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Have you been scratching your head trying to think of ways to make your van more liveable?
We’ve been there. While the idea of living out of your van can conjure images of idyllic travel and feelings of ultimate freedom. However, in reality, the inconveniences of van living can sometimes overshadow the thrill of adventure.
One of the biggest challenges of van life is not being able to power your electronics effectively.
Picture the scene: you’re on a road trip in the middle of nowhere, and your phone, for whatever reason, decides to stop working entirely. You don’t have built-in satellite navigation, and without your phone, you’re completely lost.
If only you had some way to charge your laptop! That way, you could drive to the nearest wifi hotspot and find your way from there. Unfortunately, though, there’s no way of charging sensitive electronics like laptops directly from your battery, so you’re stumped.
Unless, of course, you have an inverter installed.
A 400-watt inverter is a perfect solution to most appliance-related van-living woes. At 400 watts, you can power a variety of appliances, including sensitive electronics, refrigerators, and even some portable air conditioners!
In this article, we’ll be reviewing our top 5 best 400-watt van inverters to help you optimize your van life today!
Best 400 Watt Inverter for Van
1. Best Overall: BESTEK 400W Car Power Inverter
If we had to recommend just one 400-watt inverter for all of your van charging needs, it would be the BESTEK 400W Car Power Inverter.
Rated at an impressive 1000 watts of peak power, this inverter delivers a consistent 400-watt current, sufficient for powering laptops, televisions, refrigerators, and just about any portable appliance you may wish to install in your van.
The BESTEK 400-watt inverter features two 110-volt power outlets, so it’s capable of powering multiple appliances at any one time, provided their combined usage totals less than 400 watts.
In addition to the household power outlets, the inverter boasts 4-port USB charging ports that allow for multiple electronic devices, like laptops and mobile phones, to be charged at once. There’s also a cigarette lighter plug, complete with 2 ft battery clips, should you need them.
In addition to all of this, the BESTEK 400-watt inverter has several built-in safety features that help to ensure the electrical safety of your van and appliances at all times. These features include replaceable fuses, a built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating, as well as overload, under-voltage, and short-circuit protection.
With that being said, the inbuilt fan does run a little on the noisy side, so if you’re after a completely quiet, peaceful getaway or anticipate using your inverter overnight, this might not be the perfect choice for you.
Overall, this inverter is rated at 92% efficiency, which is quite impressive for a 400-watt DC to AC power inverter, considering that these inverters are usually ranked at about 80 to 90% efficiency.
- 1000 watts peak power – Powerful charge
- Two 110-volt outlets – Suitable for powering multiple household-rated appliances
- Four-port USB charging – Suitable for mobiles and tablets
- Built-in safety features – Overload, short-circuit, overheating, and under-voltage protection
- 92% efficiency – Very efficient for an AC to DC inverter
- Fan runs loudly – Not ideal for overnight use
- BESTEK Advantage? America's #1 power inverter brand. Provides 400W continuous DC to AC power and 1000 watts of peak power
- Dual 110V household electrical outlets provide enough power for your laptop, digital camera, TV, fan, refrigerator, game console, DVD/Blu-Ray player, GPS, lamps, and more
- 5A/ 4-Port USB charging ports make this power inverter ideal for charging your phones, tablets, and other USB-powered devices
- Built-in replaceable 30A/32V*2 fuses and cooling fan for safety and easier maintenance. This power inverter has over voltage, overload, over-current, under-voltage, overheating, short circuit protection
- Comes with 2. 3ft car cigarette lighter plug and 2ft black/red battery clips to plug into your cigarette lighter or connect directly to your vehicles battery
2. Best Value: VOLTCUBE 400W Power Inverter
Something that puts a lot of potential inverter buyers off optimizing their van’s electrical powering ability is the potentially prohibitive costs of electrical charging units.
Luckily, 400-watt inverters run at significantly more budget-friendly prices than some of the more high-powered inverters on the market. If you really want to save money and benefit from excellent power efficiency in return, we’d recommend the VOLTCUBE 400-watt Power Inverter!
The VOLTCUBE 400 is a DC to AC power inverter that operates at a running rate of 400 watts and a peak power rating of 800 watts.
This inverter features a 110-volt household outlet in addition to 2 USB ports for electronic devices. Moreover, the built-in safety features of the VOLTCUBE inverter allows for charging even of the most sensitive electronic devices. The fuses are replaceable, facilitating easy maintenance, and the unit is protected against overload, under-voltage, and short-circuiting.
A silent-running fan is also built into the inverter, providing protection against overheating while creating an absolute minimum of noise disturbance. This way, you can enjoy peace and quiet without worrying about the temperature status of your inverter.
Moreover, the alligator clips that come with the unit are gold-plated. Gold-plated clips are ideal for enhancing conductivity and, thus, efficiency.
As an added bonus, the VOLTCUBE 400-watt inverter features a stylish, blue honeycomb casing design that will add a bright and aesthetically pleasing touch to the inside of your van.
However, it should be said that this inverter doesn’t hold up quite as well against maximum loads as other, more expensive inverters. This is to say that it may not always be able to perform consistently when connected at full capacity to 400-watt-rated appliances. However, it works well with slightly less demanding appliances, and for the price, it’s certainly a worthwhile investment.
- Aesthetically-pleasing design – Adds style to the van interior
- Built-in protection – Protected against overheating, over-and-under-voltage, overloading, and short-circuit
- Silent cooling fan – Minimal noise disturbance
- Gold-plated alligator clips – Highly conductive for efficiency
- Low-end price – Budget-friendly
- Not always consistent at maximum capacity – Better for smaller appliances
- 【POWERFUL INVERTER】:This power inverter provides 400 watts of continuous DC to AC power and 800W peak power to two independent AC outlets for multi-purpose charging (plugs are now further apart to accommodate larger plugs). AC outlets are useful for charging your laptop and digital camera, or powering your TV, refrigerator, air mattress etc.
- 【DUAL USB PORTS】: 2 USB ports (2.4A each, max. 4.8A) for powering USB compatible devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
- 【DURABLE AND STYLISH DESIGN】: Fashionable aluminum honeycomb structure is durable and looks great too. What’s more, it provides great heat dissipation.
- 【SAFE FOR APPLIANCES AND BATTERIES】: 2x30 amps (60 amp max) built-in replaceable fuses protect your device and low noise cooling fan prevent overheating, under- and over-voltage charging, overloads, overcharging and short circuiting.
- 【A WORTHWHILE PURCHASE】: The Voltcube 400W car inverter comes with high-quality and gold plated metallic alligator clips, user manual, cigarette lighter and 2 replaceable fuses. A 12-month warranty, friendly customer service and lifetime technical support are available anytime.
3. Best Premium: Wagan EL2610 400W Pro Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter
So, now you’ve seen our best value 400-watt inverter. If you’re looking for something a little more high-end, though, you may want to check out our premium pick, which is the Wagan 400-watt Pro Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter!
The Wagan inverter turns DC power into 12-volt AC power, delivering power identical to that available in residential and commercial environments. There are two 120-volt power outlets on the front panel, alongside a USB port for laptops and phones.
This inverter uses pure sine technology to deliver pure sine waves. Pure sine wave electrical power is cleaner and more efficient than the modified sine waves produced by most budget-friendly inverters. You can power a wider variety of electrical systems using pure sine power, including medical equipment (if appropriately rated) and sensitive electronics.
In addition to being safer for electronics due to its use of pure sine technology, the Wagan inverter features built-in fault indicators that provide a visual monitoring aid in case anything goes wrong.
For instance, if the battery is low or a short-circuit occurs, the relevant LED indicator will alert you to the problem. However, these instances should be rare because this inverter comes with built-in protection against overheating, overloading, under-voltage, short-circuit, and other common electrical faults.
Installing this inverter into your van is easy because the process is so versatile. You can use the included leads and clips to connect the unit directly to your battery or, alternatively, plug it into a 150-watt DC power supply.
Wagan’s 400-watt inverter is physically protected by a tough aluminum exterior that makes the unit resistant to impact damage as well as corrosion for enhanced durability.
Aside from some minor quality control issues such as loose terminal washers, which can be easily rectified, this is a fantastic 400-watt van inverter that’s well worth the money!
- 120-volt AC power – Same as commercial electrical power
- Pure sine technology – Clean, safe, and efficient power
- Fault indicators – Enables easy visual monitoring
- Versatile installation – Connects directly to the battery or to 150-watt DC port
- Aluminum construction – Highly durable
- Some quality-control issues – Isolated incidents of loose or missing components
- Perfect for recharging devices on the go and for people with mobile lifestyles
- Plug the inverter into the 12V DC socket (up to 150W) or attach directly to the vehicle battery with the alligator clamps (included)
- Provides 400W continuous power and 800W peak surge power
- Safety features such as overload, overheat and low battery protection
- Designed to be efficient, the pure sine technology allows appliances to recharge faster, save energy costs and extend the life of appliances
4. Best for Electrical Safety: TWING 400W Power Inverter
All of the inverters included in our selection are fitted with electrical protection functions. However, if you’re looking for an inverter that will really put your mind at ease, the TWING 400-Watt Power Inverter could be the perfect unit for you!
This inverter features a 110-volt AC outlet as well as 2 USB ports, catering to both household and DC charging requirements. In addition to this, the TWING inverter has two cigarette lighter ports for use with adaptors.
Monitoring of all powering processes is enabled through the inverter’s upgraded Smart Digital Display, which allows input voltages, USB input current, and operating temperatures to be observed clearly on the screen.
Additionally, the TWING 400W inverter uses advanced safety protection technology to keep you, your van, and all of your appliances safe on the road! Built-in protective features include a smart cooling fan, which automatically detects the amount of cooling required based on running status. The unit also features two safety fuses, which provide protection against all the most common electrical faults, including overload and short-circuit.
However, it should be noted that there have been some reported incidents of units malfunctioning prematurely. Considering the very affordable price point of this inverter, the infrequency of these incidents, and the advanced features of the product, however, the TWING 400W Power Inverter remains a very worthwhile purchase.
- Smart safety technology – Advanced electrical protection
- Smart Digital Display – Easy monitoring of functions
- Affordable price – Budget-friendly
- Some reports of premature breakage – Not the best choice for long-term use
5. Highly Commended: Ampeak 400W Power Inverter
If none of the above products quite float your boat, you may be pleasantly surprised by our highly-commended choice: the Ampeak 400-Watt Power Inverter.
The Ampeak 400-Watt Power Inverter delivers 110-volt AC power as well as DC power from 2 USB ports, providing more than enough room for multiple appliances. There’s even a cigarette lighter plug for wider compatibility with vehicles and appliances.
Although this is a modified sine wave inverter, it’s still suitable for powering mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and cameras. However, for highly-sensitive devices like gaming consoles, it might not be the ideal choice.
With that said, there’s no doubt that this inverter has been constructed with safety at the foreground. From replaceable safety fuses and cooling fan to the built-in overload protection and low-voltage alarm, the Ampeak 400-watt inverter has everything you need to stay electrically safe on the road.
Plus, thanks to its size and light ABS shell, this inverter is both compact and lightweight, making it an excellent, portable choice for van living!
- Cigarette lighter outlet – Widely compatible
- Low-voltage alarm – Audible monitoring
- Compact with ABS shell – Lightweight and portable
- Modified sine model – Not for extra-sensitive electronics
- 【A Real Powerful and Practical Inverter】Provides 400W continuous DC to AC power output, 800W surge capacity, features with 110V AC socket and 3.1A Dual USB port, ideal for AC household appliances or on trips, camping or work sites
- 【Widely Appliction】Battery Clip Cables and Cigarette Lighter Plug Cable for different power source connection demands. Dual 3.1A USB Charging Ports great for iPod, Smartphone and so on, Dual 110V AC Outlets ideal for laptop, game console, kindle, TV, etc
- 【Ultra Compact and Lightweight】iPhone-sized design for space-saving, easy to store and carry. Ideal for use on the long car trip, family vacation, and camping. Nearly 26 inch cigarette lighter plug makes the power inverter suitable for almost any vehicle
- 【All-Round Protection】Built-in Replaceable 35A mini slip Fuse*2 & Cooling Fan & ABS Shell, automatic shutdown protection against Over voltage / Low voltage / Overload / Short circuit / Over heat. Advanced protection of Low Voltage Alarm
- 【What You Get】All our inverter have ETL certification. We provide 18-Month Hassle-Free Warranty, 24-hour friendly customer service and 100% customer satisfaction
Best 400 Watt Inverter for Van Buyer’s Guide
Can’t wait to get your hands on your new 400-watt van inverter? You don’t have to wait long!
Before you make your final decision, though, take a moment to read through this buyer’s guide for helpful tips on choosing the best 400-watt inverter for vans!
Peak Power Rating vs. Continuous Power
First of all, we’d like to get a common point of confusion out of the way. Inverters typically come with a peak power rating as well as a continuous running rating. It’s important not to confuse these two ratings because they are indicative of very different things.
The continuous running rating of an inverter is the main thing you want to look at. This is the wattage that the unit will be able to put out on a consistent basis. Since we’re looking specifically for 400-watt inverters today, all inverters on our list are rated at 400 running watts.
The peak power rating, on the other hand, is the absolute maximum output the machine is capable of before failure. This rating should not be looked at as the maximum load the unit can take but rather as an indication that the unit can handle appliances that require more power for start-up.
Pure vs. Modified Sine
Once your power ratings are established, you’ll also need to think about the type of electrical power you want to work with.
For clarity, power type is defined by sine waves. Inverters can either deliver pure sine waves or modified sine waves.
Now, pure sine waves have a few very clear benefits. For one thing, the power delivered is cleaner, which means it’s safe for use with sensitive electronics such as tablets and gaming consoles.
Pure sine waves are also more efficient, so you can expect a higher DC to AC conversion rate through these models. This, in turn, leads to greater cost-effectiveness over time.
However, if you’re looking to save money and don’t have any ultra-sensitive electronics to power, a modified sine inverter will be the more cost-effective option upfront.
Being aware of which outlets an inverter has to offer is vital when making this kind of purchase. You need to know which power outlets are built into the unit in order to ensure it will be suitable for the appliances or electronics you want to run.
Generally speaking, we’d recommend an inverter with both household and USB ports. This way, you always have outlets for AC and DC charging. Be sure to check the rating on the AC outlets, however, since these can vary between 110 and 120 volts on 400-watt inverters.
A cigarette lighter port is also a useful outlet to have on an inverter because it allows for the charging of appliances using adaptors for even more flexibility.
Even lower-powered inverters, like 400-watt models, electrical safety should be taken very seriously. That’s why we recommend prioritizing inverters that come with built-in protection against overload, under-voltage, over-voltage, short-circuit, and overheating at the very minimum.
Overheating is usually prevented by the use of a fan. If you want to be extra-safe in this respect, there are smart fan systems that put out ventilation according to the current operating status.
Other useful safety features are visual displays and LED indicators for visual monitoring and alarms to get your attention if anything goes wrong.
We’ve talked a lot about the important internal features in 400-watt van inverters, but it’s also important to pay attention to the way the exterior of the unit is constructed.
Because your inverter will be installed inside a moving vehicle, it’s crucial that the unit should be able to withstand the odd knock or bump here and there.
An external aluminum construction is probably your best bet where durability is concerned. However, a strong ABS shell should do the trick as long as you don’t plan on throwing your inverter around too much – which we hope you don’t!
Additionally, it helps if your inverter is lightweight and compact to make it more portable. A portable inverter will be more multifunctional because you’ll be able to transport it between locations for a wider variety of uses.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can a 400-Watt Inverter Run?
400 watts might not sound like a lot compared to some of the super-high-powered inverters on the market, but you might be surprised at what you can run off that much power!
Using your new 400-watt inverter, you can power a whole host of electronics and appliances (though not all at the same time).
400 watts is enough to power small electronics like laptops, mobile phones, tablets, handheld consoles. You might also be able to power more heavy-duty, small-scale appliances like mini-refrigerators or portable air conditioning or fan systems.