Pancake vs Twin Stack Air Compressor

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Air compressors come in a variety of styles, with pancake and twin stack air compressors being two of the most popular models.

If you know anything about air compressors, you’ll be aware of all the differences and similarities between these types of air compressors, letting you to to choose the one that best meets your needs.

However, this does not always happen because the air compressor market is riddled with misinformation and people do not have the time to learn everything there is to know about air compressors in order to make an informed decision.

This is why I decided to write this article in which I will go over an in-depth comparison of pancake and twin stack air compressors so you can understand what’s what.

Let’s get started.

Pancake vs Twin Stack Air Compressor

Most people, in my opinion, don’t know the distinctions between pancake and twin stack air compressors, which could lead to a poor decision.

This is why I decided to compare both air compressors based on the five factors listed below, which I believe will provide the reader with a better understanding of the pros and cons of each air compressor:

  1. Portability
  2. Noise Levels
  3. Runtime
  4. Refill Time
  5. Budget


If you have limited storage space or dislike heavy tools, then portability and compactness will be top priorities for you.

In that context, there is no better choice than a pancake air compressor.

Pancake air compressors are distinguished by their compact size (air tanks no larger than 8 gallons), allowing them to be lightweight and portable.

Twin stack air compressors, on the other hand, are more bulky and heavy due to their larger air tanks, which, while providing more air pressure, make their overall structure bigger and hard to move around.

Noise Levels

So, what’s the quietest option between a pancake vs a twin stack air compressor?

Without a doubt, twin stack air compressors are quieter.

Due to their double air tanks and more powerful components, twin stack air compressors operate in a way that they don’t have to make much mechanical effort (and noise) to create sufficient air pressure.

This is ideal if you want an air compressor that can power your pneumatic tools without sounding like a jet engine.

Pancake air compressors are now much noisier. This is due to the fact that they are built with weaker motors that make a lot of noise when operating at full throttle.


If you’ve ever used an air compressor, you’ll understand how important runtime is.

Who wants to run out of air pressure in the middle of a project?

If you want to avoid this, you should look for an air compressor with a longer runtime. In that case, a twin stack air compressor is the only viable option.

This type of air compressor has, well, two air tanks on top of each other that can store double the air pressure, which is necessary for running your air tools for a longer period of time.

On the opposite side, we find that pancake air compressors that are made with smaller air tanks offer shorter runtimes, which might be inconvenient if you’re planning on working on intensive jobs.

Refill Time

Knowing how long it takes to refill the air tank of your next air compressor is important because it will teach you how long you’ll have to wait in the middle of a job before the air compressor fills back up with air pressure.

The shorter the refill time, the better, as it will increase your productivity.

Pancake air compressors clearly win in this category due to their shorter refill times. Why? Because they have smaller air tanks that only take a few minutes to refill with air pressure.

Twin stack air compressors, on the other hand, are built with two air tanks that can hold a significant amount of air pressure and take more than 15 minutes to refill.


We all despise wasting money, which is why we try to make our money go further by looking for air compressors with a good price-to-value ratio.

It should be noted that pancake air compressors are less expensive than twin stack air compressors.

This is because they are made of cheaper and smaller materials, allowing manufacturers to offer these air compressors at a lower price.

Twin stack air compressors are typically made with more expensive materials, raising their prices. However, because of their double tanks and more powerful motors, they are better suited for heavy tasks.

What are the Benefits of Pancake Air Compressors?

Wondering about what are the pros of getting a pancake air compressor?

Here, let me show you:

  1. Shorter Refill Time
  2. Portability
  3. Lower Price

Shorter Refill Time

OK, so you got an air compressor, you’re using your framing nailer to make some furniture and BOOM, you run out of air pressure.

Now, you gotta wait for the air compressor to fill back up. This is referred to as “refill time,” and it is critical to understand before purchasing an air compressor because it will have a significant impact on your productivity.

Pancake air compressors are well-known for their extremely fast refill times.


They are designed with smaller air tanks that require much less time to refill with air pressure. This means that the air compressor will only take a few minutes to restart your pneumatic tools so you can continue working.


Pancake air compressors are typically described as being much more portable and lightweight than other types of air compressors (included hotdog air compressors).


Pancake air compressors are made with more compact designs that take much less volume, which makes the air compressor more lightweight itself. This is key to allow owners to easily move these air compressors around the work site.

So, if you’re looking for an air compressor that will be easy to move around, letting you work wherever you want, then I’d highly suggest you get a pancake air compressor.

Lower Price

We all value money, which is why sticking to our budget is a top priority when purchasing a new tool (even if we don’t always follow this rule!).

Pancake air compressors are solid and affordable options for most people looking for a low-cost air compressor to power air tools.

These air compressors are much less expensive than other types of air compressors due to their simpler components and cost-effectiveness.

In fact, most air compressors are priced between $100 and $200, which gives you an idea of how affordable these types of air compressors are.

What are the Benefits of Twin Stack Air Compressors?

Here are some of the most important benefits you’ll get when acquiring a twin stack air compressor.

  1. Longer Runtime
  2. Heavier Application
  3. Durability

Longer Runtime

Most air compressor owners value longer runtime because it allows them to work on more intensive jobs without having to stop and wait for the air compressor to refill.

If you identify with what I’ve just said, you’ll love twin stack air compressors because they have an incredible runtime that allows you to significantly increase your productivity.

This is made possible by their dual air tanks, which can store a large amount of air pressure.

So, if you’re looking for an air compressor that can run your air tools for a longer period of time without needing to refill, I’d recommend getting a twin stack air compressor.

Heavier Application

If there is something I can say about twin stack air compressors is that it seems they been built for heavier tasks.

What do I mean by this?

Well, twin stack air compressors are made with solid and powerful components (e.g. powerful motors) which allows users to enjoy a nice stream of air on demand for longer.

This is key if you want to tackle intensive jobs where a solid level of air pressure is necessary.


Another nice advantage you almost always have if you get the right twin stack air compressors is durability.

Twin stack air compressors can withstand heavy use for longer periods of time due to their more powerful and advanced components that provide a consistent stream of airflow.

This is critical to ensuring that your hard-earned money is invested in an air compressor that will last for years rather than months.

So, if you’re like me and want to invest in a high-quality air compressor that will last for years, a twin stack air compressor may be the best option.

Comparison Table

Pancake Air CompressorTwin Stack Air Compressor
PortabilityMore portableLess portable
Noise LevelsNoisyQuiet
RuntimeShorter runtimeLonger runtime
Refill TimeShorter refill timeLonger refill time
PriceCheapMore expensive

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequent questions that are always thrown around when discussing the comparison between pancake air compressors and twin stack air compressors.

Let’s go ahead and try to answer them all.

What is the difference between a pancake air compressor and a regular air compressor?

The design is what distinguishes pancake air compressors from regular air compressors. Twin stack air compressors have two air tanks stacked on top of each other, whereas standard air compressors only have one.

This differentiates them in terms of shape and allows twin stack air compressors to have double the air pressure storage, which is important for users looking to increase productivity when operating pneumatic tools.

Can you fill car tires with pancake compressor?

Yes, you can fill car tires with a pancake air compressor. Normally, you’d need about 35 PSI to inflate car tires which almost any pancake compressor can provide.

If you’re looking to inflate truck tires, well that’s another conversation and you’ll probably need a higher end air compressor to do that.

What is better 1 stage or 2 stage air compressor?

The primary distinction between 1 stage and 2 stage air compressors is the number of steps each takes to pressurize and store air pressure.

A 1-stage air compressor compresses air in a single step, whereas a 2-stage air compressor does so in two steps, resulting in higher pressure output.

What is superior? It depends, in my opinion.

1 stage air compressors use less energy and are less expensive to operate, making them ideal for owners who do not intend to use their air compressors for heavy tasks.

However, they are not suited for intensive jobs because they aren’t as powerful.

2 stage air compressors, on the other hand, have more complex and powerful internal components that allow them to not only provide more air pressure output, but also do so much more efficiently. They are, however, more expensive.

This is ideal for industrial applications that require a higher level of air pressure, but it is not the best option for those looking for a low-cost air compressor to use in the long run.

Here’s a quick video about the differences between 1 stage and 2 stage air compressors which will give you a deeper look on the subject:

YouTube video
Hi, I’m John Smith, a proud husband, and father of two little beautiful girls. After a long time of thinking I made up my mind to build a website around my passion.. helping people who need smart advice from handymen with years of experience.

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