Tools & Equipment

7 Best Portable Air Compressors of 2020

Best Portable Air Compressor

It is quite obvious that the purpose of an air compressor is to compress air and with this, comes many uses such as inflating your vehicle tires, balloons, sports balls, inflatable mattresses, pool toys, and many others.

However, these tools come in different styles and sizes, which makes the selection process a bit tricky if you do not know what to look for. If that is the case, here is a close up look at the best portable air compressors in the market, from which you can have your pick.

7 Best Portable Air Compressors – Review

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Viair 88P

1. Viair 88P (Long Reach)

  • Long power cord and air hose
  • 120-PSI max working pressure
  • LED work light and power indicator
  • 1.47 CFM flow rate
EPAuto AT-010-1Z

2. EPAuto AT-010-1Z (Overheat Protection)

  • Overheat protection feature
  • Easy-to-read backlit LCD screen
  • LED light
  • Automatic shut-off
JACO Superior Products JSP-008

3. JACO Superior Products JSP-008 (Best Compact)

  • Compact, portable air compressor
  • Auto shut-off
  • Easy-to-read digital air gauge
  • LED work light
Viair 85

4. Viair 85 (Good)

  • Quite fast 1.26 CFM flow rate
  • 12-volt cigarette lighter plug
  • LED work area lighting
Ryobi P731

5. Ryobi P731 (Battery Powered)

  • Easily portable cordless design
  • Easy-to-read digital display with +/-1 PSI accuracy
  • Automatic shut-off
  • Wrap-around onboard hose storage
Cartman 4333087842

6. Cartman 4333087842 (Best Budget)

  • Affordable 100 PSI max working pressure unit
  • LED work area lighting
  • Powerful motor
  • Long 9’4” power cable
Bon-Aire i8000

7. Bon-Aire i8000 (Best AC Powered)

  • 120V AC powered with a quiet motor
  • Long air hose and power cord
  • 150 PSI max pressure rating
  • Built-in carry handle

PRODUCT

1. Viair 88P

(Long Reach)

Viair 88P
  • Long power cord and air hose
  • 120-PSI max working pressure
  • LED work light and power indicator
  • 1.47 CFM flow rate

2. EPAuto AT-010-1Z

(Overheat Protection)

EPAuto AT-010-1Z
  • Overheat protection feature
  • Easy-to-read backlit LCD screen
  • LED light
  • Automatic shut-off

3. JACO Superior Products JSP-008

(Best Compact)

JACO Superior Products JSP-008
  • Compact, portable air compressor
  • Auto shut-off
  • Easy-to-read digital air gauge
  • LED work light

4. Viair 85

(Good)

Viair 85
  • Quite fast 1.26 CFM flow rate
  • 12-volt cigarette lighter plug
  • LED work area lighting

5. Ryobi P731

(Battery Powered)

Ryobi P731
  • Easily portable cordless design
  • Easy-to-read digital display with +/-1 PSI accuracy
  • Automatic shut-off
  • Wrap-around onboard hose storage

6. Cartman 4333087842

(Best Budget)

Cartman 4333087842
  • Affordable 100 PSI max working pressure unit
  • LED work area lighting
  • Powerful motor
  • Long 9’4” power cable

7. Bon-Aire i8000

(Best AC Powered)

Bon-Aire i8000
  • 120V AC powered with a quiet motor
  • Long air hose and power cord
  • 150 PSI max pressure rating
  • Built-in carry handle

1. Viair 88P – Portable Air Compressor with A Long Reach

Viair 88P

Photo: Viair

  • Voltage: 12 volts
  • Pressure: 120 PSI
  • Weight: 4.5 pounds

What stands out most about this 88P from Viair is its long reach, in which it has a 10-foot power cord and a 16-foot air hose. Combined, this gives you a total of 26 feet, which is enough to reach all the four tires of your car easily.

With a 12-volt DC rating and a 120-PSI max working pressure, this unit is ideal for tires not exceeding 33 inches in size and delivers up to 1.47 CFM free flow, which is quite a high rate.

Other features include an LED work light, LED power indicator, battery clamps for connecting directly to the car battery, secure twist-on solid brass tire chucks and a few adapter accessories for inflating sports balls and other inflatables.

Combined, these features make this the top-rated portable air compressor in our review. However, it is quite expensive and has an analog dial display for checking the pressure level.

Pros:

  • Long power cord and air hose
  • A high flow rate of 1.47 CFM
  • High 120-PSI max working pressure
  • LED work light and power indicator
  • Comes with adapter accessories

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Analog dial display

2. EPAuto AT-010-1Z – Portable Air Compressor with Overheat Protection

EPAuto AT-010-1Z

Photo: EPAuto

  • Voltage: 12 volts
  • Pressure: 70 PSI
  • Weight: 3.8 pounds

Safety features are always important in any electrical or mechanical product and this portable air compressor from EPAuto is equipped with an overheat protection feature, which shuts it off automatically when it overloads by exceeding an operating temperature of 167°F.

Additionally, the unit is rated to operate at a maximum of 15 amps and its power cable is equipped with a 15-amp fuse to protect the circuitry inside. Overall, these features maximize durability, leading to a long lifespan.

Other than that, this compressor is powered by 12 volts DC and is fitted with a cigarette lighter plug that is very easy to use.

Once powered, an easy-to-read LCD backlit screen shows you the pressure measurement in either kPa, PSI, BAR or KG/CM while a bright LED light at the front illuminates your work area in the dark.

Other features include auto shut-off, a 1.06 CFM inflating speed and the inclusion of several adapters for filling up basketballs, kayaks, swimming pool toys, etc.

However, the unit cannot handle truck tires because it has a relatively low max pressure rating of 70 PSI.

Pros:

  • Overheat protection
  • 15-amp fuse for circuitry protection
  • An easy-to-read LCD screen with 4 display units
  • LED light
  • Automatic shut-off

Cons:

  • Cannot handle truck tires
  • Relatively low 70 PSI pressure rating

3. JACO Superior Products JSP-008 – Best Compact Air Compressor

JACO Superior Products JSP-008

Photo: JACO Superior Products

  • Voltage: 12 volts
  • Pressure: 100 PSI
  • Weight: 2.05 pounds

Jaco’s JSP-008 is a compact and easily portable air compressor that is very easy to handle and comes with a storage/carry bag for easy transportation.

Despite its small size, this piece is well equipped with a lot of features, which include automatic shut-off for easy use and accurate refilling and a digital air gauge with a backlit LCD screen that displays the pressure level from 0-100 PSI accurately to +/-1 PSI.

Also included is a woven, heavy-duty 2-foot air hose, which is quite short, but it is complemented by a long 10-foot power cable with a cigarette lighter plug on one end for extended reach.

LED lighting is built-in for lighting your work area in dark conditions, and it has 4 settings which are: flashlight, red flashing, SOS lighting and off.

Other features include a 3-unit display mode in PSI, kPa and BAR, anti-vibration rubber feet and 2 adapter accessories for sports balls, pool accessories, air beds, etc.

On the downside, the unit is quite slow, delivering 25 liters of air per minute, which is equivalent to about 0.9 CFM.

Pros:

  • Compact, portable design
  • Auto shut-off
  • Easy-to-read digital air gauge with a backlit LCD screen
  • LED lighting for your work area
  • Packed with 2 adapter accessories

Cons:

  • Short air hose
  • Slow flow rate

4. Viair 85 – Good Portable Air Compressor

Viair 85

Photo: Viair

  • Voltage: 12 volts
  • Pressure: 60 PSI
  • Weight: 4.3 pounds

Viair’s 85 is like a smaller sibling to the 88P above, featuring a free flow rate of 1.26 CFM, which is still relatively fast but has a relatively low max working pressure of 60 PSI.

The unit is DC powered and is equipped with a 12-volt cigarette lighter plug for easy and convenient use.

LED lighting is also built-in for convenience by illuminating your work area as you pump in the air into your tires, balls and other inflatables in the dark.

However, the compressor has an analog dial pressure gauge, which is a bit difficult to read as compared to digital models. With this, automatic shut-off also lacks from the setup, which means you have to check the pressure continuously during every refill.  

On the bright side, you get a carry/storage bag for easy transportation and several adapter accessories for pumping air into other inflatables apart from tires.

Pros:

  • Relatively fast 1.26 CFM flow rate
  • Easy-to-use cigarette lighter plug
  • LED work area lighting
  • Comes with a carry/storage bag
  • Adapter accessories included

Cons:

  • Analog dial display
  • No auto shut-off

5. Ryobi P731 – Battery Powered Portable Air Compressor

Ryobi P731

Photo: Ryobi

  • Voltage: 18 volts
  • Pressure: 150 PSI
  • Weight: 3.25 pounds

If you are looking for a cordless portable air compressor, then Ryobi’s P731 is the best option to consider. This is because the unit is powered by an 18-volt battery and this makes it highly portable.

With this setup, you get a flow rate of 0.33 SCFM at 35 PSI and a free flow rate of 6.9 SCFM at 0 PSI.

The unit also has a high-pressure operating range of 0-150 PSI, with the pressure read-out being shown on an easy-to-read digital display that is highly accurate to +/-1 PSI. This display also shows the reading in either PSI, kPa or BAR, allowing you to choose the units you prefer most.

Other features include wrap-around onboard hose storage, an onboard storage compartment for adapter accessories and automatic shut-off for easy control.

However, the required 18-volt battery and its charger are not included, which means you have to buy them separately. Also, no flashlight is built-in for improved visibility in dark conditions.

Pros:

  • Highly portable cordless design
  • High max operating pressure of 150 PSI
  • Easy-to-read digital display with a +/-1 PSI accuracy
  • Wrap-around onboard air hose storage
  • Automatic shut-off

Cons:

  • Battery and charger not included
  • No built-in flashlight

6. Cartman 4333087842 – Best Budget Portable Air Compressor

Cartman 4333087842

Photo: Cartman

  • Voltage: 12 volts
  • Pressure: 100 PSI
  • Weight: 4.41 pounds

Cartman’s portable air compressor is the most affordable unit in this review and despite this, it does have a very powerful motor that is two times as fast than those found in normal compressors.

This motor is powered via a 12-volt car accessories outlet, in which it has a cigarette lighter plug for this connection.

Once fixed into the lighter socket, 4 LEDs at the front can be switched on to illuminate your work area in the dark while a long 9-foot, 4-inch power cable gives you extended reach.

Other features include a tough ABS construction that resists damage or deformation from heat, wear and tear, convenient onboard air hose and adapter storage (for the included 2 inflator nozzles), and a built-in carry handle.

On the downside, this compressor features an analog dial pressure gauge with no automatic shut-off feature.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Powerful motor
  • LED work area lighting
  • Long 9-foot, 4-inch power cable
  • Tough and durable ABS construction

Cons:

  • Analog dial pressure gauge
  • No automatic shut-off

7. Bon-Aire i8000 – Best AC Air Compressor

Bon-Aire i8000

Photo: Bon-Aire

  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Pressure: 150 PSI

If you don’t want to use your car as a power source every time when refilling your inflatables, Bon-Aire’s i8000 is a good option to consider because it runs on 120 volts AC.

With this power, the compressor is equipped with a 120-volt direct drive motor that operates very silently and almost vibration free due to its Whisper Soft Technology.

Included in the pack is a long 18-foot air hose (17 feet in PVC, 1-foot rubber) and a 6-foot power cord, which give a total reach of 24 feet, while a couple of adapters ensure you can fill up your sporting equipment, rafts, and other inflatables.

Other features include a built-in carry handle for easy transportation and a high maximum pressure rating of 150 PSI.

However, the unit is equipped with an analog dial pressure gauge that is not as accurate and easy to read as the digital type and has no LED work area lighting.

Pros:

  • Quiet 120 V direct drive motor
  • Long air hose and power cord
  • Comes with multiple adapters
  • Built-in carry handle
  • High 150 PSI max pressure rating

Cons:

  • Analog dial pressure gauge
  • No LED lighting

How to Buy the Best Portable Air Compressor

How to Buy the Best Portable Air Compressor

1. Power Source

There are 3 main power sources for portable air compressors. DC is the main one and because most of these units are used for inflating car tires, this is an ideal source for running them on the go. 

Most are rated at 12 volts and can either be plugged into the lighter socket or clamped directly to the battery.

The second option is built-in battery power and this has portability as the main advantage since you can use the compressor anywhere. However, battery power is limited and you need to replace or recharge this power source every once in a while.

Lastly, AC power is very convenient for home use in filling up your inflatables and sports balls since you don’t need a car. Unlike battery power, AC is limitless, which means no recharging is required.

However, it might be a little tricky to use on car tires, especially when you are not at home or not close to an AC power outlet.  

The choice between the three though is down to personal preference because all perform quite well.

2. Pressure

This factor is very important to consider, especially if you want a compressor for your car tires. Usually measured in PSI, the pressure rating basically shows the compatibility of the unit to the pressure in different inflatables.

For instance, if you own a truck, SUV or RV with large tires, then you need a compressor rated at least at 100 PSI, with the best being 150 PSI. Anything less than 100 PSI can only work for small car tires.

Read More: The Best Tire Inflators

However, for home use such as in filling up sports balls, pool accessories, inflatable mattresses and the like, almost all types of compressors can be used since the pressure involved is usually not very high.

3. Pressure Gauge

A portable air compressor can either have an analog or a digital pressure gauge.

Analog gauges are basically composed of dial faces and pointing needles, which point towards the numbered edge of the dial to show the reading. However, they are not that accurate and might be a little bit difficult to read.

On the other hand, digital gauges are very precise and easy to read because the pressure figure is clearly shown on the screen. Additionally, most of them are backlit, which means easy reading even in dark conditions.

Ultimately, digital pressure gauges are better than their analog counterparts and are highly recommended.

4. Budget

Not all cheap portable air compressors are of poor quality. Similarly, not all expensive compressors are the best quality. In the selection process, you need to find what is best for you.

Always consider the features that you need first then select the most affordable unit from your narrowed-down list.

5. Convenience Features

These are the features that simplify the portable air compressor’s use. For instance, with automatic shut-off, you only have to pre-set the pressure you want then let the compressor do everything else for you.

LED work area lighting is also important and should be highly considered if the main purpose is to use the compressor for your car tires since you may need to use it out there at night.

Tips to Inflate Your Tires with a Portable Air Compressor

Using a portable air compressor is fairly easy. However, there are a few tips that will help you do it right. These include:

  • If you are using the cigarette lighter socket or battery clamp type of air compressor, ensure the engine is running before turning on the unit. This will help to prevent excessive battery drain.
  • Make sure a tire chuck is included and you should tie it firmly to the tire valve to prevent any air leak.
  • While in use or in storage, ensure the compressor is in a dry condition so to prevent any damages.
  • If the air compressor you buy lacks an automatic shut-off feature, always keep your eyes on the pressure gauge so that you don’t exceed the required level of the tire.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, even though most of these portable air compressors may look alike, there are some fine, hidden details that you need to check such as auto shut-off, maximum pressure rating, voltage, and the power source.

All these are covered in the review and buying guide sections above so that you can have an easier time picking the best portable air compressor that meets all your requirements.

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