If you’re going to be powering airbrush machines, inflating tires, or providing punch to a pneumatic air gun, you’re going to need an excellent 12-volt air compressor. These products are designed to provide you with a good outflow of air, and they are a good go-to product to have in the garage for a multitude of purposes.
The 12-volt air compressor is just going to be one of those versatile tools that will always come in handy, which is why we’re going to present you with this guide so that you have an accessible resource with nine great products to consider. In addition to this, we’re going to give you a buyer’s guide to help you know what to look for.
What is Compressor Output?
Output is also known as the horsepower of the air compressor. This factor determines how much outward force an air compressor can provide to either power or inflate the item you want to work with. As a general rule, this is going to be your go-to stat when it comes to features, and you can expect the price to increase alongside the horsepower output. For those purchasing an air compressor for the first time, it’s a good idea to seek out a product with greater than a 1.5-horsepower output.
What Makes 12-Volt Electric Air Compressors Advantageous?
These compressors are designed to make re-inflating tires quick and easy. Unlike gas compressors, these plug in electrically, so you won’t have to worry about refueling them. In every case, these compressors will plug into a vehicle cigarette lighter so that you can re-inflate when you’re out and about or even if stranded.
This feature, which stands for cubic feet per minute, is a way of measuring flow rates. When you’re using a pneumatic tool that requires an air compressor, it will need a specific CFM rating to function correctly. This is an essential statistic for just about every air compressor, and it’s crucial that you know the flow requirements of your tools before you purchase a product of the type.
Some Design Features to Consider
Before you make your purchase, it’s a good idea to consider products that have a few extra features that can make things more convenient. Here are a few to take into consideration:
- Included Tools: Some compressors come prepackaged with air tools that you can use. This can help you get started relatively quickly, and it can save you money if the devices are of good quality.
- A Cage: Also known as a roll cage, this feature can protect your compressor from accidental air tank punctures.
- Protection against overloads: When you’re working with any kind of compressor, overloads are a genuine possibility. The best air compressors will include thermal overload protection, which will automatically shut the motor down if higher temperatures and pressure are detected.
Best 12-Volt Air Compressor 2020
Designed with a CFM-rating of 2.12 at 0 PSI, this air compressor has a high flow rate that can inflate most standard vehicle tires in two minutes. Also, as a 12-volt product that can be powered by most vehicle cigarette lighters, this is a very portable air compressor that only weighs about eight pounds in total.
With this portability in mind, the compressor has a very ergonomic handle on top, and the compressor hose utilizes a coiled design that provides a range of up to five meters. This is very useful if you’re looking to refill a tire on a larger vehicle such as a Class A RV or large truck. To ensure a steady level of output, the compressor also utilizes a dual cylinder direct drive inflation pump, which allows for the aforementioned speed.
- This pump has a physical design designed to reduce vibration and noise.
- It has four legs for stability.
- The hose provides a good reach.
- It can struggle re-inflating some high-PSI tires.
When it comes to having a portable design, this product, which is manufactured by AstroAL, definitely stands out. The first thing you should notice is the fact that the handle is very stable and has a tapered design that makes it very easy and comfortable to hold, while you’re inflating your tires or powering your air tools.
In addition, another standout feature is the large digital display, which will quickly indicate several critical stats about the job so that you won’t accidentally overinflate. This readout is so accurate that it will deliver measurements that are within one percent accuracy. Additionally, it has backlighting for night time re-inflating.
For those wondering about output, this compressor is designed to deliver about 35 liters of air per minute. The product provides this output via a magnetic motor that uses copper coils to pump air at a very brisk rate.
- This product has thermal overload protection.
- The display can be backlit when you need it.
- It has a built-in flashlight at the front of the unit.
- There are multiple nozzles for various inflation uses.
- It only weighs about three pounds.
- The car plug cable is only 31 inches long.
This product is very versatile and includes multiple nozzles for you to use for various inflation jobs. When it comes to the overall design, this EPAuto device is very portable; it weighs slightly less than four pounds and has a neat carry handle that makes carrying the compressor with you a relatively straightforward task. While this isn’t the most powerful compressor on the market, it has more than enough oomph to inflate most tires.
In addition to its standard features, it also has a front-mounted LED flashlight, and the PSI readout is presented in very large digital numbers on the top of the unit. EPAuto designed this product with an over inflation feature that will automatically stop the inflation process when the pressure hits a preset limit. Additionally, there is also a thermal protection feature that will shut the product down should it get too hot.
- This compressor has a very bright LED flashlight.
- The meter is easy to read.
- It has four legs to ensure that it’s stable.
- The product isn’t rated to inflate truck tires.
- The handle could be more ergonomic.
This product, which comes from Yome, is the second dual-cylinder product in our guide. Dual cylinder products are very advantageous because they produce far less heat during standard operation at the same PSI output. This design also comes in handy during inflation because of the presence of self-balancing tech which allows the product to manage more precisely the output from the two cylinders so that there’s a higher degree of accuracy.
During the inflation process, this Yome compressor pump also features an intelligent mode that will automatically stop when the pressure meets the desired level. Also, for your convenience, the manufacturer has included an additional toolkit designed to handle the various accessories that work with the compressor.
- It comes with a 10-foot air hose.
- It has a front-mounted powerful LED flashlight.
- This is a compressor with a dual-cylinder design.
- The gauge isn’t as accurate as it could be.
When it comes to the overall design of our next inflator, it’s clear that GSPSCN, wanted to ensure a high degree of reliability and functionality. As a result, this is a compressor that incorporates dual-cylinder tech but still eschews other bells and whistles such as an attached LED flashlight. In fact, even the pressure display is entirely analog, which can be far more reliable, especially in low-power situations.
This is also a very stable product, having four rubber feet at the base that grip the surface of whatever you’re setting it on. Both the cigarette lighter cable as well as the extension hose are three meters in length, so this is a very useful product for those that need a lot of range. Finally, the compressor comes with a carry bag that makes carrying and storing the product a cinch.
- The analog PSI meter is very accurate.
- This is a well-made and durable product.
- The cable and hose provide a lot of reach for longer wheelbase vehicles.
- It weighs almost seven pounds.
- It doesn’t have a lot of extra features.
This product, which is manufactured by VIAIR, is part of a product series that has nine different compression entries. The 88P variation is capable of inflating tires at a maximum size of 33 inches. This product has a lot of reach, in fact, with its extra-long air hose and power cord combo, it’s actually designed specifically with SUVs in mind.
When you’re inflating your tires, you can opt to either twist the compressor extension hose onto your valve stem or clamp it into place. This makes for a reasonably versatile style of connection, and both methods are very secure. Unlike many of the other products that have been featured in this guide, this compressor is actually designed to attach to your battery. There is a positive and negative clamp that makes drawing power easy.
- It has a maximum pressure rating of 120 PSI.
- The flow rate on this compressor is 1.47 CFM.
- It has a 16-foot air hose and a 10-foot power cord.
- It has an LED work light.
- This product could benefit from an extra gauge on the extension hose.
This compressor, which comes to us from NoOne, stands out because of the fact that it’s very economical. For not a lot of cash, you can get a reasonably high-pressure rating of 120 PSI as well as auto shut-off functionality. The pressure display utilizes an LCD screen that features red numerals on a black background. This is very easy to read, and the numbers are very large as well.
The compressor is powered by a 180-watt motor that actually provides a high amount of airflow, allowing the pump to inflate a tire at a rate of 30 liters per minute. At this rate, a tire that has a rating of 30 PSI will be inflated in about three minutes. NoOne was sure to pack in several nozzles with this product to allow multiple uses. They even opted to include a carry bag so that you can keep everything nice and organized.
- This inflator has an auto shut-off feature that will engage at a preset pressure level.
- The LCD is very clear.
- The compressor has a lot of power for not a lot of money.
- The plastic construction can feel a bit flimsy.
- It only has a single-cylinder design.
This product has an aesthetic design that really makes it stand out, but this doesn’t mean that it’s short on features. In addition to its sporty exterior, this VacLife product also has some features that make it worthy of being included with the other products in this guide. One of the most noteworthy features is the fact that it includes a very large and accurate digital display. This display has bright white numerals set on a black background, so you should be able to see what’s happening, even in broad daylight.
For the sake of accuracy, this is also a compressor with an auto shut-off feature, so you can just punch in the desired PSI and allow the product to do its job. The light at the front of this pump is also very bright, which can provide a means of illumination or as a way for you to alert other drivers of your presence so that you can stay safe.
- This inflator has a 13-foot long range from cigarette outlet to the end of the hose.
- It has an auto shut-off.
- It’s very sleek and comes in multiple colors.
- It doesn’t inflate at a high-speed rate.
- You may have to take breaks between inflation jobs for cooling down.
As the second VIAIR product in our guide, this unit stands out as fully featured. Not only does it pack in a lot of functionality, but VIAIR also included a heavy-duty carry bag that is large enough to accommodate the pump as well as the included anti-vibration tray. This is also a heavy duty product with enough power to inflate even large tractor tires. In fact, its maximum output is 150 PSI and it has a flow rate of 2.3 CFM at 0 PSI, which is very impressive.
Additionally, if you are going to have a heavy duty product, you’ll need a good range, and this product shines in this regard. At its maximum, this product has a 25-foot range, so you can use it to inflate tires on big rig RVs or trucks.
- This can accommodate tires with a maximum diameter of 42 inches.
- This inflator is entirely automatic.
- It comes with a very useful carry bag.
- The engine has to be running during use.
- The compressor has to be turned off when you want to check the pressure.
The right air compressor can make a major difference, and you’ll be able to find a lot of uses for any 12-volt air compressor that you end up choosing.
We hope that you enjoyed our roundup of these top nine products. Each has some great functionality and will get the job done with ease.