Our expert reviews of this year's top pumps for anything inflatable, whether that's a tyre, a stand up paddle board, or even a tent
Alan is our resident expert on all things wild camping. He loves nothing better than to get out of the house with just his ex-Army sleeping gear and a stove, and head off to the remotest spot he can find near his home on the south coast of the UK.
Are you tired of being left red in the face from blowing up your inflatables manually?
Are you a seasoned camper needing to inflate a camping air mattress? Or maybe your kids are begging you to inflate that huge blow-up unicorn you regret buying? Whatever your situation, the best electric air pump for inflatables will save you time and energy!
An electric air pump, also known as an air compressor, can be a lifesaver if you have a lot of inflatables to pump up. Manual air pumps take much longer and most people don't have the time to spend half an hour pumping up one inflatable!
But which one do you choose? What do you look for in a portable air compressor? With so many models on the market, it can seem impossible to choose the correct one.
That's why we've put together this ultra-useful guide for you. We've picked out the top 6 best electric air compressors for you to browse through.
Got questions? Check out our FAQ section for more useful information, as well as our buyer's guide, outlining what you should look for when you buy your new portable air compressor. Want to find out more? Read on to discover our top picks!
Electric Air Pump vs Manual Air Pump
As with any purchase, you shouldn't buy the first product you find. Although the air compressors we've picked out are electric, you may come across manual pumps as well.
Although the difference between the two may be self-explanatory, they both have their place, and choosing which one may not be straightforward.
When you use an electric air pump, you'll be able to pump up your inflatables quickly and without any hassle. All you have to do is fit it in place, switch it on and it will do all the hard work for you. No effort is required on your part!
The one issue with electric air compressors is that some of them can't cope with high levels of pressure. When a certain pressure is reached, the electric pump won't be able to force any more air through. This means you'll have to either go below the required pressure or finish the job with a manual pump.
You'll also need electricity to power your electric pump. Most of them can be plugged into a car so it shouldn't be an issue, although some have to be plugged into outlets. If this is the case, and you're in the middle of nowhere, you could be in a bit of a sticky situation!
This is why manual pumps are still useful in some situations. Although they require more time and effort, they still have their place. To use a manual pump you'll have to, you guessed it, pump the air in yourself.
Although good-quality manual pumps are designed efficiently, they'll still prove to be a strenuous workout for you.
With that said, manual pumps do have some advantages. They can handle high maximum pressure levels and don't require electricity, so no matter where you are you'll be able to use a manual pump.
The Benefits of Owning an Electric Air Pump
You may be wondering if it's even worth having an electric air compressor. There are more benefits than you think of having an air pump at your disposal. Here are just a couple of the positives to having one!
The biggest positive of owning an electric air compressor is portability. These easy-to-transport air compressors provide air on-demand when you really need it.
As long as your portable air compressor can be plugged into your car, you'll never be stuck anywhere with tires that are about to go flat. Electric air pumps make perfect emergency tire inflators!
Air is a surprisingly useful tool
Air is far more useful than you think. Not only is it essential for pumping inflatables, but it can come in handy for many different hobbies, such as woodwork! Use it to clear away debris to keep workstations tidy. That's just one of its many uses!
Some air compressors even have different attachments, turning them into multifunctional tools. Another situation when air is much needed is blowing up tires. An air compressor tire inflator can be a lifesaver.
Flat tires always happen at the most inconvenient times, usually when you're late for work or an important appointment! With an electric air compressor in your car at the ready, you can be prepared for anything.
Best Electric Pump Comparison Table
|Electric Air Pump||Best For||Product link|
|Kampa Gale 12v High-Pressure Electric Pump||Best Overall||Check price|
|VOBAB Portable Electric Air Pump||Runner Up||Check price|
|Sevylor High-Pressure Pump||Low-pressure Inflatables||Check price|
|RUNACC Electric Air Pump||Traveling||Check price|
|Oer Electric Pump Air Compressor||Portability||Check price|
|AGPTEK Electric Air Pump||Budget||Check price|
The best electric air pumps
1. Kampa Gale 12v High-Pressure Electric Pump - Best Overall
If you need to inflate your Kamper air awning or tent, you should definitely check out this electric air compressor from Kampa Gale. Our best overall pick, this 12-volt electric air pump is the perfect replacement for the manual pump that's included with Kampa products.
Easy to use, you just plug it into a 12-volt cigarette lighter socket or another similar power source. Using the extra-long cable, select the required PSI on the generous and easy-to-read digital display and let the air pump do the rest.
This air compressor also comes with an adapter with a screw-on design that fits Kampa awnings and tents. You also get adapters for other inflatable tents, awnings, camping equipment, and much more.
The extra-long power cord means you won't have to go through the hassle of moving your car right next to the awning or tent to connect the pump to your car battery.
2. VOBAB Portable Electric Air Pump - Runner-up
Our runner-up pick is the VOBAB portable air compressor pump. A 2-in-1- design, the VOBAB air compressor has an inflating and deflating port. It can be used in a variety of ways, saving time and effort.
Use it for inflatable sofas, mattresses, paddling pools, boats, and much more. The VOBAB portable air compressor pump has been given a fast-filling design, with very good pressure handling abilities that allow it to deflate and inflate with a power rating of 130W and 60 Hz.
The 44-inch long cord makes it easy to connect the pump to a power source and the fast airflow speed can inflate large inflatable items in just minutes, saving even more time than a manual pump.
With 3 nozzle size options, you'll be able to find the perfect size for fast inflation. They stay locked without losing air, letting you inflate and deflate without having to buy extra nozzles.
The compact and lightweight design is easily portable and is easy to pack. It doesn't take up to much space and you can carry it with you to the pool to pump up those inflatable rings and other toys.
Super easy to use and only takes a few minutes to inflate - simply place the inflation head in the filling port and plug it into the power source. To deflate, put the inflation head into the inflator vent hole, plug it in, and press the switch, easy!
3. Sevylor High-Pressure Pump - Best for low-pressure inflatables
If you have low-pressure inflatables that need pumping up, the Sevylor 12v electric air compressor pump is ideal. It features a selection of pressure units, PSI, Bar, and kPa. It offers great flexibility and universal valve options.
The auto disabling feature is also useful as it will automatically switch off once the preselected pressure level has been reached. Specifically designed to inflate low-pressure inflatables, it's ideal for blow-up boats, floats, and kayaks.
You can also use it for inflatable paddle boards, as long as they have a recommended pressure of less than 15.0 PSI. Your purchase will come complete with 2 hoses that have different valve adapters.
For inflatables with a recommended pressure measurement of more than 3.0, be sure to use the high-pressure air hose and the adapter.
4. RUNACC Electric Air Pump - Best for traveling
This wireless electric air compressor is easy to transport, making it perfect for those who are on the go. Unlike other wired air tools, the RUNACC portable pump can be taken anywhere.
Features an integrated and rechargeable 4000 mAh lithium battery that works for up to 30-40 minutes. The USB port allows you to easily charge it with a power adapter, car USB port, or a computer.
It can quickly inflate and deflate, simply pop the nozzle into the air valve and switch it on. Capable of inflating in just 70 seconds, this portable air compressor pump saves time and allows you to get on with your outdoor activities.
Safe and effective, the RUNNACC wireless air pump saves time and has a surface temperature below 45°. The ergonomic design and non-slip construction make it comfortable to hold and easy to use.
Small, medium, and large-size nozzles are included and they will fit most inflatables that you need to pump up.
5. Oer Electric Pump Air Compressor - Best for portability
Looking for a portable air compressor pump that's capable of tackling flat car tires? If so, The Oer electric pump is what you need!
Simple to use, this digital tire inflator allows you to preset the desired tire pressure and will auto switch off when it reaches the right pressure. Perfect for keeping in a backpack, the pump is the size of a drinks bottle, making it ideal if you're packing light.
Multifunctional, it features different valve options so you can pump up items with high levels of pressure such as basketballs and bike tires as well as car tires.
6. AGPTEK Electric Air Pump - Best budget
The best portable air compressors offer great value for money, and this one certainly does that. The heavy-duty AGPTEK air pump is super powerful and can inflate and deflate.
A home power adapter and a car power adapter are included meaning the pump is suitable for home use and outdoors.
Incredibly versatile, your purchase includes three nozzles, small, medium, and large, allowing you to inflate different size items. It's compatible with 110V AC and 12V DC power supplies and it's super simple to use.
To inflate, simply pop the inflatable head on the filling hold and switch it on. To deflate, place the inflatable head in the vent hole and press the deflate switch, simple and time-saving!
Small and lightweight, the AGPTEK DC portable air compressor pump is perfect for any use. Travel-friendly, it's ideal for taking on family vacations and day trips.
Save time with this multi-purpose air pump that's perfect for pumping up inflatable air cushions, air mattresses, camping furniture, air beds, and much more.
Next, we'll look at some important factors that you'll need to think about before you make your purchase. If you're new to buying these pumps it can be confusing knowing which one to pick.
But choosing the right portable air compressor to suit your needs is super important. From checking the pump's valves to the adapters that they come with, there's more to choosing an electric pump than you think.
Don't worry though, whether you're looking for a portable tire inflator or something to pump the kid's inflatables up with, take a look at the suggestions below so you have an idea of what to look for.
To get the most out of your air compressor, choose one that's compatible with the pressure levels of your inflatable items. Some air tools aren't suitable for high maximum pressure items such as basketballs, car tires, or bicycle tires.
Many pumps offer changeable valves so you can use them for different pressure levels. However, always ensure this is the case before you buy, as some pumps can't handle high amounts of pressure.
You should also check the PSI range that the air compressor covers. It's also a good idea to look for a safety feature that prevents over-inflation.
Years ago, many electric air pumps only had short power cords which meant that you would have to park your car right next to whatever you were pumping up. Thankfully, newer designs include long cords to make life easier.
Most air compressors will connect to your car battery or the cigarette lighter socket. If you're worried about the air compressor draining your battery, run the car engine as you're inflating. Not only will this help to inflate the item faster, but it'll also stop your battery from going dead.
A portable air compressor is essential if you're going to be traveling. The last thing you want is to have to heave a heavy air pump around with you so look for a model with a compact and lightweight design.
Portability is even more important if you're going backpacking or on a long road trip. If you need to pack light, then a small and highly portable air compressor is a must.
Even if you'll only be using it as a tire inflator, being lightweight and easy to handle will make the job easier, especially on days when you're in a rush.
Liters per minute
Liters per minute essentially means how much air the pump produces per minute. The more liters it can produce, the quicker your inflatable item will pump up.
Functionality is also an important feature to look out for. Typically, an electric air pump will be either a one or two-stage model. A one-stage model will just blow air into the inflatable item until it's reached the desired air pressure.
The liters per minute speed will vary depending on how powerful the air pump is. A two-stage portable air pump will inflate the item at a high volume. During the second stage, the air pressure will increase to shorten the inflation time.
Keep in mind that the more powerful the pump is, the noisier it's likely to be. Another useful feature is the ability to deflate items as well as inflate them. This makes your portable air pump more versatile.
Auto shut off/on
The best portable air compressors will also have an auto-stop feature. This is useful for a couple of reasons. It saves electricity and acts as overheat protection to ensure the air pump doesn't dangerously overheat.
This shut-off feature also means that the items you're inflating, whether it's a car tire or a beach ball, won't be overinflated and potentially burst. Most air pumps allow you to preset the desired air pressure level and will switch off when that level has been reached.
Some air pumps also have a pressure gauge. This allows you to constantly check the progress of inflation and make sure everything is working as it should. You can usually choose between an analog or a digital pressure gauge.
What is the best electric air pump?
Which air compressor is the best depends on several factors such as your budget, which items you'll be inflating, and where you'll be using it.
If you're a frequent traveler and you want to keep an air pump in the car in case of an emergency, you'll need to look for a very portable one. When you're traveling you need an air compressor that's small and easy to carry so avoid choosing a heavy and cumbersome model.
If you're looking for an air compressor to keep your car tires pumped up then you'll need to look at specialist tire inflators. This is because a car tire has a high level of pressure and some compressors won't be able to handle that air pressure limit.
What is the difference between high-pressure and high-volume air pumps?
When you start looking for your new air pump or portable tire inflator, you may come across the terms high-volume and high-pressure.
Most electric pumps will fall into either one of these categories. But which one is best? Knowing the difference between the two will help you to make your decision.
High volume means that the volume of air being pushed into the inflatable is very high. Put simply, high-volume pumps can inflate items very quickly. However, many of these pumps can't handle high pressure.
They can pump the item up but not all the way and you'll probably have to continue with a manual or hand pump. High-pressure pumps are the opposite. Although they take longer to pump up, they can tolerate high maximum pressure levels.
With these air compressors, a manual pump won't be needed, but you will have to allow more time for it to inflate.
How does a portable air compressor work?
Portable air compressors work by pumping air into the inflatable item through a valve. Many models come with multiple valve sizes so that you can use them on different items such as truck tires, swimming pool inflatables, and camping furniture.
They tend to be powered by a battery which is usually rechargeable, making them easier to charge up. Buying an air pump that's easy to operate is a good idea as it saves hassle and time trying to work out how to use it.
Little things such as the length of the air hose and having the correct adapters will make it even easier to use.
Are portable air compressors worth the money?
Considering most air compressors are affordably priced, yes they are definitely worth the money. Most people buy air compressors for a specific purpose. For example, someone who's a frequent traveler may keep one in their car in case of any flat tires.
However, many people quickly discover that air pumps have numerous uses. Most can act as a portable tire inflator or be used to check the tire pressure. They really are multi-functional tools that can save you time, labor, and money all year round.
Come summertime, an air compressor is invaluable for blowing up air mattresses while you're camping or to use at the poolside to fill up your kid's huge inflatable toys. It can also be used to blow up inflatable kayaks, boats, and rafts if you're into sports!
Going to the beach? You can use the air compressor as an air hose and spray any sand off your feet. This stops your car from getting messy and saves you from spending hours vacuuming it out!
They're useful in the winter too. Use them to blow up snow tubes and inflatable rings for some winter fun! Even better, most air compressors have a deflate option so you can easily pack the inflatables away for storage.
Going into spring, you can use your air pump to blow away dust, cobwebs, and debris out of hard-to-reach spaces for a spot of spring cleaning. Or use it to keep work areas clean and tidy, the possibilities are endless!
What can I inflate using a portable air pump?
The beauty of portable air compressors is that they can inflate lots of different items. If you're heading to the beach or pool your air pump can be used to blow up inflatable chairs, rings, and beach balls.
It's an awesome idea to keep one in your car as a tire inflator. Be sure to choose one that's capable of blowing up car tires though, as some pumps can't handle high levels of air pressure.
Going camping? Take your air pump along and fill up your inflatable air beds, chairs, tents, and even awnings. Try to choose one that can handle high air pressure as this means you'll be able to use it in more situations, offering the best value possible.
Can I use a portable tire inflator for inflatables?
Yes, most tire inflators can be used for inflatables as they typically come with multiple valve sizes so they fit various items. This makes them more versatile and convenient.
Just remember that quite often it won't work the other way around. High-volume air compressors won't be able to double up as portable tire inflators as they can't handle high levels of pressure.
If you only have a high-volume air pump, it's strongly recommended that you get a separate tire inflator with a tire pressure gauge.
Ultimately, a portable tire inflator is very useful to have around as a flat or soft tire can be a real pain, as well as being dangerous!
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