No matter where you might be traveling, it’s always a good idea to have an air compressor in your car. Getting a flat tire can cause serious issues and get you stuck somewhere on the road. In such situations, having an air compressor with you can be lifesaving.
Luckily, today there is a large market of portable air compressors with a lot of excellent products to choose from. If you get a flat in a snowstorm, the air compressor can help you get out of a dire situation in a matter of minutes. However, it’s important to find a good air compressor that will get the job done.
In this post, we will review the best portable air compressors and share some information that will help you make a good purchase.
Air Compressor Basics
All portable air compressors have mechanisms that suck in surrounding air and direct it through internal components into usable pressure. The time needed for a tire to reach maximum PSI (air pressure) is called the duty cycle.
The amount of air volume generated by an air compressor is represented in CFM (cubic feet per minute), and this is one of the most important specifications to look for in a compressor. Even though portable air compressors are small, they can be extremely powerful.
They store air energy and create higher levels of pressure to produce more power. No matter if you plan on carrying it around in your vehicle or keeping it in the garage, these units can give you a lot of options. Tire air compressors are incredibly versatile, and they can be used for various purposes.
Ways You Can Use Air Compressors
When people hear “air compressor”, things that commonly pop into their minds are either blowing up tires or some industrial work. However, most people don’t know that portable air compressors can be used for different jobs.
In fact, they are one of the most valuable tools homeowners or professionals can have. Here are five common ways portable air compressors can be used:
1. Inflating Tires
The most obvious benefit and use for an air compressor, but there are other things these tools allow you to do with your tires, not just inflate them. For example, air compressors can be used for pumping up unbeaded tires as well. A good unit will also allow you to blow up tires for different vehicles.
2. Various Home Projects
The air pressure created by these compressors can be used for a variety of home projects. By attaching an adequate nozzle, they can be turned into tools for woodworking projects, cleaning your home, maintaining your pool, and so on.
3. Using Power Tools More effectively
A lot of power tools can use air compression, including ratchets, wrenches, sanders, drills, and nail guns. When powered by air compressors, these tools are more effective and easier to use. They get more power, need less time to get the job done, and require less physical effort during operation.
4. With Paint Sprayers
If you are a car detailer and like to DIY a lot, chances are you do the paint jobs yourself as well. A paint sprayer combined with an air compressor gives you more power at your fingertips. At the same time, it gives a more even flow of pressure, which leads to a better paint coat overall.
Paint sprayers with air pressure give better paint jobs. The coat looks more professional, and there is no paint running or thin layers that look like they were done by an amateur.
5. Anytime, Anywhere
One of the most obvious benefits of portable air compressors is that they are easy to carry around. They are small and can be carried anywhere. No matter if you are a mobile professional or you are just traveling around, having versatile tools with you is always a good thing.
Tire air compressors are multi-functional tools that bring a lot of value for your money. It’s a one-time investment that will help you in many circumstances. Let’s review some of the best portable air compressor units and see what they have to offer.
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
This is a compact and small unit with a modern design. You power the EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump by plugging it into the cigarette lighter in the car. It has several adaptors, which makes it suitable for inflating car and bike tires. It’s a very solid car compressor with a low price tag.
It has a convenient meter so that you can track inflation. Even so, it shuts down automatically when pushing the tires to their limits. The EPAuto portable compressor also comes with an LED flashlight with three different modes.
- Automatic shut down
- LED flashlight
- 12V power source for a car lighter
- Protection against overheating
|Size (Inches)||13.5 x 8.1 x 5.6|
Porter Cable PCFP02003
This air compressor can be used for inflating tires of vehicles, bikes, and inflatables such as air mattresses. However, it can also be used for spraying, framing, wrenching, bolting, cleaning, airbrushing, and so on. It comes with a pump that’s oil-free designed to last a long time without extensive maintenance.
The 120 volts 10 amp motor has no problems operating in tough weather conditions. This air compressor is a bit larger than other portable units, but it brings a lot more power. It can be used with power tools that require a lot of power.
When used at high levels of power, the unit starts to make noticeable vibrations and noise. However, the noise created is different depending on the surface the unit is placed on.
- 120-volt motor
- Quality pump without oil
- Highly portable
- Comes with various accessories
|Size (Inches)||18.1 x 17.2 x 18.5|
Vlair 00088 88P
This air compressor has a durable design, and it’s built to last for a long time. The units are attached to the battery with alligator clamps to get power. The Vlair 00088 88P Portable is great for sedans, trucks, and ATVs with tires as large as 33 inches.
It comes with a long power cord that stretches at 10 ft and a LED power indicator. With the air hose at 16 ft, inflating tires is a breeze. The top of the unit has a pressure gauge where the user can conveniently track the current level of pressure.
This compressor unit can’t be used for bicycles and other smaller inflatables. It’s a serious tool that can be used for powerful applications. It’s not a toy your kids should be around.
- LED power indicator
- 10 ft power cord
- 16 ft air hose
|Size (Inches)||6.8 x 6.2 x 10.8|
The Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump packs quite a lot of features that make a lot of people want to buy it. First of all, it packs dual motors that offer a lot of power and speed when inflating tires. Furthermore, it’s really small and has unparalleled power, making it ideal for both storing in the home or in the car.
When stored in the car, it can be connected to the lighter and get 12v power. On the other hand, when you are at home, feel free to use a wall plug, and you will get 110v of power. The switch between DC and AC is really amazing and offers a lot of flexibility.
- Super-fast inflation
- Supports both AC and DC
- Pressure gauge
- Durable build
|Size (Inches)||11.8 x 4.3 x 6.7|
EPAuto 12V DC
EPAuto is a well-established company, so we had to put another one of their products on our list. This unit has a simple design, and it’s really easy to use for multiple different purposes. It has a flashlight, a cigarette lighter power capable and can be used for inflating car tires, SUVs, bikes, and other smaller inflatables.
It also packs an LCD screen that can display pressure value in Bars, KPA, and PSI. It’s impossible to overinflate tires with this tool even for beginners, as it has an automatic stop when the pressure levels reach the preset value. It can inflate a completely flat tire in 5 minutes.
The length of the air hose is 20 inches while the cord measures at 10 ft. It has an emergency red light and can operate in harsh temperatures.
- LCD display
- Automatic switch-off
- Versatile inflating options
- Fast inflation
|Size (Inches)||7.5 x 6.7 x 3.3|
Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump
This is a really durable model made out of stainless steel and ABS plastic. It also comes with an automatic shut-off feature and a large LCD display. The display gives greater visibility and makes it easier to calculate pressure values and be extremely precise.
It can show pressure values in KPA, BAR, PSI, but also give readings for CM2 and KG. It’s capable of inflating mid-sized car tires in around 3 and up to 5 minutes, which is really fast. Its cable is almost 12 ft long, which makes it very portable, and it’s easy to reach all the tires.
This is one of the most powerful and fastest tire air compressors currently available.
- Durable build
- LCD display
- Auto switch-off
- Fast inflation
- 12 ft cord
|Size (Inches)||9.8 x 6.4 x 4.5|
DBPOWER 12V DC
The power and compactness of this product make it stand out from the rest. When you look at the unit, it looks like a toy with its weight almost reaching 2 pounds. However, even though it’s really small the DBPOWER 12V compressor has a powerful motor that can reach up to 150 PSI.
It also works really fast and can inflate a standard car tire in around 4 minutes. Along with these features, it still includes an LCD screen that can be used conveniently. This model also includes an auto shut-off feature and a 10 ft long power cord.
- Auto shut down feature
- LCD display
- 10 ft cord
- Fast inflation
- Several different nozzle attachments
|Size (Inches)||8.5 x 8.5 x 4.4|
P.I. Auto Store Portable Air Compressor Pump
This P.I. Auto Store unit is really a premium air compressor. It can inflate a completely flat tire in less than 3 minutes. It has a sturdy build and will last for years, and it’s fairly quiet. The P.I. Auto Store compressor is multi-functional and can be used to inflate tires and pump up various inflatables. It also has a flashlight.
In case of an emergency, it packs a red light for immediate alerts, an LED display, and a pressure gauge to monitor during operation. It also comes with an automatic shutdown feature that can be set for different pressure values. The compressor is connected to the lighter outlet.
- LCD display
- Automatic stop feature
- Robust design
- Added AC/DC power converter
|Size (Inches)||7 x 3 x 6.5|
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Portable Air Compressor
To make the right purchase, you need to have a strategy. To come up with a shopping strategy, you will have to understand all the important aspects of a well-designed air compressor. After all, we don’t often think about such devices.
This means that very few people understand what is actually important when buying air compressors. Don’t worry – this is what we are for. Bellow, we will talk about some essentials you should consider when making your decision.
Size of Your Tires
Even though this is not that common anymore, some air compressors can’t inflate big tires. Make sure that you ask or look for information about what kind of tires a certain air compressor can be used for. You don’t want to end up with a completely useless piece of equipment in the back of your trunk.
Also read: Best Ceramic Coating For Cars
Length of its Duty Cycle
If you aren’t familiar with the term “duty cycle”, it refers to the time needed for a device to “cool off” before it can be used again. When used for a long period of time, a compressor will heat up, making it difficult to hold. Additionally, it might break down if it overheats.
This is why the duty cycle is so important. If an air compressor has a “50% duty cycle” written somewhere on it, this means that it can be used constantly without having to cool down. Ideally, this is the best choice.
One of the most important elements you need to inspect when checking out air compressors is the time they need to fully inflate a tire. Naturally, the less time a compressor needs to do this, the better it is. Simply put, you will have to spend less time inflating your wheels.
In case you are stuck somewhere with an empty tire, the time needed to inflate it can be essential. For example, if you are stuck in bad weather, it could sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
Level of Automation
Having a device that can do everything on its own is always nice. There are a lot of pumps out there that have programmed settings and the only thing you need to do is choose the one you need. On the other hand, other products allow you to see the PSI settings on your own.
Some units stop pumping on their own when the tire has reached a certain level of pressure. With simpler devices, you will have to pay attention and do this manually. All these things cost, but the conveniences are usually worth it.
Size and Portability
The point of a portable air compressor is to move it around easily. The unit needs to be able to reach all of your tires with ease. At the same time, it needs to be small enough so that you can store it in your car without taking up precious space.
Does it Have Lights?
This is another feature that most air compressors have. However, it’s still a good idea to check just in case, as it is absolutely vital and can make your life a lot easier. In case of a roadside emergency during the night, you need to see what you’re doing.
Not only that light can help you inflate your tires with ease, but it will also alert anyone heading in your direction. It can be really helpful if you can’t move your car out of the road and help alert drivers of your presence.
Of all the air compressor tools we reviewed today, our top pick is the Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump. It has a unique design and packs an amazing number of features.
Even though it’s really small, it works effectively and packs enough power for any needs you might have. On top of that, it’s the only compressor that has both AC and DC adapters, so you won’t have to buy any add-ons.
We hope this guide will help you find the best tire air compressor pump that will last you a long time. Remember, this is an important purchase, so take your time and read customer reviews online so that you know what you’re spending your money on.