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Open Roads Forum  >  Beginning RVing

 > 12V Compressors?

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Sahuarita, AZ (or on the road!)

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Joined: 05/31/2001

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Posted: 05/25/02 09:04pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I also carry an air tank in the box in the Dooley. This gets inflated to 120psi and you just walk around with this lightweight tank to top off; but that is all it is good for as once you get the tank down to 80 psi on an 80 psi tire you are equalized and no more flow.

Barbara-DW 55 years
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San Jose, CA, USA

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Posted: 10/15/03 02:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a 12V compressor but this only inflate normal car tires very slowly, it's rated up to 275 PSI !!!
I recently bought a 110V air compressor (for 20$ from a local Kragen store), rated at only 120 PSI. This thing pumps my RV tires to 60 PSI in no time. At home, I use it for my other cars too.
I carried both of them on my RV trips since they are both small and light weight.

Happy Camping


Silvana, WA, USA

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Posted: 10/15/03 04:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Depending on how often you need it (or would like to have it available) you might consider doing what the offroaders do. Many install a 12 volt compressor (or engine driven compressor) under the hood with a storage tank. Gives you 120 psi in as large a storage tank as you have room to install.

You can order the 12 volt compressors from a variety of automotive sources, some come with storage tanks. Others have simply used an old Air Conditioner compressor mounted on a stock bracket under the hood, it's turned off and on with a pressure switch. I use my rear bumper for a storage tank, it's a 1/4 inch wall 4 inch diameter water pipe, it is capped at both ends.

Erk, Shannon & Levi
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mr. ed

Amarillo, Texas

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Posted: 10/15/03 05:02pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have the same compressor Steve781 mentioned in his post (Sears $99 model). For high pressures and heavy duty usage, a 120VAC compressor is probably the best bet. This particular Sears model easily maintains my MH tires at 85 PSI and also comes with a useful blower attachment. The unit is very light and easy to handle.

Mr. Ed (fulltiming since 1987)
Life is fragile. Handle with prayer.

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Snake River Plain

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Posted: 10/15/03 05:40pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Because we find ourselves in remote spots, I wouldn't be caught without a 12V compressor--but not one of those cheap items you can purchase at various discount stores. As noted above, they overheat, they take forever to inflate four tires (let alone another four on the 5er), and they're cheap.

Ours is a VIAIR 200 series that we purchased four years ago at the OFF-ROAD EXPO in Pomona, CA. It's fantastic, to put it simply.

To get to our house in Baja we have about 80 miles of super bad road (south of San Felipe past Puertecitos to Punta Bufeo). About 40 miles of the road is washboard that is a tooth-rattler. We air down our tires to 18 - 25 psi depending on the load in the truck and we can air all four back up to 55 psi in 12 minutes! NOTE: We don't plan to take the 5er to Baja, at least not to our house.

The unit comes with a gauge and is designed to let you air-down or inflate. A 25' coil hose allows me to reach all four truck tires with no problem. I've added an extension so that we can reach the 5er's tires w/o unhooking from the truck.

It is rated at 150 psi and that's a real figure not some imaginary one. It takes 13.8 volts to operate so I keep the truck motor running and connect the pump directly to the truck's battery. There is a 20 amp inline fuse, an automatic reset thermal overload protector, and comes in a carrying bag.

I just called the folks at VINAIR and the current 200 series retails for $199.99. Not cheap, but worth every penny. While talking with VINAIR I learned that they have a newer portable 400 series, so it looks as though I'll be upgrading soon.

VINAIR also makes compressors that you can mount on the frame of your tow vehicle or your RV.

NOTE #2: I just proofread this post and it sounds like I'm a salesman for VINAIR, but, in reality, I'm just one happy customer.

'04 Dodge Dakota
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Posted: 10/15/03 06:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There's no way a cheap 12v compressor is going to crank out 250psi.

I have a 120v, 120psi 4 gallon comp I bought at HD, and it's time and work to put all that air in big RV tires, even from 10-15psi below rated pressure.

It's not just the psi, it how much air you can move.


Carson City, Nevada

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Posted: 10/16/03 11:08pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Does anyone watch the television series of "Consumer Reports" ?? It comes on the local news herein northern Nevada.

They tested several brands of 12 v air compressors. The only one that passed every test with flying colors was the "Truck Air" brand.

It is capable of inflating a large truck tire easily.
It puts out 275 psi.
It has a ball bearing motor and is guaranteed for life, never to burn out.

I have had one for many years. It is fantastic. It does everything the company says it will. It has never even over heated. I use it almost weekly out in the wildland fire camps, on our big truck tires.

Is it faster than a 110v model with a tank ???? Of course not..

BUT..... it is night time on a lonely stretch of backroad and you have a flat on the trailer. So you take out the spare tire and ...ut-oh ... it's flat too. oh no !!! now what ??

You have no generator, no "Fix-a-Flat" spray can, no nothing else that can inflate that trailer tire... EXCEPT, the little 12v air compressor that plugs into the cigarette lighter...

What are you going to do ??? wait till morning and hope that someone comes along with a generator and a 110v air compressor ? Maybe if you get on your hands and knees and blow into.... nah, that won't work, your tongue is not strong enough to depress the little valve stem core that allows the air to go inside the tire. hmmmmnnn ... what to do .....

Here is a novel idea, ... maybe you should forget all that talk about the 12v air compressors not being any good and give it a try... who knows, it might just work...

Just my outlook on the subject of 12 volt air compressors,

John Harrelson
Carson City, Nevada
fulltime since 1977
93 Ford 350 4wd Diesel
95 Prowler 30.5 ft 5th wheel w/slide

The story goes that a man died and was approached by the Devil who told him that he could buy his soul back for a dollar. The man searched his pockets and could only come up with 98 cent. While begging the Devil to forget the two cent he was short, an Angel happened by and hearing the Devil laughing, asked the man, "Would you mind if I put in my two cents ?" The Devil got so mad that he exploded in a puff of smoke and the man's soul was saved.
The moral: Sometimes putting in your two cents worth makes a difference.
JOHN "the cook" 1997


Westwood, Northern California

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Posted: 09/12/04 10:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


Agree that the 110v works much faster, but if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, wouldn't you rather have a slow 12v or a 110v with no source for 110v (assuming no generator).

The 12v is good to have in an emergency.


I just bought a 12v from Kragen for $49 that is strong enough to inflate a LT truck tire as big as a 33x12.50 in less than 2 minutes. I can't remember the name of it, but I bought one and tried it recently on my TT tires that were 5 lbs low. It filled each tire 5 lbs in less than 2 minutes. Not bad for a 12v. I still plan on getting a Husky compressor from home Depot when I get my generator.

2021 Grand Design Reflection


Lafayette, LA

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Posted: 09/12/04 05:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


I have one of those 12v compressors and they work. I bought a MaxAir from Pepboys that is rated to 300 psi and states it has a heavy duty, high torque air cooled motor. It advertises for Big vehicle tires on trucks, 4x4’s, vans, ATV’s, RV’s, and so forth. It cost $44.95 in May 2001.

I had mine for 3 years now and use it regular for my MH 19.5” wheels for 80 psi. It doesn’t take long and as above statements said; when you need one at a bad time it does the job. This one has a psi gauge and the clamp on type hose.

From 70 to 80 psi, it only takes about 4 minutes. Yes, it takes a little longer, but it is not as big and it does the job. How often do you really need it to pump a tire from 0 to 80 psi. So for me, it is easier and lighter.

* This post was last edited 09/12/04 06:43pm by MrMudstud *   View edit history

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