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Highest CFM 12v air compressor: 3 models that wow when you want to fill big tires fast!
After a day of insane fun on the trail, you need to air back up just before you hit the pavement.
Yet, waiting a decade for an air compressor to just put 10psi in a tire sucks.
That rules out compressors that pump excruciatingly slowly – they’re simply not an option.
What you really want is an air compressor that puts out the highest possible CFM to avoid wasting your time re-filling tires.
Now, our team has been exploring the markets looking for the highest CFM 12v air compressor because some of you asked if there’s a decent one out there.
And the good news is that we found three magical 12v compressors that inflate the biggest tires pretty fast, while running off your car/RV/truck battery.
Here are out three top-rated picks with the highest CFM in the market to help you make the right decision if shopping for the highest CFM 12v air compressor.
First off, here is our top pick:
Highest CFM 12v air compressor – best rated models
#1- ARB CKMTA12 12-V High Performance Air Compressor – Highest CFM 12v air compressor
At 174LPM (6.16CFM), this high quality portable compressor has the highest airflow rate among 12V compressors of its size and it’s really powerful.
In fact, this pumps up faster than even some bigger compressors and you’ll be stunned to see how swiftly this thing airs up your tires after off-roading!
It comes with everything needed for installation including the ring terminals plus connectors to hook up the wiring harness directly to your battery (so no worries that you might blow the fuse on the 12V accessory port).
Wiring it is super easy as well- the harness is labeled clearly and instructions are well written.
Once done, it works flawlessly every time.
Perhaps the greatest feature is the added pressure switch that shuts the compressor off at certain PSI units.
The fittings work well and the air hose locks nicely onto the tire valve so you won’t need to hold it all the time.
Plus, the hose is long enough to easily reach the rear tire on the passenger side on most vehicles.
The hose also coils up nicely into a fairly small size for easier storage and it even comes with a sturdy carry case.
Keep in mind that you can hard mount it inside your vehicle eventually if you so wish.
The only downside is the lack of a pressure gauge on the unit.
Other than that, this is an awesome accessory to have aboard your truck and worth every single penny.
- Water and dust sealed components including motors.
- 100% ball bearing (i.e. no bushings)
- Linear brush preload system- extra long life, reduced heat, and quieter operation.
- Suitable for tons of air tools when used with a 4-L air tank
- 100% duty cycle
- Over-pressure safety valve
What’s in the package
- Fully assembled air compressor
- Complete wiring harness (with solenoid plug-in terminals).
- Compressor isolating switch.
- 2 x relocatable high-flow water resistant air filters.
- Mounting bolts & washers.
- Comprehensive photo-illustrated installation guide.
- Fills you larger tires real quick.
- Long lasting product.
- Easy to install.
- A little pricey.
First, this is hands down the highest CFM 12v air compressor out there.
Secondly, it meets the best quality standards- it’s fast, reliable, and easy to use.
In short, forget the price: this is it if you’re looking for a high quality portable air compressor that will never let you down.
1st Runners Up:
Smittybilt 5.65 CFM 2781 Universal Air Compressor – budget friendly option
At 5.65 CFM, this emerged second in our highest CFM 12v air compressor compilation and it can also be a good choice.
Will it fill your 40″ tires in three minutes? No..leave that to the ARB CKMTA12 unit. But it does pretty well.
For example, users have reported it filling all four 40″ tires from 25PSI to 45PSI in just about 15 minutes.
It can also air up 37’s from 15PSI to 35PSI in about 2 and 1/2 minutes per tire.
For a 35s tires, this can air up from 12-PSIs to 38-PSIs in 5 minutes or so (20 to 25 minutes for all four).
Most importantly, it costs less than half of the competition making it a great budget-friendly alternative to the ARB CKMTA 12v air compressor.
Make no mistake about this: It won’t disappoint- it’s a dependable, no frills, high-volume air compressor that will air any size wheel back up without issues.
Smittybilt has actually built the unit solidly and should outlast similar products.
It features a 1/3 HP (horsepower) oil-less direct drive motor so it generally runs cooler.
It also doesn’t overheat and has proper heat shielding all over.
And oh, the integrated easy-to-read 150PSI pressure gauge is a nice touch.
It’s a smaller size model and will stow much better as well- It easily fits underneath a truck’s seat.
- Auto-thermal cutoff switch – helps protects the motor against damage.
- Maximum duty cycle (continuous cycle time) – 40 minutes @40PSI at 75o
- Maximum airflow – 72 liters/minute.
- 150PSI pressure gauge.
- 24ft coil hose
- Twiston, brass inflator top.
- Anti-vibration rubber feet.
- All necessary adapter fittings (to inflate everything)
- Cleanable air filter
- Vented carry handle
What’s in the package
- The compressor itself
- Attachments for other valve types.
- 24-Foot coiled air hose.
- Alligator clips for battery
- Heavy-duty storage bag.
- 10-Foot Power Cord
- Clips to the battery posts without much fuss.
- Works like a champ.
- Great price.
- The air gauge is not always accurate.
The bottom line is this simply inflates tires way faster than similar air compressors in the same price range.
For budget overlanding, you can’t quite get a better value.
2nd Runners Up:
According to Superflow website, this pumps 3.7 cubic feet/minute so it ranks third and last in our list.
It’s clear that this is not the highest output unit in the market but we thought it wise to highlight how it performs on big tires to help you make an informed decision.
Now, its past buyers have also reported the following impressive pumping performances:
- It airs a 33inch tire from 15PSI to 28PSI in less than 2 minutes.
- It inflates each 38 tire from 6-PSI to 30-PSI in three minutes.
- To go from 8-10PSI up to between 33-35PSI, this takes 2-3 minutes per 35/37 tire.
See? It’s another compelling option.
It’s also easily powered with alligator clips from the battery and attaches to tires with 24-ft air hose.
Like the rest, it has been built to withstand rugged use and works even for industrial size tires commonly used on backhoes, graders, loaders, or skid loaders.
- 12-volt Direct Drive motor (draws 45amps at 12-volts)
- 60mm piston
- High strength cylinder
- 10-foot heavy-duty power cord
- Alligator clips.
- 24 foot self-coiling air hose (with Type M quick connect air fittings). Note that the air hose features an armored inline air gauge, easy twisting brass inflator, and an optional clip-on air chuck.
- The compressor unit.
- Power cord.
- Alligator clips.
- Heavy-duty nylon carry bag.
- 2 adapter nozzles.
- Ball inflation needle.
- Works great.
- Quality construction.
- Not noisy.
- The handle gets rather hot over time when used on bigger tires.
This air compressor clearly belongs in your truck, around the ranch, off the road, or anywhere else you need quick air to get jobs done.
As mentioned, it’s not as fast as the other two but it’s noticeably faster than many other models.
As such, we are convinced it can be a trustworthy alternative to the two leading units.
Trust us: With these, you’ll never again have to spend 45 minutes refilling your tires after a day of fun on the trail!
Remember there are other things to look for when buying a compressor (apart from the CFM).
Your biggest concerns should be:
- Maximum PSI- Choose the highest possible PSI rating again as such a device fills all kinds of tires quickly and smoothly (cars, trucks, RVs, and more).
- Duty cycle- the higher the duty cycle rating, the better the efficiency of the compressor.
- Tank capacity- in general, a 2 gallon tank is good enough to inflate tires quickly.
- Amperage draw- while units with high power draw inflate tires faster, it may weaken the vehicle battery.
- Noise levels -some 12VDC compressors make a lot more noise.
- Cooler operating temperatures -you don’t want it to burst into flames.
In short, do your homework well and determine precisely what you’ll need before you go shopping.
That way, you’re sure of buying a model that will serve all your needs without issues.