Before comparing products, it can be helpful to have some background knowledge. This section will cover the key considerations to keep in mind when looking for a tire inflator. From power to readability, keep these factors in mind when making your choice.
With a tire inflator, pressure is usually equal to speed. The higher the pressure a tire inflator can generate, the faster it can fill the tire. To avoid taking too much time to inflate your tires, look for a compressor with at least 100 PSI. However, an inflator with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI will get it up and running much faster. Most tire inflators will inflate your car's tires to the recommended 30 to 40 PSI without any problems.
The amount of time it takes to inflate your tires can be an important factor when choosing a tire inflator. Inflation time can vary from approximately 10 minutes to 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the tire inflator and its output. The less time it takes to inflate a tire, the sooner the vehicle or bike will be on the road.
Many tire inflators can only run for about 15 minutes before they need to rest. They must run at high speed to generate the necessary pressure, and compressed air generates heat. In addition, their compact design allows them to retain heat, so they can't run like a pancake or full-size compressor. These larger compressors are able to fill the tank with air and then shut down, thus reducing duty cycle considerations.
To inject the right amount of air into a tire, a tire inflator needs an easy-to-read gauge. Inflators with digital gauges are the easiest to use, especially if they have lights in the background or backlight. However, analog gauges can work well if they have large numbers on the face. However, most analog gauges do not have backlighting, so reading them in low light conditions can be challenging.
Small air compressors are rugged machines, but they can overheat if they run for too long. Manufacturers protect their tire inflators by building in an automatic shut-off feature.
Three measurements that can be taken before a tire inflator automatically shuts off are pressure, temperature and time. The pressure shut-off is particularly convenient because it can be set to the desired pressure and the inflator will stop pumping air once the tire reaches it.
Trying to fill a tire with a short hose isn't much fun, but tripping over a long, tangled hose isn't much better. Tire inflators with 16- to 20-inch hoses usually work best - long enough to reach most tires easily, but still manageable.
People often look for tire inflators on standard air compressors because they are lightweight and portable - and for good reason. Compact inflators fit nicely in the trunk without taking up valuable space needed for luggage or snacks.
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