For many workspaces, a small air compressor is a must-have. They provide a convenient burst of energy or to pressure a tire but this is only going to be the case when using a quality product. Not every brand can boast of a reliable motor that starts even in cold weather. It is also important to find a product that is low maintenance and easy to use.
All of these traits can be found in our following list of the best small air compressors. The convenience is in the size, but the performance of each product is what makes them stand out. To make this decision as easy as possible take a look at the best products on the market.
Quick Summary of Small Air Compressors
California Air Tools 10020C-22060 Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free and Powerful 2 Hp Air Compressor (review)
Campbell Hausfeld 6 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor (DC060500)
For us, this is the best small air compressor available. Mot only does it have a quiet operation with only 68 dBA, making it 50% quieter than a lot of the competition. Also, with a 6-gallon capacity, there is plenty of use between refills. The oil-free operation and low maintenance air compressor are often described as being one of the easiest to use and a max of 125 PSI behind it, there is also the power to make quick work of most uses.
The steel handle has a soft grip to make it easy to maneuver and its key components are made to last up to 4 x longer. There is a 1-year limited warranty included but to get more use out of this small air compressor, it can be used with a variety of tools.
- 50% quieter
- 6-gallon capacity
- 125 PSI
- 1-year limited warranty
- Soft grip handle
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
Up there among the most popular small air compressors available, this oil-free, 6-gallon product can reach up to 150 PSI. This means the user will get a powerful shot of air for cleaning out gutters or inflating car tires. The motor is built to withstand different temperatures meaning that even those biting lows won’t stop it from working.
When in use, the noise is kept under control so it is safe to use in the workplace, with 78.5 dBA being the max output. To get the most out of the air tool performance, it offers a high flow regulator and couplers. There is no maintenance required with this small air compressor and to top it all off, it is oil-free. Weighing only 29 lbs, it is easy to maneuver, and easy to use.
- Up to 150 PSI
- Low Noise
- No maintenance required
- Works in low temperature
- Does not come with a hose or gun kit
California Air Tools 10020C-22060 Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free and Powerful 2 Hp Air Compressor
With a ten gallon tank, this is another impressive small air compressor that is both oil-free and as powerful as they come. We like that it has an ultra-quiet operation so can be used for those projects that run through the night with just 70 decibels as a maximum. It comes with a universal two 1/4 inch connector and offers a top pressure of 125 PSI which is plenty for most.
This is also one of the easiest small air compressors to move as it comes on wheels and offers added safety in the thermal overload protector. One of the main traits that newcomers should look for is a product that is low maintenance which is one of the plus points of this product, and it is easy to start in cold weather.
- Only 70 decibels of noise
- 125 PSI
- Easy to move around
- Can be a bit pricey for some
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI (DWFP55126)
With a six-gallon tank, it might not be the biggest, but it is one of the best small air compressors available. With its pancake-like design, it doesn’t take up a lot of room but packs a punch as it can deliver up to 165 PSI. Highly efficient, it is easy to start and does so with ease in cold weather. With 75.5 decibels, it is definitely on the quiet side and weighs just 30 lbs making it portable.
The couplers and high airflow regulators make for a satisfying experience when using air tools as it gives them the power needed to get the job done. It is best placed at least 12 inches away from the wall when using power tools for optimal airflow.
- Good value
- Power 165 PSI
- 75.5 decibels
- Weighs just 30 lbs
- Only 6 gallons
PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free (C2002)
This is the best reasonably priced small air compressor and with 6-gallons it has a good amount of air for the price. Oil-free and with a max PSI of 150, it also has 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI for faster recovery time. The rubber feet add to the stability and it is a compact product so won’t take up a lot of space in the workshop.
Weighing just 30 lbs, it is easy to move around the home to work on different parts of a rebuild or small project and the 120V low amp motor starts in cold weather without any issues. Because of this, it can be used to pump tires outside then to power a nail gun in the house, all at a competitive price.
- Great value
- 150 PSI max
- Not as quiet as other products
Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor, 64 Decibel 4.5 Gallon
For a truly small air compressor, this 4.5-gallon product offers good value. It is also one of the quietest since at just 64 decibels which will be music to a lot of people’s ears. It is set on wheels with a handle making it easy to move around the workshop or Jobsite and is known for lasting 3 x longer than a lot of comparable products.
Because it is oil-free, the maintenance of this product is near zero and the tank pressure gauge is easy to read and place conveniently on top. The twin stack design ensures it takes up less space yet can provide ample air at the same time. For the price, it is hard to find better small air compressors.
- Low maintenance
- Convenient stack design
- Super quiet at 64 decibels
- 150 PSI
- Some will want more than 4.5 gallons
Small Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
When looking for a product that can help make air-powered tools as powerful as possible, there are certain things to look out for. Not only should they be easy to use, but the quieter the better. These are just two of the traits to expect from the better small air compressors on the market.
We have compiled the following buyer’s guide that details everything there is to know about these important devices. By the end of it, you’ll know exactly what the better products are capable of.
What To Look For In A Small Air Compressor
This starts with being oil-free which thankfully, most small air compressors are these days. This means the user won’t need to keep an eye on how well oiled the machine is for it to run smoothly and can keep the workshop from getting messy due to spills.
The power is all-important here and it’s all down to the PSI. The more the merrier but most reliable products tend to offer anything between 125 – 175 PSI. Anything in this range should be enough to help a nail gun work at its maximum and make light work of a variety of projects. This is also important for pumping tires as, without enough PSI behind it, it will not be able to inflate.
These may be small, but not all of them are light enough to be easily maneuvered around the workshop. This is why it is important to keep an eye on the weight of the product. sure, it needs to be sturdy, but the weight shouldn’t become a reason to not use it.
Another consideration as those who have larger projects will of course require a small air compressor with a larger tank. The most these products tend to offer is 10 liters which most will find to be plenty. Otherwise, it is possible to get by on 6 liters for personal projects.
Some people like to use gas-powered products, but electric products tend to be more reliable. Most have lengthy power cords that mean the user is not at the mercy of finding the nearest power socket.
This stands for ‘Cubic Feet per Minute’ which means how much power it can provide to power tools. This can be beneficial for certain tools that require constant power rather than an intermittent supply.
Any power tool is going to be noisy when being used, but the small air compressor used to power it does not have to be. Anything around 70 devices is going to be more pleasant to use on the ears and can mean the user feels like they can use it later in the day without annoying the neighbors.
Something quick like pumping tires won’t be such a big deal but for longer jobs, you want to save your ears from loud machinery. Thanks to modern technology, a small air compressor noise level is not a gauge of its power.
Not everyone needs to use their small air compressor day in day out, which is why it can be a good idea to look for value. There are enough products that won’t break the bank but still manage to offer high performance in terms of PSI and low decibels.
Why Use A Small Air Compressor?
There are many benefits to using these convenient products, and they include the fact that they are compact and easily portable. However, they are also great for the longevity of the tools as they help them last longer. Also, the power this approach gives to the tools ensures they can get a job done faster, with professional results.
On top of all this, they are competitively priced and are quicker to use than other methods.
What Is A Small Air Compressor Used For?
They are most commonly used for powering tools making them common on a construction site but also at home workshops and for DIY projects. Because of the power they help to omit, they make light work of various jobs where a manual approach can take a lot longer. Some of the most common tools they are compatible with include a jackhammer, nail gun, and a pneumatic paint spray.
Otherwise, they are used to pump tires because of their portable design and most can work in cold temperatures without any issues. Although no two products are the same, only people who use their tools regularly will require the use of a high-end product.
How Much Does A Small Air Compressor Cost?
Most reputable products tend to range between $100 – $400 and there can be a noticeable difference between both ends. It might be the case that the consumer needs to compromise on some aspects of a small air compressor such as tank size, although top PSI can be around the 150 mark for both.
What Is The Best Small Air Compressor?
After reviewing multiple products, we found the best to be the Campbell Hausfeld 6 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor. Not only is it 50% quieter than a lot of the competition with its max decibels being just 68, but there is a lot to like. It also has a max PSI of 125 and a 1-year warranty which is something we always like to see. Everything from the soft-grip handle and durable components adds to the value of what is a reasonably priced yet high performing air compressor.
Oil-Free Vs Oil Tank
You’ll notice that the majority of products are now oil-free, this is because they are low maintenance and not as messy. Oil tanks do tend to be more powerful and are particularly durable, but the convenience of an oil-free product, combined with its reduced noise, mess, running cost, and added convenience makes it difficult to argue against.
How Long Do Air Compressors Last?
This will depend on the quality of the product and brand reputation goes a long way when it comes to durability. However, expect most reputable products to last over a decade.