10 Best 12V Air Compressors of 2024 – Top Picks & Reviews
Most of us have experienced a flat tire at some point. When it happens, it’s always an inconvenience. But if you have a 12-volt air compressor in your trunk, you can easily solve the problem and get on with your day.
Traditional air compressors are great for filling up car tires but are not very portable. Not only are they big, bulky, and heavy, but they also need an outlet to plug into, which isn’t likely to be nearby when you need it. Thankfully, 12-volt compressors solve these problems. They’re small, compact, and easy to store in your trunk for emergencies. Just as importantly, they’re powered by your car’s 12-volt system, and you can use them anywhere.
We always prefer to be prepared, so we set out to find the best 12-volt compressors on the market. The following 10 reviews will compare our favorites, and we’ll leave you with our three top suggestions at the end.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024:
|EPAUTO AT-010-2 Portable Air Compressor
|Avid Power ACAP330 Tire Inflator Air Compressor
|Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
|Helteko 4336329793 Portable Air Compressor
|TireTek TT-303 RX-i Portable Air Compressor
The 10 Best 12V Air Compressors:
1. EPAUTO AT-010-2 Portable Air Compressor – Best Overall
A good 12-volt compressor must be small enough to store in your vehicle easily and powerful enough to quickly inflate your tires and get you back on the road. The EPAUTO AT-010-2 Portable Air Compressor meets these qualifications, and it manages to do so without breaking the bank.
The biggest drawback of this compressor is that it doesn’t support truck tires. However, it can inflate to a maximum pressure of 70 psi, so we didn’t encounter any problems filling the tires on our SUVs and small pickups. Car tires are no trouble since they rarely inflate over 50 psi.
The EPAUTO compressor is incredibly simple to use. Just insert the 12-volt plug into your vehicle’s lighter socket and use the digital display to set the precise pressure you want the tire inflated to. Then you just turn the compressor on, and it does the rest. The built-in auto-shutoff feature even ensures that your tire never over-inflates.
Once you turn it on, you might be surprised at how quiet this compressor is; we were. Thankfully, additional adapters are included for inflating items like air mattresses. Overall, we think this is the best 12v air compressor on the market this year.
2. Avid Power Tire Inflator Air Compressor – Best Value
Don’t let the affordable price of the Avid Power ACAP330 Air Compressor fool you; it is a very capable device that’s a great value for what it costs. It’s cheaper than most of the other compressors we tested, but it’s still an excellent tool that you can count on when you need it, which is why we think it’s one of the best 12V air compressors for the money.
The ACAP330 conveniently plugs right into your car’s lighter socket. It has a 9.8-foot power cord, but the air hose is pretty short, making it difficult to reach the back tires. But if you get stuck at night, it is a lifesaver thanks to the built-in flashlight that illuminates the tire so you can see.
Despite the low price, the ACAP330 can inflate to higher pressures than many of the more expensive pumps we tested. It can reach 150 psi max pressure, though it can take a long time to get there. The first 30 psi takes about 3 minutes, but it’s slow going from there. Of course, you might want to use this for inflating other items, which is why extra adapters are included.
3. Viair Portable Air Compressor – Premium Choice
While most of the 12-volt compressors we tested simply plugged into the lighter socket of your car, the Viair 88P Portable Air Compressor has alligator clamps that need to be attached to your car’s battery terminals. A powerful 20-amp motor is tucked inside this device, which requires more power than can be pulled through a standard lighter socket.
All that extra power helps this compressor inflate to pressures as high as 120 psi. It also manages to reach higher pressures much faster than the other compressors we tested. In fact, this compressor can even fill tires as large as 33 inches! The power cord is 10 feet long, which is about the same as the others we’ve used.
However, it has a 16-foot air hose, which makes it easier to inflate the back tires, even in longer vehicles like trucks. The Viair compressor is a bit more expensive than the rest. Considering the extra reach and power this compressor provides, we think it’s worth it.
4. Helteko Portable Air Compressor
The Helteko Portable Air Compressor is small and compact enough to fit in your trunk. It’s reasonably priced and even comes with an 18-month extended warranty, ensuring you’ll get a replacement if anything goes wrong with your compressor.
Overall, the Helteko is a solid unit, but several flaws kept it from our top three. First, it feels like a cheap device. Many of the other compressors were made of metal, but this one’s covered in plastic.
We also weren’t thrilled with the design of the inflator. It’s bulky, and you have to flip the top up to lock it onto your valve stem, which can be difficult with some rims. Moreover, the built-in pressure gauge isn’t accurate, so you’re always inflating your tires to a different pressure than what you’re aiming for.
Still, the Helteko has some redeeming qualities. It has an automatic shutoff that prevents it from over-inflating, and one of our favorite features is the digital display. It’s larger and brighter than on many other compressors we tested, making it easier to see and set.
5. TireTek RX-i Portable Air Compressor
We liked the TireTek TT-303 RX-I Portable Air Compressor as soon as we pulled it from the box. It comes in a hard carrying case that keeps everything organized and safe. You’ll also get four additional adapters with this device, allowing you to fill a variety of inflatables, including Presta stems on bicycle tires.
The first time we used the compressor, we were happy to see that the air hose was 11.5 feet long, unlike the short hoses attached to several machines we tested. When added to the 9-foot power cord, you get almost 20 feet of reach, so you should have no trouble getting to those back tires.
Where this unit went wrong is with poor craftsmanship. First, we noticed right away that the built-in pressure gauge was incorrect. It was overfilling all of our tires by several psi. Worse, the valve connector broke in the first month. It’s cheaply built and not meant for regular use, though it might survive if only used once in a while.
6. AstroAI AIR100 Portable Air Compressor
The AstroAI AIR100 Portable Air Compressor seemed like a winner on the surface. It’s a bit more expensive than many of its competitors we were comparing, but it also has a solid build quality and very few plastic parts. We liked some of the features that were included, such as the auto-shutoff to prevent over-inflation or the exterior fuse that’s easy to change should it happen to blow.
We also came up with several complaints about this compressor pretty quickly. First, the gauge is wrong. It repeatedly underfilled our tires by 2 to 5 psi. The worst problem we encountered was the max operating time of just 15 minutes. It isn’t a particularly powerful or quick compressor, so if you need to fill more than just one tire, that 15-minute time limit might hold you up and leave you sitting and waiting for the unit to cool off.
For the price, we found plenty of compressors that outperformed the AstroAI, so we don’t recommend this one.
7. Glamore Portable Air Compressor
Another compressor covered in a cheap-feeling plastic case is the Glamore Portable Air Compressor. Some of the features are helpful, such as the built-in lighter plug that conveniently works with your car’s lighter. Plus, it can inflate up to 150 psi, so even larger vehicles should benefit from carrying this compressor.
Once we started using the Glamore compressor, we noticed its drawbacks. First, the hoses don’t want to fit into the storage compartments on the unit. We weren’t able to get the compartments closed again! And the air hose is pretty short, which wasn’t a problem with the competition. Worst, the hose is so weak that it popped while we were attempting to fill a tire!
Because of the large, bulky head on the air nozzle, you might have difficulty getting it to work with some rims and tires. With so many other great brands available, we’d advise skipping this one for a model with an air hose that doesn’t explode.
8. Kensun AC/DC Power Supply Portable Air Compressor
Though it’s more expensive than many competitors, the Kensun AC/DC Power Supply Portable Air Compressor doesn’t do much to earn its higher price tag. It can plug into a standard outlet at your home or the 12-volt outlet in your car, and it has a max runtime of 30 minutes, which is double what many of the other compressors we tested can do.
But that’s not enough to warrant a price that’s so much higher. Especially when this device has other glaring weaknesses. First, it only includes two adapters. Many cheaper compressors we tested included twice as many. Additionally, the air hose on this machine is extremely short, just 19 inches long. That makes it very hard to reach the back tires since the power cord is just over 9 feet long.
9. HAUSBELL Portable Air Compressor
There’s plenty to like about the HAUSBELL Portable Air Compressor, but this one seems to fall short with so many excellent options available. Still, it has notable features like a max inflation pressure of 150 psi and a built-in flashlight that makes it easier to work at night.
However, like many other cheap 12-volt compressors, the HAUSBELL has a tiny air hose that makes it very hard to reach the back tires. That’s not the only thing on this device that’s too small; the digital display is also tiny, making it quite difficult to read. It’s hard to see the reading it’s giving you because the symbols are so faint on the screen.
We also noticed that this was one of the slowest compressors we tried. Filling a single tire took more than 10 minutes, which requires giving the compressor time to cool off before attempting to fill another.
10. TACKLIFE ACP1B Portable Tire Inflator Air Compressor
We’ve enjoyed many TACKLIFE products in the past, but the ACP1B Portable Tire Inflator Air Compressor isn’t their best work. Despite that, it does have some redeeming traits. We like the 24-month extended warranty that keeps the compressor protected longer than any of the other ones we tried. But it can only inflate up to 80 psi, and large trucks might have a hard time, especially since this compressor isn’t meant to work with truck tires.
Like other tiny compressors, the ACP1B one has a run-time limit of just 15 minutes. If you need to fill multiple tires, you’ll probably have to give it a break to cool down.
On the other hand, it’s one of the smallest we’ve tried. If the size was important, it might top our list. But even the flashlight on this machine was a disappointment. It wasn’t nearly as bright as other units we tested, which was the final nail in the ACP1B’s coffin.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best 12 Volt Air Compressor
There are tons of different features on these little compressors. But how do you decide which features to prioritize to help you choose the right one? If you’re asking that very question, then this buyer’s guide is for you. We’ve compiled a list of the most important traits you need to consider when looking for a 12-volt air compressor.
Maximum Inflation Pressure
One of the most important traits you need to pay attention to on your new 12-volt compressor is its maximum inflation pressure. Some of the compressors can’t inflate to the same pressure others are capable of reaching. This is especially important if you drive a truck since they have larger tires inflated to higher pressures.
The amount of power your compressor can pull is measured in amps. More amps equal more power. A more powerful compressor can inflate a tire faster.
Plug or Alligator Clips?
There’s a problem with more powerful 12-volt compressors, however. A standard 12-volt lighter socket in your car can only handle 150 watts maximum, which is 12.5 amps total. If your compressor pulls more than that, you’ll have to hook it up to the battery directly with alligator clips. It’s a little less convenient but will save you time in the long run.
Length of Hoses and Cords
This is another factor that’s even more important if you have a long vehicle like a truck or van. Many of the compressors we tested for this list had power cords about 10 feet long but air hoses shorter than 2 feet. This can prevent you from reaching the back tires, which might stop you from getting back on the road! We prefer compressors with a long air hose and a long power cord for maximum reach to handle any situation that arises.
Your 12-volt compressor is meant to be stored in your vehicle, so it’s there when you need it most. One thing that makes compact compressors better for this type of situation than regular compressors is their compact size. Look for one that’s small enough to easily store in your vehicle without inconveniencing you.
The compressors are built to inflate tires, but they often have additional features to expand their usefulness. Here are our favorites:
If you’ve ever had to deal with an inflation situation in the dark of night, you’ll appreciate having a bright flashlight built into your portable air compressor.
Auto shutoff ensures your tires will never over-inflate. Just set the right pressure, and once it’s reached, the compressor will shut off on its own.
Extra nozzles allow you to fill up items that don’t have a traditional Schrader-style inflator. Often, balls, bike tires, kayaks, and more have different tips, nozzles, and valves that a regular air nozzle won’t work on. Luckily, many of these compressors include additional nozzles to open up the possibilities and allow you to inflate anything you need.
More Compressor Articles:
- Which models performed best over-all this year?
- Which model is the quietest on the market?
- Should you choose an oil-filled or oil-less model?
There are several 12-volt compressors on the market. While they’re all built to perform the same duties, they’re not all created equally. Our reviews have shown how they compare, but we want to leave you with our final impressions.
Out of them all, our favorite was the EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor. All you have to do is set your desired pressure to a maximum of 70 psi and turn it on. Once it reaches the right pressure, it will shut off automatically. And it’s so quiet, you might not even notice!
For the best value, we recommend the Avid Power Tire Inflator Air Compressor. It’s reasonably priced but still packed with great features like a built-in flashlight so you can see at night. Best of all, it can fill to a max pressure of 150 psi.
If you want a more powerful model that fills tires faster but costs more, you might like the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor instead. It has a powerful 20-amp motor and a 16-foot air hose, so you never have trouble reaching the back tires.