Quick Summary: We have picked the Bostitch 6 Gallon Oil Free Compressor as the best small air compressor as it requires no regular maintenance, can reach up to 150 PSI in three minutes, and produces less than 80 db of noise. Additionally, it is recommended by a former quality assurance specialist.
Customers have to pay attention to the air compressor’s capacity when they purchase it. They might not need an air compressor with an especially large capacity, of course, so they should consider how they’ll actually be using these particular machines. Other people will need more expansive air compressors, so that is the feature they should prioritize.
Even the simplest of features can change the experience of using many air compressors. For instance, some of them have cords, and those cords vary in length.
A relatively long cord isn’t going to limit customers much when they’re using an air compressor, but a shorter one might. Slight overheating can also be an issue with some air compressors, although many of them were designed to minimize this problem.
The top small air compressors won’t necessarily take up a lot of space in anyone’s garage or shop, which is one of the reasons why so many people choose them and not bigger compressors. Some of the compressors in this product category are known for being uniquely little, however, and they’ll still create the results that people require.
There are air compressors on the market that are barely audible, and others are slightly louder. Many of the available high-quality small air compressors are usable in plenty of very different circumstances thanks to adapters and other important components.
- 10 Best Small Air Compressors Comparison
- Reviews of Top 10 Small Air Compressors
- How to Choose Right Small Air Compressors
- Final Verdict
Reviews of Top 10 Small Air Compressors
Here’s a list of the top small air Compressors we found on the market:
What You Will Love: It is very well made, and it takes less than 3 minutes to reach 150 PSI
The Bostitch air compressor fills up very fast, and it is very quiet at under 80 dB. The oil-free design means no maintenance in that regard.
It is built durable enough for a retired government quality assurance specialist recommends it. There have been no complaints of leaking that I could find.
The high-efficiency motor and high flow air regulator both improve the performance and functionality of the tool.
However, a couple of buyers have stated that the air regulator might affect the precision of the instrument, so if it is a project requiring extreme accuracy, Bostitch BTFP02012 Small Compressor is probably not a good option. At a little over $100, it is lower than some options but not the lowest available.
- 6 gallon tank size
- 150 PSI max tank
- Up to 150 PSI in under 3 minutes
- High-efficiency HP motor
- Quiet- under 80 dB
- High flow air regulator
- Oil-free for less maintenance
- Durable construction
- Mid-range pricing
- Regulator may cause precision issues
What You Will Love: This is a very lightweight and compact option at a great price.
The AUDEW Portable Air Compressor Pump is one of the best portable air compressors on this list. In fact, it is compact enough that it can fit into one hand.
It comes with a bright LED light that provides great visibility at night time and helps oncoming motorists see you. The LCD display means very easy readings, and the 10 ft power cord lets you go a good distance.
The auto shut off feature prevents you from over-inflating items, and the 3 nozzle adaptors make it easy to pump multiple types of things. You get very clear instructions about how to use it.
Also, AUDEW Portable Air Compressor is very affordable as it costs around $31. The downside is that it will probably not last as long as other air compressors.
However, at such a great price, you should expect to sacrifice something, and it is cheap enough to replace a couple of times a year if need be.
- Auto shut off
- Digital LED display for easy readings
- LED lights
- 10 ft cord
- 3 nozzle adaptors for versatility
- Lightweight and very compact
- Clear instructions
- Might not last as long as other options
Best Small 12V Air Compressor
What You Will Love: It is a good option for cars, SUVs, toys, balls and more for a very low price.
The Auto Virazh Tornado Portable Tire Inflator is a very compact air compressor, so it takes up little space. It is said to provide 35L per minute, which is pretty good for such a compact compressor.
As the hose is only three feet long, it is wise to get the extension. It plugs into your cigarette lighter or DC outlet and provides a clear and easy to read PSI display.
This small compressor can inflate tires on cars and SUVs, though it may take a little longer than you would like. It also comes with nozzles for inflating toys, bike tires, and other things.
It is a lightweight compressor making it easily portable, and the carrying case simplifies it transport even more. At about $20, it is one of the lowest-priced models we have looked at, yet it is reported to perform very well.
As Auto Virazh Tornado Portable Tire Inflator is also stated to be very user-friendly, it seems like the kind of air compressor I would want if I was stranded with a flat tire.
- Great price
- 3 nozzle adapters for cars, bikes, and other inflatables
- 35L per minute
- Small to midsize vehicle
- Carry case
- Easy to read pressure meter
- Fills tires slowly
- May need an extension for the 3 ft hose
Best Oil-free Small Air Compressor
What You Will Love: It can reach up to 150 PSI in just a few minutes.
The Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC 6 gallon Pancake air Compressor requires less frequent refills. It has a handle for easier transportation and an ergonomic non-slip grip.
It provides up to 150 PSI and a high flow regulator for maximum efficiency and performance. This power comes at a price though because the unit is noisy, heavy, and creates a lot of vibration.
The factory sends the unit with the air coupler and plugs already installed to minimize the chance of leaks. It draws minimal amps and comes with an oil free pump.
For a little over $160, you can order the air compressor and a 13 piece accessory kit, so it is a pretty affordable option.
Porter Compressor also comes equipped with a water drain valve and rubber feet to sit on. The instructions might be a bit difficult to understand, though.
- 6-gallon capacity
- Non-slip ergonomic grip
- Up to 150 PSI for longer run time
- Air coupler and plug come installed
- Low amp usage
- Oil free pump
- Handle for easier portability
- High flow regulator
- instructions may not be easy to understand
- produces a lot of vibration
Best Oiled Small Air Compressor
What You Will Love: It has an easy to see oil sight so you know when to add more, and it is durable.
This Makita MAC700 Big Bore air compressor is quiet, powerful, and durable. It has a large air filter for better airflow and efficiency. The 4 pole HP motor puts out enough power for your jobs while staying under 80 dB.
The air compressor has a very low amp draw, so you will be faced with minimal breaker tripping. The roll bar handle makes it easier to carry where you need to go.
Some buyers have reported that it does not hold air pressure very well, though there is a one year manufacturer’s warranty in case that happens.
Though Makita HP Air Compressor is portable, it seems to be a bit awkward and heavy. You may need a buddy to help you carry it. At over $200, it is a bit of an expensive choice.
- Quiet- 80 dB
- Durable HP motor
- 1,720 RPM pump, 3.4 CFM and CFM at 90 PSI
- Low amp draw
- Oiled for cooler running pump and minimal wear
- Great performance
- One year warranty
- Rollbar handle for easy portability
- High price
- Some units do not hold psi max tank pressure well
Best Electric Small Air Compressor
What You Will Love: This air compressor gives you long work periods- it can power 1,220 nails per charge, meaning you have to charge less often.
The DEWALT DCC2560T1 is loved by many roofing, construction, and carpentry pros. It is compact, portable, and very lightweight making it easy to get to and from different job sites.
With the 2.5 gallon capacity, it requires less recharge time and frequency than many other options- though the length of max tank pressure will vary according to your personal use.
Additionally, it is cordless for even greater portability. It also provides a one turn regulator which allows fast and accurate pressure adjustments.
DEWALT small compressor is fairly quiet, and it is great for everything from trim and finish work to inflating tires. At over $250, it is a pretty expensive option, so it may be a bit expensive for home and personal use.
However, as many professionals love and recommend this air compressor, this may be the one for them.
- 2.5 gallon
- 79 dB noise level
- Fast and accurate pressure adjustments
- A lot of work before recharge
- O)il free
- Compact, portable, lightweight
- Great for trim and finish work
- Loved by pros
- pretty expensive
Best Gas-Powered Small Air Compressor
What You Will Love: This NorthStar portable air compressor is large enough to do your job but small enough to transport,
The NorthStar Portable Air Compressor is made with a cast iron pump and a durable engine. The floating steel valves and V-style cylinder promote long engine life.
The overheat prevention turns it off if it is getting to hot, and the low oil shutdown means you do not have to worry about running it with low oil.
NorthStar Portable Air Compressor is built to maintain the health of the engine. However, at over $1,000, it is one of the most expensive portable air compressors.
- Large capacity
- Cast iron pump
- Durable engine
- Overheat prevention
- V-style cylinder
- Floating valves
- Low oil shutdown
- Very expensive
- Sensitive engine choke
Best Portable Small Air Compressor
What You Will Love: This hot dog air compressor is very quiet, enough that it can be used indoors.
This Senco PC1010N is a good choice for smaller projects, such finish and trim, and quiet enough for indoor use. It is oil free so it requires less maintenance, and it requires less than 30 seconds of recovery time between uses.
There is a one-gallon capacity and it is very compact for easy storage. Another great factor is that if there is a large amp draw, this small air compressor will trip the breaker to prevent any other problems.
There are, however, a couple of issues. First, some buyers have found the regulator knob to leak air, even after they have had it repaired. I only found a couple of reports like this, though, so those may be the exception.
Second, the price is a bit high. At around $160, there are definitely much cheaper options that perform just as well. Senco Hot Dog Compressor is a good option, though, for those who need to travel with their compressor.
- Oil free for less maintenance
- Quiet enough for indoor use
- Compact- 14 x 13 x 10
- Easy to use
- Less than 30 seconds of recovery time
- Higher price
- Regulator knob may leak air
Best for Tires
What You Will Love: It has an LCD digital display that shows you the current PSI and more.
This Helteko pancake style air compressor pump is excellent for inflating tires, basketballs, bicycles, and more small projects in minutes.
You can easily plug the Helteko Portable air compressor into your 12V cigarette lighter, or attach it to a 110V adapter to use with a regular power supply.
Helteko Portable Air Compressor is made from tough materials, is compact enough to easily fit into your vehicle, and lightweight for easy portability.
The auto shut off capability keeps you from overinflating by shutting off when the desired pressure is reached. It has LED lighting which makes you visible to approaching motorists if you are on the side of the road at nighttime.
The only real downside is that it cannot handle larger projects. At around $50 and with an 18-month warranty, the Helteko is a great option for small projects.
- Good price
- Great for small projects
- Durable construction
- LCD display
- Easy to use
- Connects to 12 V cigarette lighter
- not good for heavy-duty use
Best for Performance
What You Will Love: Air compressors usually aren’t built anywhere near as carefully as this particular model. It needs fewer inputs in order to properly function, but it performs much better than many much than many of the other air compressors that are bigger and more complex.
This small air compressor is not the kind of device that will have to be replaced quickly, and it should not present customers with any issues while it’s in use.
The pump for this device is consistently lubricated using high-quality oil. Therefore, Makita MAC2400 is not going to overheat when it is operating, or at least not as easily.
The overall temperature of the device when it is functioning will also be substantially lower. Customers will use less energy than they would otherwise when they select this air compressor.
Because of the way the machine is lubricated, it should also still be usable for many years. The compressors that operate at higher temperatures also tend to break down much more quickly.
This compressor was also manufactured to need less time to recover when it’s used heavily, so people will find that the device is more dependable in practice.
While customers will all have different concerns regarding their air compressors, many people have specifically wanted compressors that are not loud. Makita MAC2400 compressor definitely qualifies, even when it’s been on for a while.
People actually might be able to get more practical use out of the air compressor, since they won’t have to find a way to cope with much noise from the device.
- Powerful voltage of one hundred and twenty volts
- Compact design
- easy to use
- Safe usage
- Quiet performance
- Less powerful than some larger device
- Not as user-friendly as some compressors
- Heavier than it looks
How to Choose the Right Small Air Compressor?
When you are looking for the best small air compressor, there are a few things you should consider:
Start-Stop vs Constant Run
With a start-stop unit, there is a switch with which you can turn it on and off. A constant run will have to be unplugged to stop it.
Oil vs Oil-free Tanks
Some air compressor small units require oil for lubrication to keep the compressor running smoothly, but others do not. Oil-free tanks require much less maintenance. They are also becoming the most popular and more readily available type on the market.
Power, Motor, and Tank Size
Try not to purchase any unit that offers less than 110 to 120 volts, as they will likely be too weak for most needs. Anything less than a one-gallon gas tank size is going to have you refilling too often.
Electric powered unit tends to be much more useful when you have a power source because you can use them inside your shed, garage, or workshop without breathing in fumes.
The PSI (pounds per square inch) and CFM (cubic feet per minute) will determine how fast and how much the small air compressor will put out.
However, performance goes beyond how well it does during use. It also depends on how long it lasts, how long it takes to recharge, and how much time you have to wait in between uses.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are especially important if the air compressor will not be staying in one open spot- like in a mechanics shop.
Consider not only your available space but also how much weight you can carry around without discomfort or injury.
The Noise Factor
If you have ever been around an air compressor, you know just how loud they can get. Fortunately, there are also quiet air compressors that are still very powerful. Obviously, this is up to you.
How much noise are you willing to deal with? It would also be kind to consider those who live in the same home, work in the same space, and neighbors.
The less noise your machine makes, the less likely it will bother others. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere all alone, go for a small, quiet air compressor.
Air Tool Requirements
It is especially important to check the requirements of the air tools you are getting the air compressor for. If it does not meet those requirements, it is a waste of time and money. Check those requirements and make a list before you even begin shopping.
Space and Portability
Both a small electric air compressor and a small gas powered air compressor are varying sizes and require varying amounts of space.
Consider how much space you have to dedicate to your air compressor as well as how much you will need to be moving it around. If you need something that is mobile, look specifically for a small portable air compressor.
You will notice two common styles of small air compressors: the hot dog and the pancake. Hot dogs compressors are more expensive but quieter.
Pancake compressors provide low maintenance, lightweight, and small size. The pancake compressor is great for small projects such as inflating tires, but they may not power all of your heavy-duty air tools.
Horsepower, PSI, CFM
If you need it for personal use, horsepower is really up to you. If it is for professional use, you probably want higher horsepower. The PSI is how much air your small air compressor can give you.
The PSI of small air compressors can match or come very close to the PSI of larger units- the smaller ones just have to refill more often. The CFM (cubic feet per minute) refers to how quickly it can give you that air. To choose the correct CFM, check what your pneumatic tools require.
There are both electric and gas-powered small air compressors. The two biggest differences being portability and maintenance costs. For home use only, an electric one should be fine because you can plug it up.
If you will be moving away from power sources, a gas-powered one is probably a better option for you. Also, keep in mind that gas-powered tools and compressors should only be used outside.
Prices can range tremendously, but it does not necessarily tell you much about the unit itself. Do not just go for the most expensive one thinking that it is the best- that may not be true. In some cases, a $60 may be just as powerful as a $200.
Why do I need an air compressor?
There are a number of reasons for air compressors. They are great for powerful tools you need for carpentry and crafts. They can make spray painting much easier.
They can help you inflate items, such as tires and do other auto repairs. Basically, they put the power and strength behind tools that are used for different things.
What size of air compressor do we need?
This is a personal decision, really, as it relies on how much space you have to store it, and how often you feel like recharging it between uses, and how often you want it to start and stop during use.
Small ones are usually great for very small projects, but anything more than inflating a tire will probably need something larger.
Which voltage should we look for?
You want at least 110V- that is pretty much standard for most electrical items. However, you can choose them with as much voltage as you feel you need for your most heavy-duty project.
What hose should we look for?
As far as diameter is concerned, you will typically see hoses from ¼” to 3/8”. Check your compressor manual to ensure the correct diameter.The length, on the other hand, depends on how far you need it to stretch.
It would be best to measure the length you need. For instance, if you will use it to inflate your tires, measure the distance between where the compressor will be sitting and the tire that is the farthest from the compressor. This should give you a good idea of length.
Related: Best Air Compressor Hoses
What kind of small air compressor do carpenters use?
Different carpenters use different types. However, most that I have seen do prefer electric over gas-powered and closer to 135 volts when they find them that power.
Final Verdict: Best Small Air Compressors
When deciding between small air compressors, it is especially important to consider the projects you will complete, space you have to store it, and space you have in your budget for the purchase. Through the information here, you can learn what the best small air compressor is for you.
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