If you are a DIY fanatic, you need to have an air compressor at home. Apart from fixing flat tires, if you are equipped with a good unit you will take your home repair jobs to the next level. Compared to bigger air compressors for home garage, small air compressors are much more convenient and affordable. They are excellent for home workspaces.
Shopping for a small air compressor can be challenging. To help, we created a round-up review of the top 5 small air compressors, but if you don’t have time to go through the whole article, and just want to know what the best small air compressor is, then our recommendation is the California Air Tools 2010A.
The Advantages of Small Air Compressors
Before getting into the product reviews, let’s talk about the advantages of using a small air compressor. A few of the top benefits include:
Although these are the main benefits each small air compressor brand has its own distinguishing features. The reviews below will further highlight the key features of each product.
A Quick View of Our Rating
Our #1 rated – California Air Tools 2010A
Our #2 rated – Rolair JC10 Plus
Our #3 rated – Metabo HPT
Our #4 rated – Grex AC1810-A
Our #5 rated – Senco PC1010
What Tools Can You Use With A Small Air Compressor?
Common tools used with a small air compressor include:
- Nail gun
- Paint sprayers
- Pneumatic sanders
You can use an air compressor for a variety of tools.
How Does an Air Compressor Work?
The purpose of an air compressor is to produce power to operate pneumatic tools. It is simple to add power to your tools with this machine.
A small air compressor works by pushing gusts of pressurized air into the tool you are using. The air is what helps to power the tool.
There is a motor that is responsible for tank regulation. It regulates when the compressor is at full air capacity. When this occurs, the motor will automatically turn off. It is best to use an air compressor on a flat and stable surface. Grounded outlets are the safest to connect air compressors.
To work the tank, connect your tool of choice. It connects by a hose. Before beginning your project, ensure that you have enough hoses to safely reach your workspace. One end of the hose is connected to the tank and the other end is connected to your tool.
There is an air control valve that allows you to set your desired pressure. Remember, each tool has a different Pound per Square Inch (PSI) need to run the tool at full strength.
Gas Powered vs. Electrical Air Compressor
It comes down to your personal preference on which type of air compressor you like best. Electrical air compressors are good for smaller workspaces. If you are looking for an air compressor that is more flexible when it comes to portability, electrical air compressors are better.
A gas air compressor usually produces more power compared to an electrical air compressor. They usually have greater durability, but they are heavier in weight.
Electrical tanks typically are low maintenance. You have more freedom when using this type of tank. Another benefit is the low cost associated with the continuous use of an electrical small air compressor. If you are looking for a quieter option, the electric air compressor produces less noise.
Another benefit of a small air compressor that does not use gas is the mess factor. Oil can be messy. Since an electrical air compressor does not use oil, it is more eco-friendly for the environment.
With a gas small air compressor, you can accomplish bigger tasks. The tanks on these air compressors are extremely powerful. They are excellent for large projects that may take time to complete. Besides the possibility of making a mess with the oil, this type of small air compressor is durable.
As with the use of any machine, there are potential hazards associated with using a small air compressor. Some of these hazards include:
- Electrical dangers due to outlet damage
- Potential oil and fire hazards from a leaking machine
- Possibility of power outages
- Excessive pressure can rupture the tank
Things to Consider Before Buying a Small Air Compressor
With so many options on the market, how do you choose the best small air compressor? Below are a few factors to consider before buying a small air compressor.
Decide whether you want an electric powered or gas powered air compressor. This decision is based on your personal needs and how much power you need for your projects. To help make your decision, check the amount of voltage the tank uses.
Compression power rate
This is the volume of air your unit is able to flow. It is referred in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). Lower CFM is ok for basic home repair or light duty work. The Standard CFM (SCFM) rating compares different models at the standard pressure of 90 PSI.
Size & Space
Although they are classified as small air compressors, they also vary in size. Do you need to move the tank around to complete your work? If so, you should consider a tank that is better for portability. If you have a smaller workspace, choose a unit that can fit safely in your space.
A big consideration is the noise factor. Some machines work quietly, while others have a loud sound. Check the decibel (dB) factor before buying if you prefer a quieter workspace.
What is the best small air compressor?
This tank provides a lot of capacity. If you are looking for portability, this is a good option. It is powerful, but lightweight, only 20 lbs. The 1-gallon air tank has a 0.5 HP motor.
Considering the noise factor, it has a 68 dB noise. Excellent if you prefer quieter workspaces. The maximum pressure on this tank is 120 PSI. The pump on this tank is oil-free.
Don’t expect high industrial power from this machine. But it is a good option for home use. The machine can go from 0 to 120 PSI in only 120 seconds. To give you a better sense of power and pressure, you can expect 0.7 SCFM.
The total voltage of this unit is 115 volts. You should not experience problems with breakers running this machine. The regulator on this machine allows you to get to your optimized pressure.
- Lightweight and portable
- Release valve and drain valve
- Two meters to monitor tank pressure
- 115-volt power cord of 6 ft.
- Not the best option for long tough high-powered projects
This model is a good option if you are looking for an airbrush compressor. It is compact in size and can fit safely in your workspace or office. As for pressure output, the maximum is 60 PSI and the minimum is 20 PSI.
A great feature of this compressor is that it has an automatic turn-off. If the machine goes beyond the maximum 60 PSI, for safety and to limit overheating it will turn off. While in use, you can set the regulator so it locks in place at your desired setting.
The machine is thermally protected. Also, there is a cooling fan that provides air-flow. This helps to eliminate overheating and the disruption of your work.
An additional feature that may come in handy is the integrated airbrush holder. The machine is lightweight, easy to store, and it operates quietly.
One downside of this air compressor is that there is not an external tank. As a result, you are limited to the maximum amount of pressure you can use.
- 60 PSI maximum pressure
- Less than 65 dB
- Integrated airbrush holder
- Oil-less piston
- There is no external tank
This air compressor is an extremely quiet machine. It uses 60 dB, making for a quiet workspace. Are you looking for power? This machine has a 1.0 HP motor. What’s even better is that when the machine is at 1.0 HP it is using only 1680 RPM. This is beneficial for the long-run, less wear, and tear.
Ideal for long projects. It has a new and improved duty cycle, so you can now enjoy this air compressor for longer run-times.
Durability and high performance is a key feature of this machine. It has a Dual Piston Pump that is oil-free. Compared to other air compressors, this model has an overall life cycle of 3,000 hours. The typical small air compressor has a general life cycle of about 500 hours.
You can use this air compressor in a variety of workspaces. It is lightweight and portable. The air tank has a 2-gallon capacity. It is made of aluminum, which means that you won’t have to worry about rusting.
- 60 dB
- Oil-free pump
- 2-gallon tank
- 2.0 HP peak motor
- Short plug wire
Low maintenance and quiet are two things that describe this air compressor. One of the top benefits and features of this machine is that it can be run for as long as needed. No breaks are needed!
The maximum pressure on this machine is 125 PSI. One of the largest on this list. As for the voltage, it has a total of 120 volts. This benefits the power use in your workspace.
High performing and powerful. The machine uses a 1.0 Horsepower motor at 1700 RPM.
There are not too many small air compressors that can operate at this low of an RPM. Why is this important? When air compressors have a low RPM they are not working so hard and this results in endurance and longevity.
Another feature includes the automatic shutoff switch. Making for a safer workspace. There is also an anti-vibration factor to this machine. The feet are rubber, making for a more stable work environment. This air compressor weighs about 43 lbs.
- 2.5-gallon tank
- Cast aluminum cylinder
- Extended longevity
- 125 PSI max
- HP motor
- Air filter is slightly too big
If you are not familiar with the name, this is because it was formerly known as Hitachi Power Tools. This small air compressor is ultra-quiet. It uses a total of 59 dB, meaning you can actually talk over this machine.
The pump is oil-free and durable. If you are looking for a low maintenance air compressor, this is a good option. It is easy to transport thanks to the rubber grip protector. The overall weight is 25.2 lbs. One of the lightest machines on this list.
You can expect to use this small air compressor right out of the box. Your purchase is covered by a 1-year warranty from the producer.
The thermal protection on the motor is great for overheating protection. There is a single hose connection on this machine. The features a gauge and regulator that makes it easy to achieve your desired pressure level.
Although lightweight, this air compressor produces great power. It also has a universal coupler for tool changing.
- Only 58 dB
- Motor overload protection
- 1-year warranty
- Oil-free pump
- There may be some quality control issues with the gauges
Our top pick is the California Air Tools 2010A. This small air compressor has extreme power and lightweight in build. The 1.0 HP tank on this air compressor is ideal for long projects. Overall, this small air compressor gives you a great value for your money.
You can use this compressor in a variety of workspaces and it is durable. The life cycle is amazing on this compressor. It outperforms other small air compressors that are similar.