The 11 Best Portable Air Compressors of 2022

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A portable air compressor powers nail guns and other pneumatic tools and can even pump up a deflated tire when you’re in a pinch.

We researched the top models, evaluating portability, performance rating, and tank size. Our favorite, the Makita MAC2400 Portable Air Compressor, has a generous tank capacity, a robust motor, and is oil lubricated to reduce the risk of overheating.

Here are the best portable air compressors.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Makita MAC2400 Portable Air Compressor (view at Amazon), which provides plenty of airpower and has commercial-grade components that will last for years to come. If you’re on a budget, we recommend the RIDGID Pancake Air Compressor (view at Home Depot), which gives you a compact yet practical 6-gallon air tank with oil-free lubrication.

Power Source

Air compressors are powered by either electricity or gas. Electric units typically run on standard household voltage—the exception is extremely high-powered products—and are recommended for indoor applications since they don’t emit fumes. Gas-powered compressors can be more convenient since you don’t have to plug them in, and they’re often more powerful. However, the drawback is they should only be used outside or in well-ventilated areas.

Performance Rating

All air compressors come with a performance rating, measured in SCFM, or standard cubic feet per minute. This number tells you how much air the compressor can deliver, and you’ll want to compare it against any pneumatic tools you plan to hook up to the compressor. For instance, if you’re planning to use a nail gun with a rating of 4 SCFM, you’ll want to ensure your compressor can deliver this force.

Tank Size

Most larger air compressors come attached to a tank where compressed air is stored. As you might have guessed, the larger the tank, the longer you can run tools before the compressor must turn back on. If you’re using tools that require a high volume of air, you’ll want a larger tank—typically 6 gallons or more.


  • A portable air compressor is great for use on a construction site or around the home because it can be moved wherever it’s needed. This tool is designed to pull air in, compress it, store the compressed air, and release the compressed air to operate a pneumatic power tool, fill a tire, or blow away dust and debris.

  • You can use a portable air compressor with a wide assortment of pneumatic tools, like a pneumatic nail gun or paint sprayer. Just connect your pneumatic tool of choice to the portable air compressor with the air compressor hose. Turn the air compressor on and wait for the pressure to build up inside the tank. Once the pressure has built up to the maximum, the compressor will turn off, indicating that it’s time to start working. Squeezing the trigger on a paint sprayer or nail gun will release the stored air from the tank so that it can provide the force necessary to spray the paint or to drive the nail into the target material. Keep in mind that as you use the stored air, it will need to be replenished, so expect the compressor to turn back on and start pulling in more air as you work.

  • Portable air compressors work by pulling air into the compressor and gradually reducing the space the air is trapped in, increasing the air pressure. The air is forced through an output into a storage tank, where it is kept at a high air pressure level. When the storage tank reaches its maximum air pressure, the compressor will turn off. The stored air can be used to power pneumatic tools, inflate a tire, or simply clean dust and other debris. After using some of the stored air, the compressor will turn on to pull in more air and increase the pressure in the tank to the maximum before shutting off again.

Erica Puisis has been covering home appliances and power tools for The Spruce for more than three years. No stranger to home projects and deflated tires, she keeps a cordless RYOBI ONE+ air compressor in the trunk of her vehicle for quick inflation from a compact compressor. Additional reporting and research for this article was done by Timothy Dale, a long-time home improvement expert specializing in plumbing, construction, and product recommendations, among other topics.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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