If you want to power a laptop or other large electric device in your car, you need an inverter that turns your car’s 12-volt DC power into 120 volts of AC like you have in your home. Here’s how they work and what to look for when you buy one.
What a car power inverter does
The name “inverter” doesn’t really tell you much. It should be called a “polarity flipper and voltage amplifier,” but luckily it isn’t. In simple terms, a car power inverter takes the 12-volt DC electricity in your car and alternates its polarity. Imagine if you took the red and black cables on your car’s battery and switched them back and forth quickly: You’d create a crude form of alternating current that looks like this: