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Best Pancake Air Compressors of 2021

Updated
Pancake compressors are light, portable and efficient.

When you need to power air tools, air compressors are vital. No home garage or workshop should be without one. But not everyone needs a large air compressor. Say hello to pancake air compressors.

The best pancake air compressors are small, lightweight, and perfect for home and commercial use.

Our Top Picks

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Model
Product Comparison Table
Features
Product Image of the Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit, 3-Tool (BTFP3KIT)
Best for Framing Nailer
Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit
  • Includes 3 nail guns
  • Has a 6-gallon tank
  • Strong air pressure
Product Image of the Metabo HPT Air Compressor Combo Kit, Includes Brad Nailer, Pancake Compressor, and 25 Ft Air Hose (KNT50AB)
Best Pancake Compressor Combo Kit
Metabo Air Compressor Combo Kit
  • 5-year warranty
  • Safety glasses included
  • Oil-free pump
Product Image of the PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free (C2002)
Best 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor
Porter-Cable 6-Gallon Air Compressor
  • Cold start motor
  • Fast tank recovery time
  • Added motor protection
Product Image of the BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
Best Cheap Pancake Compressor
Bostitch Oil-Free Pancake Compressor
  • Quiet 78.5 dB operation
  • Maximum PSI of 150
  • Great value for money
Product Image of the DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI (DWFP55126)
Best Heavy-Duty Pancake Compressor
DeWALT Pancake Compressor
  • Cold start feature
  • 165 pressure rating
  • Has a high-flow regulator
Product Image of the Campbell Hausfeld 6 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor (DC060500)
Best Quiet Pancake Compressor
Campbell Hausfeld Portable Compressor
  • Quiet 68 dB operation
  • Low maintenanance
  • Durable construction
Product Image of the PowerMate Vx VNP0000101.01 1 gallon Pancake with Accessory Kit
Best Portable Pancake Compressor
PowerMateVx 1-Gallon Air Compressor
  • Compact & portable
  • Includes accessory set
  • 1-gallon tak

What Can I Do With a Pancake Air Compressor?

It might be better to ask, “What can’t I do with a pancake air compressor?” They are so versatile that they open up so many options.

Inflatables and Tires

Have you ever tried to inflate a kids swimming pool manually? It takes a lot of energy to do it. A pancake compressor does it in minutes, leaving you free to get on with your day. Plus, beach and pool toys pump up easily too.

Pancake air compressors are also ideal for stowing in the car in case of a flat tire. Most compressors will handle SUV and truck tires, as well as bicycle and motorbike tires.

They also blow up balloons and sports balls, plus air beds.

Auto Repairs

DIY auto repairs are a breeze with a pancake air compressor. Air wrenches, ratchets and other pneumatic tools used in car repairs mean you can tackle basic tasks knowing you have all the power you need in your compressor.

It saves you spending money at the repair shop, and you get the satisfaction and experience of fixing it yourself.

Airbrush Painting

Small pancake compressors make small paint repairs easier. They power spray brushes for precision tasks. And if you are an artist, why not use a pancake compressor to release your creative side.

Blowgun Cleaning

Sometimes you need a blast of compressed air to clear dust and debris away from hard to reach places. Air filters benefit from blowgun cleaning, as does some machinery.

You can even use a blowgun to clear debris and weeds from your driveway or blow away the dirt on the garage floor. The beauty of a blowgun is it is targeted and powerful, directing the air where you need it.

Nail Guns and Other Pneumatic Tools

Pancake compressors power air tools like nail guns, impact wrenches, and ratchets. As long as the airflow is sufficient and the pressure levels exceed the tool’s minimum requirements, you are in business.

Imagine how easy things would be when laying a deck or wooden siding if you had a nail gun. It speeds up the process immeasurably, leaving you free to get on with other tasks when you are done.

Most air tools like nail guns require a minimum of 2 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) and a 6-gallon tank.

How To Choose the Best Pancake Air Compressor?

With so many variables and choices galore, how do you find the pancake air compressor that’s right for you? Here are some pointers to consider.

Tank Capacity

Most pancake air compressors have a tank capacity of 6 gallons. However, it is possible to buy smaller models. A 6-gallon tank allows you to take on light to medium tasks without the need to stop every minute as the tank recharges. It isn’t going to see you through heavy-duty jobs and long projects, but it should have enough compressed air for 80 percent of your tasks.

Also, 6 gallons is adequate to drive most pneumatic tools, so it could be a useful aid in a repair shop or small commercial shop.

Maximum Pressure

Air pressure is vital if you want to power air tools. PSI, or pounds per square inch, is how your air compressor is rated for air pressure. The higher the PSI, the more pressure it creates and the better the airflow.

How the air gets delivered is crucial, and the pressure the compressor produces means you can increase your versatility and scope of tasks, making you more productive. Most pancake compressors have a maximum PSI of 150.

To ensure the best performance, make sure your air compressor has a PSI greater than your air tool. A 20 percent differential is a good rule of thumb. So, if your impact wrench has an operating pressure of 70 PSI, the minimum you will need from your compressor is 90 PSI.

This is not an issue for modern pancake compressors, especially as most pneumatic devices are rated between 70 and 90 PSI.

How Loud Is It?

Small air compressors tend to be quieter than their beefed-up cousins. However, this is only half the story because, in the main, air compressors are noisy. Most will produce 70 dB, which is the equivalent to the volume of a normal conversation.

Others are louder, turning in 90 dB. This is the same noise level as a car traveling at 60 MPH with all the windows open.

The good news is some compressors get sub-70 dB, which is a much more manageable level.

CFM

The amount of airflow at a standard PSI level of 90 is measured in units of CFM. Cubic feet per minute is the test of how strong the compressor delivers the compressed air. This is fundamental if you want to power air tools and get an efficient outcome.

A higher CFM means the compressor can run for longer between refills, and it also indicates the types of tools you can run. Like PSI, the CFM rating of your air device needs to be compatible.

Portability and Weight

Pancake air compressors are compact in comparison to 20-gallon, 30-gallon, and 60-gallon models. It makes them lighter and easier to maneuver. It also means they are more storable in the home garage or workshop.

Pancake compressors need to be portable because it is a principal reason to buy one. If you didn’t need a go-anywhere compressor, you might as well buy a larger model. And that’s the second key reason why someone would choose a pancake compressor; the size.

It is likely that space is a premium and a pancake compressor fits that space perfectly.


The Best Pancake Air Compressors of 2021

Here are the top seven pancake air compressors on the market.

1. Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit

Best Pancake Compressor for Framing Nailer

If you need to finish fitting frames and skirting, this Bostitch air compressor is an ideal choice. It comes with a brad nailer for lighter duties, a crown stapler for upholstery and insulation, and a framing nailer for the tougher tasks.

The compressor has a 6-gallon tank, so you should have an ample supply of compressed air, and it generates 2.65 SCFM at 90 PSI. The maximum pressure allowance is 150 PSI, so it has all your nailing needs covered.

It has an oil-free pump for ease of maintenance and a high-flow regulator to maximize your air tool’s performance.

Why We Love It

Includes 3 Nail Guns

This is a nailer’s dream set. It has a brad nailer, a heavy-duty crown stapler, and a finish nailer to cover every aspect of your projects. Use the brad nailer for lighter tasks, the stapler for upholstery and foam insulation, and the finish nailer for skirting and door frames.

Excellent Value

If you add up the cost of buying 3 separate nail guns and the hoses, plus the compressor, it would be way more than the price-tag for this combo kit.

Strong Air Pressure

You need a strong pressure level to power nail guns, so having 150 PSI at your disposal makes all the difference to your work rate and it improves efficiency.

Keep In Mind

Not High Quality

To produce such a comprehensive nailer kit at this price means that some of the quality has been forfeited. Cheaper components and parts hamper the reliability of the set.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 41.8
Dimensions (inches) 21.13 x 19.5 x 18
Max PSI 150
SCFM 2.65 at 90 PSI
Capacity (gallons) 6
Accessories 3 guns and air hoses
Oil/Oil-free Oil-free
Price $$
Warranty 1-year limited

2. Metabo HPT Air Compressor Combo Kit

Best Pancake Compressor Combo Kit

This Metabo combo kit comes with an 18-gauge brad nailer gun for all the delicate projects inside your home. This compressor creates a maximum of 150 PSI, as well as an SCFM of 2.8. The pump is oil-free, has a 6-gallon capacity, and also includes safety glasses and spare lubricant.

The kit also includes a spiral hose that withstands extremely cold temperatures, and it has an industry-leading 5-year warranty against defects. Plus, the gun has a tool-less, easy to clear nose.

Why We Love It

5-Year Warranty

If awards were given for warranties, this Metabo would be at the front of the line. 5-years is head and shoulders above every other warranty. It ensures peace of mind and instills confidence.

Safety Glasses Included

This kit comes with everything you need to start brad nailing, and that includes the safety glasses. It also comes with an air compressor hose and spare tool lubricant.

Oil-Free Pump

Oil-free pumps are better for the environment because you have zero waste product to dispose of. It also reduces the running costs of the compressor, thanks to no oil and reduced maintenance.

Keep In Mind

SCFM and Not CFM

Standard cubic feet per minute is a slightly different way of measuring the airflow. It is more generous because it assumes the compressor operates in lab-like conditions. CFM is a reading that represents everyday conditions, so it is more accurate.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 35
Dimensions (inches) 18.5 x 16.5 x 16.5
Max PSI 150
SCFM 2.8 at 90 PSI
Capacity (gallons) 6
Accessories 1 brad nailer, air hose, safety glasses and lubricant
Oil/Oil-free Oil-free
Price $$$
Warranty 5-year

3. Porter-Cable 6-Gallon Air Compressor

Best 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor

The best all-rounder is the Porter-Cable pancake compressor. It has a high satisfaction rate, sells in the thousands and is affordable. It has a maximum PSI rating of 150 and generates 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI.

The tank’s recovery time is rapid, it has rubber feet for added stability, and the induction motor provides a long and efficient lifespan. This model benefits from an oil-free pump, and it only weighs just over 31 pounds, so it is also portable.

The motor starts easily on cold days, and thanks to its low amperage, it works with the supplied extension cord.

Why We Love It

Cold Start Motor

A cold start motor ensures that even on the coldest days, this compressor starts without a struggle. And because it’s a low amperage engine, it won’t stall even when you attach it to the supplied extension cord.

Lightweight and Portable

This Porter-Cable compressor weighs just over 30 pounds, making it one of the lightest models to make the review. Weight is crucial when you want your compressor to be portable.

Added Motor Protection

The engine is protected by a large shroud, handle and console cover to increase the motor’s lifespan. It also improves the portability and provides a home for the cord.

Keep In Mind

No Accessories

Unlike many pancake compressors featured, this model doesn’t have any accessories. While this isn’t a fault with the actual compressor, it does mean you need to buy the extra kit at an added cost.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 31.2
Dimensions (inches) 19 x 19 x 18
Max PSI 150
SCFM 2.6 at 90 PSI
Capacity (gallons) 6
Accessories N/A
Oil/Oil-free Oil-free
Price $$
Warranty 1-year limited

4. Bostitch Oil-Free Pancake Air Compressor

Best Cheap Pancake Compressor

This Bostitch compressor is such great value for money and would make the ideal starter compressor for a home hobbyist. It has a 6-gallon tank, a maximum PSI of 150, and an SCFM of 2.6 at 90 PSI.

It has the same high-flow regulator that the combo kit has, and it creates 78.5 decibels, making it a touch quieter than some to make the list. It also has the same long-life and oil-free pump to ensure reduced maintenance.

Because it’s a Bostitch, it has the same cold start motor with the low amperage feature that enables you to use an extension cord, provided it is a 14-gauge with a length no longer than 50 ft.

Why We Love It

Amazing Value for Money

This compressor offers everything that the Porter-Cable model does, but it costs less. If you are looking for a budget option, this is ideal, especially as your first compressor.

Oil-Free Pump

For a budget model, getting an oil-free pump is really special. It reduces the running costs, increases efficiency, and preserves the life of the pump and motor. It also benefits the environment.

Low Decibels

Everybody should work in a comfortable environment, so choosing a compressor with a running volume of 78.5 dB should improve your experience and reduce the punishment on your ears.

Keep In Mind

Even though the makers claim it runs at 78.5 decibels, it is deafening when it initially starts up. Once the tank fills, the volume decreases slightly.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 31
Dimensions (inches) 17 x 17 x 19.25
Max PSI 150
SCFM 2.6 at 90 PSI
Capacity (gallons) 6
Accessories N/A
Oil/Oil-free Oil-free
Price $
Warranty 1-year limited

5. DeWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Air Compressor

Best Heavy-Duty Pancake Compressor

If you are looking for the highest air pressure you can get in a pancake compressor, look no further than the DeWALT. It can sustain a massive 165 PSI, and it also generates 2.6 SCFM, so the tank will last a decent amount of time between recharges.

It is also a quiet compressor, running at 75.5 decibels, with only the Campbell Hausfeld beating it for sound levels. Like the Bostitch, it has a high-flow regulator to increase the control over your air tools, and a cold start feature, as well as compatibility with a 50 ft, 14-gauge extension cord.

Why We Love It

High Pressure

Most 6-gallon pancake compressors have a maximum PSI of 150, but this DeWALT takes it a step further with a pressure rating of 165. This improves the efficiency of the compressor and gives you greater scope to tackle different projects.

Trust Brand

DeWALT is a name loved the world over. They are a brand steeped in American history and famed for quality and reliability. Go to any construction site across the globe and you will find DeWALT tools.

Low Noise

Okay, so it isn’t the quietest air compressor to make the list, but it is still a low volume device. At 75.5 decibels, it is a lot less noisy than most of the other compressors to make the list.

Keep In Mind

Pricey

DeWALT products are not budget options. This pancake air compressor will set you back quite a bit.

No Accessories

Given the cost of this compressor, you would think DeWALT would throw in some accessories, but all you get for your dollars is the compressor. The rest is an added expense.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 30
Dimensions (inches) 17.2 x 16.6 x 20.1
Max PSI 165
SCFM 2.6 at 90 PSI
Capacity (gallons) 6
Accessories N/A
Oil/Oil-free Oil-free
Price $$$
Warranty 1-year limited

6. Campbell Hausfeld Portable Quiet Air Compressor

Best Quiet Pancake Compressor

If you like the quiet life, try this Campbell Hausfeld pancake compressor. The maker claims it is 50 percent quieter than the competition. With a decibel rating of 68, it is significantly less noisy.

It has a maximum pressure rating of 125 PSI, and it creates an airflow of 2.4 CFM at 90 PSI. Interestingly, Campbell Hausfeld has chosen CFM as a rating rather than SCFM, so while the numbers may be lower, it might be that this compressor has a more impressive airflow.

Like most pancake compressors, this boasts an oil-free pump, which increases the motor’s lifespan and decreases the impact on the environment. It also requires less maintenance.

Why We Love It

Super-Quiet

This air compressor is 50 percent quieter than the competition. When you spend all day working with air tools, that can make a significant difference to your working environment.

CFM and Not SCFM

Most of the compressors featured are measured in SCFM, which assumes perfect working conditions for the compressor, but this model is rated in CFM. CFM is a more realistic gauge of everyday conditions the compressor will operate in, making it more accurate.

Durable Construction

Campbell Hausfeld claims that this compressor will last up to 4 times longer than other similar models, thanks to the quality of their components. The initial outlay might make good sense because you save on replacement costs in the future.

Keep In Mind

Quite Expensive

This compressor is twice the price of the Bostitch model, so it might not be affordable for everyone. And it doesn’t even come with any accessories.

Weighs 62 Pounds

This pancake compressor weighs 62 pounds! That’s twice the weight of the DeWALT. If you want a portable compressor, this will wear you down every time you lift it.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 62
Dimensions (inches) 16 x 23 x 16
Max PSI 125
SCFM 2.4 at 90 PSI
Capacity (gallons) 6
Accessories N/A
Oil/Oil-free Oil-free
Price $$$
Warranty 1-year limited

7. PowerMateVx 1-Gallon portable Air Compressor

Best Portable Pancake Compressor

Portability usually means lightweight and maneuverable, so say hello to this 1-gallon pancake compressor that weighs just 12 pounds. It doesn’t have the same capacity as the competition, but it is compact and easy to carry.

It has an oil-free, easy maintenance pump, and comes with an accessory set that includes inflation tips and a 25 ft hose, and has a maximum PSI of 100. It is the ideal, small project compressor. And it even stows in the car trunk in case of emergencies.

It will easily inflate car tires and small trucks with a tire PSI rating up to 90. The downside is you are limited to the types of work you can undertake with this compressor.

Why We Love It

Lightweight and Portable

You cannot deny that this compressor wins hands down for weight and portability. It stores away easily and fits in car trunks for emergency flat tires.

Accessory Set

It comes with replacement inflation tips so you can swap and change the things it inflates, and it even comes with a 25 ft hose, saving you further expense later on.

Great Price

This is the cheapest compressor to feature, and it is incredible value for money. We didn’t make this the budget option because it has a limited capability, which offsets the savings.

Keep In Mind

Limited Capabilities

This is an air compressor for light users and hobbyists. You won’t find it gracing auto repair centers and workshops.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 12
Dimensions (inches) 12.8 x 11.8 x 14.3
Max PSI 100
SCFM Not stated
Capacity (gallons) 1
Accessories 25 ft hose, 4 replacement inflation nozzles
Oil/Oil-free Oil-free
Price $
Warranty Not stated

Pancake Air Compressor Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Dimensions Max PSI SCFM Capacity Oil/Oil-free Warranty
Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit Framing Nailer 42 lbs 21.13 x 19.5 x 18″ 150 2.65 at 90 PSI 6 gal Oil-free 1-year limited
Metabo HPT Air Compressor Combo Combo Kit 35 lbs 18.5 x 16.5 x 16.5″ 150 2.8 at 90 PSI 6 gal Oil-free 5-year
Porter-Cable Air Compressor 6-Gallon 31.2 lbs 19 x 19 x 18″ 150 2.6 at 90 PSI 6 gal Oil-free 1-year limited
Bostitch Oil-Free Pancake Compressor Cheap 31 lbs 17 x 17 x 19.25″ 150 2.6 at 90 PSI 6 gal Oil-free 1-year limited
DeWALT Pancake Air Compressor Heavy-Duty 30 lbs 17.2 x 16.6 x 20.1″ 165 2.6 at 90 PSI 6 gal Oil-free 1-year limited
Campbell Hausfeld Quiet Compressor Quiet 62 lbs 16 x 23 x 16″ 125 2.4 at 90 PSI 6 gal Oil-free 1-year limited
PowerMateVx Portable  Compressor Portable 12 lbs 12.8 x 11.8 x 14.3″ 100 N/A 1 gal Oil-free None

Pancake Air Compressor FAQs

How Long Do Pancake Air Compressors Last?

Air compressors give a remarkably long service life. A good pancake air compressor can last 12 years or more, depending on how well you look after it. Some of the high-end models can last even longer, but you pay a premium for those.

Can a Pancake Air Compressor Inflate Tires?

Pancake air compressors produce about 100 working PSI, which is different from maximum PSI. However, this is more than enough to inflate car tires and possibly even truck and SUV tires.

Is a Pancake or Hot Dog Air Compressor Better?

If you compare them like for like, pancake compressors deliver more for your money. Obviously, some hot dog compressors have a higher capacity air tank, but in the main, pancake compressors are a better shape, lighter, easier to store away, and more user-friendly.


Pancake Compressors Are Sweet

Pancake compressors are compact, lightweight, and easy to move around. They are a stalwart of the home garage and the workshop, thanks to their usability. They also benefit from oil-free pumps, which increase their lifespan and reduces running and maintenance costs.

If you are thinking of investing in a small compressor, take a look at the pancake models. It could be a smart purchase.

Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.

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