Best Portable Air Compressor Reviews and Buying Guide for 2020

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DIY enthusiasts, homeowners and general contractors are on the lookout for the best portable air compressor that can meet their daily on and off site jobs. The portable air compressor has been a game changer in the construction and DIY industry. They’ve made it easier to complete small and medium size jobs fast and with ease. These air compressors can be used for simple tasks like inflating tires or air mattresses to medium intensity jobs like driving nail guns and air power drills.

Air compressors work the same way. They harness natural air and compress it. The compressed air is stored in the compressor’s tank and used as needed. Compressed air has kinetic energy. When released, the force it produced can be used to drive tools.

Best Portable Air Compressor Reviews and Buying Guide

***Explore BEST SELLER Portable Air Compressors Now!

Portable air compressors differ from their stationary counterparts in terms of size, motor horsepower, tank capacity, CFM and PSI rating and portability. They are smaller than stationary air compressors and can be easily carried or carted. Their small size makes them a good choice for home and off-site use although they might not be very efficient in handling highly intensive jobs.

If you’re looking for the best portable air compressor, there are hundreds of makes and models to choose from. Portable air compressor reviews make it easy to find the leading units in the market. In this review, you’ll get to see the top five compressors based on customer feedback, performance and ease of use.

Top 5 Best Portable Air Compressor Reviews

Comparison Table For Top 5 Best Portable Air Compressor Reviews

Air CompressorPower SourceAir FlowShippingReviewEditor's RatingPrice
PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
Electric3.5 CFMFREE ShippingOver 1065 customer reviews4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)See on Amazon
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
Gas2.0 CFMFREE ShippingOver 365 customer reviews4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)See on Amazon
Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor
Electric3.3 CFMFREE ShippingOver 764 customer reviews4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)See on Amazon
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
Electric2.0 CFMFREE ShippingOver 615 customer reviews4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)See on Amazon
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Electric4.2 CFMFREE ShippingOver 501 customer reviews4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)See on Amazon

Best Portable Air Compressor Reviews

Porter Cable C2002-WK Oil Free UMC Pancake Compressor Review

Editor’s Rating:

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Hitachi NR90AE(S)

This Porter Cable C2002-WK is a compact lightweight air compressor that includes a 13 piece accessory kit to get you started. It features a low profile 6 gallon pancake style tank. This tank design makes it more stable and easy to carry. Its 150 PSI capacity enables longer tool runtimes.

Despite its small size, this portable air compressor has an amazingly fast recovery time and is rated at 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. It is electricity powered. To ensure that it doesn’t trip circuit breakers or prove difficult to power up in cold weather, the c2002-wk comes fitted with a low amp draw motor. The low amp draw also protects the motor from premature damage.

The C2002-WK is one of the portable air compressors that’s easy to get started working with and maintain. Besides the 13 accessories included with the compressor, it has an oil free filter and factory installed coupler and plug.

What customers are saying?

PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil-Free Compressor Review

Editor’s Rating:

4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Hitachi NR90AE(S)

If you’re looking for a super lightweight portable air compressor that will handle most light to medium intensity jobs, the Porter Cable CMB15 is a good choice. Weighing just 20 pounds, it’s easy to carry singlehandedly thanks to the built in handle. Its compact shrouded body fits well in small spaces including car trunks and under workshop benches.

The Porter Cable CMB15 has a 1.5 gallon tank with a maximum rating of 150 PSI. The compressor is also rated at 2.0 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is within the same range offered by larger bulkier units. The small tank capacity shortens the time you can operate your air tools before need for recovery. This however is compensated for by the unit’s exceptionally fast recovery time.

Other features that make the cmb15 one of the best portable air compressors include low noise output, 25 feet hose and 8 piece accessory kit, low amp draw motor and oil free pump.

What customers are saying?

Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor Review

Editor’s Rating:

4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Hitachi NR90AE(S)

This is one of the units that you’ll find in many portable air compressor reviews. Although it has an oil based pump, consumers particularly love it because of its power output, efficiency and unique design.

The Makita MAC700 has a 2.0 horsepower motor that ensures that the pump is continuously supplying compressed air to the tank. Despite its high output, the motor features low amp draw which keeps it from tripping electric breakers.

Its big bore pump has a cast iron cylinder which is highly durable. It operates at low RPMs which keeps the unit cool and minimizes noise output. Cool operation is further enhanced by the built in finned discharging tube.

It has a 2.6 gallon hot dog style tank with a maximum rating of 130 PSI. This compressor is quite powerful and offers 3.3 CFM at 90 PSI. Other useful features include oil sight glass, low profile rubber feet, easily accessible tank drain valve and roll bar handle.

What customers are saying?

Porter Cable PCFP02003 Pancake Compressor Review

Editor’s Rating:

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Hitachi NR90AE(S)

Another small oil free and highly portable air compressor from Porter Cable, the PCFP02003 pancake compressor is designed for lightweight to medium intensity jobs. Weighing a mere 26 lbs, this portable air compressor is easy to carry around.

It comes with a low amp draw 120V motor that’s easy to start even in cold weather. The low amp feature also protects the motor from premature damage which can result from sudden voltage drops when starting. The highly efficient oil free pump provides 2.0 SCFM at 90 PSI which will drive most lightweight air powered tools. It also offers quick tank recovery times.

The Porter Cable PCFP02003 has a 3.5 gallon pancake style tank. It’s set on short feet with a rubber base for stability and noise reduction when operating.  The tank is rated at 135 PSI which offers long tool run time especially if you’re using small air tools with low SCFM rating.

What customers are saying?

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor Review

Editor’s Rating:

4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Hitachi NR90AE(S)

The Makita MAC2400 is an oil lubricated portable air compressor that you’ll find in most reviews. Like the mac700, its design, efficiency and power output are a few of the features that make it popular.

This portable air compressor is fitted with a 2.5 horsepower motor. The motor features low Amp draw which protects it from sudden voltage drops and, minimizes circuit breaker trips.

The oil lubricated pump features the famous big bore cylinder that runs at low RPMs. This keeps it cool, extends the pumps life and also ensures that the air compressor produces minimal noise.

The MAC2400 comes fitted with 4.2 gallon twin stacked tanks which save on space and maximize the unit’s pressure output. With a rating of 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI, this is one of the few portable air compressors that will continuously drive heavy duty air tools.

Other features you’ll find on the Makita mac2400 include roll bar handle, large air filter, oil sight glass, rubber feet, and finned discharge tubing for heat control.

What customers are saying?

3 Benefits of the Best Portable Air Compressor

1. Portability

This is the most obvious advantage of owning a portable air compressor. Many of these units come in lightweight compact designs that can be carried by hand or carted on their wheels. This makes mobile air compressors a good choice for homeowners and general contractors working in different job sites.

2. Air Powered Tools Vs Electricity and Gas Powered Tools

With a lot of information being shared online, many people are opting to build, remodel or repair their homes rather than hire someone to do it for them. As such, they are looking for the best tools for the job. Air powered tools are fast becoming the preferred option over electricity and gas powered tools. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Air tools offer more power than electricity powered tools
  • One portable air compressor will power different types of tools
  • Air compressors are versatile tools that can be used as tire inflators, blowers and sources of power for air tools
  • Most air tools are usually cheaper than their gas or electricity powered counterparts
  • Air tools are usually easier to maintain and usually last longer than electricity and gas powered tools
  • Air powered tools are lighter and quieter to operate

3. Different types and sizes to choose from

There are many different portable air compressor brands (Porter Cable, Makita, Campbell Hausfeld, Husky, etc…) and models to choose from. These come in a variety of designs, sizes and configurations. Each air compressor has its own unique features that make it ideal for specific jobs. With so many units to choose from, it becomes easier to find the one that best meets your needs. In addition, it becomes easier to find the portable air compressor that best meets your budget.

Portable Air Compressor Maintenance Guide

Like with any other tool or piece of equipment you own, proper care and maintenance will ensure that your portable air compressor is ready to supply compressed air every time you switch it on. It also helps you prevent having the warranty offered by the manufacturer nullified. Some of the important portable air compressor care and maintenance tasks include the following.

1. Make use of the user manual

There’s a reason why manufacturers go through the trouble of preparing a user manual, to make it easy for you to use the air compressor. The user manual acts as your personal assistant when using your compressor. It provides details about how best to use the compressor. If you don’t follow user instructions provided within the manual, you risk damaging the compressor, accidents which can cause serious injury and having your warranty nullified.

2. Use the recommended power source

Portable air compressors are powered by either electricity or gas. For electricity driven air compressors, always ensure that you plug it into the recommended power outlet (110-120V or 220 – 240V). This helps to protect the motor as well as protect your home’s circuitry.

3. Only use tools within the recommended CFM range

A common complaint from portable air compressor owners is that their units aren’t powerful enough to power their heavy duty air tools. Its worth noting that the best portable air compressor has its limits as far as the type of tools it can handle. To get the best out of your unit, always pair it with tools it can easily power.

4. Drain your compressor after use

Air compressors produce water as a byproduct. If not drained, this water can accumulate within the tank and spread to other parts of the unit. The result is usually rusted parts which negatively affect the air compressors performance and quality. To prevent this, it’s recommended that you drain any accumulated water after you’re done using your air compressor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Where can I buy the best portable air compressor?

  • “Portable air compressors are sold in a variety of places online. If you have a particular brand and model in mind, the manufacturer’s website is a good place to make your purchase. Another good place to shop for portable air compressors is Amazon. The site stocks hundreds of compressors and offers some of the best prices online.”

2. What does the portable air compressor’s warranty cover?

  • “The warranty you get will largely depend on the manufacturer. Most warranties cover against defects that result from poor workmanship and materials used to make the compressor.”

3. How long will it take to receive my air compressor?

  • “This largely depends on where you buy it. Amazon for example will ship your compressor within 5 days. Next day shipping is also available.”

4. Will I need to buy additional accessories to operate my portable air compressor?

  • “Most of the best portable air compressors come inclusive of essential accessories such as hoses and couplers. Air powered tools are however bought separately.”

5. What should I do if my air compressor arrives damaged?

  • “If you bought the compressor from Amazon, report the issue immediately to their support team. Their returns policy allows you to return the compressor. You can also contact the manufacturer and report the issue. Most manufacturers will repair or replace damaged compressors for free.”

6. Will I need to break-in into my new compressor?

  • “Most portable air compressors require a breaking in process before they can be used. However, although recommended, this procedure is only necessary if the user manual recommends it.”

7. Do I need to depressurize the tank after use?

  • “This is not necessary. The only thing that you need to drain after using your compressor is accumulated water which might cause rust to develop within the tank.”


Finding the best portable air compressor requires identifying top models from the leading brands and their unique features before matching your specific needs and budget to a particular unit. You’ll also need to consider other factors such as the warranty offered, the online store offering the best prices and any after sales support provided.

From the 5 best portable air compressor reviews, you can see that each compressor has its unique features which make it best suited for specific work environments. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pick one among these that meets your jobsite needs.

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