10 Best 12V Air Compressors 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide

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Air compressors are devices designed to convert energy into potential air in the form of compressed air. These pneumatic appliances use electric or gasoline or diesel engines to force compressed air into your storage tank, which increases the pressure. The tank’s maximum pressure limit is reached and the air compressor automatically shuts down. Compressed air can be used in many ways, one of which is the filling of vehicle tires. Now, the range of application for these units depends a lot on the size and power of the air compressor.

The 12 V portable air compressor that we are about to analyze was designed for use primarily in vehicles and other similar small projects. While these units are readily available on the market, you will need to pause for a moment and learn what makes any of the units better for your purchase. To help you make that important decision, below are reviews of some of the best 12 V portable air compressors available on the market.

Our Top Pick

Last update on 2021-10-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top 10 Best 12V Air Compressor To Buy In 2021

Last update on 2021-10-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10 Best 12V Air Compressor Review

SaleBestseller No. 1
AstroAI Air Compressor Tire Inflator Portable Air Pump for Car Tires 12V DC Auto Tire Pump with Digital Pressure Gauge, 100PSI with Emergency LED Light for Car, Bicycle, Balloons and Other Inflatables
  • FAST INFLATION & ADVANCED ACCURACY: High-quality materials were sourced for this tire inflator as it can pump up your car's tires with 35 L/Min, it can inflate the 195/55/R15 car tire from 0 to 35psi under 5 minutes. Professionally calibrated to always return a reading within 1.5% of the pressure of your tire. Please NOTE that after 10-15 minutes of continuous use, let the air compressor rest and cool for an equal amount of time at a minimum before continuing use.
  • PROGRAMMABLE INFLATION: Use the "M" button to set your desired pressure unit, and then press the "+" and "-" buttons to set the desired pressure. The air compressor will automatically shut off when it reaches the pre-set pressure (Please make sure the pressure you set is higher than the current pressure of your tire).
  • PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS: One-click to change pressure units among PSI, kPa, BAR and KG/CM; Large white backlight LCD screen makes it easy to read even in the dark; Equipped with integrated LED flashlight with independent switch control for emergency use; 12V 120W 10ft (3.05 meters) long heavy-duty car cigarette lighter cord makes it convenient to use;NOT 110V AC plug. Need an at least 10A converter to use in a wall plug.
  • WIDE RANGE OF APPLICATIONS: 3 Nozzles and Extra Fuse Included. Inflates any Schrader valve on cars, SUVs, motorcycles, and bicycles; the included accessories quickly inflate balls, air pillows, cushions, balloons and mattresses. NOTE: This pump is NOT intended for use with high pressure or large volume applications like pools and Inflatable canoe
  • BUY WITH CONFIDENCE: Easily stow the compressor away in your car or garage and it will be ready to use at a moment’s notice. Package includes 1* digital air compressor, 1* Replacement Fuse, 3* Nozzle Adapters, 1* Valve Extender, 1* Quick Connector, 1* Screw Rotation Attach, 1* User Manual; If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
Bestseller No. 2
VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor , Black
  • Rated best tire inflator for most drivers by prominent product review websites!
  • 12 VOLT - 60PSI Max Working Pressure, engine must be running during use.
  • 1.26CFM Free Flow @ 0 PSI
  • Portable air compressor powered by auxilliary power outlet. (The 85P can only be used if your outlet is rated to 15 AMPS/180 Watts or more)
  • Engine must be running when in use.
SaleBestseller No. 3
ARB CKMTA12 '12V' On-Board Twin High Performance Air Compressor
  • 1- Motors are water sealed, 100% ball bearing equipped (i.e. no bushings), and feature a unique linear brush pre-load system for extra long life, low heat and quiet operation throughout the life of the unit.
  • 2- Compact twin motor, dual cylinder design makes it the highest flowing compressor in its class (voltage vs. size). Highest air flow rate of any 12V compressor of its size on the market at 174LPM [6.16CFM].
  • 3- Full wiring loom included for simplified installation and easy plug-in connectivity to Air Locker control solenoids. (Note: Air Locker Manifold Kit #171503 required to mount solenoids).
  • 4- Motors are internally thermal protected against extreme temperature damage. Over-pressure safety valve equipped. Equipped with dual heavy duty Maxi-Fuses for professional in-line circuit protection and true circuit redundancy in case of a fault.
  • 5- Compressor pistons are equipped with a heavy duty European made cylindrical roller bearing. Hard-anodized cylinder bores and PTFE (Teflon) impregnated carbon fibre piston seals for reduced friction and maximum trouble free life.
SaleBestseller No. 4
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
  • Convenience: Plug directly into Cigarette Lighter Socket of your Vehicle. 12VDC, 10 to 15 amps, 120 to 180W. Equipped with 12V-DC Cigarette Lighter Socket Plug, NOT 110V AC plug.
  • Multiple Uses: Inflate tires on cars, bikes, sedan and midsize SUV. (Engine size under 3.5 liter) Universal valve connector for schrader valve is ready to use. Additional adapters include needles value (for basketball, balls), short cone/long cone adapters (for inflatable kayak, swimming pool accessories, etc)
  • Capacity: Does NOT Support truck tires, for instance: light truck tires (LT), heavy duty truck tires or any truck tires.
  • Easy to Read: 4 Display Units: PSI, KPA, BAR, KG/CM; LED FLASHLIGHT: Bright Torch
  • Prevent Over Inflation: Auto shut off when reaching the desired tire pressure. Overheat protection shuts off automatically when overloading. USPTO Patent NO:D875,788
Bestseller No. 5
Vixen Horns Heavy Duty Onboard Air Compressor 200 PSI. Universal Replacement for Truck/Car Train Horn/Suspension/Ride/Bag kit/System. Fits All 12v Vehicles Like Semi/Pickup Trucks/Jeep VXC8301
  • 12V Permanent Magnetic Motor
  • Maximum Working Pressure: 200 PSI
  • Duty Cycle: 100% @ 100 PSI
  • Amperage Draw: 23A
  • Flow Rate: 1.7CFM @ 0 PSI
Bestseller No. 6
Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
  • 12 VOLT - 120PSI Max Working Pressure, engine must be running during use.
  • 1.47CFM Free Flow @ 0 PSI.Max. Amp Draw: 20 Amps
  • Portable air compressor powered via alligator clamps direct to battery.
  • Good for small ATVs, trucks, SUVs, and sedans with up to 33" Tires.
  • LED/Power indicator, 10 Ft. Power Cord, 16 Ft. Air Hose, 3pc Inflation Tip Kit
Bestseller No. 7
Bestseller No. 8
VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor
  • 12 VOLT Operated - 150PSI Max Working Pressure, engine must be running during use.
  • 2.3CFM Free Flow @ 0 PSI. The air hose length is 25 feet
  • 150 PSI maximum working pressure and 33% duty cycle
  • Direct heavy-duty dual battery clamps with 40-amp inline fuse
  • Includes deluxe carry bag anti-vibration tray and more
SaleBestseller No. 9
Digital Air Compressor for Car Auto Pump Portable Tire Inflator with LED Light DC 12V
  • ✔【EASY TO USE&AUTO SHUT OFF】:Plug Carsun portable air compressor power cable into the car's 12V power outlet, then press the inflation nozzle into the tire valve,set the pressure value required by the tire and press the switch to start inflating. The air compressor pump will automatically shut off when reaching desired tire pressure.
  • ✔【150PSI MAX WORKING PRESSURE】:With maximum pressure 150 PSI and air flow 35L/min. It can inflate the 195/65/R15 car tire from 0 to 35psi under 5 minutes. Much more effective and faster than traditional pump. Built-in accurate tire pressure gauge.
  • ✔【DIGITAL DISPLAY & LED LIGHTING】:Carsun portable air compressor pump is equipped with a large high-precision and high-brightness display to help you check the tyre pressure and preset the tyre presure values. The digital tire inflator is equipped with bright, long-lasting LED lights that can be easily used even in the dark, so you can re-inflate at night or quickly see it on dark, remote country roads.
  • ✔【MULTI-PURPOSE】:Carsun air compressor pump has a 10ft power cord and inflatable adaptors(3 additional nozzles) allowing to reach all tires of your car, bike, motor, ATV, compact or midsize Sedan, SUV, air mattress, inflatable boats, balls and other inflatables(but not support big Truck or Motor Lorry).
  • ✔【WORRY-FREE GUARANTEE】:If you have any questions on our product , please email us directly ! We will help you solve the problem and will always try our best to satisfy your needs.We are promise to make high quality product and service for every customer.
Bestseller No. 10
ARB 12V High Performance Portable Air Compressor (CKMP12) Bundle with a Lumintrail Keychain Light
  • DURABLE CASE: Compressor housed in a durable carry case for easy storage and versatility and constructed of lightweight, high-strength engineering-grade materials
  • SEALED: For moisture and dust resistance; washable sintered bronze air filter element housed in a splash resistant cover
  • HARD ANODIZED CYLINDER BORE: Teflon impregnated carbon fiber piston seal for reduced friction and maximum trouble free life
  • FLOW RATE: 0 PSI 2.65 CFM; 29 PSI 2.18 CFM. Suitable for many air tools when used in conjunction with a 1 gallon air tank (optional with on-board models)
  • KIT INCLUDES: 19 feet air hose, wiring loom, battery clips and all the necessary fittings to inflate tires and camping or leisure gear, and a Lumintrail Keychain Light

Last update on 2021-10-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

12V DC vs. 12V AC Air Compressor

With 12V portable air compressors, you should note that there are two types. There are those that operate on Direct Current and those that work on Alternating Current. The differences between the two are distinct and they each have their pros and cons.

#1. Pressure Tank

Instead of storage tanks to hold the compressed air, the 12V DC air compressors pump air direct into the desired item. The motor draws air directly from the atmosphere and forcefully pumps it into the desired object. This mechanism makes these units far less effective in pumping objects that require larger volumes of air to achieve recommended pressure levels.

#2. Portability

Given that 12V AC air compressors feature storage tanks, they are bulkier and hence lesser portable than the 12V DC air compressors. The 12V DC air compressors though less powerful are, however, efficient and can run on electrical systems found on cars and boats making them the best tools for those who find themselves on the road or floating on the waters a lot.

#3. Power Source

This is probably the more obvious difference between the two types of 12V air compressors. The DC air compressors are designed complete with plugs that allow them to be connected to cigarette lighter sockets, while there are some still that come with alligator clips which aid in their connection to the car batteries when the need arises. These designs make the tools more convenient.

#4. Run Non-Stop

With the lack of compressor tanks, the 12V DC air compressors are forced to run continuously. AC air compressors, however, only need to run until the tank if filled after which they automatically shut off until the pressure reaches the minimum levels and restarts. But even though they have been designed to run continuously, you should be careful to shut off the air compressor from time to time during its use lest it overheats.

Buying Guide: How to pick a perfect Tyre Inflator

Flat tyre is the last thing you want while travelling long distances. In such situations, tyre inflator comes handy. Not just for flat tyres, these machines are helpful in maintaining proper air pressure in a tyre.

With so many options available in the market, you can easily get confused which one to purchase. A wrong choice will obviously be a waste of investment.

To make the right choice, it is important to consider certain factors. We have mentioned them below with a detail description.

1. Pressure Gauge

Based on their display feature, pressure gauge of a tyre are divided into two types – analog and digital.

  • Analog Pressure Gauges – They have analog display where a pointer directs to the numbers on the gauge. It can be a bit difficult to see the readings but they provide accurate readings.
  • Digital Pressure Gauges – The readings are directly displayed on a small LED screen. Some tyre inflators come with backlit display, making it easy to read even in dim lighting conditions. Display pressure gauges are usually preferred by non-professionals who don’t really mind with accuracy.

You can choose any one among them based on your requirements.

2. Max Allowance PSI

PSI amount is the maximum cold pressure needed for your tire to carry maximum load. There is no specfic limitation for tires with 35 PSI intake, but this can be of realtively no use if a certain tire requires more PSI amount.

So you must enquire about the PSI intake of the tire you are investing in and also the capacity of the inflator if it is able to deliver that capacity.

3. Run Time or Duty Cycle

Duty cycle indicates the amount of time an inflator can be used before getting overheated or re-used for another time. If the duty cycle is long, then inflator will make long time to cool down before another inflation. That is why, shorter duty cycles are the most preferred choice – as it prevents unnecessary time wastage between the inflation cycles.

You can find the duty cycle information in the product specifications. Most of the tyre inflators, have duty cycles up to 10 or 15 minutes. After this time period, you have to let them cool down for at least 10 to 30 minutes before using them again. Or else, the compressors will get damaged due to overheat.

Usually, duty cycle of a compressor is the time frame it can be used at 100 PSI and 22.22°C (72°F). For example, if the tyre inflator comes with 10% duty cycle then it can be used for only 10% of 60 minutes i.e, – 6 minutes out of 60 minutes. After 6 minutes, you have to cool down for 54 minutes before using it again. Each tyre inflator comes with different duty cycle based on the compressor.

To make things a bit easy, we have a provided list based on one-hour duty cycle at 100 PSI and 72°F.

One Hour Duty CycleMinutes It Can Be UsedMinutes Required To Cool Down
9%555 mnts
10%654 mnts
15%951 mnts
20%1248 mnts
25%1545 mnts
30%1842 mnts
33%2040 mnts
50%3030 mnts
100%60

4. Speed

To purchase the best air pump in India for your car, inflation speed is one of the important factors to look for. Inflation speed represents how long it takes to pump a tyre completely. The quicker the inflator is, the faster you can be back on the road.

5. Automatic Shut-Off

One of the common mistakes car owners make while pumping car tires is – hyperinflation. The main reason for this mistakes – misjudging the gauge and causing uneven tire pressures. In such situations, auto-shut off feature can be beneficial. Usually user manually sets the PSI limit. And once the pressure reaches to set PSI limit, the compressor will be turned off automatically.

7. Power Source

For operating it, there are several ways to power a tyre inflator. We have mentioned few of them below…

  •  12 Volt DC

This model tyre inflators can be easily plugged into auxiliary or cigarette lighter plug of your vehicle. They are very easy and convenient to use as they can be used whenever you want. The only issue with this type of model is – they inflate tyre very slowly.

  • 115 Volt AC

These models cannot be powered by the options present in your vehicle. However, they inflate the tyres much faster than 12 Volt DC ones. Even though they are bit large than DC models, 115-volt AC model is still portable.

  • Dual Voltage Electric

When it comes to electric tyre inflators, dual voltage ones are the best. They come with a toggle switch which enables you to plug it into power source present in your vehicle or 115-volt AC plug.

  • External Compressed Air Source

Some tire inflators don’t come with compressors. For such models, you have to purchase the compressor separately. These type of tire inflators are usually heavy-duty which the reason they are mostly preferred by mechanics. They inflate tyres much faster and are capable of handling tyre that require higher PSI level.

7. Cord Length or Hose

Hose or cord length also play an important role when it comes to purchasing a tyre inflator. Having sufficient length enables you reach the tire, especially the valve steam easily. With longer hose or cord, you don’t have to move the inflator as frequently as with the shorter one.

A lengthy hose enables to reach the valve steam, even if it is not present in ideal position to hook up and fill the tyre. To say in layman terms, longer hose makes it easy to place the adapter on tire’s valve stem conveniently.

Usually, hose length of a tyre inflator varies from 4 inches to 30 feet. Most of the tyre inflators in India have around 18 to 26 inches long hose. When it comes to power cord, it ranges from 21 inches to 16 feet. Reasonable and convenient length is considered to be 8 to 11 feet.

8. Storage and Portability

When it comes to purchasing car inflators, storage and portability go hand in hand. It is important to purchase a tyre inflator that can be easily stored and carried while on the trips. An ideal tire inflator is small enough to fit easily in the trunk without occupying much space. Because while on long trips, trunk space can be filled up with your luggage.

Usually small tyre inflator comes in 20 X 20 dimensions or less which is easy and convenient enough to store. 12-volts DC tire inflator is much more portable than 115-volt AC model or inflator that requires separate air supply.

9. Build Quality

Major differences between an excellent and cheap tire inflator is the quality of material used, how long they can hold up and durability. Expensive or reasonably priced inflator will be made up of high quality materials which makes them last pretty long without any faults or breakdowns. Quality of materials used in the product ensure sturdiness, reliability and durability.

10. LED Work Light

LED work light helps you easily utilize the tyre inflator even during nights or dim lighting conditions. It also sends signal who drive around so that they can help you. This is one of the benefits of having a tyre inflator.

11. Noise Level

Some tyre inflators have compressors that generate a lot of unpleasant noise which can be uncomfortable and unpleasant for you and your neighbors as well. So, we recommend purchasing a tyre inflator that operates at very low noise which is around 40 or 50 db.

12. User-Friendly

Tyre inflator with complex operations can be difficult to use. So, we recommend to purchase the one that is easy to use. Make sure it comes with required features and a manual providing instructions to guide you.

13. Extra Accessories

It is always best to have additional accessories. Some of them can be a multiple adapter which helps to inflate toys or air mattresses. Getting a carry bag from the manufacturer for tyre inflator can be great as it will help you carry the device conveniently.

14. Cost

This is also important factor to consider before making the purchase. We recommend to set up a budget limit before analyzing the options. Product with extra features can be a bit expensive but can be totally worth the investment. But never fall for the fake advertisements of low quality products. It is better to check the customer reviews before finalizing the option.

15. Warranty

Just like any other product or appliance, warranty ensures quality of the product. The longer the warranty is, the better the product will be. And moreover, if you experience any damage or defect during that period, you can get it repaired or replaced without extra cost.

How To Use a Tyre Inflator?

A tyre inflator is a simple machine which lets you transfer compressed air into flat tire. It has two important components which help to complete this process. The two components are – adapter and compressor air supply.

At one end, the adapter is present to act as seal with valve steam. And on the other end, compressed air supply is present. Other parts that play a role in process is pressure gauge. It tells you the current pressure of the tire and also helps you monitor while inflating the tyre to know when you reached the required PSI level. Tyre inflator also comes with a handle which should be depressed in order to allow the compressed air to pass through the supply into flat tyre.

Usually, to inflate a tyre completely, it will take around 2 to 3 minutes. But if you are inflating less deflated tire, then it will take around 30 to 40 seconds. After completing the inflation, it is recommended to switch off the compressor and remove the connection.

Advantages of Tyre Inflator

Most of the people think that tyre inflators can only be used for just maintaining proper air pressure in tyres. But it has several other benefits as well. We have mentioned them below for your convenience…

  • If the tires are properly inflated, then cars will provide better mileage.
  • With proper PSI, tires will last a bit longer. So, you don’t have to spend money on tire maintenance.
  • Car tires with proper condition lead to smooth trips.
  • With proper pressure and inflation, the car tires will be protected from harsh weather conditions.
  • Modern tyre inflators are much easy to use and operate than traditional tyre inflators. You can just switch on the button and the machine will start working.
  • These devices are safe to operate as there are no complex technical operations included. Some safety features include auto-shut off and preset function.
  • They are reliable, durable, portable, fast and sturdy.
  • Tyre inflators come in handy during puncture or flat tire situations.
  • Quick and efficient pumping will save a lot of time.

Few Problems You May Face with Tyre Inflators

Inaccurate Pressure Readings by Pressure Gauge

Inbuilt gauge of a tyre inflator can provide inaccurate readings if you checking the pressure during inflation. Few compressors are not designed to provide live tire pressure readings at the time of inflation. Best way to check the accurate pressure readings is when the compressor is turned off.

Overheating Compressor

Though there are several problems associated with compressor, overheating issue can be resolved or prevented easily. In most of the cases, overheating can be caused when users fail to follow the instructions specified by the manufacturer. For example, few tire inflators are designed to work continuously only for certain period of time and after that it has to be turned off to cool down. This is usually referred as compressor’s duty cycle. To prevent the compressor from getting overheated, never run the tyre inflator beyond the recommended time. Also make sure you take care of the compressor maintenance regularly.

Slow Air Pressure

It’s unusual for air pressure to become too slow. This problem can be caused when filters and air paths are clogged with dirt. This problem can be solved by cleaning the compressor regularly. Apart from clogged air filters, loose unit can also lead to this issue. So, check the unit and tighten it to solve the issue.

Loud Noise Generated by Compressor

If your compressor has been silent and making noise suddenly, then it can be due to less lubrication. Apart that, another reason that leads to this issue can be loose units. So to reduce the noise, lubricate the compressor thoroughly and tighten the parts of compressor.

Compressor Stops Abruptly

Sometimes, air compressor can stop working suddenly without providing any warnings ahead. This is a very common problem with most of the tyre inflators available in India. If the compressor has stopped working suddenly, then electrical fault can be the main reason. For example, blown fuse can cause electrical fault. If this happens, you cannot repair it by yourself. It should be handled by an expert.

General Safety Instructions While Using Tyre Inflators

For avoiding any injuries and damage to the compressor, we recommend to consider below tips and instructions.

  • If the compressor has faulty electrical units, then don’t try to repair it yourself. This has to be handled by only a qualified professional.
  • Never allow a kid to operate the tyre inflator without any supervision from an adult.
  • Usually compressors tend to get hot when they are used. So, remember not to touch the compressor with bare hands and only use the handle to transfer the machine.
  • After using the compressor, don’t store it immediately. Make sure to cool it down before storing it.
  • You should never carry or lift the compressor using air hoses or power cords. You should only use the handles for it.
  • Always make sure the compressor is lubricated.
  • When not in use, always switch off the device.
  • Never point compressor’s air nozzle at you or anyone else as it can be fatal.
  • If the power cord of the tyre inflator is coiled up, then make sure to uncoil it before using it. If not, it can lead to overheating.
  • Never leave the compressor unattended as it can easily overinflate the tyres to burst especially if the tyre inflator doesn’t come with auto-shut off feature.
  • If you are sleepy or drowsy, don’t operate a compressor.
  • Don’t use the tyre inflator in a wet environment unless the manufacturer mentioned the device as waterproof.
  • Always make sure to read and understand all the instructions carefully before assembling or using the tyre inflator.

Important Things to Consider While Using Tyre Inflator

When you are connecting the tyre inflator to the car, we recommend considering the below important things…

  • Whenever you connect or disconnect the tyre inflator to the power source, we recommend to make sure the compressor’s power switch is turned off.
  • Make sure the car engine is running while using the tyre inflator. Or else the compressor will drain the battery quickly. However, few compressors are designed in way that they should never be operated when the car engine is still working. If the manufacturer mentions that, then obey their instruction. Read the instructional manual to know for the details of compressor running conditions.
  • If the power cord is designed to plugged into vehicles battery, then don’t plug it anywhere else. And if it is designed for car’s cigarette light holder, then don’t try to connect it to battery.

Conclusion

The selection of portable air compressors that work well with Jeeps continues to grow as more manufacturers introduce their own options for off-road vehicle owners. We’ve narrowed that selection down to four outstanding products that are suitable for the most common situations you might encounter.

Whether you’re looking for a dependable tire pump that gets the most value for your dollar or a compressor with the power to handle an air spring mod kit, we’ve got an option here that will work. I especially liked the Smittybilt’s 2781 model during my off-road air compressor testing. It made changing tire pressures for on-road and off-road driving a breeze.

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