What do you do when the power goes out? Sit in the dark and wait for it to come back? How about when you need AC electricity out on a job site or campground? You could use a heavy and expensive generator, or you could put the Bestek 2000W power inverter to work. Keep reading to learn more about this useful compact device. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Basics of inverter operation
- When to use an inverter
- How to choose an inverter
- Bestek 2000W Power Inverter review
Basics of inverter operation
An inverter converts electricity from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). At the same time it bumps up the voltage to a level that can run power tools and appliances. Here we’ll explain how it works. Skip this section if you want to go straight to our review of the Bestek 2000W power inverter.
DC is what you get from a car battery or the cigarette lighter/accessory outlet in the car’s cabin. AC is what drives larger electric motors. While DC electricity always flows in one direction, AC oscillates back and forth. If you could see it flowing through the wires it would look more like a series of waves than an even flow. That’s why it has a frequency – 60 cycles per second for the US domestic electrical supply.
Electrical power is measured in watts. Power is calculated by multiplying electrical current in amps by voltage. On the input side of an inverter the voltage is low, so to deliver high power the current has to be high. High current can make fuses blow and even burn out wires. A particular issue is that a car accessory outlet fuse may only be 20 amps, and that limits the total power available through that source. That’s why, when powering larger motors or appliances it’s best to connect directly to the battery.
When to use an inverter
An inverter lets you run 120V-powered devices from a 12V car battery. That’s useful whenever you’re without AC power. For example, you could run a small refrigerator in a boat or RV, or you could power a sump or well pump. Some people use them in conjunction with a small solar array. Let sunlight charge up the battery during the day and run your TV or laptop at night. Think of an inverter as a smaller, cheaper version of a generator, but remember that it needs a source of 12V DC electricity.
How to choose an inverter
The number one question to think about is, how much power do you need? For that, look at the devices you want to power. There’s usually a label on them somewhere that says how many watts they need. Remember that the inverter must have a higher output than what your devices demand. So for example, if you want to run a 1,500 watt hairdryer you should probably buy a 2,000 watt inverter.
A second aspect to consider is peak demand. The wattage number on the label shows the steady-state demand, but motors draw quite a lot more when starting. If you expect to plugin and start several motors at the same, buy an inverter with a lot of excess capacity.
The number two question is, modified or pure sine wave? This very technical point refers to the shape of the AC wave the inverter puts out. Very expensive inverters produce a pure sine wave while those that are less expensive put out a wave that’s a rough approximation.
Appliances like TV’s and laptops don’t care about the wave shape, and the same goes for most motors. However, motors will tend to run hotter and less efficiently and perhaps make more noise on a modified sine wave. The only time you’re likely to run into real problems though is if you need to power medical devices. If that’s the intended application, seek specialist advice on the best type of inverter to use.
Bestek 2000W Power Inverter review
This little red aluminum box comes out of the box with everything you need to adapt your vehicle’s DC power to AC. When we opened up the box, it was neatly packaged with cables for hooking up to a battery and another lead that plugs into a car cigarette lighter/accessory outlet. On the opposite end of the housing it has three regular three-pin 120V outlets. These are where you plug in your devices, just as you would with a regular electrical supply.
What’s In The Box:
- 1 x 2000W Power Inverter
- 1 x Battery Clamps
- 1 x Cigar Adapter
- 1 x User Manual
This Bestek inverter has a nominal or rated output of 2,000W and surge protection and soft-start capability are built-in to help with motor starting. Maximum output is quoted as 2,300W with a peak output of 4,600W. The AC waveform is a modified sine wave.
We tested the unit with a number of power consuming items, including some of the normal tools that you may need to use on the fly like a power drill, skill saw, soldering iron, angle grinder, 1.5hp vacuum and an outdoor Bose stereo. All worked flawlessly. It has the power to operate all of your basic necessities while mobile and more.
12V cables and connections
The back of the Bestek inverter has two pairs of 12V terminal posts. This allows connection to multiple batteries if needed, but make sure you know what you’re doing before hooking up more than one! If you’re using the inverter for high-powered tools or accessories we’d recommend hooking this up to two batteries if possible!
The included cables have ¼” ring terminals at one end to fit over the terminal posts and large clamps at the other for gripping onto battery posts. Note that the cables are less than 2’ long, which means the inverter must be placed near the battery or inside the vehicle. If you have a truck and would like to wire this to the bed area, you’ll need to purchase wire separately in order to reach the bed of your truck. We’d recommend 0/1 or 4 Gauge. When we tested, we used the out-of-box cables that came with the inverter and placed in the hood of our truck.
Rather intriguingly, some purchasers report finding two pairs of cables inside the box their inverter shipped in.
Handling higher wattages will produce a lot of heat. The Bestek inverter has fins along the case to help with cooling and a built-in high-speed cooling fan. Note that this fan runs all the time so could drain a 12V battery even when you’re not using the inverter for power. When we were testing higher powered tools like a skill saw, you could definitely notice a temperature change in the unit but it remained pretty cool considering the stress.
Higher outputs mean a high current on the input side. To protect the device there are six 50A fuses mounted on the outside of the case where they’re easily reached. This way, if you do over-stress the inverter you can easily change out the fuses.
In case of excess power draw the inverter has two alarms. There’s both an audible overload signal and an LED indicator.
Weight and size
Dimensions are 10” x 6.5” x 5.3”. Weight is 9.6 lbs. A plastic strap-style handle on the top makes it very easy to lift and move.
The Bestek 2000W inverter comes with a generous 18-month warranty. Longer than you’ll find on many competing inverters, this shows how the manufacturer is willing to stand behind their product.
About the manufacturer
Bestek is a Chinese company and that’s where they design and manufacture their products. They specialize in inverters, electrical power strips and chargers and have been in business since 2007. As an indicator of price and quality, many of their products are Amazon best sellers.
With a suitable inverter, you can power a range of larger electrical items, such as TV’s, power tools, pumps and refrigerators from a 12V supply. The key point to consider is the total amount of power needed as that dictates the size of inverter to buy. After that, look for portability, ease of use and manufacturer reputation.
The Bestek 2000W inverter delivers enough power to run most smaller electrical devices. Note though that the output is a modified sine wave. It’s a portable unit from an established manufacturer and comes with a good warranty. If you’re looking for an inverter to keep in your car, truck or RV this is a good choice. It even looks good if you end up mounting it somewhere it will be seen!