If you are someone who likes to get creative in the garage, or likes to busy themselves around the house, then you will know that the quality of your tools really does matter.

Never mind all this “a bad workman” nonsense, if your pneumatic spray gun won’t spray or your pneumatic sander won’t sand, it makes your job a whole lot harder. 

Air compressors are a great way of powering tools, but you need to pick the right one to make sure that you get the best performance possible.

There are plenty of small and effective products out there that are perfect for home use, you just need to know which one to choose.

That is why we have put together this list of the 10 best small air compressors for air tools, so you can make an informed decision and get on with performing those odd jobs smoothly and efficiently.

Table of Contents

The 10 Best Small Air Compressors for Air Tools

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free Compressor

First up we have the best-selling Bostitch Oil-Free Compressor, and it is a best-seller for a reason. This small machine is great for home use and low key projects, but its size does not mean that it has compromised on power. 

It has a max PSI of 150, and 6 gallons of capacity in the tank, enough to get you through most small DIY tasks in one go.

The pancake design is great for stability, and it also makes it compact, so it won’t take up precious room in the garage. It is oil-free, so no messy maintenance, and it has two hoses so you can run multiple tools off it at once.

All in all this is a convenient, efficient and safe air compressor.

Pros

  • 150 PSI – good power
  • 6 gallon tank – large capacity
  • Oil-free – so no mess!
  • Multi-tool usage

California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet

Next up we have the California Air Tools Ultra Quiet air compressor, and it really does what it says on the tin. At only 70 decibels this machine is neighbor-friendly, unlike many of the options out there. 

It has an impressive 10 gallon tank, meaning that it can tackle lengthier tasks without needing refilling, and is suitable for a range of different project sizes.

It is corded, so needs to be connected to a power supply, but is light enough to be portable when necessary and can fit into any workspace. 

As it is oil-free it can be used in a variety of temperatures on a variety of surfaces, so it really is an efficient and versatile investment for your home.

Pros

  • 10 gallon tank – great capacity!
  • Only 70 decibels – nice and quiet
  • Oil-free – no messy maintenance
  • Versatile – for multiple jobs

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S

If you are looking for an air compressor to perform gentle tasks then this next option could be the one for you. It is a best-seller due to its small size and convenience, and is perfect for powering one tool at a time.

At only 56 decibels it really is the quietest choice on our list and, at 29 pounds, is lightweight enough to be liftable and easy to store. It has a well reviewed control panel that is simple and easy to use, and is oil-free for extra convenience.

Owing to its compactness, the CAT-1P1060S does only have 1 gallon of capacity so would not be suitable for some more lengthy tasks, but is an excellent choice for those looking for a small, fuss-free air compressor.

Pros

  • Only 56 decibels – so very quiet
  • Portable and compact – for easy storage
  • Oil-free – so low maintenance

Cons

  • Small capacity so not suitable for bigger projects

Campbell Hausfeld DC060500 Portable Quiet Compressor

Campbell Hausfield are a really reliable brand who make great quality products, and their DC060500 Portable Quiet Air Compressor is no exception.

It is highly reviewed for its small size and convenience and, as you may have guessed from the name, is pretty quiet too. 

The pancake design makes it squat and stable, so no tipping over in the middle of a job, and it has rubber feet for extra stability. It also has a durable soft-grip handle to make it more easily portable.

With 6 gallons of capacity and a maximum PSI of 125, it is ideal for DIY jobs about the house. Plus, it’s oil-free so it really is a great, low maintenance option.

Pros

  • 6 gallon tank – large capacity
  • 125 PSI – good pressure
  • Oil-free – low maintenance
  • Soft-grip handle – easily portable
  • Small and easy to store

DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor

The Dewalt pancake air compressor is very popular with customers, so if you are looking for ‘tried and tested’ then this product is a safe bet.

It has a 6 gallon tank, which is the average capacity for most of these small home-use air compressors, and a maximum PSI of 165, which means that it is able to run for a long time and will recover more quickly than most products of its size.

It is lightweight at only 30 lbs, easy to store, and portable – although it does need to be connected to a power supply via an electrical cord.

Furthermore, the oil-free, long-life pump is incredibly low maintenance, and the easy to use control panel has a protective cover to prevent wear and damage.

Pros

  • 165 PSI – for long use and quick recovery
  • 6 gallon tank – plenty of capacity
  • Portable – only weighs 30 lbs
  • Oil-free pump – low maintenance
  • Console cover – to protect from damage

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP

The Makita Big Bore has an impressive 3 horsepower motor for excellent productivity, and a 5.2 gallon tank, which is a good size for most small air compressor needs.

It is an oil-lubricated machine, therefore you will have to consider what oil to buy to keep it running smoothly, and the extra cost that this will bring. However, as with any oil-lubricated machines, it comes with the advantage of durability and power.

What is more, it can work in any temperature due to its cool running temperatures and smooth functionality. 

The strong cast iron cylinder design is protective and durable, and for that reason this product can withstand heavy and hardy work environments.

This machine also has a fold down handle for easy transportation and storage, and can accommodate multiple tools running off it simultaneously for greater productivity.

Pros

  • 3 HP motor – lots of power
  • 5.2 gallon tank – good capacity
  • Cast iron cylinder and piston – durable design
  • Oil-lubricated – smooth running and powerful
  • Fold down handle – portable and easy to store

Cons

  • Requires some maintenance

DEWALT D55140 Trim Compressor

The Dewalt Trim Compressor makes our list for its compact design and convenience.

With just 1 gallon of air capacity it is not suitable for all tasks but the small tank makes it a lightweight and accessible product that can be stored easily without using up precious space.

At only 71 decibels it is quiet enough to use in most hobby and craft environments, and with 135 PSI, it is great for smaller jobs like pumping up car or van tyres and tending to slow punctures. 

Though small, the Trim Compressor’s protective roll cage design makes it strong and durable, and its oil-free pump is incredibly low maintenance. All in all, this is a great option if you are after a fuss-free air compressor. 

Pros

  • Compact size – great for storage
  • Lightweight – only 24 lbs
  • Quiet – only 71 decibels
  • Oil-free – so low maintenance

Rolair JC10 Plus 2.5 Gal Electric Air Compressor

Rolair have done a great job with this 2.5 gallon Electric Air Compressor and it has proved a real favorite with customers and reviewers.

The 2.5 gallon tank is a good size for a small air compressor and will provide enough capacity for you to complete most small tasks uninterrupted.

The 1725 RPM motor is efficient and oil-free, making it a low maintenance option. It is not too noisy either, which makes it a good choice if you are working in an environment alongside others. 

The cast aluminium cylinder is a sturdy and durable design for a long lasting product, however that does mean that it is slightly weightier and meant for stationary use.

Furthermore, it has a pretty sophisticated control system which is easy to use and won’t leave you baffled.

Pros

  • Compact size – easy to store
  • Quiet and easy to use
  • Aluminium cylinder – durable and strong
  • Oil-free – so no mess!

Cons

  • Only for stationary use

Senco PC1010 Portable

The Senco PC1010 Portable is great for home improvement jobs and renovation work, as well as crafts and hobbies, because of its lightweight design.

At only 20 lbs, it is easy to lift and carry around to whatever area to need to work in, and the simple, sturdy design, rubber feet and strong handle make it even easier. 

The 1 gallon tank is small and compact and will provide enough capacity for short tasks, and the 1 HP motor provides plenty of efficiency.

This machine is corded and therefore will need to be connected to a power supply, which is worth taking into consideration when you are setting up your workspace.

However, it requires a low 115 voltage so can work off an extension cable and really is an excellent option if you know you need to move about as you work.

Pros

  • 1 HP motor – good efficiency
  • 1 gallon tank – neat and compact
  • Lightweight – only 20 lbs
  • Easy to store and carry

DEWALT FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Cordless Air Compressor

Finally, we have this cordless air compressor from Dewalt. 

With cordless appliances there is always the worry that they will be less powerful, but this product is arguably just as productive and efficient as many of its corded counterparts.

Of course, the advantages of a cordless design are that it has boundless flexibility and reach, and can be used in any environment, so this is a great option if you work outdoors or want an air compressor to keep in the car trunk. 

The 2.5 gallon tank will provide enough capacity to easily perform small tasks, and it also features a OneTurn regulator for accurate, speedy pressure adjustments.

It is lightweight at only 21 lbs, so easy to lift, carry and store, and it comes with the necessary lithium battery and fast charger.

All in all, this nifty little air compressor is great for those who are looking for something small and portable that still gets the job done.

Pros

  • Cordless – so no restriction to where you use it
  • Lightweight – easy to lift and carry about
  • Small size – saves on storage
  • Batteries and charger included

Buyer’s Guide

Hopefully this list of the top 10 small air compressors for air tools has been helpful but, if you still want to shop around, here is a comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to the key components you should look for when making your choice.

CFM

As many of you will already know, CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and refers to the speed/volume at which the air compressor can output air. In layman’s terms, this means how quickly it will pump up your tires.

It is important to look out for this measure because the higher the CFM the faster and more efficient your air compressor will be.

What is more, the more CFM your air compressor delivers, the more tools it can supply air to at one time.

Small air compressors tend to hover around 2-4 CFM, and that is enough for most small DIY and hobby tasks.

However you may want to look for a machine with a higher CFM if you want to run many tools simultaneously, or you like to work particularly quickly.

PSI

CFM works in conjunction with PSI and the two measures should really be considered as a team. PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch and refers to an air compressor’s pressure level.

Most online product specifications and articles will tell you the product’s maximum PSI, and for small air compressors you should look for that number to be somewhere between 135-160 for effective use, although you will be able to alter the pressure level according to what it is you need to do.

A high PSI indicates that the product can deliver force and will recover quickly.  

HP

HP stands for horsepower and refers to the amount of work that the motor can perform. People are often beguiled by high horsepower statics but in fact this measure is less useful than CFM and PSI when picking what air compressor to buy.

A high HP machine will pack a punch but will also use up lots of energy, impacting on your energy bill.

Plus, innovations in design mean that many new models can achieve just as much power with less HP and have a longer lifespan as a result.

Tank Capacity

The tank capacity of your air compressor affects how much air it can hold and therefore how long it will take before you need to refill.

No one wants to have to keep stopping in the middle of a task to top-up, so a large capacity can help to avoid that. However, a big tank will impact on weight, portability and size.

If you are only looking to do short, small jobs then 1-2 gallons is a good capacity, and for larger projects a 6-10 gallon tank will serve you well.

Corded or Cordless?

Whether you decide to buy a corded or cordless electric air compressor really depends on what you are intending to use it for, and where you are looking to use it. 

Cordless machines will afford you more flexibility and portability, however they tend to be less powerful and efficient and you should be sure to keep spare batteries on hand!

Corded machines won’t run-out of power halfway through a job, and they also have more strength, however you will be restricted as to where you can work depending on where your power supply is situated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are small air compressors used for?

Small air compressors are generally used to supply pressurized air to pneumatically powered hand tools such as spray paint guns, pneumatic sanders, nail guns and jackhammers.

They are also often used to pump up tyres and fix slow punctures.