“Air Anywhere, Anytime: Kobalt Portable Air Compressor Review”
How can we forget December’s freaking night two years ago? While wiggling over snow, freezing Auro was deflating the tires of our auto. Ops! Perpetual syndrome on the road. The TPMS sensors were showing tires were running low. I was tired of unearthing nonoperating gas stations to top off tires. Before heading north with my wife, she ordered me to equip an emergency portable air compressor.
Luckily, I bought that bad boy Kobalt 120v & 12v portable air compressor inflator because our previous inflator pump was out of order. John! Have we an emergency portable air compressor now? Sweet voice inflated my ears, and I was out of unconsciousness! Yeah! Yeah! Abruptly, I put it out for use. Oh, My goodness! It inflated the tires in a few minutes, and we embarked on.
On our return, I presented this Kobalt portable air compressor to our team. We tested it under different scenarios. Stay here, and read more about how it fancied us.
When we took it under scrutiny, it cut the mustard with these specifications:
|Ac Voltage||120 Volt|
|Dc Voltage||12 Volt|
|Maximum Pressure||120 PSI|
|Power Source||Vehicle, Electric|
|Warranty||1 Year Limited|
|Hose Length||26 Inches|
Yes! I gave the Kobalt portable air compressor a whirl. But what was the single reason I opted for it? Its dual nature. Yeah! I need an air compressor we can operate on 12V to keep it in the car and 120V to use in our garage or workshop. Let’s move on to learn more about its fancy features:
Convenient to Use
It is lightweight and very convenient to use. This model helps you with a quick connect/disconnect valve. Yes! Its “push and snap on valve vs. screw-on” is very easy to align. That feature is rare among all its competitors in this price range.
You can stow the hose, attachment needles, hocks, and adopter for the inflator, and 12v cord in the storage compartments at the top and either side of the air compressor. So no fear of losing the hose, cords, and attachments. You can roll up the 120v cord at the back side of the air compressor around the hocks.
X style design, very compact and sturdy. Dual handles on both sides make it easy to pick and place. Very upright and stable in operation. The inflator’s attachment stuff is on the top of the compartment. On the front top, there is a backlit digital display with start/pause and pressure setting buttons.
The air compressor is body and noise is its soul. But it’s quiet and more stable than its competitors.
Just imagine! You are stuck in the dark with depressing tires. How you can properly set the valve and air compressor in the darkness? Don’t worry! Its built-in LED light will make that night a day.
Auto Shut Off
Blast! Tire shattered away …… Yes! In most cases, you just boggled after setting the tire for inflation and tattered. But Kobalt 12v % 120v portable air compressor offers auto shut off. You set the pressure and press the start button. It shuts off after reaching the desired pressure. So you can freely move away while operating.
One factor that discerns it among its competitors is its dual power 12v and 120v. If you are near an electric source you can use a 120v cord to inflate the tires. In emergency cases or when you are on the road, you can plug in a 12v cord in your car’s cigarette lighter port to air up the tires.
It is specially designed to inflate car tires. But you can get more value due to attachments for example Presta valve adopter, inflator hocks, and needles. You can inflate:
- Sports balls
- Float mattresses
- Portable air tanks
- Inflatable swim pool
Kobalt offers you a one-year limited warranty. But for the piece of mind, you can buy an extended warranty by spending a few more bucks.
Color and Material
Out of the blue, its blue color gives you a premium feel. Its plastic body makes it lightweight and easy to handle. Construction material is compact and solid.
Prep for First Usage
Surprisingly you don’t need any rocket science to set it up for use. You are to follow the given instructions to get it ready:
- Unbox the package
- Uncover the plastic covering over the air compressor
- Open the compartment lid to get out the hose
- To use a 12v cord open the left compartment and get it out
- Plug in a 12v cord in the cigarette lighter port or 120v in the electric circuit
- Attach the “push and snap on the valve of hose” to the tire valve
- Look at the gauge, the numbers will show the current air pressure
- Press the arrow buttons to set your desired pressure
- Press the start button
- When it reaches the desired target pump will shut off
Our Experience, Problems, and Troubleshooting
Before reviewing the Kobalt 12v & 120v portable air compressor inflator, our team tested it. Yes, we faced different problems. Yeah, we lost 2 units during our experiments but due to the extended warranty, we got new ones. Overall, we were confined by the performance and we opted it for you. Let me explain our experience, the problems we faced, and how to cope with them.
Noise Level Test
We have tested various emergency portable air compressors but we felt its quit than its competitors. We tested its decibel rating from one foot. You know what only 85db. Very bearable in this price range with perks of other features.
Screen Viewing position
The screen position is very convenient and well-placed. It is on the front side at the top side. Therefore, you can see it from above which is a normal viewing position. We noticed on other air compressors screen is on the sides and you have to lay them to the side to view the screen.
Inflation Time Duration
We tested the time duration for different tires. Here is the crux of our experiments:
- We inflated two tires. Their size was 235/50/18. The first tire was flat and the second one with 8lb air pressure. We set 35lb pressure. The flat tire consumed 5½ minutes and the second tire took 4½ minutes to hit the desired pressure.
- We aired up the tire of the truck from 20 PSI to 32 PSI within 3 minutes on both 12v and 120v modes.
- We inflated the four tires of our truck from 15PSI to 36 PSI in 90+ degree temperatures within 13 minutes.
- We inflated the 16-inch tire of Saturn Sc1 from 0 to 30 PSI in 3½ minutes.
Inflation Speed Comparison: Kobalt vs. Husky
We decided to compare the speed of Kobalt’s portable air compress with Husky. We inflated two tires from 15lb to 35lb on both AC/DC modes.
- On 12v, Husky topped off the air in 429 seconds, while Kobalt took only 287 seconds. Surprisingly kobalt was 40% faster.
- On 120v, Husky took 365 seconds, and Kobalt consumed 182 seconds. Kobalt proved twice faster.
Note: We concluded that Inflation time depends on the size of your tire and the set pressure. That’s why time varies for different scenarios.
Tested Guage Accuracy
As I mentioned we tested three Kobalt 12v & 120v portable air compressors. The common issue we noticed was that the gauge accuracy was +/- 2 PSI. Our first unit was 2 PSI off. We inflated the tire to 35 PSI, but another gauge tire showed 33 PSI. Sometimes pressure dropped to 33 as it hit 35 PSI. Our second unit added 2 PSI extra. If we set 35 PSI it was 37 PSI in real.
Note: It’s not a deal-breaking issue. If you face a similar problem, You can set the desired pressure accordingly to get the exact PSI. If your unit is 2PSI off, to get 33 PSI set it on 35 PSI and top off the required PSI.
How Did We Spoil Our Kobalt Portable Air Compressor in Experiments?
First of all, keep in mind; that it’s not a heavy-duty air compressor, although it offers 120 PSI. We Topped off our trailer tire at 80 PSI. We successively used it, and at the fourth tire, the motor worked but no pressure. It worked fine and suddenly undone!
We are air compressor mechanics as well. We opened it, and what did we notice? The metal drive gear was coming off the motor shaft, and the pump’s flywheel gear was plastic. Due to successive use motor heated the metal gear and melted the teeth of the plastic gear. The motor spun without creating pressure.
The air compressor is for light-duty operations. Anything above 40 PSI, the motor will struggle in continuous operations. If you want to extend the life of your Kobalt portable air compressor after 5 minutes of use, cool it down for 10 minutes. Please don’t use it successively. Yes, it requires patience, but it will save your pump for a longer time.
Inflatable Swimming Pool Inflation
We wish the device would come with attachments to inflate the swimming pool. There is no wide nozzle attachment. If you can’t get a pool with an attachment nozzle, you will have to keep tight around the air nozzle pump to inflate the pool.
Compartment Storage Problem
It looks good to have a hose and cord storage compartments. Earlier, the inflator accessories storage compartment at the top is hard to open. You need a screwdriver to open it. The corners of the hose and cord storage compartment doors are very sharp. You need little force to open them. Open them safely to avoid any injury due to sharp edges.
Caution: After using the air compressor, let it cool. Open the compartment doors to cool down it. Don’t stow the hose and cord abruptly in hot conditions.
Hose and Cord Use
The 120v cord is very short. If you are not near an electric circuit, you need an extension cord. Therefore, always keep the extension cord with you. The hose is also very short. You can use it easily if placed next to you means within 8 inches. If the valve nozzle of the large tire is at the top, you will need a bench to set the air compressor properly to attach the hose for the air supply.
Cigarette Lighter Issue with 12v Plugs
We plugged the 12v plug into the cigarette lighter port of different vehicles to check its compatibility. Yes, it worked efficiently in 99% of cases. But we noticed that some Honda car plug has some size issues. The plug was large and you need to press it forcefully to fit into the port. Don’t fit it forcefully. Otherwise, you need pliers to unplug it. If you face the issue you can swap it with a standard adopter that will fit in the cigarette lighter port to get more of it in this budget price range.
Resolve Presta Valve Attachment Issue
If you are going to use it for Shrader valve applications, this is awesome. Mostly high-pressure tires of road bikes come with a Presta valve. To inflate them, you need to attach Hock to attach hose valve with the Presta valve. The problem is that Presta attachment is not self-seal. The air leaks during inflation. To cope with this issue, you need to hold firmly the presta valve attachment while topping off the tires. Overall, it’s not an impactful issue to miss such a jewel.
Note: When you detach the nozzle, the o ring comes out of the Presta valve hock. Place it again carefully in the hock before stowing it in the storage compartment.
- Pretty Quiet
- Auto Stop
- Dual Voltage
- Compact and Easy to Use
- LED light at the bottom
- Short 120V cord (24inches)
- Two handles for grip
In a nutshell, The Kobalt Portable Air Compressor is a reliable, efficient, and convenient tool with dual power capability (12V and 120V). Its sturdy and compact design, lightweight construction, and storage compartments make it easy to handle and store. The built-in LED light, auto shut-off feature, and impressive inflation speed enhance its usability. Although minor issues were encountered, they did not significantly affect its overall performance. We recommend you Kobalt Portable Air Compressor as a reliable solution in an emergency for various inflation needs.