You love your inflatable paddle board because it’s lightweight and portable, but when it comes to inflating it, you’re still not sure what to use. You’ve heard some SUP buddies of yours recommend an electric pump, but you have some questions.
Electric pumps are a great way to quickly inflate your paddle board. The best pumps have a maximum pressure setting to help prevent over-inflation. Rechargeable pumps can be used when you don’t have power nearby. 12V and 110V pumps are available that can inflate multiple boards before needing to cool down.
In this article, we will describe electric pumps in detail, so you never make an overinflating or underinflating mistake again. We’ll also go step by step, explaining how to inflate your paddle board with one of these pumps. Keep reading, as you won’t want to miss it.
What Is an Electric Pump?
Let’s start by getting you on the same page with what we mean when we refer to an electric pump. This is a type of pump that, as the name tells you, uses a source of electricity to inflate your paddle board. The setup includes a nozzle, a hose, and the pump itself.
Most electric pumps also come with a PSI gauge. This lets you monitor the pressure in pounds per square inch or PSI. Some pumps even allow you to select the PSI you want. Then, when they reach that pressure, they turn off. This prevents underinflating, and, more importantly, overinflating.
While they use different power sources, it’s common for your electric pump to run off a 12-volt plugin. You know, like the one you’d find in your car or truck. You can inflate your SUP board as you arrive at your destination and then get riding faster. Do know you might suck up some car battery if your vehicle isn’t on and you use the 12V plugin.
Does your car not have a 12V plugin? No problem. You can alternately power your electric pump with battery cables that run at 12 volts. It’s a little harder to setup, and you need the proper adapter cords. You may instead want a rechargeable pump like the one in the next paragraph.
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Can You Use an Electric Pump to Inflate a Paddle Board?
As we mentioned in the intro, yes, it’s possible to use an electric pump for inflating your SUP board. In fact, some paddle board brands make electric pumps specifically for inflatable boards. This SereneLife Digital Electric Air Pump Compressor – 110W is an awesome pump that doesn’t require 12V plug, as its rechargeable on standard 110W home power.
What features do these Electric Pumps Have?
- Power Button
- A Digital Gauge
- Pressure up and down buttons to set the right PSI
- Multiple plastic tips for different valves
- Automatic inflation
- The pump will automatically stop when it’s at the set PSI/BAR
- Delation mode: Electrically assists in deflating your board
- 12v plug or rechargeable battery
How to Inflate a Paddle Board with an Electric Pump
Okay, so by now you’re thinking of buying an electric pump for your inflatable SUP board if you haven’t done so already, that is. You just have one other question: how do you inflate your paddle board?
- Step #1: Find the inflation valve on the electric pump. Look for the stem and see whether it’s open or closed. If it’s closed, the stem will point up. You will want to make sure the stem is closed, so if it’s not, apply pressure to the stem with your thumb. Then twist the stem until you feel the spring move upwards. Now you can push air into the paddle board without losing it, as the valve works one way.
- Step #2: If your pump has an inflation meter, make sure this is on the pump’s inflate side. The meter will help you see how full your SUP board is. Connect your pump hose to your inflation meter.
- Step #3: The pump hose has two ends. With the one end on the inflation meter, take the spare end and connect it to the pump’s H3 valve. You may have to do some twisting to secure it. It’ll lock when you have the placement correct.
- Step #4: Plug your electric pump into a source of electricity. (INPUT: DC 12Volt 110W)
- Step #5: Let the electric pump begin inflating your SUP board, but don’t allow it to surpass your chosen PSI. Sometimes the inflation valve can seem almost empty even as the paddle board fills with air and stiffens.
The more you do this, the easier it will become. With time, inflating your paddle board will be second nature. My personal choice, the Outdoor Master Shark (Amazon) has adapters to cover every inflatable imaginable and safety cutoffs to prevent overfilling. This model even has a cooling system to keep it from overheating. Amazon reviewers love that feature. Having burned myself on several small 12V pumps, I understand that appeal.
What Happens If You Underinflate or Overinflate Your Paddle Board?
With many electric pumps allowing you to set your PSI, there’s little risk of you underinflating or overinflating. However, it can happen, especially to beginners who don’t quite understand their electric pumps yet.
Let’s say you didn’t fill your paddle board with enough air. What will happen? Have you ever gone swimming with an inner tube that was underfilled? It feels wobbly and unstable. It’s the same with an underinflated SUP board. You wouldn’t want to stand on a paddle board like that because you could lose your footing and fall into the water.
If you go the opposite direction and fill your paddle board too much, then you’re going to have a different problem. Now your SUP board is stuffed with more air than it can handle. It’s at a much higher risk of popping. If you happen to be standing on the board when this happens, it could lead to injuries.
A paddle board that you inflated correctly should feel firm to the touch but not too hard. If you can push your fingers down on it and the material yields, then the board could use more air.
What do I do if I Don’t Have Electricity to Use the Pump?
Alternately, you can try a top of the range high-pressure, Dual Chamber, Triple action SUP hand pump. This Bay Sports Helios pump, of course, would require more effort than using an electric pump. But way less energy than the traditional single chamber pumps.
The Bay Sports Action SUP Pump (Amazon) offers dual chambers that give you the option of 3 different chamber volumes, so 3 choices of pressure as you’re pumping. Very very Clever.
- Mode 1: Volume in dual action: 7 L
- Mode 2 Volume in single action 2 chambers: 3.5 L
- Mode 3: Volume in single action 1 chamber: 1.75 L
You get an included pressure gauge, so you don’t have to guess the PSI. Remember the gauge on most hand pumps don’t engage till you’re at around 7PSI, as we covered here.
High-pressure hand pumps do have their advantages. You may be able to cut down your inflation time by doing it yourself, but you do have to put a lot of physical effort into the venture. Make sure you don’t exhaust yourself before you even get out on the water on your SUP board!
What you should avoid using is a high-pressure air compressor. You might accidentally end up destroying your SUP board with one of these.
How to Deflate and Store Your Paddle Board
You just came back to the shore after an exciting day spent paddle boarding. Once you towel yourself dry, and your adrenaline comes down, you’ll have to release all the air from your board. While you’re kind of doing the steps above in reverse, we figured we’d cover how to deflate your SUP board anyway.
- Step #1: Find your board’s valve cover. There should be a pin or spring in the valve.
- Step #2: Push the spring or pin aside, so air begins leaking out. Then, press harder on the valve, moving the pin or spring more as you do so. This will set the valve to open.
- Step #3: Wait for the SUP board to deflate fully. You can help it along with your electric pump, but putting the hose onto the deflate nozzle and let the pump suck the air out.
But without the pump, you can helpfully deflate the paddleboard by starting to role it from the nose. But do it slowly and gently and don’t get too forceful, or you could damage the inflatable material.
With your board now completely deflated, you can roll it up completely, strap it up and stash it away for later.
If your paddle board came with its own carrying case or bag, we recommend you use it. This will prevent sun fading and other environmental damage that makes your board look prematurely old. Your inflatable board should fit in the bag, but if it doesn’t, unfurl it and roll it up tighter.
Make sure that you always let the inflatable dry and then roll it up. It should have no salt or grit on it either when you store it away. If it does, the salt could ruin the board. A wet rolled-up paddle board could develop bacteria like mold and mildew. That’s not a very pleasant surprise to come back to the next time you want to go SUP riding.
Can You Leave Your Paddle Board Inflated?
There’s no need to deflate and re-inflate your paddle board each time you want to ride it. That said, you must have the storage space for the board at its full size. You also want to take precautions to keep your SUP board from popping.
Here are some recommended tips:
- Use a paddle board cover to safeguard it.
- Keep the paddle board away from direct sun. The warmth can lead to air expansion and could pop the board.
- Never put your board directly on the ground, as a hard surface could tear the inflatable material.
- Before you ride your paddle board again, add some more air. The board will gradually deflate the longer it’s sitting. This is normal, but it could lead to underinflation.
What is the recommended PSI for inflatable paddle boards?
Inflatable paddle boards are built for durability, but please don’t forget that at the end of the day, they are made of an inflatable material. They don’t need tons of air pressure, or they’ll pop, as we’ve said. Stick within a range of 10 to 15 PSI. Don’t exceed 15 PSI for any reason.
How Long does it take to inflate a Paddle Board?
The time you’ll spend inflating your SUP board is dependent on the pump you have. An electric pump could fill your board within a minute, some even 30 seconds. Others take several minutes. It’s about the same for a hand pump, with eight minutes the average. You can always trim that time down by pumping faster yourself. Read more at The Best Way to Inflate a Paddle Board.
Now that you understand all the options for getting your inflatable paddle board up and ready to go, it’s time to get out there and ride.
Stay safe, and as always, have fun!