The 10 Best Pancake Air Compressors – Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Pancake Air Compressor

Air compressors are very important tools because lots of other tools like impact wrenches, nailers, and paint sprayers depend on them.

Pancake air compressors are different from the other air compressors because of their shape and their smallness, which makes them much more portable and compact.

Once you've decided to get a pancake air compressor, the next step is to settle for a particular make, depending on the size, power, and performance that you want.

The following review takes a close look at the best pancake air compressors and shows you what you need to know and look out for as well, to make the right choice.

Product Name

Size

CFM

Weight

Rating

Current Price

1. Porter-Cable C2002 Pancake Air Compressor

6.0 gal

2.6

34 lbs

4.4

2. Hitachi Pancake Compressor & Brad Nailer Combo 

6.0 gal

2.8

36 lbs

4.5

3. Porter-Cable Pancake Air Compressor

3.5 gal

2.0

26 lbs

4.5

4. Bostitch Oil-Free Pancake Air Compressor

6.0 gal

2.6

29 lbs

4.4

5. DeWalt Heavy-Duty Pancake Air Compressor

6.0 gal

2.6

30 lbs

4.3

6. Campbell Hausfeld 6-Gallon Pancake Air Compressor

6.0 gal

2.4

60 lbs

5.0

7. Campbell Hausfeld 1-Gallon Pancake Air Compressor

1.0 gal

0.35

13 lbs

3.5

8. Excell Pancake Air Compressor

6.0 gal

2.8

39 lbs

4.7

9. PowRyte Elite Oil-Free Pancake Air Compressor Kit

4.0 gal

2.2

22 lbs

4.3

10. Ridgid Portable Pancake Compressor

6.0 gal

2.6

35 lbs

3.5

1. Porter-Cable C2002 Pancake Compressor

Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)

Porter-Cable C2002 Pancake Compressor
  • Tank size: 6 gallons
  • CFM: 2.6
  • Power: N/A
  • Weight: 34 lbs

The C2001 from Porter-Cable is a compact and portable air compressor ideal for many locations and jobs. You can use it around the house, in the workshop or you can even take it on a job site with you.

It weighs just 34 lbs and has a low profile with a 6-gallon tank. This compressor has a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, with 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is enough for most lightweight air tools.

Powered by a 120-Volt low-amp motor and featuring an oil-free pump, you can relax knowing you have a reliable compressor by your side, and which will last you a long time.

You also get 2 regulated air couplers to support up to 2 users, but on the other hand, it doesn't come with accessories. You'll have to additionally order the package.

Pros:

  • 150 PSI tank pressure ensures more air for longer run times
  • 6-gallon tank with rubber feet and water-drain valve
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI ensures quick compressor recovery
  • Oil-free pump means less maintenance and longer life

Cons:

  • Accessory kit needs additional purchasing

2. Hitachi 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor + Brad Nailer Combo Kit

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Hitachi 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor + Brad Nailer Combo Kit
  • Tank size: 6 gallons
  • CFM: 2.8
  • Power: 1 HP
  • Weight: 36 lbs

If you have small jobs to finish around the house, which are perfect for a brad nailer, then maybe you should consider Hitachi's top-rated pancake air compressor and brad nail combo offer.

You get Hitachi's NT50AE3 19-gauge brad nailer with a capacity for 100 nails. It's side loading, weighs just 2.2 lbs and has a 5-year warranty from Hitachi.

The compressor weighs 36.5 lbs and has a 6-gallon capacity. It features an oil-free operation, has a maximum tank pressure of 150 PSI, and it's 16.5 inches high.

Hitachi rates it at 3.7 CFM at 40 PSI and 2.8 CFM at 90 PSI. It's backed by a 1-year warranty and powered by a 1 horsepower motor. Hitachi also includes a 25-foot long hose in this combo package, so you can get to work immediately.

Pros:

  • Combo kit offers you a compressor and brad nailer
  • 6-gallon oil-free compressor for maintenance-free use
  • Combo Kit also includes a 25-foot long air hose
  • 150 PSI and 2.8 CFM impressive compressor ratings

Cons:

  • It does have high upfront costs

3. Porter-Cable 135-PSI 3.5-Gallon Pancake Compressor

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Porter-Cable 135-PSI 3.5-Gallon Pancake Compressor
  • Tank size: 3.5 gallons
  • CFM: 2.0
  • Power: 0.8 HP
  • Weight: 26 lbs

Porter-Cable made this pancake compressor as portable as possible, with a weight of only 26 lbs and 0.8 HP energy consumption.

It measures about 18 inches on all sides and is easy to carry from place to place. This compressor is ideal for small roofing and framing jobs, as well as inflating stuff. It's the best 6-gallon pancake air compressor when you compare prices.

You get an oil-free pump which delivers 2.0 SCFM measured at a 90 PSI pressure, plus a simple control system, and a 3.5-gallon tank with a maximum pressure of 135 PSI.

Although its small tank makes this compressor quite compact and portable, it also creates a little disadvantage because it limits the use of the compressor to air tools which don't need much air.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight at 26 lbs for easy portability
  • The oil-free pump provides durability with zero maintenance
  • Delivers 2.0 SCFM at 90 PSI, ideal for many small jobs
  • Includes a quick coupler to get regulated air

Cons:

  • The tank is only 3.5 gallons large
  • Includes no accessories

4. Bostitch 6-Gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor

Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)

Bostitch 6-Gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor
  • Tank size: 6 gallons
  • CFM: 2.6 SCFM
  • Power: N/A
  • Weight: 29 lbs

This Bostitch is another oil-free pancake air compressor like the others, and it offers you 6 gallons of tank storage space, with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI.

This offer is for the compressor alone, but you can also get it with a premium kit, with a tool and compressor combo kit, or with either 2 or 3 tools and a compressor.

Bostitch's high-efficiency motor guarantees you easy start-ups in cold weather, with its oil-free pump delivering up to 2.6 SCFM at a 90 PSI pressure.

There are also 2 universal couplers to offer more working freedom and Bostitch's high flow regulator to keep things under control. This compressor is just 78 dBA loud and it comes with a 1-year warranty from Bostitch.

Pros:

  • Runs on an oil-free pump for a long and maintenance-free life
  • Features a 6-gallon tank with a 150 PSI maximum pressure
  • Comes with 2 universal couplers & Bostitch's high flow regulator
  • Quick start-up motor great for cold days
  • Operates at 78.5 dBA noise level

Cons:

  • It comes with no accessories

5. DeWalt 165-PSI Heavy-Duty Air Compressor

Editor's Rating:  (4.3 / 5)

Dewalt 165-PSI Heavy-Duty Air Compressor
  • Tank size: 6 gallons
  • CFM: 2.6
  • Power: 0.9 HP
  • Weight: 30 lbs

When it comes to pancake air compressor performance, this heavy-duty compressor from DeWalt really has a lot to offer. It starts with a 0.9 horsepower rating and a 6-gallon tank, which accepts pressures up to 165 PSI.

This makes its oil-free engine able to pump more air into the tank than other comparable 6-gallon tanks. The compressor offers double couplers and includes a flow regulator which allows its use by up to 2 persons at once.

Weighing just 30 lbs also contributes to its ease of use because it allows the compressor to easily get carried around without issues, while its 75.5 dBA noise level makes it less annoying to work with.

Pros:

  • Features a 165 PSI maximum pressure in a 6-gallon tank
  • 2.6 SCFM delivered at a 90 PSI pressure
  • Cold weather easy start-up enabled by efficiency motor
  • Double couplers with flow regulator for up to 2 users
  • 75.5 dBA acceptable noise level

Cons:

  • Price is a bit on the high side
  • Comes with no accessory

6. Campbell Hausfeld 6-Gallon Air Compressor

Editor's Rating: (5 / 5)

Campbell Hausfeld 6-Gallon Air Compressor
  • Tank size: 6 gallons
  • CFM: 2.4
  • Power: 1 HP
  • Weight: 60 lbs

The name Campbell Hausfeld is often associated with high quality and this compressor does not disappoint. It comes powered by a 1.0 horsepower oil-free engine which is 50% quieter than comparable machines at just 68 dBA.

You also get 2 pistons in the engine which help it to generate up to 25% more air than comparable 1.0 HP compressors, making this your best value pancake air compressor.

The tank is 6 gallons large but the compressor is also available in a lightweight suitcase version with just 1.3 gallons capacity.  You can also get this compressor with Campbell Hausfeld bundles, including a hose and an impact wrench or a paint sprayer.

All important components are extra designed and built to last up to 4 times longer, making this a high-quality compressor. Quality, on the other hand, does come at a price, making this compressor a little pricey. You get a 1-year warranty though.

Pros:

  • With 68 dBA, it's 50% quieter than comparable offers
  • Dual piston design produces 35% more air
  • Available in 1.3-gallon and 6-gallon versions
  • Key components last up to 4 times longer
  • Backed by a 1-year limited warranty

Cons:

  • It's twice heavier than comparable compressors
  • Its 125 PSI maximum pressure is below average
  • Price is on the high side

7. Campbell Hausfeld 1-Gallon Air Compressor

Editor's Rating: (3.5 / 5)

Campbell Hausfeld 1-Gallon Air Compressor
  • Tank size: 1 gallon
  • CFM: 0.36
  • Power: 0.33 HP
  • Weight: 14.7 lbs

Here comes a good pancake air compressor for those who want something very small for very small jobs. Rated at 0.33 HP, it's ideal for brad nailing, inflating tires, airbrushing, and simple stapling jobs.

The engine is oil-free and it has a maximum tank pressure of 110 PSI, producing only 0.36 SCFM at 90 PSI and just 0.5 SCFM at 40 PSI.

On the brighter side, it weighs only 12.9 lbs and so is a very lightweight compressor, plus it includes lots of accessories, like a 25-foot recoil hose, 2 inflator nozzles, air chuck, needle adapter, plus onboard storage.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight and ideal for many small jobs
  • Also available in 2-gallon and 3-gallon versions
  • Includes plenty accessories
  • Backed by a 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • Very low power and air output

8. Excell 1.5-HP 6-Gallon Air Compressor

Editor's Rating: (4.7 / 5)

Excell 1.5-HP 6-Gallon Air Compressor
  • Tank size: 6 gallons
  • CFM: 2.8
  • Power: N/A
  • Weight: 39 lbs

If you need a nice budget pancake air compressor that packs enough power in a little form and that is also affordable, then this offer from Excell should interest you.

Excell is a relatively new company compared to most of the other companies whose products are in this review. Still, Excell makes a very attractive offer with this compressor.

You get a 6-gallon tank, with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, 2.8 SCFM at 90 PSI, and double couplers to allow easy use by two persons. It also features cold weather starts, in down to -25 Fahrenheit conditions, as well as low voltage start-ups by as low as 64 Volts.

Although Excell does not offer its noise rating, it's probably loud compared to its 1.5-HP engine. On the other hand, the technology is good, the compressor is strong, and the price is right.

Pros:

  • Oil-free pump for a maintenance-free long life
  • Produces 2.8 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • Low-voltage and cold weather startup ability
  • Ideal for most light and medium-duty compressor jobs
  • Best budget pancake air compressor

Cons:

  • With 1.5 HP, it will definitely be a loud engine

9. PowRyte Elite Oil-Free 4-Gallon Air Compressor Kit

Editor's Rating:  (4.3 / 5)

PowRyte Elite Oil-Free 4-Gallon Air Compressor Kit
  • Tank size: 4 gallons
  • CFM: 2.2
  • Power: N/A
  • Weight: 22 lbs

PowRyte's Elite 4-gallon air compressor is a lightweight and compact compressor ideal for small roofing and framing jobs, blowing and inflation, as well as other jobs with light air tools.

It comes with a 4-gallon tank, which allows up to 135 PSI of maximum pressure to deliver up to 2.2 SCFM at 90 PSI. The engine runs oil-free and PowRyte backs everything with a 1-year warranty.

You get a universal coupler, a flow regulator, nice gauges, and an overall beautifully designed compressor. You also get a 20-pc accessory kit with this offer, which includes a pencil gauge, 2 inflation needles, a tapered nozzle, air blow gun, a 25-foot long recoil air hose, and lots more.

Pros:

  • Very stylishly designed compressor
  • Weighs only 22 lbs, which makes it very portable
  • Produces up to 2.2 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • Comes with a 4-gallon tank with a 135 PSI maximum pressure

Cons:

  • Not ideal for medium- and heavy-duty jobs

10. Ridgid 6-Gallon Portable Pancake Compressor

Editor's Rating: (3.5 / 5)

Ridgid 6-Gallon Portable Pancake Compressor
  • Tank size: 6 gallons
  • CFM: 2.6
  • Power: N/A
  • Weight: 35 lbs

This compact pancake air compressor from Ridgid got built using the finest of components and backed by a 3-year manufacturer warranty.

It features a 6-gallon tank with a 150 PSI maximum pressure, 2.6 SCFM air delivery at 90 PSI, plus a locking regulator to prevent accidental pressure changes.

You also get a quick-drain valve, 2 universal push-to-connect couplers, low-voltage starting motor, and a durable oil-free pump with low maintenance.

Ridgid rates it at 80 dBA, which is quieter than Porter-Cable's pancake compressor at 82 dBA, but louder than DeWalt's offer at 75.5 dBA.

Pros:

  • Features a 6-gallon tank with a 150-PSI maximum pressure
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • 3-year limited warranty from Ridgid
  • Comes with 2 universal quick couplers

Cons:

  • The price is relatively on the high side

Pancake vs. Twin-Stack Air Compressor

For a first-time buyer, the world of air compressors might seem a bit confusing, with the two most popular compressor types making it more difficult to choose.

Pancake and twin-stack compressors work differently, and an understanding of what each type does and what it's best suited for will clear the air and make it easier for you to choose.

#1. The Pancake Compressor

The Pancake Compressor

The pancake air compressor gets its name from the shape of its cylinder, which is small and round, just like pancakes. Pancake compressors have the advantage of being small and compact, as well as lightweight and portable.

Given their smaller sizes, they also feature smaller and quieter engines, which makes them less noise-polluting than twin stack compressors.

Because the pancake compressor has a smaller tank, its compression ratio is often higher than that of twin-stack compressors, making it more energy efficient.

You can use a pancake air compressor for small tasks, such as inflating your car tires or spray painting, but they usually don't have the capacity to power commercial nailers or air wrenches.

#2. The Twin-Stack Compressor

The Twin-Stack Compressor

A twin-stack air compressor has two air tanks stacked one on top of the other. It's basically a hotdog compressor with twice the tank size.

The major advantage of a twin-stack compressor is the ability to deliver compressed air for a longer time before the pressure in the tank falls and the engine has to start again to compress more air into the tanks.

On the other hand, twin-stack compressors are bulkier and heavier than pancake compressors, which makes hem much less compact and portable.

Twin-stacks also cost more than pancake compressors and so are mostly purchased if there's the need for continuously high volumes of air, like when working with an air impact wrench.

How To Buy the Best Pancake Compressors

How To Buy the Best Pancake Compressors

Although pancake air compressors have their unique features, they also have general features they share with other compressors. Combining the two feature sets produces the following list of things to consider when buying a pancake air compressor.

#1. Capacity

This refers to the size of the tank. Air compressors' tank capacities are usually measured in gallons, from about 2 gallons up to 30 gallons and even more, depending on the application.

Pancake compressor capacities are anywhere between 1 and 8 gallons, although 6 gallons is common. The size is left for you to decide and it depends on the type of work you intend doing, and on how much air the tool needs.

#2. Power & Pressure

Manufacturers usually list horsepower, CFM, and PSI as metrics to know how powerful a compressor is. Horsepower is the amount of energy it uses, CFM is the amount of air it produces in CFM (Cubic Feet per Meter), and PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) is the air pressure inside the tank.

Of these 3 metrics, CFM is the most important to look out for in an air compressor because it tells you exactly how much air gets delivered. Also, most compressors will come with 90 PSI upwards, which is usually enough.

Horsepower only counts when you compare it with the compressor's output to calculate its efficiency and even a high PSI also isn't much use if the tank is too small.

#3. Size & Portability

When considering the compressor's portability, you should consider both its weight and its physical dimensions. It should at best be lightweight enough for you to carry around easily and additionally have the right dimensions for your storage space.

#4. Loudness

You should also consider loudness because some machines are louder than others. Loudness is usually measured in decibels or dB and air compressors will come in between 60 and 90 decibels.

What you should keep in mind is that each 10 dB increase means double the loudness, so a 70 dB compressor is twice louder than a 60 dB compressor and 4 times louder than one with a 50 dB rating.

#5. Easy Tank Drain

Draining your compressor's tank regularly is important to get rid of water, which can create problems for you when left inside. All you need is to simply make sure that the tank is easy to drain.

#6. Accessories & Extras

There are so many extras and accessories that a manufacturer can bundle with an air compressor, so you may need to make a choice depending on the compressor's accessories or extra features.

Some of these include more than a single outlet, thermal protection, cord wrapping system, or an included hose and inflating kits.

#7. Warranty

Always check out the warranty period and what it includes. A good manufacturer will include a minimum warranty of one year for its compressor.

Conclusion

We've reached the end of this best pancake air compressor review and you've seen the different offers available from the different manufacturers.

If you're interested in air output, then you'll want to look at the Hitachi, the DeWalt, and the Excell offers. If it's portability you need, then you can check out the Campbell Hausfeld 1-gallon compressor.

The final choice though is yours to make, and this depends on your needs and on how much you're ready to spend.