How To Choose a Portable Inflator

Keys to consider when choosing a portable air compressor.

Portable air compressors, or inflators, can be used for multiple purposes, from topping off a low trailer tire to blowing up the kids’ favorite inflatable tow toy. Their compact size makes them ideal for taking from home to car to boat. Multiple power options also work at home or on the water. Here are the key features to consider when choosing a portable air compressor.

Look For Multiple Power Sources

DEWALT 20V Max Inflator
Many portable air compressors also feature a handy flashlight feature. It's a welcome addition should you have a problem after dark.Courtesy Amazon

Look for multiple power options in a portable inflator, from the ability to use a common, 110V AC current household wall plug to the 12-volt DC outlet commonly found on most boats. Neither available, or need to pump something up on the dock or beach? Some portable air compressors also feature internal, rechargeable battery power.

Easy-To-Read Analog or Digital Pressure Gauge

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor
In addition to automatic inflation shutoff, look for overheating protection to shut off the inflator should it become overloaded during use.Courtesy Amazon

Whether the air is used for tires or toys, proper inflation is essential for best performance. Look for an easy-to-read pressure gauge in either an analog or digital format. Many models also feature an automatic shutoff to stop inflation when the desired pressure is reached.

Adapters For Common Items

Kensun AC/DC Digital Tire Inflator
Comparing the power of two compressors? Look at air flow rate in both AC and DC operation. Increased air flow will get the job done in less time.Courtesy Amazon

Look for the inclusion of common adapters to easily blow up inflatable towables, rafts, even balls and fenders. These include short and long cone adapters, as well as needle valves. Standard inflator hoses come tipped with universal valve connectors designed to fit all of the above, as well as standard Schrader tire valves.