Battery Equivalents and Replacements

The Best Power Inverter For Cars and Trucks

Power inverters for cars and trucks are becoming increasingly popular due to a large number of devices and gadgets that must be powered or at least occasionally charged while in the car.

As such, car power inverters should feature a car cigarette lighter adapter plug (12V DC) providing high-speed charging for smartphones, tablets, cameras, drones, but also for laptops and similar devices. However, due to the power limitations of the car cigarette lighter adapter, the output power of car inverters is also limited.

Updated: January 17, 2024.

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Intro to Car and Truck 12V Cigarette Lighter Port Power Inverters

The Best Car Power Inverters with 12V Cigarette Lighter Port Adapter

The Best High-Power Car and Truck Power Inverters

Few Final Words

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Intro to Car and Truck 12V Cigarette Lighter Port Power Inverters

Car power inverters are connected to the car's 12V DC electric system via a car cigarette lighter adapter using the required car cigarette lighter adapter plug.

The nominal voltage of the car's electric system is 12V, but in reality, the actual voltage is a little bit different - if the engine is turned ON, one may expect voltage in the 13.5 and 14.5 volts range.

However, if the engine is OFF, the car cigarette lighter adapter voltage is usually around 12.8 and 13.2 volts - if the engine is OFF and the voltage drops below 12V and especially below 11V, the battery is discharged, and the next cranking is questionable.

Another limitation is the maximum current that a car cigarette lighter adapter can provide, which is usually limited to 10 Amps - if the power inverter draws more than 10 Amps, the car circuit breaker/fuse will disconnect the car cigarette lighter adapter from the rest of the electric system.

For short, car power inverters using car cigarette lighter adapters are limited to 120-150 watts, while power inverters that feature battery clamps usually feature 300-500 watts continuous and 500-1000 surge watts.

Note: some vehicles have car cigarette lighter adapter maximum current above 10 Amps (15 Amps for example), but that is not very common.

car power inverter 1

Car power inverters are connected to a car cigarette lighter adapter or directly to the car battery and they convert 12V DC power into 110V AC and 5V DC (USB) power using 1-2 110V AC ports and 1-4 USB 5.0 DC ports.

Note: even when the engine is ON, battery-connected power inverters may surge enough power to decrease the voltage, causing the car's electric system to detect a 'false positive' charging error - this rarely happens when power inverters up to 300-500 watts are connected to the car battery directly, but it may happen.

For applications where much more power is required, electric systems often feature additional deep-cycle batteries (or battery packs) where starting batteries and deep-cycle batteries are separated by DC-to-DC battery chargers. Such a design of an electric system allows the user to, for example, almost completely drain the deep cycle battery while keeping the starting battery fully charged and ready for the next engine start.

Such systems are common in some trucks, RV vehicles, cars with additional audio batteries, etc., and allow inverters up to, or even more than, 2000W to be used.

Note: never add a DC-to-DC charger to your vehicle without checking the maximum Amperage that your alternator can provide by default.

renogy 40a dc dc onboard battery charger

For example, one of the most popular 12V DC-to-DC chargers is the Renogy 12V 40A DC-to-DC On-Board Battery Charger (Amazon link opens in the new window).

To keep things as safe as possible, the Renogy 12V 40A DC to DC On-Board Battery Charger features various built-in features, including the use of a D+ ignition cable and LC current limit cable.

However, if you are looking for much stronger power inverters, for whatever reason, consider using 24V, 36V, or even 48V power inverters - higher voltage for the same power means smaller currents (check Ohm's Law) and higher energy efficiency.

Power Adapters' Safety Features

Car power inverters come with a set of safety features, including overload protection, temperature protection, short circuit protection, over-voltage protection, low-voltage protection, etc.

Again, even though some units come with low-voltage protection, if the engine is OFF and the power inverter automatically turns itself OFF due to the low battery voltage/charge, that doesn't mean that the battery is strong enough to crank the engine one more time - if possible, use car power inverters only when the engine is ON.

And when the car inverter is connected to the car cigarette lighter adapter, and if it is not in use, turn it OFF - if possible, plug it out. Better safe than sorry.

Pure Sine Wave or Modified Sine Wave

To power sensitive devices, gadgets, chargers, and similar, power inverters should have pure sine wave AC power output. Power inverters with a very low THD (Total Harmonic Distortions) are more expensive than units with modified sine wave outputs, but IMHO, they are worth it.

Just to be sure, when your new car inverter arrives, read the manual thoroughly to get accustomed to your new device.


The Best Car Power Inverters with 12V Cigarette Lighter Port Adapter

Car power inverters are rather affordable and reliable devices that are manufactured by many brands and are available in hardware shops, gas stations, online shops, etc.

With so many models on the market, it is kind of hard to say exactly which one is 'the best'.

But, there are for sure several models that have distinguished themselves from the 'crowd'. Here are several models with their most important features and specifications.


BESTEK 300W Power Inverter

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BESTEK 300W Power Inverter features maximum continuous power of 300W and maximum surge power of 700W - when not limited by car cigarette lighter adapter circuit breaker/fuse.

BESTEK 300W Power Inverter comes with two USB 5.0V 2.1 Amps (4.2 Amps total) charging ports and two 110V AC ports for powering larger devices.

In order to improve efficiency, the BESTEK 300W Power Inverter comes with an intelligent cooling fan that is turned ON only when the internal temperature starts to rise or when the output power is 70W or more.

Also, it features a metal housing to protect the unit from mechanical impacts and vibrations.

Safety features include a built-in 40Amps fuse, temperature protection, short-circuit protection, under- and over-voltage protection.

BESTEK 300W Power Inverter comes with an 18-month limited warranty.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the BESTEK 300W Power Inverter Amazon link (link opens in the new window).


Foval 150W Car Power Inverter foval 150w w300px

Foval 150W Car Power Inverter is rather compact, lightweight, and, in the end, very affordable car power inverter.

It features physical dimensions of 3.2 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches (~8.1 x 6.4 x 3.8 cm), and it weighs ~8 ounces (~230 grams), but it comes with two USB 5.0 charging ports (3.1 Amps max total) and one 110V AC port.

Foval 150W Car Power Inverter comes with several safety features, including a built-in fuse, short circuit protection, over-voltage protection, over-load protection, over-charge protection, temperature protection via built-in cooling fan, and low-load protection.

The body is made of durable metal, protecting the unit from drops, vibrations, and other mechanical impacts.

Also, the unit comes with an 18-month limited warranty.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Foval 150W Car Power Inverter Amazon link (link opens in the new window).


BMK 200W Car Power Inverter bmk 200w w300px

BMK 200W Car Power Inverter features physical dimensions of 5.9 x 3 x 1.3 inches (~15 x 7.6 x 3.3 cm), and it weighs 10.3 ounces (~290 grams).

BMK 200W Car Power Inverter features two 110V AC ports and four USB 5.0V charging ports (6.2 Amps max total).

Also, the unit features a display showing battery voltage and a total USB charging current.

BMK 200W Car Power Inverter comes with several safety features, including temperature protection via smart cooling fan, under- and over-voltage protection, short circuit protection, overload protection, low-load protection, overcharging protection, etc.

Also, it comes with a 15A fuse.

The BMK 200W Car Power Inverter features a 2-year limited warranty.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the BMK 200W Car Power Inverter Amazon link (link opens in the new window).


Foval 200W Car Power Inverter

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Foval 200W Car Power Inverter features physical dimensions of just 3.2 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches (~8.1 x 6.4 x 3.8 cm), and it weighs ~8 ounces (~230 grams), but it comes with two 110V AC ports and four USB 5.0V charging ports (4x 2.1 Amps, 6.2 Amps total).

Safety features include a built-in fuse, overheating protection (very quiet cooling fan), under- and over-voltage protection, short circuit protection, overload protection, and protection from overcharging.

The aluminum body is very sturdy, protecting the unit from mechanical impact and vibrations.

Foval 200W Car Power Inverter comes with an 18-month limited warranty.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Foval 200W Car Power Inverter Amazon link (link opens in the new window).


BESTEK 500W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter

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BESTEK 500W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter comes with both a cigarette lighter adapter plug and battery clamps.

When the unit is connected to a cigarette lighter adapter, it should be used to power devices up to 120-150 watts. However, if required, it can be connected to the battery directly using battery clamps, allowing the unit to power devices up to 500W continuously.

As such, the BESTEK 500W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter features pure sine wave output with very low THD (Total Harmonic Distortions) and is able to power sensitive devices as well via its two 110V AC ports.

Also, it features two 5.0V 2.4 Amps (each) USB ports for charging tablets, smartphones, and similar devices.

Safety features include two external replaceable fuses combined with over-voltage protection, under-voltage protection, overheat protection, overload protection, reverse polarity protection, and short-circuit protection.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the BESTEK 500W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter Amazon link (link opens in the new window).


POTEK 500W Car Power Inverter

potek 500w w300px

POTEK 500W Car Power Inverter features a continuous output power of 500W and surge power of 1000W. Considering its output power, the unit is rather compact, with physical dimensions of 6.7 x 4.1 x 2.2 inches (~17 x 10.4 x 5.6 cm).

POTEK 500W Car Power Inverter comes with two 110V AC ports and only one 5.0V 2.0A USB charging port.

Unit can be connected to the car cigarette lighter adapter (keep the connected devices up to 120-140 watts) or directly to the battery via battery clamps.

Safety features provide protection against overload, overheating, low-voltage, high-voltage, and short circuits.

POTEK 500W Car Power Inverter comes with externally replaceable fuses - no need to disassemble the unit in order to replace the fuses.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the POTEK 500W Car Power Inverter Amazon link (link opens in the new window).


The Best High-Power Car and Truck Power Inverters

Car, truck, RV, etc. high-power power inverters are not connected to starting batteries and, IMHO, must have a remote On/Off switch - despite having very low discharge currents when not being used, such current, if left for a longer period of time, can discharge even large RV house batteries.

Additional features include safety features (thermal protection, overload protection, under- and over-voltage protection, fuses, etc.) and remote connectivity features.

Personally, having a remote On/Off option is practically a must-have feature for units mounted near batteries; Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity is great but not an absolutely required feature.

If the unit is mounted in the cabin, the remote On/Off option is not that important.

Also, since these inverters are going to be used to power various devices, tools, appliances, etc., having pure sine wave power inverters is highly recommended - it will prevent any possible issues due to the powering loads with "dirty" power.

The most popular high-power car and truck power inverters are units with ~2000W nominal power and up to 3-4000W surge power - such units are generally able to continuously power devices, tools, and appliances up to 1500W.

Note: If the power inverter is constantly loaded with 70-75% of its nominal power, consider getting a stronger model because your current power inverter is underpowered for your needs.

Some of the best truck power inverters include:

Renogy 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter

renogy 2000w inverter

Renogy 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter features 2000W continuous and 4000W surge power and is powered by 12V batteries - the inverter supports the use of various lead-acid and lithium batteries.

The unit features physical dimensions of 17.8 x 8.6 x 4 inches (~45.2 x 21.8 x 10.2 cm), and it weighs 11.7 pounds (~5.3 kg).

Renogy 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter safety features include LED indicators for under-voltage (alarm @10.5V±0.5V, shutdown @10.0V±0.5V) and over-voltage protection (shutdown @16.5V±0.5V), over-temperature protection, over-load protection, and short circuit indication. Also, the inverter comes with ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection.

Renogy 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter comes with three 120V AC outlets, one AC Terminal Block, and one 5V/2.1A USB charging port.

Also, it comes with a pair of 3 feet (~0.9m) long 4 AWG battery wires (red and black), and 19.8 feet (~6m) remote controller, allowing the user to mount the inverter near the batteries and to control it remotely.

Renogy 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter comes with a 1-year limited warranty.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Renogy 2000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).

BESTEK 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter

bestek 2000w inverter

Another very popular pure sine wave power inverter is the BESTEK 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter, which comes with a full set of safety features and two very quiet cooling fans.

Maximum power output is 2000W, with a surge power of 4000W delivered via three AC outlets, and with one USB-A (5V/3A, 9V/2.5A) and one USB-C (5V/3A, 9V/2.5A) charging ports.

The unit features very good efficiency of up to 92%.

Bestek 2000W power inverter also comes with 2ft 4 AWG battery cables and a 19.8ft wired remote controller/switch. The physical dimensions of the unit are ~12.8 x 8.86 x 4.21 inches (325 x 225 x 107 mm).

To help users monitor the unit, it comes with an LED screen and three indicator lights.

Bestek 2000W power inverter supports the use of both lead-acid and lithium batteries.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the BESTEK 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).

Ampeak 2000W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter

ampeak 2000w inverter

Ampeak 2000W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter comes with three AC outlets, two 3.1A USB ports, and one 12V DC cigarette lighter port.

Its LCD screen shows all the relevant information about the operation, including input voltage, output voltage, frequency, load, etc.

Ampeak 2000W features a high energy efficiency of >90% and a full set of safety features (17 of them, according to the manufacturer) - among others, low battery shut off is at 9.5V±0.5V, while high battery shut off is at 16V±0.5V.

Cooling fans are automatic, keeping the noise low.

The physical dimensions of the unit are 13.7 x 8.4 x 3.9 inches (~34.8 x 21.3 x 10 cm), and it weighs ~9 pounds (~4.1 kg).

Ampeak 2000W power inverter comes with an 18-month limited warranty.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Ampeak 2000W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).


Few Final Words

Car power inverters can be very helpful when traveling, camping, being off-the-grid, and similar.

Just be aware that the power inverter with 100W of output power drains the car's battery with ~8-10 Amps, and if the engine is not running, the car's battery is discharged at a rate of 8-10 Ah per hour.

Such a discharge rate may quickly discharge the battery too low for it to be able to crank the car's engine safely.

And if the car power inverters are connected directly to the car's battery, and they power load of some 400W with 85% efficiency, the car's battery is being discharged at a rate of almost 40Ah per hour.

So, just to be sure, connect your car power inverter to the car cigarette lighter adapter and use it only when the engine is ON. For powering anything stronger than 140-150W, use larger, deep cycle or dual-purpose batteries, and let the car's battery do what it is designed for - to crank the car safely.