Car Power Inverter for Laptop

Car Power Inverters: The best way to charge your laptop in the car

19th August 2018 Off By

A car power inverter allows you to use your normal mains laptop charger in the car, right from your 12v socket. If you’ve ever tried to hunt down a car charger for your laptop, you’ll know it can be a tricky job.

If a car charger is available for your specific laptop, it can often cost upwards of £50. Universal chargers are often just as expensive, and can be temperamental. You’ll also need to hope they come with a suitable tip, and that you don’t lose it.

These days, high-quality mains power inverters are available for your car at less than half the price of most dedicated car laptop chargers. They’re infinitely more useful.

A 12V power inverter allows you to use any standard 240V mains appliance from your car’s cigarette lighter socket, so it’ll work with your next laptop’s charger too. Most also come with USB sockets for phone charging.

Power inverters are sold rated by their max load capacity in watts. Most start from 200W, and some go all the way to 1000W and higher. Always check the wattage of your laptop’s charger, but most should be well under 100W.

High-power devices such as hair straighteners and kettles are likely to cause problems, but you’re unlikely to find a laptop charger that exceeds the maximum wattage of any of the inverters listed here.

But won’t these drain my car battery?

When your car’s engine is running, it’s charging the battery as you drive along. This means you can use as much power as you want from one of these inverters without worrying about draining the battery.

When the engine is off, you can still run your inverter and charge your devices without worrying. However, if you accidentally left it connected overnight or for an extended period of time, you could end up draining the battery. Just like if you leave a coolbox connected all day parked the hot sun.

Luckily, all of the inverters listed here feature smart low battery protection. This means they’ll cut out when they detect the battery getting low, ensuring you can always start your car.

Bestek 200W Dual Socket Power Inverter with 4 USB Ports

Image credit: Bestek

This devices from Bestek packs two 240V UK mains sockets into a fairly slimline package. It’s only 200W max across both sockets, but that should be plenty for a couple of laptop chargers.

There are also four USB ports for good measure, with a 2.4A max per port and 4.8A shared across all four. This should be plenty to charge most smartphones and tablets at full speed.

The device is fused and has a built-in cooling fan alongside short-circuit protection. It claims to have low-battery protection, which cuts the power if your car battery’s voltage drops below 11V. I’d make sure you don’t leave it connected when you’re away from your vehicle anyway. I’m not keen on risking a flat battery and a dead car.

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Duracell 175W Twin Socket Power Inverter with 2 USB ports

Image credit: Duracell

If you prefer a big brand name, this might be the inverter for you. It’s a slightly lower maximum load than the Bestek above, but it should still be plenty for one, probably two laptops.

You’ll get all the peace of mind that you’ve got a genuine, Duracell tested product. The Duracell Powerstrip has intelligent safety protection features and an integrated cooling fan.

The power inverter also has two USB ports, both with a maximum load of 2.4A.

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Argos Sakura 150W Cup Holder Power Inverter

Image credit: Argos

This power inverter comes straight from Argos, so you have all the peace-of-mind that comes from using a big high street store. That also means that if you don’t want to wait for delivery, you can check nearby stock online and pick one up today, immediately.

It fits conveniently in one of your vehicle’s cup holders, and though whilst that means it only has one mains socket, it does have a USB socket for charging your phone.

If your car only has one 12v socket, and no other USB ports, the extra USB for phone charging will be crucial. Especially if you’re using your laptop alongside your phone’s wifi hotspot.

The Sakura 150W Inverter from Argos has a built-in cooling fan and automatic thermal shutdown, alongside low battery protection and overloading protection.

It’s currently £24.99 and available for home delivery or immediate purchase in store. Click here to view on the Argos website.

Bestek 300W Car Power Inverter with dual USB ports

Car Power Inverter 300w Bestek
Image credit: Bestek

This power inverter only has one socket, but puts out 300W of power. That’s way more than enough for a laptop charger. With the use of a splitter, it could even power a games console and a small TV.

There’s two USB ports, with a max rating of 4.8A between them. This means both ports can be used at their full 2.4A speed at the same time.

It has all the usual safety features, such as an integrated cooling fan, low battery protection, and overloading protection.

Bestek also provide an 18 month warranty should any problems develop.

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Erayak 600W Heavy Duty Power Inverter with 1200W Peak

This heavy-duty car power inverter puts out a massive 600W of constant power, with a massive peak load capacity of 1200W. This is way more power than you need to charge a laptop or two and is probably overkill for most use cases.

Such a high-power inverter comes with four internal fuses and integrated cooling fans. There’s also smart protection against overheating, overvoltage, undervoltage, short-circuit, and low battery.

The Erayak 600W car power inverter has two 240V mains sockets, and one USB port rated at 2.4A. It also comes with battery clips, allowing you to connect it directly to a car battery. It can still be used with a 12V cigarette lighter socket as normal.

A spare fuse is supplied, as are four screws to mount the inverter permanently.

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What about pure sine wave’ car power inverters?

Modified Sine Wave vs Pure Sine Wave Graph
Image credit: VoltScience USA

Mains electricity is AC, meaning alternating current. Unlike your cars 12V DC (direct current) power supply, the direction which the current flows in changes constantly in a mains electricity supply. In the UK, mains electricity is 50Hz, meaning it changes direction 50 times per second.

Car power inverters simply ‘convert’ your cars 12-volt direct current into a much higher voltage, 240V alternating current. Most inverters produce 240V AC in a ‘modified sine wave’ form, which means the changes between current direction aren’t quite as smooth as a standard mains power supply.

A pure sine wave power inverter imitates a real mains power socket by using a smooth, gradual transition between alternating current flows. A cheaper, modified sine wave power inverter switches current flows in bigger incremental steps.

It’s said that sensitive electronic devices will perform better using a pure sine wave inverter, and may also run cooler, too. Others say that when using a device that has its own transformer, such as a laptop charger, the benefits of a pure sine wave inverter are limited.

However, pure sine wave inverters are no longer prohibitively expensive. You can get a high quality pure sine wave inverter for only slightly more than the equivalent power rated modified sine wave inverter.

The Bestek 300W inverter we highlighted above is also available in a pure sine wave version. This offers the same power rating and 2 USB ports as the 300W Bestek inverter above, but has all the benefits of a pure sine wave for only a slightly increased cost.

Last update on 2018-09-20 / As an Amazon Associate Fuseboxed earns from qualifying purchases / Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.co.uk, Inc. or its affiliates / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Main image credit: edkohler

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