Last updated: August 19, 2021

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If you are an adventure seeker and at the same time a cautious person who considers all kinds of risks, a portable air compressor has to be on your mind. That's why in this article we'll explain everything about such a valuable product.

The wide variety of models and brands of portable air compressors is so vast that it can be a difficult decision and even a considerable waste of money not to find the right and functional one for the activity for which you want to buy it. That is why it is necessary to consider everything that each one offers you, as well as its characteristics.

Both those that are used with fuel or electric are made to fulfil the same function, however, the characteristics, capacities and technical specifications are very different between each model. That is why we will explain what they are, the most important factors, where to get them and their cost. We hope you find it useful.


  • A portable air compressor is a tool designed to increase air pressure for specific purposes, but it can also be used almost anywhere. It is frequently used in tire shops, mechanic workshops, industrial settings, restaurants, among others.
  • Regardless of brands and models, they all have the same purpose, which is to compress the air, where you have to pay attention to is the power source, as you can find electric and fuel. Depending on the capacity and the power source required for its operation, it is the right one for your needs.
  • The most relevant purchasing factors to consider when buying a portable air compressor are: type of compressor, compressor tank, flow rate. Using an air compressor that is not used for the right activity can result in over- or under-pressurised air.

The Best Portable Air Compressor: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Being one of those people who do their activities in the best possible time and with the best quality, you should definitely think about portable air compressors and everything related to this vital tool, as it is not enough to find the cheapest one. You need to take into account the important factors to make the right choice.

Portable air compressor is ideal for painting any kind of surface (Photo: Bogdan Mircea Hoda /

What is a portable air compressor and what are its advantages?

The portable air compressor is a tool that helps to carry out activities that would be manually exhausting and complex, such as inflating tyres, using pneumatic tools, cleaning parts that cannot come into contact with water. All this thanks to the air pressure generated by the compressor.

Air compressors can be electric or petrol and of very variable power, in order to be useful regardless of the activity to be carried out. They have characteristics of high performance, durability and resistance. Here are the pros and cons of such a valuable tool, summarised in the table below:

  • They are used for different activities
  • You can find them in different sizes and powers
  • Economic maintenance
  • Very durable and resistant
  • You can take them anywhere.
  • The electric ones can increase the consumption of light
  • The fuel ones have a shorter useful life than the electric ones
  • They can be heavy
  • In operation they are very noisy.

Electric or fuel-powered portable air compressor - what to look out for?

Finding the ideal air compressor for you, but above all for your needs, is vital for optimum results and performance. As well as giving you the support you need to avoid unnecessary strain when carrying out the activities for which it was purchased. So you need to understand what each one offers.

The petrol air compressor is used outdoors (Photo: Vladimir Nenezic /

Electric portable air compressor. It is a device made of electrical components that allow it to operate by means of electric current or batteries. This type of construction allows it to generate compressed air without any pollution, it is ideal for work in enclosed spaces and is generally used in homes.

The wear and tear of the electrical components is minimal, making them extremely durable and resistant. The maintenance for this type of equipment is for long periods of time and its components are only replaced when they really break down. Nowadays you can find compressors with technology that saves electricity.

Portable fuel air compressor. These compressors have a combustion engine, either petrol or diesel, which they use to generate the air pressure. As they are fuel-powered, the cost of the raw material is constant for their operation, in addition to generating pollution by burning petrol or diesel.

As they include a combustion engine, it is necessary to give constant maintenance and in short periods of time, in addition to the need to change the consumables that wear out easily. Nowadays you can find fuel-saving compressors, where their efficiency aims for less environmental impact.

Electric compressor Fuel compressor.
Input Electricity / Batteries Petrol / Diesel.
Maintenance Economical and medium term Costly and short term.
Resistance High High.
Durability High Depends on engine functionality.
Use Home or closed works Industrial / open places.

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different models of portable air compressors

If you are in the business of using pneumatic tools, inflating tyres of all kinds or cleaning large and complicated areas, a portable air compressor is vital to make such jobs quality and effortless. A portable air compressor is vital for such jobs to be of quality and without so much effort. Therefore, in the following we will mention to you the most important factors. These are:

  • Compressor type
  • Compressor tank
  • Flow rate

Compressor type

The air compressor is made of different components that improve its performance, each one has technical specifications and features that provide better performance depending on where it is used. It is essential to analyse what each one offers, to find the right one for you. The most commonly used are:

Lubricated screw compressor. Known as positive displacement equipment. Its function is based on the loss of air volume in the compression chamber by means of a lubricated screw, generating a pressure increase in the inner part, until the compressed air leaves the equipment. Its use is ideal for pneumatic tools.

Piston compressor. It works by sucking air into a cylinder, driven by a piston in conjunction with a connecting rod and a crankshaft. The piston moving in the opposite direction generates compression of the air inside the cylinder, releasing it from the system once the required pressure has been reached. It is generally used in cleaning equipment.

Variable speed compressor. These compressors have a motor with a system that automatically adjusts the speed, depending on the amount of compressed air required. They include VSD technology allowing adaptability of the compressor speed on the fly. They are recommended for use in industrial machinery and equipment.

Compressor tank

Depending on your needs and the power of the tool you will be using, is the capacity of the tank to store the compressed air required. They are usually cylindrical in shape and have a heat treatment that makes them resistant to extreme temperatures and abrasion.

Tank capacities range from 5 to 25 litres and depend on the portable compressors and the activities to be carried out, since for cleaning large surfaces, it is recommended to use the one with the maximum capacity. If you need to inflate tyres, the 5 litre tank is sufficient.

In workshops they are very useful for all kinds of pneumatic tools (Photo: Zdenek Ryzner /

Flow rate

The flow rate is the amount of compressed air that a compressor can emit, derived from the need of the tools, it is the flow rate required for the correct performance of the compressor. Not having the right flow rate can lead to overloading of the compressor and premature wear of the equipment.

Thin flow. This is for those that require low air consumption such as drills, polishers and screwdrivers. This flow rate has a flow rate of up to 300 l/min.

Medium flow. They are required for processes that constantly require compressed air, as well as looking for stability of air delivery. It is used for example for industrial pneumatic machines. This flow rate uses a flow rate of 300 to 2 500 l/min.

Wide flow. These are the ones that need high air consumption, as well as effectively calculated and perfectly defined consumptions such as paint booths or pneumatic conveying systems. The wide flow uses from 2500 to 10 000 l/min

(Featured image photo: maewnarm/

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