Although small air compressors are common fixtures in the professional world, many people choose to buy one for their home as well. When you need to pump your tires up, knowing how to operate an air compressor and having one on hand can be convenient.
Picking the right small air compressor to store in the garage or take to the job with you isn’t always easy. A large number of options can make it difficult to discern which features you need, as well as which compressors are durable or portable enough for you.
Fortunately, we’ve already done the legwork for you—we’ve compiled a list of the best small air compressors currently out there:
1. Best Overall: PORTER-CABLE Oil-Free Air Compressor
While it’s still small enough to fit in tight spaces in your garage or even a vehicle, the PORTER-CABLE Oil-Free Air Compressor is still capable of storing plenty of air in it. The tank has a maximum 150 psi max pressure as well as a six-gallon design.
Even if you need to put air in multiple tires or power tools for long periods, this pancake compressor shouldn’t start to cause problems with long run-times.
One issue that some operators can run into is getting their compressor to start in cold weather. With 120-volts and low amps, the manufacturer has designed this compressor to work at any temperature you need it to.
To extend the lifespan of the product, there’s also an oil-free pump that doesn’t require any regular maintenance. Speaking of the lifespan, the one-year limited warranty on this compressor can give some buyers peace of mind. If you notice a defect within the product, you can easily return it or replace it.
- Oil-free pump
- Powerful motor
- Works easily in cold weather
- Six-gallon tank has more storage capacity
- Not as portable as some options
- Not as lightweight
2. Best Value: EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
Even if portable air compressors tend to be a little more affordable, not all of them may fit into your budget or provide you with great value. If there’s one thing the EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump can do, it is offering buyers a great value.
As one of the most portable options out there, transporting it from one place to the next feels effortless. This compressor might be the right choice for buyers that want a pump they can take to work with them.
To make easy repairs on the road, the compressor will hook up to the cigarette lighter in your vehicle. For quickly adding air to a tire while you’re on the go or helping someone else out, this feature can make all the difference.
Keep in mind, however, that this compressor doesn’t support truck tires. This includes lightweight truck tires as well as heavy-duty tires.
- Easy to transport
- Offers a great value
- Supports many different types of tires
- Connects to a cigarette lighter
- Doesn’t support truck tires
- Not as user-friendly
3. Best Portable Option: Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump
Whether you need to pump up the tires on your vehicle, bike, or even motorcycle, it pays to keep a portable air compressor around. Unfortunately, not every air compressor might be as portable as the manufacturer advertises it to be. Pancake compressors, for instance, can be difficult to put in your vehicle when you’re trying to travel.
Portability isn’t an issue with the Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump. Regardless of where you plan to keep it, there’s a dual-sided plug that can fit into a 110-volt outlet at your house or a cigarette lighter in your car. At only five pounds, some compressors might be lighter, but not all of them include an easy-to-carry handle on the top of the pump.
The gauge on this compressor is also easy to read as well. It does the unit conversion for you and measures up to 100 PSI.
- Easy to read the pressure gauge
- You can hook it up to your home or car
- Includes a handle for easy transportation
- More durable
- Not as lightweight
- Has a slower flow rate in comparison to some other choices
4. Best User-Friendly Option: TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor
If you’ve never used an air compressor before, figuring out how to operate one of these pumps can be a challenge. Some of them have designs that might make sense to an expert but feel overwhelming to a beginner. When it comes to a user-friendly option, the TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor might be exactly what you need.
While you can plug it into an outlet or an extension cord for outdoor use, this tire inflator will also connect to the 12V cigarette lighter in your vehicle without any trouble. This way, making on-the-go repairs feels easier than ever.
Reading the digital screen on this product shouldn’t be an issue, and when they need to adjust the air compression, all buyers need to do is press one of the three buttons on the front. Another perk of the digital screen is that it makes this product easy to use during the night. In low lighting, the numbers on the screen will still light up.
- Has a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
- Versatile and easy to use in tons of different settings
- Great for beginners
- Will automatically stop pumping air when your tire gets to where it needs to be
- You can’t use it on big trucks or certain large vehicles
- You might need to let it “recharge” for a few minutes while you’re using it
5. Best Low-Noise Option: California Air Tools Quiet Compressor
One of the common issues of air compressors is noise. It’s not unusual for even smaller or more portable compressors to feel as if they’re waking everyone up within a mile radius. If you’re trying to find a low-noise option, the California Air Tools Quiet Compressor might be what you’re looking for.
With only decibels of sound, you’ll still register the sound of the compressor, but it won’t be as obnoxious or distracting as many other choices would be. With an oil-free pump, the manufacturer has designed this compressor to have around 1,000 hours of use before buyers need to start worrying about its lifespan. In comparison, a lot of compressors on the market only have lifespans near 500 hours.
Another perk is the size of this compressor. Compared to the 2 ½ gallon tanks inside most portable compressors, this tank is capable of holding nearly five gallons.
- Very quiet operation
- Longer lifespan
- Larger storage capacity in the tank
- More durable
- Not as portable as many other choices
- Not as lightweight
6. Best Performance: DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor
Even if your air compressor is more portable or has a smaller tank, the one feature that buyers should always worry about is performance. Even if you can take it or use wherever you want, an air compressor that doesn’t perform well can end up being useless. Luckily, that’s not the case with the DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor.
With a high-efficiency motor, the manufacturer has constructed this model to make sure it starts in all climates. Instead of trying to hassle with your air compressor in cold weather because it won’t start, this product should start up immediately when you turn it on. Since it has less than 80 dBA of noise, operators can expect a quieter working space than some other compressors might allow.
Keep in mind that when you operate this model, buyers should always keep it at least twelve inches away from the wall so that there aren’t any obstructions to the airflow.
- Quiet operation
- Larger storage capacity
- Better performance
- Durable design
- You might have trouble operating it in tight spaces
- Not as lightweight or portable
7. Best For Beginners: AUTLEAD C2 Portable Air Compressor
If you’re a beginner, finding a compressor that has a user-friendly design or that’s even easy to operate can be a challenge. With advanced accuracy and a host of other easy-to-use features, the AUTLEAD C2 Portable Air Compressor might be another great choice for beginners.
Another interesting quality you’ll find with this pump is its endurance. Some compressors struggle to work for even twenty minutes, and might require several minutes of “recovery time.” However, this model can work for up to sixty minutes before it needs time to recuperate.
It’s also portable. If you have to travel or need a compressor to take with you to work, all you need to do is drop this pump inside your trunk, and you’re good to go. While it won’t be able to support the tires on a truck, buyers can still inflate the tires on a regular-sized car, SUV, or bike.
- Portable enough to fit inside your trunk or backseat without any issues
- Easy to operate
- Much longer endurance in comparison to other choices
- 24-month satisfaction guarantee
- Can’t support trucks or other much larger vehicles
- Doesn’t support or operate on a 110V home socket