When it comes to charging large electronics in your car, your USB port just won’t cut it for devices other than your smartphone. Luckily, with one of the best car power inverters, you’ll be able to charge larger electronics while on the go. With uses ranging from charging your laptop during a workday to powering up camping gear such as coffee makers and lanterns, a car power inverter will safely provide electricity for your larger electronics.
In this article, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about the best car power inverters. Depending on your needs and use case, you’ll want to pay close attention to the specifications and features of the different car power inverters on the market today. Along with a comprehensive, researched buying guide, we’ve outlined all the most frequently asked questions about car power inverters to help you find the best one for you.
What is The Purpose of a Car Power Inverter?
A car power inverter typically plugs into either your car’s 12v cigarette lighter or directly into your car’s battery. Once plugged in, power inverters convert the car’s DC electric current to an AC electric current which is suitable and safe for charging larger electronics that require higher wattage.
With larger electronic appliances, you either need pure sine wave or modified sine wave AC power — car power inverters utilize either one or the other. Because car power inverters get their power from your vehicle, you don’t need to purchase additional fuel or batteries. This, in turn, makes car power inverters quite eco-friendly while still pulling their power from a quality source.
The Best Car Inverter For Laptops
Depending on the wattage, you can use an inverter to charge a variety of items, including your laptop. And if you are an avid camper or you’ve recently embraced van life, you’ll likely find a power inverter is essential for charging the electronics you need, like your laptop, while on the road or in the great outdoors. For busy professionals, when unexpected (or expected) drives come up and you still need to be on the clock in the passenger seat, a car power inverter will keep your laptop charged on the road.
In general, the main thing to keep in mind when shopping for the best car inverter for laptops is to purchase an inverter that has sufficient max power output to charge your laptop. You should be able to find your laptop’s battery requirements from the manufacturer. And though you can charge a laptop using a modified sine wave inverter, if you are concerned about damaging sensitive electronics, for added insurance, look for a pure sine wave inverter with some extra features like automatic shut off and temperature/voltage alerts to ensure you can monitor your device while it is charging.
The 10 Best Car Power Inverters on The Market Today
It is vital that you get the correct wattage power inverter for your specific devices to avoid overheating and other issues. Along with that, some power inverters only have one plug (typically 150-300W inverters), while others have multiple outlets and a higher wattage. Also, keep in mind that if you still want a source for charging your smartphone, you’ll need to get an inverter that also has USB ports.
Below, we’ve detailed our recommendations for the 10 best car power inverters with a wide range of features to fit your needs. With that, be sure to purchase the car power inverter with the design, specifications, and features to fit your use case. After this article, you’ll be able to make an informed purchase in no time.
Though the 1100W car power inverter from Krieger is the most popular version, you can also choose from 1500W, 200W, 3000W, and 4000W. With that being said, this power inverter means business. The 1100W model has two USB ports and two AC outlets. The modified sine waves allow the inverter to convert 12V DC power to 120V AC power. Along with the included wires and fuse kit for proper installation, this inverter also comes with a remote control to turn it on and off.
With the LCD screen on this inverter, you can easily monitor the battery output, output wattage, warning indicators, and notifications for temperature overload. Especially when you are charging high-powered electronics, having all of these features on a screen will give you added peace of mind. And this inverter has been vigorously safety tested to meet industry quality standards. To add to that, it has a quiet cooling fan to reduce overheating.
Krieger offers a 3-year labor and parts warranty. They have great technical support via phone, email, and live chat whenever needed. With this car power inverter, you can easily charge laptops, power tools, small appliances, and more.
Able to plug right into your 12V cigarette lighter, the installation of the Doval Power Inverter could not be easier. The device is light and compact while still having the capacity to charge four electronics from USB ports and two electronics from regular outlets. It has an aluminum shell for added durability. If you travel often or frequently switch between cars, this inverter will easily fit in your bag or backpack for travel-size convenience.
While it is tiny, it is mighty. The modified sine wave inverter has an internal cooling fan to prevent overheating, and a user-friendly switch right at the front so you can easily turn the inverter off when its not in use. When the LED light is green, you know it is working. And, when red, the device is not set up properly.
Foval backs all of their products with an 18-month warranty. With this inverter, you can charge your laptop, tablet, camera battery, and phone all at once. Just be sure to not overwhelm the 200W inverter.
If you are assuming that this 4000W power inverter from Energizer can handle pretty much every single electric appliance you can throw at it, you are absolutely correct. It is extremely high-quality with great features.
While 4000W will undoubtedly meet your power needs, you can also opt for smaller wattages ranging from 100W to 3000W. This modified sine wave inverter is excellent for a car or SUV. If you also want an inverter that can double as a back-up during an emergency, storm, or power outage, this is the one for you.
This inverter has two AC outlets and two USB ports. Also, it has a silent, high-speed cooling fan and an easy-to-read LCD display. Best of all, the hardwire kit and three-foot battery cables for installation are included. This inverter is designed to connect directly to a 12v DC battery. Energizer is one of the most popular brand names for batteries. With that, you can trust that this is a product backed with reputability. They offer a 2-year warranty on all of their products.
Providing 300W of power and plugging directly into the cigarette lighter, the Bestek car power inverter has two USB ports and two outlets. On the outside, it is built with a durable aluminum alloy housing — perfect for withstanding any bumps if you plan to move it from car to car. On the inside, it is engineered for optimal circuit and overload protection.
The power cord itself is two-feet long, giving you flexibility on where to store it in your car when in use. It has a user-friendly power switch, an LED power indicator, and a cooling fan to prevent overheating. The device itself is about the size of an iPhone, and it comes with quick-charging capabilities.
BESTEK backs all of their car power inverters with an 18-month warranty.
The GoWISE Pure Sine Wave Car Power Inverter is an excellent choice for any vehicle but is especially suited for use in a larger truck, SUV, or RV that requires high-power usage. And if you’re looking for quality assurance, numerous reviewers have tested and verified that this inverter does produce pure sine waves. If you are using a power inverter for valuable electronics and want even more assurance of safe charging, this inverter will give you that peace of mind.
This inverter is engineered to protect your electronics and provide continuous power. If there should ever be low voltage or power loss, it will immediately begin beeping. In terms of design, this inverter has two AC outlets, one USB port, and a power switch all next to one another. On the other side, there is a cooling fan and negative and positive terminal power ports. Along with the inverter, you also get 8-gauge battery clips.
GoWISE backs all of their power inverters with a 1-year warranty. It is important to note that you will need to buy wires separately to attach this to your battery for permanent installation.
Cobra is well-known for making some of the best electronic accessories for cars ranging from dash cams to radar detectors. This power inverter from Cobra fits the bill when it comes to quality and durability. The CPI1090 model has 1000W continuous power and 2000W peak power. With this power, you can charge most every electronic under the sun.
It has two grounded outlets, ideal for small appliances. Next to the outlets, an LED screen displays the battery voltage of the connected device. Alongside that, there is a USB port to charge your phone or tablet. This powerful inverter is excellent for cars, RVs, and trucks. Plus with Cobra’s “Pentagon Protection,” you get five levels of safety with features including a low voltage alarm and a high/low voltage shutdown.
This inverter comes with cables to directly connect it to your car’s battery. If you want a lower wattage version, Cobra also offers a 200W and a 400W option. Or go a step above for the 2500W inverter. Cobra provides a 2-year warranty for each car power inverter sold.
The AMPEAK car power inverter has a thin and sleek design. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it isn’t powerful. It comes with continuous 1000W power and 2000W peak power. You also have a few different options from AMPEAK as well, and can choose from either a 1000W or 2000W model with or without a remote.
With this modified sine wave car power inverter, you can charge up kitchen appliances when on a camping trip or power tools on a remote construction job. It has two AC outlets and two USB ports. The built-in protection and top-of-the-line dual cooling fans put this inverter up-to-par with the best car power inverters in terms of safety.
Along with the inverter, AMPEAK includes two O-ring terminal cables and a user manual. With each inverter, you get an 18-month warranty and 24-hour customer service should any questions or issues arise.
Coming from ALLWEI, this sleek, compact power inverter plugs directly into your 12V cigarette lighter. Along with a long 33-inch cord able to reach the back seats of a car, it comes with a fastening strip for optimal installation and easy uninstallation should you want to move this device to another car.
With the inverter’s two outlets and two USB ports, you can charge all sorts of electronics from gaming consoles and tablets to cameras and more. Best of all, the two USB ports have fast-charging capabilities.
Internally, the inverter has a built-in fuse box to protect against overheating, short-circuiting, under or over voltage charging, overloads, and overcharging. Recently upgraded, the inverter also features a quiet built-in fan to regulate temperatures and reduce heat.
The unique cupholder design of this inverter makes it unlike any other car power inverter on the market today. With 150W of continuous power, you can charge phones, tablets, laptops, game consoles, and your camera battery. It has two USB ports and one standard outlet. Simply plug it into your cigarette lighter, place it in your cupholder, and you are ready to go.
The cigarette lighter plugin has a convenient on/off switch, and the inverter’s sleek plastic design should fit in most standard cupholders in your car. Be sure to double-check the size specifications and take proper measurements before purchasing to ensure it will fit.
In terms of safety, when the device begins to get hot, the smart cooling fan will immediately turn on. The inverter also has a built-in, replaceable fuse to help protect against overheating, overcharging, and short circuits. SUPERONE offers an 18-month warranty on all of their products.
In your search for the best car power inverters, it is not often that you can find a pure sine wave inverter that also plugs into a 12V cigarette lighter. Thankfully, BESTEK has made a product to do just that.
This 300W inverter has two AC outlets and two fast-charging USB ports. Perfect for charging gaming consoles, phones, laptops, speakers, and more, this inverter automatically identifies the attached device for smart and fast charging.
In terms of design, the inverter is sleek and powerful. The artfully crafted smart cooling fan prevents overheating. And it has a built-in 40-amp fuse to keep your electronics safe and optimally charged. BESTEK includes a user manual and an 18-month warranty with unlimited customer service.
Now You Can Charge Every Electronic Imaginable
In addition to the best car power inverters, check out our buying guides on the best USB C car chargers and the best wireless car chargers. A car power inverter is a fantastic addition to your car emergency kit to give you power when you need it most. Always be sure to disconnect the power inverter when it is not in use to preserve your car’s battery.
Key Features to Look For in The Best Car Power Inverters
When shopping around for the best car power inverters, it’s important to know what specific features are most important. Below, we break down the key features that differentiate the car power inverters from one another.
The larger the wattage, the larger the electronic devices that can be charged by the inverter. Generally, 100-200W inverters can charge one device at a time. And they have a lower peak capacity so you must be careful that you do not try to charge a device that requires a higher wattage. 200-900W inverters typically have multiple outlets and are capable of higher power output and simultaneous charging. 1000W+ inverters are the most capable power inverters, able to charge large devices such as power tools, small appliances, and more. These inverters are typically larger and will have an LCD screen to monitor the output and wattage.
Number of Outlets
As mentioned before, the number of outlets generally depends on the overall wattage and size of the inverter. You can purchase a car power inverter with a single outlet, multiple outlets, USB ports, or a combination of both. The more outlets and ports, the more expensive the inverter will be.
If you’re looking for an inverter that will be lightweight and smaller, you should opt for smaller wattage and fewer outlets. Along with that, the smaller it is, the easier it is to transport between cars. With a smaller car power inverter, you can still reap the benefits of charging devices such as cameras, laptops, camping equipment, small appliances, and more. If you have a large van or RV, you’ll likely opt to purchase a larger, heavier power inverter with a higher wattage. Again, purchasing the best car power inverters comes back to how you plan to use them.
When it comes to purchasing a product whose primary job is converting large amounts of electrical power, it should go without saying that safety is important. Some power inverters have additional safety features such as automatic shut-off and alerts if the device starts to overheat. Additionally, look for inverters with the ETL stamp of approval, an assurance that the device meets industry safety guidelines.
Without getting too technical, the basic premise of how the best car power inverters work is they convert DC power to AC power which is output in sine waves. You can purchase an inverter that either produces modified sine waves or pure sine waves. Most commonly, power inverters use modified sine waves. Modified sine waves are typically fine for most electronics and small appliances.
However, pure sine waves are more stable and will provide a more efficient and constant source of power. Pure sine wave inverters may be more expensive and are typically made for devices or appliances that require high wattage and uninterrupted power to operate optimally. Check the device you plan to charge to see what type of sine wave is recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I install a power inverter into my car?
To be certain you are installing your particular car power inverter correctly, check with your product’s user manual. For smaller power inverters, you can generally plug right into a 12V accessory outlet. For larger power inverters, you’ll likely need to properly wire the inverter directly to your car’s battery.
Are power inverters safe for cars?
As long as they are used correctly, power inverters are safe for cars. There are numerous steps you can take, as well, to ensure optimal safety. Avoid using your power inverter in high temperatures and do not place it in direct sunlight.
Along with that, use an inverter with the right input voltage and wattage. The voltage should match your car battery’s voltage. In regards to wattage, the general rule-of-thumb is to use an inverter with a higher initial power required by the electronics you plant to charge.
Do not use your inverter when the car’s engine is off because this could kill the car’s battery. Simply unplug or turn off the inverter when it is not in use.
Finally, this almost goes without saying, be extra careful that you don’t get the inverter wet. Moisture and electricity don’t play well. If the inverter gets wet, you run the risk of a real emergency.
Does an inverter use power when nothing is plugged in?
If an inverter is still on, it will still pull power from the battery even when nothing is plugged in to charge. Of course, it will use less power than if devices are actively charging, but this is one reason you will want to ensure it is either unplugged or turned off when not in use.
Can I use a power inverter with my engine off?
Yes, but only for a short period of time. And we don’t recommend it in general. We advise always turning your car engine on before using your car power inverter whenever possible. Just like leaving your car lights on overnight will drain your car’s battery, a power inverter that is left on for an extended period of time can also drain a battery.
What are sine waves?
An inverter converts DC (Direct Current) power to AC (Alternating Current) power in order to produce the power needed to charge larger electronics. When the DC power is converted, it changes to sine waves to create AC power. Depending on the size and power requirements of your electronics, you will either require a modified sine wave (for the smaller-scale electronics) or a pure sine wave (for the larger-scale devices).
Will a modified sine wave inverter damage my laptop?
In general, most laptops can be charged without damage by modified sine wave inverters. However, there are some laptops that, per the manufacturer, require a pure sine wave inverter. Always check with your laptop manufacturer to see the specific charging requirements for your particular device before purchasing an inverter.
Why is my power inverter beeping?
If your power inverter is beeping, it may be alerting you that it is overheating or has another issue. To troubleshoot, refer to your car power inverter’s user manual.
Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.