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Based on 2,376 Owner Experiences Gathered From 541 Sources
|This page rates regular-use airbeds, not temporary-use airbeds.|
THE GOOD: Airbeds provide instant comfort adjustment, including separate adjustment for each sleeper. They perform above-average overall for support potential, back-pain relief, and conforming ability. Longevity is 30% greater than that of other mattress types.
THE BAD: Main owner complaints include difficulty of (initial) use, breakdowns / malfunctions, price & long-term costs, air loss, and noise. Assembly is often required. Availability in smaller markets especially can be poor.
THE BEDS: Airbeds use air for main support, not springs or foam. The comfort layer can consist of regular foam, memory foam, latex or a combination thereof. Comfort can be adjusted by adding or removing air from the mattress using an electric pump.
THE COMPETITION: See how airbed mattresses compare to other bed types.
The ratings below show how airbeds overall compare to other mattress types as evaluated by 2,370+ owners. For information on specific brands, see the following section. Owner experience data was collected using an unbiased, accurate methodology.
|Owner satisfaction||B-||Airbeds overall have 77% owner satisfaction. They rate slightly lower than both memory foam and latex beds but significantly higher than innerspring beds. Low-priced airbed models tend to rate somewhat worse than those mid- and high-priced due mainly to minimal padding / excessive firmness. Airbed brands rate fairly similar.|
|Durability||C-||Given the mechanical nature of airbeds, various problems can arise such as air leaks and pump / controller problems. These problems and others, however, can be fixed (see next entry). 25%+ of owners report the need to replace at least one part over the course of ownership. Problems involving an inability to maintain air pressure may make the bed uncomfortable or unusable until the problem is repaired.|
|Longevity||B+||Airbeds often have good longevity (8-year+ lifespan average) compared to other mattress types because they can be repaired by owners themselves with parts sent from the manufacturer. This is an advantage mostly unique to airbeds; if a spring or foam mattress develops a problem then the entire bed often needs to be replaced or shipped for repair. (General analysis: mattress longevity.)|
|Initial price||D+||$450-$4000+ depending on model and size, with the average queen airbed costing about $2180. (The average queen mattress, regardless of type, costs about $1570). Thickness, comfort layer material, technology level, and brand name mostly determine price.|
|Long-term cost||D||In addition to initial cost, 25%+ of owners will at least partially pay for replacement parts one or more time during ownership. These parts can add up to hundreds of dollars or more.|
|Adjustment of firmness / support||a-||Firmness / support can be adjusted by adding or removing air. Dual chamber models have separate adjustment for each side, providing individualized comfort. Some brands offer models with up to six chambers to provide separate adjustment for shoulders, lumbar and legs. At least 35% of owners say adjustability is a clear advantage of the beds. However, 6% are disappointed with adjustability because the range is too limited or affects only support, not firmness.|
|Stability of firmness / support||d||Comfort settings may automatically fluctuate in either direction depending on temperature, barometric pressure, weight and sleep position. About 10% of owners report this to be annoying.|
|Support potential||A-||Due to their adjustment ability, the beds have support potential that tends to be superior to that of other bed types. Airbeds with six air chambers are likely capable of providing the highest degree of support.|
|Ease of (initial) use||d||A main downside of adjustability is that finding a personally suitable setting requires time and experimentation, say 30%+ of owners. About 10% report an inability to ever find a suitable setting. Six-chamber models likely require more time and experimentation than 2-chamber.|
|Conforming ability||B-||An airbed's ability to contour to the curves of one's body and to distribute weight equally is often better than that of an innerspring mattress but somewhat inferior to that of a memory foam mattress.|
|Less (back) pain potential||A-||Pain relief, especially back pain relief, is reported by 20%+ of airbed owners – a rate that is at least as good as that of other mattress types. 10% of owners say their airbed causes pain for various reasons. (See mattresses & pain relief for general analysis.)|
|Motion isolation||C+||Models with at least two air chambers tend to have somewhat above average motion isolation. In other words, they localize the effects of a person's movement so as to minimize disturbance to another person. (General analysis: mattress motion isolation.)|
|Easy to move on / get up off||b||Increasing the firmness can make it easy for a person to move around on the bed and get up off of it. Models, however, with a middle problem (see next entry) or thick memory foam comfort layer may offer resistance to movement.|
|No middle problem||c-||A significant number of owners report that their airbed can sag / slope where the two air chambers meet – causing a sleeper to roll or slide toward / away from the middle. Or owners may report a middle hump or valley. These problems tend to be most noticeable when the comfort setting of the two sides is very different from one another or when both sides use a very low or very high setting. Sleep Number has significantly more complaints on this issue than other airbed brands.|
|Edge support||C+||Effective edge support keeps a person from falling off the bed when sleeping or sitting close to the mattress edge. Many airbed brands use an edge-to-edge design that provides such support. Most Sleep Number models, however, use foam side walls for edge support which can deteriorate with time and wear.|
|No initial odor / off gassing||C+||About 6% of airbed owners report an initial odor which usually lasts no more than a few weeks but can persist longer in some cases. The odor likely comes from the rubber air chambers and any foam used in the comfort layer. (See mattress off gassing for general analysis.)|
|No sleeping hot||C+||About 6% of owners report that their airbed traps heat to an extent that undermines sleep. Models with thick comfort layers have the most complaints. (See mattress heat retention for general analysis.)|
|No sleeping cold||d+||Like waterbeds, airbeds may sleep cold. About 4% of owners report the problem especially in winter months. These owners often have a model that has little if any comfort layer which results in sleeping almost directly on the air chamber.|
|Back sleep suitable||B+||Airbeds tend to be best suited for back sleepers.|
|Side sleep suitable||b-||Side sleepers may be dissatisfied with models that lack a significant comfort layer as this can place pressure on hips and shoulders. And an incorrect adjustment setting – either too firm or too soft – may place one's spine into an unnatural, uncomfortable position.|
|Stomach sleep suitable||b-||An excessively soft adjustment setting may result in a stomach sleeper bowing in which can result in back discomfort or pain.|
|Large person suitable||C+||Airbeds tend to provide above-average conforming potential and support potential for people 230+ lbs. But long-term durability for such people is questionable.|
|Small person suitable||B-||Models with little or no comfort layer tend to be too firm especially for people under 130 lbs unless a topper is added.|
|No topper needed||C||Cheaper models especially – those with little or no comfort layer – have an above-average likelihood of needing a topper to add softness.|
|No noise||D+||Airbeds produce a rustling, crunching, or squeaking noise when moved on, say 7% of owners. And while air pump operation has become quieter in recent years, pump noise is still a complaint for about 6% of owners. (See mattress noise for general analysis.)|
|Ready to use||D-||Airbeds often require at least some assembly which can take 15 minutes to two hours depending on several factors. Assembly by the delivery team may be available for a fee. Other mattress types usually do not require assembly.|
|Short break in period||B-||Airbeds – especially those with thinner comfort layers – typically have a shorter-than-average break-in period.|
|Good for sex, spooning, cuddling||c-||Most owners say their airbed is acceptable on this issue. Some airbeds (especially most Sleep Number models) may have a noticeable trench / intrusion / slope or some other problem in the middle where the two air chambers meet. Being intimate on or near this area may be uncomfortable / awkward. (See the mattresses & sex comparison.)|
|Easy to handle, lift, move||B||Since the beds consist of air to a large extent, they tend to be lighter than the average mattress. This for many owners is an advantage as it makes the beds relatively easy to lift and handle. But owners who equate quality with heaviness regard airbeds' low weight as a negative.|
|No rotating / flipping||b-||The whole mattress does not need to be flipped or rotated. But the comfort layer and foam components may benefit from being rotated / flipped two or three times annually to avoid uneven wear.|
|Stays put / together||D+||That airbeds are comparatively lightweight and modular (consist of separate components) means they are not as stable and integrated as conventional mattresses. This means they are more likely to move on their base and need occasional component adjustment.|
|Warranties||d||Most airbed warranties are 10-25 years in length, but usually only the first 2-3 years are non-prorated. This means that after the first few years, owners will often need to pay 20%+ of replacement part costs. Other mattress types often have superior warranty coverage. (See mattress warranties: what you should know.)|
|Availability at mattress retailers||c-||There are many Sleep Number stores across the United States. In general, however, airbeds are not widely available in stores especially in smaller markets.|
The table below rates and compares many of the more popular airbed mattress brands (in alphabetical order). Select a brand for complete ratings. Many of the following mattresses can be compared in more detail in the mattress comparison.
|Boyd||Comfort- aire||Habitat Furnish- ings||Innomax||Personal Comfort||Sleep Number|
|Owner Satis- faction (Sample)|
|81% (43)||81% (185)||82% (37)||78% (132)||82% (244)||77% (1735)|
|$1150- $3000||$1030- $5500+
||$1550- $3000||$600- $2000
||$450- $3400||$500- $5700|
|Distinctive Advantage Or Trait|
|up to six air chambers||original airbed company||one year to return||at Sams Club||popular at Amazon||dominates airbed market|
|In Business Since|
|SLTD Company Rating|
|In Stores and or Online|
|online, some stores||online, some stores||online||online, some stores||online||stores, online|
|several especially nightair beds.com||various smaller retailers & comfort aire.com||habitat furnish
|Sams Club and others||personal
|over 400 Sleep Number stores / online|
|Return Policy Length / Fee|
|Can vary by retailer. At nightair beds.com – 100 days, must keep 30 days / no fee||100 days, must keep 30 days / no fee||365 days / $99 fee||90+ days, must keep 30 days / no fee (Sam's)||At personal
bed.com – 120 days, must keep 45 days / fee on Classic models.
At Amazon – 30 days / restocking fee.
|100 days, must keep 30 days / ship fee|
|usually 20 yr, 2 yr non prorated||25 yr, 2-4 yr non prorated||20 yr, 3 yr non prorated||10-25 yr, 2 yr non prorated||25 yr, 3 yr non prorated||25 yr, 2 yr non prorated|
Ratings are based on 2,370+ consumer reviews of permanent-use air beds, especially reviews for the Sleep Number / Select Comfort bed.
We receive NO compensation of any kind from any company, organization or individual to affect in any way or degree our mattress research or its findings.
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