I was asked the other day – which power tool brand makes the BEST cordless air compressor?
Well, the answer to that is easy – it’s Dewalt, Ridgid, or Ryobi. Why is it that easy? Because these are the only 3 power tool brands that have come out with cordless air compressors so far. It’s a new cordless tool category that was previously unthinkable.
I’ve used the Dewalt and Ridgid compressors, and they’re both fantastic. I have yet to try the Ryobi. We sent a Ridgid unit over the local high school wood shop, and the last we spoke, they were really loving it.
Editor’s Choice: Dewalt FlexVolt Cordless 2.5 Gallon Air Compressor
The Dewalt FlexVolt air compressor, announced in 2017, and reviewed here by Ben here, is the most capable cordless air compressor among its classmates. It has a 2.5 gallon tank, 135PSI max pressure, compact size, and a convenient “One-Turn” regulator.
I have used this compressor a bit myself, and love it. We had basement windows installed, and I gave it to the contractors, who couldn’t get over how much more convenient it was than having to drag their portable compressor down the stairs.
Sure, you still have an air hose, but there’s no power cord to wrangle.
I’ve used it with pin nailers, a stapler, brad nailers, finish nailers, and air accessories, and it handled them well.
Why Buy This One?
Compared to the other cordless nailers on the market, the Dewalt FlexVolt (DCC2560) has a larger capacity air tank, which means fewer air pump cycling during use. Its regulator is also a pleasure to use, with the knob showing the pressure settings instead of having to turn a knob while watching the output pressure gauge.
The Dewalt FlexVolt air compressor would be my all-around choice. It’s not as compact as the Ridgid, but it’s still much more compact than most corded air compressors. It’s the most capable cordless air compressor on the market, and it’s reasonably priced. Unfortunately, there still isn’t a “bare tool” option, and so you have to buy it as part of a kit.
Price: $299 for the kit; street pricing is as low as $269.
Ridgid 18V 1 Gallon Cordless Air Compressor
Ridgid was first to come out with a cordless air compressor, with their 1-gallon model, R0230.
It can be powered by either one or two battery packs, with two delivering longer runtime. The Dewalt is said to be able to drive over 1220 nails per charge, while the Ridgid is said to be able to drive up to 1200 nails when powered by two 5.0Ah batteries.
It has a one gallon air tank, but that also makes the Ridgid air compressor smaller and more compact. It has a maximum pressure of 120 PSI.
Why Buy This One?
The Ridgid air compressor is compact and highly portable, and well suited for trim and finish tasks, although it can drive nails up to 2.5″ long. It’s more affordable than the Dewalt compressor, but is sold as a bare tool without charger or battery. But if you’re buying everything new, the Dewalt kit will get you started for less.
Price: $199 for the bare tool
Buy Now (via Home Depot)
Ryobi 18V One+ 1 Gallon Cordless Air Compressor
Ryobi launched their 18V One+ cordless air compressor last October. With similar specs as the Ridgid compressor, but different configuration and design, the Ryobi 18V 1 gallon air compressor, P739, is a compact general-use model.
Ryobi describes their compressor as being perfect for roadside tire inflation or turning pneumatic finish nailers into cordless finish nailers. They say that it can inflate a car tire from flat to full in 80 seconds, and it can inflate 9 car tires per charge with a 4.0Ah battery.
Why Buy This One?
The Ryobi compressor has the lowest cost of purchase, with their kit priced at just $158. The Ridgid has a more compact geometry, and the option to add a second battery for longer runtime, but the Ryobi’s value makes it a compelling choice for more casual users. The way it’s described, and bundled with a 2Ah compact battery, it’s more a tool of convenience for homeowners than a portable jobsite workhorse. Still, for more casual users (perhaps including pros), it could be a lower cost and highly portable complement to a larger corded air compressor.
We have not tested this model yet.
Price: $129 for the bare tool, $158 for the 2Ah kit
Milwaukee, Makita, Bosch, Metabo, Metabo HPT, Craftsman?
We might see more cordless compressors hit the market, now that power tool brands’ Li-ion batteries are powerful and high enough in charge capacity to meet such demands.
Which brand do you wish would come out with a cordless air compressor of their own?
Personally, I would be most eager to see a Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless air compressor. That would certainly shake up the market and drive further innovation and competition.
As an Alternative
As an alternative, consider pairing an existing portable air compressor, such as a 6-gallon pancake-style unit, with the Dewalt portable power station. However, any of the above solutions would be far more economical, unless you already owned the power station, in which case adding a small air compressor will set you back as little as $100.