Power Inverters for Trucks [Work, Semi, Commercial]
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The power inverter in your truck can assist you with anything from making a cup of coffee in the morning to running a full-size construction site. Inverter applications generally fall into the following categories:
- Small Cabin. This is where you will probably want a small-size inverter with a maximum application like a microwave. 1500-watts to 3000-watts should be sufficient here since you will probably not use many devices at the same time.
- Large Cabin. This is where you will want to have a larger size inverter (about 3000w – 5000w with multiple outlets) for maximum comfort. Now you will be able to run your electric teapot, microwave, TV and keep yourself warmed up at night with a small heater all at the same time.
- Pickup Truck. If you need your inverter to power devices and tools on the construction site, you will need to determine the size of your application first (all the devices that you will be using at the same time). Power inverters of larger sizes (5000-watts, for example) should be able to run saws, compressors, drills, grinders, or anything else, as long as their combined wattage falls within the inverter’s range.
** Important! Please note that if you want to get the most out of your truck inverter, you will need to watch your cable sizing. Follow your manufacturer’s suggestions and keep your inverter as close to the battery as possible (within 6 feet). Extension cords from the inverter to your devices will NOT affect the inverter’s performance.
Also, some companies do NOT allow the use of an inverter other than the one you can plug into your 12-volt DC cigarette lighter port. In this case, you can check out inverters with car adapters and also consider getting DC-powered appliances.
1500 watt Inverter for Semi Truck
The 1500-watt inverter can run a lot of devices in your semi-truck! Anything from microwave, coffee-pot, TV, a laptop, and other electronics. You may also want to consider a model with USB ports for easy phone charging (if you are planning to keep it inside the cabin).
Don’t forget that cables to your battery should not run more than 6 feet to be most efficient.
** Important! Please note that Modified Sine Wave inverters are noisier than Pure Sine Wave inverters. This difference in wave output can affect the performance of your equipment as well.
Here are some tips about installing an inverter on a truck:
Power Inverters for Commercial Trucks
When you are out there driving the miles and spending all this time behind the wheel, the first thing you need when you get to the rest stop is the convenience of having the amenities that you are used to. This is where the power inverter plays a major role!
Having a power inverter inside your truck is indispensable because it could take power from your regular 12v batteries and turn it into a normal 120-volt output. With an inverter, you will be able to use your coffee machine, microwave, portable refrigerator, TV, laptop during your rest time, and all kinds of electrical tools during your work hours (if not driving).
** Very important! The company that you work for may NOT allow usage of such a device, so before you go out and get one, check the company’s rules. If you confirm this to be true, there are devices that will run off the 12-volt DC output.
Power Inverter for Truck Refrigerator
If you would like to use a small refrigerator in your truck, you may be out of luck if your company does not allow you to connect the inverter directly to the battery. Even if your 1500-watt inverter comes with a 12-volt car adapter, this does NOT mean that you can use its full potential!
Most carports are 15-amp fused and this means you will be able to use only 180 watts (out of 1500w):
15 amps x 12 volts = 180 watts
What does your fridge consume? First of all, let’s check the nameplate of your refrigerator:
If you know your amps, you know your watts! In the example above, we get:
1.4 amps x 120 volts = 168 watts
Sounds perfect! Not exactly. Many refrigerators have startup surges, that will definitely require a larger unit. It is typically twice the inverter size and if we have a 200-watt inverter on our hands, its peak surge will highly likely be only 400-watts (which is generally not enough for most refrigerators).
Even for the example above, we would not recommend an inverter smaller than 600-watts. Don’t let this confuse you and you don’t need a very powerful inverter if you are planning to use it with a car adapter plug.
In fact, if a small, super portable cooler like this one from Chefman (paid link) will satisfy your needs, a small 200-watt inverter should be just fine (that is if you want to power it from the car adapter).
To get all the power from your inverter, you will need to be able to connect it to the battery. A cable gauge is also very important, as well as the distance between the inverter and a battery (thick gauge & short distance). Installing a fuse between the inverter and refrigerator is highly recommended.
If you did not purchase your fridge yet, you may want to consider refrigerators that WILL run off your 12v DC car outlet (without inverter):
- Whynter (45 Quart) Slimfit Portable Refrigerator (paid link). This one is available from Amazon and it can work easily from your DC car lighter socket.
- Whynter (34 Quart) Compact Portable Refrigerator (paid link). Good reviews from Amazon and could be a great solution instead of an inverter.
- Portable Refrigerator (19 Quart) Mini Fridge /Freezer (paid link). This one has an amazing 5-star review on Amazon and LCD Display to show the chosen temperature.
Power Inverter for Truck Bed
What is the ultimate inverter setup for your truck bed? 2000-watt or 3000-watt power inverter along with an extra 100AH battery should give you constant voltage even under heavy load. A power inverter of this size will not overload your alternator too much and an extra battery (in addition to a car battery) will keep it from overheating.
You can also add an isolation relay to prevent your main battery from being discharged. Setting up fuses between relay and batteries, as well as between battery and inverter, is highly recommended.
As always, for the best performance, watch your cable length and get the thickest gauge you can get away with. The closer inverter is to the battery, the better, and after that, you can run the cord as far as you need.
Best Truck Power Inverter
Most electric and electronic equipment that we own is powered by AC current, and not DC (Direct Current). A 12-volt battery inside your vehicle supplies you with a DC current ONLY, so, how do you run your gadgets if no AC power source is available?
This is where the inverter comes in. It takes DC battery power and converts it into AC (Alternating Current). If you have an inverter that produces pure Sine Wave, then you have the exact same power that utilities at your house provide you with.
So, what is the best inverter for a truck? An inverter with a solid certification profile, pure sine wave technology, and good customer reviews, should be on top of your list. Inverters from AIMS (both 2000w and 3000w) are my picks for the best truck inverter and they also have an impressive 24-month warranty!
Having said that, here is a 3000-watt Pure Sine Wave inverter from AIMS (paid link), which is also ETL-Listed and comes with a 2-year warranty:
If you are not sure that you need a pure sine wave inverter and still considering modified sine wave technology, this is a type of that your equipment or appliances will receive:
Best Power inverter for Work Truck
We love inverters, don’t we? They provide us with convenience and comfort on the road (driver needs to be happy in order to be productive). They could also power all kinds of tools that we need for work when we are away from the main source of electricity.
Even though many truck companies are very nervous about installing inverters, if you do it in the right way (with many fuses along the way, especially between appliance and inverter), you will NOT have a problem. Understanding the fact that truck driving is very complicated and stressful, should not be overlooked by fleet owners, and drivers do need to be taken care of at least by giving them some comforts of the home (they are away from their families, you know…)
The first purpose for an inverter that we will be looking at is – convenience! Suitable for large and small trucks. It will give drivers basic comforts on the road like charging laptops, watching TV, using a microwave, coffeemaker, and possibly a small refrigerator.
Here are some examples:
- A microwave @ about 1000-1500 watts
- A toaster @ about 900 watts
- A small kettle @ about 600 watts
- A small refrigerator @ about 600 watts
- TV @ about 250 watts
- A laptop @ about 95 watts
So, what is the best inverter size for large trucks? A 3000-watt inverter is usually sufficient for basic needs and can run a lot of things in the truck (just make sure you don’t run them all at the same time).
Put a big sign in front of you:
No more than 2400 watts!
… and you are good to go (that is 3000 watts minus 20%). Even though inverters have a “surge rating” it is still a good idea to keep your usage 20% less than the size of an inverter or get an inverter 20% larger than the size of your expected usage (whatever you plan to run at the same time).
Our favorite truck inverter is an ETL-listed Pure Sine Wave inverter from AIMS. This 3000-watt inverter is from a company that already established itself and got some certificates to back it up.
Compliance certifications along with sine wave technology and good reputation, make this inverter stand out from the rest of the crowd. This gets us to the second type of common inverter usage in a truck!
An inverter like this is also a fantastic find for running all kinds of OFF-Grid projects on a smaller truck! It will let you power lights, small tools, and many different things that you need for construction or repair out in the field.
Here is an installation example (different inverter though, but you get the point):
As a reminder for those that need REALLY large inverters in order to power a LARGE construction project, you will need a solid OFF-GRID energy source AND a set of batteries to accommodate this type of setup. Renogy offers “suitcase” solar panels that you can set up on the field to replenish your batteries and a Lithium 12-volt 100AH battery with a smart battery management system.
Your usage watts need to be calculated correctly in order to understand how much power you really need. One size DOES NOT fit all, so check the labels (if you don’t see wattage there, multiply amps by volts).
Inverters for Truck cabin
Why some power inverters are better for cars or trucks?
Since you will be using it in a moving vehicle, first of all, it needs to have good housing (or cover) in order not to break down from all this shaking. Secondly, while being on the road, it is quite helpful if you are able to use it with your cigarette lighter outlet.
Very Important! Regardless of the inverter size you use, most vehicles’ 12V ports (cigarette lighter) are 15-amp fused. This means you CANNOT plug in more than 150 watts (or 170 watts) into them!
If you need to use it more than 150/170 watts, you will need to make sure your inverter comes with battery cables (or purchase separately) and connect them properly to your battery before using.
Another thing on the road to consider is USB ports and noise. If noise is something that will bother you, choose a Pure Sine Wave inverter (they tend to run electronic and electrical devices a lot quieter than Modified Sine Wave inverters).
Following inverter sizes are perfect for vehicle cabin:
- 250 watts. Phones and tablets (some laptops).
- 300 watts. Same as above, plus laptops (check wattage rating).
- 400 watts. Same as above, plus game consoles.
- 500-watts. Same as above, plus TV, DVD player, lights and small power tools.
- 600-watts. Same as above, plus larger power tools and small appliances.
Now, let’s go over some of the inverters and what are they best suited for:
A 300-watt inverter is NOT enough to power even small appliances but is sure big enough to charge your cell phones and a laptop. These types of inverters usually come with USB ports (which are quite convenient), along with a couple of outlets, which make it an ultimate charging station!
Also, don’t forget that even though it is convenient to use your inverter simply inside your cabin (via car adapter), you will get the most power out of it if you attach it directly to the battery.
400 watt Power Inverter
With a 400-watt inverter, you can power anything from laptops, game consoles, dash cams to small electrical devices. It is a great inverter to have on the road as well as run devices of first necessity.
In order to get the most power out of your inverter, you will need to connect it directly to the battery because from a cigarette lighter outlet you will get about 140/170 watts. Very often you can purchase these cables separately.
This handy device with USB ports and outlets is very useful to have in your car, truck, or van. You will be able to use your 500-watt inverter to charge electronics, watch TV, turn lights on, use small power tools.
Since you are on the road a lot, you NEED this device! You will be able to travel in comfort (multiple outlets and USB ports) and have some power as well when you need to fix something.
It is very important to NOTE that the maximum output from your cigarette lighter is only 150/170 watts. If you need to use your inverter to full capacity, you will need to connect it to the battery (via battery cables).
1000 watt Power Inverter
The inverter of this size doesn’t normally come with a car adapter and the reason for this is because the cigarette lighter port is 15-amp fused and will allow you to use about 140/170 watts!
This will generally make no sense if you want to use your 1000-watt inverter at its full power. If you would like to have an inverter in your truck, you can always split the task of the inverters. For example, you can keep one inside of the cabin (300-500 watts) and one 1000-watt inverter as a spare for other purposes.
A 1000-watt inverter with USB ports means that along with having a lot of power, you will have the convenience of easily charging your phones as well. I did manage to find a 1000-watt inverter with a car adapter and USB ports (paid link) if anybody is interested:
Best Power Inverter for Truck Cabin
If you are looking for the best cabin inverter, you probably want it to have features like USB ports and a cigarette lighter socket adapter. Since BEST equals quality as well, you probably want to use an inverter with a sine wave technology and that has some kind of compliance or safety certification (UL/ETL-listed, for example).
I am NOT considering Modified Sine Wave devices to be the best since they are known to harm some sensitive electronic equipment and make noise. Here is what microwave sounds like when you use a Modified Sine Wave inverter:
The following 500w PSW inverter from Besteck (paid link) will suit your truck cabin perfectly and it has all of the above qualities:
Why did I pick it? This inverter has everything you need to be comfortable on the road (like USB ports, car adapter, sine wave technology, and certifications). It will easily charge your phones, laptops, cameras while being on the road.
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