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Best Power Inverter for Your Car, RV or a Truck? Here Are The REALLY Good Ones

best power inverter for car

Everyone has a few gadgets these days and we always need to be able to charge them when on the go. The thing is that not all of these devices have a power cable that can be plugged into a car’s cigarette lighter. Luckily, you can get equipped with a power inverter for your car, RV, or a truck, to provide extra energy when you need it.

The thing is there are lots of cheap ones on the market, but they might not be able to handle all the devices you want to power. We are going on a quest to track down the best power inverter for the car. There is plenty to consider when finding the best though.

Now, as usual, Garage Chief have come up with a list of 6 of the top products on the market when it comes to the best car inverter. However, we didn’t just stop there.

We also have provided you a buyer’s guide so that you will know the most important things to consider when it comes to picking your best option. This will help you find the one that works best for your particular needs.


Best Power Inverter for Car – Our Top Picks Compared

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at a quick comparison table of our best picks for the power inverter:

editors-choiceBest ProductBest Value    
editors-choiceBest ProductBest Value
ImageKRIEGER Best Modified Sine Wave Power InverterBESTEK Best car Power Inverterfoval Best cheap power inverter for carENERGIZER Best Ultra Silent Power InverterSunforce Best Pure Sine Wave Power InverterAIMS Best RV Power Inverter
item-titleKrieger KR1500 Watt 12V Dual Power Inverter with Installation KitBESTEK 300W Power InverterFoval 150W Car Power InverterEnergizer 500 Watt Ultra Silent Power InverterSunforce 11240 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave InverterAIMS Power 3000 Watt 12V Pure Sine Inverter Charger
Best Modified Sine Wave Power InverterBest Car Power InverterBest Cheap Power Inverter for CarBest Ultra Silent Power InverterBest Pure Sine Wave Power InverterBest RV Power Inverter
item-reviewread review read review read review read review read review read review
TypeType
Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter
Type
Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter
Type
Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter
Type
Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter
Type
Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter
Type
Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter
Max WattageMax Wattage
1500 Watts
Max Wattage
300 Watts
Max Wattage
150 Watts
Max Wattage
500 Watts
Max Wattage
1000 Watts
Max Wattage
3000 Watts
PlugsPlugs
2 Plugs
Plugs
2 Plugs, 2 USB
Plugs
1 Plug, 2 USB
Plugs
2 Plugs, 4 USB
Plugs
2 Plugs
Plugs
2 Plugs
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Car Power Inverter Reviews – Which One is The Best?

We will start off with a list of the six best power inverters. All of these are great options, but you’ll have to narrow it down to the one that works best for you. We’ll give you all the important details you need to know about them. But we will also point out those areas that they fall short, as this will let you get a full picture of each option.

At the end of those car power inverter reviews, you should be able to find the one that meets your particular needs but can still fall within your budget. So without any further delay, we’ll take a look at these models.


KRIEGER Best Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter


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Best Product

KRIËGER KR1500 Best Modified Sine Wave Dual Power Inverter

  • Type: Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter
  • Max Wattage: 1500 Watts
  • Plugs: 2 Plugs

If you are looking for the best modified sine wave power inverter, you might not be surprised to find that it is also our pick for the best product overall. That inverter is the Krieger KR1500 Watt 12V Dual Power Inverter with Installation Kit.

You’ll notice that unlike some other inverters this is a full kit to install it into your vehicle. In addition to the inverter itself you also get 3-foot cables that have been paired with it, so you know that you are getting the right size, as well as the appropriate fuses to hook this one up.

The inverter itself sports an LED screen that will not only let you know how much power you are pulling, but also the charge off the battery it is attached to as well as notify you of any warnings.

best car inverter

The inverter has all the standard safety precautions like temperature overload and short circuit protection to keep you safe even if something goes wrong. This model can handle 1500 watts worth of power but can peak all the way up to 3000 watts, so that even during surges you won’t overload the inverter.

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foval Best cheap power inverter for car


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Foval 150W Best Cheap Power Inverter for Car

  • Type: Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter
  • Max Wattage: 150 Watts
  • Plugs: 1 Plug, 2 USB

If you are looking for a low cost option to test out having a power inverter, the Foval 150W Car Power Inverter is a great option to consider. This is a modified sine wave power inverter but that means that the cost stays down while you get a quality inverter.

best power inverterThis one sports a 16 inch cord from the cigarette lighter adapter and while that might not seem very long on its own, you will need to remember that that is merely where the plug is, so with a standard laptop cord you can easily power a laptop in the back seat.

This inverter also has two USB ports, so you can quickly plug in phones and tablets to charge them on your next road trip.

And since the unit is portable, at a mere 9.6 ounces you can easily take it with you from car to car, so if your journeys take you into a rental you’ll still have the power that you need.

It is wired to provide full short circuit protection and it keeps it simple, a green LED means all is well, switching to red lets you know that there is an issue.

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BESTEK Best car Power Inverter


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Best Value

BESTEK 300W Best Car Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC

  • Type: Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter
  • Max Wattage: 300 Watts
  • Plugs: 2 Plugs, 2 USB

To show that you can get a contender for best power inverter while not breaking the bank you should look at our pick for the best value, the BESTEK 300W Power Inverter.

This model is a modified sine wave power inverter that is designed to provide up to 300 Watts of power for your devices.

This one sports a pair of plugs and a pair of USB ports to give you a wide variety of options of what you can plug in and run. One thing to note is that with all those options is that it is fairly easy to overload the inverter, so take a moment to think through everything that you are plugging in.

This one has a built-in fan and a metal case. This helps to vent off extra heat and provide a good level of protection so that even if you end up dropping the unit it will still keep on rocking. It is also designed to be protected from over charging, over heating and short circuits.

This means that you should be protected even if something goes wrong. The company stands behind this product with an 18 month warranty.

car power inverter reviews

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ENERGIZER Best Ultra Silent Power Inverter


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ENERGIZER 500 Watt Best Ultra Silent Power Inverter

  • Type: Modified Sine Wave Inverter
  • Max Wattage: 500 Watts
  • Plugs: 2 Plugs, 4 USB

If you are looking for the best ultra silent power inverter you should consider the Energizer 500 Watt Ultra Silent Power Inverter.

First off, it is from the same company that you know for making batteries (like those ones), now just because a company makes one style of quality product doesn’t mean that they will make a quality produce in a different realm, but in this case they did.

One thing you will notice with this inverter is that they tell you that the maximum operating wattage is 500 Watts, but the peak wattage is 1000 Watts, which can be good to know. Often during start up devices can surge to several times their normal wattage load.

This model has two standard North American plugs but it also sports 4 USB ports to cover charging of the whole families phones. They claim that they are the first company to offer that many ports on an inverter.

Another thing to consider with this inverter is that you can either work it through a cigarette lighter adapter, but also through alligator clips to attach to battery terminals. The housing has spots that would allow you to permanently mount the inverter to your vehicle if desired.

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Sunforce Best Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter


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Sunforce 11240 Best Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter with Remote Control

  • Type: Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • Max Wattage: 1000 Watts
  • Plugs: 2 plugs

If you are looking for the best pure sine wave inverter you might want to check out the Sunforce 11240 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter. It offers you an inverter that can handle up to 1000 Watts of draw with a surge all the way up to 2000 Watts.

This inverter needs to be hard wired to your 12 volt battery so don’t look for cigarette power adapter. The system even comes with a remote control so that you can cut off the inverter if required even if you aren’t right next to the inverter.

The design gives you an LED display to let you know how many Watts you are pulling to keep you knowledgeable as to how much power you are using.

But this invert has more tricks up its sleeve. In addition to shut offs for temperature overloads and output overload, this inverter is set up to shut itself off if the battery it is plugging from drops below a certain percentage of charge. This will help keep enough power left in the battery for you to start up your vehicle next time you need to get going.

Read customer reviews on Amazon right here


AIMS Best RV Power Inverter


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AIMS Power 3000 Watt Best RV Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter Charger w/ 9000W Surge

  • Type: Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter
  • Max Wattage: 3000 Watts
  • Plugs: 2 Plugs

If you really need a lot of power (as you need it in your RV parked on Yellowstone camping, right?) you’ll want to track down the Best RV Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter. Well, you’ll want to take a look at the brick that is the AIMS Power 3000 Watt 12V Pure Sine Inverter Charger.

This one can handle up to 3000 Watts standard, but if needed can handle surges up to 9,000 Watts of power. It is 16 inches long and weighs 62 pounds, so don’t think that this is a portable unit.

It is meant to be installed in a single location and left there. However, it is rated to be both marine and industrial grade. You will notice the plugs have reset and test switches with them.

Of course, if you aren’t satisfied with 3,000 Watts then you can step up to the 4,000 Watt model that they offer.

In addition to using with an RV battery, this is a great choice if you are looking for an inverter to work with a solar panel to give you all the power that you need for off-grid living.

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Buyer’s Guide to the Best Power Inverter

What is a power inverter for a car?

Perhaps one of the most important things to understand about a power inverter is what DC and AC are. At a basic level you need to understand that AC is alternating current and DC is direct current. Your home runs on AC, but batteries, like the one in your car provide DC.

Electronics are built to handle one or the other, so if you have devices made to be plugged in at home you’ll end up frying them if you provide them DC power.

The inverter will change the power output from DC to AC. They will have some number of plugs letting you plug your electronic devices in to power them. One thing remember is that the amount of power will have some limits on it.

First is the capacity of your battery, any battery will only give a certain amount of power. The second limit is the wattage. This is a measure of how much power the invert can provide at a given time. We will discuss these limits a little bit later.


This video explains what a car power inverter is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9J_tP2v30o

One thing to consider is how much you are looking to power and for how long. If you are only powering a few smaller electronics for a short period an inverter can be a great choice. However, if you are needing to work with some larger items, like power tools for a longer period of time, you might want to look into a power generator (take a look here) to power the juice that you need.

First, we need to look at the different types of inverter on the market so that you can pick out the best car inverter for you based on your own needs.


Types of Inverter

Since you are looking at different inverters you will no doubt find that there are two major types of inverter on the market. They are the Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter and the Pure Sine Wave Power inverter. Let’s have a look at the graph below:

pure sine wave inverter Modified Square


Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter

When we start considering the difference in power inverters we have to look at the change in power from DC to AC. DC power is provided at a single consistent power level. AC power smoothly goes back and forth above and below 0 Volts, in a sine wave.

When power inverters first came out it was difficult to get that smooth style sine wave, so they would do so with discrete jumps in voltage. If you plotted this out on a grid, instead of a smooth sine wave you would get blocky “steps”. This became known as the modified sine wave inverter.


Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter

As time went on technology improved. Companies started putting out power inverters that there able to convert DC to AC in a smooth sine wave. This might now sound overly important, but more sensitive electronics need to have that smooth power in order to function properly.

The reason gets rather complicated as it takes into account harmonics, but the easy explanation is that power that comes out of a pure sign wave power inverter is more like the power that the utility company provides.


Modified Sine vs Pure Sine Power Inverter – What are the Differences?

As we’ve gone over what each type of inverter is we’ve given you the basic level difference. Namely that the modified sine wave power inverter provides a blockier power change and the pure sine wave power inverter is much smoother. In actual use those there are some important differences that you should consider.

In a pure sine wave power inverter those items that have an inductive load will run quieter, faster and cooler. Most items that have a fan will have the fan run less which will result in a quieter overall process. Some people will even point that the smoother power from a pure sine wave power inverter can result in less computer glitches.

There are some devices that most people will say are more sensitive and should only be used with a pure sine wave power inverter. These types of devices are things like fluorescent lights, medical equipment, battery chargers for power tools and certain laptop computers.

With all of these check marks in the favor of the pure sine wave power inverter, you might wonder if there is any reason to go with a modified sine wave power inverter. The major advantage of this style of power inverter is that it is a cheaper option. If you are looking to just run a TV or some lights and want to save some money this can be a great option.


Do You Really Need a Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter?

Now that we have given you the run down on the differences in these styles of power inverters, you might be wondering if you truly need to spend the money to get the true sine wave power inverter.

As we have discussed early this really comes down to what you are going to run with it. If you are looking to run only smaller items, then you should be fine with the modified sine wave power inverter. This option will also end up saving you some money.

On the other hand, if you are not worried about the cost difference you may in fact want to go with the pure sine wave power inverter. Going with this method while you may not need them today, you will be covered for future endeavors. This way if you end up later wanting to use some of the more sensitive devices you will be covered.


Purpose of Power Inverters

Power Inverter for Car

In general, when most people think of a power inverter for a car they are looking at one of the smaller models. Some people will put the limit around 450 Watts, while others will say that they really top off around 300 Watts.

Generally these types of inverters are made to be portable. They will have a cable that’s a few feet long and an adapter to plug into a cigarette lighter. They will only have a few plugs available as they are really only meant to be used with a couple items at a time.

The beauty of these inverters is that they are so easy to take with you. That means if you are switching cars or even traveling and picking up a rental you will still be able to power your gear. Of course, the trade off is that you are limited to how much gear will be powered at any time.

And since most of the time your car will only have a single twelve volt battery your time running your devices can be limited. You can extend out this time by running the car’s engine for about 15 minutes every hour to ensure the battery is recharged though.


Power Inverter for RV & Truck

When you are looking into an inverter that is meant for an RV or enough a truck generally the thought is that you will need to run something a little bit larger. In these cases you won’t be looking at an adapter for the cigarette lighter.

On the more portable end of the spectrum you can find some models that will alligator clip to your car’s battery terminals. These will allow you to pop the hood, hook up your inverter and start running power. Of course, you will still have limits on how long that power will last you.

Another option is to go with something a little more permanent. You can get inverters that are hard wired to your battery that are generally mounted onto your vehicle somewhere. In the case of a truck it might be near the bed to provide some extra power to lifts or other tools.

For an RV you might have them easily accessible to power a TV or fan near your vehicle for when you stop. Sometimes in these larger vehicles you’ll have a 24 volt battery or a series of batteries connected to provide you with more power and therefore a longer time between needing to run your vehicle’s engine.

best power inverter for rv

Related articles to check:

How to Choose the Best Power Inverter? Main Considerations

There are quite a few considerations that you can look at when it comes time to pick out the right inverter for your needs. We discussed some of the differences between a pure sine wave power inverter and a modified sine wave power inverter.

If you are running things like lights, TV or tools you’ll most likely be fine with a modified sine wave inverter (like Krieger KR1500 Power Inverter). If you are looking to run more sensitive electronics like a computer or a stereo you’ll want to look at getting a pure sine wave inverter (like Sunforce 11240 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter).

Another consideration that you might want to think about when picking your best power inverter is the load you will put on it. One think that you’ll have to consider is the wattage that you are going to use. We discuss some examples below. One thing to consider when you are adding up the wattage that you are using is that some devices can surge and pull several times their normal operating wattage.

Additionally, you will need to look at the number of plugs that your inverter choice has. If you are planning to normally plug two devices you need at least two outlets, though it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra plug. You can plug a splitter in if you really needed, but that can end up causing some other issues.

Some inverters will have some other bells and whistles.


Car Power Inverters – FAQ

Q

What Can You Run on a 300 Watt Inverter?

A

There are always people who will shoot to get the biggest that they can, in the case of power inverters that might mean looking for the most watts available. Sure you could push for 3,000 watts of power, but for a comparison, let’s take a look at what you can run off a 300 watt inverter.

Many electronics will tell you the wattage that they require, but some might only list amps. In order to find your devices wattage you’ll want to multiple the amps by the voltage. In the US most items run on 120 volts.

Starting off let’s look at a few items that you could run alone. A cell phone charger will need about 24 watts, a laptop can range from 60-90 and an iPod needs around 120 watts. If you are a gamer a PS2 pulls about 125 and a 25 inch TV will need 175.

If you call for it a CPAP will use around 200 watts. Sadly though if you are out camping a coffee maker needs about 800 watts, so you won’t be enjoying your morning joe with a 300 watt inverter.

Luckily you can simply add your watts up, if you get above the wattage listed on your inverter you’ll run into issues. So for example if you had a laptop that pulled 100 watts, an iPod that pulled 125 and a cell phone charger that needs 25 you would have enough power will a little room let over.

Now for our example numbers a PS2 and a 25 inch TV get you to 300 watts on the nose, but this could be a little touchy as your particular model might need a watt or two more, so it is safest to leave yourself some wiggle room.


Q

Do Car Power Inverters Drain Car Batteries?

A

Here is the thing, that power that you are drawing to run your toys, it has to come from somewhere. In this case the power is coming from your battery. Now your car’s battery will only be able to provide power for a limited period of time. You can figure out how long it will run with a few pieces of information.

You’ll need to know if your battery is a 12 volt or a 24 volt (most standard car batteries are 12 volt). Then you need to know the capacity of the battery in amp hour (depending on your battery this could be between 50 and 100).

Then you need to know the load in watts (you can use the capacity of your inverter). For either battery you’ll want to divide the capacity by the load. If you have a 12 volt battery multiple that by 10, for a 24 volt multiple by 20. Finally, you’ll need divide what you get by two.

In most cases you’ll get a few hours of use before your battery is drained. But you need to remember that a starter battery shouldn’t be drained more than 90% as it can shorten your batteries life.

There are a few ways to extend out that time limit. You can bump up to a bigger battery, you can wire multiple batteries together and finally, you can just run your engine as that will recharge your battery.


Q

Where and How to Install and Use Power Inverter in Your Car?

A

Once you have picked out the right inverter for your particular needs, you’ll want to figure out where to put it and how to get it hooked up. Each inverter will come with its own instructions that will led you through all the important steps to make sure that it is connected properly.

Generally, there will be two different classes of power inverter. The smaller class, some people will say the cut off is 300 while others will put the limit around 450, will generally come with an adapter to be plugged into your cigarette lighter.

Often times these are meant to be portable, so installation is as easy as plug it in and then place it anywhere the attached cord will reach. Many newer vehicles have that style of plug located in many different places, so you have more options.

Larger inverters (like truck and RV inverters or marine options) will take a little bit more thought. These come with either alligator clamps (if not, get one here) to attached directly to the battery or a system to allow you to hardwire your inverter in. If you are hardwiring the system, you’ll probably end up popping off some panels to keep the wires from running all over the cabin.

In this style you’ll want to spend some time thinking about where you will end up using the plugs. Since this won’t be moved easily you’ll be served by figuring out where it should go before you start work.

In addition to where you are placing the inverter you’ll also want to consider the wires you are using. Based on the size inverter you are putting in and how far you’ll need to run wires you can determine the size wire you’ll need to safely connect your inverter.


How Much Does Power Inverter for Car Cost?

Before you go to make a selection, you are going to end up wondering, just how much is this going to cost me. The thing is, it depends.

The best power inverter for you might be vastly different than other people. In general, the more wattage that you require is going to drive the cost up.

Also, the type can affect the price. A modified sine wave power inverter will generally be cheaper than a pure sine wave power inverter of the same wattage. The good news is that there are some good models on the market (like our best value choice) that can be found for under $20.

Now you need to note that in this price range there are also some poorly made options, so be sure to do your homework. At the same time if you want all the bells and whistles you can easily spend $800 or more on a power inverter.

Either way you are going to want to track down a trusted source in order to make sure you are getting a quality product. The truth is that most big box stores are just going to have a single option, take it or leave it.

Automotive specialty stores might have a couple choices, but most likely you will have a each choice be in a different range of wattage, so you still won’t have much selection. That leaves an online retailer.

These can have a much wider selection and since they work in bulk tend to also have lower prices. You will need to factor in shipping costs by going online, but you gain the ability to see reviews of others that have used the product to help you in your decision.

A great choice would be Amazon as they feature a very impressive selection with good prices and many times low cost shipping.

A power inverter can be a very helpful thing to add to your car, but there are a few safety considerations that you need to keep in mind. The first is how much that you are trying to run off your inverter. In most cases the inverter will have some safety works in place, but if you try to plug in devices that pull more wattage than your inverter can provide you could overload your inverter. If things go wrong this could even result in fire.

Another safety concern come in play when you are installing a new inverter in your car. Just like anywhere else that you are placing power cords you need to size your cables properly. While cables that are oversized are a waste, they won’t cause other issues. If you use undersize wires you can end up with the wires overheating or shorting out. Either of these can cause some permanent damage to your vehicle.

Bottom Line on Power Inverters

At this point you should have all the information that you need in order to make a choice on what the best power inverter is for you.

We started off highlighting six models that all stood out above the crowd. Now there is quite a range of options when looking at these power inverters, so one might be right up your alley while the others aren’t. But all things being equal we felt that the Krieger KR1500 Power Inverter really hit the ball out of the park on all the bases and would be a great choice for most anyone.

After the power inverter reviews we dove into our buyer’s guide to give you some extra information on the main considerations that need to be on your mind while you are shopping for your next power inverter for car, truck or RV.

We delved into the different styles of inverters and gave you a feel for some of the things that you can run off a 300 Watt inverter to help you see what was possible.

Finally, we’d love to hear from you. Did we miss anything vital? If so, let us know in the comment section below.


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