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Updated April 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best balloon inflators

Blowing up a few round party balloons or twistable “magic show” balloons by mouth isn’t usually too problematic, but inflating 300 balloons for a decorative arch can be a true respiratory challenge. For this reason, many people turn to a portable electric balloon inflator to create the volume of air-filled balloons required for the project.

A balloon inflator uses forced air and a fitted nozzle to fill latex and other decorative balloons without the risk of hyperventilation. Many models have the power to inflate an average balloon in two seconds or less and continue at that rate almost indefinitely. This is a major help when a project calls for hundreds of identical balloons.

One major plus of an electric balloon inflator is its portability, since filling the balloons on-site is highly recommended. A balloon inflator also allows users to perform other tasks besides inflation, such as sealing, storing, and installing the finished balloons. 

Balloon inflators air pump
The air generated by an electric balloon inflator may be heated, but it shouldn’t be hot enough to cause damage to the balloons.

How to buy the best balloon inflator 

Why consider an electric balloon inflator?

Inflating an occasional twistable or party balloon or two may not warrant investing in an electric balloon inflator, but volume and size are both major considerations. An electric balloon inflator can create hundreds of decorative balloons within a few hours, and it won’t hyperventilate. If a project requires a significant number of air-filled balloons, an electric balloon inflator is a worthwhile investment.

The size of the balloons is also a consideration. Inflating an oversized latex balloon or inflatable toy or air mattress can be quite a challenge by mouth or manual air pump. Having the option of a dedicated balloon inflator is a faster and safer solution. 

Design and construction

Most balloon inflators incorporate powerful electric motors in the 400- to 600-amp range, which should provide enough air pressure to inflate any normally available size or style of latex balloon. There are often several inflation modes to choose from, including manual, semi-automatic, and automatic. The manual or semi-automatic modes allow users to attach a balloon to the nozzle and push a button to control the discharge of air. 

An automatic mode creates a continuous flow of air, allowing users to place balloons over the nozzles for inflation without a pause in the action. This mode is a popular option when hundreds of balloons need to be filled for a decorative arch or pathway. 

The casing of most balloon inflators is made from heavy-duty plastic, although some higher-end models may incorporate metal for improved durability. 

Ease of use

One strong selling point of a balloon inflator is its portability. Most models weigh three pounds or less and incorporate a generous carrying handle. It’s a much easier tool to transport from location to location than a standard air compressor, and it doesn’t require lengths of tubing or other accessories to function. Everything is stored on board, from nozzles to controllers.

The balloon inflation process should also be intuitive for users of all ages. The amount of air pressure generated by the pump should be high enough to inflate balloons of any size and design, but not so powerful that overinflation is a constant concern — users should feel they’re in control from start to finish. If you travel to set up events, or you'd like to enlist the kids to help create a festive finish line for a field day race, a balloon inflator is easy and practical to use.

Noise level

Electric balloon inflators fall into the same general category as air compressors and air pumps, which means noise generation is a factor to consider. Many balloon inflators, especially in automatic or continuous mode, are louder than expected. Some manufacturers have addressed this noise issue better than others, so reading customer reviews on a particular model can be very helpful. Some users may not find the noise level too objectionable, or they can set up operations in a more isolated area. 

1-Best balloon inflator pedal
Did You Know?
Some balloon inflator models incorporate a foot-powered controller to improve the efficiency of the balloon inflating process.
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What features do balloon inflators have? 

Nozzle tip options

Different latex or foil balloons have different valve stem sizes, and many balloon inflators include nozzle tips that provide an ideal fit for each design. Even a single-nozzle balloon inflator may include nozzle tips for larger round balloons and smaller twistable balloons. The spare nozzle tips nest on additional nozzles on the base, ready to be changed out when necessary. When choosing a particular model, users should consider the availability of replacement nozzle tips or custom nozzle tips for specialty balloons.

Controllers

There are several ways the flow of air can be controlled on an electric balloon inflator. Many entry-level to mid-range models offer a button that releases air when depressed, or starts and stops a continuous mode. 

Others include a foot pedal that starts and stops the inflation process electronically or manually. This is a good option for larger operations since the user has both hands free to set up, inflate, and seal the balloons without stopping. It also allows users to inflate balloons to a specific size by using calipers.

There are also balloon inflators with flexible nozzle tips that open or close with finger pressure. Pushing the nozzle in one direction starts the inflation process, and letting it go seals off the air. This is similar to the technique used to inflate balloons with an air or helium tank.

Accessories

Some balloon inflators arrive with a set of latex balloons included, along with plastic sealers or clips. There’s also special tubing available to extend the range of a balloon inflator to inflate other products, such as pool inflatables, air mattresses, and sports balls, but not every balloon inflator is designed for those purposes. 

Most balloon inflators feature child-friendly colors and designs because they play such a prominent role during birthday parties and other festive events.

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How much do balloon inflators cost?

Inexpensive

The least expensive electric balloon inflators are in the $15 to $25 range and usually offer one or two nozzles that accommodate standard round or twistable latex balloons. There may be no automatic or continuous setting available for models at this price point.

Mid-range

Balloon inflators for large-scale decorative projects such as balloon arches or receptions tend to cost between $25 and $45, depending on the size of the motor and the number of available nozzles. For those whose air-filled balloon needs are more than occasional, this is the best price and feature range to consider. Models with foot pedal controls and multiple nozzle options are usually found here.

Expensive

For professional decorators or entertainers, high-volume balloon inflators are available for $50 or more. These models can also be modified to inflate other products, such as inflatable toys, air mattresses, and rafts. The air pressure can also be adjusted to avoid overinflation of twistable latex balloons, and some models accept helium tanks as well as forced air.

2-Best balloon inflators
Did You Know?
Many balloon inflators include an automatic setting that provides a continuous flow of air for large-scale projects.
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Tips

  • Consider setting up an assembly line for large-scale projects. One person can operate the balloon inflator, another can seal the finished balloons, and a third person can store them. 
  • Anticipate breakage and loss when ordering balloons. Some latex balloons, especially less expensive brands, may not survive the inflation process or may be overinflated. Investing in replacement balloons is always a good idea, especially for larger projects. 
  • Use the proper nozzle for each balloon size and style. Many balloon inflators offer a range of nozzle sizes for different types of balloons, so if attaching the balloon and inflating it is challenging, try using another nozzle.
  • Create calipers to maintain uniform balloon sizes. If the filled balloons need to be uniform in size, create a set of calipers in a fixed position to measure each balloon as it inflates. Adjust the calipers for each size of balloon required for the project.
image-2-balloon inflators-manual
Electric balloon inflators are especially useful for inflating oversized balloons in the 24- to 36-inch range when manual inflation would be impractical.

FAQ

Q. Can I use a balloon inflator to inflate an air mattress or pool toy?

A. Most balloon inflators aren’t designed to fill large inflatable products such as air mattresses, beach balls, or rubber rafts. The nozzles aren’t always compatible with the valve stems, and the base isn’t oriented correctly for the job at hand. A manual or electric air pump or compressor is a better option.

Q. Do all balloon inflators work with the long, thin “magic” balloons party clowns use?

A. You may have to experiment with several balloon inflator models to determine the best one for your specific needs. Some balloon inflators work well with all sizes and shapes of latex balloons, but others can be too powerful for the long, thin balloons used to create toy animals. Some balloon shapes only require partial inflation, so a manual hand pump may be a more workable solution.

Q. How many balloons can a balloon inflator fill in one session?

A. Many balloon inflators can completely fill one round latex balloon in less than two seconds. At that rate, two people using a dual nozzle balloon inflator could produce hundreds of filled balloons in less than an hour. Because a balloon inflator is powered by an electric motor, however, there may be some downtime required to avoid overheating.

Q. Can I inflate foil (Mylar) balloons with a balloon inflator?

A. You may need a special adapter to fit the valve stem, but many balloon inflators can inflate Mylar balloons. However, unless the inflator is designed to dispense helium as well as air, the finished balloons won’t float. Many Mylar balloons require a special heat sealer as well.
 

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