What is the Best Airbed Pump? Built-in vs External


woman lying on a built-in airbed pump model

An airbed pump is arguably the most important accessory when it comes to inflatable mattresses. Just like their name suggests, these items get your mattresses inflated and deflated on a whim.

Types of Air Mattress Pumps

There are two main types of inflatable mattresses with respect to their pumps. Knowing what each entails will help you decide the most sensible option for your needs at any point in time.

Built-in Pumps

photograph of the instabed inflatable mattress with built-in pump
Some mattresses come with pumps engineered internally into them so they can be blown up and down with ease.

In recent time, these models have become the most popular type on the market. While the earliest air mattresses featured external pumps, built-in pumps have become widely accepted.

They are manufactured with some of the most innovative technologies available in the industry and are definitely here to stay.

Like every product on the market, there are both advantages and disadvantages to choosing this type. Knowing a few of them can arm you with the necessary information to choose the right one for your needs during shopping.

Advantages of A Built-In Airbed Pump

Let’s explore the advantages of these types of inflatable mattress pumps to know whether they are a good fit for you.


One of the perks of owning a built-in inflatable mattress pump is the superior levels of convenience. Most of us hate having to struggle with anything, especially after a hard day’s work when you need a restful sleep.

Internal automated pumps offer the easiest way to inflate and deflate air mattresses.

Your bed will be fully inflated and ready for sleeping in no time.

The knowledge that you can get your bed blown up with little effort alone is worth choosing these types of air pumps.


image showing a typical built-in airbed pump
Need to take a quick nap after a hard day’s work? Or have guests on their way to your home? The ability to blow up your bed quickly is always a blessing.

The latest built-in airbed pumps come with One-Click buttons which can be easily tapped for full inflation and/or deflation. The auto-stop feature found in sophisticated models automatically switches off the pump upon full inflation/deflation of a mattress.

This innovative functionality means you don’t have to watch over your air mattress while it is blowing up or down. You can just click on the Inflate or Deflate button and get on with other stuff.

Custom Comfort Levels

As individuals, we all have different tastes and preferences. If you want the best level of comfort without hassle, an integrated pump air mattress could be a great addition.

Some of these airbed models come with custom controls which allow you to choose your desired firmness. Have a preference for a soft sleeping surface or used to sleeping on a medium/hard surface? You get the flexibility to sleep however you want.

Getting your preferred comfort level from an external pump mattress is next to impossible. You’d have to inflate your mattress to different levels of firmness and continue monitoring in order to come close to what you really want.

While this can be achieved, the level of effort you may have to put in might not be worth your while.

Never Lose Your Pump

Buying an airbed with built-in pump is an option for those who are tired of losing their pumps. This can be a nightmare when you have guests a few minutes away from your home or going camping.

Since these pumps are already integrated into your mattress, misplacing them is out of the question. The only way this happens is when you lose the whole mattress.

With one of these models, your days of combing the garage and whole house for your missing pump are over.

Little or No Leakage

High-end models from SoundAsleep, AeroBed, and Instabed usually come with leakage-free capabilities. Thanks to the structure and design of the internal valves, you won’t be waking up to a flat bed anytime soon.


These types of pumps don’t come without a few drawbacks. Let us take a look into them to decide whether they are worth your time and money.

SPOILER ALERT: Click here to see the best luxurious built-in pump inflatable mattresses available for sale today.

More Expensive

The best air mattresses with built-in pumps are usually more expensive than their external pump rivals.

If you want one of these, you should be prepared to pay more for the extra convenience and wonderful features.

External pump mattresses may be the best option for consumers with limited budgets.

Complicated Pump Problems

By the nature of their design, built-in pumps can be harder to deal with when problems start popping up. You can’t just log onto Amazon.com to order a replacement pump when you notice some problems.

Airbeds with External Pumps

an external AC pump is pictured here
External airbed pump models are the oldest type on the market. These models have been around since the very beginning of the inflatable mattress revolution.

External pumps come in 3 main types: Battery-powered, Vehicle-powered, and Manual operated.

Whichever option you choose to go with, there are lots of advantages you stand to gain.

Advantages of External Airbed Pump Models

Here are the perks of going with mattresses powered by these types of pumps. Keep reading to find out whether they are good enough for you to invest in.

Great for Your Wallet

External airbed pump mattresses are some of the most affordable on the market. They are great for those on a budget.

Buying a cheaper option makes a lot of sense if you blow up your inflatable mattress once in a while.

The truth is, there are so many great options available at a third of the price compared to those with internal pumps. For some consumers, spending up to three times more may not make a lot of financial sense.

After all, why would you go gung-ho on a product that you only use a few times in a year?

The affordable price also makes them suitable when backpacking in a foreign country with a tight wallet.

Choose Your Level of Firmness

You may not be able to press a dial to get your desired firmness level like the built-in pump models.

But that doesn’t mean you have absolutely no control over how firm your want your mattress to be. In fact, you can choose just the right comfort level of your airbed whether at home or in the wilderness.

Is your bed too soft for your liking? Simply add more air so it gets firmer.

Lose some air until it gets to your preferred comfort level if your mattress is too hard for your liking.

No Instant Air Loss After Valve Removal

A common problem with older models of external airbed pump mattresses was instant air loss after valve removal.

If you are a recovering patient who has to spend more time in bed, these inferior mattresses usually led to pressure ulcers.

As a result, consumers started opting for medically recommended blow up beds that do not lose air.

The good news is that many manufacturers are finding innovative ways to eliminate this problem.

Mattresses being released in recent times are featuring double lock valves which lock in air upon removal of a valve. Your airbed stays at your preferred firmness level without losing air, thanks to this design innovation.


Here are some common drawbacks you should expect to experience if you are going in for an external pump.

Inflation/Deflation Can Leave You Depleted

If you would rather hit the gym instead of building your body muscles during regular blowup of your mattress, manual pumps may not be a food fit. The truth is the manual-powered types can leave you tired if you aren’t very fit.

These pumps can be a struggle for senior citizens and kids with limited levels of body strength.

Lost or Missing Pump

The fact that these pumps are separate from the airbed can be a real hassle. Many of us have enough problems and can’t live with further complications.

If you are clumsy and easily misplace stuff, an external pump may just not be a good purchase.

You wouldn’t want to turn your home upside down on a regular basis looking for your missing pump, would you?

SPOILER ALERT: Take a look at our top picks for the best separate airbed pumps.

The Verdict

The choice of whether to go for a built-in vs external air mattress pump is a personal one. Every individual has different preferences so it is up to you to decide which direction to go.

Internal pumps are suitable for those who want the ultimate luxury while sleeping indoors and are ready to pay for it.

External pumps on the other hand are engineered for outdoor buffs and indoor consumers with limited budgets.

Either way, make sure you choose something that meets your sleeping and budgetary needs.

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