|This page rates regular-use airbeds, not temporary-use airbeds.|
THE GOOD: Airbeds provide instant comfort adjustment, including separate adjustment for two people. They perform above-average 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 may 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 based on owner experiences gathered using an unbiased, accurate methodology show how airbeds overall compare to other mattress types.
|Owner satisfaction||B-||Airbeds overall have 78% owner satisfaction. Low-priced airbed models tend to rate worse than mid- and high-priced models due mainly to minimal padding / excessive firmness. The various airbed brands rate fairly similar to one another.|
|Durability||C-||Various problems can arise such as air leaks and pump / controller issues. These problems and others, however, can often be fixed (see next entry). 25%+ of owners report need to replace at least one part over course of ownership. Problems involving an inability to maintain air pressure may make the bed uncomfortable or unusable until fixed.|
|Longevity potential||A-||Airbeds have good longevity potential (8-year+ lifespan average) because they can often be repaired by owners with parts sent from the manufacturer. This is mostly unique to airbeds; if a foam or spring 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 $2400. Thickness, comfort layer material, number of air chambers, technology, 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 which can be hundreds of dollars or more.|
|Adjustment of firmness / support||a-||Firmness / support can be adjusted by adding or removing air. Two-chamber models have separate adjustment for each half. Some brands offer models with up to six chambers (3 for each half) to provide separate adjustment for shoulders, lumbar, legs. 35%+ of owners say adjustability is a clear advantage of the beds. However, 6% are disappointed with adjustability because they say the range is too limited or affects only support, not firmness or vice versa.|
|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||B||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 often 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 & experimentation, say 30%+ of owners. About 10% report an inability to ever find a suitable setting. Six-chamber models likely require more time & experimentation than two-chamber.|
|Minimizes pressure||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||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+||Airbeds tend to perform about fair in regard to absorbing a person's movement so that another person on the bed is not disturbed. Those models with at least two inches of memory foam will likely perform best. (General analysis: mattress motion isolation.)|
|Easy to move on / get up off||b||Increasing the firmness makes moving around on the bed and getting up easier. 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 airbed owners – almost exclusively Sleep Number bed owners – report that their bed can sag / slope where the two air chambers meet which can cause 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.|
|Edge support||C+||Effective edge support keeps a person from falling off the bed when sleeping or sitting close to the mattress edge. Such support may deteriorate with age and wear.|
|No initial odor / off gassing||C||About 9% of airbed owners report an initial odor which usually lasts no more than a few weeks but can persist longer. The odor likely comes primarily from the rubber air chambers and secondarily from 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 quality / quantity. Soft models and / or those with thick comfort layers have the most complaints. (See mattress heat retention for general analysis.)|
|No sleeping cold||d+||About 4% of owners report the problem especially in winter months. These owners almost always 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 / shoulders. And an incorrect setting – either too firm or too soft – may place one's spine into an unnatural, uncomfortable position. 6-chamber models and their independent lumbar support tend to be best for side sleep.|
|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. 6-chamber models and their independent middle support tend to be best for stomach sleep.|
|Heavy person suitable||B-||Airbeds, especially 6-chamber models, tend to provide above-average conforming ability and support for people 230+ lbs. But long-term durability for such people is questionable.|
|Light 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. Also, lighter people appear less likely to notice differences in adjustment settings.|
|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 seldom require assembly.|
|Short break in period||B-||Airbeds typically have a shorter-than-average break-in period, usually under two weeks on average.|
|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 mattresses & sex comparison.)|
|Easy to handle, lift, move||B||Since the beds consist of air to a fair 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 to three times annually to avoid uneven wear.|
|Stays put / together||D+||Since airbeds are comparatively lightweight and modular (consist of separate components), they are often 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 10-30 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 16%+ of replacement (part) costs. Other mattress types often have superior warranty coverage. (See mattress warranties: what to 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.
|Air-pedic||Boyd||Innomax||Personal Comfort||Sleep Number|
|Owner Satisfaction (Sample)|
|82% (31)||81% (55)||78% (121)||78% (204)||77% (1741)|
|$1400- $4700||$950- $4300||$600- $2000
||$500- $4000||$600- $5800|
|Number of Models|
|Number of Unique Settings|
|Number of Air Chambers*|
|six||two or six||two||two||two|
|yes||no||no||no||no, but assembly often included with delivery|
|In Business Since|
|SLTD Rating of Company|
|In Stores and or Online|
|online||online, some stores||online, some stores||online||stores, online|
|selectabed.com||several especially nightair beds.com||Sams Club and others||personal
|over 400 Sleep Number stores / sleepnumber .com|
|Return Policy Length / Fee|
|120 days, must keep 21 days / ship & handling fee||Can vary by retailer. At nightair beds.com – 100 days, must keep 30 days / no 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|
|30 yr, 3 yr non prorated||usually 20 yr, 2 yr non prorated||10-25 yr, 3 yr non prorated||25 yr, 3 yr non prorated||25 yr, 2 yr non prorated|
* Depending on the brand / model, a queen and king airbed have either two air chambers (one for each half of the bed) or six air chambers (three for each half of the bed - one for torso, lumbar, and legs). Six chamber models tend to provide greater support potential and adjustability especially for the lumbar area. They, however, tend to be more expensive and somewhat more difficult to use than two-chamber models.
Ratings are based on 2,100+ consumer reviews of regular-use air beds, including reviews for the Sleep Number / Select Comfort bed.