You will need to manage your tyre pressures to suit the terrain
An air compressor is another one of those items that you have to have. If you are serious about offroading you will need to manage your tyre pressures to suit the terrain. Sure if you are just going to the beach, you might be able to limp to the nearest service station at the end of the day but that is not going to work on the edge of the Simpson Desert.
There are three way to handle this:
- a hard wired air compressor ( the logical choice if you have ARB air lockers fitted)
- a portable air compressor (the logical choice if you do not have air lockers)
- A complete air system with air tank. (the most versatile but most expensive solution)
So if you have air lockers, we recommend you purchase one of their larger air compressors with a tyre inflation kit. Note they use non-standard air fittings so you are kind of locked in to ARB.
If you are not running air lockers and just want something to inflate your tyres, a good quality portable air compressor is the way to go. Just be aware that the duty cycle and air flow will determine how fast you will be able to air up. Look for an air compressor in a robust carrying case with plenty of air flow. VMN supply a 180 litre per minute built into a metal ammo box that can air up a standard tyre from 25 psi to 40 psi in 90 seconds. This style of compressor is ideal to toss in the back of your ute and not have to worry about it getting damaged.
If you can find room to add an air tank under the vehicle, this is the way to go in our view. This will allow you to seat a tyre back on the rim after repairing a tyre or after an offroad oops moment. The main hardware is not expensive, but the air fittings add up quickly. You must run a check valve between the compressor and the tank so the compressor can start in an unloaded state. The first 600mmm of air lines from the air compressor are hot so you must use a braided steel airline for this section but after that you can run to your air tank using standard 1/2” nylon truck air brake lines.
On the outlet side, run a line to a conveniently located standard nitto style air fitting and optionally include a pressure gauge. A small stop cock to isolate the outlet when not in use is also a good idea. Somewhere you will need to include a 12 volt pressure valve. So in an ideal setup, you might have an air tank rated to 180 psi, a pressure valve that turns off at 150 psi and on at around 120 psi. If you are running air lockers, the air tank will be at a higher pressure than what ARB warrants their air lockers at so its best to add a small regulator that is set to 90 psi to run the air lockers from. When selecting an air compressor for a setup like this, pay attention to the duty cycle of the compressor. You need one that is rated at 100% duty cycle at 100 psi or the compressor may cut out before the tank fills.. The bigger the compressor the better but when you get to one requiring winch sized cables to handle the current they draw, you need to think about how easy it will be to run power to.