To the average consumer, air compressors might mean something totally different, but when you ask someone involved in the building construction industry he or she would tell you it is the elixir that gets those pricey powered tools to function the right way. If you take away air compressors the construction will definitely be moving along at a snail pace.
Compressors that deliver the pressurized air needed by powerful tools to function come in different shapes and sizes, but in this review, I will be focusing on portable air compressors and the brands that deliver the highest value for the money.
Rather than focus solely on the portability of an air compressor, I would urge you to pay attention to the size, because that is what will determine where you can use it.
What exactly is an Air Compressor?
In the simplest form, it is a mechanical device with a powerful motor that is capable of taking raw energy and converting it into the readily available compressed air. This type of pressurized air can be used to inflate tires, powered up various types of power hand tools, and other devices.
The key differentiating factor among portable units is the amount of the compressed air that can be created within a specific time. The type of power set up for the average portable air compressor varies from regular gasoline to electric power.
Tools like heavy duty paint sprayers and pneumatic framing nailers will not function the right way without this type of compressed air, so now you know how important this device is to the construction industry.
Elite Portable Air Compressor Brands
These are the portable air compressor brands with the highest performance ratings and each one will do a fine job helping you get more work done, which hopefully will result in more money in your pocket.
1 – Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Makita is a brand that has paid the price to be reckoned with in this niche market. The company has been around for over hundred years, which is a testament to the high-quality products they are known to produce, just like the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor. It has a tank capacity of 4.2 gallons and requires electrical current to function. It comes with all the usual features to ensure it powers some of your construction tools. The pump itself is made out of cast iron. You can easily see the oil level due to the transparent glass, which makes it easier to conduct the necessary maintenance steps to keep it functioning. You get a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee plus a one-year limited warranty that covers any potential factory defect. The only downside, in my opinion, is the 81-pounds weight. It has a wheel stand but no rolling wheels, which means it needs to be moved around with pure muscle strength.
2 – Bostitch BTFP02012-WPK 6-Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor Kit
The name Bostitch elicits wide praise when you ask anyone in the construction industry. They have managed to create a line of high-quality products that people trust and like to use. The merit of the Bostitch BTFP02012-WPK is a mile long. It is available in five different styles, some will come with the needed accessories and others will not. The particular model style has all the required accessories to ensure the compressor is ready right out of the box. It weighs less than 30 pounds and requires no oil to function, which means lesser maintenance hassle. The tank in the MAC2400 air compressor can hold up to 6 pounds of compressed air, which is more than the unit from Makita. You get a one-year limited warranty that covers any defect within that period.
Guide to the Best Portable Air Compressors
I will not be saying anything about the giant fixed air compressors, which are commonly used for powering very heavy equipment on huge construction sites. But I can assure you that portable air compressors are just as durable and play a significant role in how fast modern buildings are put up.
While an air compressor that is portable can be found in different shapes it is the ease of moving it around that makes all the difference in the world. Based on how you intend to deploy the compressor here are key things you should keep in mind.
The Power and the Motor of the Compressor
Do not let this pass you by, for it is the motor size that usually determines the power of the portable air compressor unit. Bigger motor usually translates into faster production of the compressed air needed to power key construction hand tools.
You’ll also have to decide if you want a unit that is powered by electrical current or gasoline. Both types of motors have their advantages and disadvantages. One will have reliable constant power as long as you’re near an AC outlet, while the other will need to be monitored to ensure the fuel is not completely depleted before the job is finished.
The Tank Capacity
While the tank size embedded within the air compressor is important it is the cubic feet per minute (CFM) number you should keep your eyes on. Most of the hand tools that require air pressure will let you know the right minimum CFM needed for the unit to function properly. Most often, the tank storage capacity will be measured as pounds per square inch (PSI) numbers.
It would be nice to get a unit that comes with the need inflator and fitting, it might cost a few bucks more, but it will come to you ready to work right-away.
Take a Close Look at the Manufacturer
In this social media age we’re living through, it is up to you if you want to know more about the maker of the portable air compressor before pushing the buy now button. A good brand will have a robust website with plenty of consumer friendly resources like how to use the compressor videos, online owner’s manual, and so forth.
The Opinions of Current Users
What the current users of the product have to say should not be taken lightly. It is a good way to learn about potential issues that you’re not ready to deal with, which is why the items found in this portable air compressor reviews each have a satisfaction rating of 80% or higher.
What about the Price
The price for any durable product is a touchy subject. Most people would like to pay very little and hope to get a lot, but I have found that in this life you usually get what you pay for.
Keep that in mind while debating prices, but you should be more focused on how the air compressor will work for your situation. Even if you buy one at a higher price, it would soon be forgotten if it enables you to increase your productivity.
3 – Porter-Cable PCFP02003 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
This is another brand that has been around for over one hundred years, and they specialize in making different types of hand power tools plus air compressors, like the Porter-Cable PCFP02003. It has a 3.5-gallon tank and can reach max PSI of 135. Since it uses no oil in its design setup, it will be quite easy to keep one running for a long time. Porter-Cable PCFP02003 weighs about 26 pounds and it is famously called the pancake compressor. Despite its compact size, it has the ability to output consistent compressed for a busy job site. The size also makes it one of the best air compressors for home use. While it is highly portable, the noise level higher than the other similar air compressors. You’ll need to buy your own connection hose as it is not included with the unit. The limited warranty is only good for a period of one-year.
4 – Senco PC1131 Compressor Review
The air compressor from Senco model PC1131 has a 2.5 horsepower engine with 4.3 gallon tank. The powerful motor requires oil to run and the unit weighs about 60 pounds. The biggest advantage of the oil motors over the oil free compressors is that with regular maintenance they can last a very long time. On the other hand, once the pistons and bores found in any oil free compressor motor wear out they cannot be replaced. If you give the Senco PC1131 Portable Air Compressor the care that it desires it will serve you for many years. The maximum pressure from this unit can reach 125 PSI and will take less than 70-seconds to fill up the tank. Just like with most highly rated powerful and portable air compressors, it comes delivered to your home without the needed additional accessories. You get a 1-year limited warranty, which covers against issues that might arise during use.
Practical Tips for Using Your Portable Air Compressor Safely
You should know that a portable air compressor is a vital part of using a pressure washer or heavy duty paint sprayer at home or the workplace. Some of the things you have to keep in mind for safety and longevity sake are:
1 – Read the entire operating manual from top to bottom even if you consider yourself an expert on how air compressors are supposed to work. You might ask why, design changes, safety improvement measures, etc. are just two examples of what might be included in a newer model.
2 – If you’re using a portable air compressor with an oil filled motor pay close attention to the oil level. If you run the unit with little to no oil you run the chance of blowing the motor. Most of the top air compressors that are portable with this type of motor set up will have a transparent glass so that you can see the oil level clearly.
3 – It cannot be overemphasized enough that you need to wear the necessary safety gears while using an air compressor or hand tools. Hand gloves, ear muffs, and construction helmets are just some of the essential safety gears to put on while working on any building project site.
4 – An air compressor that you retrieved from storage must be checked for leaks before using it. Plugs and valves have a mind of their own, which means leaks can occur at any time. A good way to ensure your compressor last for a very long time is to drain the air pressure from the tank after you’re done for the day.
5 – Finally, if you buy a unit without the required accessories you should seriously consider getting the exact fittings and hoses from the same manufacturer. Poorly designed or attached hoses can come flying out once the air pressure gets too high, which is one of the principal causes of air compressor accidents in America today.
Keep kids away from the vicinity of a functioning air compressor. This is not an equipment that should be toyed with, especially when it is running, take this warning with the seriousness that it deserves especially when using one at your home.
Conclusion: Best Portable Air Compressor
Rarely do you find a construction site without an air compressor working hard at producing the compressed air needed to power all those hand tools? This equipment is an essential part of the construction industry and I can’t see them functioning without it.
A portable air compressor gives one the ability to move it around with ease. Even if you end up with a high-quality durable product, it is the way you maintain the compressor that will determine longevity. The four brands reviewed above will do just fine, but you can find other well-designed portable air compressors by clicking the link below.