Air compressors are great tools to have if you regularly do DIY jobs around the house, own an RV, spend your free time off-roading, or often travel in areas with limited emergency services. They can be used to power air tools, add air to tires, or even blow up pool toys and inflatable paddleboards.
There are many 12v air compressors for sale across the internet and in brick-and-mortar shops, but with all the features they have to offer, choosing one can be tricky. It’s important to understand the different features and what sets specific models apart to choose the best one for you.
To help you in your journey to buy the best portable 12v air compressor, we’ve put together a list of some of the best 12v air compressors available for purchase and explain the different features they offer.
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View the Best 12v Air Compressor, Below.
- EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
- VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor
- Helteko Air Compressor Tire inflator
- Kensun AC/DC Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor
- FORTEM Portable Air Compressor for Car
- VIAIR 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
- HAUSBELL Portable Air Compressor for Car Tires
- Kinverch Jump Starter Air Compressor
- Audew Portable Air Compressor
- GSPSCN Silver Dual Cylinder 12V Air Compressor Pump
1. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump
The Best Overall 12v Air Compressor
The EPAuto 12V compressor is perfect for drivers of small cars up to midsize SUVs. Equipped with a cigarette lighter socket, this device plugs into the dash on your vehicle to quickly add air to tires on anything running on a 3.5-liter engine or smaller. With a maximum working pressure rating of 70 psi and an impressive airflow of 1.06 CFM, you'll be up and running in no time.
Choose from four different units on the easy-to-read digital display, and never overinflate with the convenient auto-off feature. An internal safety sensor shuts the unit off entirely if it reaches 167℉. This compressor comes with a needle valve for sports balls, a Schrader valve for bike tires, and short and long cone adapters to quickly and easily inflate kayaks and pool toys. The bright LED flashlight is helpful for nighttime emergencies, ensuring your work area is well lit and safe.
Weighing less than 4 pounds and measuring 9.57 x 7.8 x 5.39 inches, this portable 12V air compressor takes up little space in your vehicle but gives you big piece of mind.
Why We Like It: This EPAuto 12v compressor comes in at the top of our list with its helpful features like the digital display, LED light, and auto shut-off. Without a doubt, it's one of the best portable tire inflators on the market.Check Price on Amazon ➞
2. VIAIR 400P Portable Compressor
The Best 12V Air Compressor for Off-Road Enthusiasts
Capable of inflating a 35-inch tire up to 30 psi in under 6 minutes, the VIAIR 400P is a great lightweight and portable compressor, perfect for those who like to spend their time exploring off the given path. It can operate at a working pressure of 150 PSI for up to 15 continuous minutes at a time before needing to cool down. In addition, it features an open-ended inflation hose that can air up, air up intermittently, air down, air down intermittently, and check tire pressure - making it perfect for adjusting tire pressure depending on the driving conditions.
The 400P attaches to your vehicle’s battery via heavy-duty alligator-style battery clamps. An 8-foot power cable and a 25-foot air hose give you plenty of working range, allowing you to reach all the tires on your vehicle efficiently. This compressor includes a heavy-duty sand tray with vibration isolators to help reduce vibration when in use. Equipped with a thermal overload protector, the unit will shut down when it reaches 158℉ to prevent overheating.
Why We Like It: The VIAIR 400P quickly inflates and airs down truck tires, attaching directly to your vehicle’s engine battery. It's designed for use on larger tires and works well in both on and off-road conditions.Check Price on Amazon ➞
3. Helteko Air Compressor Tire inflator
The Most Stylish Looking 12v Air Compressor
Helteko’s powerful air compressor tire inflator works quickly to inflate a mid-sized car tire in 3 to 5 minutes, getting you back on the road fast. An 11.5-foot cable cord makes it easy to reach all four tires on your vehicle, as well as inflate motorcycle or bicycle tires if needed. The bright digital display switches between multiple units and is easy to read even at night. In addition, a bright LED light provides extra safety and visibility during nighttime roadside emergencies.
A fast snap-on connector allows you to quickly change the inflation nozzles from the standard tire inflator to one of the additional nozzles for bike tires, air mattresses, or water toys. Simply set the desired pressure and let the air compressor do its job. The auto-off safety feature stops inflation when the predetermined pressure is reached. This prevents over-inflation and the rupture of tires or other items.
Constructed with durable ABS plastic and lightweight stainless steel, Helteko’s 12V air compressor is made to be durable and long-lasting.
Why We Like It: Compact and lightweight, this sporty-looking air compressor works quickly and efficiently to reinflate tires in the event of a flat. The long air hose makes it easy to inflate any tire on a vehicle without removing it from the car.Check Price on Amazon ➞
4. Kensun AC/DC Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor
The Best AC/DC Powered 12V Air Compressor
Dual solid medal motors in the Kensun AC/DC tire inflator provide 100 psi of working pressure and move at a flow rate of 18(DC)/20(AC) liters/minutes to inflate your tires quickly. It features two different power sockets. You can opt to power it with your vehicle's 12V DC cigarette lighter or plug it into a standard wall outlet. Its continuous working time of 30 minutes at 35 psi lets you inflate multiple items before needing to shut the unit down to cool off.
The sizeable analog gauge on this Kensun portable tire inflator is easy to read, allowing you to quickly convert between units (PSI/Bar/KPA) while working and is accurate to +/- 1psi. It can inflate car, motorcycle, ATV, and midsize SUV tires and includes adapters for bike tires, sports balls, and other inflatables. Easily store the cords and air hose in the compartment on the back of the unit before zipping the air compressor into the included zippered carry bag.
Why We Like It: The dual power switching ability makes the Kensum AC/DC tire inflator handy for use in the car or around your home. Easily switch between AC or DC power depending upon the item(s) you're inflating.Check Price on Amazon ➞
5. FORTEM Portable Air Compressor for Car
The Most Compact 12v Air Compressor
If you want an air compressor that looks ultra-modern, then this style is definitely for you. The digital display on the front panel is easy to read. You can simply check the tire pressure to make sure you're running your tires at the proper rate or quickly inflate a low tire. Set the display to your desired pressure rating - it will automatically shut off when it reaches that setting, preventing overinflating. The three extra nozzle attachments work wonderfully for inflating air mattresses, sports balls, and inflatable water toys.
The FORTEM portable air compressor plugs into a 12 volt DC cigarette lighter outlet or any other 12V socket for easy use. The small design means it tucks away discreetly into your trunk. You can also slide it under a seat in your SUV. In addition, it's made of high-quality lightweight plastic, weighing under two pounds. There’s no worry about moving a cumbersome, heavy piece of equipment around with this compressor. But don’t let the compact size fool you. It can still power its way through inflating tires for cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and small to midsize SUVs.
Why We Like It: The FORTEM digital tire inflator has a sleek, compact design that's powerful enough to inflate small vehicle tires, sports equipment, and other inflatable toys. It's easy to store in your vehicle or tuck on a shelf in the garage.Check Price on Amazon ➞
6. VIAIR 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
The Best Heavy 12v Air Compressor for Tires up to 33-Inches
The newly designed VIAIR 88P Portable Compressor works to inflate tires too small to tackle with its big brother, the 400P - reviewed above. Attach the heavy-duty battery clamps to the terminals, and within minutes, this powerful compressor inflates tires up to 33-inches in diameter, with a maximum draw of 20 amps. The solid brass chuck twists on to create a tight seal, preventing leaks when inflating.
Equipped with a 10-foot power cord and a 16-foot air hose, you can easily reach your tires for inflation, even on an RV. In addition, it has a running time of 25 minutes at 30psi. This gives you plenty of time to top off all of your tires before it overheats at the 158℉ point. And winter weather doesn’t slow this air compressor down - it works down to -4℉.
Switch out the brass chuck for one of the three inflation tips if you need to inflate sports balls, air mattresses, or water toys like kayaks and inflatable boats. When you're done, everything stores neatly in the deluxe carry case, keeping your trunk tidy.
Why We Like It: The VIAIR 88P takes after the more heavy-duty 400P, with its powerful CFM and 120 psi working pressure rating. It fills tires up quickly with a powerful flow rate but is designed for smaller tire inflation up to 33-inches in diameter, making it great for light trucks, SUVs, sedans, and ATVs.Check Price on Amazon ➞
7. HAUSBELL Portable Air Compressor for Car Tires
The Lightest 12V Air Compressor
Built to inflate car, motorcycle, and midsize SUV tires, the HAUSBELL portable 12v air compressor quickly and accurately works to get you off the side of the road in minutes. Weighing less than 2 pounds, this powerful compressor with a pure copper motor plugs into your cigarette outlet to make quick work of tire inflation. For example, it can inflate a 195/55/R15 car tire to 35 psi in 5 minutes.
The power cord on this 12v portable air compressor is almost 10 feet long, making it easy to reach even the back tires on your vehicle. The built-in LED flashlight illuminates your workspace after dark for increased safety. Set the desired pressure on the digital tire pressure display gauge - choosing from one of four units - and the pump automatically shuts off when it reaches the preset pressure. This will make sure tires aren't overinflated.
When you’re at home or the beach, switch out the air chuck for one of the three included inflation tips to inflate sports balls, air mattresses, or bike tires effortlessly. The thermal protection feature shuts the unit off when it reaches a maximum temperature, allowing the compressor to cool before overheating.
Why We Like It: Rated well by users, this 12-volt air compressor packs a lot of power for its small size. Durable and efficient, the HAUSBELL compressor can fill a sedan tire in 5 minutes without pulling it off the vehicle.Check Price on Amazon ➞
8. Kinverch Jump Starter Air Compressor
The Best 12v Air Compressor and Jump Starter in One
Condense all of your emergency kits into one single unit with the Kinverch Jump Starter Air Compressor. This multi-purpose device inflates car tires, jump-starts a dead battery, and works as an inverter to power or charge small devices. It's perfect for people on the road or weekend adventurers who enjoy spending time outdoors away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
With a rechargeable battery, the Kinverch 12-volt air compressor doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source to work if it’s fully charged. This is especially helpful when your battery is dead or you need to charge your phone quickly. When the rechargeable battery is low, plug the compressor into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket on the go or charge it in the garage - it'll plug into a standard wall outlet.
While it offers many features, everything is clearly labeled and designed to be easy to use. The analog pressure dial is well-placed and large enough to read even when the compressor is running and causing vibrations. The 200 lumens LED work light lights up your workspace at night, keeping you safe and letting you inflate a tire or jump your car quickly.
Why We Like It: This multi-purpose air compressor and jump starter is the perfect roadside companion for frequent travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. It's the best portable unit if you want one that's multipurpose. No matter the emergency - flat tired or dead battery - it will have you up and running quickly.Check Price on Amazon ➞
9. Audew Portable Air Compressor
The Best 12v Air Compressor with SOS Light
Audew’s Portable Air Compressor is simple and easy to use. It boasts the best airflow output on our list of air compressors. Connect the air hose to the valve stem, set the desired air pressure on the digital display, and hit the “on” button. It can fully inflate a car tire within minutes and automatically shuts off once it reaches the desired psi, ensuring you don't damage the tire.
Made from lightweight yet durable materials, this portable air compressor weighs less than 3 pounds, making it easy to use regardless of your age or physical capabilities. A 10-foot long power cord quickly reaches all four tires on the vehicle, so you don’t need to pull a flat off the car before inflating.
This 12v portable air compressor also comes with three different nozzles so that you'll always have the right one on hand. Quickly inflate car or bike tires, or use it for inflating air mattresses, pumping up your yoga ball, or topping off the inflatable pool toys before use. When finished, everything stores neatly in a compartment on the side, and the air compressor tucks away in your trunk, taking up little space.
Why We Like It: Not only is this 12v air compressor by Audew the second-fastest air compressor on our list, but the added SOS warning light also goes the extra distance to keep you safe during a nighttime roadside emergency.Check Price on Amazon ➞
10. GSPSCN Silver Dual Cylinder 12V Air Compressor Pump
The Fastest 12v Air Compressor
With airflow up to four times faster than similar models, the GSPSCN Silver Dual Cylinder 12v Air Compressor can inflate a standard 17” tire to 35 psi in about 90 seconds. It can also inflate truck and van tires. One unit can work with numerous vehicles, regardless of their tire size.
With dual power sockets, this compressor attaches directly to the vehicle’s battery using heavy-duty alligator clamps or plugs into the 12V cigarette outlet. The analog tire pressure gauge is easy to read and more accurate than digital gauges. Unlike other air compressors with short air hoses, the extension air hose is 12 feet long, allowing you to reach every tire on your vehicle easily. When finished inflating, the coiled hose stores neatly in the included deluxe carry bag.
Weighing about 7 pounds, the GSPSCN air compressor is easy to carry with a swingable handle that moves 180° and takes up little space in the trunk or storage compartment.
Why We Like It: The GSPSCN is a heavy-duty portable air compressor in a compact size with a budget-friendly price tag. It inflates tires much quicker than the other air compressors, and the heavy-duty construction helps to reduce noise and vibration when in use.Check Price on Amazon ➞
12v Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
What to Look for When Buying a 12v Air Compressor
It can be confusing scrolling through pages and pages of portable air compressors online or standing in the aisle comparing models at the home improvement store. Air compressors offer many different features, and at first glance, it’s hard to tell if one machine with fantastic features is better than the next one.
Trying to understand which features are essential for you is where this buyer’s guide comes in very handy. We’ve listed some important things to consider before spending your money on the best portable 12-volt air compressor for your needs.
Portable air compressors come with different power sockets. Some units plug directly into a cigarette lighter in your car (also known as the 12V auxiliary power outlet), others plug directly into a power outlet at home, and some can connect directly to your vehicle’s battery. Which power socket you choose depends upon how you plan to use your portable air compressor.
- Compressors that plug directly into the vehicle’s auxiliary outlet are very convenient for when you’re on the go. As long as your car is running, you can quickly inflate a tire.
- Ones with a wall plug work well when you’re running pneumatic tools or topping off the air in your tires before a road trip. Simply plug the compressor into a garage outlet, and you’re good to go.
- If you choose one that connects directly to your battery terminals, check the power draw before purchasing. Anything with a draw higher than 120 watts can damage your vehicle’s battery.
If possible, try to find a compressor with different power sockets. This will give you options depending on where you are and what power sources are available.
Maximum PSI Rating
Not only is the air output significant, but you also need to consider the maximum psi rating of an air compressor if you intend to use it to power tools. The psi, or pound-force per square inch, measures the air pressure generated inside the tank. To run pneumatic tools, including a basic nailer, you need a minimum of 90 psi.
It’s crucial that you match the maximum psi rating of the air compressor with the pressure required of the tool. If your pneumatic device requires a very high PSI and the air compressor has a lower rating, this will affect how the tool works. The compressor won’t provide enough pressure to let the device reach its full performance.
A smaller tank with a higher maximum psi is also beneficial as it allows it to function like a larger compressor. For instance, a 2-gallon compressor with 150 psi holds the equivalent of a 3-gallon model with 100 psi.
How quickly your 12-volt compressor works to inflate a tire is incredibly important, especially when you’ve broken down along the side of the highway. Getting you out of an emergency and back on the road quickly is a high priority.
Inflation speed, or flow rate, is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute), a unit that describes how much air is flowing out of your compressor per minute. Most 12V air compressors should be able to inflate a standard car tire up to 30-40 psi in a few minutes. Higher capacity tires will take longer to inflate.
Since this guide compares 12V air compressors, it isn’t necessary to discuss voltage, but it’s essential to consider the compressor’s power capacity. The power capacity determines the compressor’s efficiency, and ultimately whether it’s useful or not.
Most models come with a power capacity between 2 and 10 horsepower (HP). To use the standard electrical outlets in your home, opt for something no higher than 2HP. Any larger than that requires a 220v to 240v outlet.
Maximum Continuous Working Time
This is the amount of time an air compressor runs before it begins to overheat and must be shut off to cool down. Cheaper models typically have a much shorter continuous working time and may not inflate tires with above-average psi ratings. If you’re looking to purchase a 12V air compressor for your RV or have larger truck tires, look for a compressor with a longer run time.
Digital or Analog Gauge
The air pressure gauge on a 12v air compressor is an essential control panel feature. It’s crucial that it’s easy to use so you can quickly check tire pressure. It also needs to be accurate to make sure you properly inflate your tire(s).
Pressure gauges on portable air compressors can either be an analog dial or a digital LCD. Both types have pros and cons.
- Digital displays give you an instant reading and can often be switched between units.
- Analog dials are typically more accurate, which some people consider better when using a 12-volt air compressor for tire inflation.
- Analog dials are easy to read when the sun is bright, but they’re unreadable at night unless they are backlit.
- LDC displays are hard to read in bright sunlight but easy to read at night.
Cord & Hose Length
Having a portable air compressor is excellent for convenience and portability. However, its function is considerably limited if the power cord or the air hose isn’t long. A short cord or hose is okay if you need to inflate flat car tires or you’re inflating pool toys. It isn’t helpful if you’re trying to reach the back tires on your RV or camper.
Before buying, think about how you’ll be using your air compressor and take a minute to study the cord or hose lengths. Ensure they are long enough for your needs, or look into purchasing a longer hose to extend your reach.
Auto Shut Off
Auto shut-off is a handy feature to have on an air compressor, especially if you’re new to using one. The auto shut-off automatically stops inflating an item when a designated pressure is reached, keeping you from over-inflating and causing damage. Unfortunately, this isn’t a feature available on all units, so you’ll need to watch out for it if it’s something you want.
On some air compressors, you can set the shut-off level yourself. On others, the air compressor gauges when to shut off, based on resistance met during inflation. This means if you’re not sure how much air a flat tire needs, it will automatically detect the amount. This way, you won’t over-inflate it and damage the tire.
Some models are also equipped with a thermal cut-out that shuts the compressor off when it reaches a specific temperature. This safety feature prevents overheating, extending the life of your compressor.
Size and Weight
While this feature isn’t as crucial as others, it’s still important to consider, especially if you keep your compressor in your vehicle or RV. Many compact models are convenient for storing in your car, but keep in mind they may not be as robust. The higher the performance rating, the larger and heavier the compressor. Not only will a larger compressor take up more space – it will be more challenging to move around when needed.
Having an easy-to-use yet powerful, portable 12v air compressor on hand is essential if you do a lot of traveling in your vehicle or you often work with power tools around the house. They can quickly reinflate tires in the event of a breakdown and power pneumatic tools like nailers and impact wrenches. Like any similar purchase, it’s essential to understand the different features available and buy the best portable 12-volt air compressor for your needs.