How to Make a Power Inverter for a Car

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Imagine you’re stuck in a traffic jam and your phone which has been sending “low battery” prompts for a while now for finally dies. In that moment, how ideal would it be if you had a device that could offer enough power to let you either charge or turn on your electronics, no?

If you think you may see yourself in this situation anytime soon or just curious regarding how this works, this article is just for you. Here you’ll learn how to set up a power inverter that provides you a 230V electrical voltage with the help of a car or truck battery.

And, yes, the method will help you “convert” the existing 12v into something as powerful that mimics the voltage you get at home. It is done by converting your car’s direct current (DC) voltage to alternating current (AC) voltage that you use at home to turn on your electronic devices.

But before we list some easy-to-follow steps, here’s one thing you need to know. DIY projects, especially when it comes to electronics, require extra care. You should commit to trying this method only if you’re confident around wires.

Another thing that you’ve to realize before starting the project is to determine how much power you need to run small appliances in your car. Of course, if you’re making an inverter for your car, you’ll require less power. But the power requirements will change if you’re creating an inverter for a truck.

How to Make a Power Inverter for Your Car

The first step is to find a UPS system that is currently not in use or whose battery is faulty. Finding such a system is not difficult, but if you’re having trouble, you can check out on digital marketplaces or groups if someone is disposing of their out-of-order UPS.

Remove the battery from the system as you won’t need it. The next step is to take off the speaker. This step is carried out to ensure that the circuit doesn’t “beep” when you’re working on it. And to do so, you’ll have to solder iron. Heat the contacts when you’re pulling them out.

Once the above steps are done, it’s time to drill a hole into the device. You’ll have to be careful as this step will require a drill. So, if you know how to manage to drill, you can do it independently. But if you have any doubts, you should ask for help.

Now insert a feed cable from the car’s accumulator through that hole. You should ensure the cable rests at the same point that once held the battery. The next step is to attach a power cable to the board to supply the voltage from the converter.

Go to your car and turn on the converter!

In this example, you must work with a device with a proper circuit board and the required components attached (soldered onto it).

Here’s another way of making the power inverter:

Go to any online electronics store or a physical shop and buy a DC power-to-AC power inverter kit. You can ask a salesperson about the required watts to make larger inverters.

Disconnect the car battery from your vehicle and bring it to your working station but before that, ensure that the battery is fully charged. Don’t touch the battery with wet hands.

Such inverter kits usually have a circuit board, resistors, transformers, etc. The kit’s case will also have an instruction manual to help you set up the working board.

Take out a multimeter and check the voltage of each component; this step ensures that your components are working efficiently and that they won’t damage the power board.

Attach all the components onto the power board; this process is also called soldering, and the connection has to be firm.

The next step requires extra care; you’ll have to take the wires out from the negative and positive battery terminals of the car battery to the input terminal of the inverter. And the output terminals will go to the load/device you want to power laptops, mobile phones, etc.

Where Should You Hook the Power Inverter In the Car?

A good match to hook your power inverter is the 12V accessory outlet you may know it as a cigarette lighter socket, traditionally used for a cigarette lighter. But the drawback of this outlet is that it can draw only limited watts. And there is a possibility that it may not help power the gadgets that you want because of its inability to provide more power. But the cigarette lighter socket is fine if you want to use a laptop or anything with a USB connection.

The cigarette lighter socket is a good location if you want to temporarily install the car power inverter for any small device – as there are fears that it may heat the car. The most common locations to place this equipment are: underneath the seat; in the trunk; mounted to the floorboard; and under the dash.

Things to Consider when Installing a Car Power Inverter

You’ve already learned how to make a power inverter for your car. Now, here are some important factors that you should keep in mind when you’re off to take up this project:

Inverter Size

There’s no standard size of the car power inverter, and they range between 300w and 5,000W units. Your preference for power inverters will depend on your usage. For cars, small inverters are enough, and truck owners mostly go with large inverters.

Power Type

Two types of inverters are available in the market pure sine wave inverters and modified sine wave inverters. Again, your choice may depend on which appliances you will power, and a modified sine wave inverter may power most appliances except sensitive ones.

If you want to use household devices, for example, a drill or any other appliance with its adapter you’d need pure sine wave inverters, as they will mimic the same current waves as your home’s power supply. It means that your devices will work smoothly without any disruptions.

The connected devices may also get damaged if there is a surge in voltage. When you think of a pure sine wave inverter, you must consider the power supply you get at home (the appliances you run at home).

Determine Reliability

Whatever you buy from shops should come with a genuine warranty. Your kit won’t work if it has shoddy components. When buying stuff for your car, you should read reviews of the existing shops and see what people say about a particular place.

Installing power inverters is not easy, and you cannot possibly keep building one for your car every time. Any fault in the circuit board may also result in irreversible damage to your car and can also cause injuries to you. So, the best bet is to buy from top-rated and high-quality shops.

Safety Comes with First

We cannot stress this enough: you should always take safety precautions before doing anything related to electronics. Experts also say that such projects should only be taken up by people who understand electrical engineering or electronics.

You shouldn’t be near water when trying out this experiment of building your power inverter. Always wear safety gear to avoid any injuries and check the voltage of the components used on the circuit board for safe handling. If you cannot handle the process, it’s better to ask a professional to sort things out.

Why Should You Have a Power Inverter in Your Car?

If you’re being told repeatedly by their friends to connect a power inverter in your car, even though you have no idea why you should be doing so, this section will help clear your doubts. Here are some reasons for installing a power inverter in your car:

You Have Power All the Time Inside Your Car

Your phone battery can die anytime or you must send an important document to someone only to find that your laptop doesn’t have the charge. Or, you have a long road trip and want to charge portable car fans to beat the heat.

All such things are possible if you have a reliable range of watts inside the car. You cannot change your home appliances or electronic devices if you don’t have access to AC voltage. So, it’s good to have an inverter in your car (even if they have limited amps). The available watts in your car will keep your devices charged.

A Good Safety Measure during Off-the-Grid Adventures

Those with adventurous souls will swear on the importance of having a power inverter in their car. Suppose you’re out in the mountains, meeting the trekking challenge you gave yourself a year ago, and you need to use an electrical gadget emergency lights or a hotplate to cook food. In this case, a power inverter will help you turn on the electricity-dependent gadget. 

Emergency Power

Blackouts are not a thing of the past and are still very common across the country. Any emergency or natural disaster may lead to a power shutdown. In that case, how can you turn on the essential appliances inside your home?

A power inverter will keep you safe from spending hours without electricity. And since your home requires an AC, the inverter device will ensure that it’s supplying the correct watts to your place.

Proper Ventilation

Car power inverters generate heat, which means they need proper ventilation. Some of them have built-in fans to keep themselves cool, but obviously, they will require extra power. If you are trying to make them work in places with temperatures over 90 degrees F, you won’t be able to make the most of it.

Saving Money

A modified sine wave inverter costs around $30 to $50, and a pure sine wave inverter costs around $150. A DIY project will help you save the cost by a good margin. A homemade power converter will help you avoid putting a dent in your wallet (regardless of how small it is).

The Final Word

If you love DIY projects, you should try installing a power inverter on your car! The process will help you keep your vehicle well-equipped for any power-related hiccups you might face while on the road.

Those who drive cars with power inverters in them are always at ease. From charging their laptop computers and game consoles to having a reliable power source, they use the available power tools for their convenience. Get your car a power inverter now!


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