What Is The Best Small Air Compressor?


Every handyman knows the necessity of an air compressor when it comes to home improvement and repairs. A certain amount of air pressure is required to work a number of pneumatic tools. For household and minor restoration projects, the best small air compressor is highly recommended. Whether an oil injection or oil-less type, these little yet powerful machines are portable enough to carry around the work area and are easily stored.

But with so many big players on the market, it is easy to fall wayward and purchase a model incompatible for your purpose. Below are comparative reviews of my experience with particular models to determine the best air compressor to serve your needs.


Porter Cable PCFP02003 3.5 Gal 135 PSI Pancake Compressor


  • Includes a pump that delivers 2.0 SCFM at 90 psi
  • Comes with a 3.5 gallon tank
  • Has a maximum air pressure output of 135 psi
  • Has a Running horsepower of 0.8 HP
  • Works with just 10 Amps and 120 Volts of power
  • Weighs only 26 lbs.

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  • Lightweightand ergonomic design

At just 26 lbs. the Porter Cable PCFP02003 Pancake Compressor can quickly be transported from one site to another. It is ideal for home improvement projects and small repairs. I prefer how the handle is recessed into the body of the unit rather than clumsily sticking out. It is also easy to carry around.

  • Versatile and Quick

With an adjustable pressure valve, the Porter Cable PCFP02003 Pancake Compressor can service a variety of tools including pneumatic nailers, framing guns, finish guns and small drills. The best small air compressor also works with inflating tires, life boats and the like, as well as blowing off dirt and leaves from hard to reach crevices. The Porter Cable PCFP02003 Pancake Compressor also builds pressure quickly and can reach 115 to 135 psi in a minute or two.

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  • Inexpensive

One major factor of attraction to this model is its price. For that reason, the Porter Cable PCFP02003 Pancake Compressor is a great buy for personal and household use.


  • No accessories included

This is normally not a problem with some since one can easily find compatible valves and hoses in your neighbourhood hardware store. However, I prefer a unit with all its furnishings especially for the first time user.

  • Makes a lot of noise

At 82 decibels, the Porter Cable PCFP02003 Pancake Compressor makes as much noise as a vacuum cleaner. If your environment does not permit the consistent whirring of machinery, I suggest you look for a silent model. My solution is placing the compressor in a different room while I work with a 20 ft. hose.

Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressorbest-small-air-compressor-2


  • Has a maximum pressure of 120 psi at 12 Volts
  • Can produce 1.94 CFM free flowing air at 0 psi
  • Battery-operated with dual battery clamps
  • Has a built-in power indicator which doubles as an LED light
  • Includes a 12 ft. air hose and a 9 ft. power cord


  • Strong and silent

The Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor can run at a maximum air pressure of 120 psi which can inflate up to 33 inch tires in just 10 minutes. Its free flowing air pressure at 0 psi is also advantageous when waiting for the unit to warm up. The 88p model is also surprisingly silent and can go unnoticed performing heavy duty tasks.

  • Convenient in any situation

A flat tire in the middle of traffic can seem like a nightmare, and waiting for the tow truck is especially worse. With the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor, car owners can inflate flat tires in a matter of minutes. At roughly 4.75 lbs. this best small air compressor can easily be stored and removed from the trunk of any vehicle.

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  • Sturdy and battery compatible

Most of the best small air compressors meant for vehicular use make use of cigarette lighter adaptors. However, the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor has clamps that can be directly connected to the car’s battery. The model is sturdy and can withstand the emitted heat of any vehicle.

  • LED light

Its LED light which doubles as a power indicator is a godsend. Clamping the model’s adaptors in to the car batteries is a much easier when there is light shining at those hard to reach crevices. The LED light is especially convenient at night.


  • Limited to vehicular use

Although this model is heavy duty when it comes to cars, it is incompatible with other tools that a handyman would normally use in home improvement projects and repairs.

  • Long warm up time

Although the Viair 88P works very fast as the best small air compressor, after it has been maxed out, it takes 40 minutes at most to warm up. This can be problematic for those in a hurry.


Each of the featured best small air compressors have their own purposes. While the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor is perfect for inflating tires, it is not compatible for pneumatic tools. For minor repairs and household use, the Porter Cable PCFP02003 3.5 Gal 135 PSI Pancake Compressor is a better bet although is not the most silent of compressors. Find a portable compressor based on your needs and always weigh your options before purchase. Finally, I also recommend you to read another relevant post: “best air compressors” to discover different types of air compressors available now in the market.


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