4 things you should know before installing power inverters for cars

Updated Nov 30, 2022

Here’s everything you need to know about power inverter, along with a handy step-by-step guide on how to install one in your car or truck.

Life is getting increasingly fast-paced as technology makes running errands more convenient. But along with that convenience comes the thirst to do more, to achieve more. Technology and innovations make multitasking possible.

Even when on the road, we can bring many of our gadgets aboard -- with the help of accessories. One of the most useful accessories in a car is the car power inverter. What is a car power inverter and what does it do? Should you also get one for yourself? Is it possible to install one in your car all by yourself? Find out in this article from Philkotse.com:

1. What is a power car inverter?

To better understand what a power converter is, we first have to introduce the concept of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). To put it simply, the AC power is the power that you draw from the sockets in homes and buildings. DC power, on the other hand, is the power that you get from batteries like the one in your car.

Since most of the gadgets and electronics we use today require AC power, you won’t have much luck if you want to charge them using the power from your car batteries. This is where the car power inverter comes in to save the day.

With the car power inverter in your car, you’ll be able to use any home, office or personal electronic device and plug it into your car’s accessories socket! A car power inverter will be very useful in a truck, a car or even an RV.

power inverter


With the car power inverter in your car, you’ll be able to use any home, office or personal electronic device

It widens the types of gadgets and electronic equipment that you can use while you’re on the road. The service provided by these power inverters will be most appreciated by truckers, taxi drivers and other people who spend a lot of time in their vehicle. This can also be a major lifesaver if you’re on a camping trip or in an emergency.

2. What are the inverter's limitations?

Although it seems like inverters are heaven-sent to make our lives a hundred times more comfortable and convenient while we’re in our vehicles, it also has limitations. First off, a power inverter’s capability to provide power is limited by two things: its design and makes, and the method you use to connect it to the vehicle’s electrical system.

Some appliances and equipment need a bigger amount of power when they are turned on, such as refrigerators and the likes. If your inverter isn’t efficient or big enough to handle the surge, you may end up with a problem.

gadgets in the car

Although it seems like inverters are heaven-sent, they also have limitations

>>> Make sure you know 6 things you should be aware of car power inverters.

3. How to install one

Before you equip your car with a car power inverter, you first have to recognize the three main considerations. These will help you think about which type is best for your vehicle and your needs.

Power requirements – The inverter you choose should be able to supply adequate power for all the devices that you want to be plugged in.

Inverter installation location – These devices can be installed practically anywhere in your car. However, you should still think about its accessibility. You will be plugging in and plugging out devices every so often. So, you may need to place the inverter in a more accessible spot.

power inverter installation

These devices can be installed practically anywhere in your car

>>> Read this checklist: Essential tools needed in a car tool kit for DIY car maintenance.

You should also find out how you’re going to connect, and ground it. And lastly, make sure that the inverter is also able to dissipate the heat it generates while in use.

Wiring issues – Small inverters can be plugged directly into the accessory socket of the vehicle. Larger inverters, on the other hand, need to be directly wired using a standard large in-line fuse.

The biggest factor to consider is the power that your devices will need. This will pretty much determine how big the inverter should be. The size of the inverter will also affect the method of installation as well as its location. To give you a better idea of how much power your everyday gadgets and electronics will need, see below:

  • Portable heater: 1,500 watts
  • Mini fridge: 100 watts but requires 500 watts upon startup
  • Standard hair dryer: 1,500 watts
  • 17-inch laptop: 90 watts or less for smaller models

car with power inverter


Larger inverters need to be directly wired using a standard large in-line fuse

>>> Grab your attention: 8 essential tips when buying car accessories online.

4. A guide on installing a permanent car inverter

There are two ways that you can install an inverter in your car. The first one is temporary, but you can also permanently install one in your car as well. The temporary inverter can be plugged into your car’s 12V accessory outlet.

The outlet was traditionally used as a cigarette lighter, but now you can plug in different devices in there.  The only drawback of using temporary car inverters is that it may not be able to pull in enough power for large electronics.

permanent car inverter


You can permanently install car inverter in your car

If you want to add an inverter permanently to your car, you can choose from two ways. You can either install it in the fusebox or in-line with the fuse. To install it in the fusebox, you can tap into an empty slot.

If you choose to keep it in-line with the fuse, you have to figure out where your car’s wiring harness goes through the firewall. Once you find it, you can draw power from there.

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna Sanchez


Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.

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