If you often charge your cell phone in the car or plan on going outdoors, consider taking the best power inverter for a car along. It will provide a safe AC power to your devices and might become really handy powering up your electric screwdriver or a pump.
Modern inverter devices differ in price and many other parameters. Let’s check what to look at when buying the inverting appliance for your car:
- Wattage. Depending on the number of appliances, consumption, and purpose (charging or running the electric gear), you might need a small 100W inverter or a bulky 2,000W model.
- Connection type. The inverters can be connected via a cigarette lighter socket for 12V current or directly to the car battery via the cords with clamps. The latter is more efficient current-wise but less handy.
- Ports. Inverters might have a different number and type of ports. The most widespread are regular AC outlets fit for house appliances and USB inputs.
- Design. Small wattage inverters might be as small as a smartphone, while the powerful machines can be large and heavy. There are also stationery inverters that can be mounted on the wall of the RV, for example.
- Safety. Last but not least, the inverters should be equipped with safety control mechanisms. The most common are temperature and current sensors, but the overload, overcharge, and automatic shut off features are also helpful.
Now that you know the stage, it’s time to find out what is the best power inverter for a car. Scroll down!
Power Inverter for Car Reviews
Need a reliable inverter to charge your smartphone or laptop during long car trips? High protection level, four ports, and small casing let the BESTEK 300W model compete for the title of the best power inverter for a car. Still, its output isn’t enough to run the power demanding electric appliances like an air compressor or a toaster, limiting its potential camping use.
The inverter can produce 300W of continuous power and has a high peak capacity — up to 700W. This means it can boost your laptop’s dead battery and charge it efficiently and quickly. The type of connection is a cigarette lighter plug that’s equipped with the 24-inch long cable and fits the majority of the contemporary cars.
The unit offers four connections located on the same side. Through the two AC outlets, numerous devices like a small ventilator or a boombox can be powered. The USB ports can power up the external devices with up to 2.4A current and feature the automatic voltage sensor system. The latter regulates the output with regard to the demand of a plugged-in appliance.
This power inverter for a car has multiple safety mechanisms that are automatically regulated. The inverter and plugged-in devices are protected from low and excessive voltage, overloading, overcharging. The converter can be heated during operation but doesn’t become hot. It’s also protected against shock circuit hazard.
With the weight of 10.1 oz and dimensions of 6.3 x 4.6 x 2.2 inches, the unit is very compact and portable, and can easily fit a glove compartment.
- An automatic fan gets activated at the temperature rise or the power output exceeding 70W.
- Solid cable and the lighter socket ensure fast charging.
- The aluminum casing prevents occasional scratches and damage from small falls.
- The protective fuse is soldered inside and is difficult to replace.
- No auto shut-off function.
The compact size and weight of this appliance and the variety of ports provided let many users call it the best inverter for a car. It doesn’t take more space than a credit card, except for being a bit thicker (the device dimensions make 3.2 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches). The weight of 8 oz is comparable to a small bottle of soda; so, the inverter is highly portable and doesn’t take much space both during storage and use. Still, the 150W output keeps it in the niche of chargers for mobile devices and doesn’t suffice for RV / camping needs.
The lightweight design doesn’t feel fragile, though. The casing is quite sturdy, made of aluminum alloy, and painted in red (making it well visible in the car). It can withstand light blows and drops without compromising performance. All the outlets are situated on the same side, and the cigarette lighter cord is wired to another side.
The device houses three inputs: one AC port, one USB of 1.0A, and another USB for 2.1A. The total output makes 150W enabling to charge the laptop and smartphone or another small device simultaneously.
The Foval 150W power inverter for a car has the built-in fuse to prevent overloading. It also resists excessive and too little voltage, being secured against short circuit. The efficient small fan cools up the device and prevents overheating.
- Stable charging technology maintains the optimal current level and protects the inverter from overheating.
- Can work for all ports simultaneously without getting noisy or hot.
- The fan works quietly and is unnoticeable within a 2ft distance.
- The cigarette lighter cord has 16 inches and is rather short.
- Needs unplugging and reconnection to avoid overload when starting the car.
This model is alike to the Foval 150W (red) that we described before but has a bright blue casing. With the dimensions of 3.2 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches, it fits anywhere, making a good 150W power inverter for a truck. The AC port feeds 110V current at 60Hz. Two USBs power 1A and 2.1A simultaneously. The device implements the steady feed technology, is secured from overheating, short circuit, and overcharging. The inverter is lightweight with just 8 oz and can be moved around easily.
This inverter is highly versatile and can handle enough power to charge seven low-power (like a smartphone, GPS) and middle-power (like a small fan, breast pump, laptop) devices simultaneously. It could be marked as the best car inverter if only its output would be even throughout the ports. The peak output of the inverter is quite high making 500W. Still, some inputs can only charge small batteries and the gear with the low power requirements.
The total capacity of the inverter makes 200W, which isn’t the smallest in the class but still not enough to run two or more household appliances. However, the ports are plenty offering three 110V rated AC inputs and four USB ones. The latter are grouped together on the side, the two inputs providing 1A current each and the other two supplying 2.1A per port.
The inverter boasts a high safety level supported by the ETL certification. It features protection from under- and overloading, overheating, and shock circuit issues. The fuse secures the inverter itself and the connected devices from overpowering. Besides, the gadget incorporates the battery sensor that can detect the low charge and shutdown the circuit or flash the LED alarm when the charge tends to lower significantly.
This car power inverter has a compact form (6.2 x 3.3 x 1.4 inches) and weighs less than 10 oz fitting the car glove compartment, the armrest space, or a handbag. It connects to the car circuitry through the 12V cigarette lighter plug, which is sturdy and easy to insert. It’s wired with the 2.5ft cable ensuring the freedom of the inverter placement and the connection to the rear car socket as well.
- The fan is automatic and works faster along with the increase of the load.
- Smart USB technology lets charge each device with regard to its requirements.
- The distance between the AC ports makes 2 inches enabling the connection of big AC plugs.
- The AC inputs are low-profile and aren’t too tight for the plug.
- May cause interference with the radio / car music.
If you need a solid backup for your camping or tailgating activities, as well as during the outages, this inverter might be the one you’re looking for. It supplies steady power, is capable of handling demanding household appliances, has several ports to perform the charging, and run the devices at once. However, it lacks a cigarette lighter connection as well (it’s supplied with the battery charging leads only).
The inverter offers two AC outputs rated at 120V and two 2.1A USB ones on one side. The total power fed by the inverter makes 2,000W with the 4,000W peak power. This means it can both charge and run a wide range of devices including the fridge, hair dryer, microwave, laptop, etc. The inverter produces the stepped sine wave ensuring efficient circuit consumption and high output.
The device has the MET and CSA certification and features the advanced Smart Chip protection system. It can control the voltage and amperage, temperature, the battery state, is secured from a short circuit. The inner structure contains high-performance capacitors and transformers with the high frequency complemented with the big heat sinks. The LCD screen shows the battery and temperature condition, as well as the current voltage. The ANL fuse secures the inner and external wiring of the inverter and connected appliances.
This capable inverter for a car weighs 7 pounds and has the dimensions of 15.37 x 7.62 x 3.37 inches. While not featuring high portability, it can be used both as a stationary or moved around the unit.
- The wired remote unit lets power on and off the inverter.
- The LCD screen can show the voltage or wattage; switching is made by the relevant button.
- The cables are 3ft long and feature the loop terminals for a quick hookup.
- Doesn’t fit for pure sine wave gear like a grinder or another working tool.
- Draws the power when in unused mode (main switch on).
Thin design, three ports, 150W output, and enhanced safety protection make this compact inverter a worthy candidate for the list of the best power inverters for a car. It’s quick and simple to use, just plug in the cigarette lighter cord into the car 12V socket and connect the devices you wish to charge or run into the relevant ports.
The inverter is small with just 1.5-inch height, 3.2-inch width, and 2.5-inch depth. It weighs just a bit over 9 oz and can be used by passengers on the back seat without unplugging from the socket, thanks to the long 32-inch power cord. The cigarette lighter plug and cable are sturdy, the latter having a non-entangling design.
The device can operate at 250W instantaneous power, while the constant power output makes 150W. It offers two USBs providing in total 4.2A maximum and a single AC port for feeding 110V current to the household appliances.
The safety of this inverter is proved by the ETL certification. It’s protected against voltage drops and rises, overcharge, temperature increase. The 40-amp fuse maintains the inverter safe for the plugged-in devices.
- Detachable cigarette lighter cord.
- High-speed current transmission from the car socket to the device.
- Safety door mechanism lets through no current when the AC port isn’t used.
- The fan noise can be annoying at a high load.
- The friction fitted cigarette lighter cable might get loose occasionally.
This device is able to produce a steady 200W current and power up or charge six connections. It has multiple protection against electricity malfunction and can be rated as the best car power inverter. Still, it lacks the fast charge feature available on some competitor models and thus, might be insufficient for charging a smartphone or a tablet during car trips.
The inverter has a simple and not flashy design. With the 4.82-inch width and 3.13-inch depth, it’s slightly larger than the paper passport while having 1.47 inches in height. The casing is aluminum and is quite solid, not likely to be harmed by an occasional scratch. The top panel features two AC ports (110V each), the LED indicator for showing the operation status and the convex on/off button. Four USB ports are situated on the side panel and feed 2.1A each.
The inverter has enhanced protection ensuring the safety of the car battery and plugged-in devices. There is a drop and rise sensor for voltage, excess load, and current. The smart charge system won’t let the inverter overpower the device and will prevent the shock circuit. The temperature is regulated by the fan dissipating the heat through the grilled side of the machine. The gadget is a solid option among the automobile inverters for on-the-go drivers and people who need their low-power gear (like a breast pump or electric shaver or mattress inflator) to work in their car.
- The horizontal placement of the AC ports enables good contact with any size of the plug.
- The velcro strap lets keep the cable tidy when not in use.
- Very lightweight (6.3 oz) and ergonomic, fits any compartment and can be placed on the cup holder.
- Can be noisy if the car is started with the inverter on and the AC ports plugged in.
- If several ports are active simultaneously, the radio buzz appears.
This electric converter for a car has many features making it a good option for a stationary or camping use. It’s powerful, versatile, and has an LCD screen and remote control option. On the other hand, it creates the modified sine wave of current, which may not be working for some appliances supporting the pure sine wave circuitry.
The device has a minimalist yet eye-catching design. It’s shaped in an irregular way, with the sloped side, and has four solid feet to rest on. The top panel is slotted and the operation panel is tapered, with the thick grey rim making it well visible in the dark. The opposite side panel houses the connection and grounding posts, the input for the wired remote control appliance, and the fan grill.
The total working output of this inverter makes 1,100W, with a peak 2,200W. There are two 120V rated AC ports located on a distance from each other, and two USB connections, each rated as 2.4A. The shutdown switch is located next to the USB ports and beneath the bright blue LCD screen. The latter shows the feed parameters, such as the output rate, temperature, and battery condition.
The battery connection is performed through the 3ft cables with the gauge 4. The cables have loop ends and are quick to install. The thorough protection system secures the device and connected gear from low and high voltage, overcharge excessive current, shock circuit, heating, etc. This makes it a good car inverter for a laptop or smartphone charging and running multiple electric appliances.
- The menu switch lets choose between the voltage or wattage display mode.
- Mounting clamps on each side provide for various stationary positions.
- Safety approved in accordance with the METLAB and CSA standards.
- Rather bulky (11 x 6.7 x 3.5 inches) and heavy (4.35 lbs).
- Adds a slight noise to the plugged-in devices.
How to Install a Power Inverter in a Car?
Installation of the DC to AC power inverter for a car depends on the type of the inverter connections and usually the power output. Smaller inverters (up to 300W) are connected to the car electric system through a 12V cigarette lighter socket while the more powerful models require the direct battery connection.
Hooking up the inverter through a cigarette lighter is easy; all you need to do is choose the place for your inverter and insert the plug into the socket. Such models are usually quite compact and fit the place on your seat or on the car’s floor. If you purchase the inverter to feed a laptop and run the GPS, you’ll most likely place the device on the front passenger seat. Be sure to provide enough space for the inverter to dissipate heat.
The inverters with the direct battery connection can supply steady power and run the electronic devices, such as a coffee maker, without issues. These models are usually supplied with a pair of strong cables with hookup terminals, with 2 or 4ft gauge. Wonder, how to wire a power inverter to a car battery? Here are the steps:
- Place the inverter on the flat surface or flat against the wall.
- Install a fuse kit if it’s not pre-installed.
- Attach the wire to the inverter posts (red to the positive post, black to the negative one, ground wire — to the grounding post (usually copper)).
- Check that the inverter is completely off. Secure the nuts on the wires.
- Connect the black cable to the negative post of the power bank. Don’t hook up the red one yet.
- Attach the ground cord to the metal frame (or a screw connecting to the metal frame) of the car.
- Run the red cable to the battery positive post and fix it there.
How does a Power Inverter Work in a Car?
Any inverter, including the small car power inverter for a laptop and the powerful device for running household appliances, is used to transform the current fed by the car battery into the one used by the smartphone, tablet, or camera power banks, the working tools, household gadgets, etc. This means the 12V DC power should be made the 110V-120V AC one (or 5V for USB connections).
The inverter draws the current from the car battery and changes its parameters to imitate the sine wave of the AC current. On many inverters, the resulting current wave is a stepped one, also known as the “modified sine” wave. Though this current has low energy consumption, it might be insufficient to feed the pure sine wave tools and gadgets (such as impact drills or LED TVs). That’s why some of the inverters incorporate additional structural elements to “smooth down” the current wave and approximate it to the pure sine one.
The work of the particular inverter on the various cars can be different. Its efficiency depends on the battery size, alternator parameters, the requirements of the connected device. The inverter should be powerful enough to feed the intended device but also not too demanding in order not to drain the car’s power bank.
Are Power Inverters Bad for Your Car?
Inverters offer the comfort of direct plugging in and charging on the go, as well as using the necessary appliances right in your car or at the camping site. Still, many car drivers know well how intrinsic and fragile the car internal wiring can be.
In fact, the inverter, as any other electric device, drains the battery and can cause the increased load on the battery and the system. However, the correct installation, hookup, and use of the power inverter results in the slightest to zero harm to the car electric system and / or battery.
Take the following steps to ensure your inverter is installed and works properly and doesn’t cause problems to your car:
- Check the voltage. The inverter should match the battery parameters (12V, 24V, or 48V) in order to ensure safe and efficient operation.
- Don’t let the inverter work when the engine is stopped. Using the inverter without running the engine might result in the battery drain afterward. Many inverters have the USB connections powered even when the shutdown switch is off. It’s advised to disconnect the inverter from the car system every time it isn’t working.
- Limit the usage of demanding appliances. Many-watt devices will drain the car battery quite fast. Make sure both battery and inverter fit for this particular appliance. It’s recommended to use the inverter only for the devices having lower wattage than the inverter.
- Control the temperature. Over 100F is considered a threat to the operating stationary or portable power inverter for a car. Even the units with the big fan might suffer the heat when working on a high load. Ensure there’s enough space around the inverter to enable fast heat dissipation.
My name is Brandon, and I’ve been interested in cars since I was a kid. I got a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Technology and worked in a private car workshop. I have two cars that have been completely upgraded with my own hands. So I successfully put all my knowledge into practice.
Last update on 2020-08-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API