Portable air compressors offer pressurized air supply on your command wherever you need it and for a variety of different tasks: inflating tires in case of emergency, for spray painting projects, as well as for industrial construction operations or for other household needs.
The operation mode of a portable air compressor is identical to that of its regular analog. It utilizes a source of power, like an electric motor or diesel engine, and a compressing system (piston, impeller or vane). After atmospheric air volume is reduced, and its pressure is increased by the compressing system, one can adjust the pressure with a knob and use it according to one’s needs, be it tire inflation or woodwork.
Air compressors are differentiated by their types depending on the source of power they use, method of lubrication and cooling. According to the type of compressing system used there are three types of air compressors distinguished: a dynamic compressor, utilizing a rotating impeller for pressurizing air, a reciprocating air compressor, using a piston for air compression, and a rotary screw air compressor, making use of rotors.
When it comes to air compressors, the term “portable” doesn’t necessarily mean that such compressor is small. Usually, it means that the weight of such compressor is light enough to allow easy transportation, or the compressor has wheels to facilitate the process of moving it from one place to another. Meanwhile, a size of a portable air compressor can vary depending on its functions, characteristics, tank volume, and materials it’s made of. Due to easy transportability a portable air compressor appears to be an irreplaceable helper both on construction sites and at home.
Here we’d like to review three best models that gained the incredibly high rating on the market.
Teal-painted Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor features extremely fast recovery and increased air compression. This mid-sized system produces 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI yielding enough power for simultaneous operation of two framing nailers. Its outstandingly high performance is the result of using a “Big Bore” cylinder made of high-quality cast iron. This compressor features a roll-cage design and is easily transportable due to its 8-inch wheels. Some users tend to complain that the wheels are not durable enough, but in case of necessity they can be replaced easily with more reliable ones.
Weighing 88 pounds, this unit is rated as bigger-sized, its dimensions being 29×19.5×19 inches. Nevertheless, dragging the device from one site to another is ultimately convenient. It has a large handle, which is even somewhat bulky, but it won’t be a problem for storage, as you can fold it down quickly, so that the unit will fit into the trunk of your vehicle and won’t occupy too much space in your garage. Despite the relatively large size and impressive power of Makita MAC5200, most of its users have no complaints about its noise level.
This Makita model has an oil-lubricated pump and a large industrial filter ensuring greater air intake and smoother performance at cooler working temperatures. An oil drain and oil sight glass allow for timely and easy maintenance of the unit to minimize tear and wear. Single-phase 120V motor of this powerful compressor fills in a 5.2-gallon tank up to a maximum of 140PSI.
Among pleasant pluses of this ingenious device, we can’t help but mention its inbuilt hangers for tools and storage compartment spacious enough for all of your accessories and spare parts. Just to add to the compact and thought-through design of this air compressor, the manufacturer provided for the air hose wrap for hanging its 3/8 inch 50 feet air hose.
California Air Tools CAT-6310 is an ultra quiet air compressor with oil-free pump system featuring 1.0 HP motor and the 6.3-gallon tank made of steel. It is rightfully regarded as the quietest one among ultra-quiet air compressors. The unit is advertised to produce no more than 60 decibels of noise, which is actually an abnormally low sound for such a device. If to compare its noise with the sound of people talking, it’s also quieter than the conversation of two persons which in its turn is rated 65 dB.
This model runs at a speed of 1,680 RPM having a durable 1.0 HP motor. Due to its inbuilt overheating protector the unit will turn off immediately upon reaching 135º C. Its dual piston pump system is oil-free, eliminating the risk of oil leakage and spilling. CAT-6310 is also noted for efficient heat dissolving while drawing 7.6 amps at its start-up, thus remaining highly productive even under cold weather conditions.
The silver-colored steel tank of this model features an astonishing capacity of 6.3 gallons, but what is even more fascinating and impressive is that it fills up entirely within just 160 seconds. A particular plus of this air compressor is that it comes with a water trap, separating excess water amounts from the air.
This powerful device remains quite portable with the weight of 49 pounds, as it’s equipped with a convenient wheel kit. Its size being 23.6×13.3×24 inches; it’s incredible how this mid-sized machine can comprise such power.
While having its maximum pressure rated at 120 PSI, the device has two gauges for pressure control: 2.35 CFM at 90 PSI and 3.8 CFM at 40 PSI. Thus, it will suit for a broad variety of professional and household applications. Its motor and pump runtime is 3,000 hours, what makes it a perfect pick for nearly any purpose. There’s no need to search any further if you are looking for a powerful, mobile and yet silent air compressor.
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 Pancake Compressor is another rating winner among portable air compressors. It is possibly one of the most lightweight ones, being almost tiny with its weight of 28.8 pounds and compact size measuring 18.1×7.2×8.5 inches. No surprise that it’s ultimately easy to carry and use, especially with its recessed handle located near the motor housing. You will enjoy an opportunity to use it in different places alternatingly while moving it with ease. Finding a place for it under limited space conditions won’t make any problem, it’s really very compact. The unit also appeals to the eye with its classy black and red design.
Having a 3.5-gallon tank and operated with 120V low-amp motor it’s capable of filling up in just 90 seconds while featuring an oil-free design of the pump. While delivering air at 90 PSI (with its maximum being 135 PSI), it fits most small CFM air power tools, thus being ideal for framing, roofing jobs, inflation, and water hoses draining. The unit is equipped with quick coupler installed at the factory for ultimately quick access. With all the parts of the device being well laid out, you will be able to access all its adjustments and connections quickly, though minimum maintenance is actually required. The problem of starting the device in cold weather outside has also been tackled.
Speaking of the noise level, we should note that being rated at 82 decibels this compressor is a good deal quieter than many other similar models. Using it, you won’t need any hearing protection even when working indoors.
Being durable, multifunctional and powerful as it is, this pancake air compressor also has an agreeable price. But in case you need greater recovery and tank capacity it’s better to consider larger models.
Each of the suggested models is rated on top in its class and leaves its competitors far behind. To help you to choose among these three absolute leaders, we should note that each of them suits best for some specific purposes. Porter-Cable PCFP02003 is the best option for household applications while MAC5200 Big Bore and California Air Tools CAT-6310 are more suitable for advanced users and professional projects.
To sum up, we stress one more time that a choice should be made depending on planned projects, working conditions and user requirements. In terms of positive reviews and benefits, the named air compressors are absolutely the best ones. Thus, by choosing any of them you can be sure you make the right choice.