Best Pancake Air Compressor in 2021

Pancake air compressors are some of the most popular air compressors available today. They’re portable, easy to maintain, and very handy for small projects around the house. But choosing one can be very tricky because there are so many different options on the market.

We conducted a detailed review of the best pancake air compressors to find the ones that will suit your needs. They’re rated based on performance, portability, and even price.

1. Overall Best 

Craftsman Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free

What everyone loves about pancake air compressors is their portability. And this Craftsman Air Compressor delivers that and more. It weighs just 32.5 pounds and has a 6-gallon capacity.

One of our favorite features about this product is the moderate but effective max pressure of 150 PSI. That’s enough for a variety of applications, including some seriously heavy-duty tasks. We also love how quickly the pancake air compressor recovers: 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI.

If you’re already thinking what an amazing product this is, hold your horses because there’s actually more. The Craftsman Air Compressor has an oil-free pump which means the maintenance requirements are really reasonable. We all know how annoying maintenance can be, especially when you need to use the machine. You’ll have none of that with this product.

One final cool thing here is that the air compressor is manufactured by Craftsman. They’re known for making all kinds of sweet tools, from nail guns to toolboxes. What we love most about them is their sophistication: their technology is years ahead of most of their competitors, so you know you’re getting one of the best choices out there.

What we like

  • Light 32-pound weight
  • Oil-free pump
  • Fine craftsmanship
  • Can run on a 15 amp circuit

What we don’t like

  • You may need to refill the compressor for bigger projects
  • Safety control valve is defective with some models

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Overall, this compressor is one of the best on the market. It’s portable, efficient, low-maintenance, and delivers enough pressure to accomplish most tasks. If you’re shopping around for a rounded pancake air compressor, you may not find a better model.

2. Best for Performance

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon

In our experience, DEWALT is another awesome manufacturer of hardware tools and this pancake air compressor lives up to their reputation. It delivers stellar performance on all levels from air capacity to recovery time.

Let’s take it from the top. The DEWALT Pancake oil-free powerful air compressor has a 6-gallon capacity, 165 PSI maximum pressure, and quick recovery time of just 2.6 SCFM.

This air compressor was specifically designed to be efficient in cold weather, and you’ll find that it starts just as quickly at lower temperatures as it does at higher ones. It’s also reasonably quiet with a noise level of 75.5 dBA.

During our review, we found a really cool feature. Do you know how some air compressors are really poor at maximizing your air tool performance? We’re talking about situations where you always have to double-check connections or refill the tank. Well, the DEWALT doesn’t have any of those problems thanks to the high flow regulators.

Other things we enjoyed are the maintenance-free operation, the protective console cover, and the unique positioning of the outlet tube. This pancake air compressor looks like other models on the market, but every function has been optimized to get you the best possible performance.

What we like

  • Light 30-pound weight
  • Maximum pressure of 165 PSI
  • Ball drain valve for quick tank draining
  • 1 year limited warranty

What we don’t like

  • It may not reach full tank pressure if you don’t do it right
  • Some units arrive with air leaks

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It’s very rare for a pancake compressor of this size to have a 165 PSI maximum pressure, a 6-gallon tank, and several other performance-centric features. But the DEWALT model really delivers, and that’s why we believe it’s an excellent choice.

3. Best for Portability

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon

We put this product on the list for many reasons, but we’re really impressed with its weight. Even though it’s only 1 pound lighter than most competitors, that still makes it easier to carry around, and that could make all the difference.

But we didn’t just choose it for its weight. We also love that it has competitive specs, with a max PSI of 150, a 6-gallon tank, and a 2.6 SCFM recovery time. The BOSTITCH pancake air compressor also starts easily in cold weather, which means you can work on your projects all year long.

The operating noise is about 78.5 dBA, which is relatively quiet when compared to leading market models. It also has high flow regulators and couplers that maximize air tool pressure and keep operations as efficient as possible. We love that the tool has two universal couplers that can support two simultaneous users.

Other small but important perks include rubber stoppers that prevent scratches and oil-free maintenance. We’re also glad that it’s manufactured by BOSTITCH, one of the leading manufacturers of air compressors.

What we like

  • Light compared to other models
  • Manufactured by BOSTITCH
  • Can be used by 2 people simultaneously
  • Rubber stoppers below

What we don’t like

  • Some models are louder than 78.5dBA
  • The regulator is only useful for smaller tasks

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The BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor does as well as you could expect from any air compressor, especially if you’re working on small jobs. It’s also a bit lighter than some other models and that makes it easier to move around. If portability is your priority, then this is an excellent choice for you.

4. Best for Mobility

PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon, Pancake

The best feature about the PORTER-CABLE air compressor is its mobility. Thanks to the handle design, the air compressor is pretty easy to move around. It also has a shroud and console cover that protects vital components from the kinds of accidents that set you back on your projects.

Understandably, we wouldn’t recommend an air compressor that couldn’t perform. The PORTER-CABLE has a 150 PSI max pressure, a 6-gallon pancake-style tank, and three sturdy legs for stability. It also has a quick recovery time, as expected.

We also love that the air compressor has a low amp 120V motor that can work with most outlets. Speaking of power, it also has a cord wrap that increases mobility even more.

Additionally, we appreciate that it had good ease-of-use and a maintenance-free design. The product also comes with an owner’s manual so you know exactly how to use it properly.

One thing we aren’t fond of with this model is a tendency to overheat. Some units tend to heat up even in cool weather, and that can get very disturbing.

What we like

  • It has a sturdy handle for high mobility
  • You can connect two pneumatic tools simultaneously
  • Rubber stopper to prevent scratches
  • Maximum pressure of 150 PSI

What we don’t like

  • Some units leak air during use
  • Overheating can be a problem in some instances

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The PORTER-CABLE isn’t completely different from other compressors on this list. But if mobility is your priority, then its useful handle makes a world of difference makes.

5. Best on a Budget

Metabo HPT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon

We love to pay attention to the little things. With this air compressor, the price really caught our attention. Compared to other products in its category, it’s definitely more affordable, but still offers a lot of the same features.

For example, the Metabo HPT Pancake Air Compressor has a maximum pressure of 150 PSI and a 6 gallon capacity. Before you get too excited, remember that these features are common in most portable air compressors. You’ll definitely appreciate the quiet 73dB operation of this unit, however, because it allows you to work without compromising your hearing.

It’s always great to find products that are affordable but still deliver excellent results. With other pancake compressors, you get 2.6 CFM delivered at 90 PSI, but the Metabo can run a nailer at 2.8 CFM. It also has a 1-HP oil-free high-efficiency motor for reliable startups even in cold weather.

What we like

  • Can run two nail guns at 2.8 CFM
  • Quiet 73dB operational noise
  • 6-gallon tank capacity
  • Industrial-grade regulators

What we don’t like

  • Inlet muffler is tiny so, it’s often louder than advertised
  • Delivery often takes longer than expected

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If you’re on a budget, the PORTER-CABLE pancake air compressor is perfect for you. It costs less than many other models but still delivers amazing performance.

Things you should know before buying

Buying a pancake compressor is a big decision because you’re going to be stuck with it for a while. That’s why it’s helpful to keep some tips in mind when shopping. Here are 5 factors we checked when reviewing these products.

Noise

The noise level was our top priority because we noticed that many low-grade air compressors were unbearably loud. If you’re buying a portable unit, it only makes sense to have one that’s quiet, or at least bearable. Otherwise, you’d have to break out the noise-canceling headphones and apologize to your neighbors every time you want to inflate your tires.

The best pancake compressors boast a noise level of about 70dB. Generally, anything between 70 and 80 dB is considered excellent.

Maximum PSI

The maximum pressure a compressor can deliver is also critical because it determines what you can actually do with the unit. We found that most products in this category deliver 150 PSI, max. Anything less is simply unacceptable and you should move on to a better choice. We were glad to find compressors that could deliver up to 165 PSI, although these are admittedly rare.

Tank capacity

The tank capacity of a compressor has a huge impact on its overall functionality. Obviously, a large tank will take longer to fill up than a small one. But once it fills up, you can accomplish more before needing to fill it up again. You could pump your tires, power a nail gun, or any other kind of air tools you need.

Pancake compressors in this price range have a max tank capacity of about 6 gallons. Depending on the tasks you have in mind, a larger tank may suit you. If you’re looking to pump your tires, a larger tank is preferable since you’ll need a lot of air.

Maintenance

You’ll be glad to know that all the compressors on our list are oil-free. That means that they can function year-round without ever needing an oil change. That’s less to worry about for the user. It also means you’ll get a lot of performance from the compressor.

Portability

A portable air compressor doesn’t always mean one that’s light. Although one of the biggest appeals of a pancake air compressor is its small size, ensuring that it’s easier to relocate whenever you need to. However, there are other elements to consider with portability.

For example, where’s the handle? The handle placement can make moving the compressor a breeze or an absolute nightmare. There’s also the shape to take into account. Because we’re talking about pancake compressors, you already have an idea of the shape. But it’s important to keep this factor in mind for future purchases.

Finally, you have to think about the weight. Luckily, most pancake compressors clock in around 35 to 40 pounds. However, some are mildly lighter than others, and that can make all the difference.

Last Word on Best Pancake Air Compressors

The Craftsman Pancake air compressor is our top recommendation because it’s an all-around great product with impressive performance. Since it’s made by Craftsman, you can expect top-tier quality and an impressive lifespan.

If you’re on the market for something more performance-oriented, we recommend the DEWALT pancake compressor. It has a maximum pressure of 165 PSI and a quiet 75.5dBA noise rating.

We hope this guide to the best pancake air compressor helps you find the perfect product for all your exciting projects!

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