The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best On-Board Air Compressor

The best 100% duty cycle on-board air compressor is a must-have tool for a service truck, SUV, or Jeep driver who plans for long highway driving. Even this device is life-saving in off-road driving and camping. A duty cycle air compressor is helpful to inflate a tire, run or adjust air tools and maintain different camping accessories effectively. It is solid and fast enough for big truck tires.

But is the best duty cycle air compressor worth the money? What criteria should you look for when buying a 100-duty cycle portable air compressor? In this guideline, we examined some of the models to find out the best device. Then, we compared them and made a list of the 5 best onboard air compressors based on their value, CFM, size, design, and HP. Let’s learn more through these onboard air compressor reviews.

Top 5 On-Board 12V Air Compressor 100% Duty Cycle

Air CompressorKey SpecificationsMore Info
Vixen Horns Heavy Duty Onboard Air Compressor 200 PSI
Vixen Horns VXC8301 Air Compressor
Tank capacity: 5-Gallon
Max. pressure: 200 psi
CFM: 1.7
Power Source: 12V
Weight:  9.26 lbs.
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VIAIR 45040 450C Air Compressor Kit
VIAIR 45040 450C Air Compressor
Tank capacity: 5-Gallon
Max. pressure: 100 psi
CFM: 1.66
Power Source: 12V
Weight:  10.8 lbs.
PriceDetail review
Vixen Air 100% Duty Cycle On Board System Suspension Kit
Vixen Air VXO8580 Suspension Kit
Tank capacity: 2.5-Gallon
Max. pressure: 200 psi
CFM: 1.75
Power Source: 12V
Weight:  15 lbs.
PriceDetail review
VIAIR 10007 Constant Duty Onboard Air System
VIAIR 10007 Constant Air System
Tank capacity: 2.5-Gallon
Max. pressure: 150 psi
CFM: 1.66
Power Source: 12V
Weight:  32 lbs.
PriceDetail review
Vixen Air VXO4852B 100% Duty Cycle On Board System
Vixen Air VXO4852B On-Board System
Tank capacity: 5-Gallon
Max. pressure: 200 psi
CFM: 1.8
Power Source: 12V
Weight:  32.4 lbs.
PriceDetail review

The Biggest Benefits of Using an Onboard Air Compressor

best 100% duty cycle on board air compressorFor highway drivers, an onboard air compressor is one of the best things that helps them to avoid different troublesome situations. If you are still unsure about why you should invest in the best 100% duty cycle onboard air compressor, let me share to let you understand why you should invest in it:

Tire Inflation

Tire inflation is a frequent use of onboard air compressors. Drivers may effortlessly fill their tires using an onboard air compressor for better performance, fuel efficiency, and safety.

Off-Road Adventures

An onboard air compressor is essential for off-roading and distant exploration. It can inflate and deflate tires based on terrain, modify suspension air pressure, and operate air tools for maintenance and adjustments.

Emergency Situations

A flat tire can be frustrating and dangerous. In an emergency, you can inflate a tire or use air tools using an onboard air compressor.


An onboard air compressor lets you inflate tires without stopping at petrol stations. Your compressor may be used anywhere, saving time and money.


Onboard air compressors can power air tools, inflate sports equipment, water toys, and air horns, in addition to tire inflation.


After installation, an onboard air compressor will always be a part of your truck, jeep, or SUV. Moreover, you don’t need to worry about carrying it to different places since it is already installed. This compressor will always be there for you whenever you require it.


Onboard air compressors don’t come in significant sizes. As a result, installing them in a tight space is effortless. You can easily install them below your truck or under the hood.


An onboard air compressor is one of the best friends of a highway truck driver. In case of an emergency like inflating tires or powering air tools, you will always find this device beside you. This makes this device a reliable one.


Having an onboard air compressor means you don’t require another air compressor. Inflating vehicle airbags is also possible using it.

Top 6 100% Duty Cycle Onboard Air Compressor Reviews

The enlisted onboard air compressors are reviewed and short-listed by experts. Continue reading this review section to learn which onboard air compressor you should invest in.

1Vixen Horns VXC8301 100% Duty Cycle Onboard Air Compressor

Vixen Horns VXC8301 100% Duty Cycle On board Air Compressor

Highlight Features:

  • Quick response with impressive air pressure
  • Comes at a budget-friendly price tag
  • An ideal choice for 12V trucks, jeeps, or SUVs
  • Compact size that doesn’t take much space
  • Includes anti-vibration hardware.

Vixen Horns come with a wide range of affordable and premium-quality onboard air compressors. This Heavy-duty Onboard Air Compressor VXC8301 is also no exception. It can be installed in a compact space of your vehicle, and it provides the required service efficiently when required.

The airflow will impress you the most. At an affordable price, you will barely find an onboard air compressor of 200 PSI. Moreover, it delivers decent airflow of 1.1CFM, which is good enough for large trucks, RVs, pickups, and many more. In fact, it is efficient in all types of vehicle inflation jobs.

Furthermore, it fills up the tank fast and doesn’t take long to recharge. Finally, you will love to know that it comes with all the required mounting hardware to minimize vibration. Besides, the air filter is also well-suited for distant mount installation.

Overall, this unit is engineered to work with tanks of up to 5 gallons. Also, it is compatible to work with vehicles with a 12V system. Also, this compressor doesn’t require any lubrication.

2VIAIR 45040 450C 100% Duty Cycle Air Compressor Kit

VIAIR 45040 450C 100% Duty Cycle Air Compressor Kit

  • Tank Capacity: 5-Gallon
  • Air Flow: 1.66 CFM
  • Weight: 10.8 lbs.

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Highlight Features:

  • An oil-less air compressor that doesn’t require much maintenance
  • Easy to install and remove when necessary
  • Noise-less and vibration-free onboard air compressor
  • Suitable for filling tires as well as running small tools
  • Mounting hardware is included.

The VIAIR 45040 450C Air Compressor Kit is an ideal choice for trailer tires and large trucks. You don’t need to stop your vehicle in a pressure filling station when you have this air compressor kit installed in your vehicle. More importantly, like other air compressors, it doesn’t create noise either.

The maximum working pressure of this oil-less air compressor is 150PSI. In addition, it features fast fill rates best for 5.0 and 2.5 gallons tanks. It provides the necessary power to build effective air compression systems and utilize the air tools during a long trip.

Amazingly, it is a small and lightweight air compressor, which is an added benefit. For this reason, you won’t face any trouble installing it in a tight space. Also, it will not increase the weight of your vehicle. As a result, your rides on the highway will be safe and secure. It is easy to remove as well when your vehicle goes through regular inspection.

Besides, this is a moisture and dust-resistant device. It can withstand the elements, but the intake/filter must be remotely mounted to a clean & dry area.

3Vixen Air 100% Duty Cycle On Board System Suspension Kit

Vixen Air 100% Duty Cycle On Board System Suspension Kit

  • Tank Capacity: 2.5-Gallon
  • Air Flow: 1.75 CFM
  • Weight: 15 lbs.

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Highlight Features:

  • Black powder-coated, making it temperature-proof
  • It doesn’t require much maintenance
  • A reliable performer in off-road trips
  • Provides the required power to the air tools
  • Utmost durable onboard air compressor.

The VIXEN Air Suspension Kit VXO8580 is an all-rounder for its compatibility with air suspension systems and high-pressure power tools. It is equipped with a heavy-duty air compressor of 200 PSI, an air tank of 2.5 gallons, a pressure switch, mounting hardware, hose fittings, and a fuse.

Moreover, the airline and electrical wiring are preinstalled. This way, the installation process is extremely straightforward. The tank is black powder coated and has a strong bracket, which confirms its durability. Simultaneously, it resists moisture and dust effectively.

The oil-less design makes it a maintenance-free air compressor. Also, it features an automatic reset thermal overload protector to ensure the safe use of the device. Make the tire inflation process easier than before using its 6 different ports, with ¼” NPT.

For every highway driver and off-road enthusiast, this onboard air compressor is an ideal device. Install it in your vehicle soon and avoid unnecessary problems on long trips.

4VIAIR 10007 Constant Duty Onboard Air System

VIAIR 10007 Constant Duty Onboard Air System

  • Tank Capacity: 2.5-Gallon
  • Air Flow: 1.66 CFM
  • Weight: 32 lbs.

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Highlight Features:

  • Delivers up to 1hour of service without interruption
  • Compatible with pneumatic tools
  • Suitable for inflating tires maximum of 37”
  • Large 2.5-gallon air tank
  • Fast recharge and relatively quiet performance.

Carrying a 100% duty cycle air compressor on your vehicle guarantees a safe ride regardless of the terrain type. The VIAIR Constant Duty Onboard Air System – 10007 is a durable onboard air compressor suitable for other automotive maintenance and can be used with multiple pneumatic maintenances.

Its maximum inflation pressure is 200PSI and 1.76 CFM, making it eligible for inflating tires up to 37” in diameter. Additionally, the best thing about this air compressor is, it can blow up tires within 10 seconds from 0 – 30 PSI. With a rugged exterior, it performs light-duty tasks efficiently.

More importantly, inflating multiple tires is not challenging for this air compressor since it includes multiple plugs of ¼”. Furthermore, to ensure constant airflow, it is equipped with a 2-gallon tank. In fact, it is not only an air compressor but also a complete air system.

This air compressor is conveniently installable at any point of your vehicle with the included hardware. All in all, it maintains great pressure and performs quite well. A perfect device for airing up on/off the trail.

5Vixen Air VXO4852B 100% Duty Cycle On-Board System

Vixen Air VXO4852B 100% Duty Cycle On Board System

  • Tank Capacity: 5-Gallon
  • Air Flow: 1.8 CFM
  • Weight: 32.4 lbs.

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Highlight Features

  • Suitable for heavy-duty projects
  • Rugged and durable construction
  • It vibrates less when performing
  • Resists dust and moisture effectively
  • Oil-less design.

Vixen Air Store is a top-rated manufacturer in the air compressor industry. From the beginning of their journey, they never compromised on the quality of the product. The Vixen Air Suspension Kit VXO4852B is also no exception that comes with a 5-gallon tank capacity. Its tank capacity is quite high compared to its price range.

This air compressor’s tank has a total of 9 ports. This means you can provide air to multiple pneumatic tools and inflate several tires at a time. It is rated to run continuously at 100 PSI and will shut off on its own once it reaches 200 psi. It also has a second switch to have it turned off when not in use manually.

To make the installation process hassle-free, it comes with all the required hardware. Also, it offers vibration-free performance since vibration isolators are available with mounting plates. Besides, anti-corrosion coating guarantees the longevity of the device.

Although it is not listed as a lightweight air compressor, you can install it under the truck bed quite comfortably due to its compact design.

6. ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor

ARB INFLATION3 Twin High Performance Air Compressor CKMTA12


All your onboard air needs can be satisfied by the ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor, the best 12V air compressor with a 100% duty cycle.

This high-performance compressor has the highest flow rate of any compressor in its class, compact dual motor, dual-cylinder design. Water-sealed motors with 100% ball bearings and a novel linear brush pre-load system provide low heat production and silent operation over the unit’s lifetime.

The CKMA12 is the ideal onboard air compressor for trucks and off-road vehicles since it comes with a full wiring loom, which streamlines installation and allows for simple plug-in connectivity to Air Locker control solenoids. It has dual heavy-duty Maxi-Fuses for expert in-line circuit protection and genuine circuit redundancy in the event of a fault, and it is thermally insulated inside against damage caused by severe temperatures.ARB INFLATION3 Twin High Performance Air Compressor

The ARB CKMA12’s heavy-duty European-made cylindrical roller bearing, hard-anodized cylinder bores, and PTFE-coated carbon fiber piston seals are what really set it apart from the competition. This is the ideal onboard air compressor for your air tools, locker, and tire inflation needs because of its low friction and long service life.

The compressor, two ARB-branded 90-degree elbows, remote hose connection kit with quick-connect coupling, three-way mounting air hose, and braided air hose are all included in the ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor Kit. Everything comes in a brand-new printed box that can be stored almost anywhere.

Selecting the best onboard air compressors is essential, and the ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor meets that requirement. It is an absolute must for anyone looking to improve their onboard air capabilities because of its unmatched performance, toughness, and dependability. Why choose anything less when you can have the finest, then? Experience the pinnacle of onboard air compressor quality by choosing the ARB CKMA12 air compressor.

Choice Criteria for a 100% Duty Cycle On-Board Air Compressor

What to Look for when buying the best onboard air compressor for truck 100 duty cycle. Here are a few buying factors to help you select the product from our list:

Type of Compressor

Piston and diaphragm compressors are the two most common types of onboard air compressors. In spite of their superior strength and efficiency, piston compressors are heavier and cost more. In contrast, diaphragm compressors are less expensive and more portable, but they have lower CFM rates and aren’t as sturdy.

Air Pressure or PSI Level

In order to fill vehicle tires, the compressor tank provides pressure, and the level of pressure is known as PSI or pound per square inch. A Higher PSI level means inflating a tire will be faster. Also, the faster a tire inflates, the less likely it is to heat up.

Generally, 30 – 150 is the range of standard PSI levels. Before buying a model, remember to test the PSI level to know whether the level is ideal for your vehicle or not. Note that you will not be able to upgrade the PSI level, unlike other features. So, buy the best-suited air compressor with the expected PSI level so that you don’t need to replace it soon.

Air Flow or CFM Rating

The unit of measuring airflow in CFM or cubic feet per minute. The CFM refers to the amount of air an air compressor can supply for a given period. Usually, portable air compressors don’t come with a high CFM rating. But faster airflow is confirmed from an air compressor with a large cylinder.

But don’t assume that you will not get efficient performance from onboard air compressors because of their compact and lightweight design. Most onboard air compressors come with a decent CFM rating so that a user can easily inflate a tire. It is recommended to buy an onboard air compressor with a 1.5X CFM level compared to the tire size.

Tank Size

How much time a compressor can run before it needs to be refilled is directly related to the capacity of its tank. Those who anticipate needing to run the compressor continually will benefit from a larger tank size.

Power Source

Both the vehicle’s battery and an external power source can be used to run the onboard air compressor. Although battery-operated compressors offer greater portability, their prolonged usage might eventually deplete a vehicle’s battery. More power is available and the generator can be operated for longer periods of time when using an external power source.

Noise Level

Think about how loud the air compressor is that is installed inside the vehicle. Look for a compressor with a lower decibel rating if noise is an issue or if you intend to use the compressor in a residential area.

Recharge Time

Tank refill time is crucial. The amount of time an air compressor takes to fill its empty tank is referred to as recharge time. The general rule is; recharge time will be long for a larger tank. But, on the other hand, you don’t need to refill a larger tank too frequently. You will love to know that, the refill time of most air compressors is fast. Even a well-built larger tank can refill itself within a few minutes.

User Intent

Undoubtedly, all air compressors are not built for the same purposes. For example, some onboard air compressors are made for industrial tasks, while others are constructed only to inflate your vehicle’s tire.

If your purpose is to handle contract work, buy a powerful and big onboard air compressor. Contractors are required to run multiple pneumatic tools, which needs lots of pressure.

While onboard air compressors for vehicles don’t need to be so much responsible, they are designed to be paired with vehicles and other simple pneumatic tools.

Size and Portability

Finally, think about the compressor’s portability and how big it is. Look for a lightweight and small choice if you need to transport the compressor regularly or if you have limited space in your vehicle.

How to Install an Onboard Air Compressor

Undertaking the installation of an onboard air compressor may present itself as a formidable and daunting task. However, with the appropriate tools and instructions, the successful installation of the said component can be accomplished in a swift and effortless manner. In the ensuing discourse, we shall elucidate upon the intricate and multifaceted steps that are involved in the installation of an onboard air compressor.


First, settle on a suitable location.

The proper placement of an onboard air compressor is the first stage in the installation process. You’ll want to go somewhere that’s convenient yet not in the way. The compressor should be safely positioned there as well.

Second, compile all required materials.

It’s important to have everything you need on hand before beginning the installation process. A drill, screwdriver, wrench, and socket set are just some of the equipment you’ll need.

Third, secure the compressor in place.

Mounting the compressor requires finding a suitable spot for it and acquiring the appropriate hardware. Put the compressor in its mounting bracket first. Mount the bracket and compressor to the wall or ceiling using the drill and screws.

Fourth, set up the air filter.

Putting in the air filter is the next stage in the process. Find a place close to the compressor to install the air filter. The filter is then screwed into the mount and held in place.

Fifth, hook up the hoses.

The hoses should be attached following the installation of the air filter. The first step is to hook up the compressor’s line to the storage tank. Then, attach the air filter to the tank using the hose.

Sixth, installing the pressure switch

After the hoses are attached, the pressure switch can be set up. The compressor’s on/off status is controlled by a pressure switch. Connect the switch to the compressor via cables, and set it up close to the tank.

Seventh, Wiring Up the System

Wiring the pressure switch comes next after it has been fitted. Connect the pressure switch and compressor by stripping the wires with a wire stripper.

Final Step: Put It Through Its Paces

Now that everything is wired up, we can put the system through its paces. Start the compressor and verify that the pressure is rising. If everything checks out, you can begin your journey.


What is Onboard Air Compressor?

On-board Air CompressorAn onboard air compressor is a device mounted on a vehicle for inflating tires, running air tools, and powering air horns. It offers versatility and convenience for vehicle owners in need of a reliable and efficient source of compressed air.

A 100-duty cycle air compressor can be portable or not. After mounting or installing in your truck or jeep, it travels with you wherever you go. Since your vehicle’s battery is the power source of the onboard air compressor, buying a separate power source is entirely unnecessary.

Is 100 psi enough for an air compressor?

When you are required to run simple pneumatic tools like an impact wrench, nailer, stapling guns, etc., 100 PSI is good enough for these tools. However, for operating larger pneumatic stationery items, you may need to exceed the 100 PSI CFM rating.

How much air does it take to run an impact wrench?

For a 1/2-inch impact wrench, you should buy an air compressor with a CFM rating of 4-5 @90PSI. On the other hand; a 3-3.5CFM rating is good enough for a 3/8” impact wrench.

What is a 50% duty cycle?

The duty cycle of an air compressor is measured as %. For example, an onboard air compressor duty cycle of 50% means its cooling time and run time are equal.

Can air compressors run continuously?

An air compressor mustn’t run continuously. If your air compressor runs without a break, be sure that something wrong is there and requires maintenance.

Final Words

The best onboard air compressor is not only used for inflating or deflating vehicle tires; it has many other benefits as well. However, you will get the benefit when you choose the best-suited model according to your requirement.

You can’t go wrong with any of the enlisted onboard air compressors on this list. However, when buying, the discussed factors need to be considered to avoid wasting time, money, and effort. The right one will let you enjoy your long journey, and the wrong one will ruin your day.