An air compressor is a power tool that takes in air from the environment and then provides compressed air by pressurizing it and use this air pressure for various purposes. Air compressors are widely used by different types of people, from DIY enthusiasts to professional mechanics, construction workers, carpenters, and various applications. For example, you may use the air compressor for auto painting, use the air compressor to dry cars or use the air compressor to inflate tires and for many other purposes.

There are various categories of air compressors, and these categorizations are done in multiple ways. They are classified based on their shape, tank size, CFM (cubic feet per minute) output, horsepower, and many other things. These categories are created to use in different operations and to complement specific requirements of any particular function. Reciprocating vs. rotary, fixed speed vs. variable speed? Oil-flooded vs. oil-free, Hot Dog vs. Pancake Compressor you can choose the air compressor technology that best matches your needs and works and improves overall operation.

Both hot dog and pancake air compressors have similar types of applications, varying based on the power and the size of their tanks. Typically, the hot dog compressors come with a bit more volume than the pancake compressors, which makes them able to last longer and increase the intervals between refilling. Air compressors of both of these types are generally oil-free, and they are pretty loud when running. Both pancake air compressors and hot dog compressors are perfect for small jobs as well as professional-level jobs.

It is evident that in terms of working principles and applications, compressors of both of these types are pretty similar. So, if you want to get a compression unit for your home and workshop, you should consider parameters like CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch). What air tools you can run, or how much work you can do, these types of measurements are directly dependent on CFM and PSI.

However, it will still be helpful to know even the slight differences that exist between these two types of compressors. This is why, in this article, we will be talking about these two compressor types and pointing out any differences you need to look for so that you can decide which one will be the best suitable option for your needs.

What is a Pancake Compressor?

pancake air compressor

Pancake compressors compression units, which have air compressor tanks shaped like pancakes. It goes without saying that this is how they got their name. Most of the pancake air compressors are able to deliver about 2 SCFM. Typically, a compressor with pancake design has a compact size, also easy to carry and store.

One of the admirable qualities of pancake compressors is their stability. And, for this reason, If you are going to work on roofing projects or something similar, then a pancake compressor is an ideal machine for you. In addition, this type of machine is also a good choice for a range of tasks like running pneumatic a brad nailer or inflating tires. So, if you are in need of a small portable air compressing machine with a compact design for home use, a pancake compressor is an ideal device for you.

What is a Hot Dog Compressor?

hot dog air compressor

Hot dog compressors (can have two tanks, which is called twin stack compressors) have kind of a tubular shape, and that was the deciding factor for such a name for these compressors. Just like the pancake compressors, the hot dog compressors are portable and lightweight. You should go for one that has a carrying handle and additional accessories, which will help you move it around the workstation.

A drawback of this hotdog shape is that storing it can sometimes be a storage challenge.


Compressors with this kind of design weight around 30 pounds. However, the design of hot dog compressors area bit bulkier than the pancake ones, and this bulky design is why they typically weigh more than pancake air compressors.

Air Compressor Tank Capacity

The air tanks of pancake compressors are usually around one to six gallons. But there are few units that come with up to 8-gallon air volume capacity.

On the other hand, the tank size of the hotdog type of compression units ranges from 2 to 8 gallons. So, they are able to provide more air volume than the pancake compressors due to the larger tank and can be used to run heavy-duty tools and appliances requiring a larger air supply such as impact driver, air hammer, and angle grinder.

Oil-lubed vs. Oil-free

In most cases, a pancake compressor is equipped with an oil-free pump. This minimizes the amount of maintenance required for the compressor and causes less amount of mess in the workplace. These oil-less pancake air compressors are designed in such a way that users will find them easy and convenient. This type of oil-free compressor is a preferable choice for residential use.

Most of the hotdog compressor units come with oil-lubed pumps, which enable them to provide enhanced performance. But, these models with oil-lubed pumps require regular maintenance. You do have oil-free options, and you may use them if you want to avoid the maintenance hassle. However, if you want better performance and longer machine life, then you should go for the oil-lubed compressors rather than an oil-free model.

Noise Level

Pancake compression units are reported to be quieter than hotdog units. So, If you want to maintain a more tranquil work environment, a pancake compressor is the right choice for you.

Advantages of Pancake Compressor

  • Pancake compressors are lightweight and easy to handle.
  • These have a sturdy design. This enables them to be at the top of their game even after rough handling.
  • Most of these devices are oil-free. So, you won’t have to go through the hassle of lubricating and oil level monitoring.
  • The motor of this type of device is not susceptible to overheating issues.
  • The pancake units are usually quieter.

Disadvantages of Pancake Compressor

  • Pancake compressors have a comparatively smaller tank capacity.  And, because of this small capacity, the refill window is also shorter.
  • They have a small motor, which leads to an inferior recovery time and lesser efficiency.
  • Not a suitable choice for operating heavy-duty appliances such as die grinders.

Advantages of Hotdog Air Compressor

  • Hotdog style compressors are highly portable and come with carrying handles that enable you to move and lift the machine if and when required.
  • Hotdog compressing devices are capable of delivering more than 10 SCFM, which is much greater than the pancake units.

Disadvantages of Hotdog Air Compressor

  • When using, hotdog compressors vibrate a lot (though rubber feet or cloth underneath may help reduce the vibrations).
  • Hotdog compressors are comparatively noisier than the pancake styles (noise deafening techniques may help).
  • Not suitable for running powerful devices such as impact wrench.

Final Words

Air compressors are handy tools with a wide range of applications. This machine is a part of a lot of our daily lives. But there are a lot of compressors with a versatile range of shapes and features. So, to choose the appropriate unit according to our needs and the type of job we’ll be doing, we need to understand the differences between different types of air compressor units. And, this article is here to help you and other compressor users like you with that. We hope that this article has been helpful to you to understand the differences between a pancake air compressor and a hotdog air compressor and helped you decide which one would be the suitable choice for you. If you have any further questions regarding this, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you for reading.

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Hi, and welcome to Toolented. My name is Michael D. Sanders. I am a Mechanical Engineer by degree, who is a blogger by passion, and this combination of knowledge and passion is what brought Toolented to life. On my blog website, you will find necessary information about your needed automotive tools, reviews of your potential choices, and comparisons between different types of tools. To learn more click here.

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