Best Cheap Air Compressors 2017 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
When you have a roadside emergency of your own or you have an opportunity to be a good Samaritan to someone else, having a good quality air compressor in your car or truck can be an absolute godsend. Furthermore, keeping your own vehicle’s tires properly inflated extends the life of your tires, helps prevent low pressure blowouts, and saves you money every week since properly inflating your tires is an excellent way to improve your fuel economy.
Knowing what to buy and what features you will need can be something of an intimidating process, though. What are you going to want and need for an air compressor that you keep in your trunk, truck bed toolbox, or cargo space? This guide will go over what factors and features matter most when choosing low-cost portable air compressor, as well as several recommended products that meet most buyer’s criteria for features and functions. Let’s take a look at what to consider when you are looking to get the super cheap air compressor.
Top 5 Best Cheap Air Compressor Comparison
Viair 00073 70P
P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator
Points To Ponder: Considerations for Buying Best Inexpensive Air Compressor
What Kind of Tires Will You Be Inflating?
Are you planning to use this with bicycle tires, motorcycle tires, ATV tires, car tires, truck tires, or trailer tires? You need to think carefully about this because if you throw a cheap air compressor in your pickup truck and you have massive 24”+ tires and an elevated suspension kit, you need to make sure that your compressor is going to be able to add air to the tires quickly and easily. Once you establish how you intend to use this air compressor, it becomes much easier to make decisions about what to buy.
What is The Max Air Pressure You Need?
Some air compressors have a maximum air pressure capability of over 150 PSI, but if you drive a compact car with 14” tires, you really aren’t going to need something that adds pressure above roughly 35 PSI. Of course, having something more powerful does make the inflating process take significantly less time, so you need to take higher pressure into account for that reason as well. Often times you can check what the estimated inflation time is for specific tire sizes when you research a specific air compressor, so check those numbers out before you make a purchase.
What Accessories are Included?
Having a carrying case for your portable compressor is nice, but so is having a long hose and tire inflation attachments. How long is the hose? What length is the power cable? What attachments are included Do you want an air compressor with a built in flashlight/lantern? Do you want a built in digital tire gauge or do you prefer a traditional needle gauge? Taking the time to decide which accessories matter and which ones you will never use is always a smart idea no matter what you are buying, so be sure to check out the box or features list before you drop money on a cheap portable air compressor that has too much or too little included with purchase.
How is the Compressor Powered?
There are several ways a portable air compressor can be powered: 12VDC outlets in your car, 12VDC battery connectors, and 120VAC power cords that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. The 12VDC outlet are the most convenient, but may not be as powerful as compressors that connect directly to the battery. Battery direct connectors definitely come in handy, but they typically require that the engine be running in order for the compressor to function. 120VAC powered compressors are the most powerful, but they generally cannot be connected to most vehicles electrical systems when you are stuck with a flat tire by the side of the road. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is going to suit your needs and primary use for a portable air compressor.
How Much Space Does The Compressor Take Up?
If you are going to be riding around with this in your trunk or toolbox, you need to make sure it’s not going to be more of a hindrance than a help to keep it with you at all times. Some compressors have an extremely low profile and fit conveniently into small spaces, whereas others can occupy a significant amount of cargo room. Make sure that the one you buy is going to be convenient to your lifestyle in terms of its storage space footprint.
Top 5 Cheap Air Compressors for the money
1. Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
An ultra-portable yet-powerful option, Viair’s 88P is a compact powerhouse that works well for topping off or refilling flats after repairs. Powered directly off your car battery via alligator clips, this compressor cranks out up to 120 PSI. Make sure that you have the engine running while it is in operation though, as it will not work unless the vehicles alternator is engaged and powering it.
It comes with a 10-foot power cord, a 16-foot air hose and three accessory connectors for bike tires, car tires, inflatable pool toys and rafts, and athletic ball air valves. It is also extremely good at quickly filling up stability balls for pilates and yoga class, making ideal for filling up or topping off before outdoor exercises at the park.
As for vehicle tires, the 88P can fill up to a 33” tire without any difficulty, making it ideal for ATV, truck, and SUV tires. Best of all, you can easily fill air in any inflatable device to precise pressure thanks to the built in pressure gauge on the carrying handle. I’d recommend this model for anyone that wants a high power compressor to keep in their vehicle for top offs and filling portable athletic and outdoor equipment.
1. Compact powerful air compressor with
120 PSI max compression
2. Powers via 12 volt DC directly
off of vehicle bat tery terminals
3. Ideal for topping off or refilling truck,
ATV, SUV, and sedan tires
4. Built in needle pressure gauge
5. Included 16-ft air hose and three inflation tips
1. Alligator clip power terminals can be difficult to clip to the batter depending
on the make and model of your vehicle.
2. Pressure gauge is not illuminated
3. No built in light source.
4. Engine must be running in order to use this compressor.
2. Master Flow MF-1040 Cyclone High Volume Portable Air Compressor
Easily the 800-lb. gorilla of portable air compressors, Master Flow’s MF-1040 is a high volume compressor that fills any tire or inflatable device fast. Conveniently running off of any 12-volt socket in your car, this compressor maxes at 150 PSI and pumps out 30 liters of air per minute. That means you will spend very little time waiting for your tires to get up to your desired pressure.
Another exceptionally useful feature of this model is the self-coiling air hose, which extends and retracts without tangling, making setup and tear down much easier. In terms of included accessories, the MF-1040 comes with a standard tire connector for cars and bicycles, an athletic ball inflation needle, and two nozzles for inflating pool toys, inner tubes, air mattresses, or inflatable rafts.
It also conveniently includes a two-buckle nylon carrying case for safe and convenient storage. To top it all off, this model also includes a built-in needle pressure gauge that allows you to inflate whatever needs inflating to precisely your desired pressure. I’d recommend this air compressor for anyone who has limited storage space in their vehicle and frequently goes camping trips, river rafting, or makes regular trips to the local swimming pool or lake.
1. Extremely powerful for its size
2. Rapid refill air at 30 liters-per-minute
3. 150 PSI max pressure
4. Self-coiling air hose
5. Powered by standard 12V DC outlet
6. Includes carrying case and three
1. Unit generates a significant amount of noise
2. Integrated pressure gauge is not illuminated
3. No built in light source for use at night
4. Self-coiling hose may be less than ideal for some users who prefer a fixed length air hose
3. Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor
The model 70P is Viair’s premium offering for users who will primarily use a compressor with car tires and to refill or top off inflatable toys and outdoor or athletic equipment. The 70P runs off a standard DC outlet, and your vehicle’s engine must be running in order for it to function. Maxing out at a more modest 100 PSI, this model is good for topping off tire pressure if you aren’t in a hurry, but it does not refill as rapidly as other Viair models.
However, it does include three accessory inflation tips, and has a built in lamp that makes using this compressor at night much easier. It also includes a deluxe carry bag for easy storage, and has an integrated needle pressure gauge to allow for precise air compression regardless of what you are using it to refill.
It is also the most affordable Viair portable air compressors, and offers a significant return on investment in terms of its portability and small storage footprint. I’d recommend the 70P for buyers who want an emergency compressor that can also be used to balance out tire pressure and occasionally be used to refill/top off inflatable outdoor or sports equipment.
Super compact size
1. Quieter than most portable air
2. 100 PSI max pressure makes it ideal for balancing pressure in sedan tires
3. Built-in lantern for night time use
4. Includes a storage bag for your
compressor and all accessories
1. Lower pressure means it takes longer to fill/top off
2. Pressure gauge is not illuminated
3. Engine must be running in order to operate this compressor
4. P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator – Electric 12v DC Portable Auto Air Compressor. Pump to 150 Psi. With Carry Case
A veritable Swiss Army knife, this compressor has numerous useful features that make it an invaluable accessory to keep in your car. With an integrated set-and-forget microprocessor control, this compressor can be set to specific pressure using the digital gauge on the front, connected to a tire, and then automatically fill that tire to the desired pressure before automatically shutting itself off to prevent over inflation.
Furthermore, it can fill a mid-size car tire to 30 PSI in under 4 minutes flat, making it ideal for quick top offs when your tire pressure is low. It also has an integrated LED lantern that can be set to white for standard illumination ,or red for emergency breakdowns.
This compressor is powered off of an integrated 12-volt connector for in-car 12VDC outlets, but there is an optional 120VAC adapter that can be purchases separately for easy use around your home. Best of all, with a max PSI of 150, this tiny wonder can refill even larger truck, SUV, and ATV tires. WIth an included carrying case for storage and several included inflation tips, this model is one of the best values on the market for its cost. I’d recommend this for any buyer that is looking for an all-in-one solution air compressor to use at home or keep in their car or truck.
1. Set-and-forget automatic inflation system
2. Integrated super-bright LED lamp
3. 150 PSI max with rapid refill capability
4. Ultra-compact design
5. Included carrying case and accessory tips
6. Optional 120VAC adapter for more convenient household use
1. Unit has a significantly louder operation noise level
2. LCD pressure gauge is not backlit
3. 120 VAC adapter sold separately
5. Q Industries MV50 SuperFlow High-Volume 12-Volt Air Compressor
If you need to put air in your tires fast, and you refill/top-off a wide variety of tires, the MV50 is the air compressor for you. This powerful compact air compressor can inflate a tire from flat in less than 2.5 minutes, and it has a maximum pressure of 120 PSI, making it beefy enough to handle even the tallest and widest of truck, car, ATV or SUV tires. It comes with a 16-foot self-coiling hose, a storage bag, has an integrated needle pressure gauge in the handle, and runs off a standard 12VDC vehicle socket, making ideal for ATVs and offroad vehicles.
I’d recommend this for buyers that want the fastest possible fill time for any tire they come across. It’s also an exception value for the price, and it takes up very little trunk/cargo space.
1. One of the fastest refill time air compressors available
2. 120 PSI max compression
3. 16-ft self-coiling cord
4. 12VDC socket power
5. Included storage bag
1. One of the loudest air compressors on the market
2. Engine must be running in order for this unit to operate.
3. Self-coiling air hoses can be something of a hassle
Were I to buy one of these air compressors, my first choice would be the P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflato r. It has a host of exceptionally useful features, the price is right, and it is definitely the most versatile portable air compressor I’ve come across in my research. I also absolutely the set-and-forget refill feature, as it is a huge time saver when you are balancing out your tire pressure on the go. My advice is to get a P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator, and experience the best value cheap portable air compressor that money can buy.