Air compressors are known for their ability to inflate things quickly, so you may have wondered whether or not you can use them with inflatable SUP boards. Technically, you can get your board fully inflated with an air compressor – but it’s not something I or any other paddle boarder would recommend.
Air compressors, especially heavy-duty ones, are not designed for SUP inflation and can end up damaging your board if you’re not careful. Today, I’ll share with you the details about how these types of air pumps work and why you should avoid them with your SUP.
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Air Compressors vs SUP Air Pumps
An air compressor is a pretty heavy-duty piece of equipment used to inflate objects to a high PSI level. For example, air compressors are commonly used to inflate car tires which require a PSI of 30 to 35.
Traditional air compressors feature a connector hose, PSI gauge and a tank that holds pressurized air. Some models require you to switch out the tank with a new one once you’ve used all the pressurized air inside. Newer models, however, come with fans that pull in air and pressurize it without requiring the tank replacement.
An electric paddle board pump is a much more simplified version of an air compressor. The pump works in the same way in that it draws in air and pulls it into the pump. Whether the pump is manual or electric, the air will then move into the connector hose, through the valve, and into whatever you are inflating. Some SUP air pumps also come with a PSI gauge..
Why You Shouldn’t Inflate Your SUP With a Compressor
Air compressors really aren’t best suited for inflating your paddle board. Let’s take a look at the main reasons why you should probably stick to a SUP pump instead:
Overinflation is a Common Issue
Most air compressors are designed for heavy-duty inflation – which doesn’t apply to inflatable paddle boards. Because of this, compressors pull in too much air as they inflate. While this might not seem like a big issue, if you’re not careful, you could quickly and easily overinflate your SUP.
In doing so, overinflation with too much air pressure can cause warping, and even damaged seams. Damage like this is often irreversible. The best way to ensure that your board maintains its integrity is by using a pump that is suited for it.
Moisture Collects Inside the Paddle Board
Another issue you face when using an air compressor is moisture collection. Moisture collection occurs because of the transfer of the pressurized air into your inflatable. Pressurized air holds more moisture and as that air moves from a tank into your inflatable, the temperature change can cause water vapors to be released.
Why might excess moisture inside of your inflatable be a bad thing, you ask? Well, frequent and consistent moisture inside your SUP can be the perfect environment for mildew to grow. This mildew can damage the inside of your paddle board and destroy your board’s material.
If your board does collect moisture on the inside, it can also be incredibly cumbersome to dry out. When you use an air pump designed for SUP inflation, you won’t have to deal with moisture collection as you pump.
Are There Advantages to Inflating Your SUP With a Compressor?
As stated, it’s not recommended that you use a compressor to inflate your iSUP. However, If your air compressor can adapt for use on an inflatable board, then there are some minor advantages of using it – if you want to risk it, that is.
The main advantage is that you’ll get quick inflation. You don’t have to wait as long as you would if you were to use a traditional SUP pump. Air compressors are especially convenient if you’re going to be pumping more than one board.
Understanding Your Boards PSI
We’ve mentioned PSI quite a bit because It’s an important factor to understand as you inflate your board. But what is it and why does it matter?
PSI is a unit of measurement, pounds per square inch, which is used when measuring the pressure inside an object. Every paddle board comes with a recommended PSI level. This level is the rate of pressure which your paddle board should be inflated to. A higher PSI level means a more rigid SUP board.
Knowing this level is important because inflating your board over the recommended PSI can cause it to warp, and even burst. On the other hand, inflating your paddle board to a lower PSI gives you an unstable board that may not hold your weight.
Use an Electric Pump Instead
While an air compressor can get the job done quickly, it’s best that you use manual or electric pumps designed specifically for an inflatable stand up paddle board instead.
One of the best types of pumps to invest in is an electric pump with a two stage pump system. An electric pump allows you to cut down on inflation time. Plus, it will give you peace of mind knowing that you’re using equipment which is safe for use on your board.
Still, it’s important that you monitor the inflation process as you operate a SUP electric pump as you still run into the possibility of over inflating your paddleboard. Many models however, come with a PSI limit so that you can set inflation to your desired level and the pump will stop automatically.
Find a Compatible Electric or Manual Air Pump
When you’re looking for the best SUP pump for your paddle board, it’s always best to start in-house. Check to see if your board’s brand offers any high quality electric or manual pumps.
If you can’t find any, there many great SUP pumps on the market. Many models nowadays come with a range of valve adaptors so that you can find one that fits your board. Plus, you can also find models that offer other features including chargers, flashlights, and other nifty tools you can use on a paddling session.
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I hope this guide has helped you understand the difference between an SUP air pump and your traditional air compressor. While you can technically use a traditional air compressor to inflate your paddle board, it’s not necessarily recommended in the paddle boarding world.
Air compressors tend to offer more power than necessary. This opens the opportunity for damage to your paddle board to occur. investing in a quality electric air pump for your SUP is the best way to insure your boards longevity.