Best Portable Air Compressor 

RV camping is a fantastic way of exploring the world and keeping your RV in tip-top shape is imperative for having an enjoyable and safe adventure. The tires of your RV are one of the most important parts of your vehicle and you must keep them in good condition, however, you might not always have access to a gas station to inflate your tires. This is where a portable air compressor is super handy.

What is a Portable Air Compressor?

A portable air compressor provides compressed air to pneumatic hand tools and other equipment and machinery, as well as RV tires. They can be extremely helpful when you are camping and have a flat tire. Portable air compressors provide instant access to compressed air wherever you need it, especially at remote camping sites.

1. Mini air compressor

What to Consider When Buying a Portable Air Compressor for an RV

When it comes to finding the best air compressor for your RV, there are several important factors to consider.

1. Power Source

Portable air compressors are powered by either electricity or gas. Air compressors that use electricity typically run on standard household voltage except for extremely high-powered products. Electrically-run portable air compressors are a better option for indoor use as they don’t emit fumes.

Gas-powered portable air compressors are more convenient than electric ones as they don’t need a power supply, but they are often more powerful. They do, however, emit fumes so they should only be used outside or in well-ventilated areas.

2. Air Compression Ratings

The air compression rating is the maximum pressure a compressor should operate at and this is one of the most important factors to consider. There are three air compressor ratings to be aware of:

  • Horsepower (HP)
  • Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)
  • Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)

Horsepower (HP)

Horsepower is the measurement of electrical and mechanical power and is measured in watts. One unit of horsepower is equal to 746 watts. The horsepower of air compressors is usually the unit’s rating at peak performance. Manufacturers advertise a higher HP rating, which means the air compressor will operate at a high RPM and would need a 240-volt circuit to run.

Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)

The cubic feet per minute capacity of a portable air compressor is essential to know when shopping for one. Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is the “measurement of the rate that a given air compressor can deliver a specific air volume.” CFM can vary in humidity levels and different temperatures, depending on the atmospheric pressure.

Pounds per Square Inch (PSI)

The PSI rating of portable air compressors is a measurement of pressure in the Imperial system of measurement.

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3. Duty Cycle and Run Time

The duty cycle is the amount of time that the portable air compressor takes to provide pressurized air in a total cycle time. Run time is the length of time a portable air compressor can run on full load before needing to cool down.

4. Tank Size

Most portable air compressors have a tank where compressed air is stored and the larger the tank, the longer you can run tools before the compressor must turn back on.

3. Portable air compressor inflating a tire.

Best Portable Air Compressor

We tried and tested a wide range of portable air compressors on the market and came up with this list of the best portable air compressors for RVs.

Best Overall: Makita 4.2 Gal. 2.5 HP Portable Air Compressor, MAC 2400

Perfect for using while RV camping, the Makita 4.2 Gal. 2.5 HP Portable Air Compressor, MAC 2400 is made from professional-grade oil-lubed components and has a large 4.2-gallon air tank capacity. Designed with a large piston and cylinder, this Makita model can more efficiently compress air while increasing CFM airflow rates. It boasts a powerful 2.5 HP motor and has dual fittings so the air compressor can inflate tires and run a pneumatic tool at the same time.

The oil-lubricated compressor has a rating of 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI which allows the machine to perform basic maintenance at full power while maintaining low friction and a manageable temperature. The Makita 4.2 Gal. 2.5 HP Portable Air Compressor is also extremely quiet with a noise rating of 78 decibels.


  • Large 4.2-gallon air tank capacity
  • Powerful 2.5 HP motor
  • Dual fittings
  • Low friction and temperature
  • Very quiet


  • Expensive

Best Budget: Ridgid 6 Gallon 150 PSI Maintenance-Free Portable Electric Pancake Compressor

The Ridgid 6 Gallon 150 PSI Maintenance-Free Portable Electric Pancake Compressor is a great budget option for a portable air compressor for your RV. This pancake air compressor from Ridgid has a six-gallon tank and 150 max PSI, along with an air delivery rate of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI.

This budget-friendly portable air compressor is very user-friendly with a pair of quick couplers, and it is easy to connect to both tires and automotive and industrial tool plugs. The condensation tank has a ball valve tank drain that is easy to use and drains the tank quickly to prevent corrosion. The Ridgid 6 Gallon 150 PSI Maintenance-Free Portable Electric Pancake Compressor comes with a three-year warranty.


  • Excellent budget option
  • Six-gallon tank capacity
  • Dual fittings
  • Easy to use
  • Three-year warranty


  • Not as powerful as other portable air compressors

Best with Jump Starter: Stanley J5C09

The STANLEY JUMPiT Portable Power Station portable air compressor has a built-in jump starter that is a versatile tool for inflating car tires with up to 120 PSI. It has a patented SureFit air nozzle that threads directly into tire valve stems, and it can be used for other quick inflation needs, like bicycle and ATV tires, and sporting equipment.

This handy air compressor’s jump starter can deliver up to 500 instant starting amps and 1,000 peak amps and a reverse polarity alarm warns the user if they make an incorrect connection with the jumper cables.

Other features include a 120 PSI air compressor to help inflate tires with low pressure; a high-powered LED light that rotates 270 degrees for working in the dark; a built-in 12V DC outlet and a USB port to provide portable power for electronic devices. It also comes with a limited one-year manufacturer warranty.


  • Built-in jump starter
  • Reverse polarity alarm
  • High-powered LED light
  • Built-in 12V DC outlet and USB port


  • Not as powerful as other models

Best 12V: Husky 12/120 Volt Auto and Home Inflator

The Husky 12/120 Volt Auto and Home Inflator is a versatile air compressor that can run on a 12V power supply from your vehicle or 120V from an electrical outlet.


  • Convenient
  • Easy to use
  • Built-in 12V DC outlet


  • Not as powerful as other models

Best Oil Lubricated: WEN 20 Gal. Oil Lubricated Portable Vertical Air Compressor, Model 2202

The WEN 20 Gallon Oil-Lubricated Vertical Air Compressor is an oil-lubricated air compressor that relies on lubricated piston chambers that must periodically be refilled with oil for the machine to function.

This vertical portable air compressor boasts an airflow at a rate of 3.8 CFM at 90 PSI, or 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI, and a max of 135 PSI. It has a 20-gallon tank, which makes it quite heavy and bulky to move around, but it does have wheels for extra portability.


  • Long life span
  • Large 20-gallon tank
  • Wheels for portability


  • Not as powerful as other models

Best Twin Tank: RIDGID 4.5 Gal. Portable Electric Quiet Air Compressor, Model OF45200SS

The RIDGID 4.5 Gallon Air Compressor is compact and portable and has a 1.6 horsepower motor that rests on top of twin air tanks. Measuring 12 x 19 x 20 inches, the neat little portable air compressor may have a small footprint but provides an impressive 200 PSI that delivers airflow rates of 5.7 SCFM at 40 PSI. This machine is also very quiet with a sound rating of 77 decibels.


  • Compact and small
  • Twin air tanks for double air capacity
  • Impressive airflow rate
  • Very quiet


  • Not as powerful as other models

Best Mini: Oasser Mini Compressor

The Oasser Mini Air Compressor is a compact and convenient handheld inflator that is perfect for pumping up bicycle tires, sports equipment, and car tires. Boasting an inflation rating up to 120 PSI, the mini air compressor can be powered by a 12V power source or a rechargeable lithium battery.

The portable air compressor has an LCD digital pressure gauge with a backlight for easy reading and an automatic shut-off system when the inflation reaches the preset value. It has high inflating efficiency with a maximum inflatable pressure of 120psi.

Measuring under 10 inches long, it is a great little tool to have on the RV in case of a flat tire.


  • Small and easily stored
  • Ideal for inflating tires
  • Great portability
  • 12V power source/rechargeable lithium battery
  • Digital LCD


  • Not as powerful as other models

Best Cordless: RYOBI ONE+ 18V Cordless 1-Gallon Compressor

A cordless portable air compressor is your best bet for having a constant supply of air on demand in a small and compact machine. The RYOBI ONE Cordless 1-Gallon Compressor has excellent portability and is perfect for tire inflation, pumping up pool toys, or inflating sports equipment. The RYOBI ONE Cordless 1-Gallon Compressor has a modest airflow delivery rate of .7 SCFM at 40 PSI and .5 SCFM at 90 PSI.


  • Convenient and small
  • Excellent portability
  • Modest airflow


  • Not as powerful as other models

Best Quiet: Makita Quiet Series 2 Gal. 1 HP Oil-Free Electric Air Compressor, Model 210Q

The Makita Quiet Series 2 Gal. 1 HP Oil-Free Electric Air Compressor, Model 210Q is one of the quietest portable air compressors on the market with a decibel rating of 60. This quiet portable air compressor has a two-gallon tank and 1 HP motor for efficiency and packs a punch when it comes to airflow.

It produces an airflow of 2 CFM at 90 PSI, with a maximum tank pressure of 135 PSI and the empty tank can be filled in just 65 seconds by the powerful motor.


  • Very quiet
  • Powerful motor
  • Two-gallon tank
  • Oil-free and electric-free


  • Not as powerful as other models

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a portable air compressor work?

A portable air compressor works by pulling air into the compressor and slowly reducing the space in which the air is trapped and thereby increasing the air pressure. The air is then forced through an output into a storage tank, where it is kept at a high air pressure level. When the storage tank reaches its maximum air pressure, the compressor will turn off. The stored air can then be used to inflate vehicle or RV tires when needed. After using some of the stored air, the compressor will turn on to pull in more air and increase the pressure in the tank to the maximum before shutting off again.

How often should the oil be changed?

In a rotary screw compressor, oil should be changed about every 7000-8000 hours. This depends on the type of compressor you purchase. For a reciprocating air compressor, generally, you would change the oil approximately every three months.

When should the air filter be changed?

If your compressor has an Air Intake Filter, it should be cleaned every week (assuming you are using the compressor about 3 days a week). When the filter starts to develop debris that is becoming harder to clean out, or you notice any tears or holes in the filter, the filter should be replaced.

Can a portable air compressor run on a generator?

It is not recommended to use a compressor with a generator. Generators have fluctuations in power, and because a compressor needs constant voltage to be able to run, it is generally best not to use a generator if no power is available.

What is the difference between a start-stop and a constant-run air compressor?

A start-stop air compressor has a pressure switch that turns the machine on and off. Most small electric and small gas air compressors are start-stop. A constant run compressor means the motor continuously runs and continuously turns the pump. Many industrial shops that need consistent air daily will purchase a constant run compressor.

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