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Old 03-04-2019, 07:43 PM   #1
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Advice on Air Compressor for Tires

Greetings, this is my first posting so I hope this is the correct avenue.

I'm looking for advice/recommendations for purchasing an air compressor. We have 2002 E350 with many Utah dirt road miles. I'd like to get a compressor for backcountry flats and refilling tires after sandy washes etc.

Any advice on 12v versus 110? I don't see myself using it alot but conversely I don't want a compressor which will take forever to air up after time in the desert. Thanks for any thoughts.

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Old 03-04-2019, 07:52 PM   #2
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Do you want a portable one that comes in a bag or case? Or do you want to permanently mount one in your van? Do you already have a generator that you carry or will you be running off the inverter? I do not believe that an inverter will run an air compressor.

ARB and Vair both make several 12V compressors. Both are good manufacturers.
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Old 03-04-2019, 08:15 PM   #3
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I have been using a portable Viair 400P RV for a few years now and it is servicing me well !
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Old 03-04-2019, 09:24 PM   #4
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There are a few really good threads regarding compressors on expo. Definitely worth the read.
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Old 03-04-2019, 10:21 PM   #5
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I have and ARB on my van but a Viair 300p for my Xterra and 33” tires. It works really well for a portable.
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Old 03-04-2019, 11:56 PM   #6
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We took an ARB Twin for pretty fast fills (say 12 mins for 4 285/70-17's from 23 to 55 psi) and mounted it in a Plastic Case (pelican style but from Harbor Freight -Apache 2800??) to make it portable. The case is small enough to easily store but large enough to hold the battery connection, air hose and air chuck, and is waterproof. Works well for us.

Main issues we had to address:
1. Mounting on frame was not going to work with road grime, spray, etc from our ski trips.
2. Mounting inside was going to take up valuable space .
3. We do not need to have it with us all the time.
4. No air lockers at this point so no need for a full time unit.

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Old 03-05-2019, 01:48 PM   #7
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for a comparison -

If airing down a lot, or a little, buy quality, and buy the highest cfm you want to spend (make sure the compressor can support 100% duty cycle). Would also recommend a small air tank to complement the compressor, with a pressure switch to automatically turn on/off the compressor. Do you want to spend 10-15 minutes inflating each tire...or 10-15 minutes inflating all tires?

Sportsmobiles like high tire pressures, and that requires a stout compressor. I haven't utilized the ExtremeAire on our van, but based on it's reputation, expect it to operate well if we need to reinflate tires.

For the 4x4 offroad crowd - 40"+ tires - a converted york A/C pump is typically used since it is engine driven and puffs a large amount of air, and can operate air tools.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:46 PM   #8
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You ask a simple question and it always comes down to how much do you want to spend, guarantee comfort level, and bling....
After going thru 5 portable compressors of increasing expense, I have had good experience for size and speed of inflation with the (older equivalent) of the amazon smittybuilt 2781 over the last 4+ years. With 245s 50/80psi it is pretty quick but does get hot if airing up all 4 tires in desert temps. They have dropped in price (does that mean they are more cheaply built?), but mine and one other friends keep chugging. I air up several times a year, sometimes multiple vehicles with some pauses for cooldown (hose at output gets hot) depending on the ambient temps. Viar has been a standard, but I'm guessing the same chinese factories may be used, and due to cost these could be considered consumables...The extreme air products look great, and for those who want that it is a good choice, for $$. If in a hurry a tank is a really good choice, but I'm not driving with any more compressed devices near my bumpers....
The other thing you want is deflators....another subject.

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Old 03-05-2019, 08:52 PM   #9
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I have done 3 compressor installs using Viair units with tanks, compressor and distribution to bumpers and footwells. It is a big job to do a totally dialed OBA system. Also, as Ray said, it's not really great to do under an off-road vehicle. I've done them anyway and they worked for a year or two after install but by 5-10 years I wonder if they will begin to cause trouble and/or fail.

I'm more inclined to go with something portable next time around. I may even just get a C02 tank for my Jeep build. You can build a C02 tank setup pretty easily and cheaply as long as you have a place to get it filled on occasion (meaning a city large enough to have medical supply places that will fill them, or welding suppliers for that matter).

Even with a decent sized tank underneath you run out of air really quickly using power tools or a blow gun.

I think a better idea would be the tried and true ARB double and probably in a portable case like Ray set up.

If you want to get really deep in this a belt driven York compressor is the way to go. They are engine driven so it would require some fab under the hood.
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Old 03-17-2019, 02:39 PM   #10
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ARB twin has been fast and reliable for us

I am sure there are multiple good compressor options. We tried and were disappointed with several inexpensive portable units, Then we purchased and mounted an ARB twin, which has been very reliable and airs up the tires quite quickly.
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