Best Power Inverters for Camping and How to Decide

Camping isn’t about roughing it for the sake of roughing it. If you’re a technologically savvy camper or someone who enjoys a good Netflix movie in the middle of a quiet camping night, you probably are looking for ways to enjoy the Great Outdoors while still enjoying all of the technological amenities which make your life that much easier/better.

That’s where the best power inverters for camping come in! These top-quality vehicle power converters switch DC power off a car battery to eminently useful AC power, allowing campers to power everything from laptops to hair dryers with ease!

Do you want to power a coffee maker for a morning boost? Are you a nature photographer who needs a fully-charged digital camera to capture all the sights and sounds of your own personal camping nirvana? The right power inverter will do all of that for you and much more!

We’re here to help you sift through the dozens of options in the marketplace with our in-depth list of The 5 Best Power Inverters For Camping. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions to ensure you have all the information you need to make a smart purchasing decision.

The Basics of Power Inverters

What is a camping power inverter?

A power inverter is a device that turns your vehicle’s direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). This type of electricity can be used in different outlets such as those found at houses, and are connected to the energy grid. When you have an inverter it means you will be able to plug in appliances or devices like what would happen when using outlet plugs inside homes. If for example, there was something with a proper AC socket then only then do we recommend getting one.

As we said earlier, a power inverter is a device that converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). A power inverter changes your DC current to AC and provides you with the electricity needed to keep on going. In this article, we will be looking at several power inverters for camping, but these are typically the same power inverters that are available in any hardware or electronic department stores.

How do I use a power inverter?

Using a power inverter is quite simple. You can plug your device that needs power into the inverter, and then you plug it into an outlet or extension cord as needed. Depending on what type of devices you are using with the inverter, there might be a surge protector or voltage regulator built-in which will protect those items from getting fried by too much electricity.

You may want to check the manual of the model you own for information regarding the voltage and types of electronics that can be used.

How much power do I need?

When choosing a power inverter, you’ll want to look at the watts. If you’re using the inverter to power a low-load device like an alarm clock, then 500 watts will probably be enough. However, if you are powering something that has high electrical needs such as a refrigerator or air conditioner in your car on a hot day, then 1500 watts is going to be necessary.

Tips for using a power inverter for beginners

  • Always start with the manual and directions. Some camping power inverters require a specific way to set up for the first time.
  • When using a power inverter, it’s important to run the cables outside of the vehicle instead and close enough so that you can access them. It will also be helpful if they are connected to an earth ground or equipped with surge protection.
  • Please note that you should choose an inverter with surge protection when using it in your car as they can be sensitive at times because of their wiring design.
  • Tips for maintaining a power inverter used in your vehicle
  • Plugging something into an open cigarette lighter socket will likely cause burns or other issues due to overloading the circuit.

How to maintain

Here are the steps to maintaining your power inverter and taking care of it for long term use:

  • Unplug and turn off the inverter when not in use
  • Store it properly during seasonal changes. It’s best to store them at room temperature, but if you must put your power inverter back into a car, remove any cables from its outlet
  • Make sure that no foreign objects have been inserted through the openings on the unit. This includes garbage or other debris like leaves or dirt entering inside of it. If this occurs then clean out this object before continuing to use it
  • Keep an eye on how long you’ve used your device for and make sure not to go over the recommended usage. Doing so could lead to your power inverter breaking down and leaving you stranded
  • Keep an eye out for any signs of wear on the device. This includes cracks in plastic parts or faded paint around edges
  • If you plan on using a device outside make sure that’s rated for outdoor use and has protection against storms/weather conditions. You might want to get a surge protector too.

The Best Power Inverters For Different Types of Campers

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160

Currently On Sale
Portable Power Station
4,940 Reviews
Portable Power Station
  • SUPER COMPACT WITH AC OUTLET: Weighing the same as a standard bag of apples, this portable power station makes the smallest while remaining the most compact in...
  • LEADERSHIP IN THE INDUSTRY: Founded in 2012, Jackery specializes in providing outdoor green power solutions for explorers. Our explorer series has been featured...
  • POWER UP TO 5 DEVICES: The Explorer 160 power station features 1* AC outlet (110V 100W 150W Peak), 1*USB-C port, 2* USB-A ports and 1* standard DC 12V port that...
  • RECHARGEABILITY THROUGH SOLAR, AC, VEHICLES: Get fully recharged by Jackery SolarSaga 60 (sold separately) in just 4.5 hours. The wall outlet and car charging...

What makes it special?

Our ultimate pick for those looking to power laptops or smartphones with a quality pure sine wave power inverter, the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 is the epitome of quality construction. Complete with multiple recharging options and one of the quietest generators we’ve tested, this power station is as reliable and efficient as they come at fully charging low-powered devices.

Pros

  • Features 1 AC outlet (100W, 150W peak), 1 USB-C port, 2 USB-A ports, and a standard DC 12V port for versatile and multifaceted usage.
  • Can act as a dedicated car power (110V outlet) inverter while plugged in, which is something that most portable power banks like this cannot claim.
  • Specially calibrated to offer fast charges for most laptops, smartphones, and tablets. You’ll get a quick charge without draining much of the inverter’s battery at all.

Cons

  • Extremely limited wattage output cuts into the amount of devices this inverter can service. Most household appliances are not serviceable by this device.
  • The center conductor within the cigarette dongle unit is a bit too small. You may have to repeatedly push a cigarette plug into it to keep contact with the unit.

Who should buy this power inverter?

The first power inverter is the best choice for most people due to its great features that are suitable for most people. It’s perfect when it comes to the number of outlets, high wattage and voltage ranges.

FlashFish 200W Portable Power Station

200W Portable Power Inverter
3,528 Reviews
200W Portable Power Inverter
  • Multiple Charging Outputs Provide More Options: Features with AC/ DC/ USB OUTPUTS: 110 AC output (200W), 2 DC output, 2 QC 3.0 quick charge USB port and 1 USB...
  • High Performance And Handy Power Source: 151Wh (40800mAh) compact station is powerful enough to meet different kinds of electricity demands outdoor usage for...
  • Other Unique Design: 1)The standalone AC/DC provides easy operation when charging different devices;2)Mutifuction LCD display would show you the remaining...
  • Triple Rechargeable Modes Efficient Solar Generator: FlashFish power station is equipped with a lithium battery pack, it can be charged by the 15-24 volt solar...

What makes it special?

The FlashFish 200W Portable Power Station is our pick for the best budget option on our list of the top power inverters for camping. However, its fair price point belies its power and versatility! With a wide variety of output options, multi-functional LCD display, and three different recharge modes (solar, AC wall, and car charger), this little powerhouse is the perfect power supply for everything from phones to CPAP machines.

Pros

  • Comes with an impressive array of output options – 1 200-watt AC outlet, 2 DC output ports, 2 3.0 quick charge USB ports, and 1 2.4A USB port.
  • Multiple recharging options are quick and efficient. No matter which option you choose, you won’t have to worry about the unit’s battery capacity being reduced.
  • Multiple overheating and overtaxing safeguards backed up by 12-month warranty. Simply put, this is a safe investment at a reasonable cost.

Cons

  • Device doesn’t come with an overcharging safeguard. Pay attention to the battery monitor on the LCD display or risk damaging the unit through overcharging it.
  • Low wattage output makes this a non-starter for appliances with a requirement of over 200 watts output.

Who should buy this power inverter?

Good news campers! We have your pick for the best budget option on our list of the top power inverters. This little powerhouse is perfect to keep you charged up and kicking with a wide variety of output options, multi-functional LCD display, and three different recharge modes (solar, AC wall or car charger). With its fair price point belied by its versatility!, this one can handle anything from phones to CPAP machines.

AIPER Portable Power Station

Power Station: Portable
466 Reviews
Power Station: Portable
  • 【Large Capacity Battery Power】: Comparing to 42000mAh items, Aiper Smart 45000mAh 167Wh portable power station provides larger power capacity, that means it...
  • 【Multifunctional Outputs】: Aiper Smart portable power station features in variety of outputs, 2 x AC outlet(110V max 150W, peak power 200W ), charges or...
  • 【Portable & Three Input Modes】: It weighs only 3.52lbs and the compact appearance design makes it a great travel companion for outdoors enthusiasts. Three...
  • 【Completely Safe & Very Quiet】: Built-in battery management system, short-circuit protection, over-current protection, over-power protection, low-voltage...

What makes it special?

For those looking to charge low-powered devices such as smartphones and tablets multiple times on one inverter charge, the AIPER Portable Power Station is just right. Fully powered, this 45000mAh 167 Wh portable generator can fully charge the newest iPhone or Android smartphone on the market 20 straight times before needing to be plugged in again. Couple that with an array of output options and this is a must-buy for any technologically savvy camper.

Pros

  • With two AC outlets, three DC ports, and two USB ports to its credit, this portable power bank can service nearly any low-powered device or gadget you can think of.
  • Weighs just 3.52 pounds for easy portability. It won’t be a nuisance to carry from your vehicle to your campsite.
  • Combines multiple safeguards with one of the quietest operations we’ve seen from the power inverters we’ve tested. You’ll get effective charging without worry or irritating hums from a noisy/faulty fan.

Cons

  • Limited wattage output means that most medium-powered and high-powered appliances can’t be serviced by this power bank.
  • Can be finicky about fully charging devices when it’s close to low battery. Pay attention to this and use the company’s 12-month worry free warranty if it becomes an issue.

Who should buy this power inverter?

For those looking for an all-inclusive, portable power source to charge anything from a tablet to your phone on the go. The 45000mAh 167Wh generator can fully recharge most devices up 20 times before needing another plug! This is perfect for anyone who camps or goes outdoors often and needs reliable backup access in case of emergency situations.

GrantMaya Portable AC Power Bank

Currently On Sale
AC Power Inverter
258 Reviews
AC Power Inverter
  • 🌟POWERFUL BATTERY PACKS: 220Wh/64,800mAh High Quality Lithium Batteries, 300Watts Pure SineWave AC Output. [1]*Support 4x 5V/3.1A(Max) USB outputs for...
  • 🌟EASILY RECHARGEABLE: You can plug it into any 110V-120V AC wall outlet (Full charged time: 7-8 hours) or car cigarette lighter (⚠Note:The 15v DC input of...
  • 🌟SAFETY GUARANTEED: We use the Battery Management System (BMS) to improve battery utilization, Short-circuit protection, Over-current protection,...
  • 🌟COMPACT & PORTABLE: Super slim size (7.88 x 7.88 x 3.1 inches) and lightweight (2.3Kg).The portable power bank is not only for emergency backup power at...

What makes it special?

If you’re looking for a pure sine wave power inverter with multiple options for recharging, you won’t find a better option than the GrantMaya Portable AC Power Bank. Rather than connecting this directly to a car battery, you can charge it completely by plugging it into an AC outlet for seven to eight hours. You can also charge it with a car cigarette lighter or with the help of solar panels. It’s not the most wattage output you’re going to find, but the ease of use makes this a must inclusion on our list!

Pros

  • Features two AC outlets and four 3.1A USB outlets. It’s a dream power bank for charging multiple smartphones at one time!
  • Variety of recharging options made even more impressive by the unit’s portability. You can take this little powerhouse anywhere and it won’t take up much pack space.
  • Battery Management System (BMS) offers a variety of different safeguards to ensure the health of the inverter itself while protecting your devices from harm.

Cons

  • Limited wattage output makes this a no-go for high-powered devices which require 350 watts or more of juice.
  • You’ll notice a drop-off in charging speed if you attempt to charge more than two smartphones at one time.

Who should buy this power inverter?

This power inverter is for someone looking for a pure sine wave, high-output charger. Rather than connecting this directly to your car battery, you can charge it completely by plugging it into an AC outlet for seven or eight hours (yikes!). You also have the option of charging with either a cigarette lighter in your vehicle or solar panels; however we’re not sure if that’s really going to be feasible on long road trips without ample sunlight exposure. Regardless, I think most people will appreciate how easy setup and use are – which makes sense because they would want their product as user friendly as possible!

Ampeak 1000W Power Inverter

Currently On Sale
1000W Power Inverter for Camping
557 Reviews
1000W Power Inverter for Camping
  • Ampeak 1000 Watt High Power Inverter: Provides 1000 Watt continuous DC to AC power output, up to 2000 watt surge capacity, converts 12V DC battery power to...
  • Widely Application Inverter 12V to 110v: 2 AC outlets and 2.1A USB port deliver 1000 Watt continuous power,ideal for gift,cell-phone,laptop,electric...
  • Advanced Safety Protection Power Inverter: Smart Digital Display & Cooling Fan & Audible Alarm & LED Indicator & Built-in 5 x 25A Mini Slip Fuse to protect...
  • Home or Outdoor Using Inverter: Just need a 12V battery system to connect with it to power your device for Emergency, Hurricane, Storm, Snowstorm, and Outage

What makes it special?

One of the most intuitive modified sine wave power inverters ever produced, the Ampeak 1000W Power Inverter augments its 1000 watts of continuous DC to AC power with an easy-to-read digital display which shows you what power is coming in, going out, and any potential fault codes for quick resolution.

Pros

  • Comes complete with two AC outlets and a 2.1A USB port to power a wide swath of different devices in efficient fashion.
  • Features some of the most effective safeguards of any power inverter we’ve tested. The cooling fan is powerful, and the audible alarm/mini slip fuse combo ensure you’re charging your devices with utmost safety.
  • Comes with an 18-month warranty which promises replacement with no questions asked!

Cons

  • Wires provided to connect to a car battery are just 18 inches long. You’ll either have to find a place to mount the inverter under your hood or purchase longer cables.
  • Not ideal for powering multiple high-powered devices at one time. Check the wattage of your appliances before using outlets concurrently.

Who should buy this power inverter?

Digital readouts and easy-to-identify fault codes make this power inverter an innovative favorite. The Ampeak 1000W Power Inverter cleverly augments its 1000 watts of continuous DC to AC power with a simple yet informative LCD display that provides you all the information you need in one place, from current input/output wattage data to any potential fault code messages for quick resolution.

FAQs

What features should I look for in the best power inverters for camping?

The best power inverters for camping have a few key facets which are common across the board. If you’re about to purchase a power inverter for regular usage on your outdoors adventures, make sure you pay attention to the following things when reading up on a product:

The number of outlets – Some power inverters come with just a single AC power outlet. Others come with multiple power outlets and other essential goodies like USB outlets. If you want to power multiple peripherals and appliances at once, you’ll need an inverter which fits the latter designation.

Wattage capacity – Power inverters are sold in a wide range of different wattage capacities. Those with capacities under 500-1000 watts are better for lower-powered devices with limited power needs. If you’re going to be running multiple high-capacity appliances at once, look for a power inverter with a wattage capacity in the thousands.

Overload and temperature protections – This is a big one. If you fall asleep and forget to disconnect your power inverter, the best power inverters for camping have safeguards which will shut the inverter down when temperatures get too high or its power supply becomes overtaxed.

Sine wave type – We’ll go into the difference between modified sine wave and pure sine wave power inverters in just a second. Some techies swear by pure sine wave power inverters as the only quality choice, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s all based upon need and what you’ll be charging.

Is a pure sine wave power inverter really necessary for most household electronics?

While pure sine wave power inverters are a better inverter option for sensitive electronics and household appliances, they’re overkill for most things you’ll be taking along for a camping trip.

In short, modified sine wave power inverters are nearly (or just) as effective for what you’ll likely need and they’re much less expensive than pure sine wave power inverters.

Campers on a budget should stick with modified sine wave power inverters unless you’ve got something like a laptop with a faulty power supply which could blow out if charged incorrectly.

How can I determine what wattage capacity I need out of a power inverter?

What are the appliances and peripherals you’re going to be charging most? A normal laptop only requires about 75 to 100 watts of capacity while charging, but there are some appliances like blenders or hair dryers which requires hundreds of watts on even their lowest settings.

Look at the wattage needs of your appliances and then the amount of outlets on the particular power inverter you’re interested in. Calculate what you think will be your maximum wattage usage at one time and then find a power inverter which has a capacity just a bit larger than that.

You can never be too safe, especially if you’re using the inverter to charge communication devices such as phones and tablets in case of an emergency.

How Many Watts Do I Need For My Camping Power Inverter?

Appliance Watts
Air compressor 2000-3000
Cell phone 50
Charger – Battery powered tools 240 – 500
Coffee maker 800 – 1200
Computer + monitor 125
DVD player 35 – 100
Gaming console (X-Box) 100
Hair dryer 900 – 1600
Laptop 25 – 150
Light bulb (fluorescent) 25
Mini Christmas lights (50) 25 – 75
Stereo 250
Tablet (iPad) 100
Toaster 800 – 1500
TV (25″) 300
TV (Flatscreen) 65

Closing Thoughts

The five power inverters on our above list are the pinnacle of power and versatility among all options currently available in the marketplace.

If you want a stable power supply that won’t quit on you on even the longest of camping trips, you won’t do any better than our spotlight picks for the best power inverters for camping. Purchase one as soon as you can and you’ll have access to your favorite (and most essential) gadgets at all times.