The Best 12v Air Compressor (5 Options For DIYers)

What is an Air Compressor?

best 12v air compressor

An air compressor is a powerful tool that can push air through a hose at a condensed or “compressed” pressure to create powerful results. Because of their range and utility air compressors are the staple of most construction sites, car garages and are found in the home Click to replace anchor textshops of avid do-it-yourselfers. Air compressors can run on electricity, gasoline, or diesel fuel. The pressure that is built up inside the tank makes it easy to complete many common jobs in and around the house.

What Can an Air Compressor Be Used For?

best 12 volt air compressor

Air compressors are commonly used for tasks such as pumping air into nail guns - many construction workers carry their own small air compressors. Professional and novice painters, alike also use air compressors to perform painting jobs like spray painting a wall or a car.

Spraying provides lots of even coverage at a speed that cannot be obtained by any other method of painting. It’s just so much easier with an air compressor. Air compressors can also be used to clean out tight spaces in a car’s engine, wheel wells, or vents. Many do-it-yourselfers use air compressors for crafts, as well. In the car, air compressors can be used to pump flat tires or help in the event of a slow-leaking tire.

What Should You Look For in Your Next 12v Air Compressor?

When it comes to buying an air compressor that operates on 12 volts, you’ll want to look first and foremost at portability. If you are investing in an air compressor for DIY projects, you want to be able to move your air compressor around the house and garage easily and this is the great strength of the 12 volt models.

Air compressors that operate on 12v are also great in the car because they can be plugged into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle. In fact, most 12v air compressors come with the attachment for use in a vehicle or on the side of the road.

How Much Should You Spend?

You can get a decent 12v air compressor for your home or car for less than $200USD; typically, you can pay much less for one that is meant to go in the car with the 12v hookup for the cigarette lighter. It’s important to know what you want the air compressor for so you ensure you have the right hook-ups and know the power capabilities of your compressor.

Our Recommendations For Best 12 Volt Air Compressor

For the do-it-yourself entusiast the best 12 volt air compressors on the market today are the small, affordable ones. There’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on an air compressor - compact and affordable is great.

We've put together five 12 volt air compressor reviews to help you reach a better decision about which product will meet your needs best.  Reliability and portability are the two hallmarks of small, efficient compressors and we think you'll find one to get the job done below.​

Image result for Lifeline AAA

This 12v air compressor comes with a 10-foot air hose, 3 nozzle adaptors for various products, and has an air pressure gauge included. All this and it only weighs 2 pounds, and measures less than a foot in length. It costs about $16USD.

2. EPAuto

Image result for EPAuto

This air compressor comes with a carrying case, can plug into the cigarette lighter in your car, has a LED display and an air gauge that prevents overinflation. Weighing in at just under 4 pounds, this portable air compressor will cost you about $35USD, but at less than 10 inches in length, it’s a go anywhere kind of product that can be taken out at a moment’s notice.

Image result for TireTek RXi

This air compressor will cost about $70USD, but it has a 12v and 160W air compression system, a sturdy carrying case and can inflate an average car tire in half the time of the Lifeline AAA: about 3 minutes. It has an 11-foot air hose, and it weighs about 7 lbs.

Image Result for Kobalt Dual Power Inflator

This 12v air compressor is about $75USD but it can be used at home or on the road through your car’s cigarette lighter. The rugged exterior of the compressor means it can take a beating in the trunk of your car and it’s small enough to be left there year round. It offers digital controls that shut off the compressor when the desired tire pressure has been reached.

Image resullt for Parker Eight

This is the tiniest product in our 12v air compressor reviews but still sports great features like a LED display and comes with a number of accessories to make it easy to use on the go. It sells for about $40USD and offers a digital reading and digital sensor to avoid overinflation of the tires. This small compressor is ideal for use around the house and on the road.

For a broader review of great air compressors, see our overall Ten Best Air Compressors.  There are larger units for commercial application in that roundup.

Watch the video to see EPAuto 12v 120W Portable Air Compressor live in action:

Product Images Sourced From​

Bob Campbell

By day Robert "Bob" Campbell is a residential carpenter but by night (and on the weekends) he is a non-stop DIY tinkerer. As the lead editor of Bob is able to share his passion for DIY projects and buying all the latest gear with the online world.