12V portable air compressors are available with a variety of features. Whether you’re looking for a heavy-duty compressor that can inflate 35 inch wheels or you need a lightweight one to inflate bicycle tires, there’s a compressor that can suit your needs.
Whatever your needs are, choosing can be difficult with so many options available. Fortunately, we have vetted some of the best 12V portable air compressors to make the process a bit easier.
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Quick Picks: Top 12V Portable Air Compressors
The table below highlights our selections for the best 12V portable air compressors. We’ve chosen a top pick overall, a runner-up pick, a heavy-duty option, a budget pick, and the cheapest option overall.
1. VIAIR 00088
Best 12V portable air compressor for the money
- 120 PSI
- 33″ Tires Max
- 16′ Hose
- Weighs 4.5 lbs.
Our top pick is a user friendly compressor suitable for SUVs, trucks, sedans and ATVs. Operating at 20 Amps, it works on tires up to 33 inches. This 12 volt compressor has a maximum working PSI of 120 and goes from 15 to 30 PSI in less than three minutes.
The VIAIR 0088 comes with an LED power indicator, a 10 foot power cord and a 16 foot air hose for convenience and maneuverability. To power, you can simply attach the alligator clamps to your car’s battery.
It also has easy to use brass twist-on chucks and three inflation tips. To add, the compressor now comes with a carrying bag for easy transport and is lightweight, weighing in at 4.5 pounds.
For all of the features, it’s reasonably priced in the mid-range.
2. GSPSCN Silver
Our runner-up pick
- 150 PSI
- 10′ Hose
- Weighs 6.7 lbs.
Our runner up can be used on a wide array of vehicles, including cars, trucks, trailers, MPVs, golf carts and more. The 12 volt air compressor has a maximum working PSI of 150 and fully inflates the average tire in 1.5 minutes.
This air compressor kit comes with a convenient 10 foot (3 meters) coiled hose and a power cord that measures about 11 feet. Power the compressor by connecting to your car’s cigarette lighter or attaching the battery clamps to the power cord.
The kit is equipped with three adaptors that can be used to inflate toys, bicycles and more.
You’ll also find the compressor has a swingable handle and a carrying bag for easy transport. Furthermore, at 6.8 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight, considering all of its features.
Lastly, you’ll be pleased to known that the GSPSCN won’t break the bank.
3. VIAIR 400P
Top heavy-duty 12V portable compressor
- 150 PSI
- 35″ Tires Max
- 25′ Hose
- Weighs 8.5 lbs.
The heavy-duty pick on our list has a bit more vehicle range and can inflate tires measuring up to 35 inches. This 12 volt machine can inflate with up to 150 PSI maximum working pressure and has a super fast inflation rate. It can take your car tire’s PSI from 0 to 30 in under five minutes.
A 25 foot air hose and an 8 foot power cord are included with the air compressor. Simply attach the heavy-duty clamps to your car’s battery to power. It also has three tip attachments for inflating various items like bicycles.
One feature that makes this air compressor stand out is the addition of a sand tray with vibration control, making it quieter than expected. Additionally, there’s a zippered carrier that has storage compartments.
The heavy-duty VIAIR 400P also comes with a heavier weight (8.5 pounds) and price.
4. EPAuto 12V
Budget portable air compressor
- 70 PSI
- 2.5′ Hose
- Weighs 3.8 lbs.
Next up is the highly affordable EPAuto 12V compressor pump. It reaches a maximum PSI of 70 and has a cool digital LED PSI indicator. The compressor can be used on cars, mid-size SUVs and bicycles and has a needle you can attach to inflate items like basketballs.
Furthermore, to use simply connect the power cord to your car’s cigarette lighter. The air hose is much shorter than the hose of the previously mentioned compressors at 2.5 feet long while the power cord measures approximately 9 feet.
It also has a built-in flash light and automatic shut-down in the case of overinflation and overheating.
This compressor is extremely light, weighing only 3.75 pounds and is one of the most affordable portable air compressors, so it deserves as spot on our best 12v portable air compressor list.
5. TireTek TT-303
Cheapest 12V portable air compressor
- 100 PSI
- 11.5′ Hose
- Weighs 6.2 lbs.
Last but not least is the TireTek easy-to-use air compressor. This one works on the average vehicle as well as items such as balls, toys and air mattresses thanks to the four adapters that are included.
The TireTek has a 100 working PSI and an extra long 11.5 foot air hose. The power cord is on the shorter end, measuring about 6 feet. To power, simply connect the power cord to your car’s cigarette lighter.
Some additional features to appreciate include the LED safety light along with the automatic shut-off feature that prevents overinflation. Furthermore, the vibration control rubber feet make this one of the quietest air compressors on the market.
This one is packed with great features and is one of the most inexpensive compressors on the market.
12V Portable Air Compressor FAQ
If you’ve been searching for the best portable air compressor for your needs, you’re probably ready to make the purchase but still have questions. This section might provide some valuable insight.
1. What Is The Proper Way To Use A Portable Air Compressor?
If you’re not familiar with tire inflation, the process might seem daunting. However, it’s a simple process. Before beginning, make sure you read the manual. Not all models work the same way.
Generally, all you have to do first is connect the power cord to the power source, usually a car battery or a cigarette lighter. Next, connect the air hose on the compressor to the vehicle or device you wish to inflate. Wait for the item to fill, and monitor the pressure gauge during the process if possible to ensure proper inflation.
Once you’re finish, be sure to disconnect the power and hose and make sure the compressor is turned off completely.
2. How Much Air Pressure Do I Really Need?
Air pressure varies from car to car and tool to tool, etcetera. Car tires usually have printed on them the recommended pressure required. You should consult your vehicle’s owner manual or manufacturer if you are unsure.
When it comes to power tools, a higher PSI of around 100 is required. Toys, balls and other smaller devices usually require very little pressure. Check with the manual to avoid overinflation.
3. What kind of staple gun do you use for carpet?
No matter which 12V portable air compressor you choose, you will probably want to keep it working efficiently as long as possible. Below are just a few easy tips to do so.
- Check for air and oil leaks. This is especially important if you plan to use your compressor in the case of an emergency.
- Monitor the rate at which your compressor inflates. It will become less efficient over time and therefore may need to be replaced.
- It is recommenced that you store your compressor in temperatures that are 59 degrees Fahrenheit or less. However, that is not always possible, especially if you store it in your car trunk. Make sure it’s not exposed to direct sunlight or freezing temperatures.
Furthermore, try to avoid using your compressor in excessive heat and cold conditions. Consult your manual for the safe operating temperatures.
- Be sure to drain water from your compressor after each use. Do so by opening the drain valve.
Now that you are more familiar with the portable air compressors, it’s up to you to choose the one that’s best for you. There are a number of features to consider. Perhaps you prefer a quiet compressor, which would probably contain a vibration canceling device. Maybe you need a specific PSI capability; there are a few options from which to choose. You may be looking for something simple and inexpensive, with basic PSI, lightweight and minimal features.
Whatever your preferences, be sure to evaluate all options to choose the best one.