Maximum Pressure And Airflow Rate
Air compressors will have a maximum pressure per square inch as well as a maximum output measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). When using an air compressor to inflate tires, these metrics determine how quickly it can pump up your tire. Most air compressors are capable of inflating a tire, even those with low maximum psi and CFM outputs.
If you’re buying an air compressor to run tools, psi and CFM become much more important. You’ll need to match the pressure and flow rates to the tools you plan to use, or you risk damaging them. Learn the requirements of the tools you plan to use and match your air compressor specs accordingly.
A portable air compressor should be portable. While larger compressors may offer higher psi and CFM, they may not be so easy to lug around. If you’re looking for a portable compressor to keep in your car to inflate tires in an emergency, choose something lightweight.
Portable air compressors can run on battery power or an AC current. Those that you need to plug in are typically more powerful, but less portable. Some air compressors can run off DC current by connecting directly to your car’s battery. This type of compressor requires that you pop the hood, but has the advantage of being useful on the side of the road.
What Is The Difference Between An Air Compressor And An Inflator?
Many tire inflators are air compressors, but most air compressors can do a lot more than inflate tires. An air compressor can be used to power tools like a nail gun, air impact wrench, or air hammer.
The best portable air compressors are items that can easily fit in a trunk, truck bed, or back of an SUV. When it comes to size, portable air compressors usually come in a handheld format or a console-style design.
- Handheld: These options are typically lighter, making them good cordless options or candidates for 12.0-volt adapters found across many modern vehicles.
- Console units: These can be used either in a vehicle or in a garage for a variety of DIY tasks and are suitable for high-pressure tires.
Both versions are more than capable of refilling flat tires, but form factor can be a priority for customers wanting to save space.
Built-In Tire Inflators
It’s worth noting that some vehicles now include tire pumps built into the car itself. The feature is popular among vehicles that are off-road capable since dropping tire pressure by a few PSI can lead to better performance on some surfaces while overlanding.