When it comes to road safety, you can never be too careful. For instance, what will you do when your car has a flat in the middle of the night, and the nearest gas station is 50 miles awayWhy risk walking the 50 miles and exposing yourself to coyotes and other nighttime hunters when you could have invested in a portable air compressor to pump your tires back to their former inflated glory
The best portable air compressors should be compact enough to store easily in the trunk or glove compartment of your car while also being able to provide enough airflow volume and pressure to get your tires ready for the long drive back home. In today’s article, we’re going to share a few tips on how to find the best portable air compressor pump in your town. But first, let’s see what our editors have deemed the best of the best.
Top 5 Best Portable Air Compressor Pumps
Sunvook 150-PSI DC 12V Car Air Pump
The first model on our list is the yellow-and-black portable air compressor by Sunvook. This 150-PSI model delivers enough pressure to fill up a standard sedan tire up to 36 PSI in less than 10 minutes. When the machine’s motor has run for too long, the Sunvook’s auto-shutdown mechanism will kill the motor, ensuring the unit doesn’t harm itself when used for extended periods.
This model uses a digital pressure gauge with adjustable desired pressure value to ensure you don’t over-inflate and pop your tires. The Sunvook also comes with a handy emergency LED light to illuminate your work surface and to alert fellow motorists of your location when it’s dark. We absolutely love this compressor’s compact size and super-long 11-plus-foot power cord that lets you work on all four tires of your sedan within pulling the cord taut.
Xflyee Portable Air Compressor
The Xflyee’s unique triangular shape makes it easy to grip and use. Similar to the Sunvook, the Xflyee also delivers a maximum of 150 PSI when blasting air, and it fills up a sedan’s tire in just under 10 minutes of work (36 PSI). In fact, except for their shapes, the Xflyee and Sunvook are identical. An auto-shutdown system prevents users from overworking the air compressor so its motor will not die from heat exhaustion.
It comes with the same three needs for mattresses, sports balls, and car tires to inflate anything and everything you take with you on your road trip. A digital pressure gauge gives you an accurate reading of how much air has been pumped into the inflatable object, and users can also adjust how much pressure to deliver by tinkering with its buttons. The Xlflyee, however, doesn’t have a very long operating time. For roughly every 10 minutes of work, this air compressor requires about 5 minutes to cool down.
Autobots 12V Digital Air Compressor
Created by Autobots, this digital air compressor would be something that Optimus Prime would be happy to use (not really). With a maximum pressure deliver of 150 PSI and airflow rating of 30 liters per minute, it goes without saying that the Autobots is one of the quicker portable air compressors, at least in its size category.
The Autobots shares many of the same features as the previous models, such as the three included needle types, emergency LEDs, and auto-shutoff. One of the only major differences between this and the previous pumps – and not in a good way – is the relatively short runtime. After roughly 8 minutes of pumping, the Autobots requires at least 10 minutes to cool down based on customer reports. Sadly, this means you’ll need to spend more than 30 minutes to pump all four of your sedan or hatchback’s tires.
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
Now, we’re entering the realm of the slightly different. The EPAuto is another portable air compressor that draws power from your car’s cigarette lighter port, but it’s able to produce a lot more air pressure than the previous models. With a maximum working pressure of 70 PSI, the EPAuto is able to pump the tire so of larger vehicles and inflatables, though it does take a bit more time to complete the task.
Apart from this, the EPAuto and the previous pumps share many of the same features (auto-shutoff, desired pressure, emergency LEDs, etc.). The main thing to takeaway from this product is that it’s slightly larger motor and efficient airflow/pressure delivery make it a viable option to have around for larger vehicles.
Kensun 12V DC/110V AC Tire Inflator
Last but not least is the extra-versatile Kensun tire inflator. It delivers slightly less pressure than the rest (120 PSI max) but should be able to handle light- to medium-duty inflating tasks. This handy little machine doesn’t just plug into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket, but it can also draw power from a standard 110V wall outlet.
The only thing you need to double- and maybe triple-check is whether AC or DC mode is turned on since the wrong power source on the wrong mode can lead to catastrophic results. Other than this, the Kensun is actually the simplest air compressor of the bunch. It uses an analog pressure gauge so there’s no way to set up a desired pressure level, meaning you’ll have to do everything by eye.
Portable Air Compressor Pump Buying Guide
The biggest challenge anyone will ever have regarding portable air compressors is selecting the right model from the infinite sea of compressors. This guide will assist you in determining which portable air compressor is ideal for your car in emergencies or for your next outdoor gathering.
The most important thing to consider is whether the air compressor is up to the task. What we mean by this is that not all car tires are built the same and require the same amount of pressure to work optimally. Take a look at your car’s tires to see how much pressure they need, and your quest to find the best air compressor will become a lot simpler. In general, portable air compressors can deliver a maximum of 150 PSI, but their working pressure is roughly half of that.
Airflow refers to how much air the compressor can produce rather than how pressurized it is. A higher airflow rating (measured in PSI, CFM, or LPM) typically means a lower PSI rating, but it also means quicker pumping and less time spent waiting on the air compressor to cool down.
Portable air compressors aren’t exactly known for efficient heat dissipation, hence their relatively long required cooldown times compared to their maximum operating times. The largest risk of overworking an air compressor is motor burnout. To save yourself the trouble of counting the seconds before giving the tool a rest, an auto-shutoff feature will kill the motor when it reaches a certain temperature, thereby extending the life and usefulness of the compressor.
Your two options are digital or analog, where the former offers an easier-to-read readout without dealing with fluctuating needles. Analog pressure gauges may be harder to read, but they have quicker response times, letting you know how much air pressure is in the inflated object at that exact moment to prevent overinflating and popping. The major downside of analog pressure gauges is that they don’t have pressure setting feature that shuts down the compressor after reaching the desired pressure rating. If you work slowly and carefully, you won’t need to go digital, but it does make work a heck of a lot easier.
When it comes to portability, size matters. A smaller air compressor will be easier to take with you, but it will also feature a tinier motor that delivers less airflow pressure and volume. There’s really no way to determine the “best” size – what matters is that it can either fit in your glove compartment (most likely not) or can sit in the trunk your car without taking too much space (most likely yes).
Power Cord Length
The length of the power cord will determine whether the air compressor can reach all four of your tires or not. It’s always better to go slightly longer than shorter, but you can always invest in an extension cord to help solve any length issues.
Last but not least is the compressor’s source of power. The two available options are AC and DC (gas portable compressors aren’t that well-suited for emergency use due to their size). AC-only models aren’t that great for keeping in your car unless you know for certain that your tires will go flat near an available wall outlet. We’d recommend sticking to either a DC model that draws power from your car battery or a hybrid such as the Kensun.
1. Can I inflate a [insert inflatable object here] with a portable air compressor?
As long as the object can be inflated and you have to right type of needle, then why notPortable air compressors are made to inflate objects wherever you are, so if you plan on having a beach party and need to fill a ball or mattress with air, then your portable compressor should be able to do the trick. The exception is overly large inflatable objects that need more than 150 PSI since air pressure resistance will work against the air compressor.
2. How long can the portable air compressor run?
Runtime varies from model to model. Most portable air compressors can run for longer than 5 minutes, but they’ll need a bit more time to cool down afterward. Portable air compressors, though handy, don’t deal with heat very well, so many come with built-in auto-kill switches to ensure their motors don’t succumb to overheating.
3. How can I extend the reach of my portable air compressor?
You may think that you’re stuck with the 10, 11, or 12-foot power cord that comes with your portable air compressor pump, but oh dear reader, you couldn’t be more wrong. There are several extension cords available online that will help you extend the reach of your air compressor. If you have an extremely long vehicle, consider investing in a handy extension cord to increase your range of movement by several, several feet.
If you’ve ever experienced a flat tire, even in the daytime, then you know how stressful it can be waiting for a friend or AAA to pull you out of a sticky situation. The best thing you could do for your vehicle and for your safety is to invest in an inexpensive but handy portable air compressor pump. You could spend countless hours studying different models to see which one would work best for you, or you could take a look at our editors’ top 5 favorite models above. Drive safe, readers!