Before buying your dream car, you probably pore over reviews, peruse specs, test-drive your favorites to find the model that gives you everything you want. Features — from engine size to trim level to USB ports — can make a car special. But not all features are enough, and sometimes you need a bit more. That’s when adding aftermarket accessories can come in handy.
The power of power inverters
Power inverters improve your efficiency and even help entertain you when you’re stuck for long periods in your car. They’re special adapters you plug into your vehicle’s auxiliary power outlet when you need more juice than a USB port provides. For example, you don’t need a power inverter to charge mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but you must use one for low-power electrical devices such as laptops.
Power inverters work by essentially turning the energy from your vehicle’s battery into the type of power from an electrical outlet in your home. How? The device uses the battery’s direct current and converts it into an alternating current that’s safe for use in vehicles. However, you need to know the level of voltage your car’s battery uses so that you choose the right inverter; otherwise, you could blow out your car’s fuses.
Power inverters are especially popular for RVs because they power devices such as small kitchen appliances and TV sets. They’re convenient because instead of using a USB connector, you can use a regular plug. Power inverters also provide enough power that you can plug in multiple devices, like a coffee pot and a gaming console.
AutoGuide’s top 4 picks
Finding reliable reviews can be tricky, but AutoGuide is a trusted source. The site recently compiled a list of the top 10 power inverters for vehicles. Below, we’ve made a shortlist of the top four. These power inverters will provide enough juice to charge your laptop while you’re on the road for work and even power accessories that make your job as an Uber or Lyft driver easier. You can even find one to turn your SUV into a livable camper.
1. Kriëger (best overall)
Kriëger offers an extensive lineup of power inverters, making it a favorite of AutoGuide’s. You can get one providing 1,100 watts up to 4,000 watts. These products convert 12V DC power to 120V AC power, and each comes with an ANL fuse kit and battery cable. All of Kriëger’s inverters keep safety in mind, with features like overload, temperature, and circuit protection. There’s an LCD to show you input and output voltage and battery level. These products connect directly to your car’s battery, so they’re not as convenient as the others on this list, but they offer plenty of power. They also come with a three-year warranty. Prices range from about $85 for the 1,100-watt device to $350 for the 4,000-watt power inverter.
2. Bestek (best for small electric appliances)
Priced around $30, the Bestek power inverter is more affordable than Kriëger’s, and it doesn’t require a lot of power. AutoGuide likes the modified sine wave inverter that offers 300 watts of continuous power to 700 watts of instantaneous power because it provides the right amount of juice for most small electric appliances. That makes it great for things like an air compressor, small TV, or laptop. It’s also compact enough to fit in the glovebox, offers two AC outlets and 2 USB ports, and plugs right into your car’s lighter port. This inverter also has safety features and comes with an 18-month warranty.
3. Energizer (best heavy-duty use option)
Another brand with many options is Energizer. The 4,000-watt device is AutoGuide’s pick for heavy-duty needs. The modified sine wave inverter offers 4,000 watts of continuous power and 8,000 watts of peak power. It’s not a good option for smaller vehicles because of the power, but it works well for larger ones. It connects directly to a 12V DC battery to power appliances such as microwaves, TVs, gaming systems, home electronics, and power tools. There’s an LCD, safety features, a cooling fan, two outlets, and two USB ports. The 4,000-watt model costs around $350.
4. Duracell (best budget option)
If you’re on a budget and need a basic power inverter, Duracell offers a 175-watt option that plugs into your lighter receptacle and comes with two AC outlets and 2 USB ports. It looks similar to a power strip that can sit in your center console for easy use. And though it isn’t designed for powerful appliances, it works well for devices such as laptops. It offers an LED power light, safety features, quiet performance, and an attractive price of around $35.
Other fun accessories for your car
There are no limits to the features and accessories you can add to your vehicle to make it more utilitarian. From luggage racks to bike racks to pet safety gates, there’s something for every car. You can even change your vehicle’s look with a spoiler or all-new grille. Or add some comfort to that upcoming road trip by wrapping your steering wheel. It’s all up to you.