If you’ve ever thought about buying an air mattress (also known as an air bed or inflatable mattress) you have probably wondered about the benefits and drawbacks of owning one.
Although they aren’t as big or (mostly only available upto queen size) expensive as a comparatively sized conventional type such as latex or spring, they still certainly have high owner satisfaction, and unlike the former two an air bed can be used in many scenarios. Some of the uses could be as a permanent fixed bed, a temporary guest bed, or taken on backpacking and camping trips. Whichever your requirement it’s important to understand their pros and cons. Here we discuss them in further detail below:
Custom Firmness – One of the main advantages of having an air bed, especially when it’s used in-home as a permanent or main bed, is that it allows for custom firmness. You can set as firm or soft as you please. Add more air for a firm finish, or reduce for a plush and soft surface. This is great especially when used for guests because everyone likes their sleep surface slightly different.
Back Pain – Although an inflatable one is not necessarily considered the undisputed best mattress for back pain, the fact that you can adjust the firmness is a huge benefit for people who have back problems and other types of body or joint pains. This is because some nights the bed may be too soft, so with the press of a button you can easily add some air for a firmer surface, which will offer better pain relief and better body contouring. Other nights the bed may be too firm, so likewise you can simply deflate a little with one touch and soften the surface.
Sharing a Bed – Still on the subject of adjustable firmness, almost every full size and above have two separate inner chambers, which means you can have one side firmer or softer than the other depending on your or you partners preference. No more disputes as to whether it’s too firm or soft, simply set however you like best.
Odor-Free – Because of the PVC material used to manufacture them, there is no nasty off-gassing odors like you may find when a memory foam mattress is new.
No Sagging – Sagging is when the surface tends to give way slowly after years of usage, thus creating a crater like effect where the person sleeps. When sagging occurs it usually means time to start think about a replacement. A conventional full size memory foam mattress or some innerspring versions will definitely sag after years of usage, but with an air bed this isn’t the case as you simply inflate with more air, which eliminates the sag.
Increased Durability – The hard wearing PVC and ability to counter sagging issues increases the life span tremendously over innerspring, latex or foam. The average conventional type such as latex or spring will last between 7-10 years depending on quality, whereas an air bed can easily last 15 years. More often, if it’s an air mattress with built in pump that you have, the pump will fail before the bed will, but these can easily be replaced at a low cost.
Rapid Inflation – Depending on the quality of the pump, an air bed can be inflated to full size within minutes, for example, a raised twin size can be inflated fully in approximately 5 minutes. A non raised slightly smaller camping mattress can be inflated in approximately 3 minutes.
Low Price – Well known brands such as Coleman and Intex have managed to bring their prices right down. For example, a twin air mattress can be purchased for as little as $30 online, whereas a twin memory foam mattress can easily cost $300 for a decent quality one.
Many Uses – Depending on its size, an inflatable mattress can be used indoors or outdoors. For example, a twin size low profile option can be taken on camping trips, or, it can be rolled up and left aside as a guest bed for the occasional visitors which you’d easily assemble on the living room floor. Likewise, some people also lay them across their back seat during road trips, which is much more comfortable than sleeping in car seat.
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Replacing Pumps – Because of the mechanical nature and reliance upon the built in pump, if it becomes faulty you’ll need it repaired either by way of cost or warranty. If your inflatable mattress requires an external pump instead, simply buy a new one from Amazon which should cost no more that $15.
Shorter Warranty – Warranties are generally shorter than that of latex and innerspring, so if the PVC bed structure or pump develops a fault you may need to pay towards it. However, nowadays the cost of a new one will usually be the same as a repair, so you’re better off looking at a new replacement rather than paying towards a repair.
Lengthy Assembly – A larger permanent / fixed usage inflatable mattress can take anything between 30 – 60 minutes to assemble and may require two people. However, once it’s assembled the only thing you’ll need to worry about is whether to increase or decrease air based on your preference.
Noisy Pump – Some owners complain of noisy pumps but these are usually only in budget brands. Also considering pumps are only ever used to inflate or deflate, it’s probably not very often you’ll be using it.
Well, hopefully this post makes things a little clearer now and will aid in your decision making. For further information please also check our air mattress reviews.