What Portable Air Compressor/Tire Inflator Should I Buy?
We all worry about that moment when we step out of our trailer, tent, van or skoolie and see that a tire on our vehicle is flat or close to it. A lot of us only have one mode of transportation and if a tire starts to get low it means trouble. So you change the tire and put on the spare, but you discover the spare hasn’t been filled in years and is also flat. A heavy-duty portable air compressor takes away that worry.
Getting a portable air compressor not only saves you when you get a flat it also makes maintaining the air in your travel trailer, RV, skoolie, van or truck easier. No more having to squeeze into a crowded gas station and figure out how to get the hose from the sketchy air compressor to reach.
If you have a large truck or RV just any small air compressor won’t do. Even if the psi rating is high enough that doesn’t necessarily mean the pump hefty enough to put out the volume of air needed for large weighed down tires. All the portable air compressors on this list are heavy-duty and rated for trucks, RV’s, vans, and even busses. They are reliable, tough, and powerful enough to get the job done in any low tire situation.
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Tirewell’s 150 psi heavy-duty 12V portable air compressor is the perfect no-nonsense way to maintain the air in the tires or your SUV, truck, RV, travel trailer, van, or bus. It will get the job done even if the tire is completely flat.
It has a maximum air pressure rating of 150 psi which is plenty for any size of tire. The compressor has two cylinders that drive the motor at the same time for powerful air flow. 4 rods are connecting the cylinders to reduce vibrations and noise.
Some of the features of the Tirewell air compressor include a 1.8 feet long 5M hose that screws onto the tire stem for a secure air tight connection. There are also 3 adaptors included so you can inflate things as large as RV tires but also smaller things like scooters, bicycles, balls, and even pool floaties.
There is a built in analog pressure gauge in the body of the compressor so you don’t have to remove the inflation hose to make sure you have the correct pressure.
The Tirewell is a 12V portable air compressor that uses a 12 volt plug with an inline fuse for protection. You can plug it directly into your vehicles 12V outlet or use the alligator clip adaptors to plug it directly into a battery. The power cord is 11 feet long giving you a lot of distance to work with.
There is also a convenient carry bag included, to protect your portable tire inflator when not in use. The entire thing weighs only 8.36 lbs and is the perfect size to place out of the way in any size of vehicle. Once taken out of the carry case there is a built in handle with a rubber coating on the top of the compressor so you can easily carry it around.
The Tirewell 12V Tire Compressor doesn’t come with as many frills as other portable tire inflators but it’s tough and heavy-duty enough to fill almost any tire to the max psi. It will be there for you when you need it and put your mind at ease when you head out into the unknown in search of the next perfect campsite.
- Connects to 12V plug or battery
- Long power cord
- Built-in pressure gauge
Viair is on top when it comes to portable air compressors and their features are unmatched by other companies. Their 400P-RV automatic compressor kit has everything you need for an RV, truck, bus, van, and anything else that might need air.
The max psi of the Viair is 150 with an automatic shut off function when you use the tire fill gun. When the trigger is released the pump will turn off as you move from tire to tire. This extends the time the pump can run before it needs to rest.
The 400P-Automatic draws 30 amps and can output 2.3 CFM because of this it needs to rest after 20 mins of continuous run. This is perfect for tires that need a little air fast. If you find yourself needing something that can run longer but won’t put out as much air the 450P-RV is a great option. All the features are the same except the 450 runs on 23 Amps puts out 1.8 CFM of air and can run 1 hour before needing a rest. Perfect for filling completely flat tires.
Viair has made the kit for this heavy-duty RV compressor custom to the needs of RV and bus owners. It comes with an inflation gun with a built-in pressure gauge, 3 adaptors for bicycles and floaties, a 90-degree twist on chuck, a 45 degree extended reach chuck for dual wheels, and a heavy-duty carry bag. It also comes with two 30 feet air hoses that connect for an extra long reach of 60 feet.
The Viair is run with 12 volt power that connects directly to a battery using alligator clips. The power cable is 8 feet long and the engine must be running while the portable RV air compressor is on.
The Viair 400P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit is perfect for RV, bus, and dually truck owners because of the added adaptors made specifically for large dual tires. It’s also perfect for any other kind of tire and vehicle and a great option for those who need a dependable portable air compressor that will fit every need.
- 2 air hoses included
- Air gun with gauge
- Automatic shut off
- Extended reach chuck for dual tires
GSPSCN makes another simple but very heavy-duty RV air compressor. It can reach up to 150 psi on an RV, bus, truck, van and most other sizes of tires. There are two cylinders for maximum pressure output and the body sits on rubber feet to minimize vibrations and movement when the small air compressor is running.
The air hose is coiled to not be in the way but when fully extended it reaches 11.5 feet. Thre are 3 adaptors included to inflate bicycles, balls, and other inflatables. The RV air compressor is strong, but light, weighing only 6.8 lbs and there is a carry bag included.
It runs on 12 volt power and can be plugged into a 12 volt outlet or directly to a battery using an alligator clip adaptor. The power cable is 11.5 feet long and there should be plenty of cables and air hose to work with.
There is an analog pressure gauge built directly into the pump so there’s no need to stop and check the pressure with a different instrument. The handle on the compressor is a metal bar that extends across the entire compressor.
The GSPSCN Silver 12V Tire Inflator is another small air compressor with just the basics included for any inflation needs. It’s lightweight and a great addition to any emergency kit or to use for maintaining tire air pressure on an RV, bus, van, truck or travel trailer.
- Connects to 12V plug or battery
- Built-in pressure gauge
- Sits on rubber feet
If you own a bicycle you’ve probably heard of or used slime in your tires to stop small leaks. The company that makes tire slime also makes a heavy-duty tire inflator for trucks or small RV’s.
The portable air compressor has dual cylinders connected with 4 rods to reduce vibrations and noise. The max inflation is 150 psi. It’s a powerful tire inflator but if you own a large RV or bus it may not have quite the power you need to inflate a large tire from flat. The slime is a great option for truck, van, and small RV owners.
There is a handle on the unit so you can easily carry it around. The inflation hose is 22 feet long. There is a pressure gauge included that is placed inline with the hose so you can see what pressure the tires are at without having to remove the inflation hose. 3 adaptors are included for different kinds of inflatables and balls.
Something unique to slime portable air compressors is the LED light on one side of the pump. It’s perfect for emergency lighting for flat tires at night.
The power source is a direct battery connected via alligator clips. Everything fits neatly in a plastic case which is more durable than the nylon bags most other portable RV air compressors come in.
The Slime Heavy-Duty Tire Inflator has some nice features like the built-in LED light and the hard carry case. The only downside is it’s not quite as powerful as some of the other portable tire inflators on this list. That being said it’s still heavy-duty enough for large trucks and small RVs.
- Built-in LED light
- Durable hard carry case
- Long air hose
Check out my full review of the Sime 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator here.
Audew makes a more affordable small air compressor that can inflate even the largest tires on RVs, buses, and heavy-duty trucks. It’s rated to reach pressures up to 150 psi but it will need more rest than other portable tire inflators to get there.
It uses dual cylinders connected by 4 rods to reduce vibrations, noise, and stop it from moving around while in use. The handle is small and can fold out of the way easily. Where a pressure gauge is located on other kinds of portable air compressors Audew has installed a small storage compartment for adaptors instead.
There are 3 adaptors for balls and inflatables. The inflation hose is 10 feet long and an inline pressure gauge is included so you can see the pressure of whatever you are inflating without removing the inflation hose. A nylon carry bag is included for the compressor and all its accessories.
The portable air compressor uses alligator clips to connect to a battery for power. The power cable is around 7 feet long.
The Audew Heavy-Duty Air Compressor is a great affordable option for those who want an RV tire inflator for emergency situations. I wouldn’t recommend using this as a go-to tire inflation maintaining tool. But in an emergency, the Audew will get the job done.
- Can inflate RV and bus tires
- Storage compartment located on the compressor
Because this is a review of the best portable air compressors for RVs the Viair 400P-RV takes the lead due to it’s RV focused air compressor and accessories. A lot of large RV’s, buses, and trucks have dual tires that need a special chuck to reach the inner tire. Viair has you covered and their gas stations style inflation gun makes it quick and easy to go from tire to tire.
Viair is also known for its durable compressors that last for years. When you buy the 400P-RV you get high-quality parts and unmatched dependability.
If you don’t need all the RV specific accessories the Tirewell 12V Tire Compressor is a very good choice for a more affordable option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do portable air compressors take so long to inflate?
To make portable air compressors portable they need to be very small but powerful. Because of their small size and rapidly moving parts they can overheat very quickly. Normally the lower the quality the air compressor the shorter the run time it has before needing a break.
Also, portable tire inflators that release larger amounts of air need to rest more than slower working inflators. When you turn on a portable air compressor and it starts to inflate a tire it can start out inflating quickly then start to slow down as pressure builds. That’s why extra large tires on buses and RVs can take hours to fill to the correct psi.
How long can my portable air compressor run before needing to rest?
The amount of time your portable air compressor can run before needing a rest depends a lot on the quality of parts it’s made of and how hard it’s working. Be sure to check the instructions that came with your compressor so you know exactly the time the manufacturer recommends.
If you don’t have the manual a standard run time at a low psi is 20 minutes. The higher the psi gets the shorter the run time gets. To be safe make sure you are aware of how hard your portable air compressor is working and how hot it’s getting. When it’s starting to get hot. Turn it off and let it cool for 10 minutes.
What makes a small air compressor RV compatible?
Most small air compressors only have one cylinder and less power than the larger dual cylinder RV air compressors. Because RVs have large tires air compressors need a lot of power to get the large volume of air to a high psi. That’s why you won’t be able to use just any small air compressor for your RV, bus, truck, or van.
How to use a portable 12 volt air compressor.
You can connect 12 volt air compressors to the battery of your vehicle or sometimes the 12 volt outlet located inside your car. Connecting directly to the battery gives you the most power and is the recommended way to get the most out of your small air compressor.
Always have your engine running to supply the proper amount of electricity to the tire inflator while it is running. Once the compressor is hooked up to power, attach the inflation hose to the tire and let it begin inflating. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge and don’t leave the compressor running unattended.
How do portable air compressors work?
Small air compressors for filling tires don’t have an air tank like standard air compressors. Instead, they create air flow using a spinning rotor that slowly pushes out a small amount of air. This style of air compressor is perfect for tire inflators because they can be very compact and easy to store.
The only drawback is the slow air output can make inflating a tire a slow process and the small air compressor can overheat quickly.
For more information on centrifugal compressors like tire inflators check out this article here.
Have any more questions about small air compressors for RVs, buses, and trucks? Leave a comment below.