We’re more reliant on technology than ever before. Do you go to a restaurant without checking out reviews online first?
And when was the last time you drove anywhere without Google Maps on your phone, guiding your way?
Our growing reliance on our electronic devices leads to a corresponding need for power. And when we’re on the road, there’s a source of power that should be at our fingertips, but it’s just out of reach.
Our car’s battery offers the potential for charging phones, laptops and tablets, or powering the kids entertainment in the form of TVs and in-dash car DVD players.
If you’re camping out, the car battery could even power your minifridge, or coffee maker in the morning.
And in a disaster scenario, our car’s battery is a power plan B. It could keep the lights on, or save your frozen goods from spoiling.
But car batteries produce DC – direct current. And our household outlets provide AC, the alternating current required to charge batteries and power appliances. To turn your car battery into an on-hand power source, you’ll need a power inverter.
These inverters go from pocket-sized and plug-in to the hard-wired. But whatever your electrical needs, there’s a car power inverter for you.
Let’s take a look at the best car power inverters on the market.
The Best Car Power Inverters in 2022
Whether you’re starting the party with a powerful PA system or just looking to top up your laptop battery, you’ll need a power inverter to make the most of your car’s battery. Here are the best car power inverters on the market.
Krieger 4000 Watts Power Inverter 12V to 110V, Modified Sine Wave Car Inverter – Best Customer Care And Warranty
Krieger is a leading brand in electronics so you know you’re in safe hands. That means premium build quality, as well as worry-easing customer service and support.
This modified sine wave inverter is exceptionally powerful, with 4000 watts there’s little limit to what you can power beyond your car battery’s lifespan.
And although modified sine wave inverters tend to be a little less efficient than their pure counterparts, Krieger’s 4000-watt inverter ensures you’ve got power to spare.
With two outlets as well as additional USB charging points, you have space to run multiple units as well as the power to do so.
And every level of protection is included – overheating, overloading and short circuit are accounted for, and the easy-to-read LCD screen provides you with up to the minute information about the health of your car’s battery.
Another bonus feature is the remote control – that’s going to come in handy because this big inverter needs to be hard-wired to your battery. Both the size of it and the installation requirements mean it’s likely to be hard to access.
And whilst installation entails a hard-wiring job, and those who aren’t familiar with electronics might require professional help, this unit comes with everything needed to get you up and running.
2. Renogy 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Battery Converter – Best Pure Sine Wave Inverter
Renogy’s 2000W inverter has been optimized for delivering premium power.
With three outlets and additional USB charging capacity, this is a one-stop shop for your in-car power needs.
And the pure sine waves provide smoother and more reliable power, perfect for sensitive electronics and reduced buzz. With pure sine waves, you get optimized performance of your electronics.
Whilst it lacks an LCD screen for intuitive information, the LED light system indicates when voltage is surging or dipping to dangerous levels, and the inverter has in-built protection for overloading.
The pure sine waves also enable your electronics to run cooler, reducing the risk of overheating and extending their lifespan.
Thanks to the heavy wattage, this inverter needs to be hard-wired. It comes with all the kit you need for installation, but prepare to call in the professionals if you’re wary of wiring.
For optimized performance, you can expect a premium price. Whilst you’ll certainly feel the hit to your bank balance with Renogy’s 2000W inverter your electronics will thank you for the smooth current.
3. Energizer 4000 watts Power Inverter, Modified sine Wave car Inverter, 12V to 110 Volts – Best Hard-Wired Power Inverter For Self-Installation
Energizer’s 4000-watt inverter comes with tons of power. And with two 110V outlets and two USB charging points, you’ll have the opportunity to put it to the test.
This inverter brings out the big guns. It’s perfect for high-power items, from microwaves to power tools.
It comes with the range of protection you’d expect from a powerful unit that you’re going to stretch to the limit. Over and under voltage protection and overheating are covered, giving you peace of mind when you’re running your electronic goods.
And the LCD screen gives you heaps of information, so you can fine-tune performance. It also lets you keep an eye on your car battery, so you’ll never run it flat.
Whilst it requires hard-wiring and some knowledge of electronics to do so, the instructions are intuitive and it comes with a complete wiring kit. This makes it a great choice for DIY beginners looking to get their hands dirty!
4. Ampeak 2000W Power Inverter 3 AC Outlets DC 12V to 110V AC Car Converter – Best Hard-Wired Inverter On A Budget
With three AC outlets and an additional USB point, Ampeak has designed a versatile inverter that can handle the bulk of your electronic needs.
The 2000 watts of power doesn’t give you unlimited reach, however. You’re better off leaving the fridge-freezer at home.
It’s perfect for small freezers, laptops and cameras or entertainment devices such as TVs and DVD players. All powered from your vehicle’s battery whether you’re camping or just stuck in traffic!
The output is a modified sine wave – it’s not optimized for sensitive devices and you may hear a hum from some of your electronics, such as microwaves and desktop computers.
That’s a small price to pay – because with Ampeak’s 2000W inverter you really have a small price to pay. This is one of the best value hard-wired inverters on the market.
This comes with two ring terminal cables for installation, but to permanently install this in your car or truck you might need additional wiring – be sure you place it in a well-ventilated area as it requires airflow to avoid overheating.
The manual provides a clear explanation of your device too, from all the added safety features to how to read the LCD.
For moderate power needs, this inverter has loads of features you’d expect on a more expensive model.
5. KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V Power Inverter Dual 110V AC Outlets – Best Inverter For Laptops And Small Electronics
Krieger has applied decades of electronics expertise building a compact inverter for budget use. The result is a bargain product from a premium brand.
Krieger’s warranty and customer service are legendary and now you don’t have to spend a fortune to access it. That adds peace of mind to any purchase.
This 1100 watt inverter isn’t the most powerful – but if you’re looking for moderate power without breaking the bank, this is a great option.
Forget the fridge or microwave – but this inverter is ideal for charging your laptop on long road trips, or getting small coffee makers going when you’re camping. The modified sine wave output limits the use a little, but paired with lower power it’s unlikely you’ll encounter big issues.
Two AC outlets combine with two USB ports to give you exceptional functionality. The whole family can keep their phones charged now – no more squabbling over the power cable!
It’s hard-wired and comes with everything you need for installation. It also features a wired remote, giving you ease of access to your power needs.
Smart chip protection identifies over or under voltage as well as overheating, and the LCD screen provides up-to-date information on your battery health. These are features on all Krieger’s premium inverters, and they’ve generously included them on the low-cost model.
6. Giandel 5000W Heavy Duty Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter 12V DC – Best Inverter For Ultimate Power
Giandel’s 5000W inverter doesn’t come cheap. In fact, it’s probably more expensive than most of your electronic devices themselves. But for maximum power, look no further.
5000 watts will cover all your power needs, from aircon to PA systems if you wanna make some noise!
However, the drawback is the modified sine wave – although you have maximum power, you won’t get optimal performance on electronics with AC motors such as microwaves. Lights and other electronics might hum while they’re plugged in.
The inverter has two AC outlets and a single USB point. It’s puzzling that Giandel hasn’t included more adaptability here, as it might be hard to make the most of all your power with limited outlets.
As such, this is a product optimized for big electronic demands in single units, rather than multiple smaller devices.
An array of safety protection puts your mind at ease. The soft-start protects your electronics from overload, and short-circuit and overheating are automatically detected.
Everything needed for hard-wired installation is included, and the addition of shock pads to mount your inverter on will protect it from any bump down the road.
7. BESTEK 300W Power Inverter DC 12V – Best Plug In Power Inverter
For power on the go without the hassle of a hard-wired installation, this 300W power inverter does the trick.
You’ll be able to charge all your devices from the front seat – 300 watts should be ample for charging phones, laptops, and camera batteries.
And with two AC outlets as well as dual USB ports, you don’t need to prioritize your power. The whole family can plug into this unit on long road trips. That should help keep the kids entertained!
Installation couldn’t be easier. You simply plug the inverter into your car’s 12V outlet. Most vehicles are equipped with these in multiple areas, from the front to the trunk, giving you maximum adaptability. The 24” power cord that comes included will make sure you’re never far from an outlet.
Lacking an LCD screen, you won’t get to-the-minute information about performance and battery health. That means you’ll have to be careful not to drain your battery.
But it’s equipped with safety features to protect your vehicle and your devices. The safe charging design protects against overheating, short-circuiting and under or over-voltage.
And the smart fan runs faster when it detects higher output or temperature.
8. DEWALT DXAEPI1000 Power Inverter 1000W Car Converter with LCD Display – Best For Multiple USB Ports
Sitting in the mid-price range, this medium-powered inverter impresses with attention to detail.
Dewalt is a well-known power tool brand and this inverter, coming in their usual bright yellow, would fit in well on a building site with its robust design.
1000 watts gives you a decent range, from charging smaller electronics such as laptops to powering TVs or charging the batteries for your (Dewalt or otherwise) power tools.
However, the output is a modified sine wave so it comes with the usual constraints of that medium.
Alongside two AC outlets, there’s an impressive three USB ports. This inverter is really handy for multiple charging and you can easily stretch your 1000 watts to the limit.
As well as typical overheating and over or under voltage safety features, the comprehensive user manual is great for getting to know your device. Dewalt products are designed for the DIY-handy, but the manual is written in layman’s terms and will give you a great understanding of your inverter’s capabilities.
What’s more, the LCD screen reads handy data about your battery’s health, enabling you to push it to the limit without fear of draining it.
9. Duracell DRINVPS175 Black 175 Watt Portable Power Inverter – Best Portable Power Inverter
This compact inverter comes at a bargain price and with two AC outlets and two USB ports you have multiple charging options.
With just 175 watts, you’re somewhat limited in what you can power – don’t pack a microwave for your camping trip with this gadget!
But phones, laptops, and lights will run without any issue. Even small minifridges can be plugged in without worry if you need to keep the beers cold.
The DRINVPS175 plugs into your vehicle’s 12V DC outlets, converting it to AC for your power needs. The 36” power cable will stretch from the front to the trunk, letting you power your appliances wherever they are.
Short circuit protection and over/under voltage protection are included, but without an LCD screen, you’re in the dark about your battery’s health. The LED light lets you know your inverter is working, creating a handy visual cue for when you’re plugging in.
Nevertheless, this is one of the lightest and cheapest inverters on the market. For charging multiple devices without breaking the bank, this is a great choice in a pinch.
The Buyer’s Guide To Car Power Inverters
That was the best of the best. But whether you’re powering a fridge-freezer in your trunk or just looking to charge your phone should guide your choice. Overkill on inverters is just a waste of money.
Here’s everything you need to know about car power inverters to help guide your choice.
What is a power inverter for?
Your vehicle is packing a lot of power. Car batteries are arguably wasted under the hood, where excess power is used to start your engine – and not much else.
Nowadays we’re surrounded by gadgets and gizmos that could use a hit of power. Turning your car battery into a backup source of power makes sense. But car batteries are geared towards a specific 12v direct current output – and to charge your phone or power your appliances, this has to be converted to the household standard of 120v alternating current.
That’s where an inverter comes in. Installing an inverter allows you to power a wide variety of items from the front seat.
Whether that gives your phone the juice to navigate your home, or you install a minifridge to keep the beers cool for when you arrive is up to you.
Perfect For Camping
Power inverters turn your car battery into an all-purpose generator. You can power a range of lights, coffee makers and barbecues straight from the bonnet, everything you need to bring the creature comforts into the wilderness.
Inverters that can handle massive wattage and have multiple outlets are ideal for camping trips.
In Case of Emergency
When hurricane season approaches, it’s wise to have a plan for backup power. Even relatively mundane power outages can leave you out of luck as your fridge-freezer defrosts and your computer powers down.
A car power inverter is a versatile option – it’s handy for keeping your electronics charged on a daily basis, but comes into its own in a disaster scenario. Check the wattage of your prized appliances, and plan accordingly.
If you’re going to run your household appliances from your car battery, remember you’ll need long enough leads to hook them up. Extension cords will be an essential added purchase to bring the outlet into your home.
When you’re powering appliances, wattage is vitally important. The wattage of your appliance indicates how much power they draw, and a high-wattage appliance plugged into a low-wattage inverter is a recipe for disaster.
Trying to draw more power than your inverter can provide will result in blown fuses, damaged appliances or even overheating and the risk of a fire. That’s a distraction you don’t need while you’re driving!
Pick a power inverter that can handle everything you might think to throw at it. Charging your phone or your camera’s battery will draw very little power, whilst powering a TV or laptop will use in the range of 100 watts.
Mini fridges will use around 100 watts, whilst bigger household refrigerators might draw more like 300 watts.
Power tools and PA systems turn it up a notch, requiring wattage in the thousands. Make sure your inverter is up to the task.
What’s more, your car’s battery has only a finite amount of power. If you’re planning on powering anything over around 100 watts, you’ll need to leave the car running to ensure the alternator is recharging the battery.
The Installation Process
There are typically two ways you can install a power inverter.
The majority of cars feature 12v outlets – you likely know these as the cigarette chargers in older vehicles. Many lower wattage power inverters simply plug into these outlets, creating a 120v power socket in the cab.
For higher wattage inverters, the process of power conversion requires hard-wiring to your car’s battery. Installation will require a little bit of fiddling with the wiring, but it should be achievable for anyone with an inclination towards DIY.
Look out for the inclusion of wiring kits with your power inverter, otherwise you’ll be left running to the hardware store before you get the power going.
Things To Look Out For Before Buying a Car Power Inverter
From budget to baller, there is a range of features you might want to look out for in a car power inverter.
1. Safety Features
If your inverter is drawing a lot of power from your battery, there’s a real risk of overheating. And surges could pump excess power into your appliance, damaging the battery or frying the electronics.
Overheating and overloading protection are found with most of the top-end car inverters and they offer you added security. From fire risk to device protection, these safety features have you covered.
2. LCD Screen
An LCD screen isn’t essential, but it’s a great bonus and can offer you tons of information about your device, giving you extra knowledge and security.
Screens can display information about wattage and power, indicate if there’s any risk of overheating or help you keep a close eye on the health of your car battery. Without an LCD screen, you’ll be left in the dark.
3. Number Of Outlets
A power inverter is a big upgrade for your electronics – but don’t be left disappointed when you can’t power all your devices at once. Some inverters come with a single power outlet, allowing you to charge a phone or laptop, but not much else.
And these days, we have almost as many appliances powered by USB. Some inverters will contain multiple outlets and USB ports, providing you with the ultimate electronics hub in your front cab!
Of course, multiplying the outlets creates a greater drain on your battery. If you’re opting for multiple outlets, make sure your inverter has the wattage to cover all your devices and keep an eye on your batteries level to avoid getting stranded.
4. Pure vs Modified Sine Wave
Time to get technical.
Car power inverters will output voltage in either a pure sine wave or a modified sine wave signal to power your electronics and appliances. A pure sine wave takes the form of a seamless wave, providing smooth power.
A modified sine wave actually flickers between positive and negative, creating a square cut blocky signal. Compared to a pure sine wave’s curves, it’s inelegant.
And it’s not just to the aesthete’s eye that the difference is apparent. Your appliances can tell the difference too.
Anything with an AC motor, from tools to microwaves, will perform suboptimally with a modified sine wave.
Sensitive medical equipment and some modern TVs also require purity from their sine waves!
When it comes to car power inverters, you’ll be paying extra for a pure sine wave inverter. In fact, these elite products are still a relative rarity.
And if you don’t want to pay through the nose, don’t panic. Your appliances will still get power, albeit less efficiently. Energy is lost through heat and noise, so you might hear a characteristic electrical hum once you’re plugged in.
You’re also at risk of overheating. If you’re opting for modified sine wave inverters, make sure everything is well ventilated.
5. Bonus Features
Optional extras such as hardwiring kits and remote controls can take your power inverter to the next level. A remote control will turn your inverter on or off without the need to access the device itself – particularly handy for bigger inverters that are hardwired, and often end up tucked away.
Wiring kits and lead cables are often bundled in with the inverter itself, saving you a trip to the hardware store.
As with all electronic goods, the warranty is important for peace of mind. Twelve months is standard, but premium brands offer exceptional customer support and three years warranty on parts and labor, such as installation.
Be careful to read the fine print. Sometimes you can void a warranty by installing your inverter upside down, or even by opting for DIY installation. If your warranty requires professional install, it’s probably worth the punt.
Without a car power inverter, you’re wasting a valuable source of power.
Your car battery could be doing a lot more for you! It should be charging your laptop on a road trip, keeping your kids entertained by the TV on a long drive, or even powering your coffee brew in the morning!
And the right power inverter gives you access to all that power and more.
You’ll be accelerating towards fully powered electronics in no time!