Nowadays, most brand new cars leave the factory with USB ports inside the cabin, allowing you and your passengers to charge your mobile devices. While USB ports do come in handy for daily use, they don’t offer enough power to charge larger accessories. Maybe you often go camping and want to hook up a small coffee maker while you’re out in the woods. Or there’s a chance you’re a photographer or videographer who needs to keep batteries or a laptop fully charged while on the go.
In today’s connected world, there are plenty of devices that need more than a USB port for charging, and that’s where power inverters come in handy. Power inverters are an easy way of converting your car’s DC electric power into AC electric power, which can be used to power or charge a wide range of appliances and accessories. Now, you won’t be plugging in a full-sized fridge into your car, but power inverters will make your life a lot easier on the road by helping you charge or power your laptop, TV, or even a hair dryer.
Shopping for a good power inverter may seem like a fairly straightforward task, but they’re not that simple. You’ll find that there are several different types of power inverters, most of which can be plugged into your cigarette lighter receptacle or a 12v accessory socket. There are however, products that can be plugged directly into your car’s battery or fuse panel.
More importantly, some inverters produce what is called a “modified sine wave,” or an AC electric power that is good for most appliances—such as laptops, TVs, power tools, etc. Keep in mind that there are some appliances that only work with “pure sine wave” AC electric power, which is basically more stable than modified sine wave. Those power inverters tend to be more expensive, but can work with basically any electric device or appliance. Before you choose a power inverter, you’lll want to check whether the device you need to be powered requires pure sine wave.
Below, you’ll find a list of our recommendations for the top 10 best power inverters currently available. We detail each product, outlining the pros and cons, to help you choose the right one for your specific situation.
KRIËGER’s lineup of power inverters is one of the most comprehensive on the market, ranging from 1100 watts of continuous power to 4000 watts of continuous power. The company’s products are modified sine wave inverters that converts 12V DC to 120V AC power and comes complete with an ANL fuse kit and 3 feet of battery cable. Each inverter is filled to the brim with safety features including overload, temperature, and short circuit protection. You’ll also find a nice LCD display that shows you input voltage, output wattage, and battery level.
These inverters connect directly to your car’s battery, so while they’re not as convenient as an inverter that uses your 12v socket, it can draw more power from your vehicle’s electrical system. Each model includes a pair of 2.1A USB charging ports and 2 standard North American AC outlets.
If you’re shopping for a more affordable power inverter and don’t need a lot of power, this particular option from BESTEK is our recommendation. Offering 300 watts of continuous power or 700 watts of instantaneous power, this power inverter will provide enough juice for most light electric appliances. That makes it ideal for charging your laptop, powering an air compressor, a small TV, or even a portable fridge.
This inverter is extremely compact and you can keep it stored in your glove box when it’s not being used. It offers 2 AC outlets and 2 USB ports and plugs into your cigarette lighter receptacle through a 24-inch cable, making it convenient to use. Safety features on this device include overheating protection, under and over voltage charging protection, and short circuit protection. There is a built-in 40A fuse protecting the inverter.
For durability, this product features a durable metal housing to protect it from drops and bumps, while an integrated cooling fan helps reduce heat and prevents shortages. BESTEK offers an 18-month warranty with the product.
This is a modified sine wave inverter, but the company does offer a 300w pure sine wave inverter if you need one.
Energizer also has a fairly comprehensive lineup of power inverters, with its 4000-watt option being our pick for heavy-duty use. Offering 4,000 watts of continuous power and 8,000 watts of peak power, this inverter connects directly to a 12V DC battery to power all sorts of appliances including microwaves, power tools, TVs, gaming consoles, and other home electronics.
The inverter boasts an LCD display for input voltage, output wattage, and battery level, and uses an ultra silent thermal fan for cooling. On board are 4 standard North American AC outlets and 4 USB charging ports.
Energizer also offers 900- and 2,000-watt options (2 USB ports/2 AC outlets) if you don’t need 4,000 watts of power. These are modified sine wave inverters.
For something more basic and affordable, Duracell offers a 175-watt power inverter that includes a pair of 3-prong AC outlets and 2 USB 2.1A ports. There is also an LED power light to indicate when the unit is on. Offering 175 watts, this inverter’s design is similar to a power strip and includes a 3-foot cord that plugs into your cigarette lighter receptacle for power.
It’s not designed for powerful appliances, but you’ll easily be able to charge your laptop or other less powerful devices through its AC outlets. Safety features include DC under and over voltage protection, output overload protection, short circuit protection, DC input reverse protection, and over temperature protection. This inverter has a ventilated cooling fan for safe, quiet, and reliable performance.
If you need a pure sine wave inverter, Power TechOn’s unit offers 600 watts of continuous power or 1,200 watts of surge power. This inverter uses DC 10-16V for input and AC 120v for output and includes a starter pack of cables so you can get to powering your devices right away. Safety features on this pure sine wave inverter include under voltage and over voltage shutdown, thermal protection, and overload protection.
On one side of this inverter are 2 AC outlets and 1 USB port, while the other side houses the fan, fuse holder, and positive/negative outlets. Measuring 8.4″ by 5.5″ by 3″ and tipping the scales at 3.7 lbs, it’s a fairly compact and lightweight inverter that will power nearly all sorts of devices and appliances.
For convenience, Rally offers a 200-watt power inverter that fits in your cup holder. Offering 200 watts of continuous power or 400 watts of peak power, this inverter won’t do the same heavy lifting as more powerful units on our list, but should provide enough juice for devices like a laptop. It includes a pair of 110V outlets and an additional 12V outlet, along with a single USB port.
This is a fuse-protected unit with short circuit protection, a ground fault interrupter circuit, a low battery alarm and auto shutdown feature, overload protection, high and low voltage protection, and a cooling fan.
An ideal inverter if you don’t need a ton of power, its cup holder design makes it convenient to store inside your vehicle when it’s being used. Rally includes a 2-year warranty with this product.
With very little bells and whistles, it’s no surprise STANLEY’S FATMAX is one of our cheapest options on the list. This is an extremely compact option that boasts a single 120V AC outlet and 2 USB charging ports, using your cigarette lighter receptacle for power. It’s a 140-watt power inverter, so it’s not the best option if you need to power or charge some heavy duty appliances. But for small electronics, this is great, especially for the price.
Since it is a smaller and light-duty unit, it has a fan free, silent running design. It won’t drain your car’s battery, since it’s low voltage and has an automatic shutoff feature. This product includes a mounting kit so you can conveniently install the inverter wherever you’d like. STANLEY includes a 1-year warranty with this device.
Another option from BESTEK is this affordable, more basic 200-watt power inverter. This unit provides 200 watts of continuous power or 500 watts peak power, but is a more versatile solution since it comes equipped with 3 AC outlets and 4 USB ports. That makes this inverter a great option to charge or power multiple electronic devices at the same time, such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, GPS units, TVs, battery chargers, and more.
This inverter simply plugs into your cigarette lighter receptacle with a 2.5-foot cable, which is long enough so your rear seat passengers can benefit. Measuring 6.22″ by 3.26″ by 1.45″, this device has an ultra-compact design so you can toss it in your glove box or center console when you’re not using it.
Safety features on this inverter include a built-in fuse and cooling fan, low battery alarm, low battery shutdown, overload protection, and short circuit protection.
Another company with a wide lineup of power inverter offerings is Cobra. Ranging from 130 watts of continuous power to 2500 watts, Cobra’s lineup likely has an option for you depending on your needs, including a 200-watt cup holder unit. The number of outlets on each inverter varies depending on the power output, but expect to get 1 to 3 AC outlets and a single USB port on each inverter.
The Cobra 130-watt Traveler is a great option if you want something extremely basic. It simply plugs straight into your cigarette lighter receptacle and offers a single USB port and 1 grounded AC outlet. At the top of the range is a 2,500 watt continuous power option—5,000 watts peak—with a 2.4A USB output and 3 AC outlets.
DEWALT is an extremely reputable brand when it comes to power tools, so it’s little surprise the company also offers a power inverter for vehicles. This particular unit offers 1,000 watts of continuous power and features a pair of AC outlets and 3 USB charging ports. Designed to power electronics such as laptops and power tools, the DEWALT power inverter has an LCD screen that displays real-time information such as power consumption, battery status, and any possible issues.
Featuring a slim aluminum housing, this inverter also has integrated grommets that makes it easy for mounting and installation inside your vehicle. Included with the inverter are battery connectors and mounting hardware, but a 12V DC accessory adapter is not included.
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