Electricity is easy to take for granted; most people just plug in their electronics without giving it a second thought. But not all electricity is the same; there’s AC power and DC power. The distinction might seem like it’s only worth knowing if you’re an electrician, but the difference between alternating current and direct current was important enough to spark (pun intended) what was called “The War Of The Currents.” The War of the Currents was a feud between Nikola Tesla, who was a proponent of AC, and Thomas Edison. Edison had developed direct current and sought to discredit AC to protect his pocketbook. While that’s all mostly settled history, the distinction is still worth knowing.
The majority of devices are powered by AC, which isn’t a problem when plugging into a wall outlet, which supplies AC power. Car batteries, however, supply DC power. You can plug some things like your phone into the car. But if you spend a lot of time in your car, it’s understandable to want to take some of the amenities from your home with you. For example, if you want to be able to charge your laptop or power any small appliances, a power inverter can be a handy thing to have (it’s important to make sure you know the wattage of your devices, though, so you don’t blow a fuse). Vehicle power inverters are essential for campers, too. Here are our three favorite options.
1. BESTEK 300W Power Inverter
This power inverter has two outlets and two USB ports, and it’s powered through the cigarette lighter port. It’s a lot of power in a very small package; the longest side is less than 5 inches. There’s a power switch and LED indicator, so it’s easy to make sure you don’t accidentally leave it running.
Pros: Plenty of plugging options with two outlets and two fast-charging USB ports, compact size, has an on/off switch.
Cons: Fan can be loud.
2. ENERGIZER 1500 Watt 12V Power Inverter
If you need a seriously powerful power inverter, this option from Energizer connects directly to a car battery. It’s capable of handling TVs, microwaves, and other appliances that you might otherwise only use at home. It has two outlets and two USB ports. If you need more or less power than that, the listing makes it easy to choose from a range between 100 and 4000 watts.
Pros: Most powerful option, name-brand manufacturer.
Cons: Wiring is rather short.
3. Foval 150W Car Power Inverter
This power inverter has a single outlet and two USB ports, plus an LED indicator and a cooling fan. It’s the most compact option on this list, and can easily be stored in most center consoles when not in use. Like the Bestek option, it plugs in through the cigarette port.
Pros: Most compact option, has two USB ports.
Cons: Cord is only two feet.