The use of air compressors has significantly increased over time due to a rise in air wrenches, nailers, and sprayers. Most of us consider it to be a complicated tool but it is not. In fact, air compressors are one the must-have tool for your woodworking and other recreational jobs.
The air pressure and CFM are two common things that can do the trick in your job. Pancake air compressors are a little different than your normal hot-dog shaped compressors.
What is a Pancake Air Compressor?
Pancake air compressors are different from the regular one because of their shaped, compactness, and improves recovery pressure time. They are portable air compressor widely used for professional and personal applications.
Because of the pancake-shaped air tank(flat and oval), they got the name of pancake air compressors. Among them, you will find different pancake models that will suit different applications.
The most popular pancake air compressor comes in 3 gallons or 6-gallon tank sizes. And because of the small volume of air, they are popularly used for powering brad nailers, roofing working, and are a part of the woodworking toolset.
Thanks for the small size and improved portability, it is particularly popular among roofers, woodworkers, construction workers, carpenters, drywallers and DIY homeowners.
Best Pancake Air Compressor – Comparison Table
Now as you have made your mind to get a pancake air compressor, then go through our reviews to settle for the brand, power, combo kits, and performance which suits your need.
1) PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
Whether you are filling tires, painting your wall or firing a nailer, Porter Cable C2002-WK is an exceptional pancake air compressor. With a 6 gallon 150 PSI(max) tank pressure, it can literally store more air in the tank for longer tool run time.
This portable air compressor by Porter cable comes with a low-amp motor that doesn’t freeze up during winters or when the temperature drops.
All thanks to the Oil-Free pump where you never have to change the oil, it is basically a maintenance-free compressor.
It weighs only 34 pounds which is comparatively lightweight. You can easily carry it around your worksite, house, or load it up in your van. Porter Cable has also provided a great and comfortable hand so that you can lift it without any issues.
Featuring a 120-volt low-amp motor which is combined with 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi that allows for quick compressor recovery time.
It comes with 2 air coupler enabling a user to connect two air tools and use it at the same time. With our link, you also get a free 13-piece accessory kit that will help you complete your DIY project or job quickly.
- Quick Recovery Time: 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi
- 150 PSI(Max) Tank Pressure
- Decent 6-gallon tank
- Water drain valve
- Good in cold weather
- Two Couplers
- Oil-free pump – minimal maintenance and longer life
- Loud Compared To Its Small Size
2) DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon
This DeWalt pancake air compressor is another oil-free pump unit which will need low maintenance from your side. It comes well intact and with minimal work, you can use it straight out of the box.
DeWalt DWFP55126 comes with a high-efficiency motor that allows easy start in cold weather and performs exceptionally even on a long extension cord.
It features a 6 gallon tank of 165 max PSI. For quick recovery, you can operate your air tools at 90 PSI to deliver 2.6 SCFM and at 40 PSI you will get delivered the air at 3.7 SCFM. Such flexibility enables you to use a wide range of tools to complete your project on time with great finish.
Like the above unit, this compressor also comes with two couplers allowing 2 tools or 2 people to work with a single machine.
At a 75.5 dBA operating noise level, it is the quietest pancake air compressor available in the market. It makes half the sound as compared to Porter Cable C2002, which put this unit in the good books of professionals who like to work in a low noise environment.
- Super quiet air compressor
- Two couplers
- Heavy-duty and high-performance motor
- Features a 165 PSI maximum pressure in a 6-gallon tank
- Same performance with 50 feet extension cord
- High flow regulator for improved air tool performance
- Quick start in cold weather
- Comparatively expensive
- No free accessories
3) Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Air Compressor
This Bostitch BTF series model is one of the best 6-gallon pancake air compressors in the market. All thanks to its oil-free engine which requires no daily maintenance and eliminates the risk of oil stains on the surface.
Many people find it super useful while working on a farming fence, roofing, or inflating tires. From the time you switch it ON, it can reach its maximum 150 PSI in less than 3 minutes. And even after using it for a while you will not see any noticeable pressure loss.
It works flawlessly with a brad nailer, framing nail gun, paint sprayer, small impact wrench, and more. Lightweight and carrying handles make it even more portable than any other tools.
Bostitch BTFP02012’s oil-free pump along with high-performance motor will fire-up the engine every time you connect it with a power source. No matter if its winter or snowing outside, it will deliver up to 2.6 scfm at a 90 psi pressure.
Thanks to the 2 universal couplers and Bostitch high flow regulator, it maximized air tool performance and you will be able to finish the work more efficiently.
The 78.5 dB noise level maintenance a quiet work environment. It is supported by rubber foot pads that keep the unit stable and does not pass vibrations to the floor.
- Comes with a 6 gallon tank with a 150 PSI (max)
- Operates at 78.5 dBA noise level (comparatively low noise)
- Features oil-free pump for low maintenance
- Very Portable
- Good in cold weather
- Bostitch’s high flow regulator
- 2 Universal coupler
- You will have to buy hose or gun kit seperately
4) Hitachi 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor Combo Kit
Do you work a lot with brad nailer? if yes then buy this Hitachi air compressor. It features a 6 gallon pancake air tank and you also get a 5/8″ to 2″ brad nailer combo kit free. The free kit also includes a 25′ Hitachi air hose which you won’t find anywhere in the market.
KNT50AB is the best 6-Gallon pancake-style air compressor that delivers reliable and rugged performance. It can operate multiple nailers without any issue and can help you complete applications quickly.
The combo kit also includes a lightweight 25’x1/4″, hybrid air hose that includes industrial fitting and spiral reinforced for durability. It features heavy-duty bend restrictors and remains flexible even in extremely cold temperatures.
It weighs 36.5 lbs, and powered by 1.0 horsepower(hp) motor. This compressor delivers 2.8 CFM at 90 PSI to operate several brad nailers and other tools. Depending upon the application you can also get 3.7 CFM at 40 PSI.
- Ergonomically designed
- Combo kit includes the compressor and brad nailer and more
- Combo Kit also includes a 25-foot long air hose
- Flip actuation switch
- Easily select bump fire or sequential fire modes
- 150 PSI maximum pressure
- Exceptional 2.8 CFM delivered at 90 PSI
- 6-gallon oil-free compressor
- Free safety glasses and pneumatic tool lubricant
- Not suitable for beginners
- High initial cost
5) PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit (6 Gallon Unit
Thanks to the 6-gallon tank, with the help of this pancake air compressor you can drive a large number of nails on a single tank charge. Again it is another excellent oil-free unit which requires minimal maintenance.
This combo kit includes 25 ft. of 1/4 inch air hose with a coupler and plug, belt hook accessory, and fasteners. All of them are going to be very useful on roofing, nail job, and fencing projects.
It weighs only 30 lbs making it the most portable air compressor among all in this list. You can easily move around your house or at your remote work site.
Combo Kit also includes a heavy-duty 3/8-Inch Crown Stapler, 16ga 2-1/2-Inch finish nailer and 18ga 2-Inch Brad Nailer.
- 150 max psi – 6-gallon tank
- Powerful engine at 2 horsepower
- Lightweight at 30 lbs for easy portability
- 2 Universal couplers
- Tool-Free depth-of-drive adjustment
- Detents for proper setting of nail heads
- Runs on standard household power
- The tool-free jam release mechanism for easy nail removal
- Comparatively loud
6) PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 – 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
This Porter Cable PCFP02003 is one of the best 3 gallon pancake air compressor available in the market. Like other good units, it also comes with an oil-free pump for long life and causes low maintenance.
Weighing only 26 lbs and measure 18 inches from all sides, it is the most portable compressor you can find in the market.
As the small 3.5-gallon tank with 135 psi(max) makes it extremely portable, it also limits its application and uses with various air tools.
It delivers a 2.0 SCFM at 90 PSI pump which makes it ideal for inflating stuff, small roofing, and framing jobs. Porter Cable PCFP02003 is a cheap option to any other 6 gallon units if you don’t involve in heavy-duty works.
- Features 3.5 gallon tank with a 135 maximum pressure
- 2.0 SCFM delivered @ 90 PSI pump, suitable for small jobs
- Low Amp 120V motor starts easily in cold weather
- Zero maintenance due to oil-free pump
- Weighs only 26 lbs. for easy portability
- Small tank limit its applications
- No free accessories
7) CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free with 13 Piece Accessory Kit (CMEC6150K)
If you need a nice budget pancake air compressor and also want sufficient power then this Craftsman unit is the best in the market. Not just enough power, it also comes with a 13 piece accessory kit to help you complete your project on time.
The combo kit consists of 13 piece accessories which included: tire chuck with plug, blow gun with OSHA safety nozzle, 25′ X 1/4″ PVC air hose with coupler and assembled plug, three inflator adaptors, and a blowgun with plug.
Like most high-quality compressors, it also has pancake-shaped 6-gallon tank with a 150 maximum pressure. You can cut the pressure to the desired number to operate various tools.
For a quick recovery time and compatible with most pneumatic tools, you can get 2.6 scfm at 90 PSI. It also comes with a cold-weather start where it can fire-up even at -25 Fahrenheit.
- Easily starts up in cold weather
- 6-gallon pancake maximizes portability and stored air
- Produces 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Improved portability with carrying handle and 30lbs total weight
- Oil-free pump
- Low maintenance
- Made in the USA
- Accessory kit included in the sale
- Heavy-duty pancake air compressor
- Comparably Loud
8) Campbell Hausfeld 6 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor (DC060500)
At just 68 dB operating noise level, it is the quietest pancake air compressor that money can buy. Cambell Hausfeld DC060500 is 50% quieter and generates a silent work environment.
It is powered by 1.0 horsepower oil-free engine which can deliver 2.4 CFM at 90 PSI. This Campbell Hausfeld pancake air compressor features a 6-gallon tank with 125 maximum pressure, making this your best value pancake air compressor.
If you find 6-gallon large then Campbell has another model with 1.3-gallon capacity. Moving on, you can start straight out of the box by bundling it with a Campbell Hausfeld impact wrench (TL140200AV), paint sprayer (DH650001AV) and hose (PA117701AV).
The engine consists of a dual piston pump system which delivers high performance, increase durability and produces 25% more air compared to other 1.0 HP air compressor motors.
- Only 68 dB, 50% quieter
- Oil-free pump and induction motor
- Major components last up to 4 times longer
- 2 piston engine for 25 % more air
- Soft-grip steel handle
- Lifetime support and 1-year limited warranty
- Average 125 PSI (max)
- Heavy – comparably twice
- High quality raised the overall product cost
9) Ridgid 6 Gallon 150 PSI Maintenance-Free Portable Electric Pancake Compressor
It features a locking regulator that avoid accidental pressure changes which can harm your air tool performance and might damage them.
At an affordable price, you get an oil-free pump, supported by a large 6-gallon tank with a maximum 150 PSI. It also consists of 2 universal push-to-connect quick couplers. These couplers accept both 1/4 in. automotive and industrial plugs with single hand connection.
Though it is loud at 80 dB, it is quieter than Porter Cable C2002 at 82 dB, but it makes more noise than DeWalt DWFP55126 which is rated at 75.5 dBA.
The brand believes in its product because this compact pancake air compressor stands on all expectation and it is made from top-quality components. Rigid has made sure to take your worries by giving a 3-year manufacturer warranty.
- Delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- 150 maximum pressure
- Features 2 universal quick couplers
- Large 6 Gal. capacity tank reduces cycle frequency
- 3-year company warranty
- Easy single-hand connection
- Quick draining: 1/4 turn ball valve tank drain
- Relatively Loud
10) Ryobi 6 Gallon Pancake Compressor 2 Tool Combo Kit
This Ryobi 6-gallon pancake compressor combo kit is the perfect addition to your current tool collection. The innovative vertical pancake design is packed with best-in-class features.
This combo kit includes a Ryobi 18-Gauge brand nailer and a 16-gauge finish nailer for expanding your range of applications. The kit is ideal for many jobs around the home or job site.
Thanks to the folding handle attached to the frame, it can be pushed down when you wish to store it in your shed or workshop. This compressor features a 150 maximum PSI 6-gallon vertical pancake tank for improved center of gravity and easy portability.
The combo kit also includes a 3-step side-loading magazine facilitates fast and easy nail changes. Plus, this model weighs 30 pounds, so it’s one of the best models for people who constantly move from one job site to another.
- Quick start in cold weather
- Built-in accessory
- Nonslip rubber grip for user comfort
- Offers tool-less depth of drive adjustment
- 3-step side-loading magazine
- 2.6 SCFM delivered at a 90 PSI pressure
- Features a 150 PSI maximum pressure in a 6-gallon vertical tank
- Universal push-to-connect quick couplers
- It has a high upfront cost
How does a pancake air compressor work?
First, let’s understand the pancake compressor design and then we will lear the working functions of it.
Both of them are bolted and packed into a metal framework, often on wheels making it portable.
However, on a vertical pancake air compressor, the components are located side by side and not on the top of each other.
How it works
- When you switch it ON, the piston located under the compression chamber retracts and another piston under the holding chamber extends.
- The movement of those pistons in such manner creates low-pressure suction inside the compression chamber, as a result, the air is pulled inside through one-way valve
- And then those Pistons reverse their movement causing the air to move into holding chamber via another one-way valve.
- Such movements of both pistons happen over hundreds of time per minutes. It stops automatically when the internal pressure reaches the tank limit.
Now, this compressed air can be used to power your pneumatic tools. Just connect them to the air output. When your tool starts using the pressure, the compressor will refill the tank when internal pressure drops below the maximum.
Useful Air Tools
Any tool which is powered by compressed air is called Pneumatic Tools. And here are some of the examples of tools that you can use with the help of an air compressor.
- Air hammer
- Brad nailer
- Grease gun
- Orbital sander
- Impact wrench
- Tire inflator with gauge
- Paint sprayer
- Socket wrench
- Speed saw
- Hydraulic Riveter
- Angle grinder
Above mentioned Pneumatic tools are just regularly used in DIY projects and home improvement jobs. Having a portable pancake air compressor is going to make your job easy and relaxing. Because of their small size you can carry them with you at a remote job site or inside the house while you are finishing your carpentry or roof job.
How To Use a Pancake Air Compressor?
They are a type of reciprocating air compressor popular due to energy and fuel efficiency. You can use either gas or electricity to power it.
Before you start make sure to wear eye protection glass because compressed air can send flying debris on your face.
You will need:
- 115-volt electrical circuit
- Air compressor tools
- Plumber’s tape
- Air compressor hose
- Adjustable wrench
- Safety Glasses
Step-by-Step Instructions to use Pancake Compressors(:
- Find the black color regulator knob located near the air outlet.
- Rotate regulator knob counterclockwise all the way to close it.
- By using either quick-connect fitting or threaded outlet port, connect the air hose to the air compressor.
- Make sure to turn the ON/OFF switch to the “OFF” side.
- Now plug your pancake air compressor into the electric circuit board.
- Fill the Tank: Turn the ON/OFF switch to “Auto” position. It will automatically shut down when it reaches its pressure limits.
- Now attach your required Pneumatic tools(impact wrench, brad nailer, etc.) to the other end of the air compressor hose.
- Turn the pressure regulator knob (slowly) clockwise until you see the rated pressure on the pressure gauge for the air tool you picked.
- Move the switch to “OFF” position.
- Then turn the thumbscrew counterclockwise to open the drain valve on the bottom of the pancake tank to let the air out.
Pancake vs. Twin-Stack
Below is a typical comparison table between these two common types of air compressors. The comparison is only between these two and the features are not generalized.
For example. If it says that pancake is “Cheaper” and “Twin-Stack as “Costly” it means that the first one is cheaper than the other one or the second one is costlier than the first one. It does not mean that twin-stack is costly in general.
|Capacity||Small Tank||Large Tank|
|Power (hp)||Average hp||Good hp|
|Storage||Easy To Store||Easy To Store|
How We Ranked Pancake Compressors?
Apart from their tank functional behavior, these pancake compressors are somewhat similar to the regular air compressors. While reviewing them, we considered these features to be the deciding factors for the ranking.
Power and Pressure
There are 3 major metrics that decide the reliability of this product. How much energy it is going to use(horsepower), the amount of air it produces(CFM), and the compressed air pressure inside the tank(PSI).
Like most professionals, we consider CFM(Cubic Feet per Minute) and PSI(Pounds per Square Inch) to be the most important feature which is going to make me buy the pancake air compressor.
Good CFM combined with a 90 PSI unit is considered to be a good buy.
Gallon is the standard unit for measuring the capacity of air compressors tank. Typically you will find them ranging from 2 gallons to 60 gallons. However, pancake air compressor tanks are compact. The smallest one will be on 1 gallon and the largest pancake tank will be of 8 gallons.
The size of it completely depends upon the user and the type of application you are going to use it for. Typically the most popular pancake air compressors are of 6 gallons and 3 gallons.
Noise (less is better)
We expect a worksite to be noisy but that does not mean it should. The noise produced by a machine is measured in dB(Decibel) and most portable units come in between 60dB to 100 dB. Each 10 dB increase will double the noise which you should keep in mind while making the purchase. Anything below 90 dB is a good pick, and also use ear protection plugs while using the compressor.
People buy pancake air compressors because it is lightweight and small in size. Portability of a machine is very important if you are working on a large project with a limited number of tools.
If it is lightweight, you can easily carry it around and becomes easy to store. In addition, there is always the option to attach a wheel kit under the frame to make it even more portable.
Air Tool Performance: The presence of high flow regulator and coupler increases the performance of your air tools. Improved air delivery will help your pneumatic machines to work flawlessly.
Tank Drain System
It is important to drain the remaining water and air from the compressor for its long life. Having an easy tank drain regulators or buttons on the machine will protect it from unwanted damages. Use this feature every time when you are finished using the machine.
Accessories & Additional Features
The manufacturer might bundle extra accessories and tool kits with an air compressor. Some companies try to enhance the performance by adding extra features such as cord wrapping system, multiple outlets, thermal protection, etc. And it can also come with combo kits such as hose, inflating kits, wheels, frame, brad nailer, etc.
Support and Warranty
Warranty on product and support of the company is essential to feel confident about the product. Apart from professional and customer reviews, if the product is backed by company warranty and on-phone support then it is a good pick.
Our effort from this review was to give you an understanding of the best pancake air compressors and make you feel comfortable with the tool. They are portable in nature – this makes them very useful for DIY homeowners and small scall professionals that frequently require air compressors.