Industry
Fact-checked

At AboutMechanics, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Is a 12V Compressor?

A 12V compressor is a compact, portable device that powers pneumatic tools or inflates tires by compressing air, all while running off a 12-volt power source, such as a car battery. It's an essential gadget for roadside emergencies and DIY projects. Wondering how it can be a game-changer for your everyday needs? Let's explore its versatile applications together.
Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

There are a number of different types of portable air compressors, some of which are designed to operate on 12 volt direct current (DC). These devices are designed primarily to inflate low pressure objects, such as sports balls and air mattresses, though many are also capable of inflating car tires. Unlike most air compressors, these units typically lack any type of pressurized vessel to accumulate compressed air. Instead, a 12v compressor will typically pump air directly into an object. These compressors are typically less powerful than portable units that operate on alternating current (AC), though the fact that they can run on the 12 volt electrical systems found in cars and boats often makes them more useful when traveling.

Air compressors are devices that use various methods to pressurize air. Most air compressors pump air into some type of sealed container in order to pressurize it, though others are capable of pumping air directly into an inflatable object. The 12v compressor is a prominent example, as most of those devices lack any type of pressurized vessel. A motor inside the 12v compressor draws air in and then pumps it directly into an object. That can place a limit on the effectiveness of some pumps, since car tires and other similar objects often require a very large volume of air in order to reach the necessary pressure.

Some 12V compressors are equipped with alligator clips, allowing for direct connection to a car battery.
Some 12V compressors are equipped with alligator clips, allowing for direct connection to a car battery.

Compressors that have tanks only need to operate until the pressure vessel has been filled. The motor will then turn back on automatically when the pressure drops below a certain level. Since 12v compressors typically lack any sort of tanks, they need to run continuously. That makes it important to shut them off from time to time during usage, especially when filling large volume objects such as car tires. Extended usage without a break can burn out a 12v compressor motor, so most manufacturers list a time limit for continuous operation.

Aside from lacking a pressure vessel to accumulate compressed air, the other main difference between a 12v compressor and other portable units is the power source. Most compressors run on AC power, while 12v compressors are designed to operate on the 12v DC systems found in most automotive and marine electrical systems. These units typically come equipped with plugs that are designed to be connected into cigarette lighter sockets, though others have alligator clips that can be connected directly to a car battery. That can make these units very useful on the road, allowing them to fill up tires, and other inflatable objects, in situations where no AC power is available.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments

anon351182

How can I power a car compressor from 220 a AC source? It will draw 180W of power at 12 V DC and 15 Amps. That means if we change the source with 220 Dc it will draw three A. Is that true or what?

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Some 12V compressors are equipped with alligator clips, allowing for direct connection to a car battery.
      By: joris484
      Some 12V compressors are equipped with alligator clips, allowing for direct connection to a car battery.