Top 8 Best Power Inverters
By | Last updated: December 11, 2020
best power inverters

Take a quick look around the place where you are seated. Chances are there are several items that require electricity, most of which you can take along in a car. Your smartphone, the laptop, coffee pot … ok, maybe not the last one.

To address the demand for electrons, car maker have been busying themselves stuffing their machines with USB ports and 120V “household” outlets of various juice and amperage. Not every car gets it right, with some offering up only a single USB port to placate the yowling masses or placing the convenient outlet in a wholly inconvenient location.

Or, simply, your ride is old enough not to have any of these gee-whiz conveniences. Those of us choosing to roll around in a 1989 Lincoln Mark VII will find it difficult to plug in, as will gearheads who take their cherry 1970 Chevy Chevelle to the local car show. Even the lucky sods with a Integra Type R in their garage must do without mobile power.

Power inverters have been around for years, long before smartphones were surgically attached to us all, but back then they were largely the domain of people who spent a lot of time on the road and needed a jolt of power for preparing something to eat or powering up their (at the time) enormous laptop. Today, with all hands looking for a place to plug in—and not all cars providing the tools to do so—we thought it a good idea to round up a few examples of the best power inverters.

Just don’t brew coffee on the interstate, okay?

1. Editor’s Pick: BESTEK 200W Car Cupholder Power Inverter

Your author is placing this unit at the head table for a pair of reasons. First, it includes a 12V cigarette lighter, replacing the one it consumed to hoover power in the first place. This makes it great for those of us who have an older radar detector, for example. My second reason? It fits just fine in a standard cupholder, thankyouverymuch.

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Having your power inverter launch itself – and the device to which it is attached – across the vehicle when going around a corner is less than ideal. An inverter placed into a cupholder solves that problem, unless you turn turtle in which case there are bigger issues to worry about than a power inverter. This unit has two USB ports and a pair of AC outlets, plus a real on/off switch which is a bigger deal than you may think. It is also painted red, which appeals to this extrovert.

Pros/Includes a 12V port, fits in a cupholder, closable protective lid when not in use
Cons/Cupholder design is not ideal for use in classic cars
Bottom Line/Editor's Pick for best Power Inverter for your car

2. Heavy Duty Option: Kinverch 2000W Continuous/ 4000W Peak Power Inverter

This brute of an inverter provides 2000W continuous and 4000W peak DC to AC power, making the thing perfect for vacations, road trips, or even a spot of camping. With 3 AC outlets and one 2A USB charging port, there are plenty of opportunities to plug in.

Eight internal fuses and a pair of cooling fans should help this unit from going pop, while the included wiring should be more than enough to get the party started. It isn’t clear if the optional Bluetooth controller consumes the sole USB port, however.

Pros/Plenty of power
Cons/Only 1 USB port
Bottom Line/No shortage of juice with this inverter

3. Budget Choice: soyond 1 Red 150W Car Power Inverter

If all you need is a quick hit of power, this cheap inverter may be just the ticket. Priced at just over fifteen bucks, this diminutive 150W unit promises to charge up items via two USB ports and an AC outlet. Also of note: its 12V power cord, through which it draws its power from a cigarette lighter, is long enough to run towards the rear of the car to placate backseat urchins.

A built-in fuse and integrated low-noise cooling fan prevent short circuits, allegedly protecting the thing from overheating while also extending the inverter’s life. Your author is always wary of buying any electronic device that is the cheapest in its class – I prefer not to set my own car on fire – but user reviews are positive based on an acceptable sample size.

Pros/Affordable, smaller than a pack of smokes
Cons/Don’t forget to unplug when it’s not in use
Bottom Line/Best option for those shopping on a budget

4. BESTEK 300Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter

There’s plenty of debate as to whether sensitive electronic equipment need a pure sine wave inverter instead of a traditional modified sine wave unit. What we can tell you is this: it never hurts to have an extra ounce of prevention. Pure sine wave units allege to provide a more stable source of power, free of the bumps and surges which accompany the power production some other inverters. We’ll leave that bit of research up to you.

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The USB ports on this unit are said to heave out a notable 2.4A, meaning there should be no problem if youngsters choose to have their device plugged in while using it (draining a battery faster than it is being replenished is a very real possibility with some chargers). Heat dissipation is mentioned several times in the bumf, with the company stressing its built-in 40A fuse and ‘smart’ fan design.

Pros/Quick charging, good brand name, convenient placement of ports
Cons/"Auto-detect" USBs may not put out power if your device is completely flat
Bottom Line/If you want to brag about having a pure sine wave power inverter

5. Foval 150W Power Inverter

Even if its brand sounds like the surname of a Star Trek ambassador, this little unit promises a decent punch out of its compact dimensions, landing it on our list of the best power inverters. Dual USB ports can charge most phones and tablets simultaneously (Max 3.1A total output), while an AC outlet take care of household items. Go ahead and tidy up your beard on lunch break.

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Note that it draws power at all times from a 12V cigarette lighter, which is great if you’re doing work on a laptop while parked in a multistory but less great if you forget to haul the plug before leaving on vacation for a week. Customers report this thing, despite its small size, has the ability to keep a MacBook charged via the AC outlet while also charging up a device in one of the USB ports.

Pros/Tiny size, useful number of ports, inexpensive
Cons/Shorter-than-most power cord
Bottom Line/One of the smallest power inverters on our list

6. BESTEK 200W Power Inverter

If you want to give your car or RV the feel of a sterile office cubicle, this is the inverter for you. Styled (that’s a relative term) to look for all the world like a non-descript power bar, this unit has a triple bank of AC outlets to go along with four USB ports. Technically, then, a person could juice up seven devices at once but that might be like trying to drink the Atlantic Ocean through a straw.

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The power cord is a healthy 2.5 feet long, meaning this thing can be strewn around the car for maximum convenience during a road trip. If all ports are occupied, however, there would be enough cords and cables strung around to kill all the Flying Wallendas, so please exercise a dose of common sense out there.

Pros/Seven charging points, shuts down if it detects a low supply of power from the car
Cons/Not the smallest unit, boring to look at
Bottom Line/For Apple To go with all your Apple devices

7. Giandel 5000W Heavy Duty Power Inverter

If the 2000W unit at the top of this post is a heavy duty unit, then this 5000W bad boy can be classified as the super duper inverter on our list of the best power inverters. It is connected directly to a 12V battery, so be sure to invest in heavy gauge wiring if you need more than what’s included in the kit. There is also a weirdo remote ‘on/off’ switch that physically connects to the unit. Imagine this inverter being mounted out of sight under a workbench in a panel van and the remote placed within easy reach in the truck cab to get a visual of why this is important.

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There are four AC outlets but only a single USB port. Given this unit’s intended purpose, that’s probably okay. Be forewarned that this Giandel weighs 22 pounds and well over a foot in length, longer than the entire cord on some portable units.

Pros/Great for heavy electrical demands, good reviews about both product and service
Cons/Heavy, bloody expensive
Bottom Line/Who needs a 5000w power inverter? You do!

8. BESTEK 300W Power Inverter

Rounding out this octet of power inverters is this 300W unit from a familiar brand. For many, selecting an inverter which is neither the smallest nor biggest is a smart move, especially if one is unsure of their future power needs. Road trips? Camping? This inverter will likely do the trick with breathing room to spare.

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Two 110V AC outlets are present for charging larger devices such as laptops and tablets, while a pair of USB charging ports rated up to 2.4A take car of USB compatible devices. Its footprint is about the size of a big iPhone, though the inverter is much thicker. A 40 amp fuse and durable metal housing should keep the thing robust enough to survive even the most, erm, active of families.

Pros/300W output in a small package, affordable
Cons/A unit this size should have more than 2 USB ports
Bottom Line/Covers all your bases for a good price

General Notes About Inverters

As always, a dose of common sense is advised when installing or plugging accessories in your vehicle. This goes double for items like inverters since they can generate a fair amount of heat. Playing fast and loose with electricity rarely ends well for anyone.

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Even the powerful units on this list should be treated with caution; just because an inverter has seven outlets doesn’t necessarily mean a person should hoover up power from all of them at once. My father used to plug several sets of Christmas lights into a single extension cord, drawing enough power that the snow would be melted for several inches on each side of the string. You don’t want to do that in a car with these inverters. At least the snow couldn’t catch fire.

Power inverters, when used smartly, are a great tool. But please don’t brew a hot pot of coffee on the road, okay?

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: admin_design / Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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