Finding the right portable compressor can be a daunting task, especially when you want one that allows for a little bit more than just the most lightweight tasks.
It just seems that at this end of the market there’s always a compromise to be made, with little available in that space between light DIY and full industrial use.
Are you getting tired of constantly having to wait for your small compressor to refill each time you do a job at home that is more demanding than say inflating a toy but would not require you to use an industrial compressor on the other hand (like for instance rapid fire nailing)?
In our Porter Cable C2002 review that we’re doing today might just be the perfect choice to fill the gap between a small and an industrial air compressor, because at first glimpse it seems to be a tool up to more serious work, while still not sacrificing the advantage of being relatively lightweight and portable.
So let’s take a deeper look and see if this 6 gallon pancake air compressor is up to the job.
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What are the compressor’s main features?
• 6 gallon storage tank
• 150 psi air pressure
• 30 lbs standing weight
• 120v electric motor
• Comes with a 13 piece accessory kit
What is the Porter Cable C2002 mainly used for?
Sometimes you have to go beyond what the manufacturer advertises to find the true uses of a power tool. In the case of Porter Cable C2002, we had the fun task of finding out for ourselves. This meant hours of pouring through the detail in the manual, looking at user reports of actual application in homes or shops, and comparing features to those of similar compressors on the market.
Besides real user testimonials with a range of tire inflators, brad nailers, and even a handheld blowgun, research also found satisfied users putting the Porter Cable through its paces for airbrush work and even bigger framing and floor molding jobs. Don’t be fooled by the small size. Due to it’s more powerful motor, the compressor can replace air faster than other smaller and 150psi is sufficient for moderate bursts of rapid fire nailing.
Because of the wide range of applications and the small size, you could take this compressor almost anywhere. Take it camping on the RV, keep one on your boat for pumping inflatables, and of course having it around the home for projects and DIY, or even pumping vehicle tires would be perfect.
How durable is it?
Any compressor of this size is not made to be run all day. Although this unit bridges some of the gap between enthusiast and professional, it’s still a machine to be used intermittently. If you need to use it all day, make sure you’re allowing a 15 minute cool down for every 45 minutes of use. This will prolong the life of the motor.
How Easy is it to carry it around?
At 30 pounds this is not much heavier than the Senco PC1010 we reviewed previously. That compressor was 10lbs lighter but came with the caveat that the tank capacity was only a gallon.
Compare that to the 6 gallon capacity you have to work with on the Porter Cable and you have a winner both in portability and performance. It can easily be moved around a home, a workshop, a job site, or in a vehicle. Porter Cable has done a fantastic job of providing a decent amount of compressed air storage on a unit that can still easily go places.
This compressor runs at low amperage and requires 120v in operation. If you’re using it for work where other power appliances are being run they should come from different circuits. Likewise, in your home this should not be on the same circuit as running appliances like refrigerators, laundry machines, and dryers etc.
What is its performance?
Specifications and manufacturer claims only mean so much. When we look at a compressor we want to know how well it performs in real scenarios, and with the help of our own thorough research we can build a pretty good picture of the capabilities of this Porter Cable compressor.
• Being an electrically powered device it’s good to know that the Porter Cable is suitable for cold environments. You would have no problem starting this unit in sub-20 degree weather.
• Smaller pumps can have difficulty inflating vehicle tires. Luckily this unit has a larger tank capacity so you’ll be able to add about 20psi to four tires and only have the compressor kick in a couple of times throughout.
• Regular use with pneumatic nailers won’t be a problem for the Porter Cable, and the same goes for staplers. Anything up to an 18 gauge nailer is no sweat.
• Near-continuous use of any workspace air hose or even an airbrush is not out of the question. The motor does a good job of kicking in and restoring pressure.
• This compressor has a dual outlet system. The larger tank allows for plenty of air to work with and running two nailers would be no problem for tasks like framing or carpentry.
Who could do with a more powerful compressor?
Heavy duty tools like impact wrenches and cut off wheels require more than what the C2002 was intended for. This compressor outputs 2.6CFM @ 90PSI, which is enough for all of the applications we’ve mentioned so far.
However, tools like wrenches that require at least 5-8CFM can’t be used practically with the Porter Cable. This is no hobby compressor, but it’s not going to compete with an industrial sized unit either. Keep all of your needs in mind if you are considering this unit.
What is the tank made of?
The tank is made from steel which makes it durable, but it also means there’s a risk of internal corrosion if the unit is not maintained properly. We’ve included draining tips later in our review.
How noisy is it?
If you haven’t used a compressor then the noise factor will be subjective.
The unit is not quiet by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not overbearingly loud either. Louder than a vacuum cleaner, but quieter than other home tools like leaf blowers and lawnmowers.
Pump Outlets, Maintenance, and Ease of Use
Working with a buddy or using multiple tools? If so, the dual hose outlet on the Porter Cable is going to be a huge benefit to you. Like most modern compressors the C2002 is using the ¼ inch quick connects that are industry standard on all hoses and pneumatic tools.
Besides keeping the outside of the unit dust free, which can easily be done with an attached air hose, the only other thing you need to worry about is draining the unit after use.
Everything comes assembled out of the box including the gauges, it almost couldn’t be any easier to get going with this unit.
On the most part the unit is long lasting. With care and draining, the tank could last years. However there have been complaints from some consumers regarding the reliability of individual parts.
The release valve (bleeder) seems to be a fragile part. In reviewing the unit there were no problems but extended use may see you replacing the valve. Porter Cable has these valves readily available and they can be picked up for around $20.
There’s a plastic connector as part of the regulator assembly which has been a point of failure according to some consumer reviews. Again, this part can be easily replaced but it’s disappointing that Porter Cable would choose to use plastic in an integral part of the unit assembly.
What accessories does it come with?
The accessories are a nice addition to the package, but it’s disappointing to have to say that these won’t go the distance with the compressor itself.
The hose is short and stiff but of good quality, but with everything else there’s too much cheap plastic and metal used. These are consumer grade accessories. If you’re doing serious work it would be in your best interest to invest in quality accessories rather than rely on what’s in the box.
• Low cost.
• Large capacity tank.
• Perfect for home use and professional use in limited situations.
• The majority of the unit features excellent construction.
• Simple to use.
• The unit might be louder than expected.
• Quality of some of the hardware (regulator and valves) is sub-par.
• The low quality accessories kit won’t satisfy any serious user.
Here’s a nice video I picked out for you, where you can see the compressor in action. The guy featured in the video is hooking up his newly bought C2002 and tries to use it to blow out the leaves from his lawn mower tractor.
Tips with ESSENTIAL User Information
It’s important at this point to say that the user manual in the box fails to provide this information for actual use.
The C2002 requires break in as well as draining.
The fact that this information is missing from the box is mind boggling, but the steps are easy enough that if you’re thinking of buying one you can learn them quickly here.
The break in is simple. Open the bleeder/release valve at the bottom of the tank and turn on the compressor. Let it run for up to 20 minutes, during which time it won’t build pressure. After that, shut it off, close the valve again and turn it on to build pressure as normal. That’s it!
To drain the unit just take it down to 20psi and open the release valve. Tilting the unit towards the valve will allow the stored air to blow out any condensation. Making this a habit after every use will ensure long usage and durability. Never open the release valve at high pressure as this can damage the valve and lead to leaks later.
Our Verdict for the Porter Cable C2002 Review
The Porter Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free Pancake Compressor is a compelling choice for those who need a little bit more than the standard portable compressor. Despite a few shortcomings, we wouldn’t have any problem recommending it for DIY or even professional use in the right situation.
Sure the accessories kit borderlines on worthless, and Porter Cable could have made a few design alterations to produce a perfect machine, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that this is one of the best compressors in its class, and at this size and price it would be hard to recommend an alternative.
With an overall average online rating of 4.3 and a 62% recommendation from Home Depot, you can rest assured that overall this is a quality product with only a few flaws. When you can get one for as cheap as $150 the price is also right, so if a 6 gallon portable compressor sounds like something you could use, the C2002 might just be your next hardware purchase.
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If you want to have a look at other air compressors, check out our comprehensive air compressor reviews list.
(Courtesy of Porter Cable)
•Cut-Out Max: 150 psi
•Cut-In Restart: 120 psi
•Tank Size: 6 gal
•Air Delivery @ 40 PSI ISO1217: 3.5 scfm
•Air Delivery @ 90 PSI ISO1217: 2.6 scfm
•Running Horsepower: .8 HP
•Voltage: 120 V
•Amps: 10 Amps
•Pump Lubrication: Oil-free pump design
•Decibel ISO3744: 82 dBA
•Quick-Connect Couplers: 2
•Product Weight: 30 lbs
•Shipping Weight: 34 lbs