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What does a power inverter do?

In short, a power inverter changes 12-volt direct current (DC) from your vehicle’s cigarette-lighter port to 120-volt alternating current (AC). The devices you plug into wall outlets use AC, although some of them, such as phone chargers, convert that back to DC.

Do power inverters drain your vehicle’s battery?

Yes, and it’s important to keep an eye on the battery charge level or keep the vehicle running. Some power inverters feature an audible “low-power” beep or shut off when low power is sensed. If you’re looking at getting a larger power inverter that runs off the battery, it’s important to verify your vehicle’s electrical system can handle the strain. Consulting a professional is a safe bet.

How long will it take a power inverter to drain a car battery?

If you use a smaller power inverter for a low draw like charging your laptop, you can expect to get between 30 and 60 minutes of power before your vehicle’s battery dies. This, of course, depends on the draw and state of the battery. It’s best just to leave the vehicle running.

What kinds of things can I use in a power inverter?

It depends on the wattage rating of said power inverter, but typical devices include phone and laptop chargers, small televisions, and gaming systems. Larger power inverters are capable of powering just about anything—your vehicle’s electrical system needs to be significantly upgraded, though.

What do you do if the power inverter’s fuse blows?

Most power inverters come with some extra fuses, and they’re generally easy enough to replace. Simply unscrew the end of the 12-volt plug adapter, remove the cylindrical fuse, drop a new one in, retighten the end, and you’re good to go.

What do you do if the vehicle’s fuse blows?

If your vehicle’s 12-volt cigarette-lighter fuse blows, check the owner’s manual for the fuse locations—there are typically multiple fuse boxes on any given model. Find the fuse for that circuit, and pull out the old fuse with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Hold it up to the light and look for a break in the metal portion. It might even look burnt. Replace it with a fuse of the same amperage rating, and you’re good to go.

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