10 Best Small Air Compressors (Reviews for 2024)

The Best AC and DC Small Air Compressors You Can Buy

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Whether using pneumatic (air) tools or pumping the kids’ tires, a small air compressor could become one of your best tools.

If you’ve been looking for the best small air compressors to buy in 2024, you’re in the right place.

The “Two Types” Of Small Air Compressors:

This Review includes the Top Ten Best Portable Air Compressors – and explains the difference between those TwoTypes of Small Air Compressors:

Type 1)   The 120-Volt AC Small Air Compressor 

The first type of small air compressor is the 120-volt AC small air compressor – which runs on a standard 110 amp electrical (house) circuit.

120 Volt AC compressors typically produce higher PSI (pounds per square inch) air pressure than 12-volt D/C compressors (below).

Generally, 120-volt small air compressors produce between 90-200 PSI, are suitable for pneumatic tools like air guns, and are used for framing and trimming houses, inflating large vehicle tires, etc.

Type 2)   The12-Volt DC Portable Air Compressor

The second type of small air compressor is the 12-volt DC portable air compressor. 

12-Volt (Car Battery) air compressors are the best portable tire inflators – perfect for bicycle, motorcycle, ORV tires, and air mattresses – making them a top choice as the ideal mobile air compressor.

The 12-volt DC compressor is lightweight, portable, and much less expensive than its cousin – the 120-volt AC air compressor.

A 12-volt DC compressor plugs into the cigarette lighter of a Car, Truck, Or RV for power – and is perfect for use where no electrical hook-up is available. 

12 Volt portable compressors typically offer much less psi air pressure – however, a few, like the ViAir DC compressor below – pump out an astounding 150 PSI.

One innovative compressor is a “hybrid”  – The Kensun air compressor below – that can be used as a 12-volt or 120-volt air compressor – using DC (battery) or AC (electrical) power.

(Note: All of our featured Small Air Compressors below – run on electrical (A/C or D/C), not gasoline power.

The 10 Best Small Air Compressors for 2024

Editor’s Choice:  Craftsman 150 PSI – AC Compressor

CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free with 13 Piece Accessory Kit (CMEC6150K)

Why We Like It

For several reasons, the Craftsman 150 PSI ranks at the top of our reviews as the best small air compressor.

In addition to quick compression times and a high PSI tank, the Craftsman has an awesome 13-piece accessory kit for various applications. 

As is typical of the Craftsman Brand, it is also well-made and durable enough to use at home or on the job site.

Specs

  • 6-gallon tank
  • 25 ft. Nylon Hose
  • 150 max PSI
  • 13-piece accessory kit included
  • Carrying handle – Weighs only 30 Lbs.

Our Take Away

Overall, this Craftsman air compressor is an excellent tool that deserves a spot in your garage. This 6-gallon 150 PSI compressor is powerful enough to handle any small to medium job. 

We also like its lightweight, making it an excellent option for portable use. 

Porter-Cable

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Runner Up:  Bostitch Pancake Compressor 150 PSI

Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon Pancake Compressor

Why We Like It

Bostitch’s AC-powered pancake air compressor is very similar in design and construction to the Porter-Cable model above.

The Bostitch 150 PSI model does an excellent job for most home uses, and the tool offers the same PSI and storage tanks as the Porter-Cable brand.

Specs

  • 6-gallon tank
  • 150 max PSI
  • Convenient carrying handle
  • Low noise level

Our Take Away

The Bostitch air compressor is a close second to the Porter-Cable C2002, which we felt was put over the top by its 13-piece accessory kit. With that said, there’s no going wrong with this reliable, well-built tool from Bostitch, either. 

Bostitch

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“Best Value” Small Air Compressor:   DeWalt – 6 Gallon Air Compressor

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI (DWFP55126)

Why We Like It

Spending money on an air compressor isn’t an option for many people. If this is your situation, we strongly recommend this unit from the DeWalt Brand. 

With a great price and versatile 10-piece accessory kit included, the Campbell-Hausfeld compressor is the strongest contender for the best value small air compressor on any list. 

Specs

  • 6-gallon tank
  • Lightweight @ Only 30 lbs.
  • 165 max PSI
  • High-Efficiency Motor for Cold Starts
  • High Flow Regulators
  • 2 – Universal Couplers for Two Users at the Same Time
  • Rubber Feet to prevent Marring floors

Our Take Away

This is probably the model for you if you want a lightweight – medium PSI, all-around good small air compressor at a good value. Although it’s an excellent value, you’ll be surprised just how reliable and well-built this compressor is. Just know it will run more often with a smaller 6-gallon tank.

DeWalt Small Air Compressor

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Best Premium Upgrade Compressor:  Makita MAC2400 AC

Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP* Big Bore™ Air Compressor

Why We Like It

For some jobs, it pays to have a compressor that refills itself fast. That’s why we chose the Makita MAC2400 as our Best Premium Small Compressor, as the Makita compressor recovers tank pressure quickly.  Makita is also recognized as one of the best power tools brands in the world.

Specs

  • 4.2-gallon tank
  • Big Bore Piston – Lower RPM
  • Cast Iron Pump
  • Low 79 decibel rating
  • 130 max PSI
  • Oil-lubricated
  • Roll cage protective construction for job sites

Our Take Away

Between fast tank recovery and impressive durability, it’s hard to beat the Makita MAC2400 for any workshop or medium-sized job. Though it has a smaller tank than the two models listed above, because of the cast iron pump design – this compressor weighs 77 lbs. –  it’s not light!   

However, it is portable enough to take to remote worksites, and the PSI is more than sufficient to run any air tools.

Makita

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Best 12-Volt Compressor:  EPAuto DC Portable Air Compressor

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator

Why We Like It

The DC Powered EPAuto compressor stands out as the best cigarette lighter air compressor, as it can plug into your RV or Vehicle’s cigarette lighter adapter, making it super easy to use on the road.

The EP Auto is also the best portable air compressor for cars.  This compressor is small and lightweight enough to store in your vehicle whenever you need it quickly. 

Specs

  • 12-volt DC power (plugs into vehicle lighter)
  • Max 70 PSI
  • Suitable for car and SUV tires
  • Automatic shut off at target pressure level
  • 9-foot nylon hose
  • Not recommended for any truck tires

Our Take Away

The EPAuto is not suitable for air tools – it lacks enough air pressure – but is by far one of the most potent and versatile 12-Volt compressors on our list and is easily one of the best small air compressors for car or bicycle tires if you’re out on the road.

And because it has lower air pressure, it won’t deliver enough air surge to ruin your equipment, like tires and air mattresses.

If you don’t already have a unit like this in your trunk, picking one up is an easy way to ensure you’re always prepared to deal with emergency low tire pressure. 

EPAuto

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Best Compressor with Air Tools:  Craftsman 6-Gallon With (2) Nail & (1) Staple Gun

CRAFTSMAN Compressor Combo Kit, 6 Gallon, Pancake, 3 Tool (CMEC3KIT)

Why We Like It

Many people want to buy a compressor to complete DIY trim work on their house. This is where this Craftsman compressor (the same one that took our Editor’s Choice slot) comes in, but this package also includes (3) Air Tools.

Besides including a great 150 lb PSI compressor – you also get (3) Craftsman Air Tools: The 18 GA. Brad Nailer, a 16 GA. Brad nailer and a Heavy-Duty Staple gun.  All serious pieces of equipment that will help you get all your DIY projects done at home or on small jobs. 

Specs

  • 6-gallon tank
  • 150 max PSI
  • Suitable for DIY or Small Sites
  • Includes 25 Foot Nylon air hose
  • 18 GA Brad Nailer – Drives up to 2″ Finish Nails
  • 16 GA. Brad Nailer – Drives up to 2 1/2″ Finish Nails
  • 3/8″ Staple Gun – Drives up to 9/16″ Hvy. Duty Staples
  • Designed to start quickly in cold weather

Our Take Away

This small electric air compressor thoroughly impressed us, and we believe it’s one of the best tools on the market in its category. And, if you’re sold on a Craftsman compressor but need the most used air tools, this is a great all-in-one package to consider.

Craftsman

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Best Portable AC Compressor for Air Tools:  DeWalt 200 PSI

DEWALT Air Compressor for Trim, 200-PSI Max, Quiet Operation (DWFP55130)

Why We Like It

If your tasks are limited to trimming a house (90-100 PSI) or filling tires (32 PSI), the DeWalt 200 PSI probably delivers more PSI than you need.

On the other hand,  If you’re using pneumatic tools for framing houses and need more like 120 PSI pressure – the Dewalt 200 PSI compressor fits the bill.

And even with the smaller 2.5-gallon tank, the 200 PSI compressor holds more air pressure than a 3.5 – 4-gallon air compressor that delivers 130-150 PSI.

The Higher the PSI capacity- the longer the maximum pressure will remain.

We chose this model from DeWalt as the best air tool compressor. Thanks to its rating of 200 PSI, the DeWalt can deliver enough power to keep air-gobbling tools like framing guns – humming along for even the most demanding construction work.

Oh, and it’s a DeWalt – perhaps the best power tool brand in the world.

Specs

  • 2.5-gallon air tank
  • 95 – 200 max PSI
  • Protective Roll-cage for Jobsites
  • Low noise level – 71 decibels
  • Compact design – 36 Lbs.
  • Low 12 amp AC electrical draw

Our Take Away

While you’ll pay a little extra for the extra pressure, this compressor powers handheld pneumatic tools well. We also like how compact this unit is for the power it delivers since it can be easily placed in a car or truck and taken wherever it is needed. 

DeWalt

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Best Selling “DeWalt” Compressor:   DeWalt 6-Gal. Pancake AC Compressor

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI (DWFP55126)

Why We Like It

Although the DeWalt model listed above is better for pneumatic (air) tools, not everyone needs the PSI power that the DeWalt 200 PSI model provides. 

This 165-PSI pancake compressor from DeWalt is usually more suitable for standard residential or light construction needs. 

Specs

  • 6-gallon tank
  • 90 – 165 max PSI
  • lightweight 32 lbs.
  • Suitable for job sites
  • Low noise operation 75 decibels
  • DeWalt Brand Reliability
  • One-Year Warranty

Our Take Away

This AC compressor packs a punch for its size and weight, and the 165 maximum PSI puts it a bit above most of the other small electric air compressor choices – without making it overly cumbersome. 

We must note DeWalt tools’ exceptional overall brand reliability and quality as usual. 

DeWalt

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Best Portable DC Compressor for Vehicle or House:  Kensun Portable AC/DC Compressor

Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump for Car 12V DC and Home 110V AC Swift Performance Tire Inflator 100 PSI for Car - Bicycle - Motorcycle - Basketball and Others with Analog Pressure Gauge (AC/DC)

Why We Like It

One of the top-rated small air compressors on the market, the Kensun portable compressor screams versatility. The Kensun cordless tire inflator can be used anywhere you have a 12-volt DC (car battery), but it can also be used in the garage with a 110-volt (in-wall) AC electrical outlet.

At a maximum of 100 PSI, it has more limited power, but it’s also one of the best handheld tire inflators – that is convenient to pack up and take anywhere.

Specs

  • 100 max PSI (AC power)
  • AC and DC compatible
  • It weighs only 4 pounds

Our Take Away

While we wouldn’t recommend this compressor for heavy construction equipment or vehicles, it is the best small quiet air compressor you can keep in your car or garage.

At only 4 pounds, this is also the best small compressor for those who might struggle with heavier-weight equipment users and may not want to carry a full-size air compressor. 

Kensun

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Best Compressor for RV or Trailer:   Viair 40047 Compressor

VIAIR 400P-RV - 40047 Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor with RV Inflation Gun, 90 Degree Chuck | 12V Tire Pump Air Compressor Portable Heavy Duty 150 PSI, up to Class C Tires, Alligator Clips

Why We Like It

Because RVs are somewhere between a home and a vehicle, they often present a unique challenge regarding tool and equipment choices. 

That’s why Viair developed this excellent DC air compressor designed specifically for RV use. Supplying a great 150 PSI from a 12-volt Truck, Car, or RV battery –  and doing all that with a 30-foot air hose is pure genius.

If you own an RV, we almost think this tool is an essential piece of equipment.

Specs

  • 12-volt DC power (hooks up to vehicle battery)
  • 150 max PSI
  • 30-foot air hose
  • Includes tire inflation gun and gauge
  • Eight ft. alligator clamp battery cables

Our Take Away

The Viair 12v compressor is a well-built piece of equipment to help you ensure your RV has properly inflated car tires, air mattresses are filled, and bicycle tires are ready to roll – no matter where you travel.

Though it’s a specialty compressor with a 12-volt hook-up, RV owners nationwide would love the lightweight, easy-to-store, high PSI Viair 12-volt portable air compressor. 

ViAir – Battery-Powered Compressor

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

What Is the Best Portable Compressor for Tires?

Most compressors can air up a tire, but our reviews recommend the EPAuto and Kensun models. These compressors can be easily stored in a home cabinet or car and run on 12-volt DC power (cigarette lighter)

The smaller size makes an air compressor portable and convenient, and both are small enough to fit in your trunk easily. 

What Type of Power Do Small Air Compressors Run On?

There are two types of power for small air compressors.  Small compressors are powered by AC (120-Volt) or DC (12-Volt) Car Batteries.  Our small compressor review (above) includes 7 AC-powered and 3 DC-powered small air compressors.

Who Makes the Most Powerful Small Compressor?

Our pick for the most powerful small air compressor is the DeWalt 200 PSI model.

With more than enough PSI to handle construction sites using multiple high-powered nail guns, this DeWalt air compressor is the best choice for running air tools and tackling building projects.

What Is the Best Portable Compressor for Home and Garage?

Overall, our choice for the best air compressor for the home and garage is the editor’s choice Craftsman with 13 13-piece accessory kits.

As the most well-rounded small compressor on our list, we think it is an excellent choice for homes and garages of any size. 

Can You Run Air Compressors Without Power?

While a compressor won’t refill without an electrical power source, the air stored in the tank will stay under pressure for a limited time, even after the power is disconnected. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a small and portable air compressor, the Craftsman, Bostitch, and Makita models are the best 120 Volt (A/C) options for medium to large jobs, followed by The 12-Volt EPAuto and Kensun Portable Air Pumps for smaller at-home tasks (tires, air mattresses, etc.)

These compressors all wowed us in some capacity with their quality, reliability, positive user comments, and the best overall features.

It’s important to note that the suitable unit for you depends on the exact uses you’ll be needing it for.

If you select one of the models on this list, we are confident you’ll get an excellent air compressor. 

Thanks for visiting Best Home Gear – Please leave us any helpful comments or suggestions below!

References & Additional Reading:

Kevin Carroll
Kevin Carrollhttps://www.besthomegear.com
Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear, and uses his 25+ years experience in Commercial and Residential Construction Management to author and publish the work for this website. In addition to publishing Best Home Gear; Kevin enjoys the outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, hiking, cycling, fishing, golf, and completing DIY projects at his Home and Garden.

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Author and Publisher for Best Home Gear

Kevin is the Author, and Publisher @ Best Home Gear, which he began In 2018.

As a Professional in Construction, Real Estate and Property Management, Kevin uses that experience to publish Useful Articles, and help homeowners improve (DIY) their own homes, lawns, and outdoor spaces.

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