This article will present the definitive guide to choosing and using balloon inflators as you prepare to create your next masterpiece balloon decoration.

Inflating balloons can be a tiresome activity if you are inflating more than two balloons with air from your lungs. Fortunately, manual balloon pumps and electric balloon inflators make this process a breeze.

The Old Way of Inflating Balloons

So you are having an event, maybe a party and you want to decorate using balloons. As you consider inflating tens of balloons with your lungs, you may be dreading the consequences: sore cheeks, painful jaws, tired arms, aching lungs, and chest, just to name a few. The old method required time, people, patience, and determination.

The solution to the problem of inflation

A solution to your problem is here. Thankfully it is the dawn of a new era; balloon inflators have now become extraordinarily cost-effective and accessible to the DIY person or balloon decorator. These devices exponentially reduce the time and effort required to inflate a large number of balloons. It takes approximately 10 pumps on a double-action balloon pump to fully inflate a balloon and about 3 seconds to do the same using an electric balloon pump. So now, you are free to create your balloon arches, garlands, stands, centerpieces, and backdrops for your special events.

What is a Balloon Pump?

A balloon pump or inflator is a device that makes filling balloons with air faster and more efficient. Balloon Pumps are either manually or electrically operated. A balloon pump is designed with a special nozzle that can securely hold the balloon in place during inflation.

Types of Balloon Pumps

There are various types of balloon pumps, they are primarily separated into manual and electrically operated pumps:

Manual Hand-operated Balloon Pump/Inflator

A manual hand inflator is a cylindrical device with a handle connected to a shaft. The shaft is attached to a disc that extends to the edges of the tubular body of the pump.  The pump is operated by using the handle to force air through the connected nozzle. There are two additional categories of manual inflators:

Single Actions Balloon Pump

A single-action balloon inflator will only push air through the nozzle into the balloon on the forward stroke. The reverse stroke will refill the pump with air. This is great for a small number of balloons.

Dual or Double Action Balloon Pump

A Double action manual balloon pump can inflate a balloon on both the forward and reverse stroke. Making the process twice as efficient for the same amount of energy you put out. This is great for inflating an average number of balloons for a small event.

Electric Balloon Pump

An electrically operated balloon pump uses a motorized pump to quickly send high volumes of air through its nozzle to fill the balloons. They deliver significantly more air in a shorter time when compared to a manual pump with practically no effort. Many are even outfitted with as many as four nozzles to support the inflation of multiple balloons at once. This is great for a large number of balloons and a big event.

Use the guide above to determine which will be the best for the event you have and the type of arrangement you want to achieve.

Manual vs. Electric ballon Air pump

Table of pros and cons: TBD

When choosing between manual and electric balloon pumps, you have to take several things into consideration.

How much are you willing to spend?

An electric balloon pump can be more than 5 times the cost of a manual inflator. That price does not include the professional balloon pumps that can pump all ballons to the same size, adjust pressure settings, or the ones that come with a portable battery. Those can go upwards of 20 times the cost of a manual balloon pump.

How Many Balloons do you need to inflate?

If your balloon arrangement has more than 200 balloons, it may make sense to get an electric balloon pump. At this many balloons, it becomes a physical workout to use a manual balloon pump. However, if you have the time and the energy, you can consider it your arm workout for the day. You can even share the task between more than one person to lighten the effort.

Is this a one-off activity?

If you are planning to create large, multi-hundred balloon arrangements regularly. It will probably make more sense to invest in a reliable electric balloon pump. Not only will it require less time and effort, but most manual ballon pumps are made of plastic; frequent usage can cause the pump to become brittle, and the handle tends to break from overuse. This can be mitigated if you have multiple hand pumps, but for efficiency, an electric pump is more advantageous.

Will you have access to an electrical outlet.

For outdoor balloon decoration setups that are far away from an electrical outlet, a manual hand pump is the most ideal tool for the job. You can pull it out on the spot and inflate as many balloons as you need without going back and forth to an electrical outlet. Even though it is the most convenient way to inflate balloons for outdoor use, it is by no means the only way.

You can use large garbage bags and inflate your balloons ahead of time then transport them to your outdoor location. You can invest in a very long extension cord that will provide the reach you require. If you have a vehicle nearby, you can use an electrical inverter to power your balloon pump from your vehicle. You can also utilize the long extension cord there as well. The final method is to invest in a battery-powered electric pump. Battery-powered electric inflators are rechargeable and portable and can cost a pretty penny for these extra features. However, sometimes the investment may be worth it if you need the advantage of portability and the power and ease of an electric pump.

Is your environment noise friendly?

Electric balloon inflators are noisy. This is due to the powerful motor it uses to inflate balloons quickly and at high pressure.  If you are setting up a balloon arch at daycare during nap time, you might want to opt for your manual balloon hand inflators.

How fast do you want to work?

In the time it takes to inflate one balloon using a double-action balloon pump, you can inflate 4 using a two-valve electric balloon inflator. Electrical inflators are fast and powerful. If you need speed and power, electric pumps are the right choice.

How many people are working along with you?

If you have multiple people working on your balloon decoration project, you can choose between a manual or an electric balloon pump. Various people using their own hand-operated balloon inflators can work out well in terms of a balance for the cost and speed you may need. This is the least expensive and most efficient use of a manual balloon inflator.

Electric balloon pumps can also use multiple people at the same time. Depending on your pump type, electric balloon pumps can have as many as 4 active valves used to inflate balloons simultaneously. This will increase your efficiency.

How strong are you?

Manual balloon inflators require an average amount of physical strength to inflate a large number of balloons. A good quality hand-held balloon pump will be well lubricated. It should not provide much friction when pumping air into the balloons. However, if this is not the case, or if the lubrication has somehow dried up, it will take added energy to inflate balloons with a manual pump.

Children should generally have little to no problem using a manual balloon inflator if it is well-lubricated. An electric balloon pump takes limited effort more than the strength to hold the balloon in place as it is inflated.

Multipurpose usage

Due to the design, portability and lightweight of the manual balloon pump, it can be easily used to inflate other inflatables such as pool float toys, exercise balls, inflatable toys like the Rody Horse, and even small sleeping mattresses. Manual Balloon pumps can also be used to blow dust from hard-to-reach crevices instead of purchasing a can of compressed air.

Helium Balloon Inflator

Helium balloons do not require a balloon pump since helium is usually stored in a cylinder in compressed form. Balloons are then simply inflated by opening a valve attached to the cylinder of compressed helium.

Where to buy

The cost of balloon inflators has reduced over the past couple of years. You can get professional level pumps for a fraction of the price.

Here are some of the best places to purchase your next balloon inflator.

Double Action Manual Balloon Inflator Pump:
Walmart, Qualatex, Dollar Tree, Target

Double(2) Valve Electric Balloon Inflator Pump
Walmart, Qualatex, Dollar Tree, Target

Other Options

Single Action Manual Balloon Inflator Pump
Walmart, Qualatex, Dollar Tree, Target

Single(1) Valve Electric Balloon Inflator Pump
Walmart, Qualatex, Dollar Tree, Target

Quad (4) Valve Electric Balloon Inflator Pump
Walmart, Qualatex, Dollar Tree, Target