What Is The Best Portable Air Compressor For RV Tires?

Best Portable Air Compressor For RV Tires
Portable Advisor

So, there I was, 100 miles from nowhere, and even further from decent cell service. My wife and I were on our way to a new campsite, so of course we were on an unfamiliar road. While consulting our route I hear a “thup thup thup thup”, steadily repeating as we traveled down the road. Knowing the trees couldn’t possibly make that noise, I immediate assumed it was a tire on the RV. I hate it when I am right.

Fortunately, it wasn’t dark, wasn’t raining, and I had a RV tire inflator compressor tucked away in my RV. After a quick inspection, I found that we had picked up a nail. So, using a tire repair kit and the portable RV air compressor I was able to get up back on the road, and safely to the campsite.

This time, I was actually prepared, but that hasn’t always been the case. I have plenty of other stories where I was left stranded. Eventually, I decided to find the best portable air compressor for RV tires to keep from being marooned in the future. I decided to share my research with other RVers, including three picks for the best tire inflator for RV.

Product


Best Feature


Our Rating


Price


Advanced Elements

Best portable air compressor for RV overall

4.8

Eccotemp L10

Best portable air compressor space saver

4.6

Ivation Portable Shower

Best portable air compressor on a budget

4.4

Advanced Elements

Best Solar Shower

4.4

Eccotemp L10

Premium Quality

5.0

Ivation Portable Shower

Ivation Portable Shower

Indoor Use

5.0

Coleman 5 Gallon

Coleman 5 Gallon

Under 10 Dollars

3.6

Zodi Outback Gear

Zodi Outback Gear

Best For Camping

4.0

The hows of portable RV air compressors

Before we jump too deep into the compressors themselves, I want to go through some background about how the compressors work, and how to choose the right one for you.

How to find the correct PSI for your RV

PSI means Pounds per Square Inch, and is the rating associated to the pressure your tires can handle, and the amount of pressure the portable compressor can fill to. You want to be sure when choosing a portable air compressor that the max pressure output reaches a high enough pressure to fill your tires.

Finding the PSI for an RV isn’t as straight forward as the sedan you use to commute to work. What makes filling RV tires tricky is that each tire on the RV carries a different load. Plus. Each time you go out in your RV you may have a different set of gear and equipment which means your load needs are different.

According to GoodYearRVTires.com, “actual air pressure required should be determined based on the load on each individual tire”. The pressure that your tires will need to be at will be determined by the weight rating of each axle. This information can be found on a plate located along the driver’s side door jamb.

When filling your tires, fill them to the PSI listed on the plate for the maximum weight rating for each axle. Your axels may have different weight ratings, so you can’t just fill all the tires to the same PSI. However, all of the tires on the same axel need to be set at the same pressure. 

What to look for in a portable compressor

Pressure Gauge – Your portable compressor needs to have some kind of pressure gauge that reads the active pressure of the tire. Gauges can be either an analog dial, or a digital display. When researching your RV tire inflator compressor, look specifically for the accuracy of the pressure gauge. An inaccurate gauge can lead to too high or too low pressure, which will affect the performance of your tires.

Cubic feet per minute (CPM) - The cubic feet per minute rating refers to the air flow rate of a compressor. The higher the CPM that more air flow, and the faster the compressor can fill a tire.

Power source - The best portable air compressors for RV tires will come in one of two power configurations. The first is plugging into the cigarette lighter, and the second is a 12-volt connection that hooks up to your RV battery like a pair of jumper cables.

The other consideration for power source is how long of a reach you will have with the cable. RV’s are not always small, so having a longer power cord and hose will allow you more reach.

Weight – The weight of the compressor is an important consideration. Being portable doesn’t just mean that you can pack in in the RV and go. You want a compressor that is easy to carry around from tire to tire. I like to shoot for a compressor that is between 10-15 pounds. This makes the compressor easy enough to lift and move repeatedly.

How to use a portable air compressor

Using a portable air compressor is relatively simple if you follow the PSI ratings for your tires at the maximum axel weight capacities. Some compressors will include an auto shutoff feature that will turn off the compressor once it reaches a PSI limit set by the user.

For models that don’t have this feature, you need to actively monitor the pressure to prevent over filling. The following video gives a good demonstration of how to use a portable compressor to fill RV tires.

Other ways to fill your RV tires

Portable compressors aren’t the only way to fill your tires. While they are convenient I feel like I need to let you know the other options out there.

  1. Use a traditional air compressor. These compressors come in many different sizes and capacities, but are generally much larger than the portable varieties. They have an air storage tank, and plug into a regular wall outlet. They often have a higher CPM and will fill your tire faster. Traditional compressors can be found in your garage, at gas stations, or truck stops.
  2. Onboard Air Supply – The onboard system is a more permanent solution that involves making changes to your RV to provide power and a hose outlet. This option is nice when done correctly because you always have the air ready to go. The trick is making the changes correctly to allow an onboard system to work properly.

Best Portable Air Compressor for RV Tires: Product Reviews

Now that we have established some criteria for what qualifies for the best air compressor for RV tires, lets go into more detail about the three compressors I mentioned earlier.

Viair 45043 Automatic Function Portable Compressor

Our Favourite Feature

Best portable air compressor for RV overall

Price

Rating

4.8

The Vlair 450P is a great all-around option for a portable air compressor. The Vlair has two primary features that make it one of the best.

First is the pressure gauge. The gauge is located toward the end of the 35-foot air hose. Unlike similar compressors, the gauge location means that you can easily monitor the tire pressure right at the tire allowing you to control the air flow and connection to the exact pressure that you need for your tires.

The second feature is the inflation gun. This inflation style is just like what you would see at your typical gas station or truck stop. I love how easy it is to use, and the precise control it gives me when I am filling my tires. Together with the pressure gauge, I am able to dial in my tire pressure to the single PSI.

Other notable features of the Vlair 450P include a 12-volt power supply that hooks to your battery, and requires your engine to be running to operate. The max pressure is 150 PSI, and has a CPM of 1.66 at 0 psi and 0.94 at 100 PSI.

The weight of the Vlair is only 9.75 pounds, and is easy to move around the RV. However, the 35-foot air hose means that you will have little need to move the compressor around.

Pros

  • Automatic shut off when not filling, saves power
  • Easy to use
  • Direct Control of airflow

Cons

  • Fill rate is slower than some other options
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator by 100 PSI

Our Favourite Feature

Best portable air compressor space saver

Price

Rating

4.6

Sometimes you want to have a budget option for an air compressor to either use as a backup, or you want to try out the portable air compressor without investing in a more robust compressor. The EP Auto Compressor is a great starter that has the power to pump up your tires, and introduce you to the convenience of portable RV air compressors.

The display on this inflator is a digital readout that reads tire pressure down to a tenth of a PSI. This makes the EPAuto a very accurate compressor. The digital gauge allows you to set the desired PSI of your tires, and will automatically shut off once you have reached the specified PSI.

The power supply is the cigarette lighter configuration, and with the hose, has a total reach of about 11.5 feet. This limits the usability of the compressor, as does the 100 PSI limit. The EPAuto is best suited for smaller RVs or for those campers that have a fifth wheel or trailer. Larger RVs with higher pressure ratings, and larger tires, will need to step up to a more powerful portable compressor.

Pros

  • Fast fill, with auto pressure shut-off
  • Accurate gauge
  • Includes a built-in flashlight

Cons

  • Short reach
  • Gets very hot after inflating multiple tires
Slime 40026 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator

Our Favourite Feature

Best portable air compressor on a budget

Price

Rating

4.4

Slime is a brand I have used for years for everything from bicycles to RVs. This is an established company that knows tire repair and replacement. So, I wasn’t overly surprised to find that they had made a competent portable air compressor that works for RV tires.

What put this compressor on my list is the space saving and compact carrying case that comes with the compressor. Most compressors either have no protective case or a flimsy bag. This causes the compressor to shift around, unless you pack other items tightly around it. The case measures about 12x9x6.5 inches, which stores easily in a number of locations in my RV.

As far as functionality goes, the Slime 2x Heavy Duty is dual cylinder inflator with a CPM of 1.9, and is capable of filling a tire in around two minutes. The power source connects directly to the battery, which provides the necessary power to fill a tire efficiently.

An in-line analog gauge allows you to precisely monitor the tire pressure up to 150 PSI. The other nice feature is the thermal break that prevents the compressor from overheating and causing permanent damage to the motor.

Pros

  • Fast tire fill
  • Light weight and easy to carry
  • Screw on tire connector stays in place

Cons

  • Pressure gauge is small and tough to read
  • No direct control of air flow

The Pressure Point

Of the three candidates we presented, each is useful in a pinch to help get you the rest of the way, or top of your tires between drives. The Vlair 450P has been my choice for the go to best portable air compressor for RV tires because of its consistency and level if control over the air flow. I never regret taking a portable air compressor with me on every RV trip.

About the Author Rick Rose

Irish-American husband, dad of three and gadget enthusiast! Sandy and I have been RVing since the mid-nineties after embracing the boondocker way of life. We now practice what we call the 'Portable Lifestyle' - the ability to ‘get up and go’ and explore new places throughout the year while maintaining our income.

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