Home Air Compressor Guide 9 Ideal Air Compressors for Inflating Tires

9 Ideal Air Compressors for Inflating Tires

Portable air compressors that specialize in inflating tires aren’t only for tire use, but their portability distinguish them from the others on the market. None of the units are going to be inherently powerful, but they also do a good job of balancing out time and marrying it to efficiency. There won’t be any powerhouses on the list, as a lot of them run from the cigarette lighter and you wouldn’t want to blow the fuse. Some of them are emergency kits with built in lights, while some come with additional adapters and are idea for family trips and vacations. When choosing an air compressor for inflating your tire don’t go all out and get a beast, just choose the one that is most functional and gets the job done.

  • Kensun YS-205
  • Brand: Kensun
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 6.8 x 5.2 inches
  • Item Model Number: Kensun-AirComp-D1002
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Viair 00088 88P
  • Brand: Viair
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 6 x 7 inches
  • Item Model Number: 00088
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Viair 00073 70P
  • Brand: Viair
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 8.5 x 8 inches
  • Item Model Number: 00073
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Kensun AC (Home 110V)/ DC (12V Car) Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator

Up for sale is this mid-priced multi-function inflator that operates under DC 12V or AC 110V. Even though the gauge measures up to 250 PSI, it only pumps up to 40 PSI. A nice long 21.7 inch rubber air hose is included, and should reach just about any side of the car you need it to if placed properly. The power cord is 9ft. when using the cigarette plug and a full 6 ft. 7 inches when using the AC plug. The usefulness doesn’t stop at inflating tires for cars, motorcycles, bikes, scooters, trucks, SUV’s or other types of tires. With the 3 included nozzle adapters it can also handle the inflation of rafts, air mattresses, basketballs, footballs, beach toys and even pool accessories. All of this is included and is only 4.7 pounds in this small portable package.

There is a small warning in the documentation about the unit being stored or operated in conditions where the ambient temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so can degrade the performance of the unit, but keep in mind this is only a warning so take it as you will. There is also some news talking about its fragility over the long-term, and how it breaks down when used repeatedly. This may be due to the weather issue from before, and hasn’t been confirmed fully. If the unit does malfunction, Kensun has one of the best customer service departments you could ask for, and should be more than welcoming in replacing the unit with a working one. On some tires there is also the chance that it will shut off before fully filling up the tire, since the PSI might be off by 11. This is still one of the highest rated units on the market, and well loved by those that have dived into the purchase.

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Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor

Showing up as another middle priced unit is the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor, a 12 volt max 120 PSI unit with some unique features. There is the odd requirement that the engine has to be running in order for the unit to work, which will turn off a lot of users, especially those that want to use it in car projects where the car isn’t functional yet. With 1.94 CFM Free Flow at 0 PSI, it’s extremely efficient when used in tight spots and emergencies. By using alligator clamps that hook up directly to the battery there is no need for additional power from outside sources. And although it is a letdown for some car projects this approach is very well received for most situations that don’t have additional power options. SUV’s, sedans, small ATV’s and even trucks will benefit from its power.

The LED power indicator on the front is complimented by the 9 ft. power cord, 12 ft. air hose and 3 piece inflation tip kit. It’s also one of the lightest units on the list at under 4.75 pounds. There may be some complications with letting the air out of your tire accidentally if you don’t properly read the directions. It’s also off by about 10 PSI, which can be huge when doing multiple tires. This is a pretty good pump that isn’t as noisy as others on the list, and is relatively fast in comparison. The alligator clamps are a nice touch but are a tad small, and some creative use will be required to get them fitted on the battery. This won’t bother people who work on cars normally, but the average user will be frustrated. With some minor faults this is a great buy and comes highly recommended.

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Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor

Another Viair on the list is the 12 volt 100 PSI Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor, which has the same requirements of the previous in needing to be connected to a running engine. This is the smaller less expensive version of the unit for users that just want something simpler but in the same format. With 1.27 CFM Free Flow at 0 PSI it’s just as capable and efficient to use on a daily basis. A nice carrying bag is included with the purchase, and is of acceptable quality since its only function is to carry the unit. A big difference is rather than using the alligator clamps to power from the battery this unit uses the cigarette lighter, which does not work as well as the previous unit. In order to check the pressure using the onboard gauge you have to turn the unit off rather than viewing simultaneously as it’s working.

This is a little heavier than the previous unit, which is baffling since this is the same unit, only smaller and with less features. It comes in at 5.8 pounds, and is one of the heftier portable units you can buy. The power cord is 15 ft. long so there is plenty of room to maneuver on any project. When it comes to the noise level it is very quiet, and more than likely will remain that way even over extended use. The inaccuracy from the last model carries over to this model, and is about 10-11 PSI off. Because of the low power it begins to slow down past 35 PSI and is very fragile despite the weight. This is an okay unit to use, maybe perfect for motorcycles, but not good for much else.

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  • Slime 40022
  • Brand: Slime
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 8.5 x 6.5 inches
  • Item Model Number: 40022
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Goodyear i8000
  • Brand: Bon-Aire
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 7.9 x 7.4 inches
  • Item Model Number: i8000
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Slime 40026
  • Brand: Slime
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 9 x 6.5 inches
  • Item Model Number: 40026
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator

As a good low priced option for buyers looking for a portable option, the Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator plugs directly into the cigarette lighter, but doesn’t come with a required 15 amp fuse. The multifunctional product also has a great LED light which is handy for night or emergency use. When the desired pressure is reached for the tire, Inflate-Right technology will automatically shut the unit off. A good 12 ft. of total reach will keep you from having to reposition the unit, and believe it or not this has one of the better pressure gauges on the list. Keep in mind that a fuse is required, and even then there is a possibility that the unit can burn out the fuse. Also this model is made to be used when the car isn’t running, and specifies so in the manual.

This thing howls loud, and you and everyone within a couple of miles will know that you’re using it. For rim compatibility, the valve attachment is screw on. Considering a lot of the units offer attachments that cause problems with different cars and trucks, the screw on is more widely accepted. And whereas the PSI of some of the other units on this list can be off by 10-11, the digital pressure gauge on this unit shows the current PSI of the tire and is accurate within 2 PSI. It’s significantly less powerful than the other units on the list, and slower. This is why the auto shutoff feature and accurate gauge is such a blessing, since you can set it and walk away. This is a bit of a hidden gem in the community, but is a highly recommended air compressor for tires.

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Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator

Another adequately priced unit is the Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator, a 120 volt direct drive inflator that is packed with Whisper Soft technology to work hard without making too much noise. Inflation adapters are included for sporting equipment and rafts, and the entire unit plugs into any standard 120-volt outlet.  In 2 ½ minutes or less it can inflate P185/R14 from 0-28 PSI, making it one of the better brand named efficient units on the list. The rubber air hose is 1 ft. and the PVC air hose with quick connect valve is 17 ft. Power length is not a problem as the 6 ft. power cord is more than enough for most uses. Goodyear is a big name that provides great warranties, and the customer service level is top notch.

Build quality is one of the best you can ask for, but for speed and features this unit is no better than other cheap compressors on the market. The speed is not below average, but is more long the average to above average speeds when in use. It’s also a lot less powerful than it should be, considering how much power it draws. On the plus side it’s deadly accurate when it comes to PSI, so there won’t be a lot of babysitting it as it’s working. Even with the flip catch that secures it to the tire, because of how slow it sends in the air there really isn’t a hazard of it coming loose. It should be noted that even with Whisper Soft technology it’s still a bit on the noisy side, which was disappointing since they marketed it as a quiet system. There are some better ones on the list, but the extra adapters and build quality puts this one a bit higher than most, making it a safe buy for long use.

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Slime 40026 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator

With a name like Slime you look twice, but this mid-priced model is actually pretty good. It has a dual cylinder inflator and gets the most out of each and every inflation. In fact it can inflate a truck tire in about 2 minutes, which is one of the tops on the list. This is another unit that connects directly to the battery so you get the most potency possibly, and the dial gauge that’s inline on the hose is extremely accurate, and rounds out this nice little package. It is slightly heavier than many on the list, and drops in at 9 pounds total. The hose is coiled for better portability, but very flexible when you need it to stretch. Don’t forget the storage case which isn’t some cheap carry bag, but a rugged case that stands the test of time. There is 30 ft. of total reach possible and it has a built in LED light as an add-on.

As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve included a couple of air adapters to get you started. The folding handle is aluminum, and much like the case speaks to the great craftsmanship of the product. A plus with this unit is that the car doesn’t need to be running in order to use it, so you don’t waste gas. And it’s nice to see quality alligator clamps rather than cheap clamps that could possibly damage the car battery itself. The unit can suffer from overheating issues if it’s overtaxed, so keep in mind it is not a heavy duty air compressor for tires, and rather average strength. This is not your run of the mill equipment, so reading the manual is a must to understand its use. The unit is great, and should be in the top 5 choices when deciding from the list.

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  • LifeLine AAA 300
  • Brand: AAA
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 8 x 5.9 inches
  • Item Model Number:
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Campbell Hausfeld RP3200
  • Brand: Campbell
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 5 x 6 inches
  • Item Model Number: RP3200
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty
  • Kensun YS-205
  • Brand: Kensun
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 6.8 x 5.2 inches
  • Item Model Number: Kensun-AirComp-D1002
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

LifeLine AAA 300 PSI 12 Volt DC Air Compressor

The LifeLine AAA 300 PSI 12 Volt DC Air Compressor is a very professional looking and extremely cheap air compressor for tires. This is the lowest priced item on the list, and is a 12v 300 PSI unit with quick connect air hose. The power cord is 10 feet and is powered by the cigarette lighter. They do provide 3 nozzle adapters to get your going, so there won’t be too many compatibility issues when using it. The air pressure gauge is built into the unit itself, and has average accuracy when predicting the PSI. This is one of the smallest on the list, and the housing is of low quality. Expect it to weigh no more than 2 pounds total, and to take up very little space no matter where you store it.

Using this portable unit you can inflate a standard sized tire from 0-35 in 8 minutes or less. This is all while only taking in 10 of the cigarette lighters 12 amps. The built quality is low, and you’ll notice it with the rubber in the connector that susceptible to heat. And for such a small unit it’s definitely on the nosier side, so beware of those concerns. The unit is best used for topping off rather than full inflation, especially with the gauge being off by a bit when it comes to PSI. If using this for an emergency backup, it works great since it’s so small and easy to store. Anything beyond basic emergency needs and you’re more than likely going to get burnt. This isn’t a bad air compressor for inflating tires, it just isn’t nowhere near as good as the others on this list as a permanent solution.

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Campbell Hausfeld RP3200 12-Volt Inflator and Worklight

The Campbell Hausfeld RP3200 12-Volt Inflator and Worklight is a bit of a mixed bag as an air compressor for inflating tires. The 12v 150 PSI unit is fit for emergencies, with a built in work light that’s decent enough. Both sporting equipment and tires are easily inflated with this unit with 3 inflation nozzles, compatibility is very high. Included in the package are a universal adapter, cigarette lighter plug, built in pressure gauge, and a flashing hazard light. This all comes in one complete package and a 1 year limited warranty. It’s all pretty light at 3.5 pounds, and should favor those that can tuck it away for later use. The price is very low, so there really isn’t too much risk when looking at it from that vantage point. There is an auto-shut off feature that works when it reaches your desired PSI, but it isn’t well implemented in the overall system.

And not to nitpick, but the work light seems entire tacked on and is not as bright as an emergency light should be. The flashing hazard light is nice though, and does what it’s needed to do. The cord is a decent length at about 11ft and the unit uses clamps rather than the screw on system for the tires. As usual with the gauges on the cheaper units they are a bit off, and in the case of this unit it is very erratic. Users can get around the often bad PSI readings by setting it higher than they want, but this all involves trial and error. This also works very slow and loud, and can be a bit difficult if using just for simple emergency use. It’s not necessarily a bad air compressor, but it’s firmly at the bottom of this list. Best use is for emergencies only, as anything extra would prove too taxing for the unit.

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Kensun YS-205 (Home 110V)

As the last system on the list, this mid-priced offering comes with a carrying-case for easy storage and portability. It’s strong enough to inflate tires, rafts, pool toys and even athletic balls. The cord is decent in length at 9ft 10 inches and the entire unit is a breeze to setup and get going. The air hose is 2ft. 7.5 inches and they packaged in 3 inflation adapter nozzles to get you started. Weight is very good, and as a whole it only comes in at 3.9 pounds, and with the convenient built in handle to carry it with, this is one of the best portable units to have at your disposal. Unfortunately the connector they chose to package this all with was a screw on connector rather than a clamp, so some minor quibbles there.

This is also another unit that has issues with being stored in places where the ambient temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The materials used to make it are just not of the highest quality, so there is going to be breakage issues depending on how well it is cared for. There is a limited warranty on parts, so that should take care of most people if a problem arises. Not only does the build quality suffer, but the overall mechanics of the unit are just plain slow. Some of that has to do with operating on the cigarette lighter, but there are plenty on this list that do a pretty good job with the same setup. This is still a great buy with a little love and care, especially with the included accessories and carrying case. If looking for a good starter package then this should be one of your first buys as you won’t be disappointed.

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Summary

In conclusion, all of the compressors on the list are in the low to mid-tier range, and won’t break the wallet. It shouldn’t be understated just how important it is to have at least one of these, because you never know when you’re going to have that unfortunate tire problem or leak. For the units that run off of the car battery, you do get a little more oomph in exchange for a different setup, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the ones that run on 12v cigarette lighters. Power isn’t the end all be all with air compressors that inflate tires. It will always be about efficiency and getting you out of their without giving you a bigger headache.