Spending a lot of time on the road brings challenges you couldn’t anticipate, so the best thing you can do is to be prepared for the difficulties you may encounter. Some of the best 12V portable air compressors enable you to solve some of these issues quickly in order to continue with your journey.
Whether you have to deal with a deflated tire, or you would like to use a pneumatic tool at a remote location, a 12V air compressor is probably your best option.
We’ve shortlisted some of the best 12V air compressors that can be used in a broad range of contexts, so let’s take a closer look at their features. You should also check out our full guide on how to find the best air compressor for DIY home-based projects.
At a Glance: Best 9 12V Portable Air Compressors
|Helteko Air Compressor||Check latest price|
|EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor||Check latest price|
|Viair 00088 88P||Check latest price|
|Kensun AC/DC Air Compressor||Check latest price|
|Fortem Digital Tire Inflator||Check latest price|
|POTEK Air Compressor||Check latest price|
|TIREWELL 12V Tire Inflator||Check latest price|
|TEROMAS Air Compressor||Check latest price|
|Viair 400P||Check latest price|
Helteko Air Compressor – Most affordable portable air compressor
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on an air compressor, as models like the Helteko Air Compressor offer great performance at a more than reasonable price. The tool is made mostly from ABS plastic, but its pump contains components made of stainless steel.
Despite questionable durability, this air compressor has a maximum capacity of 150 PSI, and you can use it to inflate tires on most passenger vehicles. However, the Helteko Air Compressor isn’t powerful enough to handle truck, SUV, or RV tires.
You can monitor the current pressure values on the device’s LCD that also helps you calculate the BAR, KG/CM2, or KPA values.
Also, the tire inflator will shut down automatically once the preset pressure value is reached, but you should also keep in mind that its maximum runtime is limited to just ten minutes. Its 11.5-foot cable provides you with enough room to reach all four tires on your vehicle.
- The LCD is easy to read
- Lightweight and easily portable
- Costs less than $30 and it comes with a 2-year warranty
- Equipped with the automatic shutdown feature
- Made from flimsy materials
- Maximum runtime is limited to just ten minutes
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor – Best car air compressor
Car owners can benefit from getting the EP 12V DC Portable Air Compressor, as this unit doesn’t require a lot of storage space and it can come in handy in different situations. Besides, this digital tire inflator weighs just one pound and it has the dimensions of 13.5 x 8.1 x 5.6 inches.
Its 70 PSI pressure output is far from being impressive, but it is still sufficient to inflate tires on bikes, cars, and even some SUVs. It also features a universal valve connector as well as adapters for different types of balls, inflatable kayaks, and swimming pool accessories.
The auto-shutdown feature prevents you from over-inflating tires or any other object and you can plug it into any DC power outlet. This EPAuto’s model needs between 120W and 180W to function normally, but you should bear in mind that it is not compatible with AC power outlets.
- Low storage space requirements
- LCD is visible and it displays all essential values
- Features an LED flashlight that enables you to use it in low light conditions
- Equipped with a broad range of valve adapters
- Limited air pressure capabilities
- Durability can be an issue
Viair 00088 88P – Best overall air compressor
Versatility is one of the greatest advantages the Viair 00088 88P portable air compressor has to offer. This Viair’s model can provide up to 120 PSI of air pressure, which is more than enough to inflate a 33-inch tire.
The inflation kit contains three pieces and it extends your options in terms of which items you can inflate. The air compressor also produces 1.47CFI while the PSI level is at zero, and its maximum amp draw is limited to 20 Amps.
The length of the power cord is just ten feet, but the model comes with a 16 feet air hose that gives you a wider range within which you can utilize this tool. It also features a pressure gauge that enables you to monitor current air pressure values.
The 88P is equipped with a pair of battery clamps so you can power it directly from your car battery, and it has an LED power indicator that shows how much power you’re using at any given moment. However, this air compressor doesn’t have an LCD.
- Capable of inflating 33-inch tires
- Capable of powering different power tools
- Ships with two battery clamps
- The inflation kit expands the tool’s versatility
- No digital display
- Heavy and bulky
Kensun AC/DC Air Compressor – Best RV air compressor
Whether you want to inflate a flat RV tire, swimming pool, or a bed, the Kensun AC/DV air compressor will tackle the task effortlessly.
This 120 PSI air compressor can be powered from both AC and DC power sources which enables you to reduce the strain of your car battery during an emergency if you have access to the utility grid.
Its maximum output is 18 liters per minute and it can remain operational for approximately half an hour at the load of 35PSI when powered from a DC source. Connecting this air compressor to an AC power outlet will make it somewhat faster as it will increase its inflation rate to 20 liters per minute.
The Kensun’s model has an analog built-in pressure gauge that makes it easy to read the BAR, KPA, or PSI values. This tool features a work light that enables you to connect it to an air valve even in low light conditions.
- AC/DC compatibility lets you draw power from different sources
- Besides RV tires this air compressor can inflate any other item you want to use while camping
- Excellent price-performance ratio
- The analog gauge allows you to monitor PSI levels
- The tool is slower when it is powered from a DC source
- The length of the hose doesn’t provide a lot of room to operate
Fortem Digital Tire Inflator
Attractive design and ease of use make the Fortem Digital Tire Inflator one of the most appealing air compressor models on the market. This versatile tire inflator can inflate tires on almost any vehicle regardless of its weight or size.
You just have to connect it to a DC outlet in your car, attach the hose to the air valve and choose the preferred PSI value. The Fortem’s digital tire inflator ships with several attachments that enable you to inflate balloons, basketballs, and other inflatable items.
The tool is equipped with an LED flashlight that makes it possible to use it at locations where there is no artificial light during the night. Moreover, it supports pressure values up to 150PSI, but its flow rate could be faster.
The maximum continuous runtime of this tire inflator is just 8 minutes, which doesn’t leave you too much room to handle the task at hand.
- Offers 150 PSI of air pressure
- Durable and sturdy hose
- LCD displays PSI, BAR, and other values
- Easily portable
- Short continuous runtime
- The power cord is only 10 feet long
POTEK Air Compressor
A multi-functional tool like the POTEK Air Compressor can prove to be useful in numerous contexts.
Besides supplying you with the maximum of 150 PSI of air pressure, the tool also grants you access to a jump starter that generates up to 1500 surge Watts and 750 running watts and it can function as a 300W inverter.
The 18AH lead-acid battery enables you to use the tool even when you don’t have access to a DC power source so that you can charge an empty car battery or inflate a flat tire during emergencies.
It takes approximately 8 minutes to inflate a tire up to the standard 30PSI with a POTEK air compressor which means that its flow rate could be faster. This versatile tool weighs almost 20 pounds and it may be difficult to carry it with you wherever you go.
Its hose and power cord are short and you must measure the vehicle’s length if you want to inflate its tires with it.
- Inverter function enables you to charge 12V appliances
- Offers 150 PSI of air pressure
- Features a USB port
- The device can be charged in two ways
- The flow rate is slow
- Heavy and occupies a lot of space
TIREWELL 12V Tire Inflator
The fact that TIREWELL 12 Tire Inflator can inflate a standard tire in 2 minutes speaks volumes about its capabilities. Besides, the tool can produce 150 PSI of air pressure which enables you to inflate most types of tires.
Its airflow rate at 0 PSI is 2.12CFM and it features a direct drive motor equipped with two cylinders that make the tool more efficient. The main body section has a four-rod design that dampens vibrations and reduces the level of noise the tool is producing.
Moreover, the four-rod design ensures that the TIREWELL 12 Tire Inflator remains in place once you place it onto a surface. A long hose allows you to reach the tires of trucks, SUVs, RVs, or vans without any difficulty.
This model has a built-in air pressure gauge that lets you keep track of air pressure values so that you can inflate a tire for optimum performance.
- Suitable for all types of vehicles
- The hose is long enough to reach all tires on a vehicle
- Low noise and vibration levels
- Features a pair of battery clamps
- The inflation process can take a while if you to increase the air pressure over 100 PSI
- No automatic shut off feature to prevent overheating
TEROMAS Air Compressor
The perfect mixture of size and power is the most distinctive characteristic of the Teromas Air Compressor. The tool’s dimensions are just 9.2 x 7.1 x 2.8 inches, but it can still generate 150 PSI of air pressure.
The air compressor is equipped with 12V and 120V power outlets and it can inflate a tire from 0 to 35 PSI in 4 minutes. It is worth noting that the airflow decreases as the air pressure increases, so it may take more than ten minutes to inflate an item at a pressure value larger than 100 PSI.
This tool also offers its users the option to preselect the PSI value, and it shuts down automatically as soon as the desired air pressure is reached. All values are displayed on the LCD that is visible even in broad daylight.
- Features adaptors that make it compatible with a broad spectrum of inflatables
- Fast airflow rate
- LCD enables you to monitor the air pressure
- Automatic shutdown feature
- Short power cord and hose
- Some components are not made from durable materials
Viair is one of the leading manufacturers of air compressors, and their 400P model exceeds the expectations of most demanding users.
This tool can be used to inflate tires on all types of vehicles as it is capable of supplying 150 PSI of air pressure with an airflow capacity of 2.3CFM at 0 PSI. However, most car and homeowners don’t need such a powerful air compressor.
This model has battery clamps that feature a 40 Amp inline fuse so that you can connect it to a car battery effortlessly. If you opt for this air compressor you will also get a 25-foot air hose so that you can reach the tires of a vehicle regardless of how large it is.
However, such impressive features are also the reason why this air compressor is among the most expensive models you can get and you should only invest in it if you are planning on using it frequently.
- Long power cord and hose
- High airflow capacity speeds up the inflation process
- Usable for a wide range of purposes
- Features an automatic reset thermal overload protector
- Heavy and bulky
- More expensive than models with similar features
The most important factors to consider while choosing a 12V portable air compressor
Having an air compressor can help you finish your latest garage improvement project or save you from being stuck on the road with a flat tire. The versatility these tools offer is stunning and it makes them a great addition to any workshop.
Choosing the model that best suits your needs, shouldn’t be too difficult, but there are still a number of things you need to take into consideration before purchasing an air compressor. Let’s take a look at some aspects that may help you find the right 12V air compressor for you.
Ease of use
Handling an air compressor doesn’t require much previous experience, but as an inexperienced user, you may over-inflate or overheat the tool by accident.
That’s why choosing a model that allows you to set the PSI value in advance can be a good decision. In addition, models that are equipped with the automatic shutdown feature are less likely to break down from overheating.
The PSI rating
A regular car tire doesn’t have an air pressure value that is higher than 35 PSI, and even the least powerful air compressors can provide you with 70 PSI, which more than enough to inflate most inflatables.
Opting for a model that is capable of generating air pressure values larger than 100 PSI is a good idea if you want to power a pneumatic tool or inflate truck tires.
Most air compressors need 120 Watts to run normally, while only a handful of models require 180 Watts or 240 Watts. The power source you will be using to power your 12V air compressor should help you narrow down your choices.
Power cord length and AC/DC compatibility
Choosing a model that is AC and DC compatible will make it easier to find a reliable power source for your air compressor when you need it. The length of the power cord can be a limiting factor as you may not be able to reach the item you want to inflate if it is too short.
Easily readable display
Exceeding the PSI value of the item you are inflating can cause damage to it. That’s why you need to monitor the current PSI level while inflating a tire or any other object.
Getting an air compressor that has an easily readable pressure gauge or LCD will make this task much easier. In case you are considering a model that is equipped with an LCD you should check if the screen is backlit since you may not be able to see the values on the screen clearly in broad daylight if it isn’t.
Answer: Manufacturers usually offer one-year or two-year warranties for 12v air compossers, but how long a particular model is going to last depends on how often you use it and how well you take care of it.
Answer: The airflow rate is the rate at which the air compressor is releasing the compressed air. High airflow rates ensure that you can inflate a tire or any other item quicker, but this rate decreases as the air pressure increases.
Answer: For instance, pneumatic die grinders require an air compressor that has an airflow speed of at least ten liters per minute. In case you want to use an air compressor to inflate an item, you will need to have the matching adaptor for the object you want to inflate.
Answer: You can purchase a 12V air compressor for less than $30, while high-end models can cost around $200.
Our Verdict: Which is the best 12V portable air compressor?
Overall there are so many different purposes for which you can use a 12V air compressor, and inflating tires is just one of them. These tools make professional tasks or leisure activities more enjoyable as they enable you to save time on inflating the objects you want to use.
A model such as the Helteko Air Compressor is the most affordable 12V air compressor you can get, but its performance capabilities prevent you from performing heavy-duty tasks.
Choosing the Viair 00088 88P can prove to be a great decision if you need a 12V air compressor that is powerful enough to inflate a 33-inch tire and you don’t mind the extra cost. Overall in our opinion, this is the best pick if you had to choose a 12V portable air compressor.
Which 12V air compressor are you going to choose? Leave a comment and let us know or continue reading about the best woodworking tools.