Best Portable Air Compressor for All Your Jobsite Tasks

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Portable air compressors give you the convenience of inflating your tires and operating pneumatic tools from any location. These compressors are suitable for use in your garage or workshop, and can be effortlessly connected to other pneumatic devices such as a painting spray gun or your preferred nail gun.

With a simple flip of the switch, the portable air compressors with a motor and air storage tanks operate by creating air pressure using a piston and a chamber. The compressed air sits in the tank until you switch on the portable air compressor.

The compressed air then shoots into whatever air tools you are using, restoring low tire pressure for your bike, ATV, lawnmower, or car. The best thing about portable air compressors is that you can quickly move them to your task destination.

Because we know how daunting a task it is to choose the right products on the internet, we've taken the liberty to research and compile for you a list of the best portable air compressors. Let's look at some options you'll love.

Best Portable Air Compressor 

1. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor - Best Overall

Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP* Big Bore™ Air Compressor
  • Cast iron pump with Big Bore cylinder and piston is engineered to...
  • Powerful 2.5 HP 4-Pole motor produces 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI for...
  • Roll-cage construction provides complete protection to withstand...
  • Low AMP draw reduces incidences of tripped breakers at start-up
  • Pump is oil-lubricated for cooler running temperatures and...

This air compressor model from Makita takes the prize as being the best portable air compressor a person could ask for. With a powerful 2.5 HP motor, a generous 4.2-gallon air tank, and professional-grade-oil-lubed components, this air compressor is great for a seasoned contractor or a weekend DIYer.

Whatever you want to use this portable air compressor for, you will love every minute of it. The dual fittings allow you to use two air tools at the same time without having to compromise on air pressure or performance. You will enjoy the 4.2 CFM at 90PSI that comes with this air compressor.

Being an oil-lubricated air compressor, you'll need to ensure that you maintain it properly to keep it running at full power. Nonetheless, you'll enjoy some advantages of having it being an oil-lubricated compressor, including the fact that you can forget about any friction-related problems.

Lack of friction means that you also don't need to worry about your air compressor components overheating easily. Another advantage is that you can comfortably use your compressor while everyone else is sleeping because of its quiet nature. This portable air compressor is rated at 78 decibels and will last you longer than other options, especially if you maintain it well.


  • Long-lasting
  • Very high quality
  • Copper finned discharge tubing
  • Quiet while in use
  • High output and less maintenance
  • Easily portable
  • Durable cast-iron cylinders


  • Can be heavy for some

2. Makita MAC210Q Electric Air Compressor - Best Quiet

Makita MAC210Q Quiet Series, 1 HP, 2 Gallon, Oil-Free,...
  • Quiet Series design at only 60 dB for operator and crew comfort;...
  • Runs at a lower RPM (1, 750) resulting in longer motor and pump...
  • Complete roll-cage construction provides protection to withstand...
  • Oil-free dual-piston pump designed for maintenance-free operation
  • Lightweight design (only 44 lbs.) for increased job site...

In second place is another Makita product that is best for you if you do many indoor projects. The last thing you want is your neighbors knocking on your door every two seconds telling you to keep it down. Thanks to this portable air compressor that won't happen.

This air compressor is part of the Makita Quiet Series, one of the market's quietest air compressors. Talk about a low noise level! If you have a small baby in the house, you will love how efficient this 2-gallon tank compressor is. With a decibel rating of 60, this air compressor has a 1HP motor for increased efficiency.

It also has an airflow of 2CFM at 90 PSI and a maximum tank pressure of 135 PSI. And the best part, the motor on this portable air compressor can fill the tank from empty to full in no more than 65 seconds. This saves you a lot of time, especially if you are working through an air-intensive task. Nonetheless, you will also enjoy using it as a portable tire inflator for your bicycle tires or even air hose.


  • Extremely quiet
  • Has longer motor and pump life
  • Lightweight design for increased job site portability
  • Has a low AMP draw
  • Ideal for indoor use


  • None

3. Ryobi 18-Volt ONE Portable Air Compressor - Best Cordless

If you love cordless air tools and the best portable air compressors, this is the air compressor for you. A cordless air compressor is one of the most convenient options you can go with. Because you don't have to worry about tripping on wires, this portable air compressor is excellent for small projects and tasks around the hose or on your job site.

The Ryobi 18 air compressor is highly portable. Especially if you are a DIYer or working on small projects and want a portable air compressor that you can quickly move around, you'll love this air compressor option. It works great as a portable tire inflator for fixing up your tires anywhere.

Although it's not the most powerful of air compressors in the market, it does a great job of converting battery energy into the power you need to operate your air tools. This air compressor works well with tire inflators and brad nailers. Therefore, if you're looking for something for your tires or to handle smaller jobs around the house, this air compressor is a great option.

It has air delivery rates of .5SCFM at 90 PSI and .7 SCFM at 40 PSI. This portable air compressor is excellent for reviving deflated sports equipment, tire inflation, pumping up pool toys, and roadside emergencies.


  • Extremely portable
  • Perfect for roadside tire inflation
  • Allows for quick and easy one-hand operation


  • Battery and charger sold separately
  • Battery may drain quickly

4. RIDGID 200 psi 4.5 Gal. Electric Quiet Compressor - Best Twin Tank

RIDGID 200 psi 4.5 Gal. Electric Quiet Compressor...
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work...

Who doesn't love things that come in twos? When it comes to this air compressor, two tanks means twice the tank capacity. More importantly, this portable air compressor's compact design means that you get the sweet deal of more air capacity in the same compact style.

This RIDGID 4.5 Gallon Air Compressor measures 12 x 19 x 20 inches and has a 1.6 horsepower motor that is cleverly designed to sit atop the twin air tanks. The incredible 200 PSI delivers airflow rates of 5.7 SCFM at 40 PSI. If you want 90 PSI, you can get it, although the airflow dips to 5.1 SCFM.

You don't have to worry about waking up the neighbors as this air compressor has a sound rating of 77 decibels, making it one of the quietest air compressors on our list of best portable air compressors.


  • Best twin tank
  • Portable
  • Quiet
  • Easy to use
  • Can run more than one nail gun at a time


  • May be loud for small moldings

5. Ridgid 6 Gallon Portable Electric Pancake Compressor - Best Budget

Ridgid 6 Gallon 150 PSI Maintenance Free Portable...
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work...

Of all the portable air compressors on our list, this is the most affordable with a great return on your investment. With a 6 gallon tank and 150 PSI, you will enjoy the air delivery rate of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, especially if you are a DIYer or just want to do small projects around the house. This budget-friendly air compressor has an excellent compressor pump.

Of all the affordable models in the market, this air compressor model works in a way that makes it very user-friendly. You'll find that it's straightforward to connect to ¼-inch automotive and your industrial tool plugs. Also, for its affordable price tag, this model comes with a 3-year warranty which is uncommon for budget-friendly air compressors.

If you are doing light-duty projects on your job site, you can comfortably use this compressor. To prevent corrosion, you can easily drain the tank of condensation with a simple turn. Therefore, if you are looking for air compressors that are affordable and high-quality, go for this compressor.


  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight
  • Perfect for trim and finish work Has dual universal quick connectors
  • Easy to maintain


  • None

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Portable Air Compressor

1. Air Pressure and Air Quality

Air pressure and quality are among the most critical factors to look out for when choosing the best option out of the portable air compressors listed above. You must ensure that you choose air compressors that deliver the air volume you need to your air tool at the right target pressure.

Let's look at an example. Say your tool needs 174 PSI to work well; this means that your air compressor must deliver air into it at 174 PSI. Therefore, you need to check the air compressors' settings to see which ones fit what you want to use them for. If you want home use, check the air compressors that can power the highest pressure tool you own.

When it comes to air quality, we're looking at the cleanliness of the air that your compressors or compressor is providing. The truth is that air compressors can produce air of various quality. You can have air that has dust particles, moisture, or even oil particles. Therefore, choosing a compressor that has good quality air is a must. Luckily, you don't have to worry, as the options above have moisture filters installed to ensure that you don't get contaminated air.

2. Free Air Delivery

We're referring to the volume of air your compressor produces. Free Air Delivery is measured in CFM and directly relates to your tool's air consumption requirement. Like we've mentioned above, you need to match your tool's air consumption with the Free Air Delivery of your compressor.

When using multiple tools, you need to add up the air consumption of all your tools and choose a compressor with a Free Air Delivery rating that meets the total.

3. Tank Size

What do you intend to use your air compressor on? The answer to this will determine what tank size you need. If you are using tools that require air pressure for a short time, you can get a compressor that has a small tank.

However, if you are using air tools that you will use for a more extended period, getting a compressor that has a bigger tank size is a good idea. Note that the bigger the tank, the less portable your air compressor.

4. Power Source

Most air compressors are powered by either gas or electricity. The compressors that run on electricity usually run on household voltage. The advantage of these types is that you can comfortably use them indoors as they don't emit any fumes.

Gas-powered air compressors are more convenient because you don't have to worry about how far you can go from the source of tripping over power cords. Also, they are often more powerful than their electrical counterparts.

However, they are not the best to be used indoors because they require well-ventilated areas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What Size Air Compressor Do I Need to Run Air Tools?

30 to 140 CFM

Most of the air compressors we've covered today fall within this range, and you can comfortably use them with your air tools. The options that have a lower CFM rating can be used for tires, sporting equipment, a car tire, a truck tire, or even car tires. However, if you want one for industrial applications, go for a higher CFM rating.

2. Can You Run an Impact Wrench with A Pancake Compressor?

You can operate an impact wrench with one of the excellent portable compressors we've mentioned above, although a small pancake compressor would work well for nail guns. This is because impact wrenches are intermittent tools. Therefore, unlike dir grinders or sandblasters, you will not be using an impact gun for an extended time.

3. Is a 6-gallon Air Compressor Enough?

Yes. Although this depends on the tools that you are using it on. Tools that need quick bursts of air, such as finish nail guns and pneumatic brad nail guns, drain your tank much slower. Therefore, getting an air compressor with 2-6 gallons is sufficient. Also, it's important to note that there are two types of pumps: single and two-stage.

You can also decide to take an oil-lubricated compressor or an oil-free one. 

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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