A pancake air compressor can really do the trick if you need something that isn’t too heavy. All kinds of customers gravitate to this model because of its distinct size advantage. Even though it is more compact than a normal vertical air compressor, the power remains pretty impressive overall. Just like all air compressors, there is a bit of variety between the pancake models. It’s up to you to decide which one fits your project perfectly, especially for the long term. This list covers some of the biggest winners in the category and details why you should choose them.
Top Pancake Air Compressor Reviews
1. Top Pick
PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
What better way to start the list than with industry leader Porter-Cable? Its low-priced C2002-WK is a fantastic choice for anyone that needs a reliable pancake air compressor. It comes in a variety of options, each with its own advantages. Buyers can get just the compressor, the compressor with the accessory kit, the finish nailer/compressor combo kit, or the finish/brad nailer combo kit. Out of all the options on the list, this one covers the most buyers who are interested in getting a head start on a project and don’t have all the materials. The number of choices makes this a top contender on the list, and that’s not all. Stability is guaranteed with the tank's design, sporting the usual Porter-Cable colors. If you need longevity when operating your tools, then this has the perfect buildup to keep things running.
The tank has a 6-gallon capacity, leaving plenty of room to play with multiple tools simultaneously. Buyers leaning towards the 13-piece accessory kit will find top notch quality rather than generic throw-ins. Every piece is manufactured according to the company’s high standards and are the same quality as the compressor itself. PSI maxes out at 150, one of the higher PSI’s on the list. With more air in the tank there will be more time to run your most demanding tools. And for buyers that are going for recovery over power, operating 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI will give you an incredibly fast recovery time compared to the competitors. No matter which version of this model that you get, you’re getting a major deal. This is one of the best choices for anyone looking for a pancake compressor, with a great price to match.
2. The Runner Up
Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon Pancake Compressor
Second on the list is the BTFP02012, a Bostitch unit that is on the lower end of the price scale. Bostitch is one of the bigger names in the industry, providing both home and professional users with a great number of options. Similarly to the first unit on this list, this model comes in a variety of options. Customers can choose the compressor by itself, or a 1–3 tool/compressor combo kit. With 4 options to choose from it's an easy choice for those starting out or for a user who is already experienced. In terms of power, the Bostitch and Porter-Cable unit are neck and neck — the Bostitch maxes out at 150 PSI with a 6-gallon tank and offers the same 2.6 SCFM at a rate of 90 PSI.
The differences between the two units are subtle, and very easy to miss. This model has a much better control panel than any other on the list. Simple and to the point, a manual isn’t even needed to get it fully operational. And the tools provided with the models are arguably better quality than in the Porter-Cable option. That is because Bostitch air compressors are pretty big on power tools, so it was a no-brainer to include rebranded versions of its own products. In fact, one of the drills in the set performs just as good as any other top brand tool bought separately. Combine that with a low 29-pound weight and you’ve got a great deal for a new pancake compressor. This may seem like a duplicate of the first model on the list but it packs a good punch of its own.
3. Small Pancake Air Compressor
Campbell Hausfeld FP2028 1-Gallon Oil-Free Pancake Air Compressor
This Campbell Hausfeld model has the smallest tank on the list, and it’s listed at 1 gallon although some have admitted it performs more like a 1.5 gallon. That’s an important thing to remember if you plan on using it to power intense tools. The accessory kit is extensive and it comes with a female coupler, male plug, 25-foot recoil hose, 2-inch inflation nozzles, air chuck, and an inflation needle. There's just enough extras to get you started with basic tasks.
The PSI maxes out at 110, irrelevant considering the tank size is capped at 1 gallon. There will be quite a chunk of recovery time if you use it a lot or have a power-hungry tool. The company has stated that it isn’t meant for heavy use, marketing it more for pneumatic fasteners and accessories. Even the design is more user friendly than normal and is marketed at beginners, right down to the easy read gauge. They do have some decent safety features built in and for what it’s worth the unit holds up pretty well in the long term. Considering the other powerful machines on this list, it doesn't quite make the top spot, but for a good and reliable everyday home and garage air compressor, the FP2028 does a wonderful job.
4. Best Combo Pancake Air Compressor
PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit
Getting back to Porter-Cable, this is the first high-priced option on the list when it comes to a consumer/professional grade air compressor. It comes in 3 different versions and they all look stellar: the combo kit, the combo kit with 16-gauge nail pack, and the combo kit with 18-gauge staple pack. All of the items are heavy duty quality and worth it even if you already have the tools. The compressor maxes out at 150 PSI and has a tank capacity of 6 gallons. Tools included (depending on the model purchased) are a finish nailer, brad nailer, or a crown stapler. Accessories included with all models are a 25-foot ¼-inch air hose with a coupler and plug. This is considered to be one of the higher-end models in the company's lineup and performs exactly like you would expect.
So what makes this Porter-Cable model better than the first one on the list? It is more rounded out in features, and still only comes in at 47 pounds total. The 120 volts it uses are put to good use, meaning that it is slightly more efficient with its power usage. On average it drives more nails than competing compressors that max out at 135 PSI. That means more work in a shorter amount of time with a recovery time that is hard to beat. The included tools use maintenance-free motors so are built from the ground up to last a long time, even with heavy use. The compressor components are iron clad with a 1-year warranty, so no worries about important parts breaking down when you need them the most. Buyers that want the top tier unit from their favorite brand will have no trouble settling on this model.
Pros of a Pancake Air Compressor
The first thing that comes to mind when you look at a pancake air compressor is the size and dimensions. These little units are made to sit low to the ground and be portable. Having the option to use the same compressor for your house that you would use for work is a big advantage, and can save you money over the long term. Even if you buy the biggest and best non-pancake air compressor, what happens when you need to do a small job that doesn’t need all of the bells and whistles? That’s the middle ground and main reason why people opt to purchase pancake air compressors. Storage is also a big plus for these little units, as they can go in your car, truck, on the shelf in a garage, or even underneath your bed.
Other pros include being more accessible to first-time users for many reasons, mainly because of the included air tool accessories. That will be covered more in-depth later on, but for the most part it is a huge plus for anyone that has never owned an air compressor before. It’s like buying a car with all of the extras included, directly off the lot. And if the accessories aren’t important to you, just use them as a backup or sell them off. In some cases you can even make your money back just off of the accessories. The last pro to mention is the price, which is significantly lower than full-sized air compressors. For people that need a project done on a budget, there is no better way to stay within budget than by purchasing a pancake air compressor for your needs. If you are looking for a silent air compressor then a pancake air compressor might not be the best option as the DB levels tend to be over 70 on average.
There really are no major cons associated with buying a pancake air compressor. With all of the variety between models out there, it is one of the easiest decisions to make if you’re well informed. Pancake air compressors are continuing to rise in popularity with good reason.
Should You Consider Combo Packs?
There are two different types of combo packs when it comes to pancake air compressors. The first contains small tools and attachments like hoses and other compatible pieces such as air sanders or air nailers that are popular accessories. The other combo has full-on tools like brad nailers, staplers, and more. It can be a bit confusing to decide between these for buyers that already have all of the necessary tools and just need the compressor itself. But don’t look at these as mere starter packs for newbies, but as a smarter purchase. Combo packs, notably the ones with tools, are a great bargain even if you have all the extras already.
The first reason is because you never know when your own tools are going to break. So if that brad nailer you have just so happens to die on you in the middle of a project, simply attach the one that came with the compressor. The same logic applies to the extra attachments. Having extras on hand so you don’t have to make an impromptu trip to the store is always a good idea. And in an emergency situation where it is night time and the stores are closed, who is better prepared than the customer that keeps extras? Think through the value of buying a combo pack and you won't be caught out.
The main reason to consider a combo pack is to recoup the money spent on the compressor itself. Many of the tools included with a combo are rebranded versions of their mid to top-tier models. That means a savvy customer can sell the extra tools and end up getting a free compressor as a result. And even if you don’t get a free air compressor, you will still spend way less on it after selling off the extras. The upside is too great when it comes to getting a combo pancake air compressor, so don’t let the good deals pass you by.
Pancake air compressors are a great buy even if you have an air compressor on hand. They are the perfect mix of portable and the prices are too good to pass up. When it comes to getting the most for your money, opt in to buy a pancake air compressor so that all of your projects go smoothly.