Electronics

Top 7 Power Inverters For Cars and Trucks in 2019

Selection of Car Power Inverters: plug-in your device easily and get your right energy

Car Power InverterPhoto by depositphotos.com
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A car power inverter might not seem like a necessity, but it is certainly a powerful tool to have. If your power goes out or you need to charge something, an inverter can help you out in a pinch. For those that don’t know, car power inverters work by converting your car battery’s DC output into the conventional AC output that electronics and appliances use. Think of an inverter as something that slaps an electrical outlet into your car—many cars already come with USB ports, for example, but seldom can you plug in, say, your fridge.

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With that said, there are many things to consider when choosing the right power inverter. These factors include the capacity of your car’s battery, the desired output wattage, and the type of appliances you would like to plug into your car. There is also the differentiation between single outlet inverters and inverters with multiple outlets, where the obvious distinction being how many types of appliances you can plug in at one time. Some sensitive electronics might not be compatible with the mechanism of the inverter as well; whether it outputs a modified sine wave (more affordable) or a pure sine wave (closer to a real AC, but pricier) influences the range of applications that come with the product. 

Technical Terms

There is some technical terminology that is vital to know when it comes to inverters. First of all, the voltages; volts are a measure of the difference of electric potential of two points. More simply, it is the amount of energy you get for a certain charge. Basically, it’s the “push” that makes electric charges move. 

Most inverters (all but one in our list) are 12V DC to 110V AC, meaning they take the standard 12V direct current found in car batteries and turn it into 110V of alternating current. Direct current (DC) is a charge that moves in one direction, while alternating current (AC) is a charge that periodically changes direction. All you really need to know is that most appliances run on AC—which is provided by outlets around your home—while a car battery emits DC. 

The wattage, then, is the energy measure of your device. The higher the watts, the more power it is capable of supplying to your devices; as a result, if it is running at peak performance, it will use up more power as well. Simply put, wattage in inverters can be seen as the limit to what they can do.

Best Power Inverters 2019

Now that we outlined the basics of a power inverter, let’s get into the review. In this list are seven high-rated power inverters to consider, ranging widely in output and price. When it comes to automotive accessories such as inverters, being careful is vital; the table below should roughly outline what separates each of these items from one another.

Side note: all inverters on this list are 12V DC to 110V AC, with the exception of the Bestek 200W

ProductWeightRange of UsesWattageNoise
Foval 150W8.8 ozLimited150WLow
KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V4.4 lbWide1100WHigh
BESTEK 400W/500W2.15 lbAverage400W (Rated)500W (Max)Low
POTEK 500W1.8 lbAverage500WLow
BESTEK 200W13.6 ozLimited200WMedium
Ampeak 400W2.03 lbAverage400WMedium
VOLTCUBE 150W8.2 ozLimited150WLow

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The first inverter on our list comes in as the small and fairly affordable Foval 150W. Essentially, this is one of the options for those that just want a simple and functional inverter; with correct and casual use, this inverter could last a lifetime. 

Small But Worth the Money

An opinion that many buyers echoed, this inverter was well worth the money in most cases. It ranks fairly well in the amount of critical reviews (that is to say, it had among the least) compared to the rest of the list, and it’s clear to see why. These inverters are quite cheap, very compact, and (from the looks of it), fairly durable as well. This 150W converter is the size of a credit card, has 2 USB ports, and a single AC outlet. The cord length is designed to be just about the length required to conveniently charge a laptop in the rear seats.

To summarize, if you’re looking to charge a small appliance or power something like christmas lights, this product is a good place to start looking. Its compactness and minimalistic design (as well as tested durability) speak for itself; however, so does the price.

Rare Issues

As is the case with most affordable products, this inverter suffers from a small amount of issues. Or, more specifically, users that don’t buy a suitable inverter can run into some problems. Your car battery capacity is an important thing to take note of when using an inverter. Regardless, ¾ of buyers were extremely happy with their purchase, and for good reason; for its price, there is little wrong with this product.

ProsCons
LightweightAffordableConvenient and reliable for small-scale usesOnly 3 outlets (2 of them USB)

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With Kriëger’s 1100W inverter, you pay for quality. It’s quite hefty in price compared to the others listed here, but it dwarfs all of them in its rated wattage alone. At 1100W, it boasts over double the output of the next highest at 500W. How well did buyers receive this premium product?

Expensive But High-Quality

The package that includes the inverter also comes with a remote control (so no need to be near the inverter to control it), a monitor that shows ampere/watt readings, and a set of 3-foot 4-gauge cables. As an added bonus, it comes with a 3-year labor and parts warranty, so even with the hefty investment there isn’t too much risk. 

Most users of this product unanimously agreed that it is a quality product; the most telling aspect was perhaps the praise for the fulfilled promises. Other car inverters might not hold up to their designed output or functionality, but multiple users ran tests and found this product to be of genuine quality.

Wide Range of Uses

Another aspect that puts the Kriëger amongst the top-rated power inverters is its general flexibility and universality. Buyers plugged in anything ranging from refrigerators to solar panels, and there are very little scalding complaints. If anything, its extended power supply was a big plus in keeping even more sensitive equipment running for hours. In fact, you can use the inverter with the car engine off for several hours, restarting every once in a while as needed. Overall, if you’re looking to buy a car power inverter and aren’t afraid to break the bank, the Kriëger is a quality product.

On the rare occasion that customers had anything bad to say about the product, it usually had to do with defective shipments; their inverter wouldn’t turn on, had a busted fuse, or would draw very little power. In these cases, you might have to wrestle with customer support a bit.

ProsCons
High qualityHuge wattagePackage contains useful extra toolsReliablePotentially defective product

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The BESTEK 400-Watt inverter is unique in this list, simply because it advertises multiple wattages in the same product. While the rated output is 400 Watt, BESTEK doesn’t shy away from noting that you can get up to 500W from it despite the fact. It also advertises 800W as peak performance; an interesting range of outputs to dissect.

Middle-of-the-Road

On the whole, this product is a mid-range performer. Its price and performance are in accordance with each other, with the power inverter featuring four USB ports and two AC outlets. Suffice to say, this is perhaps the most solid choice on paper for casual users or road trips, where every passenger gets a USB port with two outlets to spare. 

The design is also very intricate; the alloy casing is flame retardant, the cable is designed for fast charging and can withstand up to 5000 insertions/extractions, and the inverter itself is designed to withstand any issues related to charge or temperature. 

Reviews Sway

Nearly ⅘ of buyers rated this product as a 5-star purchase. While that is seriously impressive for a mid-range inverter, there seems to be an odd discrepancy of very poor reviews too. Nearly 10% of buyers gave their experience with the product a singular star; what makes it so hot-and-cold?

The answer lies in the “immaculate” design. To start with, the connector wire is exposed, so is a potential liability on the road. On top of that, many buyers plugged it in and immediately fried their car battery, found the inverter started smoking, or both. There are potentially catastrophic dangers that seem to come about in rare occasions, despite the inverter being solid otherwise.

ProsCons
Good price-quality ratioSufficient outlet amountCareful designDefects can be costlyComplaints about smoking

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Potek’s 500 Watt inverter is compact and powerful. It has a peak power of 1000 Watts and its lightweight, small design is appealing for those who want a simple-looking gadget for their car that can save their devices from dying on long roadtrips or when unexpectedly stuck in traffic. But does this 1.8 pound inverter live up to its glamorous description?

Great Value on Paper

As described by Potek, this inverter has everything you could possibly need. It includes a car cigarette plug outlet, 2 standard outlets, and a USB outlet so you could charge any and every one of your devices on the road. Potek’s power inverter also includes a multi-protection configuration, protecting itself and your gadgets from possible damages due to surges, short circuits, or overheating. Unlike some other inverters on our list, it also comes with several spare parts such as clamps and spare fuses, the latter of which is a commonly broken component for all inverters. Potek also offers an 18 month warranty on their product and promises excellent customer service.

Those who have purchased Potek’s 500 Watt car power inverter enjoy the fact that it is also much quieter than most inverters, which can often have very loud fans running to cool them down. Despite not having a loud fan, some reviewers have stated that they can use the inverter for several hours without it overheating; likely thanks to its red aluminum casting, which acts as a heatsink.

Common Issues Cause Concern

For as many positive reviewers raving about a quality purchase, there are an equal amount of customers who point to concerns about their product, and many of them are having the same issues with the inverter. Though the inverter itself may have an efficient heatsink, its wires are prone to getting hot and even burning, which can render the entire inverter unusable. Several other reviewers state that the inverter simply cannot connect properly to their devices. This complaint typically comes from individuals who were using the inverter for non-standard items; items such as coolers, coffee pots, fans, and heaters. Regardless of what kind of device is being plugged in, it is perplexing that many with a brand new inverter from Potek could not get it to work properly. 

Whether or not Potek’s 500 Watt car power inverter is a good investment is truly up in the air. The numerous positive experiences along with spare parts and a decent warranty policy seems like a wise investment on paper. However, if there is a likelihood that the charger will not work for many different devices, then it is a lot less “multi-functional” than the brand claims it is. Lastly, the fact that many had their wires overheat and even smoke and burn is a great cause for concern; no one wants a potential fire hazard charging their phone. 

ProsCons
Quiet for its sizeHeatsinkGood warrantyWires could be liabilityLimited number of outletsSpotty connector

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Our fifth power inverter on the list is sold and comes at an affordable price. Bestek’s smaller power inverter has a sleek design that is perfect if you are looking for an inverter that is not bulky and has a little bit of everything.

Compact and User-Friendly

Most buyers were pleased to find that Bestek’s inverter fits perfectly into their cup holder, making it both convenient and more visually appealing. Its ability to charge 5 devices simultaneously via 2 USB ports, 2 outlets, and a cigarette lighter socket is praised by users who find themselves needing to charge their laptops or phone in a pinch. This power inverter also puts safety first with its auto-shutdown feature; it has the ability to disconnect your devices if the inverter overloads, preventing damage to both your appliances and your car. 

It has a decent output of 200 Watts with 400 Watts at peak power, and can provide continuous AC and DC power for your long trips. Customers also find that it is very lightweight and easy to store. Its 24-inch power cord lets you place the inverter wherever is most convenient to you. 

Warranty Questions

Not everyone found Bestek’s 200 Watt power inverter to be perfect, though. Many who have purchased this power inverter have reported that either a component of the inverter stops working, such as the fan, or the inverter itself breaks entirely. Bestek offers a limited warranty on their product; though it is an 18 month warranty, they will only replace your inverter once if it breaks. This meant for many customers that they received a replacement inverter which also quickly broke, but were unable to ask for a replacement or a refund. There are other issues buyers found with the overall functionality of Bestek’s power inverter as well. 

Functionality Problems

Firstly, many disappointed customers reported that the inverter blew their fuse; one customer had their car socket break entirely where the inverter was plugged in, even after repairing the fuse. Additionally, several reviews state that their inverter cannot truly charge 5 devices at once: though the outlets allow for this, the ability of the inverter to charge a device diminishes significantly if multiple are plugged in at the same time. 

Most who have purchased Bestek’s 200 Watt car power inverter were pleased with their product overall. However, even at its relatively low price, there is some room for worry regarding the slim likelihood of getting a soon-to-be broken product, and having a limited ability to return it. For those willing to take that small risk, this power inverter is one of the most conveniently designed and multifunctional on our list.   

ProsCons
Convenient and portableFits in a cup holderAuto-shutdown featureLimited strengthComplaints of it being defective out of the boxBlown fuses not a rarity

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Ampeak advertises their power inverter as “powerful and practical.” Weighing about 2 pounds, it is somewhat impressive that this inverter provides dual USB ports, dual standard ports, and a cigarette lighter outlet while being so small it is able to fit in your hands. But is it truly worth the money?

Small Yet Powerful

Ampeak’s power inverter is indeed quite compact, providing more charging ports than similar sized inverters do. With an operating power of 400 Watts and surge power of 800 Watts, this inverter was designed to fit every vehicle with a cigarette lighting outlet. It has a built-in alarm system and automatic shutdown feature to protect your devices, and it has easily replaceable fuses for easy repair. It is hardy and able to withstand shock to the point of being crash-resistant. Additionally, Ampeak offers an 18 month warranty and 24 hour customer service should you ever need a refund or replacement. 

Users enjoy the fact that Ampeak’s inverter can successfully charge multiple devices at a time without slowing or diminishing in power. Another useful feature not seen in other inverters is the fact that Ampeak provides mounting tabs, which customers have found makes it easier to find convenient placement for the inverter. Many observed the fact that the inverter is quality-made and durable; great qualities to have for those using the inverter in rougher circumstances like camping or industrial work. 

Doesn’t Work for Everyone

18% of reviewers did not find Ampeak’s inverter to be so pristine, however. As a matter of fact, most of those who had negative comments regarding this inverter state that it simply never worked the moment it came out of the box. Others had the inverter work for mere minutes before it permanently ceased to function. One particularly perplexing note is one customer who remarked that his inverter stopped functioning after only brief use, but upon inspection none of the components were broken and the fuses were intact. Additionally, despite the advertised 18 month warranty, many unhappy customers found it very difficult to obtain a refund, and were left with their defunct product. 

Ampeak’s 400 Watt power inverter is definitely compact and easily portable. But with its mixed reviews, it is hard to say whether or not it is the best portable power inverter on the market. If you need a hardy inverter that can withstand rough environments, then Ampeak’s inverter may be a suitable option for you. The best advice after purchasing this inverter would be to test it out before you actually need to use it to make sure your inverter is not a dud, and to return it as soon as possible if it is. Otherwise, it can truly be described as “powerful and practical,” and is a lot more durable than other inverters of its size.

ProsCons
Small for its output18 month warrantyDurableCould be a dudPotentially unreliableHighest proportion of 1-star reviews (18%)

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Our final product comes from VOLTCUBE, and it is another low-output inverter suited to small-scale uses. It is practically a mirror image of the first product (the Foval 150W), boasting 2 USB ports and 1 AC outlet. For its low price, it’s a sturdy competitor.

Compact and Reliable

To say this unit is compact would be an understatement; it’s even lighter (albeit slightly) than the Foval credit card-sized inverter. In addition, it converts electricity a fairly quiet level, as some users noted. On paper, it is perhaps the best value power inverter on our list, with its low price and nearly 80% overwhelmingly positive reception. When it does its job, it does it well; the limited number of outlets leaves little room for error in that regard.

Questionable Strength

As might be expected from a low-price product, it doesn’t stand up to the bigger players in the power inverter arena. There are many criticisms regarding its strength and functionality in general; the adapter plug is noted as cheap and all-plastic, and users note that if you don’t unplug it outside of use, it will overheat and generate noise. In addition, there are several complaints about its range of uses. Some buyers were disappointed to find it doesn’t work with a lot of their appliances, despite being in the allotted wattage. Suffice to say, you get what you pay for with this compact inverter.

ProsCons
AffordableLightweightQuietWeaker than mid-range unitsCheap wiringCaveats in functionalityNo warranty

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does my power inverter perfectly mimic wall sockets?

A: Usually, no. Unless you buy a high-end pure sine wave inverter, your item will use a modified sine wave, essentially trying to get as close to being a true AC current. While this could lead to issues, it’s rare that a high-quality modified sine wave inverter will fail you.

Q: Can I use inverters outside of my car?

A: In most cases, no. Power inverters almost always work via a cigarette lighter plug, so unless you (for some reason) have one in your home, it’s limited to vehicle use.

Q: Will my inverter run with the car engine off?

A: Oftentimes, power inverters will store energy; how much they do depends on the product’s capacity and quality. Typically, a high-end inverter can run for an hour or so without a power supply.

Conclusion — Buyer’s Guide

The above hopefully painted a picture of what it’s like to have an electrical source right in your car. All of these inverters feature multiple outlets, and are some of the best 12V power inverters on the market. If you’re looking to hook up a power inverter in your vehicle in the near future, take a careful look at what makes each of them unique.

Affordable and Lightweight

When it comes to casual use, lower wattage is better in a sense. There is less room for massive issues if your unit outputs 150 or 200 Watt, and for uses like charging your phone, the wattage is irrelevant as you simply need to convert 12V DC to 110V AC. The two simpler, lower-capacity power inverters on our list were the first and last; the Foval and VOLTCUBE 150W products. 

Both of these provided reliable, low-intensity use in a reliable format; two USB ports and one AC outlet. Of the two, the VOLTCUBE had higher overall reception, but it was pretty close. There isn’t much to say about these two; if you need to plug in your computer, phone, or any other low-intensity appliances, they are both solid choices. The Foval is more practical and perhaps the best choice on this list, though.

There is also the BESTEK 200W; it is the most unique inverter of the seven, with its functionality designed around fitting in a cup holder. Despite the novelty, it performed slightly worse than both of the other “weaker” inverters. Despite having a cigarette lighter port and two AC outlets, users could rarely use more than a few at once. Essentially, the advantages it has over the 150W products are its design and additional wattage. Despite the fact, it often ran into several issues, so if you’re looking for functionality it might not be the optimal choice.

Mid-Range Choices

Of the moderately-priced products, there is very little separating them. Of the power inverters rated 250 watts and above, there are a few that stood out as genuinely high-quality car accessories. The POTEK 500W and BESTEK 400/500W seemed to be very well-received among buyers. They are both solid choices for anyone that might need to get a little more than the 150W can offer; they do have their downsides, however.

The POTEK has the issue with wiring to consider, and while it is a problem that many inverters run into at some point, it simply might not work for you. On the other hand, the BESTEK has a more damning downside—some users reported smoking and blown fuses any time they connected the inverter into their vehicle. All in all, they both have their downsides, but provide more functionality than the affordable options and are generally well-received.

The Ampeak product, on the other hand, had the highest percentage of unhappy buyers, but it wasn’t outwardly clear why. It seems that a large percentage of buyers got defective units, despite the fact that the Ampeak is, functionality-wise, very powerful. It is compact, has enough outlets, and is generally reliable; unless it isn’t. If you’re not worried about the risk of getting a defective unit, this inverter might be better than the other mid-rangers. 

The Power Hitter

To put it simply, there is very little wrong with the Kriëger 1100W product. It is much more pricey than any others on this list, but for many car enthusiasts, it is well worth it. It comes with a few gadgets and accessories to make the product experience more convenient, and generally is a reliable piece of equipment. Stories of blown fuses or fried car batteries are few and far between. The only potential issue with this product is a defective item being shipped to you, and customer support experiences in these cases isn’t painted as pretty. Other than that, this is more than solid, even for its price.