Best Portable Air Compressor for RV Tires

Best Portable Air Compressor for RV Tires


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After we purchased our first Class A motorhome, a portable air compressor was not on our list of essential RV must-haves, however we rapidly realized how important an air compressor is for RV tires. Should you’re pondering “I don’t want an air compressor, I’ll simply use one on the gasoline station.” Suppose once more!

Fuel station air compressors are designed for automobile tires which want round 35 psi (kilos per sq. inch) of strain. RV tires then again can have max pressures from 80 to 135 psi or extra! Sure, even these small camper vans have LT (mild truck) tires which are rated at 80 psi.

Think about our shock the primary time we went to inflate the tires on our Class A motorhome at a gasoline station solely to seek out out we have been shedding strain! After that have, we determined to spend money on a quality portable air compressor for RV tires.

However transportable air compressors can be utilized for a lot of different issues, together with winterizing your camper, which I’ll clarify how you can do on this article.

Don’t have time to learn the whole put up on the most effective transportable air compressor for RV tires? This is the portable air compressor we own and love. VIAIR makes completely different fashions, which I’ll get to later on this article.

best portable air compressor

What’s a Transportable Air Compressor?

Transportable Air Compressors are smaller variations of the air compressors you may discover in an automotive or different sort of store. The compressors may have an electrical motor and a big holding tank of compressed air. Because the air is used and the strain drops beneath a sure level, the electrical motor activates and refills the tank.

The transportable model of those compressors are available in many various kinds. For the aim of this text, I’ll be discussing 12 volt transportable air compressors. These are supposed to journey with you and run off of your automobile/RV battery or 12v outlet (aka cigarette lighter) in your automobile. Some are made for smaller automobile tires whereas others have the flexibility to work on every part as much as and together with semi-truck tires. 

One other sort of transportable air compressor is a scaled down model of their bigger counterparts and plug into a typical 120 volt family outlet. These are typically used on smaller building jobs the place you want one thing small and transportable. They may run air instruments, paint sprayers and different varieties of instruments you’d discover on a building website or in your storage that require compressed air. These transportable air compressors will also be used to refill automobile tires.

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t advocate the 120 volt air compressors for RV tires. They’re bigger and heavier than the 12 volt transportable air compressors plus they require that you just plug in to a typical 120 volt outlet. Whereas most RVs have these, you could not have a big sufficient inverter or large enough battery financial institution to run it. It additionally doesn’t do you any good if you wish to convey it alongside in your toad (towed vehicle) for an off-roading journey the place you’ll must air your tires again up. 

Advantages of a Transportable Air Compressor

best portable air compressor for RV

1. Capability to Air Up Your RV’s Tires Anyplace

Earlier than we took off on our first journey in our Class A motorhome, I made positive to verify the air strain for all six of our tires. Our tire strain was low throughout but it surely was adequate to drive to the closest gasoline station to refill. After we pulled into the gasoline station, I dropped 4 quarters into the air compressor and started filling up one of many entrance RV tires. After a pair minutes, I checked the tire strain once more and noticed that it had really LOST 5 psi! We then seemed for a truck cease to go refill at however, low and behold, there have been none the place we have been going.

Whereas some truck stops may have air compressors capable of air up bigger tires, they don’t seem to be at all times accessible. An under-inflated tire might be harmful and result in a blow out, so having the ability to air up your tires each time it’s worthwhile to is important. 

Having an air compressor with you permits you to make in-field tire repairs corresponding to a puncture or tear. Whereas we haven’t needed to make a restore within the area, we’ve been a variety of locations the place we have been no the place close to civilization and the closest restore store was hours away…or we didn’t have cell service to name for assist.

After we had our Jeep, we had to make use of the spare tire a number of occasions and guess what? Once I put the spare on and lowered the automobile, I discovered that the tire strain was very low. A couple of minutes later, I had our air compressor out and the tire again as much as the right strain. 

We’ve additionally been capable of assist different folks on the highway who wanted to air their tires up however didn’t have a compressor with them. 

2. You Can Take It With You

Because the title implies, these 12 volt air compressors are transportable. The VIAIR air compressors are available in sturdy canvas carry luggage and are mild sufficient for most individuals to hold (the 450P-RVS is the biggest mannequin and weighs in at 13 lbs). 

After we towed a Jeep Wrangler behind our motorhome, we might take our transportable air compressor with us once we went off-roading. This allowed us to air the tires down on the path after which, once we acquired again to the pavement, we aired our tires again up. That is the place the 12 volt air compressors shine over the 120 volt variations as a result of we didn’t have a approach to plug-in a 120 volt air compressor within the Jeep.

I additionally favor the transportable air compressors over on-board air compressors which are completely mounted to the automobile as a result of should you promote the automobile or want the compressor in a distinct automobile, the transportable compressor can go the place you do.

3. There are A number of Makes use of for a Transportable Air Compressor

Past simply inflating tires, a transportable air compressor may be very helpful when tenting. You should utilize them to inflate inflatable kayaks, paddle boards, balls and plenty of different stuff you may convey in your subsequent journey. When the climate will get beneath freezing, we’ve used ours to winterize our camper. I’ll clarify how to do that beneath. 

Transportable Air Compressor Options

As a result of there may be such all kinds of transportable air compressors, I received’t have the ability to cowl the entire completely different options however I’ll attempt to cowl a few of the most typical ones try to be conscious of. 

1. Max Working Strain, CFM, Responsibility Cycle and Extra

Pay shut consideration to the specs when looking for a transportable air compressor. Max working strain was essential for us once we have been purchasing. Our RV tires on the time had a max chilly strain of 110 psi, so we wanted a compressor that had a max working strain equal to or better than that. We additionally needed one thing that had a 100% obligation cycle which suggests it could possibly run repeatedly for an hour. An air compressor with a 33% obligation cycle can solely run for 20 minutes (33% of 60 minutes) after which it is going to want 40 minutes to chill between cycles. 

Smaller 12v pumps that plug right into a cigarette lighter (12v outlet) usually have a max working strain of 60 psi and have a brief obligation cycle, 20 minutes @ 30 psi for instance. That is good for airing up bicycle, motorbike and automobile tires however can’t deal with even the smallest RV tire. 

CFM is one other specification which measures the cubic ft per minute of air movement. Because the strain in a tire will increase, the CFM will drop as a result of it’s taking extra effort for the compressor to push the air into the tire. CFM might be a sign of how rapidly you possibly can air a tire up and whether or not the pump will have the ability to run air instruments. 

2. Equipment

Air Hose. Primary transportable air compressors will usually include an built-in air hose that’s 3-5 ft in size. Relying on how lengthy the ability wire is, you could not have the ability to attain your rear tires. Greater finish air compressors will include fast join fittings and air hoses. This lets you change out the air hoses if one turns into broken or should you want an extended/shorter hose. Our 450P-RVS got here with two 30 foot hoses so we’re capable of attain as much as 60 ft from the compressor! If we wanted to increase even additional, we might add a 3rd hose. 

Chucks. Normal, air compressors will include both the bike pump or gasoline station model chuck. If the compressor has a fast join becoming, you possibly can change out the chuck relying on what you want. Our VIAIR got here with a gasoline station model air inflation gun, 90 diploma screw on chuck, 45 diploma chuck (for attain the inside wheel on a dually) and a number of inflation ideas. We will additionally add different equipment that use the fast join becoming.

Carry bag. These are good, particularly when you have a number of equipment, to maintain every part in a single place. 

3. Automated Reduce-Off

Should you’ve ever used a gasoline station air compressor, you understand that when it activates, it retains working till the time restrict is up. Primary transportable air compressors function in the identical method, they proceed working till you flip it off. If the compressor has a brief obligation cycle, this may increasingly require you to run forwards and backwards to show it on and off each time you turn tires. 

Transportable air compressors with an computerized shut off usually have a small holding tank. Once you first flip the compressor on, it is going to run, filling up that tank. As soon as the tank reaches strain, the compressor will shut off till you start filling a tire with air. When you’re executed filling up the tire and the tank pressurizes, the pump will mechanically shut off. 

4. In-Line Strain Gauge 

I feel an inline strain gauge is a vital accent to have. Ours has one construct into the gasoline station model inflation gun and it permits us to see what the tire strain is with out having to take away the chuck and verify the strain with a separate gauge. 

Downsides of a Transportable Air Compressor

The draw back of 12v transportable air compressors is that almost all should not designed to run air instruments. The issue is that they will’t present a excessive sufficient CFM that an air device requires. Some compressors have small holding tanks which is able to give a fast burst of air while you first pull the set off on a device and permit it to run for a second or two however not a lot after that. 

If you’d like or must run air instruments on the highway, my suggestion could be to take a look at 120v transportable compressors which have a bigger holding tank.

Our Expertise with Transportable Air Compressors

A few years in the past, I had a pair cheap transportable air compressors that I stored within the storage for these odd occasions I wanted to pump up a tire. Inevitably, they’d work a pair occasions after which stop working. Whereas they have been low-cost to switch, I didn’t need to preserve throwing my cash away and resigned myself to drive to the gasoline station and refill there. 

After we acquired the VIAIR I used to be skeptical at first, particularly given the value, however I’ve since realized to depend on them. After we first acquired it, we primarily used it to air up our RV tires. With our overland 4×4 truck camper, we might use it regularly to air our tires again up from being on an off-road path or simply refill the tires as wanted. We additionally started utilizing it for issues like blowing out our water strains, serving to associates or utilizing it to blow the mud out of an air filter. 

We now have 34” tires on our truck and once we’ve taken it off-roading, we’ll air down the tires to round 25 psi. After we air the tires again as much as 65 psi, it takes roughly 6 minutes per tire. 

We’ve used ours in all types of situations like in the course of the desert in 90 diploma warmth with blowing sand and by no means as soon as had a difficulty. 

Why the VIAIR 450P-RVS is the Greatest Transportable Air Compressor for RV Tires

Briefly, as a result of it really works for all RV tires from small Class Bs all the best way as much as massive Class A motorhomes. With a attain of 60 ft, you’ll have the ability to attain these rear tires on a forty five foot Class A or a pull behind camper. 

The air compressor and all of its equipment match within the included heavy obligation carrying bag and it’s sufficiently small to slot in most storage bays or cupboards.

With the usual fast join fittings, it permits you to buy further hoses and different chucks or air weapons to fit your wants. We acquired a blow gun for air compressor that works properly on blowing mud and different issues out of an air filter. 

Whereas the VIAIR air compressors include a 1 yr guarantee, we’ve not wanted to make use of it. 

It’s strong! After filling up the tires in our truck in the future, I used to be distracted and forgot to place the compressor away. As I began driving away, I drove over one thing and once I acquired out, I noticed that I had pushed OVER our compressor! Come to seek out that whereas I’d bent the ft of the compressor and the alligator clips that connect to the automobile battery, every part else was wonderful. I spent a couple of minutes bending issues again into form and the compressor has been working wonderful ever since. 

Which VIAIR Transportable Air Compressor is Proper for Your RV Tires? 

VIAIR has a variety of transportable air compressors. The VIAIR RVS collection of transportable air compressors are particularly made for RVs, each motorized and towables. 

Class A motorhomes – VIAIR 450P-RVS

Class C motorhomes, truck campers and huge towables – VIAIR 400P-RVS

Smaller Towables – VIAIR 300P-RVS

Class B motorhomes and camper vans – VIAIR 89P-RVS

Should you additionally plan to make use of your transportable air compressor to your Jeep or off-road automobile, the VIAIR 400P is beneficial. 

Once more, my decide would nonetheless be the VIAIR 450P-RVS as a result of it could possibly do every part besides run air instruments. 

What Different Choices are There for Transportable Air Compressors? 

The record is almost infinite for the completely different makes and varieties of transportable air compressors for RV tires. If I used to be going to purchase one thing apart from the VIAIR, I’d search for one thing from a properly established model that’s been utilized by off-roaders. I say that as a result of individuals who use an air compressor off-road, have a tendency to make use of them extra typically and in harsh environments. The compressors not solely have to resist the surroundings however they should be strong sufficient to be bounced round in a automobile for hours on finish and work each time. Within the backcountry, away from cell alerts and paved roads, your life could rely in your instruments, which incorporates your air compressor. 

My first selection could be the ARB High Performance Portable Air Compressor. Many off-roaders will set up these on-board their autos however this mannequin comes with in a tough carrying case in order that it’s transportable. The worth is on-par with the VIAIR however lacks a few of the equipment which are normal with the VIAIR. The ARB can be has a better CFM than the VIAIR and is rated to run air instruments with an optionally available 1 gallon air tank. 

If you’d like one thing bigger to run air instruments, my suggestion could be a pancake style portable air compressor. They’re referred to as “pancake” due to the pancake formed air tank positioned beneath the compressor. They’re all 120v so that you’ll both want an inverter and battery financial institution that’s massive sufficient to run this model of compressor out of your RV or be parked someplace like a campground the place you may have entry to an outlet. Whereas bigger and heavier than a 12v transportable air compressor, pancake model compressors like this Craftsman are a couple of third of the value of the VIAIR or ARB.

Lastly, in case you are on a price range and don’t plan to be out within the backcountry, I’d recommend looking Amazon for “12v portable air compressor” and discovering one in your value vary that has good opinions and the options you want in a transportable air compressor. 

What’s the appropriate tire strain(s) to your RV? 

The proper tire strain to your RV tires goes to fluctuate primarily based upon the the burden of the automobile and whether or not you may have single or twin rear wheels. For instance, on our truck camper, the tires on the max chilly strain of 80 psi are load rated for 4,050 kilos. Earlier than you possibly can decide what the right tire strain is, it’s worthwhile to weigh your RV. This may be executed at any truck cease that has a CAT scale. Merely drive up onto the size and observe the instructions. They’ll offer you entrance, rear and trailer axle weights. With this info you possibly can search for the inflation chart to your tires and decide what the right tire strain is. Right here’s an instance of Truck Tire Load Inflation Tables from Bridgestone.

Right tire psi, particularly on lager motorhomes is a vital security merchandise. In case your tires are beneath inflated, that may trigger extreme warmth, put on and finally a blow out. We’ve had associates in bigger Class A motorhomes expertise a blow in and out one case they misplaced full management and totaled the RV and within the different, whereas they misplaced some management, they have been in an space with a large shoulder and have been capable of safely cease. Below/over inflation may even trigger extreme put on in your tires and RV tires aren’t low-cost! 

A method to assist forestall tire blow-outs and monitor your tire strain is by putting in a TPMS (tire strain monitoring system) to your RV. Many new vehicles include these now however many RVs nonetheless don’t. They’re simple to put in and screens just like the TST or TireView include 4-12 sensors relying on what number of tires it’s worthwhile to monitor. Here’s a hyperlink to the TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Easy methods to Inflate RV Tires

You must by no means stand subsequent to an RV tire if you find yourself inflating it. RV and truck tires can explode when being inflated and every year, individuals are killed and significantly injured by them. This is the reason, should you look in a truck tire store, you’ll see metal cages the place they set the tire earlier than inflating it. 

To start inflating your RV tires, begin your engine because the compressor might be working off your automobile battery (you don’t need to air up your tires solely to seek out you’ve drained your battery). In case your compressor has an on/off change, set the change to the off place. Insert the 12v plug into the automobile’s 12v outlet or cigarette lighter or connect the  black (floor) alligator clip to the automobile – usually uncovered metallic like a bolt or nut on the aspect wall inside your engine bay. Examine your automobile’s homeowners handbook to see the place to connect the bottom when leaping the automobile in case you are undecided. Subsequent, connect the constructive (pink) clip to the constructive terminal of your battery. Once you’re prepared to start inflating your tires, flip the pump on if it’s not already and inflate every tire to the right tire strain. Be sure that to face away and off to the aspect of the tire.

Another excuse I just like the VIAIR 450P-RVS is that it comes with a 90 diploma screw on chuck and twin hoses. To maintain myself secure, when I’m filling our tires, I connect the primary hose to the air compressor, then I join the air inflation gun between the primary and second hose and the 90 diploma twist on chuck will twist onto the tip of the tire valve after which I can stand away from the tire (as much as 30 ft) and safely fill the tire. The gauge on the tire inflation gun tells me when the tire has reached the right strain after which I can take away the chuck and transfer on to the following tire. 

Easy methods to Winterize Your RV with a Transportable Air Compressor

Many individuals are accustomed to the pink RV anti-freeze that’s pumped by way of the water system of an RV to winterize it. Personally, I’m not a fan of these items. I received’t get into all of the explanation why however briefly I a lot favor to blow the water out of my camper’s strains. 

To do that, we used an air compressor and a blow out valve like this one.

Disclaimer: The directions beneath are how we winterized our truck camper and are supposed to provide you with an concept of the way it’s executed utilizing compressed air. These should not directions on how you can winterize your RV. Each RV is completely different. If not executed accurately, compressed air might injury water strains, water heaters, pumps, valves and different elements of your water system. You’ll want to learn your homeowners handbook and call your RV producer on the most effective course of to winterize your RV. 

  1. Drain all water from the camper’s recent water tank, water heater, filters and low level drains. If there’s a tankless water heater, make sure that to empty the water out of it as properly. On our camper, I’ve discovered that if I open the drain valve on our water heater and activate the water pump, it rapidly empties the recent water tank. 
  2. Activate the water pump and open every sizzling/chilly water valve (sinks/showers/bathrooms/and many others) to filter extreme water left within the strains. 
  3. Set up the blow out valve to the recent water fill inlet and open the drain valve on the recent water tank. Start pumping air into the recent water fill and there ought to be air/water popping out of the drain valve. If there isn’t, cease instantly. Proceed till water is now not popping out of the drain. 
  4. Transfer the blow out valve from the recent water fill inlet to town water inlet. Open every water valve (sinks/showers/bathrooms/and many others) separately after which blow air into the system. Have an individual contained in the RV monitoring every valve to make sure air/water are popping out. If it’s not, cease instantly. Proceed till no extra water is popping out of the valve. 
  5. Repeat Step 4 with every water valve, cold and warm. I additionally like to return to the new water heater and open up the valve there once more and blow extra air to make sure it’s fully empty in addition to the recent water tank. 
  6. Lastly, empty each gray and black holding tanks. 

When freezing temps are over, merely refill the recent water holding tank, activate the water pump and open the suitable valves to start getting water again into the system. 

Here’s a video of how we winterize our camper van:

Easy methods to Restore a Flat Tire

Whereas I’d love to have the ability to clarify how you can restore a tire within the area on this article, it’s just too in-depth. As you might have guessed nevertheless, one important device for repairing a tire within the area is an air compressor. The opposite is a top quality tire restore equipment. The one we personal is the Outback Extreme Ultimate Puncture Repair Kit. That is marketed to work on something from ATVs to semi-truck tires. 

An incredible useful resource to learn to restore tires within the area is the ebook Raising Your 4WD Vehicle Off-Road & In-Field Tire Repair by Bob Wohlers. I took Bob’s class and have this ebook. It’s a wealth of data and vital for anybody venturing off the overwhelmed path. 


A top quality transportable air compressor to your RV tires might be an costly buy however, as we’ve discovered, it’s properly well worth the funding. Whereas we’ve had nothing however good experiences with VIAIR, there are a lot of different choices on the market. In case you have transportable air compressor you actually like, tell us within the feedback. 



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Alex Lorel

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