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.
Buy Now (via Acme Tools)
Buy Now (via Amazon)
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
Buy Now(Kit via Home Depot)
Buy Now(Bare Tool via Home Depot)
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.
I guess they are selling. It does seem like you are paying a fair cost premium for a more modest convenience premium – but I could be persuaded – especially for punch-list jobs.
Ryobi’s bundling their with a 2.0Ah battery seems a bit disingenuous. But I understand that they want a low price point and bundling their 6Ah or 9Ah battery would add a lot to the cost.
Then you tell consumers it comes with a 6ah or 9ah battery.
I get that consumers are mindless dopes who only ever look at a pricetag, but…..they will quickly learn why a 2ah batt is a joke.
2Ah is plenty for some tools – especially ones where weight is an issue. I bought my wife a Makita 12V multicutter that came with 2 – 2Ah batteries – she thinks its perfect. But for use with a compressor – an 18V – 2Ah battery seems woefully lacking.
The expression “horses for courses” seems to fit. You are better off using the right tool for the job. These compressors for example could not possibly replace the diesel-engine powered Sullair – we towed out to jobs for use with jackhammers.
Steve the Gullible
Best price I found was Amazon. Just ordered it. I gotta stop checking out this place. Too gullible to be able to afford you Stuart.
Yeah they’re always the best price. It’s why they’re putting everybody out of business.
I sometimes agree with you.
But time is money and Amazon sure saves me a lot of time researching stuff that “might be” available locally. Or never was.
It’s become a national employment/supply chain quandary.
I try to report my local vendors and even Zoro/Graingers if I can. But many many times the Amazon search engine leads to product information that I just can’t readily find otherwise.
Plus Stuart, his responders and others frequently lead us all to conclusions that we would not otherwise be able to invest the time into determining on our own.
So the whole “internet” issue to me at least is a quandary. No?
Steve the Gullible
Update! Whoo-hoo, got it already. Charged the battery, read all the instructions, turned it on. Those other guys are wrong, it is really quiet . . . in fact it isn’t running!!
Ran through everything 3 times over, son-of-a-gun this sucker is dead! Damn. Now is when I wish I had bought it at Home Depot so I could just take it back. Time to dig all the shipping crap out of the dumpster and send it back. It is enough to make you less gullible.
I know it’s not rocket science to charge a battery, install it and turn a compressor on, but are you sure you double checked everything? It’s so rare for a company like DeWalt nowadays to send out a tool that’s DOA. Actually, I guess I’m not sure what compressor you bought, was it the DeWalt?
Steve the Gullible
Yup Hoser, it was the DeWalt. It is the first flexvolt I’ve bought but I have more than a dozen of the 20v tools. Weed eater, chainsaw, 2 vacs, circ saw, reciprocating saw, oscillator, 3 drills, etc. I was sure at first I had screwed up. Put the battery in 3 or 4 times, read and reread the instructions, bounced it up and down on the bench a few times, tapped with a wooden block on the cut off switch mounted on the tank, tried the flex battery on another tool, and was just ready to start disassembling the switch because it seemed like the most likely culprit when I decided it really wasn’t my problem if their tool didn’t run. If I had bought it at a garage sale I’d have taken it apart just for fun to find the problem. As it was after I sent it back I got to thinking they will be out refurbished in a year or so and I’ll get it half price. This is the only DeWalt I’ve ever had not work including several I’ve gotten refurbed off Tyler Tool. Once I got over the initial irritation I’m not even really miffed, just disappointed.
Just got to your comment below, very surprised that it would be DOA. Sucks to have to try and send it back.
The flexvolt is a real replacement for a corded trim compressor. You can trim out a window before it kicks on….not true with the Ridgid model, also the Ridgid want sink 15g nails or 16 g nails consistently… Ridgid and Ryobi will be “running” constantly, while the dewalt will not….
…..if your looking to fill your tires buy the Ryobi tire inflator,not the compressor…
I talked to a rep that hinted at Makita coming out with one in 2019. I don’t know if it will be the “best” but it will work with my batteries which will be good enough for me to do light duty homeowner DIY tasks. So I am looking forward to it hitting the market. Fingers crossed.
Makita’s other compressors are quite good. But I’m not sure they can bring that tech to the cordless model. Maybe they can offer an 18v and 36v model.
Considering you get a Flexvolt battery and a fast charger with the Dewalt, it looks like a better deal overall vs. the Ridgid. With the bigger tank, it makes more sense as a corded replacement too.
Ryobi seems like a whole different class (cheap), but its a good class to be in. Not everyone who might want a cordless compressor needs one to use for pro-level work.
I have a tiny corded 1-gallon compressor that’s seen a ton of work over the ~20 years I’ve owned it. Its been tremendously useful because its so dang small. Doing some trim work with it before I bought my Porter Cable 20v nailer though, I had to wait for it to pump up all the time. I don’t regret its purchase one bit though.
Being cordless only enhances the utility of compact compressors like these. I guess my main point is just that I’m glad these options exist because I’ll probably end up with one eventually – and I could talk myself into either one.
I lucked out finding the Ridgid for $150 a couple of years ago–then seeing it reduced to $50 a week later (did a return and rebuy, still getting the 2.0Ah starter kit free). It’s great and I’m considering buying two of the 9.0Ah batteries while they’re still $99.
Fleet Farm has the Dewalt compressor on sale for $199.00
They won’t ship…
Plus a $20 off coupon Dewalt orders over $100. I got mine for $188.95 w/tax.
David & Big Richard, Thank you. Home Depot price matched the discounted Fleet Farm pricing in PA.
Quieter than I expected, and more compact. Dustier too – box must have been sitting at HD for quite some time.
I’d love to see Milwaukee or Bosch partner with one of the reputable quiet compressor brands (Rollie, California) to come out with a cordless model… I can’t give up my 60 decibels unit for a cordless that sounds like a banshee at 88+
Greenworks also has a 40 volt air compressor
If I already have air hoses a power cord isn’t all that much.
Rather have a larger unit for framing.
But for trim work…yeah…maybe I can see that.
I have the flexvolt air compressor and noticed at times I could not flush nail 15 Ga angle nails but my 20 gal dewalt no problem. Did a little checking and the regulator w/o gauge was 10 lbs lower than it should be. I was hesitant about the set it and forget regulator from day one. All my six compressor have dual gauges Seems like the missing guage was to save a buck
I have attached a note to set pressure 10 lbs higher as there is no adjustments.
Not sure why they do not pair it with an on board charger and a cord. Nice to have a unit which can run on AC and have a battery charged and ready to go for when power is not available.
This might be a little off topic, but if you are going to consider a pancake compressor I highly recommend you pick up one of the ultra quiet models from Kobalt or Husky instead. Sure they are heavier, but they are significantly more quiet and come with built in dollies to move them around. I got a 4 gal kobalt to replace a 6 gal craftsman and can’t see myself ever going back to the noisy ones. It really is a big improvement.
You can’t install your own windows? How do we take your reviews seriously? Hey
Can I? In genetal, yes. But demoing out and reframing old, broken, and badly designed basement windows took 3 people half a day. They ran into snags that I definitely would have trouble with working alone, and I have no regrets.
I also don’t balance my tires or blow out the irrigation lines in winter.
Nor do I churn my own butter.
Just because I can do something, or would like to tackle for the first time doesn’t mean I always will. Other times, I’d rather do something myself than hire it out. It depends on the task or job, and how complex and time consuming. I already have so much stuff I want to do but don’t have time for. Those two basement windows were on my list for more than two years, and it was time to just have it done. Seeing what was involved, I don’t regret it.
Stuart makes his living as a blogger – running a business (ToolGuyd).
I’ve never heard him misrepresent himself as professional contractor, tool user or craftsman.
What he brings to his reviews is what seems like objectivity – perhaps based on a combination of his nature and/or education (PhD in material science). His reviews always seem forthright and honest – and his blog attracts a diverse set of commenters and comments. Beyond my lifelong interest in tools, I believe it is the added perspectives that his readership provides that keeps me (and probably others) coming back.
In a 50 year career that included both hands-on use of tools – and then transitioning to owning/running businesses where the use of tools was central – I had hands-on experience with only a smattering of the tools that Stuart has reviewed over the years. My thoughts about what tools we tried out, bought in quantity – and what we thought of them etc. became increasingly reliant on the feedback of our workers – not my personal use. I hope that I was pragmatic enough to recognize our tool-buying and tool-use sample size was not always statistically significant and that we could learn from others. Taken with the proper “grain of salt” in this age of the Internet – that learning can come from various sources – and I think Toolguyd is one such good venue for learning.
Thank you Fred!
I would buy one of these compacts very quickly IF they were DUAL power 18v battery or 110v, like some area lights and fairly silent.
I don’t like lugging my compressor kit up and down stairs, I need 110v and it is loud. So a more compact one would be great. Use it on battery for small tasks or when no power is around, use it on 110v for some longer tasks or when you have power, as to not just drain batteries over and over. Best of both worlds.
Would be more interested in the ryobi if it would run off 120v or 12v in a vehicle. Small air compressor with a tank in a 4×4 can be pretty handy.
Steve the Gullible
Just got mine today. It is DOA. Gotta send it back.
Steve the Gullible
It’s the DeWalt flexvolt.