DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor
Tаnk Capacity – 6.0 gal (22.7 l)
Weight – 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
Max. PSI – 165
Makita Big Bore 2HP Compressor
Tank Capacity – 2.6 gal (9.8 l)
Weight – 52 lbs (23.5 kg)
Max. PSI – 130
DeWalt Heavy Duty 200 PSI
Tank Capacity – 2.5 gal (9.4 l)
Weight – 36 lbs (16.3 kg)
Max. PSI – 200
Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP
Tank Capacity – 4.2 gal (15.9 l)
Weight – 77 lbs (35 kg)
Max. PSI – 130
I’m going to start by stating the obvious.
Portable compressors are popular with DIYers and tradesmen alike. Because of their size and portability.
It’s those factors and price that make portable compressors easy to like.
However, many who buy them, especially trades people are very quickly disappointed because the compressor does not perform as they had expected.
Most complaints are about not holding enough air.
Not the compressors fault.
Before buying a portable compressor know what you are getting, don’t be blinded by price.
They are not a replacement for a shop compressor.
Also just because they are small and have carry handles, do check the weight of the one you intend to buy.
It may not be as light as you think.
There is basically two types of portable compressor. Those that have oil filled pumps and those that are oil-less.
As a rule-of-thumb, oil-less are noisier.
Oil filled compressors are often heavier due to cast iron cylinders and heavy components. These portable compressors tend to be more durable and last longer. Although it should be noted that is conditional on environment and work load.
It’s a great question and had me thinking.
First thing I noticed is they are very popular in the US. Due a lot to the style of the houses and materials used in them.
Many American homes have wooden accents inside that require nailing into position and have roofing materials that need stapling down. Portable compressors are ideal for brad nailers and staple guns.
In a garage or small workshop they are perfect for tyre inflation, blowing off dust, cleaning out small air filters, air brush painting (if not a little noisey) and any other job that does not require large volumes of air.
What they are not good for is spray painting (even if you do use a LVLP spray gun), die grinders, most mechanics air tools, high use nail guns or any industrial equipment such as tyre changers, profile cutters.
Read the instructions to understand the break-in procedure and any oil change requirements.
These will also inform on correct use procedures like duty cycle – allowing the compressor time to cool down.
Here’s a conclusion I came to a few years ago about compressors. If it’s used for anything trade related, meaning it’s going to be used everyday, get a compressor that has an oil filled pump and preferably with cast iron cylinder(s) or better.
Oil-less air compressors are fine for small jobs and where they are not required everyday.