One of the toughest parts about being on the go – camping, off-roading, or just driving around – is not being able to charge your AC-powered devices. We all use our cell phones, laptops, speakers and other technology every day; there is no reason you should not have access to them just because you don’t have an AC power source on hand. Charging banks can run out quickly, and solar-powered chargers can be faulty and unpredictable.
The solution? A portable DC to AC power inverter. These little devices take the DC current from your vehicle and convert it to AC, so you can power up whatever you need, wherever you are. Power inverters are super handy, and becoming more and more affordable every year. There are tons of options on the market right now, so we have created this guide to help you find the best one for you.
The Best Power Inverter for Car on the Market 2020
1. BESTEK 300W Power Inverter for Car
View on Amazon (Our Top Pick)
We’re starting off our list with a standard 300-watt power inverter from one of the nation’s top brands. This is a great, speedy charging device at a mid-range price.
- 300 watts continuous DC to AC power
- 700 watts instantaneous power
- Fast charging
- 2 AC outlets and 2 USB ports to charge multiple devices at once
- Cigarette lighter plug, compatible with almost any vehicle
- Safe charging – protected against overheating and overvoltage
- Compact, lightweight and super durable build
It’s hard to go wrong with a standard, highly-rated choice like this. Bestek is one of the top producers of power inverters in the country; their products are built to function well and to last for years.
This compact little inverter plugs into your vehicle with a 24-inch cigarette lighter plug, and charges your devices at 300 watts continuous, or 700 watts instantaneous power – a great option to have in an urgent situation, like when you need to pull up a navigation app or make an emergency phone call. Multiple charging ports onboard make it a great addition to a family camping trip or road trip. You can charge two AC-connected devices and two USB connected devices all at once with this one inverter.
One of the best advantages of the Bestek 300 watt, compared to others in its price range, is its speed. This inverter will power up your devices just as fast, if not faster, then you would be able to charge them with an AC outlet at home. It is also safe; multiple safety functions protect both your devices and your car battery from overheating and overvoltage while in use.
All-in-all, there’s not much fault to be found in this little inverter. It has all the power, speed and versatility to make it a great tool for charging devices on a group camping or road trip.
2. POTEK 500W Power Inverter for Car
Next up is a powerful, high-quality power inverter with multiple features for fast charging on-the-go. This Potek product is highly recommended for casual trips, or as a backup tool in case of emergency situations.
- 500-watt power inverter
- 1000 watts peak power
- 2 AC outlets and 2 USB ports for charging multiple devices at once
- Built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating
- Overload protection and short-circuit protection – safe for both vehicle and devices
- Digital display shows current volts and watts while in use
- Super lightweight and portable
- Comes with cigarette lighter plug AND battery clips for two powering methods
This super lightweight power inverter from Potek packs a ton of charging power in a tiny body. It charges up to four devices at a time at 500 watts, with a peak power output of 1000 watts. This device lets you charge up whatever you need quickly, regardless of where you are.
Not only is it fast, this inverter is also user-friendly and extra safe. A digital display shows you the status of the inverter while it is in operation. The screen will read the status of AC volts, DC volts, power wattage, and current activated safety features in turn. A red LED light on the display shows you which status the screen is currently displaying – it is simple to read and understand. The safety features packed into this inverter include overvoltage protection, overload and short-circuit protection, as well as a built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating. All of these features not only protect your car battery and your devices, but ensure a longer product life, so you can use this inverter for years without it breaking down.
One feature that makes the Potek 500 watt power inverter unique is that it comes with battery clips as an additional power source – meaning, if your cigarette lighter is broken or inaccessible in your vehicle, you can connect the inverter directly to the battery to charge whatever you need. This makes it an awesome tool to have in your emergency kit.
Overall, we would recommend this Potek inverter for family use or as an emergency tool. It is a bit pricier than other models, but still affordable, and well worth its cost for the quality.
3. BESTEK 1000W Car Power Inverter
Another Bestek product, this 1000 watt power inverter is one of the more heavy-duty options on our list. It will charge up any device quickly, and can connect directly to your car’s battery in an emergency situation. This is a great choice not only for charging electronic devices, but powering larger appliances as well.
- 1000 watts continuous DC to AC power
- 2400 watts peak power
- 2 AC outlets
- Strong enough to power a TV or gaming system
- External fuses, built-in cooling fan and warning light for added safety
- Rugged build, made to withstand harsh weather conditions
- Connects to car battery with battery clamps
This professional-grade power inverter is more than just a charging device. At 1000 watts continuous power and 2400 watts peak power, you can use this Bestek inverter to bring all the comforts of home on the go with you. Power a TV, DVD player or gaming system, a high-power pump to blow up rafts and water toys, a microwave, or anything else you might need for camping in style.
To make the most of its high-power capability, this inverter connects directly to your vehicle’s battery, rather than through the cigarette lighter. That does mean a little more effort on your part to get it started, but not much – simply connect the inverter with the positive and negative battery clamps, flip the switch and watch the built-in light to know it is working.
With all the power of this inverter comes additional safety features to protect your battery and your electronics. It will automatically shut itself off in the case of overheating or overvoltage, before any damage can be done. It also has a built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating, and external fuses. On top of all of that, this power inverter is built for outdoor conditions. Its rugged, durable design ensures it will hold up regardless of the weather.
All-in-all, we would recommend this product to anyone who wants to power larger devices while they are camping or anywhere away from power outlets. Its heavier weight and lack of USB ports make it less than ideal for simple cell phone or laptop charging – but it will certainly still work for that, if you need it to.
4. PowerBright XR175-12 Ultra-Slim 175W Power Inverter for Car
Next on our list is a lightweight, budget option, perfect for charging phones and other small devices on the go. If you are looking for a simple, portable inverter for charging – this PowerBright model will not let you down.
- 175 watt power inverter
- Super lightweight and slim – easy to store in a glove compartment
- AC outlet and USB charging port
- Built-in cooling fan and overload indicator for added safety
- Cigarette lighter plug and battery clamps included
- Lower wattage will not drain car battery
This PowerBright power inverter is a little smaller and not quite as powerful as other options on our lists, but that can be a good thing, depending on what you want to use it for. Sometimes, smaller is better.
At 175 watts, this inverter can charge up your phone or laptop on the go at a reasonable speed, and with little risk of quickly draining your car’s battery. It can connect to the battery through the cigarette port, so you can use it while driving, or through battery clamps – so you can use it while parked or in an emergency situation. Its compact size and light weight make it super convenient to keep in the car at all times – this isn’t an inverter you need to pack up for a road trip, but a handy tool that you can always have on hand in your vehicle.
A built-in cooling fan and overload indicator light keep your car’s battery and your devices safe. With an AC outlet and USB port, you can charge or power two devices at once. All things considered, we love this inverter for its portability and its low-impact design. We would highly recommend it to someone looking for a simple and effective portable charging device.
5. Duracell DRINVPS175 Power Inverter for Car
This Duracell power inverter is handy, lightweight and portable, and it has a unique look compared to other options on our list. Designed like an ordinary power strip, this inverter can turn your vehicle into an efficient office space on the road.
- 175 watt power inverter
- 2 AC outlets and 2 USB ports to power multiple devices at once
- LED power light lets you know when it is on
- 3 foot cord connected to cigarette lighter plug allows access from the front or back seat
- Overload and short circuit protection for device safety
- Overvoltage and overheating protection for battery safety
- Sleek, slim design – convenient to store and easy to use
This Duracell power inverter is designed like a power strip. With a 3-foot cord connecting it to your vehicle’s DC cigarette lighter output, it can be accessed by everyone in the car at the same time. 2 AC outlets and 2 USB outlets allow you to power multiple devices at once.
At 175 watts, this inverter will not have the speedy charging capability of some other options, but it also will not run down your vehicle’s battery when in use. It has overload, short-circuit and overvoltage protection for added safety, as well as ventilation and a built-in heating fan to prevent overheating. The slim, light build of this inverter allows you to easily store it in your vehicle’s glove box or an emergency kit. With a black body and green semi-circle power light, it also has a sleek, professional look.
We would recommend this power inverter strip to busy individuals taking their work on the go, families who want to use their laptops and handheld devices on a long road trip, or anyone who just wants the convenience of a power strip within their vehicle. It is a little lower-power than some others, but it still works great and comes at budget-friendly price. Not to mention, it comes with the Duracell name – so you know it is built to last.
6. PowerBright Pure Sine Power Inverter for Car
Last up on our list is a standard, mid-range, 600 watt power converter for charging and powering light to mid-sized devices. With a heavy-duty build and trusted PowerBright name, this inverter is made to last and super effective.
- 600 watt continuous power
- 650 watt for up to 20 minutes of use
- 1000 watt peak power
- 2 AC outlets
- Anodized aluminum case – made to last through any conditions
- Built-in cooling fan for overheating protection
- Heavy-duty design
- Overload and overheating warning lights
This PowerBright inverter is safe, durable and channels enough power to charge a phone or a laptop or even run a TV. It has 2 AC outlets and connects directly to your car’s battery for power comparable to what you would have at home, on the go.
The rugged aluminum build of this inverter makes it great for camping trips. It can stand up to most temperature and weather conditions, and isn’t going to fall apart if it is dropped in the dirt. At 600 watts continuous power and 1000 watts peak power, you shouldn’t have any problems using it for whatever you need. It also comes with multiple safety features, including a built-in cooling fan, and indicating lights to warn you of overload or overheating.
This is a great power inverter for camping trips or outdoor use. While it may be a little bigger than you would want for simple phone charging on the road, it will definitely serve your needs as a power source while you are away from home.
How to Choose the Best Power Inverter
Now that you have seen some of the best power inverters available on the market, let’s talk about picking the best one for your unique needs. Some people may be looking for a little device to charge their phone on the go, some people might need something they can use in case of an emergency, and some people might want all the power of their home available to them in the outdoors.
Whatever your needs, the right power inverter for you is out there. Here are some important factors to consider to help you make your decision.
The AC watt output is the measure of power you will get from your power inverter. A lower wattage means less power – it will not be as effective on larger devices, and it will charge phones and laptops more slowly than a higher output.
That said, the lower your AC watt output, the less power you are draining from your battery. If you are worried about killing the battery with continuous use of your power inverter, a lower wattage will give you some piece of mind.
If you want to power something bigger, like a TV, we recommend a wattage of 600 or more. These inverters will often be more efficient when connected directly to a car battery through battery clamps.
AC Outlets vs. USB Ports
All of the power inverters reviewed on this list had AC outlets built into the body, but not all of them had USB ports. The addition of USB ports is a relatively recent innovation for most power inverters, and it is not always necessary.
If you plan on using your power inverter primarily for phone charging, we would recommend an inverter with at least one built in USB port. Because, let’s face it – when you are on the go, sometimes you just forget your AC-powered home charger. With a USB portal in your power inverter, you will be able to charge your smart phone with just a USB cable.
However, if you want a power inverter mainly to power your larger devices and appliances, don’t sweat the USB portal. What matters more is having more than one AC outlet, to get the most out of your inverter.
It is important that your power inverter comes with some standard safety features to keep your devices, your car battery, and most importantly yourself, safe.
Some power inverters will automatically shut off in the case of overheating or overload. If you plan on powering larger appliances like a TV, we would recommend an inverter with this feature – chances are, if you are looking at a TV, you will not be looking at your power inverter to see an emergency warning light come on.
A built-in cooling fan is another great safety feature, especially if you plan on getting heavy use out of your power inverter. A fan will keep the device cool as you use it, preventing overheating and prolonging its life, so that you can safely use it time after time.
Overvoltage protection and short-circuit protection are good additional features as well. When it comes to safety, we advise you to get a power inverter with all the features you can find. There is no much thing as too much protection.
A DC to AC power inverter is the on-the-road tool you never realized you needed. It can give you the freedom to work or study while you travel, allow you to take your luxury appliances outdoors, charge your devices while you are driving, or help you out in the case of an emergency or roadside breakdown.
Finding the right power inverter for you is just a matter of deciding how much power and versatility you will need. Whatever you decide, make the most of it!