Best RV Air Compressor: Keep Your RV Tires Inflated
Winterize your RV and fill up your tires with a high-quality air compressor.
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RV travel is one of the best ways of capturing the beauty of the outdoors while reducing travel costs. You can avoid expenses such as trip fare or hotel costs, and can carry almost everything you need for your vacation. It’s also an affordable way of traveling with a large group of people. The RV life can be an even more enjoyable experience if you prepare for the emergencies that may come up such as flat tires. In such situations, you need to have an air compressor.
An air compressor works by forcing air into a container, pressurizing it, and then forcing the pressurized out through an opening in the tank fitted with an air hose. The pressurized air can be used to fill your tires, power air tools, or inflate air cushions, sports balls, and other inflatables that are necessary for your trip. During winter, when it’s not so comfortable to stay in the RV, you can use the air compressor to flush out the plumbing system before filling it with RV antifreeze. Therefore, an air compressor is an important tool for every RV owner. We will help you find the best one.
Viair 88p Portable Air Compressor
This small air compressor connects directly to your RV’s battery for maximum power. It’s a highly portable unit that can be stored in small spaces.
- Power cord and hose are long enough to reach all tires
- Can inflate tires of up to 33 inches
- Powerful working pressure of 120 PSI
- Works well on other types of vehicles
- Replacing the air hose and power cord may be a hassle
- Pressure gauge might have some inaccuracies
Tirewell 12V Tire Inflator
This is a robust air compressor that puts out 2.12 cubic feet per minute at 0 PSI. It connects directly to your RV’s battery or cigarette lighter to draw ample power.
- Operates with minimal noise and vibrations
- Stays steady on the ground when in use
- Can also inflate bikes or inflatables
- Stable and easy to control when in use
- Takes a long time to inflate large tires
- Pressure gauge might give inaccurate readings
California Air Tools 2-Gallon Air Compressor
This is a 2-gallon air compressor with a horizontal-style tank and an oil-free pump. It is designed to run more quietly than similar air compressors.
- Reasonably compact for storage and transportation
- Durable and rust-free construction using heavy-duty metal
- Prodies 25 percent more air than similar air compressors
- More expensive than standard air compressors
- Only connects to a 110-volt power outlet
Benefits of RV Air Compressors
- Multifunctional. Since most air compressors come with multiple nozzles, you can use them to inflate other automotive applications besides your RV. You can also use it to fill pool toys, inflate soccer balls, bike tubes, motorcycles, and other inflatable equipment. Therefore, an RV compressor acts as multipurpose and versatile equipment.
- Easy to use. When using portable RV air compressors, you are exempted from the guesswork. You can simply set the air pressure for the car tire inflation and rest assured that your tires will not be over-inflated or under-inflated, thanks to the automatic shutoff. The compressor ensures the specified amount of pressure is inflated into the tires to keep you going throughout the journey.
- Long-lasting. A quality RV air compressor serves you for the longest time. Most of the models are made of high-quality stainless steel material that is resistant to rust and corrosion. Also, some RV air compressors can withstand high pressure because they have insulated rubber valves.
- Convenience. Air compressors for RV tires make your traveling easy and convenient. They are easy to use for inflating your vehicle tires quickly. You can attach the compressor to the cigarette lighter or on your car battery, and it will automatically start inflating the tires. With a digital tire inflator, you do not have to visit the gas station anymore for tire inflation.
Types of RV Air Compressors
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These air compressors for RV tires work by forcing air into an empty chamber until it reaches a specific volume. On reaching the specified volume, the compressor opens a port valve and discharges the air. It has an outlet system within the compression chamber that it uses to discharge the air when inflating the tires. In this category of air compressors, there are piston-type, rotary screw compressors, and vane compressors.
Portable compressors are the most common air compressors on the market today. They come in different types based on their PSI, CFM, and horsepower. Portable compressors are lighter than most of the traditional compressors. They are mostly used by motorhome owners, campers, and other off-road enthusiasts.
Types of RV Air Compressors
Tankless Air compressor
A tankless or mini air compressor is a compact unit that’s perfect for quickly inflating your tires. As the name suggests, it’s not fitted with a tank for storing air so it doesn't take time to build pressure. Ideally, it will run continuously to supply air when connected to a power source, and automatically shuts off when the preset pressure is attained.
Air Tank Compressor
Most RV air compressors on the market have an air storage tank with a capacity ranging from 2 to 60 gallons. Having a reservoir for compressed air means that you can give the air pump a rest while you run air tools or inflate your tires. The design of the compressor is based on the shape of the tank, and this is why we have the hotdog, pancake, and vertical air compressor.
This is a popular manufacturer of quality RV air compressors today. It started as a tool shop back in 1906 and has grown over the years to become a successful tool company. The company is based in Jackson, Tennessee. Some of the best-selling RV air compressors from this company include the Porter-Cable 30-Gallon Single Stage Portable Air Compressor and Porter-Cable C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor. Most of the air compressors from this company are electric-powered and made of durable parts.
VIAIR is one of the leading suppliers and distributors of quality RV air compressors worldwide. The company has been in operation for many years now and is proud of its excellent reputation in the global compressor market. It is based in Irvine, California. Some of the best-selling products from this company include the Viair 40047 400P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit and VIAIR 45053 Silver Automatic Portable Compressor Kit (450P-RV). The company has set a record in the provision of standardized 24-volt and 12-volt air compressors.
Craftsman is an American tool and equipment manufacturer that was founded in 1927. It’s a subsidiary brand of Stanley Black & Decker. Craftsman specializes in designing work gear, hand tools, power tools, storage, and outdoor equipment. Check out the Craftsman Pancake Air Compressor if you would like to try out one of its air compressors.
RV Air Compressor Pricing
- Under $100: These are some of the most affordable RV air compressors you can buy. They are highly portable, lightweight, and compact in design. They have a lower air discharge rate of about 2 cubic feet per minute. However, these air compressors might not be suitable for large tires.
- Over $100: Air compressors in this category are some of the best. They are equipped with specialized functions and equipment such as an automatic shutoff function, 100 percent duty cycle, changeable inflation gun, and a carrying case. Their air discharge rate is also a bit higher compared to other cheaper air compressors. These devices give faster inflation at maximum working pressure. Additionally, they are made of more durable materials and are suitable for inflating large tires.
RV air compressors come with different working pressures depending on their model. The working pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). The PSI can range from 0-150 and determines the air discharge speed (CFM) of the compressor. Compressors with low working pressure have a low runtime and take more time to inflate tires.
The power cord is an essential feature in every air compressor. Compressors with longer power cords are more flexible and easier to use. The power cord length ranges from 4-30 inches. Therefore, when selecting an RV air compressor, you should go for one with a longer air hose and power cord for ease of use.
Cylinder or Tank Size
When choosing the best air compressor for your RV, you must check for the right cylinder or tank size. Tank size determines the volume of air pressure the compressor can store. Ideally, air compressors with larger tanks store more air than those with smaller tanks. Also, those with large tanks are a bit heavier and difficult to transport.
- Noise Level. Some of the cheaper RV air compressors can be very loud, making it difficult to stay close when they are running. When buying an RV air compressor, you should go for one with a sound range below 65 decibels; this sound limit is safe for your ears. Most RV air compressors give off sounds between 40-90 decibels. Therefore, you should always find out the noise level before buying the machine.
- Weight. RV air compressors come in various weights because they are made of different materials. If you are going to be carrying your air compressor in the car, then you should ensure that it is portable and lightweight. A lighter air compressor is easier to transport and store. The best portable air compressors are those below 40 pounds.
Best RV Air Compressor Reviews & Recommendations 2021
The Tirewell 12V Tire Inflator is another high-quality RV air compressor with all the features you may need for ease of use and portability. It comes with a 2.12 SCFM technology that inflates the RV tires at 0 PSI. It also conveniently connects to the cigarette lighter or RV battery to start working.
The compressor comes with a screw connector that will keep the inflator valve in the right position when you inflate the tires. It also has three adapters that make it applicable to different brands of cars and bikes. The base of the machine comes with rubber tips that will keep it stable. It has a fuselage that reduces the motor vibrations and makes it more comfortable to use.
One of the main downsides of using this air compressor is that it does not inflate car tires very quickly. Also, because some parts of the machine are made of plastic, it can be more susceptible to damage and vulnerable to heat. Lastly, it sometimes gives inaccurate readings, which makes it hard to gauge the SCFM when inflating RV tires.
This is a small and highly portable air compressor. You can easily transport and store this machine because it is lightweight. It is also easy to start because it comes with alligator clamps that you can use to connect it directly to the RV battery. It takes up very little space in your car, thanks to its compact design.
The manufacturer has included a 20-amp fuse on the machine, which reduces the chance of electric shock and damage to the electrical components. It also comes with a 10-foot power cord and a 16-foot hose, which makes it more flexible. With a 1.47 SCFM and 30 PSI storage tank, it can inflate your RV tires faster. The three-piece compressor kit is also lighter, making it easy to transport and store.
One downside of this air compressor is the quality of its parts. If one of the crucial parts such as the power cord or hose gets damaged, it can be difficult finding replacement parts. Also, the pressure gauge readings can sometimes be inaccurate.
Most air compressors may not compare to the noise-free performance offered by this two-gallon air compressor from California Air Tools. It has a 60-decibel sound rating, which is as tolerable as a normal conversation. The tank features a horizontal design and durable aluminum construction.
It takes just 50 seconds to fill it and can be emptied at a rate of 2.2 cubic feet at 90 PSI or 3.1 cubic feet per minute at 40 PSI. An oil-free, dual-piston pump system allows for maintenance-free operation, and it can be used in almost any terrain or weather condition.
However, you should know beforehand that the unit connects to a 110-volt outlet so this may not be ideal for roadside emergencies. You should only consider it if your RV camping site has access to power outlets with a similar rating.
What makes the Kensun Portable Air Compressor stand out from other similar air compressors is its compact and lightweight design featuring an ergonomic handle that makes it ideal for roadside emergencies. This unit plugs into your vehicle’s 12-volt socket, but it also comes with a 120-volt power cord so you can plug it into an AC wall outlet at home or in a workshop.
This means that besides inflating your RV tires, you can also use it to inflate a variety of equipment, including sports balls, bicycles, motorcycles, standard vehicles, and truck tires. If properly connected, it can provide a maximum pressure of 120 PSI or a continuous pressure of 35 PSI for 30 minutes. You can rely on the analog pressure gauge on the front panel for accurate pressure readings.
The main complaint we noted about this product is that it tends to shut down for a few minutes (even mid-operation) to cool down. While this may be a reasonable safety feature, it means that you will take quite a while to fill all four of your RV’s tires.
The Craftsman Pancake Air Compressor is your companion during the cold weather. It starts up easily even in cold weather so you can rely on it to winterize your RV. It features a pancake-style, six-gallon tank that is lighter than most vertical-style tanks. The tank has a 150 PSI maximum pressure storage and can deliver 90 PSI at a steady flow rate of 2.6 cubic feet per minute.
Maintenance will not be an issue as it’s designed with an oil-free pump. What’s more, you also get a 13-piece accessory kit, which includes a rubber tip, three inflator adapters, a tire gauge, a tire chuck and blowgun with a plug, a 25-foot PVC air hose fitted with a coupler and plug, and an OSHA-approved safety nozzle.
As is the case with most portable air compressors, the motor may need to shut down mid-operation so it can cool down even after just a few minutes of running time. But on the upside, it cools faster than similar-sized air compressors.
Honorable MentionAll-Top Heavy Duty Portable 12V Air Compressor KitCheck Latest Price
The All-Top Heavy Duty Portable 12V Air Compressor Kit features a heavy-duty hollow metal shell and an aluminum cylinder for optimal heat dissipation. It has a maximum capacity of 150 PSI with an air flow rate of 6.36 CFM, making it an ideal choice for your camper or RV needs. It’s also a great option for off-road vehicles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, and inflatable recreational equipment. It comes ready for use with a 26-foot rubber air hose, three different nozzle adapters, and a thumb lock adapter to meet all your 4X4 needs. The 6.5-foot heavy-duty alligator clamps provide a secure and safe direct connection to your vehicle’s battery.
One drawback to this unit is that the in-line pressure gauge doesn’t get a lot of love for being the most accurate. The unit also doesn't include a flashlight feature, so it’s not the greatest for working in low-light or nighttime conditions. It does come backed by a two-year warranty and lifetime customer support, though.
The GSPSCN Portable 12V Air Compressor Pump is a lightweight and compact air compressor that features a maximum PSI of 150 with an air flow rate of 2.12 CFM. It’s capable of inflating a tire from 0 to 35 PSI in about 1.5 minutes. Its double cylinders produce a flow rate of 70 liters per minute, which is four times faster than some other units on the market. A brightly lit digital display allows you to monitor PSI, BAR, KPA, and KG/CM with impressive accuracy. A super bright LED flashlight allows for easy operation in darker conditions. The automatic shut-off ensures you don’t accidentally over-inflate your tires. We also like that this unit has the option of either plugging into your 12-volt power outlet or clamping directly to your vehicle’s battery.
One drawback to this handy compressor is that it’s really only meant for tire inflation, so it’s not as multifunctional as some others on our list. It’s also very difficult to get it back into its included storage case when you’re done using it.
- Turn on your RV’s engine when using an air compressor. This makes sure that you get the correct tire pressure reading or the closest possible reading. However, use the compressor once the tires have cooled off.
- To check the tire pressure, allow the tires to cool off if you’ve been on the road. This is because hot air and friction increase tire pressure. You can deflate the tires a little to make sure you get the best reading.
- Don’t go beyond the manufacturer’s recommended maximum inflation pressure. Overinflation compromises traction, which might lead to a tire burst. Even if the tires don’t burst, their lifespan may be shortened.
Q: How does an RV air compressor work?
A: An air compressor has a tank filled with air. This air is passed from the tank to your RV’s tires through an air hose. When the tank is connected to a power source, it automatically fills with air. You can use the stored air the next time you need to inflate your RV’s tires.
Q: How long does an RV air compressor last?
A: The longevity of RV air compressors depends on their usage and storage. Regularly cleaning the air intake and draining the receiver tank keeps a compressor dry and reduces the possibility of rust. A well-maintained compressor can last many years.
Q: Does the tank size limit the usage of an RV air compressor?
A: The tank stores the air needed to inflate an RV’s tires. While a bigger tank holds more air than a smaller tank, it may not be very easy to store. A small tank can be stored in a small compartment in an RV.
Q: What is the best air compressor size for inflating RV tires?
A: The size of the air compressor isn’t as important as its performance. What you mostly need to consider is the pressure rating of your air compressor. Most RV tires need about 35 to 80 PSI of pressure. Therefore, you need an air compressor that can deliver pressure within that range to fill up your tires.
The Viair 88p Portable Air Compressor stands at the top of our review because, with a 120 PSI rating, it can effortlessly inflate tires of up to 33 inches. It’s also easy to carry around and is decently priced. The Tirewell 12V Tire Inflator is a great fit if you are traveling in a smaller RV and would like an affordable and lightweight air compressor.
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