Best Portable Air Compressor


Air compressors are a necessary part of many DIYers’ life. These devices deliver power for high-pressure demand applications like tire inflations, spray paint, nail guns, and more. To be considered “the best portable air compressor”, it must be ideal for DIYers, technicians, and engineers who need high-quality compressed air on demand.

To ensure you don’t make the mistake of picking the wrong portable air compressor, this blog post is aimed at guiding you to an ideal pick.

But before I proceed to review my top portable air compressor choices, here’s a breakdown of what an air compressor really is and how to pick out the best portable air compressor.

What is an Air Compressor?

An air compressor is a device that converts power using different methods like electric motor, gasoline, diesel, into potential energy in the form of compressed air. Two general families of compressors exist positive displacement and centrifugal. All portable air compressors operate on the positive displacement methodology, which is to mechanically reduce the available area of air.

This air compressor energy can then be used in applications that harness the kinetic energy of the trapped air, depressurizing the tank in the process.

Buying Guide: Parameters for Selecting a Good Air Compressor

Before splashing your cash on a portable air compressor, be sure to consider several important factors. Here are a few things to look out for:

Air Pressure

The air pressure (PSI) is a feature you must be sure of before committing to any air compressor. You need an air compressor with at least 90 PSI, so confirm the rating of the portable air compressor you want to buy before getting it.


You need to be sure you’re getting an air compressor with the right horsepower for any project you plan to oversee. An air compressor with high horsepower will deliver more power to handle your tasks.

Tank Size

While the tank size isn’t super important, you should bear in mind that small tank air compressors are not ideal for a lengthy usage period. They typically stop and start if used for long hours.

Oil or Oil-Free

There are air compressors that use oil and those that are oil-free air, so decide on what type you want. Both types are great, their major difference is maintenance and cost-effectiveness.

The oil-free air compressors, for instance, can be maintained easily without a lot of mess like their oil variants. They are also environmentally friendly as you won’t need to dispose of bad oil. Furthermore some industries such as the medical and beverage field require oil-free aire.

However, air compressors that use oil tend to be quieter and generally last longer than the oil-free variants.

Top 4 Portal Air Compressor Options Available

Ingersoll Rand 20-Gallon Portable Electric Air Compressor

Ingersold Rand beige standup compressor

The Ingersoll Rand portable air compressor is designed as a ‘garage mate’ for serious DIYers. It has a large 20-gallon tank and uses electric power to deliver maximum air pressure.

No matter your DIY project, this air compressor can power most of your tools including impact guns, nailers, sanders, grinders, paint sprayers, ratchets, drills, and more.

The build quality of the Ingersoll rand is commendable, as it’s fabricated with heavy-duty cast iron cylinders with an oil-lubricated pump. It also meets OSHA standards.

This portable electric air compressor has a pressure switch, regulator, pressure gauge, long power cord, and safety valve.

A heavy-duty ergonomic handle and pneumatic tires are available for mobility.

Key Features

  • 20-gallon tank
  • High-efficiency motor
  • High-flow regulator

Product Specifications

Product weight200 lbs
Gallon capacity20 Gallon
Maximum Pressure135 PSI
Noise Level (Db)75-80
Warranty1 year


  • Large tank capacity
  • Portable and efficient
  • Wide application
  • Solid material build


  • Pricing is a little high
  • Some users complain of higher than expected noise levels

NorthStar 1.5HP, 8-Gallon Portable Electric Air Compressor

Northstar black portable electric compressor

This NorthStar 1.5HP, 8-gallon portable electric air compressor is an affordable option for DIYers interested in a ‘cleaner’ option.

The lack of oil in the components makes this air compressor produce cleaner air, resulting in improved operation and zero maintenance operations.

With a noise rating of only 70dB, this dual-piston pump compressor runs with less noise compared to many options on the market.

There are dual connectors available, so you can use two tools at a go. The best part is its low amp motor means that this air compressor is easy to start and consumes little electricity.

Key Features

  • 8-gallon tank
  • Oil-free operation
  • Low-amp electric motor

Product Specifications

Product weight95 lbs
Gallon capacity8 Gallon
Maximum Pressure125 PSI
Noise Level (Db)70
Warranty1 year


  • Solid material build
  • Low noise
  • Maintenance-free operation
  • Dual connectors for dual usage at the same time
  • Low power usage
  • Reasonably priced


  • Won’t maintain max PSI for longer durations

NorthStar Single-Stage 20-Gallon Portable Electric Air Compressor

Northstar single stage portable compressor black

Another solid NorthStar product, this heavy-duty 20-gallon portable air compressor is sturdily constructed using cast iron fabrication. The V-twin pump and cast iron heads ensure there’s no heat transfer between cylinders.

This single-stage belt-drive air compressor has oil-lubricated pumps for long-lasting and quiet operations. Made for versatile usage applications including airbrush, impact wrench, air ratchet, nibbler, touch-up spray gun, feed sandblaster, and more.

Key Features

  • 20-gallon tank
  • Belt-drive operation
  • 2HP high-power motor

Product Specifications

Product weight205 lbs
Gallon capacity20 Gallon
Maximum Pressure135 PSI
Noise Level (Db)80
Warranty1 year


  • Heavy-duty equipment for a large list of operations
  • Solid tires for easy portability
  • Dual connectors for dual usage at the same time
  • Comes with an easy-start valve good for use during cold weather
  • Sturdy equipment with durable materials


  • Very heavy equipment, not fit for small-time DIYers

Porter-Cable 6-Gallon 0.8HP Portable Electric Air Compressor

Porter-Cable red compressor pancake style

This ‘pancake’ portable air compressor by Porter-Cable is a piece of entry-level equipment for small-time do-it-yourselfers. It’s a piece of budget-friendly equipment that makes use of electricity like other portable air compressors above.

It features a 120V low amp induction motor which powers without hassle even in cold weather. An oil-free design sees you don’t have to spend a lot of time undergoing maintenance or cleaning out grease.

With a decent PSI rating of 150, you can be sure it gets the job done.

Key Features

  • 6-gallon tank
  • Direct-drive operation
  • 0.8 HP high-power motor

Product Specifications

Product weight40 lbs
Gallon capacity6 Gallon
Maximum Pressure150 PSI
Noise Level (Db)87
Warranty1 year


  • Oil-free pump for less maintenance
  • Has a comfortable handle for easy carriage
  • A High-Flo air regulator
  • Convenient cord wrap
  • Lightweight equipment
  • Affordably priced


  • The noise level is on the high side
  • Not suited for heavy duty use

Final Thoughts

A portable air compressor is a way to go for do-it-yourself enthusiasts who need to power tools like a nail gun, impact wrench, or even do their own car tire inflation. With this review, you should have a solid idea about the top criteria and options to consider if you’re on the market for one of these highly versatile tools.