Prow Electric Air Compressor review

A functional tire inflator that maxes out a little too soon

Prow Electric Air Compressor in use on car tire
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Prow Electric Air Compressor doesn’t look like a tire inflator, thanks to its covered design, but it's more than capable of filling most tires and inflatable toys. Too bad it tops out at 90 PSI.

Pros

  • +

    Completely covered

  • +

    Includes bag

  • +

    12-volt or AC power

  • +

    Choice of screw-on or clamp valve chuck

Cons

  • -

    Maximum pressure of 90 PSI

  • -

    Easy to lose AC cord

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Prow Electric Air Compressor: Specs

Size: 11.9 x 6.6 x 4.2 inches
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Peak pressure: 90 psi
Time to fill a tire: 3:24
Length of cord: 12.5 feet
Battery: No
USB, AC power ports: No
Light: Yes

The Prow Electric Air Compressor has a lot to offer for its $78 price tag. You're given the choice of powering the inflator with the car’s 12-volt power system or with an included AC cord, handy carrying bag and a design that keeps the unit completely covered in a plastic shell. Sadly it lacks a battery and the ability to exceed 90 PSI – a little over half the pressure that the best inflators can do.

Prow Electric Air Compressor: Price and availability

Priced at $78, the Prow Electric Air Compressor is good value considering its dual-power operation. The company also sells other tire inflators, including ones clothed in black and pink plastics. Just in case neon green isn't to your taste.

Prow Electric Air Compressor: Design and features

Looking like it could be a large stapler or flashlight, the Prow Electric Air Compressor has a black and green plastic skin that hides its internal gear. It measures 11.9 x 6.6 x 4.2 inches, about double the size of the similar AstroAI Air Compressor, and at 5.3 pounds is nearly triple the weight.

Well designed, the Prow compressor’s handle flows out of the unit’s case and holds the 1.7-inch backlit monochrome screen. It has two switches below for turning the three LED lights and pump on or off. 

Prow Electric Air Compressor in use on car tire

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The three button interface has a single button for determining the pressure units, including Pounds per Square Inch (PSI), KiloPascals (KPA) or Bars, and keys for increasing or decreasing the auto shut-off set point. There’s also an AC/DC switch in the back for choosing the power source.

Prow Electric Air Compressor in use on car tire

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The unit’s 12-volt cord and air hose have their own space, letting you coil up and store the two safely. However the AC cord is completely external, and needs to be plugged in. That means it could end up being easy to lose. Thankfully, it’s a standard cord, like those used on notebook AC adapters.

The Prow Electric Air Compressor comes with a zippered bag, but unlike competing units that can pump upwards of 160 PSI, the maximum pressure here is 90 PSI. That means it’s meant more for cars and light trucks than heavy vehicles.

Prow Electric Air Compressor: Setup

With its built-in handle, it’s easy to carry the Prow Electric Air Compressor from tire to tire. It can be used in the garage on home current and on the road with its 12-volt adapter, though the unit lacks a battery option. 

The 12-volt power cord and air hose combine for about 12.5 feet of reach that should be OK for everything smaller than a heavy-duty truck. It is the rare tire inflator that provides the choice between a screw on connector and a clamp-on, with short extension included. The separate AC cord is 69-inches long.

Prow Electric Air Compressor: Performance

With my car powering the Prow Electric Air Compressor, the unit proved to be loud with an annoying low hum. It filled my tire to 30 PSI in 3 minutes and 24 seconds, which is around the middle of the pack. It got the soccer ball ready for a game at 10 PSI in 10.8 seconds.

Prow Electric Air Compressor inflating soccer ball

(Image credit: Prow)

The auto shut-off worked like a charm and the unit’s pressure gauge was on target with an extra bonus: the display showed the pumping progress on a horizontal bar graph. The device includes a two-year warranty that’s better than most, but pales next to the RoofPax Air Compressor’s lifetime coverage.

Prow Electric Air Compressor: Verdict

Completely covered and with places to stash the cords and hose out of the way, the Prow Electric Air Compressor can run on AC power or a car’s 12-volt power supply. It stops at 90 PSI but is packaged in a bag and offers the choice of a screw-on or clamp-on valve chuck. At $78, this unit is for those who want an air compressor that doesn’t look like an air compressor.

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.