What Is a Power Inverter for Cars?
A car power inverter’s main task is to convert direct current or DC to alternating current or AC. A car’s battery uses DC current to supply power to the engine. In contrast, electrical appliances use AC current. Thus, if you need to operate your household appliances through your car, you will need a power inverter.
These inverters are also super helpful when you need to charge your devices in a car. It enables you to have an AC power outlet that you can use for such tasks. Power inverters are also an excellent investment if you want to go off-grid for a while. This is because when these power inverters are hooked to car batteries, they enable you to power essential appliances easily.
If you purchase a power inverter with the correct wattage, you should be able to power anything you want. You can charge a laptop, operate a coffee maker and even use a small blender. Power outlets in cars also need an AC supply, which is why you should definitely look into purchasing a power inverter for your vehicle.
How Much Power Is Enough?
Car inverters come in various categories based on their wattage. The higher-wattage ones are expensive, but they also offer more AC outlets and the ability to power larger appliances. Therefore, you should assess your usage to decide how much power you need.
Small power inverters usually offer around 75 to 150 watts to charge laptops and other small devices, such as gaming consoles. If you increase the power to 300 to 500 watts, you can charge larger and more powerful electronics. These power inverters also come with a second AC outlet, meaning you can power two devices simultaneously.
Suppose you plan on using your power inverter for larger appliances. In that case, you may need to invest in larger inverters that offer around 4000 watts. Such inverters can efficiently run appliances such as blenders, small microwaves, etc. You can even run powerful gaming PCs, multiple monitors, etc.
How To Install a Car Power Inverter
The ease of installation for car power inverters depends on the size of the inverter. The installation becomes more complicated if you have a larger inverter with more wattage. If your inverter is below 150 watts, you can easily plug it into your car’s 12-volt outlet. If you have a larger inverter, this method will not work as it would blow a fuse.
Therefore, power inverters over 300 watts require a direct connection to the car’s battery and a separate fuse. The connection can be made super simple by using alligator-type battery chargers. The safest way, however, is to use a hardwire connection.
If you use large power inverters, then further modifications may be required.
Benefits of Buying a Power Inverter for Your Car
There are many benefits that you can avail from power inverters. They enable you to power your electronic gadgets and provide a continuous power supply. Thus, your devices will never run out of power.
Power inverters are also eco-friendly and do not release fumes, fluid waste, or harmful rays into the air. Thus, they are safe and eco-friendly devices offering reliable power.
A power inverter also has no maintenance cost because it doesn’t use fuel. These devices derive power from the vehicle, so you don’t have to pay any additional money after purchasing the inverter.
Types of Car Power Inverters
Inverters are specialized devices, but many kinds are available on the market for various functions. They are divided into three main types.
Square Wave Inverter
Square wave inverters are designed to shape the output voltage wave in a square wave. These kinds of inverters are the least common, as appliances are generally powered by sine waves. You should not try to run a device powered by a sine wave on square wave inverters, as you can risk damaging them.
These inverters are cheap because they run very few devices.
Sine Wave Inverter
Sine wave inverters are the most common car power inverters, as almost all electric appliances are designed to work on sine waves. They are readily available; you could probably find one at your local power provider.
These inverters are the most useful among the many kinds available. However, one downside of sine wave inverters is that they are much more expensive than other kinds of inverters.
Inverter With Modified Sine Waves
Another kind of inverter is one with modified sine waves. They are more complex than square wave inverters but simpler than sine wave inverters. The output of such inverters is neither pure square wave nor pure sine wave.
Modified sine wave inverters have a higher frequency than pure sine waves. Therefore, timers may run faster on devices connected to them, or they may not work at all. Other items like dimmers are also difficult to operate when connected to such inverters.
What To Consider
If you are in the market to purchase a power inverter for your car, there are many different types to choose from. Ideally, you should consider your usage and the electrical appliances you want to power. There are other features that you should keep in mind as well.
When purchasing a power inverter for your car, you should ensure it is powerful enough to handle the electrical load. It should be able to power multiple devices without any issues. To check, you will have to see the wattage offered by the power inverter.
Usually, the higher the inverter’s wattage, the more powerful it is. You should choose an inverter based on the number of devices you intend to attach to it and their power consumption. The wattage can vary anywhere from 300W to 3000W. Since higher-wattage power inverters are more expensive, do not purchase a powerful inverter to power small devices.
Most users rarely need an inverter that is rated more than 300 watts because a car usually has a 12-volt cigarette lighter that you can use to charge small appliances. Therefore, you don’t need a larger inverter. Furthermore, you may damage your car’s fuse if too many watts flow through it.
Many power inverters also use USB ports inbuilt into cars to charge their phones. Due to this reason, you should also check the USB current value offered by the power inverter. Your vehicle must provide decent charging speeds to keep all your devices fully charged on long journeys.
Most car power inverters offer USB ratings similar to standard mobile chargers, meaning the wattage will not harm your phone.
The Number of Outlets
Most power inverters are configured to offer two standard AC outlets, which can be used to plug-in electronic devices. However, some high-end models provide the user with extra AC outlets and USB ports.
When purchasing a power inverter, remember the number of appliances you intend to run at once. Based on the number, choose a power inverter that fulfills your needs best.
Durability is an essential factor to consider when purchasing a power inverter for your car. The most durable ones feature an aluminum casing, as they last longer.
Extra protection is also a feature in various inverter models as it averts overloaded or overvoltage devices. Thus, you should ensure that you choose one that is durable, has an extended warranty and offers extra protection. These features increase reliability and make the power inverter last long.
There are different kinds of inverters available on the market, and the two most popular ones offer either pure sine waves or modified sine waves. When purchasing an inverter to power electronics, choose one that offers regular waveforms. Those with irregular waveforms may damage your electronics.
Some prefer modified sine wave inverters because they place less stress on the charging devices, but pure sine waves are much more efficient. A modified sine wave inverter might be better if you intend to charge devices. Still, pure sine wave inverters are the way to go if you want to power appliances.
The connectors of power inverters for cars all look very similar, but they are different in how convenient and user-friendly they are. Some need direct connection, and some have cigarette lighter chargers.
When purchasing a power inverter for your car, evaluate your usage and the circumstances beforehand.
Size and Weight
Power inverters come in various different shapes and sizes. Most users prefer a small model that does not take up a small space. Thus, you should aim to purchase one that is small, compact, and portable.
Furthermore, you should also purchase a lightweight design that is easy to pick up and carry if needed.
If you are in the market for a power inverter for your car, consider the build quality of the power inverter you want to buy. Ensure that it is sturdy and not flimsy. Cheaper and fragile power inverters are not durable and easily break.
Power inverters are usually used roughly and often bump into other things, which is why you should ensure it comes in a durable body. Materials such as aluminum alloy are excellent covers because they are hard yet lightweight.
Safety is a critical feature to consider when purchasing such a device since they are small yet have high power. Check the fuses and overheat protection before buying a power inverter. It is crucial that it has all the necessary safety features.
You should also check for the ETL stamp, which indicates that the power inverter has met all the safety guidelines of North America. Devices with an ETL stamp are protected against shorts, overheating, overloading, and other similar faults.
The price of power inverters varies a great deal depending on their wattage. They can range between $15 and $100 and cost more than $100. When purchasing a power inverter, pick one that balances your requirements and budget.
|Under $20||They have low capacity and can offer a continuous power capacity of 100 to 20 watts. Such power inverters can only charge a single device at once.|
|Between $20 and $50,||These power inverters offer a higher capacity of around 250 watts. They are incredibly durable and can charge multiple devices at once. Power inverters in this range also have a cooling fan that helps reduce overheating.|
|Over $50||Power inverters in this price range have a high power capacity of 1000 watts or more. They are highly durable and can charge several outlets at once.|
Tips for Using Car Power Inverters
When using a car power inverter, always keep it in a well-protected space. The best spot is under the car seat. You should also take extra care to avoid placing it on wet surfaces. It should also not be placed next to heat or under direct sunlight.
You should also aim to start the vehicle’s engine before you use the inverter. This method helps save battery and enables the power inverter to last longer. If you intend on using the inverter when the car engine is off, avoid running it for longer than an hour.
It is often tempting to purchase the cheapest item available on the market. However, these items are often flimsy and break easily. Due to this reason, if you have the budget, opt for a branded power inverter for your car, as they use high-quality materials and the latest technology.
Bestek is one of the most popular brands for power accessories, and you can find several power inverters for cars from this brand. These power inverters come with a variety of different handy features and different voltage options to cater to everyone.
Most Besteks car power inverters have low power output, but it has an excellent USB-C current output of 4.2A. Depending on the model, you also get USB ports and multiple AC outlets. Some popular power inverters from Bestek include the BESTEK 300W Power Inverter and Bestek 200W Car Power Inverter.
Foval power inverters are some of the cheapest inverters, making them an excellent choice if you are on a budget. They have a low price tag, but they can convert DC to AC and offer different wattage options efficiently. Foval’s car power inverters also offer USB chargers and AC outlets.
Some popular models include the FOVAL Car Power Inverter and the Foval 200W Car Power Inverter.
Although Potek is new in the power inverter industry, its devices are versatile and feature-rich. They are unique in terms of their features, as they have a display that is not common in power inverters. This display is used to check the power consumption and acts as a quick access for changing its settings.
The wattage options are decent, and you also get an extended 1.5-year warranty. Some popular models from this brand include the Potek 750W Power Inverter and the POTEK Car Power Inverter.
Pros and Cons of Using Car Power Inverters
|They are environmentally friendly as they do not emit fumes or leak liquid.||If you choose the wrong kind, you may damage your devices.|
|They provide a continuous power supply.||–|
|There is no maintenance cost||–|
- What size power inverter is suitable for my car?
If you need an inverter to plug into your cigarette lighter, choose a 300 to a 450-watt inverter. Larger inverters need to be hardwired directly to a battery, and they may damage or blow your car’s fuse.
- Is it okay to leave the inverter running all the time?
Yes, it is okay to keep your inverter on at all times. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing your battery backup time due to the self-discharge of batteries.
- What depletes an inverter’s battery?
A high load significantly depletes an inverter’s battery as it is required to supply a lot of power. This means it will need to take a large amount of power from the battery, resulting in the battery depleting faster.
A car power inverter is excellent for when you want to venture out of your home for extended periods and need the power to run appliances. It is a piece of excellent outdoor camping equipment as it can reliably convert DC power to AC power. Therefore, you can use this small device to charge devices and power appliances.
There are many different kinds of power inverters available on the market. Still, you should consider your usage before you purchase one. Other factors to consider include the number of outlets, safety features, wattage, and build quality.