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Airbed mattresses offer unparalleled levels of customization and personalized comfort. These models are constructed with air chambers in their support cores. By adding air to one of the chambers, you can make certain areas of the mattress feel firmer. Releasing air creates a softer feel for the same areas. Most airbeds have at least two chambers – one for each side of the mattress – but some have six or more to create an even more customized feel.
When properly maintained, airbeds are also very durable compared to other mattress types. The average model will perform for at least eight years before a replacement is needed. Many of today’s models can be adjusted with remotes or smartphones, as well. This saves owners the trouble of using manual controls. However, airbeds tend to be quite expensive. With an average queen size price range of $2,000 to $2,400, this is the most expensive mattress type. The motorized components of airbeds can also be quite noisy – and while they have long expected lifespans, breakdowns and malfunctions are somewhat common.
Below, you’ll find our top picks among airbeds sold today. Each selection is based on verified owner experiences, in-depth product research, and other factors. We’ll also dive into what makes airbeds so unique and beneficial to sleepers, cost and performance expectations, and a few pros and cons.
Choose an airbed if:
- You want an adjustable firmness mattress: Airbeds are ideal for people who like a softer feel one night and a firmer feel the next. An airbed may also be suitable for couples who have differing firmness preferences, or combination sleepers who use more than one sleep position.
- You experience frequent aches and pains: Adjustable firmness levels mean you can enjoy a softer, more conforming feel when you feel soreness or pressure points in your shoulders, lower back, hips, and other sensitive areas. The best airbeds offer a wide range of feels and allow owners to find the optimal firmness on any given night.
- You’re looking for a durable mattress: Airbed mattresses are somewhat prone to mechanical issues. However, properly maintained models often last for at least eight years. Some have modular designs, enabling manufacturers to replace air chambers and other components somewhat easily. Airbeds tend to come with longer-than-average warranties, as well.
- You have a flexible shopping budget: Expect to spend quite a bit on a new airbed. The average queen size model costs $2,000 to $2,400, but many of today’s airbeds exceed the $3,000 mark in a queen. Replacement part costs are another consideration. A large number of airbed owners will need to replace at least one component of their mattress during its lifespan.
Skip an airbed if:
- You have a fixed firmness preference: If you are set in your ways as far as preferred firmness level goes, then an airbed may not be worth the expensive investment. Many non-airbed mattresses are available with dual firmness levels if you and your sleep partner prefer different mattress feels.
- You are sensitive to noise: Some airbeds are quieter than others, but generally speaking, these models produce more noise than other mattress types. This includes whirring from the motorized parts, as well as surface-level noises.
- You tend to sleep hot/cold: Airbeds are not the best mattresses when it comes to temperature neutrality. Airbeds with thick foam comfort layers can absorb and trap body heat for some. The mattresses may also sleep somewhat chilly, depending on how thick the comfort layer is (or if there is a comfort layer at all).
- You have a limited shopping budget: Expect to pay at least $1,500 for an airbed. The typical price range for queen mattress airbeds is $2,000 to $2,400, and some models cost much more.
Who it’s best for:
- Sleepers who prefer a wide range of firmness levels
- People who like the responsive and conforming combination of latex and memory foam
- Hot sleepers
- Couples with differing preferences
- Zoned Talalay latex comfort layer enhances pressure relief and spinal support
- Pillow-top cushions the surface
- Gel memory foam provides deeper cradling
The Solaire by Saatva offers a more advanced design than many competing airbeds. The mattress begins with a pillow-top cover padded with organic cotton, which gives the surface a very plush feel. The mattress also has comfort layers of gel memory foam and Talalay latex. The memory foam offers close body-contouring and pressure relief, while the latex – a naturally responsive material – provides great reinforcement and prevents you from sinking too deeply.
The Solaire’s support core consists of two separate air chambers, each running lengthwise. These chambers can be adjusted to create a firmer or softer feel on either side, making the mattress ideal for couples whose comfort preferences differ. Depending on how much air is in the chamber, the feel of each side of the bed can range between soft (3) and firm (8). Even compared to other airbeds, this firmness range is very broad.
Thanks to its breathable cover and latex layer, the Solaire offers very good temperature neutrality. Enhanced support is another strong point. The latex layer is divided into five firmness zones, giving you extra reinforcement for the torso and hips and gentler cradling for the lighter areas of your body, such as the head and legs. You can select from the standard Solaire or the “Upper-Flex” model, which features a split top and is designed for use on an adjustable bed base.
The Solaire is quite expensive even compared to other airbed models, but its high-quality design and strong performance make up for the steep sticker price. Saatva also offers free White Glove delivery to any customer in the contiguous U.S. The mattress comes with a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.Read our Full Solaire Review to learn more
Natural Form Refresh Mattress
Who it’s best for:
- Sleepers who enjoy adjusting the feel of their mattress
- People with pain or pressure points along the spine
- Support core contains adjustable air pods
- Thick comfort layer of high-resilience foam
- Modular design simplifies the replacement process
The Health Series Refresh from Natural Form stands out from other airbeds due in part to its unconventional design. The support core contains as many as 84 individual “air pods” with adjustable firmness levels, allowing you to customize the feel of the mattress for different areas of the body. This level of customization exceeds most airbeds that feature air chambers instead. And since each side of the mattress have their own pod system, couples with differing preferences can both be comfortable.
The comfort layer is composed of high-resilience polyfoam and measures 3 inches thick. This material is fairly dense but also adaptive, making it similar to memory foam in terms of contouring and even weight distribution. Another standout feature is the cover made from 100% merino wool, which provides excellent temperature regulation and also wicks away moisture to keep you dry.
Thanks to its modular construction, the Health Series Refresh is relatively straightforward to fix if a part becomes faulty or defective. This ensures great durability and a long expected lifespan. Natural Form offers the mattress in all six standard sizes, as well as a full XL for single sleepers who prefer some extra legroom and a split king or split California king mattress for couples that share an adjustable base.
The sticker price for the Health Series Refresh is in line with that of the average airbed. Natural Form provides free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. Your purchase includes a 100-night sleep trial for testing out the mattress and a 10-year warranty should you decide to keep it after the trial is finished.
InnoMax Harmony Airbed
Who it’s best for:
- Anyone whose ideal firmness varies from night to night
- Couples with different firmness preferences
- Shoppers seeking an affordable airbed
- Air chambers can be adjusted for 50 unique firmness levels
- Remote includes a memory preset for your preferred setting
- Below-average pricing for an airbed model
Airbeds offer unparalleled customization compared to other mattress types — and as such, they tend to cost much more than the average mattress model. The InnoMax Harmony Airbed is an exception to this rule. You can program the mattress for 50 different firmness levels on each side of the bed and a robust support system helps preserve the air chambers over time, yet the Harmony’s sticker price is much lower than many competing airbeds sold today.
Both sides of the bed feature wired remotes for customizing the firmness. You can also program a memory preset for your favorite setting, which enables the mattress to automatically adjust to that firmness when you get into bed. The Harmony is designed for dual firmness, so you and your partner can program different settings on your respective sides of the bed.
Foam layers encased in a pillow-top serve as the Harmony’s comfort system. The foams contour evenly to cushion your body regardless of the firmness setting. Both air hoses are sealed with durable rubber to reduce the potential for leaks, and a steel coil within each hose helps prevent kinks that can occur over time.
InnoMax mattresses are available through a wide range of third-party distributors. If you order your Harmony Airbed through Amazon.com, your purchase comes with a sleep trial spanning 100 nights in length. The mattress is further backed by a 25-year warranty against various defects.
Other Mattress Guides
If you aren’t sure which mattress is right for you and want to further narrow down your search, consider reviewing our mattress guides sorted by type.
Who Should Buy an Airbed Mattress?
You’re an excellent candidate for an airbed if your firmness preferences tend to fluctuate on a nightly basis. Due to adjustable designs and user-friendly controls, airbeds allow you to customize the feel of your mattress rather easily. Most airbeds offer customizable firmness on each side of the mattress, making them ideal for couples with differing comfort preferences. Airbeds are also well-suited to people who frequently experience pain and pressure points and need a mattress that will adapt to their specific needs.
What to Look for in an Airbed Mattress
For many sleepers, adjustable feel is the most important feature of airbed mattress models. These models offer firmness customization that you simply won’t find with other mattress types. Durability is another major strength. Although airbeds may break down or malfunction, these mattresses are built to last.
As with any mattress type, you should research different airbed brands and models in order to find the mattress that best meets your needs and preferences. There are also unique considerations to take into account when choosing an airbed. These include firmness adjustment range, controls, and whether or not the mattress offers sleep-tracking technology.
Airbeds tend to be very expensive compared to other mattress types. The average queen size model costs between $2,000 and $2,400. Some airbeds are more affordable, while others cost $3,000 or more. In addition to the sticker price, be prepared to pay for replacement parts over the course of your airbed’s lifespan.
An airbed will require some initial assembly. This may include installing the air chambers and connecting them to electric pumps. Thankfully, most airbed brands offer White Glove delivery that includes in-home assembly and a full operating tutorial. Airbeds tend to have modular designs, allowing you to remove and replace individual components as needed.
Trenches are a common complaint among airbed owners. Since each side of the bed normally has a dedicated air chamber, this can create a noticeable dip in the center of the mattress over the area between the chambers. Some owners find that this trench effect makes the mattress feel uneven. It can also cause you to roll toward the middle of the bed during the night.
The chambers found in airbeds are typically made from vulcanized rubber or other durable synthetic materials. Most airbeds have between two and six individual chambers. For some, the chambers are divided into zones that allow you to adjust the firmness level for different areas of the body.
In addition to the air chambers, you should look at comfort layer materials when choosing an airbed. Some higher-end models, such as the Saatva Solaire and ReST Bed, are constructed with comfort layers of latex, gel memory foam, and other high-quality components. Other airbeds have thinner polyfoam comfort layers that do not provide the same levels of conforming or pressure relief – and some airbed models do not have a comfort layer at all.
Advanced airbeds can be adjusted to a wide range of firmness levels. Some can be customized anywhere between soft and firm, while others offer a more limited range. Firmness options for airbeds often depend on the thickness of the air chambers in relation to the rest of the mattress.
Airbeds generally provide above-average pressure relief. How closely the airbed conforms will depend on its comfort layer materials; memory foam provides more even contouring than latex or polyfoam. The bed’s firmness range will also play a role, as certain feels can reduce pressure for certain sleep positions better than others.
Airbeds with thick foam layers can absorb and trap body heat, causing them to feel excessively warm on the surface. Models with thinner comfort layers (or no layer at all) may cause your body to sink into the air chambers, which can feel a bit too cool. The best airbeds for temperature neutrality provide enough cushioning and support to prevent deep sinking, but won’t retain too much heat in the comfort layers.
The electric pumps and other motorized components found in airbeds can produce some noise, though many of today’s models are designed to be quieter and less disruptive than their predecessors. The bed’s comfort material may also be noisy, depending on its material composition.
Remote controls are a standard feature with today’s airbeds, and many offer app-based controls, as well. Some models also include built-in body sensors for monitoring nightly patterns and sleep-tracking functions that connect to apps on cell phones, tablets, and other smart devices.
How Does It Feel to Sleep on an Airbed Mattress?
The feel of an airbed is distinct from that of other mattress types, and is best characterized by the following characteristics:
Adjustable Feel: Using manual, remote, or app-based controls, you can change the firmness level of your airbed from one feel to another in a matter of minutes. Softer feels mean the chambers have less air, so you’ll sink a bit beneath the surface, while a firmer feel will add air to the chamber and elevate your body.
Dual Firmness: Intended to benefit couples with differing preferences, most airbeds allow you to adjust each side’s feel to reach a distinct firmness level. This can result in one side feeling much softer or firmer than the other.
Trench Effect: On some airbeds, you may feel a dip in the center of the mattress between the air chambers. Some don’t mind this, but others find the trench effect disruptive to sleep.
Iffy Temperature Neutrality: Airbeds, like other mattress types, can sleep warm if their comfort layers are thick enough to absorb and trap body heat. Airbeds may also feel too cool if the comfort layer isn’t substantial enough and your body comes into contact with the air chambers. That said, many airbed models are built with comfort layers that promote consistent temperature neutrality and will sleep neither too hot or too cold.
How to Choose the Right Firmness Level
Finding the right firmness level can be a challenge for any mattress shopper. Your ideal mattress should conform closely enough to cushion the body, promote spinal alignment, and alleviate pressure without sinking or feeling uneven beneath areas where you carry most of your weight.
When choosing a firmness level, take your body type into account. People who weigh less than 230 pounds tend to find softer mattresses more comfortable because they provide adequate contouring. Those who weigh more than 230 pounds often consider soft beds too prone to sagging, and generally prefer firmer, more supportive beds instead.
Your sleep position may also be a firmness factor. Side sleepers often need additional padding for their shoulders and hips, which ensures even spinal alignment and prevents pressure from building up throughout the body. Back and stomach sleeping both promote even alignment without help from the mattress. The key for these positions is sufficient support for the torso and waist; mattresses that feel too soft may not support these areas of the body, leading to added aches and pains.
Most mattresses have a fixed firmness level. How comfortable you feel on a given model depends on how closely the bed’s feel aligns with your personal preferences. With adjustable airbeds, you have more wiggle room. You should be able to find an airbed model that offers your desired firmness level, along with softer and firmer feels should your preferences change. The dual firmness construction of many airbeds also ensures you and your sleep partner will be equally comfortable on the same mattress, even if you prefer completely different feels.
How Are Airbeds Constructed?
By definition, airbeds are constructed with adjustable air chambers in their support core. Most airbeds today have between two and six individual chambers, including separate chambers for each side of the mattress.
The chambers connect to electric air pumps, which may be built-in to the mattress or external. Owners can use the pumps to add or release air from individual chambers, which in turn changes the feel of that area of the mattress. Manual controls are more common with older airbeds and may be found on some contemporary models. However, most newer airbeds can be adjusted for firmness with a remote control. Some also allow you to make changes using an app on your chosen smart device.
The comfort layer material of an airbed depends on the specific model. Traditionally, airbeds have been built with thinner polyfoam comfort layers; some do not have any comfort layer apart from light padding material on the surface. Some newer airbeds are constructed with more comfort layers of latex, memory foam, and other more luxurious materials.
Select airbeds also offer sleep-tracking capabilities. These models typically have thin sensor pads located somewhere inside the mattress, often between the comfort layer(s) and air chambers. These pads monitor your sleep patterns and movements during the night. Some also track breathing and heart rates, body temperature, and other factors related to sleep. In most cases, you’ll be able to access sleep data using a smart app.
Most airbeds have modular designs, meaning the cover can be unzipped and individual components can be removed. Because airbeds are more susceptible to breakdowns and malfunctions than other mattresses, this modular construction is essential for replacing faulty hardware. Since they are removable, most airbed covers can be washed and dried in household machines – but not always. Always check the product manual and tags before attempting to remove and clean an airbed cover.
Airbeds excel in certain performance categories. Their customizable firmness levels ensure proper support and good pressure relief for most sleepers. These mattresses are also highly durable, thanks in part to their modular composition and high-quality materials. However, there are also some downsides to sleeping on an airbed. Many sleepers, particularly couples, complain about the trench effect that occurs in the middle of the mattress. Disruptive noise can also be an issue for some.
Then there is the price-point. Most airbeds are quite expensive. You should consider the sticker price, cost of delivery if the company does not offer free shipping, and the long-term expenses of repairing and replacing defective parts. For some sleepers, the customizable feel and exceptional longevity of airbeds more than justify their high price-points. However, you’ll most likely spend much more on an airbed than any other mattress type.
Airbeds vs. Air Mattresses
It’s important for shoppers to distinguish between airbeds and air mattresses. Despite similar names, these are two completely different products.
|Airbeds are designed for nightly sleeping. They are sold in standard mattress sizes ranging from twin to California king, and typically measure at least 8 to 10 inches thick.||Air mattresses are best suited to temporary sleeping for guests or during camping trips. They are usually sold in twin, full, queen, or king sizes. They may measure anywhere from 8 to 20 inches thick.|
|An airbed will have at least one internal or external air pump. Owners can adjust firmness levels manually, with a remote, and/or through a smart app.||An air mattress may have an internal or external air pump, but controls are almost always manual.|
|Loss of air is not a problem with most airbeds. Their individual chambers will retain a steady volume through the night based on the owner’s selected settings.||Air mattresses tend to lose air during the night. As air volume decreases, the mattress may feel flat and less supportive.|
|Most airbeds are designed for couples and can accommodate any two sleepers regardless of individual weights. Each side can usually be adjusted for a distinct firmness level.||Even in larger sizes, air mattresses work best with solo sleepers. Most models have a listed weight capacity. Unless it has more than one air chamber, an air mattress can’t be adjusted for a different firmness level on each side.|
|Airbeds tend to be very expensive. The average queen size model costs $2,000 to $2,400. However, these mattresses are also highly durable thanks to modular designs that allow faulty parts to be repaired or replaced rather easily.||Air mattresses are generally inexpensive. Expect to spend no more than $200 on a quality air mattress in any size. That said, air mattresses are not very durable. Common issues affecting longevity include punctures and malfunctioning pumps.|
How Much Does an Airbed Mattress Cost?
The average airbed costs between $2,000 and $2,400 in a queen size. Broadly speaking, you may be able to find an affordable airbed model that costs less than $1,500 in a larger size. On the other hand, many high-end models cost upward of $3,000 in any size.
Airbeds are considered the most expensive mattress type by a considerable margin. Other categories include innersprings ($900 to $1,100), foam mattresses ($900 to $1,200), hybrids ($1,600 to $2,200) and latex models ($1,600 to $2,200). Budget shoppers seeking a cheap mattress should be aware of the higher price-point of an airbed.
The cost of an airbed does not end at the sticker price, either. Typically, mattresses are shipped as a mattress-in-a-box, but many airbed manufacturers exclusively ship their mattresses via White Glove couriers. Some provide this service for free, while others charge an extra fee – typically $150 or more. Airbeds are also associated with higher long-term expenses than other mattress types. Replacing broken pumps, leaking chambers, and other components can add up, especially if your warranty includes prorated charges (more on that below).
The bottom line: an airbed can be a sound investment if you want a durable mattress that can be adjusted for a wide range of firmness levels, but be prepared to spend more than you would for another type of bed.
How Long Will an Airbed Mattress Last?
Airbeds are exceptionally durable. If properly maintained, the average airbed model will perform for at least eight years, and some exceed the 10-year mark. Comparatively, the average mattress of any type has a lifespan of six to eight years.
However, individual airbed components do not offer the same longevity as the entire mattress. Many owners must contend with issues related to the pumps, controls, and individual air chambers over the course of the bed’s lifespan. The modular design of most airbeds makes repairing and replacing these components fairly straightforward, but fixing these parts could cost you a fair amount of money.
Warranty coverage is an important consideration for airbed buyers. A standard mattress warranty spans 10 years and is entirely non-prorated, meaning you’ll pay very little – if anything – to have your bed repaired or replaced if it becomes defective. Airbeds typically carry longer warranties, usually in the 20- to 25-year range, but many of these warranties are partially prorated. This means you’ll pay extra for replacement parts depending on how long you’ve owned the mattress.
Most prorated warranties follow the same basic structure. They begin with non-prorated coverage that lasts for two to 10 years. Prorated coverage kicks in after the non-prorated period ends. You’ll pay a certain percentage of the replacement part’s original price, plus some shipping and transportation fees. This percentage will increase over time, and you’ll pay more for replacement parts the longer you own the airbed.
Regular maintenance is the most cost-effective and practical way to care for your airbed. By monitoring your airbed’s performance and making note of any mechanical issues as they arise, you should be able to enjoy your mattress for many years.
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