LAST UPDATED: May 15, 2019
Best Power Inverters for Your Car: Fast Charging for Multiple Devices
Power your electronics while you are on the road with our top choices for the best car power inverters
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON May 15, 2019
You may have noticed that your vehicle’s USB port is only good for charging your mobile phone. It may be useless for larger accessories like laptops, cameras, or coffee makers if you use your car for camping. Well, a power inverter lets you power your larger accessories. It typically converts electricity from direct current to alternating current power; most appliances need either modified or pure sine wave AC power to work. Below are a few recommendations on some top-rated power inverters that you can use in your car.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy A Car Power Inverter?
- Never run out of power. Have you ever wanted to use your laptop in your car, but it was out of power? A power inverter will help you keep all devices that are an integral part of your life fully charged. And the best thing is that you can charge two devices at the same time.
- Enjoy outdoor activities. If you are a frequent camper, then you will be glad to have an electrical source to power devices like kettles, blenders, and other tools that could make your outdoor trip more memorable.
- Zero running costs. Car power inverters do not run on fuels, like diesel or petrol, that you need to spend a couple of extra bucks on. They obtain their power from your vehicle and offer you an extended power supply to meet the power needs of the day.
- Eco-friendly. Car power inverters don’t emit fumes, fluid waste, or harmful rays into the atmosphere. You get to keep your car clean and enjoy the benefits of a reliable power source.
Types of Car Power Inverters
Single outlet inverters have a simple design and typically provide a current of 150 to 300 watts. They have a small, portable, and lightweight profile, and you can only charge one device at a time. Most of these inverters are cheap and have simple features.
As the name suggests, these inverters feature multiple outlets, and you can charge several gadgets at the same time. The main concern is usually about overloading the device or overheating it. Most of these devices are more expensive, larger, and have a higher current capacity than single outlet inverters.
USB outlets support USB-compatible devices, that is, smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and other gadgets. USB ports give off enough power for these devices, but they cannot power most household or energy-intensive appliances.
Bestek is a multinational company that specializes in automotive accessories, household appliances, and a variety of electronic appliances. The company was started in 2007 and has branches in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. One of its best-selling cigarette lighter power inverters is the Bestek 300W Power Inverter DC.
Foval specializes in producing high-quality car accessories and cell phones at low prices. It’s an online company, and its mission is to provide unique power tools at low prices. Foval’s best portable power inverter is the Foval 150W Car Power Inverter.
Krieger is well-known as a leader in the solar power industry, and the same innovative energy is transferred to its power inverters. The company operates in the USA, France, Australia, Asia, South Africa, Portugal, the UK, and many other countries. Some of its innovative packages are the Krieger 1100 Watt power Inverter and the Krieger 4000 Watt Power Inverter.
Ampeak has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry. It produces sophisticated automotive accessories, and all its products are ETL-certified. One of its best 12-volt power inverters is the Ampeak 2000W Power Inverter.
Car Power Inverter Pricing
- Under $20: This budget is for simple and lower-capacity power inverters. They often have a continuous power capacity of 100 to 200 watts, and most can only charge one device at a time. However, you need not worry about a flashy design as most manufacturers create some elegant pieces despite their cheap price.
- $20-$50: Budget this much for a higher-capacity, 250 watts and above, power inverter. Most devices here have durable construction and can charge multiple devices. They also have cooling fans to prevent overheating.
- Over $50: Power inverters in this price range have a continuous power capacity of 1,000 watts and above. They are built to last and have several outlets that can charge even the most power-intensive tools. Also, most have an LCD display to show you the status of the machine.
The wattage will determine what type of devices you can charge. If you only need to charge a few small electronics, then an inverter with 150 to 300 watts will suffice. However, if you spend most of your time in your vehicle or use it for camping, then you need an inverter with 1,000 watts or above to power your large appliances.
Look into the number of devices that can be connected to a single inverter. Most power inverters feature USB ports and AC outlets; you could charge your phone and laptop at the same time. The number of ports needed will depend on how many devices you have. More ports translate into a more expensive inverter with a higher AC wattage.
Most inverters feature sine waves that are either modified or pure sine waves. Most electronics are often damaged by irregular waveforms like jagged square waveforms. Modified sine waves, on the other hand, put less stress on charging devices, and pure sine waves are even more efficient.
- Safety Certification: Give priority to products marked with the ETL stamp. It means that the product meets all the North American safety guidelines; the product protects against overloading, overheating, shorts, and other electrical faults.
- Size and Weight: You won’t want something that takes up a lot of room in your car, unless you have a large RV and don’t mind the size. A small, compact size is good enough for a power inverter for your car. Lightweight design is also easy to move from car to car.
Best Car Power Inverter Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Bestek 300W is our best product, mainly due to its ultra-compact design and user-friendly features. It has a permanent inverter plug that connects easily to the cigarette lighter. The design includes two USB ports and two AC outlets. Moreover, it’s rated for 300 watts of power and peaks at 700 watts.
The power inverter has a durable metal housing and a temperature-controlled cooling fan that prevents overheating. The fan is powered by your vehicle’s engine. It also has a safe charging feature that protects against overcharging, overloads, over voltage charging, under voltage charging, and short-circuiting. The product is backed by an 18-month warranty that protects against manufacturer’s defects and workmanship.
One disadvantage of this product is that it produces a lower voltage than stated by the manufacturer. The package says it converts 12 volts DC to 110 volts AC, but the final AC voltage may be lower. Moreover, the fuse isn’t easily replaceable and not powerful enough for heavy appliances like a microwave. Also, Bestek has poor customer service.
Our best value pick is a top-quality power inverter that weighs only eight ounces. It’s built with a hard aluminum shell housing with advanced protection from drops or bumps and has a silent fan for cooling that prevents shortages caused by overheating. The machine offers 150 watts of power to any device plugged into it and has a perfectly calibrated fuse to protect your device from overcharging, overloads, short circuits, and overheating.
The device offers the versatility of dual USB ports and one AC outlet with several protection protocols. The USB ports have a maximum output of 3.1 amps that is suitable for charging laptops and tablets. The AC outlet is more suited for charging an iPad, gaming consoles, and a host of other electronic gadgets. Foval offers an 18-month warranty on the product.
The product’s major drawback is that the device tends to get hot despite having a fan. Also, the painting on the case gets scratched easily. It may drain your vehicle’s battery as the system, and more so the cooling fan, draws its power from your vehicle. Moreover, it has an auto shut-off function that may power off the machine unexpectedly.
We threw Krieger into our list as it is designed to handle small appliances to highly inductive tools. It offers a continuous power capacity of 1,100 watts and peaks at 2,200 watts. The product features an LCD display that shows the battery level, output wattage, and input voltage. It also comes with dual USB 2.1-amp ports, two AC outlets, and the device is remote-controlled for user convenience.
The product is packed away in an ergonomic aluminum casing that’s built to last for years. Krieger products are tested and approved by METLAB, so you can rest assured that it passes all performance and safety standards. The product offers protection against short circuits, overheating, and overloads. Krieger offers a three-year warranty on the product for parts and labor.
Something you probably won’t like about the product is that it may start to burn up after a few months of use; probably because of all its heavy-duty features that draw a lot of power from the device. It’s also expensive, and since the inverter connects directly to your car’s battery, it may drain it quickly.
- Disconnect extra load from the inverter when it’s not in use. This will prevent the machine from overheating, and you will save your car battery from getting drained.
- Never place a power inverter in direct sunlight, next to heat sources, or on wet surfaces. It’s better to place the inverter under your car seat or any other well-protected place.
- If you are using your inverter on an old vehicle, always disconnect the inverter after you switch off the vehicle. It may leave your battery flat, even when there aren’t any appliances plugged into it.
- If you are using a secondary battery to power your inverter, ensure that it’s well-sealed and there’s adequate ventilation in your car. Batteries can be unpredictable and deadly in enclosed spaces.
- Ensure that you always start your engine before running the inverter. That will save your battery from flattening out. On the off chance that you use the inverter with your engine off, ensure that you don’t let it run any longer than an hour.
Q: How do I hook up a power inverter?
A: The installation technique depends on the size of the inverter. Small power inverters are typically hooked up to your cigarette lighter, but they won’t draw more than 200 watts from the lighter socket. Medium to large inverters come with extra connection cables that are either directly clamped to your car’s battery or hard-wired directly into a battery.
Q: What is the difference between peak and continuous power outputs?
A: Peak output indicates the wattage that a power inverter can supply for a specified amount of time. Continuous output, on the other hand, refers to the average wattage that the inverter will supply under normal operation.
We chose the Bestek 300W Power Inverter DC as our best overall pick since it’s a convenient cigarette lighter inverter that has a durable construction and can charge a wide variety of electronics.
The Foval 150W Car Power Inverter is for anyone on a tight budget, but still needs something to charge a couple of devices at the same time.