Portable Air Compressor

tire inflation with onboard air compressor
on board air compressor for tire inflation


What defines a portable air compressor?

A portable air compressor has a lot of uses. Therefore, the demographic of people that can benefit from owning a portable air compressor is large. But before we discuss about on who should own a portable air compressor, let us try and understand what it is first. On understanding the mechanisms and working of a portable air compressor, we will find that it is a versatile device. Its range of uses is many and one would be surprised to find out that it is a power house packed into a tiny frame.

First of all, an air compressor is a device that is used to produce pressurized air. It is what the name suggests. A source of power is required to compress air into a tank. And as time passes, the pressure of the air increases. The increase in pressure results in tremendous power, which can in turn be used for a number of situations. Now, air compressors can be large in size and the issue of transporting it and portability can be in question. Thus, some air compressors are designed for portability where it is easy for the owner to carry it to different locations.

Design purpose

Portable air compressors are easy to own, maintain and most of all, easy to transport. They are also easy to store as they do not take up much space. So, portable air compressors do the same job as that of an air compressor but they are much smaller and designed for easy transportation.

Portable air compressors can be used for both professional and personal uses. Portable air compressors are mostly used in industrial and construction uses. But because of their portability and the versatility that the machine offers, they are useful in a lot of home use as well. Portable air compressors will fall underneath the consumer grade and professional grade for small to medium sized business. It is designed for tackling tasks that require the help of an air compressor all with the need of just one person operating it.

Consumer grade portable air compressor

Consumer grade portable air compressors are popularly used for inflating tires or products that need inflation like balloons. They are also incredibly helpful in cleaning tight corners and crevices within the household. A portable air compressor can also be used with a paintbrush which will help in painting vehicles or furniture. They are also reliable for making use during paint jobs. The air pressure can be used to remove chipped paint from the walls or furniture before a new coat is painted over. Portable air compressors are also perfectly efficient for removing gunk that can build up in pools, tanks etc.

Professional grade air compressors

Professional grade air compressors also play a huge role in the commercial sectors. They are used for creating pneumatic tools. They are used in carpentry, auto-part shops etc. A portable air compressor are also used for performing paint-jobs for vehicles by attaching a paint brush to the air compressor. Air compressors are also used in the dental and medical industries. And they are also used for cleaning machines.

So as you can see, the possibilities are endless when it comes to making use of a portable air compressor. Pressurized air can be helpful in a lot of ways and all we need to do is just get creative. Air compressors were only suited for used in large industries and commercial hub before. But as portability has been introduced to these power houses, there is no stopping to what a person can achieve with this device.

Who should buy a portable air compressor?

As it was mentioned above, the uses of a portable air compressor are a lot. It is impossible to fathom the various uses that a portable air compressor can deliver. The easiest way to generalize the type of people who should buy a portable air compressor is to include everyone! But since that is impractical, the following list will give you an idea on who should buy a portable air compressor.

1. Homeowners:

People who own homes will be tasked with not only cleaning the indoor of the household but the outdoors as well. Keeping the indoors neat and sparkling is a lot easier than keeping the outdoors impeccable. There are a lot of factors that one cannot control like dust and debris sweeping into your front yard and backyard. Not only that, there are corners, tight spaces and crevices which can collect a buildup of muck, grime, fungi etc and that can be difficult to clean.

A portable air compressor can sweep the dirt and debris easily without making it tiresome for you. Reaching the inner spaces of your home to clean the gunk out will no longer pose as a problem for you as well.

2. DIY Enthusiast:

If you are somebody who likes to get your hands busy by fixing and making stuff, the portable air compressor can come in handy. As read above, the portable air compressor is designed for flexibility and it can be used in a wide variety of fields. For example, if you are painting the walls of your home or a piece of furniture, the chipped paintings will be your worst enemy. Nobody wants to spend time chiseling them or use some other means to remove them. But air compressors can do the perfect job of removing the chipped paint out of the way. All you have to do is press a button!

One can also fix paint brushes to air compressors. This can help in precise painting whether you are painting your vehicle, a piece of furniture or your kid’s bike.

3. Car Owner:

Portable Air compressors can be handy when it comes to flat tires. If you find yourself with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, it is usually in a place without a cell reception. A portable air compressor can save you the trouble of waiting for a tow service or ditching your car.

4. Handy Man:

A portable air compressor is also great for somebody who works with tools all the time. But what has pressurized air and tools have in common, you ask? Well, they are deeply helpful in creating pneumatic tools which can aid in making the work easier and faster. All you have to do is find the right portable air compressor to turn your nail guns and staplers into pneumatic tools!

If you work with machinery, the right way to maintain machines would be to clean them regularly. The corners of machineries can be tough to clean using a brush or a cloth. And therefore, air compressors can aid in cleaning machineries because it can reach places that we are incapable of.

5. Medical Practitioner:

Portable air compressors have been in use in the field of medicine, dental and veterinary ever since. They are used in physical rehabilitation and performing minor orthopedic surgery. Dentists use these portable air compressors for cleaning the teeth as air compressors also offer the highest order of hygiene. Veterinarians also use air compressors for animals with injuries and respiratory problems. Apart from that, they are also used for cleaning medical equipments and supplies.

Types of Air Compressors:

Machines make it possible for us to complete our jobs with ease. The idea of moving huge rocks, building monuments or creating miracles is all made possible because of machines. But all machines do not serve just one purpose and each machine has been designed to perform a specific set of jobs. And just like that, as portable air compressors are also used in different fields, they are classified into different types as well. Each of the type will have different features and the models will be different. But they will all work with the same concept and that is, with pressurized air.

The different types of air compressors are:

1. Tire Inflators:

Air compressors are known for inflating tires whether it is for your vehicle or for your kid’s bike. Portable air compressors are excellent for emergencies and prove to be a loyal companion especially when you are on the road. Portable tire inflators are designed for ease of use and most of them come with digital capability. Tire inflators are also equipped with screens that provide information about the pressure setting. Most portable tire inflators use an in-built battery which can be charged or the cigarette lighter outlet.

Some of the portable tire inflators also come with a manual on and off setting which will put the machine off once the tire has been pumped. And above all, the tire inflators will be portable enough so that they don’t take up much space in your vehicle.

2. Handheld Air Compressors:

This type of air compressors are as the name suggests. It is common for us to imagine portable air compressors with wheels. But there exists the type of portable air compressors that can be hand-held. They are also light weight and can weigh from 2 pounds to 4 pounds at maximum. Like the tire inflators, these hand held air compressors also come with digital capability and arrive with LCD screens. It is also common knowledge that most hand held air compressors are also used for inflating tires.

The features for the hand held air compressors can range from displaying the pressure in real time to controlling the pressure of the air flow. Nevertheless, they make work easier as they come with superior pressure gauges and provide more mobility.

3. Quiet Air Compressor:

Noise is an expectation while working with tools. And there isn’t much one can do to reduce the noise while working. But, if you find that the noise from air compressors are becoming a menace and is posing as an issue, then fret not! Because there are air compressors that provide little to no noise at all and this can help keep the right work aesthetics. They can be either cordless or wired but as long as low noise is first on your agenda, that shouldn’t be a problem. Quiet air compressors come in different ranges as well with different CFM and PSI. It depends on if you are looking for a quiet air compressor for personal or industrial use.

Although, this feature is generic, most top companies are adding this feature to all types of air compressors.

4. Cordless Air Compressor:

If you are somebody who does not like the restraint a wired air compressor provides, a cordless option is available as well. You can find cordless air compressors with all the features that a wired one has. Cordless air compressors run on batteries and they will be either rechargeable or removable as it depends on the model and make of the product. Most cordless air compressors small in size and are hand held. This reason can prove to be a boon for people who like to work with their air compressors nearby.

Despite the small size, most of them are powerhouses with powerful motors and long life cycles.

What to look for when buying a portable air compressor?

A portable air compressor can serve people with their respective purposes. No portable air compressor is the same of course and they will all have their distinctive features. But if you are a beginner to this area, you can end up buying the wrong air compressor. The common mistake anyone makes when buying a piece of equipment is the lack of research. This will help in the

inability of understanding the various terms and jargons that comes with the manual and description of the device.

Therefore, to avoid any of these, the section below will give you some general idea on what to look for while buying one. So, one should look for:

1. Pressure:

This is one of the most important features that one must look for and that are the pressure range of the air compressor. The air compressor that you want can have all the features but if it does not have the right pressure setting, then your money will be wasted down the drain. For example, if you are looking for an air compressor that will serve as a tire inflator, an 80 to 130 PSI is the recommendation. But again, there are different types of tires, like the hybrid tires or narrow tires. So depending on that, the pressure range will vary. If you have no idea about the pressure range, it is advisable to ask the store owners or the assistant for help.

2. Airflow:

You may have the right pressure but that is not the end of it. Making sure that your air compressor has the right airflow matters extremely. Airflow is measured in CFM which stands for Cubic Feet Meter. It is advisable to choose am air compressor with a 30% more CFM than the required CFM. For example, if a tool requires about 4 CFM at 90 PSI, then it is only fitting that you choose an air compressor with a higher CFM setting. Having the right airflow means that air flows smoothly out of the device. If you find yourself waiting for the pressure to build up to use the air compressor, it means that the air compressor has less airflow.

Having the right airflow will also depend on the electrical equipments and the horsepower of the machine.

3. Tank Size:

The tank of the air compressor will be where the air pressurized air will be stored. There is no exact rule of thumb on what your size of tank should be but it depends on the duration of operation. If you need the air compressor for large bursts of time, then it is advisable that you choose a tank that has a large size. Several air tools like grinders and sanders need an airflow that is continuous, and therefore the air compressor will have to be ready with a large tank. The same goes for inflatable pools as well.

Of course, having a smaller tank would do the same job as an air compressor that has a larger tank. But the thing is, having a larger tank will complete the job faster as a smaller tank would require waiting for the air pressure to build up.

The tank size of air compressors can have the capability of 5 gallons to 80 gallons. And depending on the type and complexity of the work, one must choose the size of the tank wisely.

4. Durability:

When we say durability, we are talking about a list of things that an air compressor must be able to withstand. First of all, we have to take this into consideration that portable air compressors are designed for transportation. So, the physical body of the machine should be considered as to whether it can withstand the constant wear and tear of external factors. Most of the air compressors have metallic bodies. Hence, it is best if they are made with alloys like steel as they are resilient and resistant to rust.

Second of all, even though the particular model may seem like the perfect air compressor, you have to question its maintenance as well. A certain level of maintenance is required in order to give the machine a long life. However, if it is fragile, there are chances that the air compressor will be difficult to maintain. And if at unfortunate cases, the air compressor has broken down, at most cases; it will require a new part for repair. Do make sure, that you can find all the parts at the local store. It would be a lost cause if you have to order or travel somewhere to get that desired part.

5. Weight:

Portable air compressors are no doubt designed for portability. But it will not serve its purpose if the air compressor is heavy. It is most likely that you are shopping for a portable air compressor for ease of transportation and ease of usage. Therefore, the weight of the air compressor must be taken into consideration without fail. Most portable air compressors are designed to be hand held and if it is heavy, it can affect the working hours. In some events, it can cause injuries and accidents as well. It is a recommendation that a portable air compressor should weigh between 1 to 4 pounds and they will vary according to the model, brand and the manufacturer.

6. Horsepower:

Horsepower defines the ability of a motor to perform a certain work in a given amount of time. If a motor has higher horsepower than its counterpart, then it simply means that it can do more work given the same time.

Since the requirement of the tank size has been established, the matter of the Horsepower of the motor comes in question. The tank size indicates the duration of the operation of the air compressor. But once the pressurized air in the tank finishes, it is now the job of the motor to refill the tank. So think of it in this way, the higher the horse power, the faster the tank will refill. But it simply goes without saying that the air compressors CFM will be in accordance with the HP. At most, an air compressor will produce 4 CFM per unit HP.

7. Accessories:

Air compressors can come with accessories such as additional tools or carry bags. But it is most likely that budget buys will not come with additional accessories. If you think that accessories are important to you and you don’t want to make an extra purchase, then you can look for them.

8. Price:

Lastly, the most important point to look out for – the price. If you are planning on buying an air compressor, make sure that you lay out the budget first. It is ironic that this is mentioned last, but the point is that you will need to pay for it at the end. Therefore, planning a purchase keeping the budget in mind will help you lay out the pros and cons of a given product and will help you make the better choice.


All these points highlight the most important features of air compressors. Provided along is also a guideline to look out for when buying a portable air compressor. Highlighting the priorities that you have in mind along with the guideline will help you make the right purchase. Therefore, it goes without saying, a little research will help you in the long run.