It’s so cute I like to call it the cute brute! Ridgid sent us one of the latest innovations, the Ridgid 18 Volt Brushless Air Compressor, and I spent about a month using it so far. It has proven to be a valuable addition to the tool stable. This pint-sized Ridgid Cordless Compressor is an awesome unit in many respects, though it has some limitations. This review will discuss the strong and not-so-strong points of this little “cutie” in some detail. If you’re in the market for a small air compressor, you will want to hear more!
Let’s Get Realistic
With only a 1-gallon tank, the Ridgid Cordless Compressor is not made for powering a framing nailer. That didn’t stop me from using it that way, of course. Actually a power supply interruption on a remodel job caused me to investigate its usefulness in shooting 16d nails. No surprise, that is not its forte. It didn’t help that the air hose was leaking (don’t most of them?). It did kick up the reality quotient on the test however. The first nail pretty much always kicked on the compressor, and it ran nearly continuously for the duration of the “test.” We got about 120 nails driven before battery failure.
It shocked me that the Ridgid 18 volt air compressor was that tenacious, to be honest. It also kept the work flowing for several employees who otherwise would have had to find something else to do or simply shut down for several hours (new electrical service was being installed by the power company). So the little powerhouse actually kind of saved the day by keeping us on track with the installation of a large, multi-tiered shelving unit.
What Is The Ridgid Cordless Compressor Good For?
I found lots of uses for this baby ever since it arrived. I’ve used the Ridgid 18 volt Air compressor often to top off a leaky tire on the family car, to remove water from the chain on my freshly-bathed mountain bike (lubing a wet chain being a Cardinal sin in my religious sect), running a crown stapler in oak, and blowing tools clean after usage. Because of its extreme portability it is super convenient to drag this tool with you pretty much anywhere you need to go. Even with the 2 batteries installed the compressor is light enough to move easily.
Another item in the “plus” column is the relatively quiet operation of the compressor motor. While most compressors kick on with the subtlety of a thermonuclear blast, the Ridgid 18 volt air compressor was reasonably well-behaved in the noise generation department. I didn’t feel compelled to wear ear protection, even in the same room as the tool.
While framing nails kick this unit’s butt, shooting 1.5” crown staples into oak was not a problem. I generally got 8 to 10 staples shot before the motor had to run again. This is simply a function of the tiny tank. For me, the trade-off is well worth it given the excellent portability. Ridgid claims you can shoot up to 1,200 trim nails per battery charge. At the rate I work, that would last me quite a while. In softer material like pine or alder you could lower the air outlet pressure and shoot more nails per charge.
More fun facts about the Ridgid 18 volt air compressor
• Dual-power draw allows the compressor to run on either 1 or 2 batteries
• Brushless motor technology for superior power and run time
• 1 Gal. tank portable size for job site mobility
• Locking regulator holds knob in place to prevent unwanted pressure changes
• Universal push-to-connect quick coupler accepts both 1/4 in. automotive and industrial plugs with easy single-hand connection
• 1/4 in. turn ball valve tank drain – drain tanks quickly with one easy turn
• 120 maximum PSI provides ideal pressure for an extended range of work (for finish, trim, and inflation applications)
• Powerful enough to drive 2.5 in. nails flush into hard surfaces
• Hose wrap strap for efficient hose storage
Getting to Work with the Ridgid Cordless Compressor!
I put a timer to the Ridgid 18 volt air compressor to see how long it would take to reach full pressure. With two 5.0 amp hour batteries installed it took 78 seconds from 0 psi to 120, and when I ran it with a single 5.0 amp hour battery it took slightly longer at 85 seconds. Either way, in under a minute and a half you’re up to speed and shooting nails, or inflating zeppelins, or whatever.
Battery installation is intuitive (assuming you’ve ever operated a cordless tool in your life) and non-limb threatening. If this is your first Ridgid 18 volt tool, you will need to purchase batteries and a charger to make all this happen, as this compressor comes as a bare tool only (as far as I can tell, anyway). You will also need to purchase air hoses and fittings to hook it all up.
I ran two Ridgid HYPER Lithium-Ion 5.0 amp hour batteries with excellent results. Any 18 volt Ridgid batteries will power this unit, but given the power-hungry nature of compressing air I would suggest burly batteries like these make the most sense.
Cordless Compressors? Who are these for?
The Ridgid 18 volt air compressor is an excellent tool for the home hobbyist needing to occasionally power air tools, especially a finish nailer. Even a pro trim carpenter looking to have an easier-to-transport compressor would find this tool supremely useful. Looking to frame a 3,500 square foot house? Then you probably need to look somewhere else. The extreme portability makes it incredibly versatile and non-cumbersome to use and to transport. For a guy like me, who has never been able to justify buying a compressor, this really fills the gap. It will run my Porter Cable crown stapler like a champ, fill car tires, and run my little air nozzle for cleaning the work bench and quick-drying smaller items.
You can buy this ultra-portable (tool only) compressor for around $199: