Best Portable Air Compressor Review (2024 Ratings)

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Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339). 30kw Air Compressor

Best Portable Air Compressor Review (2024 Ratings)

A quick-filling portable tire inflator that runs on a lithium battery.

A tire inflator that’s especially easy to use with most vehicles.

A heavy-duty portable air compressor pump for big jobs.

An oil-free electric air compressor that is portable and powerful.

A low-cost but quality tire inflator that adds psi to your tires quickly.

A portable air compressor is a convenient means to keep your car’s tires properly inflated. Maintaining the right tire pressure is not only a matter of safety but can help improve fuel economy and save money in the long run.

We’ve tested several types of portable air compressors , from lightweight pancake compressors to handheld tire inflators .

To find the best portable air compressors, we looked for options that can fit in your trunk, are easy to use, and quickly inflate car tires.

We named the Ryobi ONE+, Kobalt Air Compressor, DeWalt Pancake Compressor, Viair 450P-RV, and Slime Tire Inflator as the best-rated portable air compressors on the market in 2024.

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

The portable air compressors in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon for top products, looking at customer reviews, inflation power, and reliability.

Our product testing team ordered portable air compressors that best met these standards. We try to test products in a variety of styles and price ranges to recommend air compressors for a range of needs.

Learn more about how we tested portable air compressors here.

The Ryobi ONE+ is a tire inflator, so it won’t be able to power pneumatic tools. However, this air compressor is good for inflating tires. It operates on a rechargeable lithium battery and is small and lightweight. This is a good pick for people who want an easy-to-use tire inflator that they can keep in their trunks for emergencies.

When you purchase a Ryobi ONE+, you get nothing but the inflator itself. The batteries are sold separately or as a bundle. You’ll need to purchase a battery charger separately.

You can see how the Ryobi ONE+ performed in each of our testing categories below:

While easy to use, the Ryobi doesn’t inflate as quickly as bigger air compressors. It took a minute and 30 seconds to add 10.0 pounds per square inch to our test tire. That said, if you’re only keeping this around to maintain tire pressure in a single vehicle, this slower inflation rate isn’t much of an issue.

We like the digital psi reader, which is helpful for precise filling. Checking the reading of the Ryobi against our test car’s tire pressure monitor showed the Ryobi’s reading to be accurate.

Many reviewers keep the Ryobi in their vehicle or garage to top off and maintain tire pressure. One reviewer notes that the battery maintains its charge well. This person keeps it in their car and it holds a charge for months while stored.

The most prevalent complaint about the Ryobi is that the battery charger is not included. This was not obvious to everyone who purchased this tire inflator, so some were frustrated that they had to purchase a separate item to use their tire inflator.

The Kobalt portable air compressor is compact and user-friendly. It can be powered either by plugging it into an AC outlet or your car’s DC cigarette lighter. As with the Ryobi, this air compressor is good for inflating tires only, and will not run air tools.

This air compressor is a good choice for a tire inflator to keep in your car. While a little bigger than the Ryobi ONE+, it has the advantage of not needing a charged battery.

Nothing other than the inflator itself is included with the Kobalt Portable Air Compressor. The compressor itself features a digital display and two power cords (one for AC and one for DC).

You can see how the Kobalt Portable Air Compressor performed in each of our testing categories below:

We love the design of the Kobalt. Not only does it look good, but it is very intuitive and easy to use. The digital psi readout is accurate and matched the readout of our test vehicle’s pressure sensors.

This was the slowest-acting compressor, taking a minute and 50 seconds to add 10.0 psi to our test tire. However, this was the easiest-to-use compressor, because all you need to do is set the desired psi and press the start button. The Kobalt automatically shuts down once the proper psi is reached.

Many reviewers purchase this gauge for a quick and easy tire inflator. The Kobalt is light and easy to store and it attaches easily.

Some downsides mentioned are that the air hose is a little short. A couple of reviewers also don’t like that the hose cover doesn’t secure in place. There is a plastic piece that covers the air hose when stored, but it does not click into place and the hose can easily fall out if not coiled perfectly.

While it stretches the limits of “portable” at 30.0 lbs., this relatively quiet air compressor could reasonably fit in a trunk for job site transportation. It isn’t difficult to maneuver and is capable of running a variety of air tools. A high-flow regulator maximizes the performance of these tools. And if you need to inflate a tire, the DeWalt can do so in no time. It’s also backed by a one-year warranty.

The DeWalt pancake air compressor doesn’t include any extras or attachments. In fact, you’ll need to purchase these attachments separately to use this compressor for any job, even inflating a tire.

You can see how the DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor performed in each of our testing categories below:

It took the DeWalt only 25 seconds to inflate our test tire from 30.0 to 40.0 psi, making it the fastest of the air compressors on this list. Operation is straightforward once the machine is plugged in. Because it did not come with any inflation tools, we used the inflator that came with another of the air compressors we tested and it attached seamlessly to the DeWalt.

A lot of users say they like this compressor because it is light and easy to use. It’s a great tool for small projects and runs quietly compared to other air compressors with a similar tank size.

There are a couple of reports from reviewers who received faulty products. In some cases, compressors arrived with pieces detached.

The Viair kit is designed primarily for RV use. It has a 60.0-foot coil hose, allowing it to reach from your automotive battery to the rear tire of any trailer you may be towing. It comes with angled chucks to access almost any type of tire.

This kit can inflate large tires up to 150.0 psi and does so quickly. Another useful feature is that it can operate on a continuous run cycle, so no need to wait for it to pressurize every 30 minutes.

This kit includes a number of attachments to get you started out of the box. Along with the Viair Compressor, this kit also includes:

You can see how the Viair 450P-RV performed in each of our testing categories below:

It only took the Viair 50 seconds to add 10.0 psi of pressure to our test wheel. The included attachments are all quality-built, and we were especially impressed with the high-quality carrying case, which conveniently stowed the entire kit.

We did find the instructions poor and mostly unhelpful. While we were able to figure out how to use this compressor, it took us a few failed attempts before connecting the required parts in the proper order.

A lot of reviewers give this compressor a full 5.0 stars. Many praise it for its fast inflation speeds and easy use. Some appreciate the continuous run cycle, especially those that need to inflate several tires at once. This is an especially popular compressor for those with RVs or high-psi tires.

Some people are frustrated that the chuck heads do not lock onto the tire air valves. Most aren’t bothered by this because the tires inflate so quickly that it isn’t too much trouble to hold them down yourself. This could be annoying for an especially long inflation, however.

The last item on our list is also not suitable for powering air tools and is mainly for inflating tires. The Slime is a low-cost tire inflator that connects directly to your car battery for power. This makes it an excellent roadside emergency inflator. It works quickly and can be stored in a solid plastic case.

The Slime tire inflator comes with:

Another feature of the Slime is that it has a built-in LED light.

You can see how the Slime Tire Inflator performed in each of our testing categories below:

Because you need to connect it to your battery, the Slime takes a little longer to set up than some other gauges. It’s also worth noting that it does not work with hybrid batteries, so if you drive a hybrid vehicle, you’ll want to pick something else.

The inflator head screws into the tire valve, making for a more secure fit. We found the analog gauge to be less precise than the digital gauges that we tested, though generally accurate (within a couple of psi).

It took the Slime 35 seconds to inflate our test tire by 10.0 psi, making it one of the faster tire inflators.

The final thing that we noted during testing is that the included carrying case is made of flimsy plastic. It is good enough to keep the unit protected during storage, but not an especially impressive case.

Reviewers consider this inflator a reliable compressor excellent for roadside emergencies. Compared to battery-powered or 12.0-volt inflators, the Slime inflates especially quickly. Reviewers also appreciate the twist-on connector which is easy to attach.

Some say the tire gauge can be difficult to read, and others (like us) comment that the case is flimsy and could be better built.

When shopping for a portable air compressor, start by considering how you’ll use it. Air compressors can be used to inflate tires, but also to power certain tools such as nail guns or orbital sanders.

Air compressors will have a maximum pressure per square inch as well as a maximum output measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). When using an air compressor to inflate tires, these metrics determine how quickly it can pump up your tire. Most air compressors are capable of inflating a tire, even those with low maximum psi and CFM outputs.

If you’re buying an air compressor to run tools, psi and CFM become much more important. You’ll need to match the pressure and flow rates to the tools you plan to use, or you risk damaging them. Learn the requirements of the tools you plan to use and match your air compressor specs accordingly.

A portable air compressor should be portable. While larger compressors may offer higher psi and CFM, they may not be so easy to lug around. If you’re looking for a portable compressor to keep in your car to inflate tires in an emergency, choose something lightweight.

Portable air compressors can run on battery power or an AC current. Those that you need to plug in are typically more powerful, but less portable. Some air compressors can run off DC current by connecting directly to your car’s battery. This type of compressor requires that you pop the hood, but has the advantage of being useful on the side of the road.

Many tire inflators are air compressors, but most air compressors can do a lot more than inflate tires. An air compressor can be used to power tools like a nail gun, air impact wrench, or air hammer.

The best portable air compressors are items that can easily fit in a trunk, truck bed, or back of an SUV. When it comes to size, portable air compressors usually come in a handheld format or a console-style design.

Both versions are more than capable of refilling flat tires, but form factor can be a priority for customers wanting to save space.

It’s worth noting that some vehicles now include tire pumps built into the car itself. The feature is popular among vehicles that are off-road capable since dropping tire pressure by a few PSI can lead to better performance on some surfaces while overlanding.

When your wheels are low on air pressure and you’re out in the middle of nowhere, the last thing you want to do is risk ruining your tires. With a great all-around compressor like the Viair 450P-RV or a super portable option like the Ryobi ONE+, you won’t have to worry about your tires again.

Below are some common frequently asked questions about best portable air compressors:

The maximum psi to look for in an air compressor depends on how you plan to use it. If you need a portable air compressor for inflating tires, you’ll probably want something that offers at least 100.0 psi in order to inflate your tires at a reasonable speed. If you need an air compressor to power air tools, you may want something more powerful.

If you only need to inflate tires, small air compressors are definitely worth it. While a 12.0- or 18.0- volt air compressor may not be useful for powering air tools , it can inflate a tire and their small size makes them easy to store in your car for emergency use.

We give the highest rating to the DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor. Of the air compressors that we tested, the Viair 450P-RV has the highest rating among Amazon users. Both are excellent options for portable air compressors. The DeWalt is easy to use and can inflate extremely quickly, while Viair can be used without an outlet, and includes many useful attachments.

The Ryobi ONE+ , our pick for the best portable air compressor, can be used on car tires and other items like air mattresses and sports equipment.

The Viair kit 12.0-volt compressor. It can inflate everything from bike tires to truck tires to your desired pressure.

The Ryobi ONE+ and Viair kit are two excellent purchases if you need a compressed air pump. Both have automatic shut-off features, great durability, and take up minimal space when stored.

Our reviews team chose the Viair 450P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit as the best air compressor for cars. It has enough power to inflate most vehicle tires, rugged construction, and an easy-to-read pressure gauge.

We tested each air compressor by timing how long it took to inflate a tire from 30.0 psi to 40.0 psi. We followed the included instructions (if there were any) and took notes on build quality, ease of use, and quality of additional attachments. Each air compressor was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on inflation speed, ease of use, and portability.

You don’t want to be stuck waiting by the side of the road for very long while your tire air compressor does its thing. Our inflation speed score is a reflection of how quickly each air compressor could inflate our test tire. The air compressors that worked fastest scored best in this category.

Our ease of use rating is based on the relative convenience of each air compressor. Those with simple operating instructions and that require little setup score best in this category. Air compressors that offer automatic inflation to a specific psi and easy-to-read displays also score better in this category.

A good air compressor should be portable enough to take on the go in case of emergencies. Lightweight and compact air compressors score best in this category. We also award better ratings to air compressors that include useful carrying bags or storage bags.

Every portable air compressor we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

As a member of both the APA and IMPA, Charles Noyes has devoted himself to creating and refining quality content covering automotive products and accessories, motorcycle products, RV products, and more. As the lead editor serving the product review team, he has personally reviewed, critiqued, and fact-checked over 200 product reviews.

Best Portable Air Compressor Review (2024 Ratings)

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