The one thing I notice about getting older is that I don’t have the strength to go lugging around as much as I used to not to mention I don’t have a ton of patience either. This issue affects me when it comes to portable compressors.
Because of Ronin’s Grips, I have a big stationary 60 gallon Ingersoll Rand compressor. To work on cars, I run 50-100 feet of 3/8″ air hose to where I am working and life is great, For years I had a portable two gallon compressor that required AC that I sold because it weighed quite a bit and needed an electrical cord.
Last Spring, I started hearing about various tool companies making cordless air compressors that could be used to run nailers, staplers or even inflate tires. That idea definitely caught my attention.
I then read about the Ryobi P739 1 gallon air compressor that uses their common 18 volt batteries. I have a ton of Ryobi tools and batteries so I bought one from www.homedepot.com with home delivery. Note, I specifically bought the model above – there are other previous models but I can’t speak to them. Also, the website will frequently sell different bundles (the unit with a charger and at least one battery) that you will probably not see in a store so at least check the website before you buy.
First off, this is not an inflator that puts out tiny amounts of air. This has a 1 gallon tank that is pressurized to 120 PSI and has an adjustable regulator.
This little compressor is meant for tools that have low air requirements or inflation as it does not put out a ton of air – 0.75 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) at 40 PSI or 0.5 SCFM at 90 PSI. Note, I am just going to write SCFM for the compressor because Ryobi says the above is a SCFM rating. CFM is different and click here if you want a pretty good explanation.
Once the tank is pressurized, you’ll have enough air to run a brad nailer, finish nailer or stapler. The question becomes how many nails can you drive before the compressor will need to kick on and refill the tank. The answer unfortunately is “it depends” because of the requirements of the tool. It will never put out enough air for tools that require a lot of air like ratchets, impact hammers, sanders, spray painters, etc. Don’t even consider it for those tools that say they require over 2 CFM. The Ryobi simply was not designed for those use cases and never claimed to be.
This little compressor will probably be great for 10-20 finish nails/staples and then need to run its compressor. If you try to use the tool too fast when it is trying to recharge the tank, odds are you will draw more air than the tool can deliver and the pressure will continue to drop. Remember – the compressor itself is small. When the tank pressure drops and the compressor kicks on, it will need time to recover.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention a framing nailer or even a roofing nailer. Odds are the compressor can do a few of those but it would never keep up. Portable job site compressors for nailers can deliver 3-5 SCFM @ 90PSI and keep up with even several nailers running. If you plan on some quick fix with just a few nails then sure, this would work.
What this little Ryobi brings to the table is portability. It is only about 14 pounds before you add the battery and tools. I use one of the big 4 amp hour Lithium Ion batteries on it and then keep a 25 foot Amflo line on it with Milton 1/4″ quick connect fittings.
I like the Amflo line as it is made from polyurethane and remains flexible even in cold weather plus it doesn’t leave scuff marks everywhere. The old rubber and PVC air hoses are big, bulky and really get stiff. The challenge is keeping all the Amflo hose on the unit when moving it around. Velcro really helps. I started with an oddball strap that I had laying around. It helped but I needed two more to really secure it and used a cool double sided “Velcro” tape that is out now.
I use a hook and loop tape that rocks. The brand name you know is “Velcro” but you will hear people generically refer to it as hook and loop. At any rate, this stuff has the hook one one side and the loop on the other – you cut off the roll whatever length you need and it is simply fantastic for managing cables, or in this case, keeping that Amflo hose on the holder. I use three pieces – on the two sides and one at the top – because most of the time I am using just a short section for topping off tires.
As mentioned in the past, I just use Milton fittings now. Harbor Freight, Home Depot and other discount brands have let me down one too many times including excessive air leaks with wear and even breaking.
One last small tip, use good Teflon tape. The stuff I am using right now is off Amazon and is way thicker than the cheapo stuff you often see.
I have a 16ga NuMax finish nailer and an 18ga Wen finish nailer that work just fine with this plus a Surebonder T-50 Stapler. I have others but these are the ones that I have used with the Ryobi and am happy. Again, I am not doing high volumes – more like small projects, repairs, etc.
It Rocks For Topping Off Tires
What I use the Ryobi for the most is to top off car and truck tires. It really makes this chore easy. Sure my big compressor is faster but to go around and add up to 5-10 PSI to a tire is easy with this. To give you an idea of size, the next photo shows the unit next to one of my Landcruiser’s good sized 275/70R16 tires.
I used to lug around a portable five gallon tank but it weighs a ton, is cumbersome and I might need to refill it several times before I get done. If I didn’t do that, I would have to pull the car around by my shop, hook up a line to reach it and then fill the tire – that can also be a headache unless the line is already hooked up.
What you see above is a Milton S-506 tire inflator that I keep on it. I have another in the garage that is beat to death but still working. It is so very, very handy to have the inflator and pressure gauge in one unit plus chuck heads at two angles for bikes, tractors, trailers, etc.
To give you an idea, I recently had to add about 2-4 PSI on each tire of my daughter’s 2002 Camry to get them up to 40 PSI. The regulator was set at 90 PSI and it had a freshly charged battery,
Part way into the first tire the compressor turned on and continued running as I did all four tires on the car. The battery’s LED charge indicator dropped one bar out of four. The compressor turned off maybe two minutes after I topped off the last tire.
In summary, I’ve been using this compressor for over two months mainly for topping off tires and that really puts some stress on the little unit. It seems to be holding up just fine. It gets lugged around my shop, the drive way in the trunks of cars and no problems. I can easily go out and check all our vehicle tires and top them off where they sit .
If you use Ryobi 18 volt tools, have the batteries and are in the market for a light duty portable compressor for the uses I outlined above, I’d recommend this one. If you use another brand of 18-20 volt tool, I bet your vendor is making a portable compressor as well that you might want to research.
5/21/2019 Update: This thing has been awesome. I use it at least once a week to top off tires and has been great. I’ve also used it a few times to run staplers and a finish nailer. I really like it. It definitely uses quite a bit of power so if you plan on using it a fair amount, I’d recommend at least 4.0Ah, or even better the new 9.0Ah, batteries you will be using the unit extensively. I always have several batteries with me too.
1/31/20 Update: Still going strong. I can’t begin to guess how many times I have used this to fill tires and no real problems so far. The one tip I would tell you is to not leave a battery in the unit. The battery slowly drains for some reason – it always has and I am not sure why since it has a mechanical on/off rocker switch. It’s not a big deal – I just unplug the battery after each use and then the battery lasts far longer. This little compressor is so handy that I have no qualms recommending it.
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