12V air compressor
The best 12V air compressors
Sometimes you don’t need massive compressors for private use. Here, unconditional performance is less important than flexibility of use. With a 12V air compressor, you can act particularly universally. Such devices are often referred to as hand compressors, because they can be easily carried or driven to any place. In most cases, they can be started up via the 12-volt socket in the car (cigarette lighter). Some mini compressors can also be operated via the mains, which makes them even more flexible. There are also cordless battery air compressors that also work with a 12 V voltage.
In the following, we will show you which air compressor with 12 volts is a good choice. You will also find out what you should bear in mind in this context. We hope to be able to help you with this guide.
12V air compressor – These models are recommended
Compressors with a 12V drive are generally very compact. However, the top of the range in terms of handiness is impressively the Oasser P1S .
The air compressor is powered by a lithium-ion battery. This is permanently installed in the device and has a capacity of 2 Ah (ampere hours). Ready for use, the compressor weighs less than 1 kg and can therefore be carried easily. It is all the more astonishing that a peak working pressure of 8.3 bar can be provided. The pressure can be easily set via the + and – buttons. You can read the pressure on a digital display.
The scope of delivery also includes 3 different attachments, thanks to which car and bicycle tyres as well as common balls can be inflated. By the way, operation is even possible in the dark. This is ensured by an LED lamp and the illuminated display. The battery can also be charged either via a cigarette socket in the car (12V) or via mains power (230V).
The Black+Decker company originates from the USA and has been in existence since 1843. The traditional company supplied the first manned moon mission with tools. A popular 12V compressor from the manufacturer is the Black+Decker ASI300 .
This air compressor can also be supplied with energy either via a 12-volt cigarette lighter or via the usual 230V mains current. Both connection cables are integrated in the housing and cannot get lost. Furthermore, 3 valves are included in the scope of delivery. These are suitable for tyres and water toys. A working pressure of up to 11 bar is possible, so that nothing stands in the way of a wide range of applications.
The operation is also completely intuitive. This is achieved via 3 push buttons – a power button for switching on and off as well as two buttons for regulating the pressure (+/- symbol). The working pressure can then be read on a display. Once the desired pressure is reached, compression is automatically stopped.
The Mannesmann brand has existed for more than 130 years. Even though the company no longer exists in its original form, reliable tools are still offered. One of the most proven 12V compressors is the Mannesmann M01790 .
Although this 12 volt air compressor is only operated via a cigarette connection, it can generate an impressive working pressure of up to 10 bar. The pressure can be read off in the classic way via a manometer. So that you are prepared for a variety of tasks, 4 different attachments are also included. These include a ball adapter, a reducer adapter (only for bicycle tyres) and 2 grommet adapters. The latter can be used to inflate an air mattress, for example. In practice, however, this will take quite a long time, as only 35 litres of air/minute are delivered.
The housing of the mini compressor is largely made of die-cast aluminium and can therefore be classified as very durable. Nevertheless, the unit still weighs a moderate 2.6 kg and can therefore be transported without complications. The unit looks massive, but is actually only 25 cm long. A nylon bag supports you during transport. The fact that even a truck tyre can be filled quickly is not entirely true in practice.
12V air compressor – You should always pay attention to the following
Drive & mode of operation
Not every 12V air compressor can be used in the same way. Most models are powered by a mains cable and a cigarette lighter adapter. Modern models, on the other hand, sometimes have an integrated lithium-ion battery and then operate completely wirelessly. There are also universal hand compressors that can be supplied with both 12V and 230V voltage.
In principle, small electric compressors do not need oil. This increases the comfort and reduces the maintenance effort. There is no need to fill in oil or dispose of used oil. The electric motor itself is also considered low-maintenance and wears out only slowly.
As with large models, the compressed air is produced by mechanical work. Under its action, the ambient air is compressed, which simultaneously increases the energy. As a result, the air pressure increases. Once the desired value is reached, you can start working at the push of a button.
Hand compressors generally do not have a boiler. Therefore, the air must be permanently compressed, so that the same noise is always to be expected. This also explains the fact that the output power is rather limited.
The power always plays an important role. It must be suitable for the task at hand. In the field of compressors, 3 parameters are relevant: the intake capacity (in litres/minute), the output capacity (in litres/minute) and the working pressure/operating pressure (in bar).
The intake and delivery rates define how much air can be taken in and how much can be delivered. The latter value should always be set considerably lower for all manufacturers. It influences the possible applications. Because a 12V compressor can usually deliver well under 50 litres/minute, it is primarily suitable for small tasks. For example, you can inflate tyres or leisure toys. Supplying compressed air tools is not yet possible with such a mini model.
Of course, the working pressure must also be suitable. Here, a 12 V air compressor can be surprisingly positive. Even absolute mini models, such as the Oasser P1S, can build up a pressure of more than 8 bar. This is sufficient for a wide range of applications in the automotive, DIY and leisure sectors. Incidentally, some mini compressors are not labelled with the unit bar, but PSI. Google, for example, can easily take care of converting the power rating if necessary.
To give you an overview of the working pressure for various tasks, here is a small table:
- Inflating a ball or air mattress
- Inflating bicycle tyres
- Airbrush and painting
- Inflating car tyres
- Supply compressed air to nailers and staplers
- Supply impact wrench or sandblaster with compressed air
- 2 bar
- 2-4 bar
- 4 bar
- 3-6 bar
- 6 bar
- 8-10 bar
Handling a compressor should of course be as comfortable as possible. In this case, no physical discomfort is to be expected and you can concentrate optimally on the task at hand.
A 12V air compressor has several natural advantages in this respect. The light weight of the compressor makes it easy to handle. Some models, such as the Oasser P1S, even weigh less than 1 kg when ready for use. So even women and senior citizens will hardly feel any exertion.
The compact dimensions also contribute to a high level of comfort. The Oasser model mentioned is so slim and short that it can be stored in the pocket of a pair of work trousers. Storage is therefore also free of complications.
As already mentioned, it can usually be put into operation via a cable and a cigarette lighter. You enjoy the best freedom of movement in this context if the mains cable and the compressed air cable are both as long as possible. At the same time, however, this can reduce the performance somewhat.
A mini battery compressor is even more comfortable to use. You can really use it anywhere – as long as the battery is charged.
The operation of a 12V air compressor is almost the same as that of a larger model. The pressure can be read either on a digital display or classically on a manometer. Increasing and reducing the pressure is intuitive via + and – buttons. As soon as the desired working pressure is reached, modern models automatically switch off.
Conveniently, 3-5 different attachments are included as standard. Thanks to these accessories, you can flexibly inflate car, motorbike and bicycle tyres as well as air mattresses, balls, etc.
In addition, an LED light can be built in. This allows you to get to work without any problems even in dark corners.
The noise level can have a considerable effect on the comfort during operation – especially if the compressor is unpleasantly loud. You can tell how loud it is by looking at the sound level, which in turn is expressed in units of dB (decibels).
One should not make the mistake of assuming that the compact size of a 12V air compressor means that it is inevitably quiet. On the contrary, the majority of mini compressors clearly exceed a sound level of 80 dB. Operation in sensitive environments (hospitals, old people’s homes, schools) is therefore only recommended to a limited extent. In general, 12V compressors are often 5-15 dB quieter than their larger counterparts with 230V mains cables – the latter usually exceed 90 dB. Nevertheless, you should be attentive to the details of each model.
Because there is no boiler, there is permanent compression and the full noise level is generated accordingly. Unfortunately, it should also be noted that there is still no type of hand compressor called a silent compressor, which is specially soundproofed.
Where to buy
Small 12-volt compressors can be found in great numbers on the Internet. There is a wide range of options here. There are hundreds of offers on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Thanks to the competition, you can usually expect a fair price/performance ratio there.
Locally, the purchase can be just as possible. DIY stores and large retailers, such as Lidl, sometimes have compact 12V compressors in stock. In bicycle and motorbike shops, such models can sometimes also be found without any problems.
Of course, the costs also have a certain influence on the decision. They should be in a fair proportion to your own requirements. Otherwise there is a higher potential of being disappointed. The more working pressure you need and the more air you have to deliver per time unit, the more you have to invest. Especially if you want to use your compressor often, you should also attach importance to durable components.
A 12V air compressor is much cheaper than the massive versions with boiler and co. The first versions are available for around 30 Pounds. Even brand manufacturers such as Mannesmann and Einhell can be found there. Thus, a compact 12V air compressor is also suitable for a small budget.
12V air compressor – There are advantages & disadvantages
A 12-volt hand compressor has many advantages to offer, especially in terms of handling. Regardless of which manufacturer you choose, the devices actually always weigh well under 3 kg. This means that they are easy to carry. Moreover, they take up hardly any space and can be accommodated in any car. Nevertheless, not everything speaks in favour of such devices. So that you can quickly weigh up the pros and cons, we have provided an overview below:
- Large selection
- Comparatively cheap
- Some models can be operated with either 12V or 230V
- Battery compressors allow maximum freedom of movement
- Very good choice for inflating car, motorbike and bicycle tyres as well as leisure toys
- Light weight allows easy handling at all times
- Thanks to their compact dimensions, they can be stowed almost anywhere
- Some mini models have a working pressure of more than 10 bar
- Intuitive operation via a few illustrated elements
- Convenience can be increased by the use of LED lighting
- Various adapters/valves/nozzles are often included in the scope of delivery, enabling connection to all common objects
- Air output/unit of time stays in modest realms, which is why hand compressors are not suitable for inflating very large objects (keyword: time efficiency)
- Not suitable for operating compressed air tools
- Unfortunately, even small compressors can be noisemakers
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