Whenever you hear the word "pancake", the first thing that comes to your mind is breakfast, but pancake compressors are not related to breakfast or food appliances at all. Pancake compressors have all the functions of a general compressor, but their tanks look like a pancake. These compressors are small and lightweight, and they are perfect for home use, but they can also be used at the professional level.
The best thing about these compressors is that they are oil-free, meaning they require little to no maintenance, making them easy to use. Besides, their compact design makes them a go-to compressor for most DIY projects, including inflating kid's toys and powering various home appliances. However, everyone is going to have different requirements when picking the best pancake air compressor for their specific needs.
While some are going to need the quietest compressor in the market, others may want one with higher tank capacity. However, it is important to note that unlike a heavy-duty compressor like a 60-gallon compressor, a pancake compressor is not designed for heavy industrial operations. And just like other compressors, pancake compressors come in different sizes, power, and performance, so it is up to you to decide the one that fits you perfectly.
Comparison Table for the Best Pancake Compressor
There is a lot you can do with a pancake compressor from powering various pneumatic tools to inflating air mattresses and tires. If you are a DIY- person, you probably need a pancake compressor for hand-on repairs around the home. The major difference between pancake compressors and other types of compressors is that the former are more compact, and they are best suited for jobs with low load requirements. We've compiled a list of top-rated pancake compressors to help you select the best one for your needs.
Let’s get started!
1. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K
The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K 6 gallon air compressor comes with an oil-free pump for long life and maintenance-free operation. It is highly portable, and it has a long runtime and quick recovery. With the CMEC6150K, you can work on projects faster, and you can use it to inflate tires, and as a source of power for flooring nailers, among other projects.
CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Highlights
The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K is a must-have tool in your garage for emergency blow ups, and it is a favorite for many for its compact and easy to carry design. You wouldn't find such a good value in any other unit.
2. BOSTITCH BTFP02012
The BOSTITCH BTFP02012 is small, quiet, and it is the best pancake compressor for garage workspaces and other low key projects. It has a large tank capacity as well as a high flow regulator to maximize air tool performance. Besides, it is designed with two universal couplers to enable it to support two users at a go, and it requires zero maintenance.
BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Highlights
Overall, the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 is a quiet unit, and it is easy to carry and store when needed. The best part about this product is it is designed to last, and it is on the lower end of the price scale.
3. DEWALT DWFP55126
This pancake compressor from DEWALT features a high-efficiency motor for straightforward start-up in either cold weather or extension cord applications. It has an easy cord wrap for convenient storage, and protective rubber leg covers to help prevent marring. Besides, it has an average-sized tank to enable it to slot into most workspaces, and it can run multiple tools at once if needed.
DEWALT DWFP55126 Highlights
For anyone looking for a low-maintenance and sturdy pancake compressor, you might want to consider the DEWALT DWFP55126. Equipped with a decent motor, the unit is dependable, and it is efficient for light industrial work.
4. PORTER-CABLE C2002
Constructed with a pancake style tank, the PORTER-CABLE C2002 is exceptionally easy to use and highly portable. Perfect for several applications from firing nailers to filling tires, this compressor packs a big punch in a compact package. And for added convenience, this machine runs off standard household circuits, and it offers a clean and long-lasting operation.
PORTER-CABLE C2002 Highlights
The PORTER-CABLE C2002 is yet another portable pancake compressor that provides extensive compression features at an affordable price point. It has a steel construction to protect its vital components, and it is made for easy transportation.
5. Campbell Hausfeld DC060500
Campbell Hausfeld DC060500 is designed to be among the quietest pancake compressor at just 68 dB. Its quiet operation offers a conducive environment making it ideal in work environments where noise is a major concern. And with an oil-less and maintenance-free pump, the DC060500 makes it easy for you to finish your projects hassle-free.
Campbell Hausfeld DC060500 Highlights
Finish your projects more comfortable and faster with the Campbell Hausfeld DC060500. It is designed for durability, and it is ready for a long and user-friendly experience with superior motor performance.
In order to make the right choice, you'll need to keep a few things in mind before you buy a pancake compressor. This guide is packed with general information about air compressors, but it will help you learn to evaluate the best pancake compressor even if you’ve never owned one before. These include;
i. Tank size
The tank size determines how long the compressors can run or how long you can power your tools without stopping. Having a large tank means you can go for long periods without stopping to refill or without seeing a drop in performance in your machine. Pancake compressors vary between 4-6 gallons, and at the extreme, some models come with about an 8-gallon tank. A good compressor should give you enough time to get the most out of the compressor while remaining light enough to carry around.
Although pancakes compressors are designed to be portable, you'll need to consider portability features while choosing your compressor. These features should make it easy for you to easily drag or move your compressor according to the work environment. Most compressors come with handles to help with transportation, while some will have rubber feet help to reduce vibration.
Also, when considering the portability, you’ll need to focus on both the weight and physical dimensions of the compressor. The unit needs to be light enough to be carried around easily and have the right dimensions according to your storage space.
iii. Maximum pressure
The max pressure is a representation of the max amount of pressure that a compressor can provide, and it is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). A 6- gallon pancake compressor typically has a max pressure of 150-185 PSI. The higher the range, the longer the runtime. Compressors with a low max pressure of 100-125 PSI have a shorter tool runtime meaning they are best suited for small tasks.
Each air tool has different PSI requirements, and for best performance, ensure to get an air compressor that produces above the required PSI for the tool. For, example if your tool requires a minimum of 125 PSI, then you should get a compressor with a max pressure of at least 140 PSI. That way, you will be assured that your unit can power your tool effortlessly.
iv. Noise level
The amount of noise produced is indicated by decibel rating, and noise level above 85 dB is considered to be unsafe, especially if you are using the compressor regularly. Pancake compressors are generally considered a quiet option like the Campbell Hausfeld DC060500 above, which produces only 68 dB. With such noise levels, you can even have a normal conversation with the compressor running right next to you.
v. Pump Type
While most air compressors require lubrication, pancake compressors do not. They come with an oil-free pump design, which is more convenient and will not soil the surface you are working on. The oil-free design is also much lighter than the oil type, which means you can use the compressor with much ease and comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Answer: Pancake compressors earn their name from the pancake-like design. They are popular because they are lightweight, and they come in oil-free design. For starters, these compressors offer the stability that is not found in more extensive and heavy-duty compressors.
Question 2: What are pancake compressors good for?
Answer: Pancake compressors are always compact and very light. And since they have an oil-free pump, they require very little maintenance, if any. They are suitable for small to medium maintenance tasks, but they lack the capacity to power large air tools.
Question 3: Is an oil-free Air compressor better?
Answer: Typically, oil-free compressors are pre-lubricated, and they do not require constant maintenance. They are lighter and cheaper, but they don't last long as oil compressors, and they are also louder. However, they produce as much air as oil-lubricated models, and they are ideal for an occasional DIY or homeowner.
Question 4: How do I maintain my pancake compressor?
Answer: Oil-free design doesn't imply no maintenance at all; you'll still need to carry out some maintenance tasks to ensure safe and efficient operation. This includes visually inspecting the compressor, draining the compressor tank, and checking the air compressor air filter.
Question 5: Which one is better; Pancake or hotdog compressor?
Answer: Hotdog compressors share most attributes with pancake compressors only that the former weighs more than the latter. This can pose a storage challenge, although some models are compact enough. Also, many hotdog compressors are oil-lubricated and require a bit of maintenance. So, if you don't mind the maintenance that comes with oil-lubed machines, you can go for a hotdog compressor.
Your toolbox is never complete without a pancake compressor even if you have an ordinary compressor. Pancake compressors are designed to sit low and to be portable, and they are so convenient that you can use them both at home and in the workshop. Our top pick for the best pancake air compressor is CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K. It has one of the most reliable motors, and as long as you are not concerned about the noise level, you can never go wrong with this compressor. All in all, the final choice is yours to make, and this will depend on the features you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend.