Buying Guide and Review of The Best Pancake Air Compressors 2020

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

  • Adequate pressure: The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K delivers maximum pressure of 150 PSI to ensure adequate pressure for a wide range of applications. It is powerful, and it cannot be matched with other pancake compressors around the same size. Besides, it doesn't require a lot of time to start although it tends to be noisy and it vibrates a lot.
  • No maintenance: Another essential feature is the durable, oil-less pump, which helps to ensure long life and maintenance-free operation. It ticks all the boxes for anyone in the market looking for a light to a medium-duty air compressor with an oil-free pump. That said, the Craftsman CMEC6150K offers a great value considering its price tag and little to zero daily maintenance.
  • Portability: The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K features a 6-gallon pancake-style tank for maximum portability of stored air. Weighing just a little over 30 pounds, this compressor is lightweight, and it is on par with some of the best portable air compressors. In addition, the molded handle at the top of the tank makes it super easy to carry it around.
  • Quick recovery time: With a 2.6 SCFM at 90 at PSI, the CMEC6150K has a quick recovery time making it perfect for inflating car and bike tires. In addition, it comes with a 13 piece accessory kit that includes three inflator adaptors, 25' X 1/4i-inch PVC air hose with a plug and coupler, a blow gun, tire chuck, and a rubber tip. Also, the two quick couplers allow two pneumatic tools to be powered simultaneously.

Pros

  • Oil-free design for long life and minimal maintenance.
  • Built-in handle to optimize portability.
  • Easy start-up even in cold weather.
  • The 150 MAX PSI ensures adequate pressure for several applications.
  • Fast recovery time.

Cons

  • The pump is quite loud.
  • It tends to vibrate a lot.

Verdict:

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

  • Oil-free, high-efficiency motor: The BOSTITCH BTFP02012 high-efficiency motor allows for an easy start-up even in cold weather or extension cord applications. The oil-free design ensures zero maintenance and long life for convenient use. Also, underneath the motor is a 6-gallon tank, which acts as the main driver of the compression system. The unit is much smaller, which means it can be carried around and easy to store in your garage.
  • High-flow regulator: The high-flow regulator is designed to maximize air tool performance, and it has pretty impressive recovery times; 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. The maximum pressure is 150 PSI, and the unit has two universal couplers, which is perfect for multiple users. The regulator knob, however, feels tight, so you'll need to push it hard while regulating.
  • Low noise level: At 78.5 dB operational noise level, the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 will reduce occupational noise considerably for a quieter working environment. Also, the power capacity of this pancake compressor makes it perfect for inflating tires and for running power tools like spray guns, pinners, light-duty staplers, brad nailers, and a couple of other projects.
  • It is ideal for indoor and outdoor functions: Whether you are a DIY or professional, the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 was designed with user convenience in mind, and it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. The included rubber boots help to keep this compressor sturdy on all surfaces and keep things under control. Besides, it also comes with a convenient cord wrap for easy storage. 

Pros

  • The high-flow regulator helps to keep the unit from malfunctioning for optimal performance.
  • It is oil-less, and it doesn't require oil refills, making it clean and efficient.
  • Reduced noise.
  • Build up the pressure pretty fast.
  • It looks sturdy and well- made.

Cons

  • It does not include a hose or gun kit.
  • The pressure regulator is tricky to control at lower PSIs. 

Verdict:

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

  • Universal motor: DEWALT DWFP55126 is famous for its 10 amps, 120V universal motor. This motor offers a maximum pressure of 165 PSI and 2.6 SCFM AT 90 psi, enabling the tool to run for an extended time with quick recovery. However, you'll need to place the compressor at least 12 inches away from obstructions, such as the wall that might interfere with the flow of air.
  • Convenient cord wrap: The DEWALT DWFP55126 features a comfortable cord wrap that allows for secure storage, and its lightweight makes it easy for you to carry/store the unit. This machine also comes with two universal couplers to easily support two users simultaneously. There is also a high flow regulator that helps to maximize tool performance and ensure long life.
  • Ball drain valve: In addition to the cord wrap, the DEWALT DWFP55126 has a ball drain valve for thorough and quick tank draining. So, with the lightweight design and drain valves, you can efficiently run and maintain your compressor. However, you'll need to ensure that the drain valve is fully closed before using the machine.
  • Protective rubber leg covers: The bright yellow unit is portable enough for home and job site use, and it features protective rubber leg covers to prevent marring. It is also much quieter, but it packs a punch, and it can start even in cold weather. Besides, the thermal overload protector keeps the compressor from overheating, and it is an excellent choice for powering nail guns and other light-duty air operated tools. 

Pros

  • Reduced noise level for a quiet work setting.
  • Easy to wrap cord for convenient storage.
  • It doesn’t require maintenance or oil-refill since it runs on electricity.
  • It features a console protector for durability and safety.
  • It is compact, and the size is just right for everyday use. 

Cons

  • The packaging is not the best.
  • Some users have reported leaks at fittings.

Verdict:

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

  • Six-gallon pancake-style tank: With a six-gallon pancake style tank, the PORTER-CABLE C2002 is efficient and powerful, and it is an excellent choice for a range of tasks, from inflating tires to installing trim. Featuring a low amp 120 V induction motor, the unit starts quickly, and it also comes with an extension cord and replaceable brushes. Besides, it is lightweight enough for job sites and several uses around the house.
  • Durable oil-free pump: This compressor comes with a sustainable oil-free pump for extended life span and no maintenance operation. The 150 PSI maximum pressure ensures longer runtime while 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI ensures quick compressor recovery time for optimum productivity. The oil-free pump is perhaps the most crucial aspect since it ensures that you don't have to worry about maintenance.
  • User-friendly design: Another thing you'll notice about the C2002 is its user-friendly design, which ensures stability and extended life of the tool. This includes a console cover, shroud, and handle, which helps to protect essential components and to make the unit more comfortable to carry. The design also includes two factory-installed couplers, which makes it easy to power two users at the same time.
  • Durable and safe for long-term use: Complete with a valve for draining water and rubber feet under the tank, the C2002 is designed with durability and safety in mind for long-term use. At the same time, it features a high-flow regulator, which allows you to work at higher pressure, giving you the ability to take on a wide range of jobs. It also has an inbuilt and automatic thermal overload protection to keep the unit from overheating. 

Pros

  • we liked
    iIt comes with an inbuilt handle for easy portability.
  • The high-pressure design allows for more extended air tool performance.
  • The motor starts quickly in cold weather.
  • Quick recovery time at lower pressure.
  • It is quite affordable.

Cons

  • It is much heavier than other options.
  • It is a bit louder, and it vibrates a lot. 

Verdict:

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

  • Reliable Power: The Campbell Hausfeld DC060500 boasts of reliable power, and it is ideal for various projects, including nailing, fastening, stapling, and inflation. Also, it is designed to be 50% quieter than other comparable compressors, which means it offers a peaceful work environment. However, the maximum PSI of 125 is below average, but it is still sufficient for most projects.
  • Oil-free design for a maintenance-free operation: The DC060500 features a 6-gallon tank, which is combined with an oil-free, maintenance-free pump for convenient operation. Besides, the soft grip makes it easy for you to move the compressor from place to place, which only proves that the unit was designed for a user-friendly experience, and the compressor is ready for on-going use.
  • Dual piston design: The dual-piston design delivers 35% more air to provide enough air supply for most home air compression tasks. Also, with a 2.4 SCFM at 90 PSI, you won't need to refill the tank often, and it should smoothly run most small tools. However, ensure to check the SCFM of your appliances as it won't be able to power any machine with more than the recommended rate.
  • Excellent carry handle: If you need an air compressor for light to medium-duty use in your garage, the DC060500 can be a good choice. It features a center-mounted carry handle, and it can hold maximum pressure for a long time without dropping air pressure. Besides, it is designed for enhancing user experience making it one of the best air pancake compressors for basic maintenance at home or in workshops. 

Pros

  • Durable design; key components may last up to four times longer.
  • The machine is 50% quieter than comparable units.
  • It is well-built, and it features smooth soft-grip handle.
  • It offers an oil-free, long-life pump for convenient on-going use.
  • Maintenance-free operation.

Cons

  • The 125 PSI maximum pressure is on the low end.
  • The price is on the higher end.

Verdict:

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.

Buying Guide

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.

ii. Portability

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

Question 1: What is a pancake compressor?

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.

Final Verdict

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.

William Phillips
 

William Phillips was born and raised in Keller, Texas. He is a licensed general contractor, and he has been a home improvement specialist for two decades. His passion for the trade led him to freelance writing to share his life experiences with his readers. Phillips enjoys thoroughly researching DIY tools and writing guides at ToolsHaunt as a way of giving back to the community.

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