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What is a Portable Air Compressor?

Ken Black
Ken Black

A portable air compressor is an air compressor with the ability to be transported easily. There is no true definition of a portable air compressor simply because the term portability means different things to different people. Some may feel that only a compressor that is easily carried is portable. Others may feel that any air compressor that can be easily lifted into a car is portable.

In most cases, a portable air compressor is considered one that can be moved by hand. In those situations, the small air compressor is used often for emergency roadside situations, such as when a tire needs inflated. This is done by connecting the portable air compressor hose to the tire via a valve stem. Once accomplished, inflating the tire is relatively easy.

Many portable air compressors come with a pressure gauge built in.
Many portable air compressors come with a pressure gauge built in.

In some cases, the unit may be a cordless air compressor. If that is the case, the portable air compressor simply receives its power from batteries. Those may be permanent batteries capable of being recharged with a cord, or may be more standard batteries that can be taken out and recharged or discarded of.

Some portable air compressor units may run off the DC current generated from the car. This is a very convenient way to power the device in the event that there is no other way to do it. Due to the fact the compressors are mainly going to be used in situations where cars are already present, it seems only natural that they run on energy the car produces. The only way a portable air compressor would not work in this situation is if the battery in the car was dead, or the cord connecting the two were damaged.

One thing that should be kept in mind about portable air compressors is that they do not often pack the energy many other types of air compressors do. With a larger air compressor, inflating a tire may be done easily in less than a minute. With a small air compressor, it may be much longer than a minute. Many come with a tire pressure gauge built in, which can help users keep track of when the tire is reaching its desired pressure.

Most portable air compressors run between $15 US Dollars (USD) and $100 USD. The difference in the price mainly accounts for the power it is capable of reaching and whether the device is cordless. Some may have other features as well, such as a flashlight and even flashing emergency lights to warn other motorists to keep away.

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    • Many portable air compressors come with a pressure gauge built in.
      By: likephotoman
      Many portable air compressors come with a pressure gauge built in.