Your car’s USB port is great for charging your phone, but how about other electronics such as laptops and cameras, or even your camping gear? If you’re taking a long road trip and won’t see charging stations for a while, you’ll need something on-board to keep your gadgets charged.
This is where power inverters for cars come in. These handy devices can charge your larger accessories by converting direct current into alternating current so your electronics can work. Here’s a list of the best power inverters for cars in 2020, as well as a buying guide to help you decide which power inverter works best for you.
- 10 Best Power Inverters for Car
- 1. BESTEK 300W Power Inverter
- 2. KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V Power Inverter
- 3. GoWISE Power 600W Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 4. Duracell 175 Watt Portable Power Inverter
- 5. Energizer Peak Power Inverter
- 6. Rally 200 Watt Power Inverter
- 7. BESTEK 200W Power Inverter
- 8. DEWALT DXAEPI1000 Power Inverter
- 9. Cobra CPI890 Portable Power Inverter
- 10. STANLEY FATMAX PCI140 140W Power Inverter
- Benefits of the best power inverter for car
- Types of power inverters for car
- Key features to look for in a power inverter for cars
- Final tips
10 Best Power Inverters for Car
Aside from transforming DC power to AC power for your consumer electronics (preferably with pure sine waves for sensitive devices needing higher quality power), power inverters should also have plenty of outlets, a high wattage, and resistance to short circuits, overloads, and high temperatures. Here’s a list of power inverters that fit the criteria and exceed expectations:
Our top pick is the BESTEK 300W power inverter, an affordable option that gives you just the right amount of power for your charging needs. You can get this with either 300 or 700 watts of continuous power or instantaneous power, with both variants giving you enough juice to power up most light electronic devices.
Basically, it’s great for charging laptops and cameras, as well as powering small TVs, portable fridges, and air compressors. It’s also really compact and fits right in your glove box so it won’t take up precious space in your car. And, it comes with two AC outlets, two USB ports, and a 24 inch cable that plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter receptacle.
It’s even packed with plenty of safety features, including charging protection for over and under voltages, overheating protection, and short circuit protection. There’s also a built-in fuse to protect the inverter. All in all, it’s a great modified sine wave inverter.
- Modified sine wave inverter
- Durable metal housing
- Integrated cooling fan
- Easy and convenient to use
- 18 month warranty
- Not suitable for heavier appliances
- Built-in fuse is difficult to replace
Taking the second spot is the KRIËGER 1100W 12V power inverter, a comprehensive modified sine wave inverter that offers loads of continuous power by converting 12 volt DC to 120 volts of AC power to charge all your electronics inside the vehicle.
It even comes with a complete ANL fuse kit along with three feet of battery cable. Moreover, the inverter is loaded with safety features such as temperature, short circuit, and overload protection. It’s also well designed with a sleek LCD display that informs you of the inverter’s battery level, input voltage, and output wattage.
To add to that, it’s easy to connect to your car battery and has the capability to draw more power right from your car’s electrical system, which translates to more juice for your devices. With all these amazing features, you’d be hard pressed not to buy this model.
- Solid build quality
- Plenty of power offerings
- 1A USB ports + 2 AC outlets
- Built-in security features
- 3 year warranty
- Not as convenient to set up
In third place is the GoWISE Power 600W pure sine wave inverter, a top of the line unit that gives you lots of continuous power, and even up to 1,200 watts of surge power. It also makes use of 10 to 16V DC for input and 120V AC for output, and even comes with a cable starter pack so you can charge your devices right out of the box.
This inverter features a solid design with one USB port and two AC outlets on one side, and positive and negative outlets, a fuse holder, and a fan on the other side. It’s also quite compact at less than nine by five by three inches, and lightweight too, at only 3.7 pounds, which is surprising seeing as it can easily power all of your appliances.
Let’s not forget, it also comes with all the must-have safety features to keep you, your vehicle, and your devices protected. These safety features include thermal protection, under and over voltage shutdown, and overload protection.
- Pure sine wave inverter
- Grounded AC outlets
- Multiple protection systems
- 1 USB port + 2 AC outlets
- Affordable option
- Not the highest power rating
If you want an even more affordable option than the ones we already reviewed above, check out the Duracell 175 watt Portable power inverter, which comes with two USB 2.1 ports and a couple of three pronged AC outlets. It also features an LED power light that lets you know once the unit is turned on.
It features a basic design much like a power strip, and also comes with a three foot cord which you can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter receptacle. This model is great for charging simple devices such as laptops and cameras, though it’s not for heavier electric appliances.
It’s also protected by several safety features, which include output overload protection, DC input inverse protection, over temperature protection, and DV over and under voltage protection. Plus, it includes a ventilated cooling pan to make for a quiet, reliable, and safe performance.
- Lightweight and compact design
- 2 AC outlets + 2 USB ports
- Built-in safety features
- Best value for money
- Limited wattage and use
Ranking fifth is the Energizer Peak power inverter, which comes from the brand’s comprehensive power inverter lineup. This 400 watt unit, for instance, is ideal for various heavy duty applications such as powering microwaves, TVs, power tools, gaming consoles, and other appliances and home electronics.
It directly connects to a 12 volt DC battery to give you all that much needed juice, and comes with an LCD display to show you the inverter’s battery level, input voltage, and output wattage. It also comes with an ultra silent cooling thermal fan to prevent overheating.
Moreover, its design features four USB charging ports, and of course, four standard NA AC outlets. Essentially, this model is the best in the Energizer lineup, though you can also opt for lower power (and more affordable) options such as the 900 watt or 2,000 watt units.
- Most powerful power inverter
- Top-of-the-line build quality
- Multiple ports and outlets
- Drop protected
- Quiet operation
- Not compatible with small cars
Alternatively, if you are looking for the most compact and portable option, the Rally 200 watt power inverter conveniently fits in the cup holder in your vehicle. Now, it only offers 200 to 400 watts of continuous or peak power, but it’s good enough for charging smaller electronic devices and powering a couple of appliances.
It may not be as heavy duty as other models on this list, but with the two 110 volt outlets and the extra 12 volt outlet, not to mention the USB port, it will certainly be a helpful thing to have on-board so you can charge some of your items such as your personal laptop.
Plus, it’s also a fuse-protected unit that comes with short circuit protection, overload protection, under and over-voltage protection, ground fault interrupter circuit, auto shutdown feature, low battery alarm, and a reliable cooling fan.
- Unique cup holder design
- Convenient powering through lighter receptacle
- 2AC outlets + 1 USB port
- 2-year warranty
- More expensive than other options
Another option from the BESTEK brand is this basic and affordable 200 watt power inverter that gives you 200 watts of continuous power, and up to 500 watts of peak power. It’s a great, versatile solution that comes with three AC outlets and four USB ports, so you can charge several devices and power up various appliances simultaneously.
This unit works great for tablets, laptops, GPS units, smartphones, battery chargers, TVs, and more. It’s also easy and convenient to use since it just plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter receptacle, and even comes with a 2.5 foot cable just for that job.
It’s the design and cable length also allows rear passengers to enjoy the benefit of the power inverter. And the best part? At roughly 6 by 3 by 2 inches, this device is ultra compact and fits right into your center console or glove box when it’s not in use.
- Simple and affordable
- Easy to store, compact design
- Multiple safety features
- 18-month warranty
- Relatively low power output
We have plenty more options for you to choose from, such as the DEWALT power inverter, which comes from a reputable brand known for their power tools. This unit is designed to power everything from laptops to power tools, and boasts of 1,000 watts of continuous power, as well as featuring a couple of AC outlets along with three USB charging ports.
This power inverter also comes with an LCD display screen that offers real-time information including batter status, power consumption, and any probable issue. Plus, its design features a slim aluminum housing with integrated grommets to make installation and mounting inside the vehicle as easy and convenient as possible.
Furthermore, the DEWALT power inverter comes with mounting hardware and battery connectors, so all you need is a 12 volt DC accessory adapter. All things considered, however, this one’s a pretty good deal that you should definitely try out.
- Superior build quality
- Built-in LCD display
- Various safety features
- Integrated design for mounting
- More expensive than other options
- 12V adapter not included
You might also want to check out the Cobra CPI890 portable power inverter, which is one of the many models in Cobra’s power inverter lineup. This modified sine wave unit is a basic design that offers one grounded AC outlet and one USB port.
This one, in particular, is a travel friendly 130 watt unit that lets you charge basic electronics like phones, tablets, and laptops, but you can also get more heavy-duty models with up to 2,500 watts of power.
It’s fairly easy to use, convenient to set up, and makes for a quiet and safe operation with all its safety features. It may not be as powerful as some of the other car power inverters we reviewed, but it works pretty great for its price.
- Wide range of wattage options
- Various safety features
- Also available in a cup holder design
- Only 1 USB charging port
Last but not least is the STANLEY FATMAX 140 watt power inverter, which is perhaps the most affordable power inverter on this list. It’s also a really compact unit that offers a single 120 volt AC outlet with two USB charging ports and is designed to get power from your car’s cigarette lighter receptacle.
This 140 watt unit is ideal for charging small electronic devices such as laptops and cameras, though it won’t hold up for heavier appliances such as TVs and microwaves. That said, it’s a great and affordable travel friendly option.
Its lightweight and small design doesn’t make use of a cooling fan, so it runs silently and doesn’t drain your car battery, especially since it’s a low voltage device and even features an automatic shutoff function. And, it also comes with a mounting kit for convenient installation.
- Compact and simple design
- 1 AC outlet + 2 USB ports
- 1 year warranty
- Good value for money
- Limited power supply
Benefits of the best power inverter for car
You may be asking yourself whether you really need a power inverter for your car. The thing is, it’s an extremely helpful tool to have with you so you won’t ever run out of power no matter where you end up. You’ll always have access to functioning electronics that you need in your daily life, and even charge multiple devices simultaneously.
This means you can do more and go further. For instance, if you like to go camping, you’ll definitely enjoy the convenience of being able to use certain tools and appliances like a kettle, coffee maker, or blender. After all, staying outdoors doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your little comforts.
Moreover, since power inverters don’t run on fuel, rather, they get power from your car battery, you don’t really need to worry about extra costs in operating and maintaining the inverter. This also gives you the benefit of using an eco-friendly device that gives you reliable power without harming the environment.
Types of power inverters for car
Now, the first thing you need to decide on is what type of power inverter you need. Here’s a list of the different types available on the market:
Single outlet inverters come with a simple design and typically give you 150 to 300 watts of power. These are small, lightweight, and portable units that are easy and convenient to store inside the vehicle, and they also come with simple features that help make them more affordable. The downside is, you can only power up one device at a time.
Power inverters with multiple outlets, on the other hand, gives you the convenience of charging several devices simultaneously. These inverters come with higher current capacities and plenty of safety features to prevent overheating and overloading issues. However, they are also quite bigger and are more expensive.
There are also smaller and more compact power inverters designed with USB outlets, which are great for charging smartphones, MP3 players, tablets, and other small gadgets. As the name suggests, these inverters come with USB ports to supply power to your electronics, so they are not really suitable for energy intensive household appliances.
Key features to look for in a power inverter for cars
When buying a power inverter, there are many things you need to consider, such as the inverter’s capacity, type, and other related factors, all of which we will talk about below.
Peak output vs continuous output
Continuous output refers to the average wattage that your power inverter can supply in normal conditions, whereas peak output refers to the wattage that it is capable of delivering within a specific amount of time.
The wattage of the power inverter is the most important factor as it determines what sorts of devices you can charge or power using the inverter. To give you an idea, 150 to 300 watt power inverters are suitable for small electronics such as phones and laptops, while higher capacity inverters with 1,000 to 4,000 watts are necessary for household and camping appliances.
You also have to consider the number of ports that the power inverter comes with, as this tells you how many devices you can charge at the same time. Generally speaking, more ports (AC outlets and USB ports) are better if you need to power up several electronics simultaneously, but this also makes the power inverter less compact and more expensive.
Power inverters feature either modified or pure sine waves. Pure sine waves are the most efficient in terms of providing consistent power without risking damage to your electronics. Modified sine waves are also quite good at this job, especially when compared with jagged, irregular square waveforms.
Size and weight
What you have to understand is that the size and weight of a power inverter is largely determined by its wattage and available ports. That said, you’ll likely want something that won’t take up too much room inside your car, and is also easy to store when it’s not in use.
All power inverters promise lots of different safety features, but not all of them bear the ETL stamp, which means that the device passes North American safety guidelines in terms of protection against short circuiting, overheating, overloading, and other electrical issues.
You’ll also want to consider the ease of installation and use of the power inverter. Typically, smaller inverters are plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter receptacle, whereas heavy duty variants are designed to receive power directly from the car battery, either via connection cables, clamps, or some hard wiring.
Here’s a brief review of the most popular power inverter brands today:
Ampeak is a known manufacturer of automotive accessories, and has been a staple name in the automotive world for over twenty years. All of its products are also ETL certified, including the Ampeak 2000 watt power inverter.
Bestek is an international company specializing in automotive accessories, electronic devices, and household appliances. It’s a fairly new company founded in 2007, but has already grown with several bases in different countries including the US, UK, and Japan.
Foval’s specialty lies in producing affordable but high quality cell phones and car accessories. This online company lives by its mission of providing unique power tools at affordable costs. The brand’s best power inverter to date is the portable Foval 150 watt car power inverter.
Krieger is a revolutionary name in the industry of solar powers, and it utilizes the same innovations and energy in the brand’s lineup of power inverters. The company has operations in different countries including the US, UK, Australia, France, and Asian and South African countries.
Finally, it’s also a must to have an idea of how much power inverters typically sell for, and what features you can expect under each price range. For example, cheap power inverters under $20 are simple and only offer low capacities of up to 200 watts. These are typically single outlet inverters with basic but pleasing designs.
At the mid-range of 20 to 50 dollars, you can get higher capacity power inverters that boast of multiple charging ports, durable construction, and cooling fans that prevent overheating issues.
And then there are high-end power inverters costing over 50 dollars. These units deliver over 1,000 watts of power, can charge intensive power tools, come with LCD displays, and have a long service life.
The best power inverter for cars, in our opinion, is the BESTEK 300W Power Inverter. It’s durable, convenient, and compact, not to mention affordable. Whichever power inverter you choose to buy, however, at the end of the day, what’s important is how to use it.
To keep things safe, remember to disconnect any extra load when you’re not using the inverter to prevent overheating. Even better, disconnect the inverter itself so as not to drain your battery. Or, if you’re using a secondary battery, make sure to place it in a sealed but well-ventilated area.
Furthermore, never place the battery and power inverter in direct sunlight or anywhere near heat and moisture. Also, ensure that you start your engine first before turning on the inverter, and if you use it with the engine off, limit your use to under an hour.