By the very nature of their business, semi-truck drivers are bound to spend endless hours behind the wheel. Because of that, they usually start upgrading their vehicles with various TV sets, DVD players, refrigerators, and similar appliances that should make their lives if just a bit more fun and easier.
However, if you are one of those drivers, you know that hooking all these things up directly to the battery can cause some severe malfunctions and short circuits. No need to worry, though. Here, we are going to find the best power inverter for truck the money can buy.
TOP 5 Best Power Inverter For Truck In 2020 Market
1. Energizer EN100 Ultra Compact DC to AC 100W Direct Plug-in Power Inverter
This small inverter could be best described as basic. But, basic doesn’t necessarily need to mean bad, and if you are looking for a simple and affordable product coming from a reliable manufacturer, EN100 might just be the inverter for you.
So, what do we actually have here?
Well, for a start, EN100 features very modest dimensions of 5.75 x 2.75 x 1.5 in which makes it perfectly manageable for any kind of vehicle, let alone spacious semi-trucks. Second, the unit is plugged directly to the vehicle’s lighter, which makes the installation as effortless as possible. If you need a quick charge or want to quickly hook up some simple appliance, this is the way to go.
On the other hand, this compactness and streamlined approach to the whole matter also imply that EN100 is not amongst the most powerful units on the market. If you’ve got a similar impression, you were absolutely right.
Namely, this 12-volt power inverter for trucks is capable of producing 100Watts of power without any noise and peaks only at 200 Watts. Keeping that in mind, the selection of four ports (two AC and two USB) doesn’t seem all that bad – you wouldn’t be able to power too many devices anyway.
But, don’t take all these things as negatives – this unit is incredibly affordable, well-built, and knows precisely what it needs to be.
If you look for objective flaws, I would much rather point out the absence of pure sine form and occasional overloads that cause immediate shutdowns. This is a big problem, especially if you need a couple of hours of continuous performance.
Still, you need to be aware of this inverter’s limitations. After all, we are talking about a basic unit built for the most basic tasks. Keeping that in mind, EN100 works perfectly fine.
2. Cobra CPI 1575 1500 Watt 12 Volt DC to 120 Volt AC Power Inverter
Compared to the previous product, Cobra CPI 1575 brings a lot more goods to the table. Does that automatically make it a better product? Not necessarily. Inverters are all about meeting the expectations, and that is the field where this 12 volt to 120 Volt power inverter somewhat falls short.
On the first look, though, this inverter does appear very handsome. First, you have a durable and well-built body that makes sure the unit won’t be damaged even if you pick up a couple of bumps along the road.
Second, the unit theoretically (more on that in a minute) works at 1500W output and features a peak power of 3000 Watts, which is pretty cool at this price point. That, in combination with solid connectivity options (3 grounded AC outlets and one USB port), should allow for a very decent and versatile performance.
Last but not least, the inverter also features a very neat LED display that gives you immediate feedback on the current consumption.
So, what went wrong?
Well, for a start, there is the absence of pure sine form. No matter how you take it, this is the more quality power output, and its absence is always missed.
The other, much bigger problem is the unit’s consistency, or, to put it better, the lack thereof. So, the manufacturer claims the unit works perfectly fine at 1500 Watts. Why then I saw its performance dropping like a stone at 700 Watts draw. And this happened far more frequently than I liked.
Also, never try pushing the inverter to its peak power of 3000 Watts, or you will risk setting your truck on fire.
So, this inverter, at least on paper, shows a lot of promise, and you will be able to experience some of this greatness in real life. But, the overall impression is very sloppy and inconsistent.
3. BESTEK 300 watts Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Inverter with 4.2A Dual USB Car Adapter
Bestek Power Inverter has mid-range written all over its sturdy red body. And if you are even slightly familiar with the electronic equipment market, you know that mid-range is the most exciting product category. And indeed, Bestek did put on some inspiring ideas on the table with this unit.
Let us see now, how well are they utilized.
So, this is yet another car cigarette lighter power inverter that doesn’t need complicated installation. Just pop the plug into the lighter socket, and your inverter will be ready to rock. So, the inverter already scores a couple of points in the convenience department.
Another thing I really liked is that, at least for a lighter-powered unit, Bestek Power Inverter produces a very decent output – the continuous power clocks at 300 Watts while the unit can survive occasional 700W surges.
That may not sound like too big of an upgraded compared to Energizer EN100, but believe me – it makes all the difference in real-life usage. Throw into the equation dual AC outlets, dual USB ports with 4.2A output, pretty capable cooling fan, and a 40 amps fuse, and you may start wondering is there anything wrong with this package.
Well, unfortunately, there are a couple of things.
First, although the manufacturer claims the unit produces continuous 115V output, you will experience occasional drops, sometimes even below 100 (sometimes as low as 88.5V). So, keep the sophisticated equipment away, or it may end up fried.
The second thing I would like to point out is that this series of products are not known for their consistent quality – there are a lot of users out there who got a broken unit. That wouldn’t be that big of a problem if Bestek had semi-decent customer service, which is not the case.
Be aware that replacing your broken unit can be a pain in the neck.
4. Samlex Solar PST-1500-12 PST Series Pure Sine Wave Inverter
Everyone who knows a thing or two about the electrical equipment has heard the name Samlex America. Ever since the company’s inception almost 30 years ago, the name Samlex always stood for power and consistency.
So, don’t expect PST-1500-12 to sway you with cheap gimmicks and big promises. This heavy-duty power inverter for truck instead delivers where it’s needed the most – sheer performance and reliability.
This whole story is largely helped by some sweet core specs. Namely, this high-efficiency inverter is capable of converting 12 Volts DC input into the pure sine wave 15000 Watt, 120 Volts. 60Hz output, which is pretty awesome.
But, these are only the core specs. This bad boy also features a built-in UPC (Universal Protection Circuit) that should keep your inverter and the rest of the equipment from frequent problems like high temperature, low voltage, over-voltage, and so on.
And then there are the small features like temperature controlled cooling fan, low idle power draw and similar that may look menial enough on paper, but make all the difference in the world when you hook up the setup.
So, the building blocks of a stellar power inverter are all laid here. Are there any problems? Unfortunately, yes.
First of all, if you’re looking for a bunch of connectivity options, PST-1500-12 will undoubtedly disappoint you with its dual AC outlet. This problem can be mitigated with extension cords and similar solutions, but why would you bother?
Furthermore, there’s the price issue. Truly, PST-1500-12 puts on one incredibly reliable performance. But, for the money, I am asked to pay I would like to see a bit higher power output. Finally, don’t take the 120V output mark too seriously. You’ll spend far more time using the 115 Volts.
Still, this is the best power inverter for truck with solar recharge if there ever was one.
5. WZRELB Reliable 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter 12v 120v 60hz LED Display Solar Power Inverter (Black)
WZRELB Pure Sine Wave Inverter sets out to do a lot of wonderful things. And it doesn’t take more than a passing look at its specs to see the inverter is truly a force to be reckoned with.
What this unit lacks, though, is refinement, ultimately proving how meaningless Watt wars are if the powerful output is not backed up by a reliable and steady performance. But everything in due time.
Let us start with the good thing. So, what we have here is one pretty robust but still good-looking inverter unit that produces pure sine form output that clocks at 2000 Watts, 120 Volts, and 60Hz frequency. All these numbers are great, if not exceptional.
Furthermore, the overall performance is very quiet, and the installation very simple. The unit also features a couple of safeguard options that should protect the hooked devices both from low and over-voltage, as well as an LED display that gives feedback on the current power consumption.
Why such a disappointed tone in the introduction then?
Well, let’s say the unit puts on a very shabby performance. The unit shuts down far more frequently than I would like to, the output numbers are all over the place, and the unit couldn’t hold the stable voltage even if its life depended on it.
This lack of consistency is only underlined by the fact that the inverter features only two AC outlets. So, if you are not getting a reliable performance and you are not getting versatility, what are you getting for the price you are asked to pay.
Well, a pretty affordable piece of tech that works reasonably well, at least most of the time and unless you are pushing the draw to the limit. Is that good enough? It depends entirely on you.
What is the best power inverter for a semi-truck?
And now that we’ve taken a quick look at our top five contenders, let me quickly go through some of the features that make a good power inverter for a semi-truck and point out a couple of things you should consider before spending your money.
Why should you read this?
Well, there are a lot of different trucks and drivers out there. Sure, I can tell you which one of these products I consider the best. But, knowing how to recognize the quality product will always help you to make the right purchase, even if you, at some point, change your vehicle.
Power by Watts
One of the main ways we can sort out the power inverters is (as the name suggests) by their power capacity, which is measured in Watts. And although the rule of thumb would say the more power is better, you will realistically only need to cover the consumption of the appliances and devices you plan on hooking up.
The good news is that the usual consumption clocks somewhere in the range of 150 watts – 5000 watts. Investing money into a more powerful setup wouldn’t make sense past this point.
Here’s the short breakdown of some of the most popular units you will probably want in your vehicle:
- Laptop – 20-75 Watts
- Freezer – 700 Watts
- Coffee Maker – 600-1000 Watts
- Microwave – 1000-2000 Watts
- TV screen – 80-400 Watts
So, the best power inverter for truck bed should be able to handle at least a couple of these units at once.
If you ever got a chance to see how a power wave looks like on the screen of the oscilloscope, you know the waveform makes a pure, precise sine wave. The inverters that are able to produce this pure sine form offer a very quality power output and can power up any device to the limit. Keep in mind, though – the best pure sine wave power inverter never comes cheap.
On the other hand, modified sine form devices produce slightly choppy output (it appears squared off) than can power most of the less sophisticated devices. However, you can expect a slight distortion on your screens, and some devices might not work at all.
The primary purpose of a power inverter is to allow you to hook up as many units as possible. That is why, even if you buy the most powerful unit on the market, the lack of connectivity options will practically render it useless.
For instance, some of the cheaper low-power usually feature only one AC (household) socket and one slow-charging USB port. You have to admit, that is far too few connectivity options for functional performance.
What you should look for instead is to try to find a full-scale high-power device that features four AC sockets and up to four, 2-amp USB ports.
And then, the fact remains that you need to connect inverter to car battery – the easier it’s done, the better.
Regardless of whether you have bought a sine wave or modified sine wave unit, you have to be aware that all of the devices you are going to hook up weren’t meant for in-truck use, so you can expect your system to experience occasional quirks and problems.
That is why you should look for a unit that features a couple of safety features that should help you put these worries to rest. What security features I am talking about? Well, things like overload, short-circuit, and temperature protection, as well as some sort of feedback (preferably LCD) that should provide you with the essential info regarding the consumption.
Power inverters are a pretty diverse group of products. In other words, the power inverter price can range anywhere from dozens to hundreds of dollars. In some cases, the price gaps can be measured in hundreds of dollars. That is why you should make a very thoughtful list of considerations and base your purchase decision exclusively around them.
So, here is a short breakdown of different power inverter based on their price:
- $40-$60 (300 Watts) – Good for essential appliances, laptops, and phones
- 100-$120 (600 Watts) – Large screens, power tools, larger appliances
- $199-$380 (1750 watts) – Larger power tools, microwaves, toasters
- $395-$750 (3000 Watts) – Virtually all kinds of household appliances and office equipment
Outdoor Usage Certification
Power inverters can sometimes be very deceiving. Although they might look like they were made for outdoor use (they may feature carrying handles or similar upgrades), not all of them are designed or even allowed to be used outdoor according to the power inverter usage chart.
So, essentially, you may be able to build your PI unit into the truck, but the legality and the safety of the entire project will be questionable, to say the least. That is why you should skip on this issue entirely and buy the unit certified for safe outdoor use.
Sure, you will probably need to pay a bit more, but the investment more than pays off.
FAQ about best power inverter for truck
Q1: What is a power inverter for a truck?
Power inverter is a device that transforms direct electrical current into the alternating current suitable for modern devices, gadgets, and appliances. Depending on their construction and circuitry, they can produce different output wattage and frequency, as well as a variety of power handling options.
Now, this idea may sound pretty novel, but actually, the power inverters have been with us ever since the inspection of large scale electrical grids. Without them, the long-distance electrical distribution would be virtually impossible.
What makes power inverters so the novel is the way we can use them to make our everyday lives much, much more comfortable. That brings us to the power inverters used in trucks.
You see, most of the professional drivers (especially semi-truck drivers) spend a better half of their day behind the wheel once they hit the road. In a situation like this, various household appliances and devices could allow the driver to prepare on-the-go meals f get a much-needed distraction.
Unfortunately, the truck battery is producing the output that’s nowhere near suitable to be used by the household units like these. Enter semi-truck power inverters, neat portable using that are transforming this output into the AC current, and allow you to hook up any kind of household device with the appropriate power draw.
Q2: How to install a power inverter in my truck?
Before I proceed to answer this question, I should point out that, as simple as they look, power inverters can do a lot of damage both to the appliances and to the vehicle if not wired correctly. So, it is strongly advised to let the professionals do all the heavy lifting, especially if you are not that experienced with electrical circuits.
However, if you want to try your luck, here is what you should do:
- Plan the way you are going to spread the cables, so you don’t mess up the existing wire network and equipment.
- Once you find the safe path between the battery and the inverter, cut the holes for the cables and line them with rubber grommets.
- Lay the cables and fix the fuse box. You should always protect your inverter unit with the fuse in the positive Direct Current cable.
- Mount the inverter (the usual locations are in the trunk, under the seat, and on the floorboards) and link the unit with the shore power receptacle (you can find further explanation in the manufacturer’s manual.
- Once you are done, join the remote switch with the system.
- Finally, link all the wires with the unit. Once again, the manufacturer’s instructions will provide you with more in-depth guidelines.
Now, I know all this may sound confusing. So, take a couple of minutes to watch this video to pick up the visual references.
Q3: What can I use a power inverter for in my truck?
Well, the possibilities are endless. Any kind of device that can be hooked up onto the public power grid can be used in your truck, courtesy of power inverters. But, you need to keep in mind a couple of things.
First, the power inverters can be roughly divided into two groups: the ones producing pure sine wave forms and the ones that are emitting the modified sine wave forms.
Without going into unnecessary details (I have already briefly covered this issue above), the main difference between these two types is that pure sine form offers a very quality power output. The devices producing the modified sine form output can cause various compatibility issues with more sensitive devices like LCD screens, etc.
The second thing you need to take into consideration the total power draw of the devices you plan to use. This consideration is a matter of simple math, but still – some appliances like microwaves are using much more power than it seems (sometimes up to 2000 Watts).
Obviously, your inverter should produce a bit more power than the sum of the draw, just to counterbalance occasional surges and other network issues.
Q4: What kind of power inverter do I need for my truck?
This is a good question because inverters are rarely produced to be used exclusively in semi-trucks. More often than not, you will simply need to buy a regular unit that may or may not make a fortunate coupling with your vehicle.
So basically, you will need to buy the inverters based on your personal needs and the capabilities of your vehicle. Obviously, the first thing you should take into consideration is the power draw. Make a list of the devices you are planning to use and see just how much power do they need.
Second, you need to consider the size. Some low-power inverter units (up to 300 Watts) are no bigger than a pack of cigars. On the other hand, the units with the power up to 5000 Watts will require much more space.
And then, there are other important considerations like sine wave form (sophisticated devices will require pure sine form), connectivity options (sometimes you may get away with a low-power unit that features enough outlets), and price.
So, the question you have asked is not that easy to answer. But, if you want to use a power inverter while driving, the unit that you seek sits at the end of this long list of considerations.
Finally, it is time for me to sort through all these power inverters we have previously covered and declare which one of them, in my opinion, takes the title of the best power inverter for truck currently on the market. And, as you can probably guess by now, Samlex Solar PST-1500-12 PST Series Pure Sine Wave Inverter easily takes the number one spot.
Sure, the unit features some noticeable drawbacks (pretty steep price included). But, to be quite honest, most of them are inherent to this type of unit. Some other mentions may be easier to install, feature more connectivity option, or produce a more powerful output.
But, when all is said and done, PST-1500-12 puts on the most stable and reliable performance. If you plan to upgrade your semi-truck with expensive electronic equipment and appliances, this is, by far, the most important thing you should look for.
I am Dave McCurdy I am the content developer on the ecodrivingusa.com website. I have 6 years of experience in marketing as an automotive major.