Hot Dog Versus Pancake Air Compressor: Which Compressor to Take?

Air compressors are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They can be super-portable models that plug into the cigarette port in your car to pump car tires, or they can be huge, stationary machines for powering numerous pneumatic tools simultaneously. Each type is designed to serve a specific purpose, so before even considering which make and model to get, you need a thorough understanding of what you plan on doing with it.

Today, we’re going to look at hot dogs and pancakes. No, not the food. We’re talking about the two popular types of air compressors used in both hobbyist and professional workshops. So if you plan on purchasing or renting pneumatic tools, or just need something to pump your tires or basketball, then you’ll want to read our guide on which of these two would suit you better.



What are Hot Dog Air Compressors?

Similar to pancake air compressors, hot dog models are lightweight and can travel well without taking too much space. The biggest difference is its tank which typically range anywhere from 2 to 8 gallons, though there are smaller and larger models available. Being larger, they do weigh considerably more than pancakes, but the weight of a hot dog shouldn’t cause any problems with loading and unloading it from your vehicle.

Being in the middle ground between super-compact and heavy-duty air compressors, you can expect a lot from hot dogs. They provide enough air volume and force to run an assortment of pneumatic tools, making it a great tool to have for roofing, mechanic, and woodworking projects.

Hot Dog Pros

Since hot dogs are a bit larger and much heavier than pancakes, they come with handles to help lift and move the unit when needed. Essentially, it’s still a highly portable unit to take with you to different job sites or to use as an emergency pump for your vehicle’s tires.

Another great thing about hot dogs is they generate a ton of compressed air to run most residential-grade pneumatic tools. Hot dogs can produce more than 10 SCFM, making it a viable option to have/rent if you need to operate airbrushes, air hammers, angle grinders, impact drivers, and the list goes on.

Thirdly, hot dogs are also oil-free tools so you can forget about having to worry about lubricants. Oil-free compressors are great if you don’t have the patience to deal with common maintenance problems.

Hot Dog Cons

However, with great power comes great noise. Hot dogs are not known for being whisper-quiet, so make sure you have a good pair of earmuffs or earplugs on hand when turning this tool on.

Next, they’re known to rock back and forth when running. You can solve this problem by placing a cloth or other piece of cushioning under the tool’s legs, or find a model with rubber feet already included.

Thirdly, hot dog air compressors are not the largest, most powerful air compressors on the market. If you need to run a disc sander, impact wrench, or die grinder, hot dogs will not be of much help.

What are Pancake Air Compressors?

Pancake air compressors are among the smallest type you’ll find. Due to their compact size, pancake air compressors are lightweight and portable. Their small design is mainly due to their small tank capacity of between one and six gallons. They come equipped with oil-free pumps which mean less maintenance and less mess both in and around the tool.

Pancake compressors typically produce between 1 and 2 SCFM and weigh up to 30 pounds. If you need a small compressor at home or to take with you on road trips, a pancake compressor is definitely the tool for you.

Pancake Pros

There are a ton of reasons why a pancake air compressor would be a great option to have at home or in your vehicle. You already know that they’re lightweight and travel extremely well, but their sturdy design also helps it stay in tip-top shape in the bed of your truck or trunk of your car.

One great thing about oil-free air compressors is that they’re quite easy to maintain. You don’t need to constantly monitor their oil levels, and the motor won’t succumb to overheating or extreme dryness.

pancake air compressors can be used for in a wide range of applications, including airbrushing, inflating tires and balls, and even powering pneumatic brad nailers and staple guns.

Something else that’s definitely worth noting is the amount of noise produced by pancakes. There’s super-quiet, so they shouldn’t wake up your sleeping children or dogs. However, it’s still recommended that you wear proper ear protection when using any style of air compressor, even pancakes.

Pancake Cons

Unfortunately, there are several things not to like about pancake air compressors. The first thing we need to address is its small tank capacity. With a maximum capacity of 6 gallons, even the least demanding pneumatic tools can run the tank dry within a couple of minutes. This means having to wait a while for the tank to refill with compressed air, increasing downtime. This matters only if downtime is a factor.

Another thing that pancakes don’t do well in is their reload time. They come with smaller motors that work less efficiently at recompressing air. Once again, this reduces the amount of work you can fit into your workday.

As one of the most compact air compressors out there, it’s not the most versatile of tools out there. The different uses we mentioned in the previous section are pretty much the only things a pancake air compressor can do. If you need to operate more demanding power tools like die grinders or impact wrenches, you’ll need to look for a more powerful air compressor.

Hot Dog vs. Pancake – Which to get?

Between hot dogs and pancakes, we feel that you could get way more use out of a hot dog air compressor. In terms of portability, they’re both lightweight enough to lift and move from place to place without causing back pain. However, in our humble opinion, what makes hot dogs much more useful is its larger tank, beefier motor, and greater air volume and force delivery. Hot dogs will not run every pneumatic tool, but they will help in running considerably more than a pancake.