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Tow Behind Air Compressors vs Truck Mounted Air Compressors

Published Categorized as Notebook, Types of Air Compressor 4 Comments on Tow Behind Air Compressors vs Truck Mounted Air Compressors

Tow behind air compressors came into real fruition not long after World War II. They satisfied a great need of being able to have compressed air available wherever you need it!

This article will provide you with all the relevant information on the tow behind air compressors, as well as compare them against the more modern truck-mounted air compressors.

Table of Contents

What is a Tow Behind Air Compressor?

A tow behind an air compressor is exactly what it says it is, an air compressor that you attach to the back of a vehicle and tow, to get compressed air wherever you require it.

Tow Behind Air Compressors vs Truck Mounted Air Compressors

When they were first created, they were initially exceptionally popular in the mind industry to allow minors to power rock drills. Not long after that, they were adapted and found in a wide array of industries like construction sites hence their nickname portable construction air compressors.

Who Manufacturers Tow Behind Air Compressors?

Some of the most popular and reputable manufacturers of tow-behind air compressors include:

In purchasing a tow-behind air compressor, it’s important to seek out a reputable brand that is known for quality and reliability like the brands listed above. Click the brand name to be redirected to their brand page which provides you with more information, manuals, and existing problems and fixes.

We also have a couple of model-specific tow-behind air compressor pages on our site that might be of interest to you:

Where Can I Get Tow Behind Air Compressors?

Where to Purchase New Tow Behind Air Compressors

If you’re looking to purchase a new tow-behind air compressor, a few of the best places to look other than visiting the manufacturers directly, are the following websites:

And, you may even get lucky and find one on Amazon!

Where to Purchase Used Tow Behind Air Compressors

One of the first places people look for used tow-behind air compressors for sale is eBay or Gumtree, and don’t get me wrong, you might hit the jackpot. But, there are better places out there you can look. I will recommend the following two who have an abundance of tow-behind air compressors on their site:

Clicking either will take you directly to the search results. There are many more websites alike available so, make use of your search engines and find a used tow-behind air compressor for sale near you!

Tow Behind Air Compressors for Rent

I have picked out a couple of places where you can rent tow-behind air compressors in the U.S. Please conduct your own research on Google to find the ones closest to you, these are just examples!

Herc Rentals

Herc Rentals
27500 Riverview Center Blvd,
Ste 100, Bonita Springs
FL 34134

W: https://www.hercrentals.com/us/rentals/air-compressors-tools/air-compressors/tow-behind-portable-air.html

When you enter their site you will be asked to enter your zip code, after this, they will provide you with an estimated total rental rate! Herc Rentals also has a store in the Carson, South Bay region of Los Angeles!

Herc Rentals
22422 Alameda St,
Carson, CA

Compressed Air Equipment

Compressed air equipment has an impressive fleet of tow-behind compressors that range from 185 CFM to 1800 CFM. They offer services in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, and the best way to contact them is by filling out their form on the link below, or ringing them!

W: https://www.compressedairequip.com/air-compressor-rentals/
T: 856-218-1600

Arapahoe Rental

Arapahoe is another company that offers tow-behind compressor rentals in several areas, including Littleton, Englewood, Windsor, Lakewood, and more. As soon as you visit their site via the link below, you will be asked to choose your location to provide you with accurate pricing.

W: https://arapahoerental.com/equipment-rentals-product/air-compressor-185-cfm/2636

Tow Behind Air Compressors vs Truck Mounted Air Compressors – Which is Better?

In recent years, pneumatic technology has evolved significantly, and now, the limitations of tow-behind air compressors have become apparent, and people tend to opt for truck-mounted air compressors instead. Why? Workers who need compressed air have far better options which make a lot more sense than a tow behind air compressors. Some of the reasons people opt for other compressors include:

  • Compressed Air Availability
  • Fewer safety checks
  • Freeing up the hitch
  • Greater efficiency
  • Parking issues
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Savings
  • Site Accessibility

Now let’s look at each of these points in greater detail!

Compressed Air Availability

The problem with tow-behind air compressors is that they must always be attached for you to have compressed air at hand, meaning you must actively plan every trip to ensure you bring the tow behind the compressor if you need compressed air.

Truck-mounted compressors are going to offer you compressed air wherever you go, without the need to put any thought or planning into it.

Fewer Safety Checks

The compressors in tow behind compressors themselves require maintenance, but think about the hitch, the taillights, and the tires on them too. Speeds must be reduced when towing anything due to braking distances, so you’re losing time going from place to place.

Thieves target tow-behind compressors as they are easy to steal compared to other types, so there’s another concern that could immediately be erased should you invest in a truck-mounted compressor. Truck-mounted compressors are significantly harder to steal, they erase the need to abide by all the trailer-related restrictions and regulations and generally require fewer safety checks.

Freeing Up the Hitch

A great benefit of ditching the tow-behind air compressor is that you free up your vehicle’s hitch for other pieces of equipment! A lot of companies like to tow a trailer of all their tools to the site, so usually this would’ve taken two trucks, but with a mounted air compressor, you could tow your tools trailer as well all with one vehicle!

If you don’t have two trucks, and you’re required to make the trip twice to get your job’s equipment over then you’re really wasting valuable time. A great example of the potential improved productivity is asphalt crack sealing. A truck-mounted air compressor can blow the dirt out of the cracks as the hitch pulls the asphalt applicator right behind.

Greater Efficiency

Time, as you know it, is money. The greater your efficiency and the sooner you finish your work, the more money you save or make. Tow behind compressors can take a while to set up and begin using. In contrast, truck-mounted air compressors may be as easy as flipping the switch on and grabbing your tool!

Parking Issues

The problem with tow-behind compressors is their maneuverability, the difficulty of reversing them without jack-knifing and trying to locate the best spot to place them can often become very frustrating for the vehicle driver.

Vehicle-mounted compressors offer you a vast amount of freedom in comparison. You’re no longer restricted to certain spaces and can simply park up wherever you like and use compressed air.

Reduced Maintenance

Aligned with the fewer safety checks comes the need for less maintenance with respect to the power sources. Tow-behind air compressors need maintenance on not only the compressor but also the truck towing them. In comparison, truck-mounted compressors typically are powered by the engine of the truck, and thus, you only need to maintain the vehicle.

Not just gas and diesel engines, but transmissions and PTOs that run hydraulics can all be utilized to power a mounted air compressor. Some may require a separate engine, but in most cases, the modern innovation on these compressors has focused on powering the compressor from existing power sources on the vehicle.


When the compressor is mounted to and powered by the vehicle, you only need to purchase fuel for the vehicle to keep both the truck and compressor working. Tow behind compressors are significantly heavier than mounted ones, so, the truck will burn more fuel with the additional weight.

Site Accessibility

Tow-behind compressors can hinder your access to essential job sites due to their clunky size and difficulty to maneuver. Mounted compressors are far more suitable for remote and off-road locations where the vehicles may have to face difficult terrains.

So, to wrap it all up, there are far better options available than tow-behind air compressors. With modern-day technology and innovations, you really should capitalize on mobile compressed air units that free up space, reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, and provide more efficient work.

You should purchase equipment that helps you get your jobs done quicker, easier, and safer. Tow behind compressors is acceptable for a lot of work, but as you can see, they come with a fair number of downsides. If you can, I would recommend upgrading to a modern mobile compressed air solution.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How much does it cost to rent a towable air compressor?

Renting a towable air compressor will typically cost around $200 a day, but you may be able to find one for cheaper than that with good research. Depending on how long you require the tow-behind air compressor for, and how frequently, you may be better off, in the long run, purchasing a new or used one.

What is the size of a 185 cfm towable air compressor?

This will depend on the make and model of the towable air compressor. As an example, an Ingersoll Rand P185WJD has a W x H x L of 68.5mm x 66mm x 137.6mm!

How to get parts for towable gasoline Ingersoll rand air compressor?

The best bet is to first check the user’s manual to see if there is any information in there, if not, I recommend contacting Ingersoll rand directly and seeking their advice!

Tow-Behind Air Compressors Troubleshooting, Problems & Fixes

The owners of these tow-behind air compressors can have a lot of issues with them. Often long-used, ill-used, through inclement weather and inhospitable conditions.

There are a variety of forums on this site relating to the “specific brand” of tow behind, portable air compressors.

You can find a specific forum about that particular brand of tow behind air compressors, linked from this page.

This page is a venue for those using portable types of construction compressors that have no other page on this site to ask questions about that brand. The form for asking a question is at the bottom of this page.

Thanks to all of you who post questions, and to the very kind folks that take a minute to offer advice about a compressor problem by adding a comment to that specific post. We all appreciate it.

Do you by any chance have any construction compressor manuals in digital format? If so, please contact me and I’ll arrange to put it up here for all to download.

Existing questions and answers about various brands of tow behind air compressors:

If you have any questions regarding tow-behind air compressors, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Bill Wade

About Air Compressors has been helping folks with their Air Compressor Problems since 2002 online. We're a community of DIY and Compressed Air professionals who are keen to support everyone across the globe with their air compressor issues and troubleshooting. Whether you're trying to identify an old air compressor, or troubleshoot an error code on a sophisticated new industrial air compressor - the community at About-Air-Compressors.com is here to help you

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