Which airbed is best?
Inflatable mattresses can be lifesavers when faced with unexpected overnight guests or a child’s slumber party. However, some airbeds require manual inflation, and that can take a while to accomplish.
The ideal solution is to invest in an airbed with its own built-in pump, which reduces the prep time to five minutes or less, and no one has to hyperventilate. The built-in pump not only makes inflation and deflation much easier, but some models can automatically maintain a selected level of firmness all night long.
If you are in the market for an airbed with a built-in pump, read our helpful buying guide, which includes a few recommendations at the end. Our top pick is the Etekcity Upgraded Twin-Size Inflatable Airbed, a model that puts an emphasis on stability, support, and comfort. If you’ve had difficulties with airbeds that slide on flooring or have a noticeable sag, this is definitely one to consider.
Considerations when choosing an airbed with a built-in pump
Airbeds tend to follow standard mattress sizes, from twin to California king, so it should be relatively easy to order one that matches your preferences. Some of the smaller sizes, however, may not have the length a taller adult requires. Standard bed linens should pair up with equivalent airbeds but fitted sheets with deeper pockets are often easier to secure.
The height of an airbed is also an important consideration, especially with adult users. Some basic air mattresses only sit a few inches above the ground after inflation, which makes them very challenging to enter and exit. Higher-end airbeds with built-in pumps tend to match the height of a standard mattress, box spring and frame, generally around 19 to 22 inches above the floor. This height makes it much easier for users to climb on and off the mattress, plus add accessories like a nightstand.
User comfort is an important consideration for airbed manufacturers, so many of them mimic the best design elements of standard coil or memory foam mattresses. Some air mattresses have coil-shaped cells that absorb the user’s weight evenly and provide support in critical locations. Others add a top layer of soft memory foam that regulates the temperature of the mattress and also adjusts for the natural highs and lows of the user’s body.
Flocking is also a common design feature with airbeds at any price point. Flocking involves adding a layer of durable but soft material to the top of the mattress. This flocking provides additional grip for bottom sheets and also protects the user from the uncomfortable vinyl beneath the surface. Additional elements such as a mattress topper can also be added for even more user comfort.
Ease of use
Preparing an airbed with a built-in pump shouldn’t be a major undertaking, as long as it is properly folded and stored between uses. Once a suitable location has been found, the built-in pump should do most of the heavy lifting within a few minutes. If any leaks or tears are discovered, they should be easily repaired with a vinyl repair kit. Some brands include these repair kits in the original packaging, but they can also be purchased separately.
Some users may not care for the firmness level of a fully inflated airbed. Some models include pressure sensors that allow users to adjust the firmness of the mattress. Others sense any loss of air during the night and signal the pump to add air as required.
Deflation should also be a straightforward process, and many airbeds promote their faster deflation speeds. The built-in air pump might play a role in the deflation process, or the user may have to provide some manual assistance. It then becomes a matter of folding the mattress as compactly as possible and storing it away. Weight might be a consideration, especially with the larger mattress sizes.
Airbed with built-in pump price
The least-expensive airbeds with electric built-in air pumps can be found on store shelves in the $20-$50 range, but height can be an issue. Models with design features such as flocking, air coils and firmness controls cost between $50-$80 on average. High-end airbeds that could replace standard mattresses for users on a budget will retail between $80-$150 in more specialized bedding outlets.
Airbed with built-in pump FAQ
Q. Can I use standard bed sheets on an airbed with a built-in pump?
A. In many cases, the dimensions of an elevated airbed match the dimensions of a standard bed sheet, but this isn’t universal. You may have difficulty with fitted sheets, but the rest of the sheet set should fit perfectly. The pump and air valve should not interfere with the placement of bed linens and blankets.
Q. How long does it usually take for an airbed with a pump to fully inflate?
A. It depends on the model’s size and design, but most airbeds will inflate to full capacity in three minutes or less. You shouldn’t have to prepare a guest’s airbed hours in advance. Some airbeds with built-in pumps can deflate just as quickly with a motor assist.
Airbeds with built-in pump we recommend
Best of the best
Our take: This twin-size air mattress is ideal for those who seek stability and comfort from a temporary bed.
What we like: Fully inflates in three to five minutes. The mattress is waterproof and skid-resistant, good for slick flooring. Deflates to the size of a small suitcase.
What we dislike: Mattress surfaces can generate noise during movements.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Best bang for your buck
Our take: This economically priced air mattress is great for occasional overnight guests or improved camping sites with electrical hookups.
What we like: Affordable price point, good for emergency bedding. The inflation level can be adjusted. The flocked top holds bedding in place. Includes two-year warranty.
What we dislike: Durability can be an issue if used frequently. Slow leaks and unexpected pops have been reported.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: Ideal for those who seek extra-firm support other air mattresses may lack.
What we like: Multiple sizes available. Good back and neck support. Designed with “coils” for improved comfort. Inflates in less than two minutes. Separate inflation and deflation valves.
What we dislike: Expensive price point. Mattress size smaller than expected.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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