REVIEW: Power Up

Posted In: Blog, Product Review, RV Lifestyle, RV Products, SEEMORE

We’ve been discussing our favorite RV camping gear. Not unlike a soothsayer, I’m answering questions you never even knew you wanted to ask. What’s that? You want to know about my power inverters? Well, it’s a rather personal subject, but I guess I’m willing to share. I’ll show you my power inverters if you show me yours.

Over the years, our DC to AC power inverters have proven to be incredibly useful. We typically use them in our truck SEEMORE, but they are also handy inside the Airstream (which we’ve dubbed “LIV”).

Someday I'd like to recharge an electronic cigarette using a power inverter plugged into a cigarette lighter. It would be ironic - don't you think?

Someday I’d like to recharge an electronic cigarette using a power inverter plugged into a cigarette lighter. It would be ironic – don’t you think?

For the uninitiated, a power inverter converts 12V DC current (from what you smokestacks might call a “cigarette lighter” outlet) into household 120V AC current. This allows us to power all sorts of electrical devices from our truck and RV batteries. We do so in our truck when we are traveling down the road, and sometimes inside our Airstream when we are stopped for the night.

We own two inverters – a crappy 150W model and a more powerful 400W model. If I was shopping today for my first inverter, I’d go straight for at least a Bestek 300W or a Cobra 400W. Here’s why.

This Bestek 300W power inverter is a #1 bestseller. (Click the pic for more info.)

This Bestek 300W power inverter is a #1 bestseller. This is quite similar to the unit we own, except it also has USB ports. (Click the pic for more info.)

We use our 400W model the most. We originally bought it many years ago to power a portable air pump (inflating an air mattress when tent camping) and it worked like a champ. But there are other benefits to the higher power output of the 400W – for example, it charges our iPhones much, much faster than the 150W version. For this reason, our 150W unit is used sparingly. In fact, the 150W unit has been collecting dust and nasty spider webs in our garage. We keep the 400W inside our truck at all times. Anytime we need to charge devices, we flip the “ON” switch and plug up.

We use our power inverter as we're driving down the highway - the 400W charges our tech devices quickly. The 150W does the trick too, just a little slower. (Click the pic for more info.)

It’s 4:21 PM. Do you know where your power inverter is? Ours is on the floor of SEEMORE, as usual. We use our power inverter as we’re driving down the highway – the 400W charges our tech devices quickly. The 150W does the trick too, but a lot slower. (Click the pic for more info.)

The downside to the 400W is a bit of fan noise – it is not a silent unit. (Of course, our big honkin’ diesel truck isn’t exactly silent either.) And if you are plugged into your RV batteries with the 400W, you are pulling out more current than with 150W and will drain your batteries faster.

If you need even more power, you can get inverters that kick out crazy amounts of juice. There’s a Bestek 1000W model that is very well regarded. Bestek also makes a 10-pound model that kicks out 2000W. And then there’s the Cobra 2500W unit! In theory you could run an A/C off this thing – for a while anyway.

Wow! This 2500W inverter will power Times Square if necessary - for a while, anyway.

Wow! This 2500W inverter will power Times Square – for a while, anyway. (Click the pic to check out this bad boy!)

While it may sound enticing to have large amount of AC power on hand, bear in mind the battery requirements. The larger the inverter, the more battery power you need to support it. I suspect a 2500W unit would be overkill for most of us. (But oh, it would be great fun while it lasted.)

2500 Watts is overkill for most of us. But for the man who enjoys smoking 800 cigarettes at once, it may be just what the doctor ordered. He could recharge 800 e-cigs simultaneously!

2500 Watts is overkill for most of us. But for a man who enjoys smoking 800 cigarettes at once, it may be just what the doctor ordered. He could recharge 800 e-cigs simultaneously!

If we were shopping today, we’d also consider the new inverters that are designed to fit in cupholders, like the Rally 200W Cup Holder Inverter. Since most of us have a spare cupholder available, this is a nice idea. Most inverters these days also include technology-oriented features like USB ports, so you can charge your phone or tablet without using one of your 3-prong outlets.

This cupholder inverter has some nice features - like fitting inside a cupholder! It also has a USB port and claims "up to" 400W of total output. (Click the pic for more info.)

This cupholder inverter has some nice features – like fitting inside a cupholder! It also has a USB port and claims “up to” 400W of total output. (Click the pic for more info.)

At the moment we are happy with our two inverter setup. But I’m thinking we will add an additional dedicated Bestek unit for use inside our Airstream (so we can leave the 400W inside our truck).

Power inverters are another “must have” device for dedicated RV travelers.


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