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Lifewire / Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick
Intuitive control panel
Compact and easy to store
Signals SOS. in case of emergencies
Up and running in 90 seconds
Auto-shutoff at preset tire pressure
Small digital display
If you want a compact, reliable portable tire inflator with great safety features, the SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator is the best you can buy.
The Jaco SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator is one of the most portable and convenient travel air compressors you can buy. Its intuitive design allows anyone to fill up a low tire easily. It also has additional safety features that allow you to be seen at night and, if necessary, signal that you’re in distress. And when you’re done with it, it’s easy to pack up and store. Tradeoffs for these benefits include a small LCD display and a short air hose, but given its intended function, those are trivial concerns.
At just 7.5 inches wide, 2.5 inches tall and 6 inches long, this is the smallest, most compact portable tire inflator we tested. When it’s in its carrying case, it only weighs 2 pounds, 31 ounces. Even small children should be able to carry it. If you need a portable tire inflator but don't have a lot of space, this pump is exactly what you want.
The control panel is as about as basic and simple as it gets. The functions of its large buttons are clearly marked, which makes it incredibly intuitive. Even those who don’t read the owners manual will be able to learn how to use it effectively in just a few seconds.
Like much of the competition, this air compressor has an auto-shutoff feature (Jaco calls it SmartPressure) that allows you to preset the tire pressure you want before the pump goes to work.
The control panel’s 1.5-inch LCD is the smallest display we saw among the devices we tested, nevertheless, it's perfectly readable in the sun and at night. It displays tire pressure in PSI (pound per square inch)I, BAR (atmospheric pressure), and Kpa (kilopascal). If you live in the United States, chances are that you’ll exclusively use PSI. But if you ever need to measure pressure in the metric system or SI (International System of Units), you’ll be glad you have the ability.
Like much of the competition, this air compressor has an auto-shutoff feature (Jaco calls it SmartPressure) that allows you to preset the tire pressure you want before the pump goes to work. When you turn it on, it will pump air until the desired pressure is achieved and turn itself off. This is great because it means you don’t have to constantly monitor it to make sure you don’t overfill your tires.
Most portable tire inflators draw their power from a 12V adapter attached to the power cord. The SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator is no different. Simply plug the adapter into your car’s 12V socket (cigarette lighter), turn your car on and the pump powers up immediately. This is a great convenience compared to pumps like the Viair 88P Portable Compressor which requires you to hook it up to your car’s battery, jumper-cable style.
The built-in LED light on SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator is more useful than any of the portable tire compressors we tested. It not only illuminates the tire you’re inflating but also much of the surrounding area. Additionally, you can set the light to flash hazard signals so oncoming traffic can spot you better at night. It even has the ability to flash S.O.S. in morse code to signal a serious emergency that you need immediate assistance with.
Unlike some of its competition, the SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator has excellent cord and hose management. The air hose and power cord have separate compartments built into the pump’s housing, and they both fit snugly for easy storage. Another portable air compressor we tested, the Kensun Portable Tire Inflator, has extremely awkward cord management that results in frustration and cables jutting out the side of the device when it’s not in use.
The functions of its large buttons are clearly marked, which makes it incredibly intuitive. Even those who don’t read owners manual will be able to learn how to use it effectively in just a few seconds.
The air-hose on this portable compressor is a scant 24 inches, which means that you have to be within two feet of the tire or object you’re inflating. This is fine if you only plan on using it for regular tire pressure maintenance and “just-in-case” scenarios. Fortunately, the 10-foot power cord provides enough range to reach every tire on your vehicle.
Jaco provides a brief, but informative user manual tucked in the carrying case. Despite how intuitive this pump is to use, you should take five minutes to read the whole thing. During testing, we timed how long it takes to get out of your driver’s seat, retrieve the pump from the trunk, connect it to power, attach it to an under-inflated tire, set the pressure and start the pump. On average, the whole process took about 1 minute, 30 seconds.
Simply plug the adapter into your car’s 12V socket (cigarette lighter), turn your car on and the pump powers up immediately.
In order to recreate the situations that you’re most likely to use a portable tire inflator, we took the models we tested on a long road trip through the states of Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. When we stopped at rural rest areas and gas stations along the way, we deflated the tires on our car to 20 PSI—the point where they are dangerously low to drive on.
We timed how long it took the Jaco SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator to re-inflate the tires to the recommended 32 PSI. On average, it took about 2 minutes, 13 seconds to fill the tires. This represents the slowest fill time of the portable air compressors we tested, while the fastest average we recorded was 55 seconds.
Unlike some of its competition, the SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator has excellent cord and hose management.
We checked the accuracy of the pressure gauge by comparing its readings to that of a simple pencil-style gauge. Each time we took a reading, they matched within a 0.5 PSI range. That’s as about as close to perfect that you can expect.
Any air compressor is going to generate a lot of noise, so we used a sound meter to measure how loud this tire inflator gets while running. We recorded sound levels up to 97 decibels, but it was usually a steady 95 decibels. Although the sound is grating, you won’t have to wear protection unless you plan to have it continually running for hours.
That also shouldn’t be an issue because the pump automatically cycles down after 30 minutes of continuous use, and you’ll have to wait until it cools down to use it again. This shouldn't be a problem, since you can conceivably fill all four of your car’s tires in under 10 minutes. You’d have to inflate something exceptionally large to run this pump for that long.
With a list price of $90, this is the most expensive portable tire inflator we tested, but it’s typically on sale for half the price. That makes it more reasonable, especially if you need a portable compressor but are really tight on space. Or if you want to ensure maximum safety and visibility at night. But it certainly isn’t a budget model like the Audew Portable Air Compressor Pump.
It’s impossible to predict how long a product will last after just a few days or using it, however, the warranty period is a good indicator of the long-term durability. Jaco offers a lifetime warranty on this compressor, so it should last a really long time, or at least until you forget it’s still under warranty.
We tested this the SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator side-by-side with the Kensun Portable Tire Inflator. Although the Kensun is about twice as large as the Jaco, they’re designed to do the same thing. For example, they both draw power from your car’s 12V socket, but if you want to get away from your car, the Kensun comes with an AC power cord that you can plug into a wall socket. This makes the Kensun a much more versatile pump. And while the built-in light on the Kensun provides great illumination at night, it lacks the hazard and emergency lights you get with Jaco.
The best tire inflator you can buy with tons of features and value.
The Jaco SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator is a great addition to the jumper cables and triangle reflectors in your trunk. Its focus on safety, portability, and accuracy makes it very attractive for people looking to be prepared, and you can usually find it on sale for a reasonable price.