For anyone who spends any time traveling in a vehicle, a car power inverter has become a necessary accessory. Whether you have a long commute to work or you are taking a summer road trip with family, car inverters will help you keep your cell phone and laptop charged, the TV running and the XBOX alive.
These handy little devices plug into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle. On the end of the converter unit is a three-pronged AC outlet. Many of the best car power inverters, such as the Whistler, Cobra and Wagan models, even have a USB port.
Because most vehicles are limited to supplying 15 volts through the cigarette lighter, the amount of power available through the inverters is limited. Most portable inverters supply up to 150 watts, which is enough to power a large variety of household electronics. Here is just a small list of some of the more popular uses for power inverters.
- Cell phones
- Portable DVD players
- Game consoles
- Portable camping lights
- MP3 players
You can use car power inverters to charge or power most household electronics; however, there are some limitations. For example, the car power inverters do not supply enough power to charge a laptop battery from empty while it is in use. You can either use the laptop, or turn it off and charge it. You won t be able to do both simultaneously. It is important to research the electrical requirements of the electronics you want to power before purchasing.
The auto power inverters we reviewed utilize a modified sine wave in power output. This type of device is much more affordable than a true sine wave unit, but the modified sine wave device is slightly more susceptible to power interruption. For the average user, even if you are watching movies, this interruption will be nearly unnoticeable. However, some devices, such as power tools and specialty laptops, do not work with a modified sine wave. Be sure to check the user manual of your electronics before purchasing a power inverter.
In order to protect against overheating and other circuit overloads, the power inverters have a variety of different safety features. If the temperature exceeds normal and safe operating boundaries, the inverter will shut down. This can protect the components and prolong the life of the inverter. If there is a power surge and the inverter draws too much power, it will automatically shut down. This can protect against a circuit overload. Also, if you re using the inverter with the vehicle s engine turned off, the inverter will shut down before draining the battery. In order to avoid this problem, start the engine at least once an hour and let it idle for at least 10 minutes.
Nothing is more annoying than a cell phone or a laptop you can t use because the battery is dead. Whether you re traveling across the country, or just around the corner, charging and powering your electronics can be vital.