5 Best Portable Air Compressors for Your RV (2021 Reviews)

 5 Best Portable Air Compressors for Your RV (2021 Reviews)

What are the best portable air compressors for your RV? It's essential to maintain proper RV tire pressure for your safety and to protect your RV.

Your RV's tires are one of the most critical parts of your vehicle. They are the only things that stand between you and the road you are traveling on!  

That is why I recommend that every RV owner have the best tire inflator for an RV that you can find!

To keep your tires operating at the optimal level, you need to keep them inflated at the proper tire pressure for your rig. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for the appropriate air pressure for your specific RV. 

You will also want to know how to check it before hitting the road this season! If you don’t, your tires might be too hot before you have time to correct them. 

You may also consider investing in a tire pressure monitoring system. Check out our podcast Episode 174: Do You Need a Tire Pressure Monitoring System for Your RV?

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Air Compressor for an RV

Finding the best RV air compressor may be more challenging than you think. That is because there are several different options on the market. How do you choose? 

Here are my 6 tips for choosing the best tire inflator for an RV that you can find! 

1. Air Compressor Ratings

There are three air compressor ratings that you want to be aware of: 

  • Horsepower (HP)
  • Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)
  • Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)

Understanding these three ratings can help you choose the best tire inflator for RV that reflects your particular needs. 

2. Horsepower (HP)

The concept of horsepower was invented by the engineer James Watt. Watts are used to measuring mechanical and electrical power. One unit of horsepower is equal to 746 watts. 

When it comes to air compressors, manufacturers do not always explain the term “horsepower” well to potential buyers. If you purchase an air compressor rated at 6-HP that operates using a voltage of 120, it would only actually be able to produce a horsepower rating of 2-HP. 

That seems counterintuitive, so let me explain. The 6-HP rating is the unit’s rating at peak performance. That peak performance only occurs when operating at a much higher RPM and would need a 240-volt circuit to run at that rate. 

Manufacturers advertise a higher HP rating, similar to that of cars. In the end, the 6-HP rating is more like a 2-HP. This is an excellent thing to keep in mind when reading stats. 

3. Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)

Knowing the CFM capacity of a portable compressor is essential. CFM is the measurement of the rate that a given air compressor that can deliver a specific air volume. CFM can vary in different temperatures, humidity levels and depending on the atmospheric pressure.

4. Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)

For portable air compressors, the CFM ratings are provided in terms of PSI. For example, an air compressor rated 3CFM at 90 PSI should potentially deliver that 3 CSM at 90 PSI. However, like CFM, manufacturers sometimes advertise the overinflated rate. 

How does this affect your purchase? If your RV requires a specific CSM rating at 90 PSI, the advertised CFM likely will not produce that number. That means the advertised one may not be able to inflate your tires or will take a long time to do so. 

Keep this in mind when shopping for your portable air compressor. You may want to opt for one with a higher CFM rating than you need.

5. Duty Cycle & Run Time

You may also notice manufacturers advertising “duty cycle.” That simply means the amount of time that the air compressor will provide pressurized air in a total cycle time. 

Run time is when an air compressor can be run on full load before needing a rest to cool down. 

6. Safety Check

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We suggest making it a rule to check your RV tire pressure before any road trips. Just like Rule 330, it can help keep you safe on the road. 

For a great conversation starter, you can get one of our Rule 330 t-shirts from our shop.

Now that you know what to look for to find the best portable air compressors for your RV, check out my top five picks!

The Best Tire Inflator for RV in 2021

I have outlined the five top portable air compressors on the market today! 

1. VIAIR 400P-RV Portable Air Compressor for RV

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This VIAIR is considered by many to be the best tire inflator for RV on the market. This 12-volt air compressor should be compatible with most RVs.

It is high-powered yet lightweight. It is not too large, so it won’t take up too much space when storing it. This is the one I have, bought on the enthusiastic recommendations of several of my RVing friends.

It has an advertised flow rate of 2.3 CFM at 0 PSI, with a maximum rating of 150 PSI. As the pressure inside the tire increase from being inflated, the flow rate will decrease. Its lowest flow should 0.71 CFM at 150 PSI. 

This is okay and is designed to operate this way to prevent your tires from being over-inflated. This model also comes with an automatic shutoff feature to set your desired PSI when inflating your tires. 

The power cord is eight feet long. The primary air hose is 30 feet in length. But it also comes with an additional;l 30-foot hose extension hose that you can use without having to move the air compressor.

Finally, this portable tire inflator comes with a bevy of fabulous accessories. You will receive a quick tire inflation gun with an included tire pressure gauge and a 45-degree extended reach tire chuck. It also contains dual battery clamps that you can hook right to your RV car battery. 

2. PORTER-CABLE CMB15 Portable Air Compressor Kit

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The PORTER-CABLE unit is the best tire inflator for RV if you are looking for a compact model. 

It is also fully shrouded, making it the quietest compressor on my list. 

This air compressor is rated at 2.0 CFM at 90 PSI and is capable of a maximum PSI rating of 150.

This model comes complete with a 1.5-gallon air tank size within the shroud, which means you will not have to attach it to an external air tank. 

3. TIREWELL 12V 150PSI RV Tire Inflator

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This TIREWELL model is what you want when looking for a heavy-duty air compressor.

As far as strength goes, it tops my list for best tire inflator for RV this year. 

The pump is rated at 2.12 CFM at 0 PSI, inflating a standard RV tire in approximately two minutes. Other adaptors can make it equipped to fill smaller items, like bicycle tires, pool toys, and other sporting goods. 

4. Bostitch BTFP02012 Oil-Free Compressor

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The Bostitch model comes complete with a high-efficiency motor and can quickly inflate those RV tires. 

It can also stand up in cold weather climates! If you are a full-time RVer, this might be a good choice for you to withstand those months when the temperature dips below freezing. 

In addition, this model has a low operating noise level. 

It weighs about 29 pounds, is an “oil-free pump” with a 150 PSI rating. 

5. GSPSCN Heavy Duty 12V Compressor

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This heavy-duty 12-volt air compressor is adequate!

It has a double cylinder design and can inflate to a maximum of 150 PSI without issue. 

It comes standard with a 150 PSI pressure gauge and can easily be hooked up to your RV’s battery. 

It’s lightweight, weighing about 20 pounds. That makes it easy to carry and store when not using! 

What are Your Top Picks for a Portable RV Air Compressor?

We'd love to hear your recommendations! Please share in the comments.

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5 Best Portable Air Compressors for Your RV (2021 Reviews)

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.


  • Could you please send me the packing list.

  • I’ve had/used the Viair 400P-RV for 7 years. Not the cheapest but arguably the best value if you want reliability and durability.RV version has 2nd length (30′) of hose. Automatic shutoff feature is invaluable, allowing compressor to rest/cool when not actually inflating tires etc. Addition of their Winterization Kit 2 years ago was a bonus that includes a pressure regulator to ensure safe pressurization of RV water lines, purging them of water without use of glycol (except traps), especially convenient for quick turnarounds. Winterization kit’s best price then (and apparently now) was at Home Depot.

  • First off, if you see a portable compressor that only has a cigarette lighter plug, its ability to fill a high PSI RV tire will probably be inadequate. The vehicle’s fuse on these circuits will be 5, 10 or at most 20 amps. And since your battery is around 13 volts, multiplying say 10A x 13V = 130 Watts, not enough to do the job! That’s why a more powerful air compressor like the Viair has alligator clips that connect DIRECTLY to your battery and have a 40 Amp fuse (40A x 13V = 520 Watts), many times stronger than a cheaper “plug in cigarette lighter” unit.

    BTW, since we typically want a PORTABLE air compressor that we can hookup to our vehicle’s battery, forget the specs for units that discuss 120V or 240V A/C hookups (unless you have a big rig with a 120V A/C inverter).

  • Mike Wendland, I’m a 79-year-old senior who is by myself and (newbe to RV living – full-time) who wants and is trying to find the right RV Motorhome for me that is affordable within my limited budget. I’m still active and want to make the most of my time left which looks to be a while yet. I love all the posts from you and all the information is very helpful.
    I don’t believe I have ever received the packing list you describe, and would appreciate you sending it to me. Thanks
    I look forward to the packing list and more of your interesting and informative posts!

  • For the TIREWELL 12V 150PSI RV Tire Inflator – How do you actually inflate the tires? Seems like this has a screw on type thing which works for cars and trucks, but my RV has duallys with ‘tire valve gator’ caps on them. Not sure what sort of adaptor I’d need to connect this to a long air chuck?

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  • I use VIAIR to air up LT and RV tires to 80psi while on road trips. Works great, is fast and the combined length of the power cord and two air hoses allow me to tire of a 35 foot fifth wheel with no problems. Compressor shuts off automatically, allowing you to air tires a long distance from it without having to manually cut it off. This is the best compressor I have owned. It is pricey, but I firmly believe you get what you pay for.

  • Thanks so much for sharing! It compared the best products on the market and this really useful for me. Great article!

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