Updated: June 8, 2015
Black and Decker Air Station Portable Air Compressor and InflatorIf you've ever needed to inflate your car tires, an inflatable raft for the pool, an inflatable snow toy, an air mattress, a spare tire, a soccer ball, then you know that hand powered pumps don't cut it. You also know that they now try to charge you for the air compressors at the gas station -- and it's not convenient to always head to the gas station when you need to inflate something. Having your own home air compressor solves these problems, especially if you have a cordless inflator that goes wherever you go (like when you need to fill 2 rafts and an inner tube down by the river). Black and Decker makes the very useful AS1500 Air Station high performance cordless inflator - in this guide we will put it through it's paces by taking it home and using it around the garage and house, with the photos and videos to back it up. Is the Air Station up to the task as the ultimate portable air compressor? Read on...
Black and Decker AirStation AS1500 - Best Cordless Air Compressor?
The Black and Decker AirStation AS1500 is a portable air compressor. It offers 2 power sources - you can either plug it in and charge it from a normal electrical outlet and then run it from battery power, or attach it to your car cigarette lighter for instant (10 foot cable attached and included), on the go power. The AC adapter for connecting to an outlet is provided, but you CANNOT operate it while connected to an outlet -- the AC adapter is ONLY for charging the internal battery, which is then used to power the compressor. What can you do with the Black and Decker Air Station? It has 2 main settings, one for high-pressure inflation of car and bike tires, one for low-pressure/high-volume inflation of things like air mattresses or inflatable water toys, like rafts. It comes with a variety of adapters to inflate basketballs or volley balls as well as air mattress type devices. It has a handle for easy carrying, though at about 8 pounds it is fairly heavy. Shaped like a horse-shoe, the cigarette lighter power cable is attached and wraps around the back of the device, while the tube for heavy volume inflation (rafts, mattresses) is detachable and stores wrapped around the Air Station. The high-pressure hose for car tires is also permanently attached and tucks inside the top side of the compressor, while the AC adapter is removable and stored separately.
Operating the Air Station - How does a cordless air compressor work?:Using the Air Station is pretty easy. The first step is to charge the internal battery by connecting it to the included AC adapter. A full charge can take 4-5 hours, though ours arrived almost fully charged. Alternatively, you can plug it into your car's cigarette lighter and power it from your car's battery if needed. Once charged, the Black and Decker AirStation can fully inflate 4 empty car tires. There are just a few buttons and switches on the front. You flick the main power switch to one side for car and bike tires (this is the high pressure side, and a sticker has little icons of cars and bikes to indicate what the setting is for), or the other side for high volume air (air mattress, raft, etc.). If you're putting air into your car tire, you use the attached high-pressure hose. First you push the on/off button just below the circular LED screen (there are also +/- buttons on either side, that's all the buttons there are).
When using the high pressure setting, you must first set the target air pressure you want -- hold down the + button for 3 seconds until it starts to flash, then push and/or hold the +/- buttons to select the desired air pressure (let's say 32 PSI). You then connect the air hose to your tire just like you would at the gas station (actually, more like with a bike pump -- fit the nozzle in place, then flip down the locking mechanism to keep the air from leaking out) and press that same middle on/off button to start inflating. The AirStation will run automatically until it reaches the target air pressure, then shut off. It's fairly noisy while operating (see video below) and it is slower that the air compressors you might find at your local gas station (it took about 25-30 seconds to go from 27 PSI to 32 PSI on a single tire). The video below shows how to use the Black and Decker Air Station to inflate a car tire:
Using the Black and Decker Portable Air CompressorFor filling things like air mattresses, you flip the switch to the blue side (again, little sticker shows you which side is for which), and you use the larger plastic air hose instead that is wrapped around the outside of the AirStation. Just detach it and connect the end to the high-volume opening on the edge of the unit - push the on/off button and off you go. There are a number of different tips you can select from depending on the size of the inflation hole on your target object. This air flow is NOT automatic, so in theory you could pop your item if you weren't paying attention, though more than likely it would just blow off the end of the inflator tip. Still, be careful as you get near your full inflation point -- you turn off the air compressor by pressing that center on/off button again. Conveniently enough, there is also a reverse function for deflating your air mattress or raft - it's located on the top of the AirStation just to the left of the round LED screen. Just connect the plastic hose to that outlet, turn it on, and the Black and Decker Air Station works like a vacuum, sucking the air out and deflating your item. Pretty nice. The only other feature to mention is a small LED light just below the LED screen -- it acts like a mini flashlight if pointed in the right direction, helping to connect to a car tire in the black of night if needed. It's not perfect, but it's a nice touch. You can watch a promotional video here showing how the AirStation works, pumping up balls and other things.
So our impressions overall... We recommend the Black and Decker AirStation AS1500 as a solid, well-built machine. Assuming the batteries are charged or you have access to a car battery via the cigarette lighter plug-in, you really do have portable, cordless power for inflating just about anything. With enough juice to fill 4 tires, it packs a good punch. We like the fact that all the required cords and hoses attach to the unit (with the exception of the AC adapter cord, which seems kind of like an after thought given how well everything else tucks into position). Once you realize you need to hold the pressure adjusting buttons for a few seconds before they activate (why is this, Black and Decker??? non-intuitive), setting the pressure for high-pressure use is easy, and safe, given that the compressor stops when it reaches its target (up to 100psi). For about $60, the Black and Decker AirStation is a handy air compressor to keep in your garage or take with you to the snow, pool, or lake -- if you need inflation fast and cordless, it is an excellent choice. A variety of other air compressors are available here.