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Planning a long camping, RV or boat trip? Or working at a construction site with no generator? It’s easy to find yourself away from the power grid and traditional AC wall outlets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t power your electrical devices. Batteries can provide plenty of portable, off-grid power to keep your devices running. But there’s a catch – batteries provide DC power, while most devices with a power cord require AC power.
The solution here is to get one of the best pure sine wave inverters. These take DC power provided by batteries and transform it into AC power. However, there are a lot of considerations that go into choosing inverters like how many devices you have, how much power you need, and when you need it. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the world of pure sine wave inverters to find the one that fits your needs. After reviewing tens of inverters, looking at technical specifications and hundreds of user reviews from experienced operators, we narrowed our list down to five of our favorites that offer something for every use and budget, so we’re sure one of these will be a good fit for you.
To get an overview of the inverters we reviewed, start at our comparison table below. After that, we’ve provided detailed reviews of each of the five inverters, complete with features and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Finally, our buying guide provides you with the knowledge you need to determine what’s important in an inverter and help you find the one that’s right for you.
"Continuous: 600W / 1000W / 2000W.
Surge: 1200W / 2000W / 3000W.
Lots of safety features, UL-certified.
Built-in digital display and USB port.
Leading manufacturer of advanced power electronic products."
If you’re looking for a power inverter for all-around use, whether it’s on a work site, around your home, or for a boat or vehicle, this is one of the best inverters on the market.
First, the wattage is perfect for most needs. Most users could not use up all of the 2,000 watts even when running air conditioning units, refrigerators, and charging phones off the USB all at the same time. Even better, the 3,000-watt surge capacity allows you to run just about any standard household appliances that you would want to bring, for example, onto a boat or RV – such as an air conditioning unit or freezer. The continuous and surge wattages are also sufficient to run most power tools, making this ideal for a construction or other work site.
Efficiency and safety
This inverter is also watching out for you, your battery, and your investment in the inverter. It comes with a low-voltage alarm and will automatically shut down if the battery runs under 10.5 volts or if the voltage running through the inverter exceeds 15.5 volts. It will also shut down if it is overloaded or runs over temperature, although users found that the fan is extremely effective at cooling the unit. The LCD screen also makes it easy to decipher what the problem is when something goes wrong.
What sets this unit apart from its competitors is the attention to safety details. Unlike many power inverters, this inverter features GFCI AC plugs similar to what is found in most households. These plugs make it significantly safer to connect devices to the inverter when it is hooked up to a live battery. In addition, Xantrex did their best to make hooking the battery up to the inverter safer by including heavy-duty, extra wide terminals. Lastly, the inverter is compatible with an optional remote that allows it to be operated remotely and locked down so that it will not turn on if the boat or RV ignition is off.
Why did it make our list?
Up to 2,000-watt continuous and 3,000-watt surge power
Lots of safety features
Auto-shutdown under conditions that are undesirable for battery or inverter
If you have several different power needs and want multiple inverters for different purposes, the lineup of inverters from Samlex has you covered. This lineup runs the gamut from 300 watts to 2000 watts of continuous power, an even broader range than what is available from Xantrex. The 300-watt inverter is a nice option for those who simply need to power small tools or LED lights, and don’t want to invest in a heavy duty inverter.
In terms of performance, these inverters are largely comparable to the competitors from Xantrex with a few key differences. First, and most important, if you need surge power, these inverters provide it. The 2000-watt version provides up to 3500 watts of surge, and that 500-watt increase from the Xantrax inverter can be the difference between getting your appliances started or not. However, you pay for that extra power – this inverter is significantly more expensive than its competitors. Another difference of these inverters is that they offer a slightly wider operating range, with an overload capacity of 16.5 volts.
This inverter is designed to be very safe to use, with built-in GFCI AC plugs on the front and specially-designed pin connector battery terminals on the rear. However, the battery terminal design makes this inverter somewhat more difficult to use, since the connection will not accept a standard jump cable. And while the front panel has lights to indicate when the inverter is overload or overheating, the lack of sound alarms to give more information about other potential load issues can make troubleshooting this inverter more difficult.
If you need a power inverter that can handle the surge power needed to start up your most power-hungry tools, this unit from AIMS can deliver. The whopping 4500-watt surge power delivery is among the highest surge power ratings of power inverters in this price and size class. And just as important, it can hold that surge for up to 20 seconds – so even slow-to-start tools and appliances will get the power they need to run. Best of all, this inverter is just one of a series made by AIMS. If you need even more power, surge or continuous, there are units with increased power in increments all the way up to 6000-watt continuous power and 18,000-watt surge power.
A welcome feature of this inverter is that in addition to drawing power from the battery, it can also be used to send power back to the battery. The inverter comes with an AC power cord that can be plugged into any grid-fed electrical outlet. So after draining your battery to power appliances on an RV trip, for example, it’s easy to recharge the battery when you get home without disconnecting the inverter. This makes it perfect for when your battery is stored in a hard-to-reach place.
The inverter itself is easy to use with large, standard battery terminals, and it’s designed to withstand the salt spray that comes with marine applications. However, it does lack USB inputs and troubleshooting displays that some users prefer.
The BESTEK 500W PSW inverter is equipped with a soft start, which runs slowly when it’s started, ensuring the protection of the connected devices. The voltage converter is equipped with 2 USB ports and can be used to charge video cameras, digital cameras, PSPs, iPads, iPod devices, DVD players, and various mobile phones. It is equipped with various safety devices, such as short circuits, overload and overheating protection, as well as low battery and overvoltage protection.
The Bestek car inverter is 8.7 inches in length, just 4.3 inches in height, and about 2.3 inches in width. With the standard packaging, the Bestek voltage converter has a total weight of 2.2 lbs.
Bestek car inverter is a compact, beautifully designed, and stably processed inverter with a maximum power of 500 watts and continuous watts of 150 watts, which you can use to charge various electric devices.
The inverter is a functional and efficient voltage converter with which normal 110-volt electrical devices in the car, caravan, bus, or boat with a 12-volt battery can be conveniently connected using the cables included. If the battery voltage is too low, the device electronics will switch off automatically.
For people who need both a battery and a power inverter for an assortment of small devices, it doesn’t get much better than this portable inverter from Aeiusny. At only 500 watts of continuous power and 1000 watts of surge power, this isn’t an inverter that’s going to power appliances and large power tools. But it can power tons of small electronics, including laptops and televisions, without having to hook up an external battery. All of which makes it perfect for camping or extended trips away from wall outlets.
With that use in mind, Aeiusny added several features that set this inverter apart. Most important, the battery is inside the unit! The battery is 288 Wh, meaning that it would power a 60-watt device for about 4.5 hours (288 divided by 60). And the LCD screen makes it easy to tell how much battery life is left, so you’ll never run out by surprise. The unit is portable at only seven pounds, and the integrated handle makes it easy to move around. Plus, thanks to the integrated flashlight feature, you’ll want to. The other great feature of this unit that makes it perfect for travel is that it can be charged directly by solar panels, without the use of an additional battery bank and inverter, or from a car battery.
Another appreciated aspect of this battery and inverter is that it provides a huge array of outlets. 4 DC outlets, 4 USB outlets, and 3 AC outlets – you’ll have a hard time finding enough devices to plug in to fill all of the outlets.
Why did it make our list?
Designed with portability and travel in mind
Easy to use
What is not ideal about it?
Continuous and surge power are relatively low compared to other inverters
Pure sine wave inverters can seem complicated and overwhelming, especially if you’re not an electrician. However, with a few general guidelines, it is easy to understand the most important differences between inverters and to recognize why one inverter might be better for your needs than another. Here, we discuss some of the major differences that set pure sine wave inverters apart to help you find the inverter that’s right for you.
How you plan to use your pure sine wave inverter is one of the most important considerations in deciding what inverter to buy. First, does the inverter need to be portable – for example, for use on an RV or boat – or does it need to be hassle-free because it will be installed in a difficult to reach area as part of an off-grid home? Or if you are using your inverter in conjunction with a solar array, finding inverters that are capable of combining solar with grid power can be a huge energy and time saver. In addition, considering what and how many appliances and devices you plan to power off an inverter will play a large role in determining the wattage and surge power capabilities that you need.
The wattage available from your power inverter is one of its most important specifications, since this number determines what you can power and how many devices you can power at a single time.
Before choosing an inverter, take a look at the wattage requirements of the devices you plan to use most often with the inverter – your inverter will need to output at least the wattage required by each device, and at least the sum of the wattage required by devices you plan to power simultaneously.
In addition, motor-driven devices often have higher wattage requirements to get them started, and your inverter needs to deliver enough power to meet that requirement. When in doubt, springing for an inverter with a higher wattage will cost more money, but also leave you more powering options later.
Continuous power and surge power
Inverters are typically rated in watts for both the amount of power they can continuously put out over periods of minutes to hours – known as continuous power – and the amount of extra power they can put out for a few seconds – known as surge power.
Continuous power dictates which and how many devices you can power simultaneously. Surge power is extremely important to consider if you have motor-driven devices, which often require more power to start up than to run once they have started.
For example, a chainsaw that requires 1000 watts to run may require 2000 watts to start – and if your inverter cannot supply 2000 watts or more of surge power, the chainsaw will not start.
Typically, sine wave inverters are designed to output the same voltage as standard electrical outlets in the country for which the inverter is marketed. That means in the US, sine wave inverters are designed to output 120 volts. The voltage, current, and wattage outputs of an inverter are related, such that for a fixed voltage a higher wattage will require a higher current.
Buying a power inverter that has built-in overload protection is a good idea to protect both your inverter and the battery and devices you have plugged into it. Overload protection forces the inverter to automatically stop pulling power from the battery when the amount of current running through the inverter is greater than what the inverter is rated for, which can happen when powering multiple devices at once.
If you’re planning to use solar panels to recharge your battery, you need to think ahead when buying an inverter. Most inverters cannot feed power directly from solar panels to the battery without a battery bank to store and convert the power coming from the solar panels. However, using a battery here is rather pro than con, since solar panels are passive generators of electricity. They don’t store energy and are highly dependent on sun and weather, so you’ll need a battery to store the energy such panel produced anyway.
Many modern pure sine wave inverters come with one or more USB ports, which can be extremely handy additions since so many small electronic devices can be charged by USB. The only caution to using the USB ports for charging is to remember that they do draw from the same output wattage that is being delivered to other appliances plugged in to your inverter, so keep an eye on the total number of watts you are asking your inverter to deliver versus how many it is rated for.
Although LCD displays may seem like a luxury on a power inverter, they can make a huge difference in troubleshooting if you have issues with your inverter, since the screen provides error codes that are easily looked up in the manual. If you are purchasing your first power inverter, or have a particularly complicated setup, it may be worth purchasing an inverter that has a built-in LCD screen.
Pure sine wave inverters offer the ability to charge almost any household appliance or electronic device off a battery, which in turn gives you the freedom to step away from the electrical grid without sacrificing technology. Power inverters come with a steep learning curve, but having a clear idea of your intended uses and the options that are available makes it easy to choose the right inverter for you.