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Air compressors are the kind of extremely useful and deeply boring objects that rarely inspire a ton of excitement — which I just don’t understand. After all, it’s basically roadside assistance you can keep in your car; a tire pump and jump starter in one.
When your car is stalled on the side of the road or you get a sudden flat, imagine the sweet sense of relief when you remember you have a jump starter and air compressor in your trunk. Yes, your day is still considerably more annoying than it would have been without the accident, but still less annoying than waiting around for help.
The best air compressors can inflate a car tire (often in less than ten minutes) while also acting as a backup power source to charge your devices and small appliances (think cell phone, car vacuum, portable coolers). Most units are also equipped with a sealed lead acid battery, powerful enough to jump start a car. And the best air compressors and jump starter kits will have emergency features built-in like flashlights and hidden storage compartments for your valuables. Whereas you used to have to get both a tire inflater and a separate jump starter, these all-in-one units have everything you need — clamps and cables included.
If you are looking for a reliable air compressor and jump starter kit, but need guidance on what to look for and what your particular vehicle might require, we have listed our favorite compressor and charger combos that we think you should consider.
What You Should Know Before Buying a Jump Starter/Compressor
It’s not rocket science, but pay attention to a few key factors when choosing the product that’s going to be of most use to you.
Power: How much power, measured in amps, is your jump starter and how much power are you going to need? Perhaps rather obviously, larger engines generally need more amps. But unless you’re driving a heavy-duty truck, around 1,000 amps is enough to boost most engines.
Portability: Jumpers and air compressors that live in the garage don’t need to be especially easy to move around, but if you’re looking for something to keep in the car for emergencies, make sure you’re not buying anything that’s too much of a pain to move around. All of the picks on our list are no bigger than a briefcase, and can be easily stored in your trunk or home closet.
Convenience: It should be easy to use. In an emergency situation, the last thing anyone needs is to spend 20 minutes trying to figure out how this one piece of machinery works.
1. POTEK Jump Starter Source/Air Compressor
The Potek is a popular choice across the board, because it includes all the important features we can think of (and a few we can’t) that you might need in some kind of car emergency.
Suitable for a 12-volt engine, it delivers a peak amp of 900, which is enough to power up vehicles ranging in muscle from two-door sedan to SUVs and tractors. The hugely convenient USB charging port is accompanied by a storage compartment for accessories, cords, and doodads.
The air compressor function includes different nozzle sizes, useful for inflating a variety of recreational inflatables in addition to your flat.
We also like the assortment of useful extras like the LED work light and capability to charge with both an AC adapter at home or a DC adapter in the car.
Pros: Powerful and convenient, and takes only a few minutes for tires to inflate.
Cons: Work lights could arguably be a little brighter.
2. Skey Air Compressor Tire Inflator
This product isn’t a jump starter meant to re-power your car battery — it’s just a really useful and efficient portable tire air compressor, which is ideal if your main concern is just flat tires.
We like it because it ticks all the boxes of things we’re looking for in a reliable air compressor. First of all, it’s absurdly easy to use. The digital display is clear and easy to read, and compression automatically shuts off as soon as soon as the tire has reached the desired pressure level.
It’s also lightweight so it travels well, and comes with additional nozzles you can use to inflate other objects like basketballs, pool accessories, etc. Another convenient feature is just how quickly and efficiently it gets the job done.
Pros: Efficient and easy to use.
Cons: It’s a one-use tool.
3. Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry
The Clore is our suggestion if your highest priority is sheer power.
It has 1100 peak amps, with design features intended to maximize power, duration, number of jumps per charge, and service life. This includes heavy-duty cable leads and industrial grade clamps, to penetrate corrosion on the vehicle battery for better electrical connection. We are also fans of the extra long cables, simple on/off switch, and digital display screen.
And of course, it includes the extras we always look for including the powerful air compressor and USB charger.
Pros: High-powered, effective and equipped with helpful extras.
Cons: Doesn’t include a work light or additional hose nozzles.
4. Kinverch Portable Car Jump Starter
The Kinvech is another great all-around option suitable for all circumstances.
It’s powerful enough to start up even heavy-duty vehicles like trucks or SUVs with 900 peak amps, and the air compressor is efficient, filling up a car tire in just a few minutes. The charging function can handle several devices at a time, from smart phones to vacuum cleaners, and it comes with a handy carrying case making it easy to store and travel with.
If you just want something safe and reliable, we think this is a good bet.
Pros: Multi-purpose and easy to use. Most portable size on our list.
Cons: If your primary concern is power, a tool with higher peak amp is a better choice.