compressor.
But how do you know which compressor is right for you?
Buyers Guide: What To Look For When Shopping For Mini Air Compressor
The best way to shop smart for your mini air compressor is to be informed.
That means knowing what ratings are important to look at, understanding what you actually need, and whether or not your compressor will be convenient to store or use. Let’s dig in and see what that looks like.
When you are shopping for any tool, there are certain key things that you need to know. Listed below are certain terms that you must check out first before making any purchasing decision.
Cubic Feet per Minute (cfm)
The CFM of an air compressor is the volume of air being delivered to the air tool. This rating is the most important in choosing a compressor.
Higher cfm ratings are better for larger jobs since they provide more air to tools. Some air compressors or air tools will offer a Standard cfm rating instead.
This rating refers to the expected cfm under standard pressure and temperature conditions (68 degrees Fahrenheit and 36 percent humidity at sea level.)
Pounds per square inch (psi)
Psi is a measure of the air force delivered by air compressors. Air tools require a certain amount of psi to operate efficiently. Most air tools require psi of 40 to 90 to get the job done.
Gallons refer to the tank size and are only important for tools requiring a constant flow of air. Examples include spray guns or sanders. Larger tanks let you do longer jobs before you have to pause to rebuild pressure in the tank.
Horsepower is all about the capacity of the motor or engine driving the compressor pump. This rating directly influences cfm output. Generally speaking, higher hp generates greater cfm.
Judging By The Numbers
When you’re shopping for a mini air compressor, you always have to keep in mind the ratings above. We recommend that you shop for air compressors by looking at the tool you own with the highest scfm rating and purchase a compressor that has an output of 1.5 times the rating.
Let’s say you have a tool that requires 4.7scfm, you would want to purchase an air compressor that puts out at least 7.05 cfm.
If you want a compressor that can supply multiple tools at once, add up all of the scfm ratings together then multiply them by 1.5 for the cfm you need.
Our list is based on price, weight, usefulness, and ease of handling and storage.
Since most home users don’t want to deal with heavier models that take up a lot of garage space, the options we’ll post below are all designed with the average user in mind. You can read a brief excerpt of the coming reviews with the following chart.
Top Five Best Mini Air Compressors
|Product name||CFM/PSI||Weight||Size||Ideal Uses||Price|
|EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump||1.06 cfm with a maximum working pressure of 70 psi||3.8 pounds||13.5 x 8.1 x 5.6 inches||Car Tire Inflation|
Balls and Inflatables
|Makita MAC2400 Big Bore||4.2 cfm at 90 psi||81 pounds||20 x 18 x 18.8 inches||Job Site Powerhouse|
|PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor||2.6 cfm at 90 psi||34 pounds||18.3 x 18 x 19 inches||Powering Nailers|
Indoor Home Use
|VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor||1.26 cfm at 60 psi||1 pound||9.2 x 5.5 x 6.8 inches||Tire Inflation|
Extended Tool Use
|Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI||2.6 scfm at 90 psi||31 pounds||17 x 17 x 19.2 inches||Tire Inflation|
Small Tools and Jobs
Our 1st Pick: EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
Our number one pick is the EPAuto 12v DC Portable Air Compressor Pump. This device is a plug-in portable air compressor that we find is perfect for car tires.
Not only does it run relatively quiet, but it also offers convenience with an automatic shut-off that activates when it reaches the pressure you need.
This compressor also features four easy to read displays that show psi, kpa (Kilopascal), bar, and kg/cm (kg force x centimeter distance).
It has a compact and lightweight design weighing less than 4 pounds and taking up less space than most of our other recommendations. It also has a 9ft cord with a 2.5ft filler and is affordable for the work it can do.
We wish that it had a quick-connect valve connector rather than a screw-in. We also noticed that it isn’t ideal for inflating truck tires and the unit doesn’t seem to fit very well in the accompanying carry bag.
You can purchase the EPAuto 12v DC Portable Air Compressor Pump for only $34.87 on Amazon.
- Quiet operation
- Automatic shut-off
- Compact and lightweight design
- Screw-in Valve Connector
- Not ideal for truck tires
- The carry bag isn’t very useful
Our 2nd Pick: Makita MAC2400 Big Bore
The Makita MAC2400 Big Bore is our second favorite mini air compressor for in-home use.
While this model is designed as a mini air compressor for nailers and other industrial uses, it has more than enough power to handle any job you could possibly need.
The construction is sturdy enough to last you for a long time with minimal maintenance. When it operates, you’ll notice that it’s quiet and vibration-free and the compact design is easy to store in any garage.
We love how the pump is designed for fast recovery while still running cooler than most other units. It also offers the highest cfm on our list even at 90psi.
We feel that the components and gauges could be placed at more convenient locations around the machine. The high cost and heavyweight may turn away some shoppers as well.
You can purchase the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore for $299.99 from Amazon.
- Relatively quiet and vibration free
- Compact design
- Powerful and sturdy workhorse unit
- High cost
- Inconveniently placed components
Our 3rd Pick: PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
Our number three rating goes to The Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor. This compressor has a six-gallon air tank with a maximum of 150 PSI tank pressure.
Many users have reported that this compressor can handle up to 3 nailers at once and requires less maintenance than most other options on this list.
We like using this as an air compressor for spray gun and similar devices. This compressor has enough power to reach 110 psi in only a few minutes while offering extended use for your air tools.
We also enjoy how compact and light it is. If you enjoy DIY projects, then this compressor is an excellent choice. However, this is one of the louder options on this list.
Also, the air nozzle feels flimsy. We notice it tends to run hot, which can spell problems for extended use.
The Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor is available for $149.99 from Amazon.
- Powerful workhorse model
- Compact and light enough for home use
- Fast recovery and extended run time
- Louder than many options
- Flimsy air nozzle
- Has a tendency to run hot
Our 4th Pick: VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor
The VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor joins our list at number four. This plug-In compressor is a great mid-range option for most common household needs.
Motorcyclists will enjoy this unit since it offers fast inflation times when used as an air compressor for motorcycles.
The compact design is also the lightest weight on our list and boasts a maximum working pressure of 60psi.
We enjoy the built-in heat sink that keeps the unit from running too hot. It also has a 10ft power cord, a 3ft air hose, and an LED work light as great extras.
The problems we noticed include how the LED light is not very strong. The pressure gauge readings are not always correct. Also, the unit is more for filling tires and isn’t very good at handling flats.
You can purchase the VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor for $54.89 on Amazon.
- Compact and lightweight design
- Built-in heat sink
- Fast inflation times
- The LED light is weak
- Pressure gauge readings are sometimes off
- Not ideal for flat tires
Our 5th Pick: Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor
The Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor rounds out our list at number five. This compressor uses a maintenance-free pump that has a 6-gallon tank with a maximum of 150 psi.
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.
The unit is solidly built and boasts one of the simpler operating instructions on this list, making this a great unit for new compressor users.
It also has two hose connections so it can run two air tools at the same time. The air hose is on the short side and the unit is noisy.
The week motor also makes this a less than optimal choice for big jobs.
You can find the Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor on Amazon for $109.99.
- Maintenance-free pump
- Great air tool performance
- Two hose connections
- Too weak for big jobs
- The air hose could be longer
What Mini Air Compressors Are Good For?
When you are online at Amazon, eBay, or any other retailer looking for a mini air compressor 12v unit, you have a specific tool or purpose in mind.
Many retailers will tell you that you should buy a compressor because it can handle heavier-duty jobs, but savvy shoppers will avoid buying more than they actually need, especially for in-home use.
If you want an air compressor to keep balls, inflatables, or toys inflated and pressurized, you’ll have different needs than a user who has work or hobbies that need air tools.
As you’ll see when you see our top five list below, some mini air compressors are cheap and affordable because they are only for limited or emergency use.
Generally speaking, here are a few common household reasons for owning a mini air compressor.
- You want to inflate toys, balls, and tires
- You have in-home hobbies or jobs, such as painting, that require air tools to get the job done
- You want to make your DIY projects faster, easier, and more professional
No matter why you are shopping for a new air compressor, it will likely fall into one of the above three reasons.
Once you know why you want an air compressor, you can use that information to determine if you really need compressors with extras such as LED lights, automatic shut off, or extra hose connections.
The efficiency of Mini Air Compressor
We mentioned earlier why cfm, gallons, hp, and other ratings matter when selecting your mini air compressor. Compressors with lower horsepower ratings tend to reach their maximum cfm a lot slower than more powerful options.
This could spell the difference between minutes of waiting before you can do the work you need. Generally speaking, DIY experts will want higher hp, cfm, and will likely want compressors that feature higher gallons in their tanks.
Mini Air Compressor Are Ultra Quiet
Many air tools and compressors generate a lot of noise. If you want to avoid disturbing your friends and family while you work, you will want to purchase quieter compressors.
For many shoppers, how a device sounds in operation is an important convenience consideration. That’s why most of our top five mini air compressors below are quiet during standard operation.
You should also consider storage since you aren’t always going to be using your mini air compressor. Models range in size and weight from pocket-sized models that weight less than a few pounds to workhorse models that weigh close to 100 pounds. The heavier models also tend to be larger, requiring more garage space.
The top five list below also includes a chart that tells you the dimensions and weight of our chosen devices so you know what to expect.
How Do They Compare
Whether you are shopping for an air compressor for tire filling or if you need a unit that can handle work on a construction site, there four things you should consider before you start shopping for compressors.
- Know the exact ratings you need
- Decide what you need an air compressor to do
- Consider if the low-financial cost is worth extra time
- Figure out where and how you will store your device when it’s not in use
Whether you work from home, enjoy DIY projects, or want to handle household chores fast, finding the right mini air compressor is important.
These devices save you time and energy, increase the quality and professionalism of your work, and offer convenience and portability that can’t be denied.
Our recommendations during this shopping guide are based on what we believe the average home user needs.
But there are a lot of choices on the market for compressors so it’s always a great idea to shop around. Use this guide and our recommendations to help you make the best shopping decision for your needs.
We hope this guide will get you started in making the best shopping choices for your budget and needs.