Getting any tool or piece of equipment can be tough. When you don’t have experience with the thing you’re buying, you never know if you’re getting the best or if you’re getting scammed. Today we’re explaining what makes a great portable tire inflator that is worth your time.
First, it helps to know how a portable tire inflator even works. Once you have the basics covered, you’ll need to look for a portable tire inflator that comes with the following features and functionalities.
When you find what is perfect for your circumstances, you’ll have found the best tire inflator. Here are the things you should keep in mind.
Tire inflators work using pumps and motors, which need electricity to do their job. This makes the choice between a corded or a cordless inflator one of the earliest when you’re first looking for one.
Corded inflators use the car battery to power themselves, so you don’t need an extra battery to use them. It does rely on your vehicle having enough charge in its battery, however. Corded inflators can use as little as 12 Volts or as much as 110 Volts.
Cordless inflators are more manoeuvrable and charge independently, with either removable or built-in batteries. If the battery can’t be removed, it powers through USB or power cords instead.
Pressure & Inflation Time
With tire inflators, their pressure ratings correlate with how long they take to fill the tire up. The more pressure, the quicker the job. Try to get a tire inflator that has a minimum pressure of at least 100 PSI, so you’re not there all day.
Nothing is stopping you from getting inflators with better pressure if you can afford it. The average inflation varies between 10 and 30 minutes depending on so many factors. It mainly depends on the tire and the inflator.
You’ll need to make sure that the inflator can comfortably reach your tire without its hose being too short or too long and tangled. Try to get one within 16 and 20 inches for most vehicles, you shouldn’t need any shorter or longer than that.
You could also get a coiled hose that can stretch a lot but, when inert, doesn’t take up much space or cause a tripping hazard. They’re great for off-roaders who need a hardier inflator hose, too.
The Duty Cycle
Tire inflators and other air-compressing equipment use duty cycles when they are operating. This just means that they run for a span of time before needing to cool off, after which they can cycle back to moving air.
For most tire inflators, they’ll need a break after 15 minutes. This is because they use a lot of power and create heat, especially in compact cases (which we have discussed more below).
Duty cycles are important for truckers and those who drive with large tires. A smaller inflator will need to have more duty cycles, making the job take much longer, so those worried about that should get larger inflators with longer cycles. In fact, smaller inflators may even state they’re not to be used with trucks and off-roaders. They can still be used if they need to be, they’re just not as effective or cost-efficient.
Of course, you need to understand what you are doing when working with a tire inflator. That’s why you should get one that is easily readable. This means it contains a gauge that accurately displays the PSI inside the tire.
It’s important to know this stuff because overfilling your tires can be detrimental. There is an optimum PSI (30 for most cars) that ensures you get the most out of them, not grind them down to an early grave.
Gauges come in all shapes and types. Some are analog while others are electric-based, using either backlights or digital tech to deliver information. If you find yourself in low-light situations a lot, you should get an electronic version that is much easier to read.
Tire inflators can come surprisingly light, so portability is an option. They’re best for those with compact, filled vehicles that can’t take much more on board. In those cases, a smaller, lighter, portable model becomes more desirable. They can weigh as little as a pound, so carrying those ones shouldn’t be too difficult.
Those are the main features that every good tire inflator should have. You’ll find many brands, shapes, and sizes out there, so the best one for you won’t be the best one for somebody else.