Smittybilt 2781 5.65 CFM Air Compressor Review

12v Smittybilt 5.65 CFM Air Compressor Review

The Ultimate Overland Compressor? Here is Everything To Know About the 12v Smittybilt 2781 5.65 CFM Air Compressor – Full Review & Overview

Everything you need to know about the Smittybilt off-road air compressor (60% Duty Cycle – 40min on 20min off)

Having a universal air compressor to air up your tires at the end of the day is pretty nice. After a long day on the trail, you have a couple of options for airing up your tires.

You can drive to the local gas station and drop a few bucks on the air compressor or borrow your buddy’s compressor. Although California offers free air and water now, some gas stations still make you pay for it and hopefully, your buddy won’t charge you.

Airing up Challenges

Airing up at the gas station can be a pain sometimes, especially if they’re a few people in line, waiting for the air or water. Waiting to get compressor coins, waiting for people to finish with the compressor or rolling up to a gas station with a broken air compressor are all things that really bug me. I have run into these situations a few times, so I decided to grab a 12v Smittybilt 5.65 CFM Air Compressor.

I had plenty of choices out there to choose from, though.

A few choices to consider

My first choice was the 6.16CFM dual ARB air compressor, but sitting at almost $550, it is a bit pricey for an off-road compressor compared the other options below at less than $200.

It really depends on how much you wheel and if you can justify the cost, but god damn, the dual ARB is a nice compressor. The 6.16CFM ARB compressor is the highest CFM-rated air compressor among all 12V compressors.

Owners usually mount the 6.16CFM dual ARB air compressor as an onboard air/ permanent solution. Good news for the Smittybilt 2781, it can be run as an onboard air solution as well. If you are looking for an affordable onboard air/ permanent solution, the Smittybilt 2781 will also work for you.

At the end of the day, I compared the following affordable options. I was deciding between the VIAIR 300P, VIAIR 400P, the ARB (CKMP12), and the Smittybilt 5.65 CFM Air Compressor.

I started by looking at the CFM (cubic feet per minute)

CFM is basically how much air the fan in the compressor can move. Most compressors are rated by the CFM which is the volume of air a compressor can deliver at specific PSI levels.

All of these kits include a compressor, plenty of air hose, battery clips for power, a case, and all the necessary fittings to inflate tires as well as the miscellaneous camping gear.

The ARB (CKMP12) is the only air compressor that does not come with a pressure gauge. But, ARB is the only compressor that comes with a durable hard carry case. This is a cool feature of the portable ARB compressor but you can easily buy a hard case for any of the other compressors.

Both the VIAIR compressors and the Smittybilt compressor come with basic carrying bags. The VIAIR 400p is the only one in this lineup that has an air gun with a trigger (you just turn the other ones on).

VIAIR 300P Vs. VIAIR 400P Vs. ARB Vs. Smittybilt

VIAIR 300P Vs. VIAIR 400P Vs. ARB Vs. Smittybilt

Below are some of the key features of each compressor that went into the decision to buy the Smittybilt 2781. One of the most important features would be CFM and then we look at the duty cycle.

The duty cycle is the length of time an air compressor can be operated in a one hour period. The Smittybilt has the best duty cycle of them all. The VIAIR duty cycle is pretty weak on these models but it really depends on your budget.

VIAIR 300P: 2.4CFM at 0 PSI

  • Maximum continuous cycle time (25% duty cycle) – 10 minutes at 100 psi at 72 degrees Fahrenheit (Run for 10min, and let it sit for 30min).
  • (LPM) Liters per minute: 67.9
  • Max Current Draw under load: 28 Amps
  • Size (inches): 9.80L x 4.90W x 7.50H
  • Built-in Pressure Off Switch
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • 1-year warranty

VIAIR 400P: 2.54CFM at 0 PSI

  • Maximum continuous cycle time (25% duty cycle) – 10 minutes at 100 psi at 72 degrees Fahrenheit (Run for 10min, and let it sit for 30min).
  • (LPM) Liters per minute: 71.9
  • Max Current Draw under load: 30 Amps
  • Size (inches): 11.25L x 4.00W x 7.00H
  • Built-in Pressure Off Switch
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • 1-year warranty

ARB (CKMP12): 2.65 CFM at 0 PSI

  • Maximum continuous cycle time (50% duty cycle) – 30 minutes at 29 psi at 72 degrees Fahrenheit (Run for 30min, and let it sit for 30min).
  • (LPM) Liters per minute: 87.2
  • Max Current Draw under load: 32 Amps
  • Size (inches): 8.5W x 9.7H x 17.5L
  • Pressure Cutout Switch
  • Weight: 14.5lbs
  • 2-year warranty

Smittybilt 2781: 5.65 CFM at 0 PSI

  • Maximum continuous cycle time (60% duty cycle) – 40 minutes at 40 psi at 75 degrees Fahrenheit (Run for 40min, and let it sit for 20min).
  • (LPM) Liters per minute: 159.99
  • Max Current Draw under load: 45 Amps
  • Size (inches): 16.1L x 11.4H x 10.8W
  • Auto-thermal cutoff switch
  • Weight: 20lbs
  • 1-year warranty
  • Smittybilt 2781: 5.65 CFM at 0 PSI (Amazon) – Check Price
  • Smittybilt 2781: 5.65 CFM at 0 PSI (4WheelParts) – Check Price

Smittybilt 2781 Off-Road Tire/ Universal Compressor Overview

Smittybilt 2781 Off-Road Tire Universal Compressor Overview

The Smittybilt 2781 is a much better Off-Road tire air compressor than the smaller model; the Smittybilt 2780. Smittybilt 2780 is rated at 2.54 CFM while the Smittybilt 2781 is rated at 5.65 CFM. If you are looking for a solid off-road tire compressor, go with the Smittybilt 2781, which is the compressor we are talking about here.

This compressor ships easily ready to use out of the box. It comes with everything you need to throw in the back of your 4Runner and air up your tires at the end of the day. With this compressor, you can also air up most of your camping accessories.

But, this compressor does not have the CFM/LPM output to run air tools or re-bead a tire. If you are looking for something with a little more power, you may want to consider a CO2 system. With a CO2 system, you can fill tires ultra fast, run lockers, use your air tools and re-bead a tire, no problem.

In the box, you will get the compressor, a 24′ coil air hose (enough to run to both rear tires from the front without moving the compressor), 10′ power cables, 150PSI pressure gauge, and a few attachment accessories.

The compressor also features, an easy-twist screw-on brass inflator top, a cleanable air filter, anti-vibration rubber base, and the storage bag. You can use this as a portable compressor or an onboard air solution as it comes with an option to be hard-wired.

Proprietary Fittings

Smittybilt Air Compressor Proprietary Fittings

The only issue with the Smittybilt air compressor is the proprietary fittings. The male and female fittings all the way around this air compressor are equipped with Smittybilts fittings that are not compatible with common air fittings.

If you want to hook up a 4-way tire inflation/ deflation system or use an ARB tire inflator, or any other air accessory, you still can. Instead of using the proprietary fittings, you can just grab a set of standard air fittings from Harbor Freight, Amazon or even Home Depot and then swap them out.

Smittybilt Air Accessories

Smittybilt Air Accessories

The kit comes with an inflation needle, and two additional rubber tips for airing up your miscellaneous camping gear and accessories. The sizes provided should be large enough to blow up a standard air mattress with a smaller inlet. If you have an air mattress with the 1/2″ or 1″ inlet, you will need a larger fitting.

Anti-vibration rubber feet – base

Anti-vibration rubber base

Some air compressors don’t come with an anti-vibration pad. When these air compressors are on, they will dig their way into the dirt, sand or gravel you place them on. Having a good anti-vibration pad on your compressor will alleviate some of the common headaches that come with cheaper compressors.

How to use the Smittybilt Compressor?

USE GLOVES – This compressor as with many 12v and 24v portable air compressors get extremely hot. The fittings will get incredibly hot, and they will burn your hand.

This is not a generic disclaimer, these compressors get VERY hot. You usually want to set your compressor at the front of your 4Runner, that way your 24′ air hose can reach back to the rear tires.

In another post, we will go over adding new fittings to this compressor. The compressor does perform quite well as is, it would just be nice to add an ARB inflator gauge inline.

Compressor to Air Hose

Connect Compressor to Air Hose

Air Hose to Pressure Gauge

Connect Air Hose to Pressure Gauge

Battery Clamps to Battery Terminals

Connect Battery Clamps to Battery Terminals

Compressor Inflator to tire (Pressure Gauage to Tire)

Connect Compressor Inflator to tire

Typically, you want to place your air compressor at the front-end of your 4Runner, so you can leave it one place. From there, you can run your air hose to each tire without moving the compressor. For the sake of the post, I wanted to keep it all in one shot.

Turn on the Compressor

Turn on the Compressor

After your power is connected to your battery, and your pressure gauge is threaded onto your tire, you are ready to turn the compressor on.

Turn the compressor on and let it run for about 1-2 minutes depending on the size of your tire.

To get a reading on the pressure gauge, just shut off the Smittybilt and the pressure gauge will give you an accurate number (well close to accurate).

10PSI to 35PSI on a 35″ Tire?

Turn off the Compressor and check Tire Pressure

This compressor is rated to fill a 35″ tire from 10PSI to 35PSI in 2 minutes. I was impressed by hearing this initially because I have used other VIAIR compressors before and they took much longer (5 minutes+) to air up a 34″ tire to 35PSI from about 18PSI.

I aired down to 10PSI and tested on the 285/75R17 (33.8″) Toyos

10PSI after 2 minutes

After 2 minutes, I shut off the compressor and the Smittybilt gave me a reading of 39PSI. I checked with the ARB Deflator to double check and the ARB was showing 37PSI. It was was pretty damn close and it is possible that I lost a pound of air while threading off the Smittybilt.

10PSI after 1.30 minutes

After a minute and a half, I shut off the compressor and it showed 32PSI. Again, I double checked with the ARB Deflator and it displayed 30PSI. I will run a few more tests soon.

I am impressed with Smittybilt so far. This is a pretty fast little air compressor compared to the smaller Viair compressors.

So far, the product works as advertised with ft lb here or there. With the Smittybilt, you can’t complain about much other than the proprietary fittings.

Replacing the proprietary fittings

Smittybilt Proprietary Fittings

To make the Smittybilt a little more universal, I replaced all the fitting with standard air fittings. Now that the standard fittings are on, we can use the ARB inflator with our MORRflate 4-way tire deflation/inflation system and it also makes it easier to use on other applications.

Grab the following to replace the fittings

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anthony hitchings
anthony hitchings
4 years ago

not fair to compare the 2781 against the little competition units, you should have used the #2780 from SMittybilt

4 years ago

Any advice on converting this to a cigarette lighter plug or hardwiring it? I want to keep it under the back seat of my tundra. Thanks for the help!

4 years ago

You cannot compare the duty cycles at drastically different PSI. The Viair’s at 100 psi are working much harder than the 40psi you noted on the 2781.

4 years ago

I just got the Smittybilt air compressor model # 2718 am looking forward to using it while out wheeling with my
FJ Cruiser. You review of the 2781 was very good and detailed but, after reading the user’s manual and reading other reviews, I still cannot find out how to change the air filter.The manual states the air filter needs to be cleaned and washed periodically with soap and warm water.It also states, the air filter for the model# 2781 is under the chrome cap. It does not explain how to remove the chrome cap. I tried lifting it off, unscrewing it but, there is nothing to grip onto and I am afraid if I pull or twist too hard it will break. I love Smittybilt products but it is hard to believe that they sell an air compressor but fail to explain how to remove, check, clean and/or replace it. I have looked everywhere on the internet and the owners manual is just a very minimum very basic information. If you or anybody else on this board has the information to replace the air cleaner I would be very grateful.
Thanks in advance, Kevin

mark s cocco
mark s cocco
4 years ago

ok is this dumb or just me. you have to turn the compressor off to get a psi reading? the gauge is at the end of the hose screwed onto the tire. so you have to go from the tire, back up to the compressor, turn it off, walk back to the tire, look at the gauge, then walk back to the compressor to turn it on again…

Victor Avendano
Victor Avendano
4 years ago

So.i switched out the connectors to standard 1/4″ connectors and the pressure switch keeps popping. Is that normal? I would imagine it can shorten the life of the pressure switch. Incidentally i switched back to the open style connectors for now.

Scott Makrauer
Scott Makrauer
4 years ago

How will this do to fill my Monroe air schocks. I need to bring them up to 140 -150 psi when the weight of my 25’camper is connected to the trailer

Bill Retherford
Bill Retherford
5 years ago

Great info!! Thank you!!

6 years ago

They had a reason to go to the Japanese style JIS fittings, that is to discourage the installation of a closed style chuck. this compressor does not have a pressure switch and will over heat if you rely on the safety valve to blow off when you are using a closed chuck. I have mine hooked up to a 2.5 gallon tank and running a pressure switch. 90/120. it does ok but i know this compressor isnt really built for the high demands of tank filling, but it does fill the tank to 120 in about a minute. It’s happies when just filling low pressure tires.

2 years ago
Reply to  xj4play

Is it easy to get at the switch on this compressor to install the pressure switch from the tank? I’m looking at installing this in my ram for airing back up as well as for my airbags

6 years ago

I certainly like this compressor. It has been a champ and I haven’t noticed a need for glove use on the fittings but avoid the compressor heat fins but then I have smaller tires and likely not using as long. Only concern has been the air pressure gauge lately can leak at times. I found your review to be very consistent with my experience. thank you

6 years ago

Looks like it was the way the Google search results came up too.

6 years ago

Great post and review! You definitely talked me out the more expensive ARB.

In doing some more research the one you review is $93 approximately and a very similar model with the same model number 2781 for $165 approximately.

What I noticed is the one you review, for $93, is 72 LPM and the $165 is 160 LPM. LPM meaning liters per minute. Is this the rate at which is can fill a tire?

What’s your interpretation on LPM?

6 years ago
Reply to  Brenan Greene

Ty for the quick and very detailed response!

I see now that the 2780 I was looking at online did not have the model number in the description or on the site it was being sold on.

For $165, that’s still a great price though!

Thanks again for the deets!

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