We’ve all been there – having a puncture on the road with no companions or stores. It’s even worse if you’re alone in the dark.
However, you can avoid being in this situation by getting yourself a portable air compressor and bringing them everywhere you go. This little unit will get rid of flat tires and the dreadful, scary experience coming after them.
But picking up a portable air compressor isn’t like eating a pie. There are so many names available, and you’d want to get one that works effectively. We’ve known this, and we got your back.
We will cover everything you need to know about an excellent portable air compressor. Also, there is a summary of the top 9 best portable air compressors regarding the 2020 reviews in the end. So make sure to check that out!
After scrolling through our post, we hope you can find your desired air compressors for your road trips. With that in mind, let’s start!
Top 5 Best Portable Air Compressors
Why Should We Buy a Portable Unit?
In our opinion, everyone should possess a portable air compressor in their house or car. It would be a great assistant along with your regular air compressor. You might ask us “Why not get a regular one only?”
Well, consider the size of a regular model and emergency cases like flat tires, we think you agree that a portable one will be much ideal. They can be carried around quickly, and most can be charged inside your vehicle.
There are even units with a tankless design – which are incredibly compact as they’re pocket-sized. And even with a weak motor, these tankless babies are still handy and budget-friendly — a perfect choice for emergencies.
How to Choose a Portable Air Compressor
When punctures occur, we all want to inflate fast to get back on the road. Therefore, air compressors with a stable air stream and a rapid air flow rate will be the most ideal.Typically, manufacturers use CFM, SCFM, and PSI ratings to evaluate this index.
CFM or SCFM stands for cubic or standard cubic feet per minute. This indicates the volume of air provided by the compressor. The range of CFM is from 25 to 35 l/min.
PSI means pounds per square inch. It describes the air flow pressure, of which levels are from 90, 100, 150 to 300.
Typically, it would take 3 to 8 minutes to inflate a tire. However, we also need to consider the tires’ size, too. Of course, standard 35-inch tires would cost less time, and larger ones like tires of a medium-sized SUV would consume more time.
Power Cord Length
Another essential feature of an air compressor is the automatic shut-off function. It releases the stress to calculate the adequate amount of air pressure.The safe and handy feature shuts off the air flow when the pressure reaches the limit. Thanks to this, you can inflate the tires properly get back to the road with no concerns.
Most models today use a mechanical dial pressure gauge. However, as their numbers sit too close to each other, it’s challenging to read these gauges.So if one with a mechanical dial gauge is your final choice, try to buy something possessing a large surface. A great example is the Cartman Car Air Compressor.
Another solution is to purchase one with digital gauges. They are easy to use yet highly precise. Also, they’re handy in the dark thanks to a blue backlit screen.
Handles and a Carry Bag
Continuous Run Time
One of the significant issues happening with most users while using portable air compressors is the overheat after prolonged, continuous run time.For a longer lifespan, it’s recommended not to let your air compressors run more than 8 to 15 minutes continuously. Of course, it also depends on the design of your unit.
Also, after a long operation time, allow your compressor to cool down from 10 to 30 minutes.
A Few Notes About the Specs and Features You Must Know
Portable air compressors aren’t just being compact and lightweight. Among all types of air compressors, mobile models have the fastest innovate pace.
Thanks to this, the demand for portable air compressors from consumers is significantly increased days by days. Everyone wants a mini-unit in their arsenal. It would be incredibly ideal for emergencies.
Of course, companies and manufacturers knew this. They relentlessly come out with some of the best portable air compressors and innovative features in years.
In the past, PSI was always the most significant barrier when picking up a portable air compressor. But in modern days, this is no longer a concern. Back to the days, small tanks would even be pitiful.Now, there have been improvements in portable tanks and PSI power. You can complete a lot of tasks with these mini models.
Let’s talk about efficiency. Portable units are made to finish as many tasks in one work session as possible. You can do several functions before they need to recharge.
And the best thing? They don’t trade functions for weight. They are the perfect combination of working and recharging.
And then, we come to the weight section, which is the most concerned factor. Of course, a portable unit must be light enough to move around. The more ideal ones even allow you to carry them by hand without issues.Nowadays, some models can even fit perfectly in a glove box! For those, who don’t have much space to store tools, these babies can do the job without eating up your storage.
We don’t often find multi-user support in the type of portable air compressors. Some do offer this feature, but just a few. Sometimes, it can be convenient.The disadvantageous side of it, however, is the run time. Even when doing simple tasks, a multi-user model can run out of battery fast. Therefore, it’s a have-to-think-about-carefully factor.
Well, it’s good to say we are no longer limited by the tanks any more. There are endless of tankless air compressors available in the movable section. This has changed the game and becomes the most significant innovation over the years.It’s also the main reason for the compact design of portable air compressors nowadays. These models are famous for lightweight, mini size, convenience, and high portability.
Still, this comes with a few cons related to power and features. When thinking about getting a tankless unit, make your priority list clear. Only do so if the mobility is on top and more important than anything else.
The tankless design is incredible, however, they aren’t even suitable for simple everyday tasks. Therefore, consider whether the portability is all you need or not before getting this baby in your house.
9 Most Amazing Portable Air Compressors 2020
Okay, we’ve finished the hardest parts of all. Now, let’s come to the easy section. We proudly present to you the top 9 best portable air compressors in 2020.
1. California Air Tools CAT-10020
While most the portable air compressors are compact and pretty lightweight, this one is different. It’s not as convenient as other air compressors in the same type. But, in returns, there are a lot of cool features offered.
First, though not as mobile, you can still move it around. Coming with wheels does make the transporting process much simpler and quicker. The portability is undoubtedly limited, but not that annoying overall.
When it comes to CAT-10020, it’s the perfect combination of the stationary air compressors’ power and mobility. Indeed. The excellent performance of the heavy motor is the most outstanding feature of CAT-10020.
Also, the noise level is also much lower than other units (only 70 dbA) – which is the specialty of California Air Tools name. You will barely hear anything being around this one when it’s working.
Operating with an oil-free pump, you also won’t have to worry about the maintenance. It’s durable and long-lasting. Run it the proper way, and it’ll be your companion for years.
Moreover, you can use this versatile baby in several ways. Whether it’s powering other products and devices or inflating your vehicles, this one can master the tasks.
Also, thanks to the high-quality design, this unit works perfectly in any conditions, even in the most severe weathers. Despite the high price, the quality, performance, and versatility of use make CAT-10020 a worth-to-buy air compressor.
2. VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor
As most portable air compressors are compact and small and have an adequately powerful motor, they can only fulfill basic tasks like taking care of flat tires. If you choose them to do larger or heavy-duty jobs, you might be a bit disappointed.
Just like the CAT-10020, Viair possesses the appearance of a compact, portable air compressor and the power of a stationary compressor.
This sweetheart can complete inflating a large truck tire under five minutes. With a steady air stream from 0 to 30 PSI, Viair is the ideal model for inflating or running some other power tools when needed.
This air compressor only requires a power circuit of 12-volt to work. There is also a dual battery clamp setup, which you can connect to your car to start the motor.
You can also manage and control the pressure’s amount and inflation thanks to a five-in-one hose and gauge. Of course, this model is lightweight and easy for off-road trips. It would be the perfect choice for emergency cases where you have no one around.
3. AUDEW Auto Digital Tire Inflator
The most considerable advantages of AUDEW air compressor are user-friendly features and the maximum 150-Psi pressure. You can directly plug it into the cigarette socket, and that’s all it takes to fix your punctures.
It also comes with a 3-meter long power cord allowing this unit to get to both the front and rear wheels once ran. It’s also simple to operate as all you have to do is to press the start or close buttons.
Moreover, as it’s compact and light, you can carry it around to anywhere. Besides, it also possesses the auto-shutoff feature for higher safety. It comes with handy LED lights, too. So, you can pump your tires efficiently in the dark with a clear vision.
4. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor
The wallet-friendly EPAuto Portable Air Compressor has come to rescue you – who met emergency break-downs. Although it’s small and compact, its powerful motor can blow your mind away.
Having the maximum pressure of 100 PSI at 1.06 CFM, you can pump up tires of bikes, cars, and even medium SUVs in the blink of an eye.
The same as the previous one, you can plug your 12-volt compressor into the cigarette lighter socket directly to use. Once the pressure reaches the limit, the auto shut off feature will seal the deal. It also comes with an overheat protection mode for extra safety.
It also offers a bright LED torchlight for more comfortable operation in dark environments. At the same time, the blue backlit digital screen provides us basic specs like the PSI, KPA, BAR, and Kg/cm².
About the noise level, we could say this model is silent and quiet. It won’t mess around with your ears and makes you uncomfortable. It’s also easy to transport and store thanks to the lightweight.
Finally, this air compressor also has three plugs coming along including a needle, injection, and pressure pins. A backup fuse and a 9-foot power cord are also in the package.
5. Bostitch BTFP02012 Air Compressor
Bostitch BTFP02012 motor is 0.9 Hp, which only requires 15A and 2700 RPM to operate. This means you can use this model at home with a regular outlet without installing a higher-amperage circuit.
Bostitch BTFP02012 is also oil-free thanks to the maintenance-free pump. Unlike a few other models, you won’t at all have to oil the machine up to operate making the startup process much more accessible.
The oil-free pump, however, is even more impressive with the maximum limit of a pressure of 150 PSI. It can also reach this level in only under 2.5 minutes.
Talking about the tank size, this portable air compressor overwhelms us with a 6-gallon pancake style air tank, which is more than enough for midsize to heavy-duty tasks, even carpentry applications.
That being said, the recovery time is also super-fast. It only takes 25 seconds maximum to recharge itself.
Also, this model can produce 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. This outstanding number also indicates the ability to run many house appliances.
But if you want to use it for framing nailer purpose, there will be a few issues in regards to buffering, especially when sinking ten nails at the same time.
The noise level of the Bostitch BTFP02012 is about 78.5 dBA. This number undoubtedly belongs to the higher range of noise. Therefore, if noise is a significant issue, this one might not be for you.
About the quality, we all agree that this is a pretty well-made unit. Bostitch BTFP02012 is reliable, stable, and steady.
Possessing the weight of only 29 pounds, this is one of the lightest models not only in our list but also on the market. It can be comfortably carried around without breaking your bones.
6. PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 Air Compressor
The size of this air compressor does all the job when it comes to convenience and portability. Indeed. Thanks to the lightweight, it’s one of the best portable air compressors nowadays.
The compact design makes this model easy to use anywhere, whether it sits on the road or stores inside your car. You never know when it saves your life.
Also, this 26-pound unit doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. You no longer have to worry about maintaining your compressor anymore. Thanks to the oil-free pump, this pancake air compressor possesses a long-lasting lifespan. The 3.5-gallon tank delivered at maximum 135 PSI is also a big plus to this product.
We’ve all been in an annoying situation when the process is interrupted because of the short run time. This might happen to many units but won’t with this baby. Also, the recovery time is incredibly fast.
Moreover, it comes with a quick-connect coupler for better versatility. Thanks to the 120V motor, Porter-Cable can run under all weather conditions even the hardest one. An extension cord will do great help in several cases.
Another advantageous feature is the noise level. It, of course, still makes noise, but not as loud as some similar powerful air compressors.
The only issue is about the situation of air leaking. As the air compressor has to lead the air for pressure, this is quite the deal. But only a few buyers report this problem. Others didn’t meet the same problem.
7. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor
While many portable air compressors don’t come with necessary accessories which might increase the expense a bit, Campbell Hausfeld users luckily have an accompanying accessory kit.
This unit provides every tool you’d possibly need for any tasks. Inside the accessory kit, we have an air chuck, a blow gun, and so many more.
Another great news is that not only does this model deliver great strength, but it’s also still user-friendly and easy-to-run. Although most people underrate this factor, it’s essential in avoiding injuries and mishaps.
As a portable unit, Campbell Hausfeld is light and highly mobile. The handle also helps this product step up its game with a higher portability.
Next, let’s talk about the straight-forward gauges it possesses. They’re not the best in quality, but they are for sure reliable and simple-to-use gauges.
Another feature we love about this baby is the constant yet easy-to-manage power. Thanks to this, it can complete a lot of tasks with an outstanding performance.
Besides, versatility is always the thing buyers search for in a reasonable and affordable air compressor. And Campbell indeed never lets us down.
You can use it in many jobs from inflating your tires, powering brad nailers to airbrushing and stapling. That being said, it’s an all-rounded air compressor.
When it comes to convenience and safety, we will pull all of our attention on the tank pistol and the pulses. During the process, there will be pulsations but not too much as the tank pistols work perfectly to minimize this issue.
Another problem is the fragile hose. According to users, it might be broken after a few times of use, even in the first operation. And for a cheap unit like Campbell, finding new parts might be a bit costly.
Many people also report about its loud noise. However, considering the budget-friendly price, the noise level is acceptable.
8. Oasser Portable Air Compressor
Known as a highly portable model, Oasser compressor is an ideal selection for those who love riding or need a little help on camping trips but don’t have much space.
The compact compressor is made of solid stainless steel in a cylindrical shape. Thanks to the unique design, users will be comfortable holding it in their hand when using. The size of this model can also fit into your jacket pocket and backpack.
Before using, you can power this by plugging into your home power circuit or the 12-volt cigarette lighter on your car. This process won’t take a long time as it only costs 1.5 hours.
Possessing a maximum pressure of 150 Psi, Oasser is a multi-functional unit used for bicycles, motorcycles, cars and even SUVs. Sadly, big trucks aren’t on this list. We also receive various nozzles fitting a basketball, inflatable pools and swimming rings in the package.
For convenience, it also provide 2 LED lights. They can be used separately with a back-lit LCD digital gauge. We can easily spot out the PSI, BAR, KPA, and Kg/cm², too. Once the pressure is enough, the value features will stop inflating.
The Oasser air compressors’ package also has an inflator, air hose, a handbag for storage purpose. A 1-year limited warranty is included, too.
9. Helteko Portable Air Compressor
With a weight of 1.9 pounds, this model brings us a new definition of a compact and portable air compressor. For emergencies, this one will be a useful assistant of yours.
It features a cigarette lighter cord of 3 meters long – which is just perfect for rear tires’ inflation. Your cables will also remain tangle-free and well-organized through years of use.
The built-in LED light featured in Helteko also plays a huge role in supplying backup light. With this, when you get punctures in the middle of the night or want a fast repair, inflating tasks will be no big deal.
The rated pressure of Helteko is 150 Psi – quite standard, and it only consumes 12V when running.
Another advantage is about storage. This model is not only compact, but it’s also self-contained. It means everything stored inside the compressor; therefore, there is no need for an external storage case or box.
About usage, Helteko is ideal for any inflation tasks in your house. Whether they’re sport balls, flat tires, pools, or lawn mowers’ tires, it performs excellently with no troubles.
But of course, it can only be used for small to medium size jobs as heavy-duty tasks require a more powerful motor. But what else can you ask for in an affordable and portable machine? Nothing.
Wow, that’s a lot! But we think they’re all necessary information helping you find your dream portable air compressor. So, after scrolling through the buying guide and the list of top 9 best air compressors in 2020, what do you think?
Have you made your final decision? Let us know in the comments. Also, if you have any questions, tell us. We will be pleased to answer. Anyways, that’s everything. We have to say goodbye now.
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I am a licensed architect who is passionate about all things home improvement industries, I have been doing DIY painting projects and have developed lots of experience around home improvement over the 10 years.