Finding the best small air compressor of 2018 can be a difficult process. This is because many people feel that air compressors are a waste of money. Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s not true.
Air compressors are actually cheap, affordable products that are perfect for all types of home improvement projects.
They’re versatile, portable products that can be used for a wide away of functions. They save you money on costly battery-operated nailers and pair with an assortment of power tools.
Attach a spray gun and immediately add a fresh coating of paint to your furniture like a pro.
Whether you’re an expert carpenter or novice DIY-er, everyone needs an air compressor in their repertoire.
In yet, not everyone has taken the time and money to invest in one.
Well, I’ll save you the time by providing you with a list of the Top 10 Small Air Compressors of 2018. I encourage you to take a look at what we’ve found.
- Best Small Air Compressor Review 2018
- Why the latest Makita MAC2400 and California Air Tools 10020C are not on my list?
- 1. PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK - Best Small Air Compressor in 2018
- 2. PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003
- 3. PORTER-CABLE CMB15
- 4. Kensun D1001 - Affordable Tire Air Compressor
- 5. DEWALT DWFP55126 - Small PSI Pancake Compressor
- 6. BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF - High-Output Trim Compressor
- 7. DEWALT D55140 Trim Compressor
- 8. California Air Tools 5510SE - Small Tank Air Compressor
- 9. Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 - Small Quiet Air Compressor
- 10. Senco PC1131 - Cheap Air Compressor
- Small Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
- Small Air Compressor FAQs
- Best Bang for your Buck
Best Small Air Compressor Review 2018
Let’s begin this article by taking a quick peek at our Top 10 Small Air Compressors. First off, we started by comparing each product, side-by-side. We looked at the various additional accessories, as well as the dimensions, weight, and warranty of each air compressor. This provided us with a better idea of its overall worth compared to the others on the list.
|• 13-Piece Accessory Kit|
• 25-foot hose
• Tire chuck
• Quick coupler
|18.3” x 18” x 19”||34 lbs.||120 volts|
|PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003||• Compressor||18.1” x 17.2” x 18.5”||26 lbs.||120 volts|
|PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI||• 25-Feet coil hose|
• 8 PC accessory kit
|15.5” x 13.2” x 20.5”||20 lbs.||120 volts|
|Kensun D1001||• Rubber hose|
• Long-reaching cord
• 6’7” cord
• 3 Nozzle adapters
|11.7” x 6.8” x 4.8”||4.5 lbs.||110 volts|
|• Compressor||17.2” x 16.6” x 20.1”||32.2 lbs.||120 volts|
|BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF||• Trim Compressor||17” x 13” x 11”||29 lbs.||120 volts|
|• Compressor||20.5” x 15.8” x 10.8”||30 lbs.||120 volts|
|California Air Tools 5510SE||• Compressor||11” x 23” x 26”||54 lbs.||110 volts|
|Campbell Hausfeld DC080500||• 4.6-gal. Compressor|
• 6-gal. Compressor
• 8 Gallon Compressor
• 50 Foot PVC Air Hose
• 1/2" Composite Impact Wrench
• 3 in 1 Tire Inflator
• Chuck & Gauges
|11” x 23” x 26”||64 lbs.||110 volts|
|• Compressor||20.5” x 16.5” x 14.5”||60 lbs.||115 volts|
As you may need to carry the air compressor often, it’s important to note the dimensions and weight of each unit. If you tend to work on rooftops, then a compact, lightweight air compressor may be what you need. You can also see that the additional accessories vary based on brand. Some air compressors come with multiple attachments, while others only include the compressor and a hose. We took this into consideration when determining the best small air compressors of 2018.
Why the latest Makita MAC2400 and California Air Tools 10020C are not on my list?
It’s time to answer the question you’ve all been asking: Why aren’t the Makita MAC2400 and California Air Tools 10020C on the list? I’d like to start off by saying that both these products are extremely amazing air compressors. They’re powerful, reliable, effective, and durable. Composed of heavy-duty, industrial quality materials, they’d last high commercial usage easily. However, there are 2 important reasons as to why we didn’t include them in our review. These are:
While we prepared for this review of the Top 10 Small Air Compressors of 2018, we decided on a $200 price limit. This was to ensure that our products were affordable for our readers. However, both the Makita MAC2400 and the California Air Tools 10020C overshot this price limit. They actually cost roughly around $350, which was more than what we were willing to pay.
They’re too big
The most important factor to consider when choosing the best air compressor is size. Professional carpenters and construction workers have to lug an air compressor up and down rooftops and from place to place. That’s why a lightweight, compact unit is easier to manage than a heavy, larger one. Both the Makita MAC2400 and the California Air Tools 10020C weigh at least 80-pounds. That’s 20-pounds more than the 60-pound limit we’d settled on beforehand.
Overall, the Makita MAC2400 and the California Air Tools 10020C are both great products that can definitely last years of work. However, they are still too expensive and too large for our top 10 list.
1. PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK - Best Small Air Compressor in 2018
The Porter-Cable C2002-WK comes with a 6-gal. capacity. The tank, itself, holds up to 150 psi for more air storage and longer run time. With a pancake style design, this air compressor features a 120-volt self-start motor that runs up to 3.5-CFM.
Its High-Flo Regulator prevents pressure drops in air during usage.
The 13-piece complementary accessory kit comes with a 25-foot nylon hose, a tire chuck, gauge, and quick coupler.
It also comes with plugs, Teflon tape, a blowgun, and additional attachments. Suitable for cold weather, the Porter-Cable C2002-WK can stand sub-20 degree environments.
After closer inspection, we realized that the Porter-Cable puts out around 2.9 to 3.5 CFM at 90 to 150 PSI. While simple tools wouldn’t be a problem, larger, industrial-sized units can be. Impact wrenches and large tires require at least 5 CFM. So, professionals may need to invest in something a little more powerful than the Porter-Cable C2002-WK.
For the most part, the Porter-Cable C2002-WK is a sturdy, easy to use product that will last you years of use. Although it is a little loud, it’s not as noisy as some of the other air compressors we’ve tested. Its complementary 13-piece accessory kit and 1-year warranty make a great addition for this air compressor. It’s a unit that gets the job done without extra hassle or expensive additional maintenance.1
The Porter-Cable PCFP02003 comes in with a 3.5-gal. tank and a 135 max PSI. With a pancake design, it provides 2.0 CFM via a 90 oil-free PSI pump. Its 120-volt motor runs in both cold and hot weather for convenience.
Weighing 26-pounds, this unit is compact and portable for extra versatility.
While this air compressor is fairly less powerful than other products on our list, it’s both affordable and effective.
It makes the perfect unit for any new carpenter or DIY-er. It also does an excellent job at supporting small framing, roof jobs, small trim nailers, and small CFM tools.
The downside to the Porter-Cable PCFP02003 is, of course, the fact that it can’t handle industrial sized nailers. It was designed and intended to pair with small CFM tools. Another fault of this air compressor is that at 82dBA decibel level, it’s louder than other units on our list. This, of course, is a matter of opinion. A few experienced air compressor workers may feel that 82dBA decibel level is more or less manageable. However, others may find it a deal breaker.
As stated before, the Porter-Cable PCFP02003 may not be for more advanced professionals. It does a wonderful job as a small, personal home-compressor as it can pair with any small CFM tool. It also comes with a 1-year warranty against product defects in materials or workmanship. The Porter-Cable PCFP02003 is an appliance that deserves a closer look. 1
The Porter-Cable CMB15 is a 1.5-gal. tank which is both lightweight and easy to carry. It offers quick recovery time with its oil-free compressor that runs between 150 to 90 PSI at 2.0 CFM. With a 120-volt motor, it performs well in cold weather with very little glitches. Equipped with a 25-foot long hose, the Porter-Cable CMB15 has a fairly long reach that is extremely helpful. Designed with a 79dBA decibel level, it makes very little noise while in use. This helps to prevent long term hearing damage for those who use an air compressor regularly
According to quite a few customer reviews, the Porter-Cable CMB15 typically has a 2-year lifespan. If you’re okay with buying a fairly inexpensive air compressor every 2 years, then I suggest you invest in this one. Another problem with this air compressor revolves around the 25-foot long hose. The hose, itself, is a bit flimsy and can tear after a few uses. If this happens, replacing the hose is a quick and cheap process. Otherwise, I suggest inquiring about the 1-year warranty.
Along with its relatively quiet motor, the Porter-Cable CMB15 comes with an 8-piece accessory kit. It also comes with a 1-year warranty against product defects in material and workmanship. Although it’s compact and small, the Porter-Cable air compressor pairs well with a wide variety of CMF tools. It’s a product that’s worth its price.
4. Kensun D1001 - Affordable Tire Air Compressor
The Kensun D1001 is by far the cheapest air compressor on our list. This is because it’s a multifunctional tire inflator. It comes equipped with a 21.7-inch hose, a 9 ft. 10-inch long cord with a cigarette plug, and a 6-ft. 7-inch A/C cord.
Its pump is capable of up to 40 PSI at 11 liters per minute. With this, the Kensun D1001 Tire Air Compressor is able to inflate all types of tires. This includes car, SUV, motorcycle, lawnmower, and truck tires.
It can be used on basketballs, soccer balls, mattresses, and rafts. With 3 different nozzle adapters, the Kensun D101 is a multifunctional product that’s perfect for any setting.
Although the Kensun is designed to work with any type of tire, it sometimes takes longer to inflate larger ones. Smaller products, such as basketballs, soccer balls, and bike tires may only take a few minutes to fully inflate. However, larger tires such as a car, SUV, and truck tires may take up to 30 minutes. This is a major flaw in its design.
At 4.5-pounds, the Kensun D1001 Tire Air Compressor is lightweight and easy to carry. It’s important that you allow this compressor a 10-minute cooldown period between every 10-minute use. This will ensure that it stays in like-new condition for years to come.
5. DEWALT DWFP55126 - Small PSI Pancake Compressor
The Dewalt DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor offers a 6-gal. tank with a max PSI of 165. The high-efficiency oil-free pump offers 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI. It comes equipped with a high flow regulator and couplers for maximum air flow and better performance.
With 2 universal couplers, this air compressor can support 2 users at once. Its heavy duty ball drain valve prevents leakage and drainage, while the protective rubber leg covers prevent scarring on the floor.
The Dewalt DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor has a 75.5 dBA decibel noise level making it fairly loud.
However, it’s not too loud for a professional or seasoned carpenter. It’s advised that you wear hearing protectors while using this air compressor.
The Dewalt DWFP55126 is supposed to have a safety valve that prevents it from exceeding 165 PSI. This prevents the unit from overheating and even exploding. However, many Dewalt air compressors’ safety valves are missing or faulty. Sometimes it won’t shut off until reaching 220 PSI which is very dangerous. I recommend checking that the unit has its safety valve as soon as you receive it.
The Dewalt DWFP55126 is a first-class air compressor that standups to even commercial usage. Built with industrial quality materials, it’s extremely sturdy and guaranteed to last years. If not, this product also comes with a 1-year limited warranty against product defects in materials or marksmanship.
6. BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF - High-Output Trim Compressor
The Bostitch CAP15212-OF comes with an oil-free pump that runs between 40 and 150 PSI at 2.8 to 3.7 CFM. It’s equipped with a 1.5 HP motor that supports 12 amps easily. With a 1.2-gal. tank, it weighs roughly 23-pounds and is easy to carry and maneuver.
It also comes with a handy storage pocket, as well as, onboard tool and hose storage for better portability. The Bostitch CAP1512-OF’s rubberized feet prevent scorch marks, while its integrated panel makes it easy to use.
So much so, that even a first-time air compressor user could figure it out.
Unfortunately, the Bostitch CAP1512-OF has a fairly slow starting time. It takes a few minutes for this air compressor to fill its tank. Not only that, but continuous usage may cause it to overheat. It’s recommended that you run it for 5- minute increments, along with 5-minute breaks in between.
Although the Bostitch CAP1512-OF does not come with a warranty, its industrial quality parts promise a long lifespan. On average, customer reviews suggest that this air compressor is able to run for at least 2-years with proper care and maintenance. It’s important to remember, however, that it’s a small air compressor built for small SCMF tools.
The Dewalt D55140 comes with a 2.6 Amp motor capable of reaching between 90 and 135 PSI at 75 CFM. With a 1-gal tank, it weighs a total of 24-pounds for better portability.
It has a 69 dBA decibel level for quiet usage, as well as an oil-free pump for convenience and preventing messes. The equipped ball drain valve provides quick and easy tank drainage without spills mid-use.
With a cast-iron design, the Dewalt D55140 is a sturdy and durable product that can take a few hits. Meanwhile, it’s small it easy to store and take from place to place. It’s a definitely a unit that’s better suited for home repairs.
The Dewalt D55140’s 1-gal. tank is pretty disappointing. It simply doesn’t provide enough air capacity to complete major construction. This air compressor would make a good option for DIY-ers and individuals looking to complete some minor repairs.
The good thing about the Dewalt D55140 is that it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. It also features a 1-year free service contract, as well as, a 1-year warranty against defects in materials. If you’re looking for a simple air compressor for a small at-home job, I definitely recommend the Dewalt D55140.
8. California Air Tools 5510SE - Small Tank Air Compressor
California Air Tools 5510SE air compressor comes with a 60-decibel level, making it the quietest unit on our list.
This is due to its 1.0 HP motor and oil-free pump that provides a max pressure of 120 PSI. Its air delivery includes 3.1 CFM at 40 PSI and 2.2 at 90 PSI. Besides that, it draws 8.5 amps and comes with a thermal overload protector to prevent overheating.
With a 5.5-gal steel tank, it weighs about 46-pounds. However, this air compressor also comes with a wheel kit to provide better mobility. Equipped with 2 pressure control gauges, it also comes with a ¼” universal quick connector.
Strangely, there have been quite a few customer reports of the California Air Tools 5510SE catching on fire. It seems that this is typically caused by a faulty pressure switch. The switch that’s supposed to automatically stop the machine when it’s full of air doesn’t always work. This can cause overheating, smoke, and even fires. I recommend that if you purchase this air compressor, do not leave it unattended. 1
The California Air Tools 5510SE air compressor takes roughly 130 seconds to fully fill. With that, the recovery time from 90 to 150 PSI is 50 seconds. UL certified and ETL certified this air compressor is a safe product that can withstand even commercial usage.
9. Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 - Small Quiet Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 comes with a 68 dBa decibel level making it 50 percent quieter than any common air compressor. With a 1.0 HP air compressor, it reaches from 90 to 125 PSI at 2.2 CFM.
Featuring an 8-gal tank, it weighs roughly 64-pounds, making it the heaviest air compressor on our list. However, it promises industrial level performance due to its dual-piston pump, and a 4x longer lifespan than any other air compressor. Included are a 17-piece accessory kit, a 3-in-1 inflation gun, as well as, a 25-foot long air hose.
Also, additional 2 wheels and rubber grip handle make the air compressor easier to move
The only major fault that the Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor featured was its 64-pound weight. Because of this, this air compressor might not be the best for climbing up and down ladders and on top of roofs. It’s a bit heavy and can be cumbersome for a professional carpenter. However, its 8-gal tank really sets it apart. 1
The Campbell Hausfeld air compressor is an effective, sturdy, and reliable product that stands up to even repetitive usage. Another helpful addition is that it comes with a 1-year warranty against product defects in materials and workmanship. 1
10. Senco PC1131 - Cheap Air Compressor
The Senco PC1131 comes with an impressive cast-iron, twin tank design for larger storage. Between the 2 tanks, it can hold up to 4.3 gallons safely. With a 2.5 HP motor, it draws up to 115 volts for continuous usage while delivering 100 PSI.
Its max pressure is 125 PSI. It comes equipped with a ¼” universal coupler and pressure gauges. At 60 -pounds, this unit is a pretty heavy. Pump up time for the Senco PC1131 lasts for around 67 seconds. Recovery time from 90 PSI to 125 PSI is typically around 16 seconds.
With a 77 dBA decibel level, this air compressor is neither particularly loud nor quiet. With a good pair of hearing protectors, you should be able to manage.
Of course, the major issue with the Senco PC1131 is that it’s fairly heavy at 60 -pounds. It doesn’t even come with wheels that would have made it easier to carry. However, there may be a way to attach some wheels to its base. There are YouTube tutorials explaining how to do this. 1
The Senco PC1131 Air Compressor may not be the lightest unit, but it is particularly powerful. With a quick recovery time, a washable intake filter, a 1-year warranty, this product definitely deserves its place on our top 10 list.
Small Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
Before choosing our Top 10 Small Air Compressors, we composed a list of requirements for each unit. This was to ensure that our choices were able to hold up to a variety of needs, effectively. While not every air compressor on our list excels in each category, they still performed admirably. So much so, that they outshined other units and were chosen for our top 10 list. That said, the categories we tested in included power, tank capacity, performance, additional features, and overall price.
Power, Motor, and Tank Capacity
We tried to avoid gas-powered air compressors in favor of the electric-powered units. This is because electric units can be used in and outdoors, while gas units should primarily be kept outside. As far as motors went, we settled on a unit that featured at least a 110 volt motor. Those on our list typically varied from 110 to 120 volts. For tank capacity, 1-gal was our limit. Any less could not be accepted. The air compressors we discovered with a 1-gal tank also had additional features that helped it stand out from the competition.
When determining the air compressors performance, we had to consider multiple factors. What were the pounds per square inch (psi) and cubic feet per minute (CFM)? These helped to determined how fast the unit worked, as well as how much it could accomplish with one tank. We also had to test its charging speed, recovery time, and lapse times.
By analyzing these various factors, we could find out how convenient and time effective the air compressor was. How well could it hold up to continuous use? Did it have a history of overheating or shutting down? If so, how do you avoid these problems? These were simply a few questions we had to ask while developing this list.
This was a straightforward category that asked the question “what were you getting by purchasing this compressor?” Many units on our list came with additional accessories, long hoses, or nozzles. Additional features guarantee that you’re getting more than just an air compressor. Of course, our favorite feature was the product warranties that protected you, as a consumer. These promise that if your air compressor is poorly made or uses a faulty material, you’ll receive a full refund or replacement. They can save you a lot of money in the long run.
As stated before, we searched for air compressor units that cost less than $200. This was to make sure that our readers didn’t overspend or purchase a product that was simply too expensive. As you can see from our list, there’s no real reason to spend almost $300 on an air compressor with a cheaper unit works just as well.
Size and Weight
Of course, size and weight play an extremely important factor in our decision. Again, I mentioned before that we searched for air compressors that were compact and weighed less than 60 pounds. We do have a unit that weighs 64 pounds. However, due to its overwhelmingly impressive performance, we felt that it deserved to be on our list.
Small Air Compressor FAQs
Start-Stop vs. Constant Run
Start-stop air compressors come with an on-off pressure switch. Gas or small air compressors typically feature a start-stop design. Constant run air compressors feature motors that continue running until the units unplugged. They’re significantly more powerful and are often used for commercial or business use.
Which Voltage should you look for?
Most small air compressors can run with at least 110 volts. Larger air compressors need between 110 volts to 460 volts.
What hose should you look for?
Hose length really depends on what you need the air compressor for. The most common hose lengths are 1/4” and 3/8”. Larger compressors may require larger hoses or nozzles. Otherwise, you can consult your manual for the appropriate hose length.
What’s the longest hose I can use?
Small air compressors for home or personal usage don’t typically need more than 150”. For any other reason, it’s best to consult the manufacturer or personal manual.
Should you look for a bigger tank?
Plus side to larger tanks is that they stop and start less often. However, larger tanks are heavier and typically more expensive. So, it’s best to consider the reason why you need an air compressor and how much work you have to complete. If the unit continuously stops and restarts mid-use than it can easily waste a lot of your time. Short, simple projects are better for small tanks. Long, complicated projects are best for large tanks.
Why does the pressure drop when connecting pneumatic tools?
This could be caused by a number of different problems:
- Are there holes in the piping?
- Perhaps the elements are clogged?
- Is the hose diameter too small?
- There may be leaks in the valves, lines, or connections.
Best Bang for your Buck
And that does it for our Top 10 Small Air Compressors of 2018. If you’re looking for a small unit that’s capable of industrial quality work, then I recommend you choose from our list. Each product promises years of use with great results. Pick either a specialty product, such as the Kensun D1001, or a general air compressor like the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK. Both are guaranteed to provide everything you could possibly need in an air compressor.
If you agree with our choices, I encourage you to write a review. Tell us what you liked. What you didn’t like.
Have you purchased any of these products before? If so, which one and how did it perform? Which do you think is the best small air compressor of 2018?