Pros: AC - DC operation, hefty feel
Cons: Power switch location inconvenient
Ive owned a portable air compressor ever since service stations started charging for air, or worse, not providing it at all. As time goes on it seems all products are made cheaper in our throw away society, guess thats why Ive owned so many. Consequently when my current unit failed I decided to look for something a little more substantial.
Not wanting to be without a home inflation system I picked up a tiny $10.00 unit at Wal-Mart. After one use I determined it wasnt likely this unit would last very long and would best serve as a backup. It took about ten minutes to pump eight pounds into a car tire and became so hot to the touch it was impossible to grasp. Right then I determined I was going to spend a little more then I planned and attempt to pick up something decent.
When I started reading the specs on the Black & Decker Air Station I was immediately impressed by the fact it operates not only via the standard DC power outlet but you can plug it into household current as well. That appealed to me as the majority of use was in my garage where I had easy access to outlets, although I still wanted the flexibility of a unit that could be powered by a vehicles power outlet when on the highway. Tires have a habit of going soft in the most inconvenient places.
Upon opening the box I was impressed with the heft of the air station although part of the weight is probably attributable to the AC transformer not necessarily its compressor. The unit has a clean design with a large pressure gauge sitting on top that is easily viewable when in use. The storage compartment holds both the AC and DC power cords. The air hose is of sufficient length the unit will sit on the ground even if the tire stem is at the 12 oclock position. As usual once you pull out the cords the storage compartment seems to have shrunk when you try and put them back. None of these units ever seem to have a large enough storage compartment, this unit being no exception.
The AC power cord is only about two feet, not a problem since I always have an extension cord in my garage. The DC cord is 15 feet long. Three adapters are included, two nozzles and a needle inflator. A two way switch activates the unit, up for AC and down for DC. Unfortunately the switch is hidden from view instead of top side where it would be more convenient to use. Operation is simple, set the gauge to the pressure you require and the unit shuts off automatically when it reaches the number set. The gauge is very readable as it lights up when in use.
The attached gauge appears to be extremely accurate and shuts the unit off as promised. I tested the results with a hand gauge and got a perfect reading on all 4 tires. The inflator isnt what youd call quiet nor is it any worse then other systems Ive owned previously. Its not extremely fast but it does work well enough to satisfy the needs of most home mechanics. I wasnt aware of over heating after repeated use pumping up several tires, nor did I see a warning in the manual about letting the unit cool after 15 minutes of operation.
While the air station is portable, youll not find a blinker, or flashlight function. The only thing it does is pump air which is does very well. Worth noting is a two year warranty which speaks to the quality although I havent had the unit sufficient time to know what the expected life might be.