It is rather fascinating how we have become completely dependent on technology. Everything we do is related to machines, in one way or the other. One of the more useful inventions that a lot of people seem to overlook is the air compressor.
Think of it as a pump in a way, but for air –– contrary to popular belief, pumps are only used with liquids. The air compressor can have any engine, whether that is electrical or gas/diesel operated, and it aims to basically store pressurized air.
The machine converts power from the engine into potential energy in the form of compressed air, which can then be used for a myriad of functions, from inflating the tires to cleaning.
There are several things you need to consider before buying an air compressor, but for now, let’s focus on the size. This machine can be quite useful, but the last thing you need is to walk around with a large device weighing you down. In this article, we will explore the different and best small air compressors you can get.
Our Top Picks:
|Air Compressor||PSI||Tank Size||Type||Weight||SCFM|
|Bostitch BTFP02012||150||6 gallons||oil-free, corded-electric||31lbs||2.6|
|California Air Tools 10020C||125||10 gallons||oil-free, corded-electric||82.5 lbs||5.3|
|Makita, MAC700||130||2.6 gallons||oil-lubricated, electric-powered||59.6 lbs||3.3|
|California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S||120||1 gallon||oil-free, corded electric||29 lbs||1.2|
|DEWALT DWFP55126||165||6 gallons||oil-free||32.2 lbs||2.6|
|DEWALT D55140||135||1 gallon||oil-free, electric||29.4 lbs||0.75|
|Makita MAC5200||140||5.2 gallon||oil-lubricated||88 lbs||6.5|
The 7 Best Small Air Compressors 2020
1. Bostitch BTFP02012 – Best Overall
You will find that this one is highly praised by most experts, and it is considered to be one of the best overall small air compressors on the market. It is lightweight, at just a little of 30 pounds, which makes it ideal for homes and those garage projects you like to indulge in.
Yet, despite being fairly portable, it is also a powerful machine that can give you up to 150 maximum PSI, which means it can handle just about most low-key projects that don’t require that big of a pressure.
The Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free Compressor also comes with a 6-gallon tank, which is a relatively large capacity compared to other air compressors in the same category.
One of the best features on the Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free Compressor is the fact that it is oil-free, which means it is much easier to maintain this machine since compressors that need oil for lubrication have a more complicated maintenance process –– they are also often louder.
This machine comes with a 15-foot extension cord, too, which gives you a lot of flexibility to move around as you please. This air compressor comes with a relatively average standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM), which is how fast the air flows out of the machine.
- Very quiet
- Easy maintenance
- Has no emissions
- High maximum PSI
- Large tank
- Can be used in all weather conditions
- Pricey (around $100)
- Doesn’t come with hose or gun kit
- Average SCFM
If you need a powerful air compressor with a large tank, Bostitch BTFP02012 should be your first choice.
2. California Air Tools 10020C – Runner Up
This is an even quieter model than the Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free Compressor, coming in at around 70 decibels (dB) compared to the Bostitch’s 78.5. It is one of the best small air compressors in the market for a variety of reasons.
It is a highly flexible machine that can work in a variety of temperatures, which makes it suitable for all sorts of projects and surfaces, too. It is also an oil-free machine that can be utilized in all sorts of different workplaces depending on your preference.
This corded air compressor also comes with a bigger tank of 10 gallons, which gives you more leeway to get more work done since you have a larger capacity.
The California Air Tools 10020C has a maximum PSI of 125, but it can still be used to great efficiency, albeit with a slightly weaker performance than the previously mentioned model.
- Big tank
- Corded, so it allows for flexibility
- Can be used for several jobs
- High SCFM
- A bit heavy
You can use this powerful guy if you need to use an air compressor in all kinds of weather. Moreover, if you hate working in a noisy place, you will be pleased with this product.
3. Makita MAC700 – Compact Design
The Makita, MAC700 is a very powerful machine in a surprisingly compact design that is portable and lightweight. It is ideal for people who have some sort of experience with air compressors, as it can be utilized in bigger projects.
Many professionals prefer this tool because of its sturdy design. It is built in a solid iron cast that gives it significant toughness and durability. Moreover, the compressor comes with a powerful 2-horsepower motor, which also enables the compressor’s efficient performance.
Despite being fitted with a bigger bore and a solid piston, the Makita air compressor manages to maintain a reasonable weight that makes it easy to carry around. The machine also comes with water drain valves and a discharge tube that helps keep the machine cool as it dissolves heat.
- Excellent build quality
- Quiet despite being oil-lubricated
- Reasonably priced
- Higher than average SCFM
- No hose included
- A bit heavier than some of the other models
Makita MAC700 has a very durable design that enables it to withstand harsh work conditions.
4. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S – Lightweight
If you want to buy a small, quiet air compressor, get California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S. It is one of the quietest models on the market –– with a noise level of just 56 decibels.
This lightweight machine is only 29 pounds, which means that you can easily carry it around to do whatever tasks you want, making it an ideal small air compressor. This model is also oil-free, making its maintenance quite easy, especially with its one-gallon tank.
Despite being less powerful than the other models mentioned, it is still pretty efficient, and it comes in handy for the smaller projects you want to tackle. It is better used with one tool at a time, and it can get the job done with ease and efficiency as long as you don’t overwork it.
- Extremely portable and lightweight
- Oil-free and easy maintenance
- One of the quietest models in the market
- Not suitable for bigger projects
- Low capacity tank –– 1 gallon
- Can’t operate several tools at the same time
- Not a very high SCFM
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S is a very quiet one that you can easily carry around. Moreover, if you hate having to maintain your air compressor, this one does not demand a lot of maintenance. Steer away from it if you are a professional, though.
5. DEWALT DWFP55126 – Ideal For Small Tasks
If a pancake air compressor is what you are after, the DEWALT DWFP55126 is one of the best options in the market. It is equipped with a pretty powerful motor that complements that six-gallon tank, giving out a maximum PSI of 165.
This highly efficient motor means that this small air compressor can easily start in colder weather, and it also gives you a long time to use the tools –– you can use multiple ones with this air compressor. It is definitely better used with smaller tools, though. It does so perfectly with a noise level of around 75.5 dB, which makes it fairly quiet.
Coming in at a little over 30 pounds, it is also fairly portable and lightweight, which is quite impressive considering its operational capacity. If you prefer using a cordless air compressor, you should know that the DEWALT DWFP55126 is corded, so you will need to use a power supply. Still, all in all, this is a pretty reliable and very well-rounded air compressor.
- Powerful engine
- Can support more than one tool at the same time
- Fairly quiet
- High maximum PSI
- Ideal for small tasks like inflating tires
- Easy to use
- Comes with a control panel that is protected by a plastic cover
- Oil-free, easy maintenance
- Not suitable for larger projects
- Average sized tank
- Average SCFM
This is the best air compressor to use if you are not a professional. Its lightweight, ease of use, and high PSI are some of its great features.
6. DEWALT D55140 – Easy Maintenance
The DEWALT D55140 is a gas-powered air compressor that comes with a 1-gallon tank. It is one of the best air compressors out there for smaller jobs, as it is ideal for tasks like inflating car tires.
It is relatively quiet, yet not as much as some of the older models, with a noise level of a little over 70 dB. Despite being gas-operated, it is oil-free, which means that its maintenance shouldn’t give you too much of a headache.
- Oil-free, easy maintenance
- Great for small jobs
- Small tank capacity
- Louder than other models
- Low SCFM
This one, too, is great for small tasks and can be easily maintained. However, take care that it is kind of loud and has a small tank capacity.
7. Makita MAC5200 – Best Air Compressor To Operate Different Tools
Despite being an oil-lubricated small air compressor, the Makita MAC5200 Big Bore is still fairly quiet and wouldn’t cause you any disturbance. You will need to make sure the oil is regularly changed, though, and with the right type, too.
This is a pretty durable machine that can give out a powerful performance of up to 140 PSI, which is ideal for the 5.2-gallon size it comes with. It can also operate several tools at once, which is an important feature to keep in mind.
Moreover, its special design ensures the protection of the pump
- Quiet despite being oil-lubricated
- Relatively high PSI
- Can be folded for ease of storage
- Withstands the intense workload
- Can operate multiple tools
- Special design
- High SCFM
- Not the biggest tank size in the market
- Harder maintenance
If you do not have a vast area to store an air compressor, the foldable Makita MAC5200 solves the problem for you. Besides, it can be used in job sites.
What to Look For When Buying a Small Air Compressor
1. Tank Size
The tank size is the first angle you need to consider, though it won’t always make a difference. Why is it important, then? The tank size indicates how long the tank will be able to hold air so you could finish your job before the pressure drops and before needing to let the motor refill the tank. So, depending on the size of projects you need the air compressor for, consider the tank size.
PSI is another factor you will need to take into consideration, as it indicates just how efficiently the tank can hold air and get the job done. If you get a 1-gallon tank with 130 PSI, it will hold more air than a 4-gallon tank with a 100 PSI.
3. Noise Level
You then need to consider the noise level of the small air compressor because getting one of these probably means that you don’t want much noise. And the higher the decibel, the noisier it gets.
The portability of the small air compressor makes a huge difference, and it is not just about the weight. You should also look for compact designs that make it easy to carry the machine, as opposed to bulky ones that are harder to move around.
5. Oil-free or Not
Don’t forget to ask if the small air compressor is oil-free –– like most cases with this particular type of machine –– or not, because, as explained earlier, it will make a difference in the maintenance requirements and how much effort you will need to put into it.
Last but not least, check the cubic feet per minute (CFM), which indicates just how fast a small air compressor can supply the air.
This is an important number that you need to check because the tools you will be using need air at a certain rate, and your machine needs to be able to meet that rate, or else it will need to play catch-up.
Generally speaking, manufacturers measure their compressors at 90 PSI using a nail-gun, so all the numbers you see are at that PSI so you could compare.
Uses of Small Air Compressors
Now that you know the different available models in the market, and their different uses. It is time to look into why you might even need one. If you’re reading this and you’ve never used a small air compressor, you’d be surprised at just how much easier they could make your life.
Fixing anything in your house becomes exponentially simpler with a small air compressor. Know those nail guns that cost you a fortune because they are battery-operated? Well, you could pay half as much if you get a pneumatic air gun, which uses an air compressor.
Those nail guns are not only cheaper but also easier to use and lighter to carry around. So, you’ll get increased efficiency overall for your projects.
Small air compressors are often used with paint spray, too. You can use it to paint anything around your place, from furniture to walls. The compressor makes the task a lot easier and saves you a lot of time while providing excellent results.
We have mentioned tires quite a few times already, and this is because small air compressors are ideal for inflating any sort of tires you’re dealing with. Whether it is a bike, car, or even truck, those small machines have you covered. They also work with anything that needs inflating, including kids’ pools, for example.
A small air compressor is simply a versatile machine that can be used with a lot of tools. You can connect it with air blowers to clean large spaces, for instance.
It can also be used by businesses in operating tools and machinery of a smaller scale, which is why a lot of medium- and small-sized businesses use small air compressors, as they are often used with pneumatic tools like drills, jackhammers, sanders, and so on.
So, now you see the need for air compressors, but does it have to be small? Well, air compressors can run up to 60 gallons, and needless to say, those can be quite heavy. This is why the smaller models are more convenient, as they offer excellent performance while being portable and easy to carry, and more importantly, quiet.
So, if you need some power to get some projects done at home or if you like to dabble in some hobbies that entail needing one of those, the smaller air compressors are definitely the choice to go with. If you need to run a large machine at a factory, though, then this is a whole other ballgame.
So, what is the best choice to go with? This will depend on your preference and why you need the small air compressor. If you need an air compressor with a large tank capacity, go for Bostitch BTFP02012.
If you are after a high CFM, then the Makita MAC5200 is your best choice. The problem with this one, though, is that it is oil-lubricated.
If you have a problem with that and want a similarly powerful performance, then you should go with the California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet small air compressor, the best air compressor in the market, which is oil-free and offers a pretty high CFM.