Whether your out on the job or working in your shop, you want to have the best small air compressor money can buy…. within your budget of course.
While air compressors come in many shapes and sizes, determining the right one for you can be difficult, especially with small air compressors, if you don’t purchase the right one with enough PSI output you can be left with a machine that can’t keep up.
There are many different things that need to be taken into account such as:
- CFM (Cubic Feet Per/Minute)
- MAX Operating PSI
- DB Output
- Tank Capacity
After a while, it can start to become a daunting task with all the options out there.
We’ve broken down the 7 most top-rated mobile air compressors so you have a comprehensive view to be able to make a well-informed buying decision.
Table of Contents
- 1 7 Best Small Mobile Air Compressors
- 1.1 PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
- 1.2 PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
- 1.3 Campbell Hausfeld DC040500 4.6 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor
- 1.4 BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF 1.2 Gallon Oil-Free High-Output Trim Compressor
- 1.5 DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
- 1.6 PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5-Gallon Oil-Free
- 1.7 DEWALT D55140 1-Gallon 135 PSI Max Trim Compressor
First, we’ll go over some general jargon that you will come across when reading about air compressors so you have a better understanding.
CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute (cu ft/min): CFM is a measurement of the velocity at which air flows in or out of a space, a higher CFM = more air capable of passing through the hose.
SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet Per Minute): SCFM is the same measurement as CFM except is it corrected to a set of standardized conditions for temperature and pressure. The usual worldwide standard used is: Pressure = 14.73 psi or 14.696 and temperature is defined variously as 68 °F, 60 °F, 0 °C, 15 °C, 20 °C, or 25 °C
PSI (Pound Per Square Inch): PSI is more commonly an English unit of measurement. PSI measures the amount of force in a given area. As the force increases, pressure also increases. The opposite is true when area increases, force, and pressure then decrease.
Capacity Gallons – Air Compressors work by storing air in a tank and intermittently running the motor to refill the tank. Capacity gallons refers to the amount of air that can be stored in the tank. A higher gallon figure means the air compressor can store and supply more air without constantly running the motor.
Now that you have a good understanding of some of the common terms associated with air compressors it’s time to start looking about for one that will fit your needs. Below we broke down the 7 most popular and efficient small air compressors.
To find out what CFM rating your pneumatic tools require you can check out this chart here.
If your favorite brand or model is not listed you can take a look at an entire list of small air compressors.
7 Best Small Mobile Air Compressors
PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
This little guy packs a serious punch pumping out 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI, more than enough power to handle most small carpentry, roofing and framing jobs. The C2002-WK is capable of supporting up to 3 finish nailers at once with its 6-Gallon tank.
Equipped with a High-Flo air regulator for protection from large pressure drops. It’s easy to use no oil system makes maintenance virtually non-existent. In our opinion, this is a fantastic little air compressor ready to tackle most jobs you can throw at it.
Included in the purchase is (1) 13 Piece Accessory Kit, (1) 25’ Nylon Hose, (1) Blowgun with the following attachments, (1) Tire Gauge, (1) Tire Chuck, (1) Quick Couplers, and plugs.
- The air compressor operating at 82 decibels can get a bit irritating from being too loud.
- Its fairly non-serviceable and when fails needs to be replaced
- Air Flow
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
Coming in a bit smaller than the previous Porter Cable air compressor. The PCFP02003 is equipped with a 3.5-Gallon tank that weighs 26 lbs.
The Porter Cable PCFP02003 has a 0.8 HP motor that’s capable of producing 135 MAX PSI. While operating at 90 PSI it pushes out 2.0 CFM of air. Virtually no maintenance as its an oil-free system.
Equipped with a factory installed quick coupler for instant access to regulated air. Perfect for the DIY person in your house looking to use a nail gun, pump up tires and perform small jobs in the shop.
Porter Cable backs this small air compressor with a 90-Day Money Back Guarantee and a 1-Year Warranty from the time of purchase.
- Some have reported to us that their unit struggles at anything over 90 PSI even though its rated to 125 PSI
- Too loud for use inside residential homes and vibrates a lot when the motor is running.
- Air Flow
Campbell Hausfeld DC040500 4.6 Gallon Quiet Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld DC040500 is a personal favorite of ours, it has everything that’s needed out of a small air compressor with heavy-duty capabilities.
This is the only dual tank compressor featured as most dual tanks are in a heavier weight class whereas the DC040500 is only 38 lbs making it a practical compressor for on the job applications that require a lot of moving around but still need something a bit larger than the small guys.
The DC040500 produces 68 decibels making this the quietest air compressor on the list! While this compressor only has 125 MAX PSI it makes up for that with its running capacity, pumping out 2.2 CFM at 90 PSI.
It has more than enough power for regular tasks like brad nailing, framing or roof nailing, an all-around beast of a compressor. The dual-piston pump has been specifically engineered to provide 25% more airflow than similar 1.0 HP air compressors.
Campbell Hausfeld gets you set up right from the start including in the purchase (1) 17 Piece Accessory Kit, (1) 50’ Foot Hose, (1) Tire Inflator with Gauge and (1) 3-in-1 Inflation Gun. Backed by a 1-Year Limited Warranty.
- Does not work well in cold weather.
- Can be louder than 68 decibels at times.
- Air Flow
BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF 1.2 Gallon Oil-Free High-Output Trim Compressor
The Bostitch CAP1512 is capable of running at a MAX operating pressure of 155 PSI. Fitted with a 1.2-Gallon tank.
The 2.0 HP motor is able to produce 2.8 CFM @ 90 PSI. The motor draws only 12 AMPS and will not pop any breakers when starting. The CAP1512 comes in at the top of the list with the biggest motor.
Built-in integrated rubber feet reduce vibration and noise levels. The Bostitch CAP1512 produces 72 decibels while under a regular working load. The durable roll cage surrounds the air compressor to protect from damage, perfect for on construction sites.
The conveniently positioned storage compartment allows you to keep extra hose and fittings stored with the air compressor. Bostitch backs this air compressor with a 1-Year Limited Warranty.
- Pressure relief safety valve malfunctions sometimes releasing too early and not allowing the compressor to shut off properly.
- Can produce too many vibrations for some users.
- Air Flow
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
The DEWALT DWFP55126 air compressor is equipped with a 0.9 HP motor that’s capable of producing 165 MAX PSI! That’s huge for such a small compressor. While operating at 90 PSI it pushes out 2.6 CFM.
You’d think coming in at the top of the list for MAX PSI it would also be the loudest, this just isn’t the case. While running the compressor produces 75.5 decibels, similar to living room music that plays at 76 decibels. We loved that while the compressor motor is running we could still listen to tunes playing.
The high-efficiency motor features an easy startup that performs great in cold weather or with an extension cord (14 gauge or larger), be sure to not run an extension cord over 50’ or it will compromise its power and efficiency.
DEWALT has included two universal couplers that will easily support two users running air tools at the same time. DEWALT includes a 1-Year Limited Warranty at the time of purchase.
- Plastic handle can break, should have a metal roll cage.
- The pressure regulator can malfunction and not perform correctly.
- Air Flow
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5-Gallon Oil-Free
This little guy is the smallest Porter Cable we got our hands on weighing in at only 20 pounds! Very easy to move around. You’ll immediately notice a difference in design as this air compressor is encased in a plastic shroud to protect against damage.
Even though this looks like an extremely small air compressor it still pumps out 2 CFM at 90 PSI, great for working around the house and having a little backup compressor in the shop.
Equipped with an encased 1.5-Gallon tank weighing 20 lbs. There is zero maintenance required as the compressor utilizes an oil-free system. The low 10 AMP 120V motor easily starts in cold weather or when running off an extension cord.
Included is (1) 25 Foot Coil Hose, (1) 8 Piece Accessory Pack. Porter Cable backs this air compressor with a 90-Day Money Back Guarantee and a 1-Year Warranty.
- The unit wants to tip over occasionally and is not very stable.
- Nowhere to wrap or store the power cord.
- Air Flow
DEWALT D55140 1-Gallon 135 PSI Max Trim Compressor
The Dewalt D55140 is an extremely handy air compressor to have around that’s made by a very trusted and respectable brand.
For being such a small and lightweight air compressor weighing only 24 pounds it carries features commonly seen in larger compressors. Don’t be fooled by its compact design and small motor, its able to put out MAX output of 135 PSI and .75 CFM at 90 PSI, more than enough for small finishing trim jobs and alike.
It’s rugged protective roll cage it’s suitable for a multitude of different projects and ready for any abuse thrown at it. Extremely quiet operating at only 69 decibels makes it’s perfect for in-house repair work that’s needed to be done without being too loud.
As with most featured in this article, it has a durable oil-free pump suitable for anyone looking to ditch regular maintenance. DEWALT backs this air compressor with a 1-Year Limited Warranty.
- Does not operate larger nail guns.
- Issues can arise with the regulator.
- Air Flow