Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today Dave discusses air compressors for the RV.
Would you please suggest an air compressor? We are constantly running into air machines (at gas stations, storage facility) that are not working. What are your recommendations? Our neighbor lets us use his, but it is very large and heavy and obviously we can’t travel with it. Thanks so much. —Jenette
It does seem that air filling stations at the fueling stations are a hit-and-miss option these days. And those that do work don’t have enough psi to fill larger tires unless you go to the semi-truck lanes, and that’s not much fun either.
Picking the right compressor for your needs depends on how much pressure you need and the amount of storage your rig has. In a recent survey at RV Repair Cub, the VIAIR 400 was one of the most popular 12-volt DC models, and we had an overwhelming response to a sweepstakes giving one away. I had the opportunity to demo it and it performed very well. This is the air compressor that RVtravel.com publisher Chuck Woodbury carries with him in his motorhome.
It is very compact so it will fit in small compartments and comes with a nice little kit that includes 60 feet of compactable air hose, gauge, and accessories. It can provide 150 psi for larger tires. There are some cheaper “knock off” brands; however, the VIAIR has much better metal manifolds and components and will last longer.
120-volt air compressor
If you are looking for a 120-volt model, I would recommend either the portable “pancake” type that you can find at home improvement stores or flat cylinder model. I carried a Bosch shingling type compressor for several years and used it not only for tires, but to blow out my fresh water system when temperatures dropped suddenly while traveling across the nation. I dialed it down to 40 psi and had an adapter ready to hook it up to my city water fill.
This model takes up a little more space in a compartment; however, the 6-gallon tank is better for filling larger tires. There are other models that are designed more horizontal and are only 10” tall for tighter compartments. You can find this model at Amazon.
The smaller 1-gallon tank models might take a long time to provide the air needed to fill the larger tires.
What model do you carry?
Everyone has their favorite tool brand, and I’m sure air compressors are no different. Some of the larger motorhomes even have an onboard compressor for the air suspension system that comes with an air hose to fill tires. However, I have found these to be fairly weak and take a long time to fill the larger tires.
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