Best power inverters for truck
Xantrex is one of major brands of power inverters that vies for the top spot as the best power inverter for truck drivers. That being said, it will come down to what specifically you need more from your inverter. If you are looking for the most reliable power inverters for trucks, then this is your stop. If you simply need the most powerful inverter from very reputable brand, then you should likely head to Samlex.
For one, the UL 458 standard models of Xantrex power inverters can be found within their PROWatt lineup. The Xantrex lineup may be a bit sparse, but it is exceptional and consists of 600 SW, 1000 SW, and 2000 SW models. Within this lineup, the names are a bit misleading. While most brands will identify their power inverters by the RMS wattage that they can manage, Xantrex PROWatt inverters actually can only handle slightly less than their model number would otherwise imply.
While this does not have a significant impact in most instances, it is something to watch out for when choosing the best truck power inverter. Another issue where the Xantrex power ratings are a bit off is in the amps delivered. Pound for pound, Xantrex consistently delivers fewer amps than Samlex power inverters in the same RMS wattage range.
Of course, when you choose a Xantrex, you are choosing it for dependability over raw power, and in this regard, Xantrex is as much better than Samlex in this field as Samlex is over Xantrex in raw power. For instance, the output frequency of Xantrex PROWatt inverters only varies by .5Hz whereas the Samlex can vary by as much as 1Hz.
While this may seem like a small difference, it only begins to highlight how Xantrex is a more precise brand than Samlex.
While the Samlex PST lineup operates at 85 percent efficiency, Xantrex operates at 90 percent efficiency. While the difference in power generated may be minimal, the main benefit of this increased efficiency comes in the form of durability. The energy that is not converted, 15 percent for Samlex and 10 percent for Xantrex, is released as heat.
Now, this heat is not significant enough to require a large difference in fan run times, but it does play an impact on the longevity of the different components within the two power inverters. Those components are fairly fragile and even a small difference in their wear and tear can play out in bigger than expected differences in durability. This, of course, does not even consider the fact that Xantrex uses the highest quality Japanese capacitors and components in their circuitry.
Xantrex Prowatt Series applications:
- Heavy duty trucks
- Work vehicles
- Specialty vehicles
- Buses / coaches
- Recreational vehicles
Regardless the type of power inverter you are looking for, chances are that Samlex should be one of your first choices.
This brand is renowned for its quality as evidenced by reviews from a multitude of satisfied customers. In fairness, Samlex has had over three decades to figure out how to best manufacture power inverters, and thankfully they have achieved their desired goal better than most.
One thing to keep in mind is that the PST lineup is exclusively true sine wave inverters. While this is great for generating a cleaner energy that can safely run all of your potential devices, it also means the PST series are going to be more expensive than brands which primarily sell modified sine wave inverters.
In fact, this is likely the brand you will turn to when looking for the best power inverter for semi truck due to the fact that it offers the largest watt capacity available out the major brands we examined, and the competition is not even close.
It is important to note the only PST series model that does not conform to UL 458 standards is the 120W model. For both the PST 12V and 24V, all of the models ranging from 300W, 600W, 1000W, 1500W, 2000W, 3000W, including the two 48V inverters at 600W and 1500W all meet UL 458 specifications.
The largest power inverter in the PST lineup can handle over 3000 RMS watts with a peak surge of 6000 watts. This a fifty percent larger wattage capacity than its next closest competitor and it can do this for both 12V and 24V.
Another advantage of the larger capacity power inverter is that it can also deliver a significantly larger amperage than the products from the other brands on our list. That being said, even the Samlex PST power inverters within the same wattage category regularly provide a higher wattage output than their competitors–generally anywhere from one quarter to one third more. This allows Samlex to provide the best power inverter for work truck which will often need to run power tools.
For those of you with truly technical jobs, Samlex also offers a 48V power inverter that meets the UL-458 specification, though those models on go up to 1500 RMS watts. Still, this is likely only useful if you are powering localized telecom equipment where the voltage will help prevent the wiring and circuitry exposed to the elements from corroding.
Arguably the one area where the Samlex PST power inverters lag behind some of their competitors is in the efficiency department. While their power inverters are still able to produce at an impressive 85 percent efficiency, that is not quite as good as some of the other brands which can achieve a 90 percent efficiency. With pure sine wave output, the PST Series will provide power for all types of electrical loads including, variable speed power tools, advanced electrical appliances, refrigirators, battery chargers, sensitive test equipment, high-surge corded tools and many other tools and appliances
Compared to the previous two brands, AIMS has a bit of a climb before it will be recognized among the top-tier, but that does not change the fact that this is a surprisingly capable brand. What makes this even more surprising is the fact that AIMS specializes more in custom solar grids than they do making a power inverter specifically designed for trucks. Their UL 458 listed pure sine wave inverters include a 2000W model as well as a 1200W and 2000W model with transfer switches. Their UL 458 listed modified sine wave models include 2000W, 3000W, and 3600W. Finally, their pure sine wave inverter-chargers range include 600W, 1000W, 1500W, 2000W, and 3000W. You will find reviews of AIMS products in our article 7 AIMS Power Inverter Reviews
This brand actually skirts between the previous two (Samlex and Xantrex), better than one in some respects, better than the other in others, but not better than either at everything. For instance, AIMS is generally superior to Samlex in regard to efficiency with a rating that fluctuates between 86 percent and Xantrex’s impressive 90 percent. In terms of safety levels, the AIMS inverters are a tad better than the Xantrex with overvoltage, but they are not quite as good as Samlex in the same capacity. Surprisingly, the one area where the AIMS power inverters are genuinely better than both Samlex and Xantrex is in under voltage protections with the AIMS remaining functional anywhere from .5V to .7V lower than the more respected brands.
One area that AIMS provides a better product is in an area that AIMS is the only power inverter manufacturer to offer a product: modified sine wave power inverters. While all three brands offer modified sine wave power inverters, AIMS is the only one which makes a modified sine wave inverter that also meets the UL 458 standard. Considering this is less likely to be needed for trucks exclusively, this actually makes the AIMS modified sine wave power inverters to be used on a trailer or tractor trailer to run less sensitive electronics in a more open environment.
Another advantage of the AIMS modified sine wave power inverters is that they can support a maximum of 3600 RMS watts at their highest capacity. Granted, there are greater restrictions on the electronics that these inverters can safely power, but it does provide argument for AIMS making the best inverter for truckers — especially if they simply need it to run an AC or heating unit in the cabin.
One area that the AIMS power inverters to fumble a bit is in regards to the power draw of the inverter when they are not powering any devices. For the Samlex PST series, this power draw hovers between .5A and 1A–depending on the RMS wattage and voltage of the power inverter. For Xantrex, this figure never goes outside of .6A to .8A. The AIMS inverters on the other hand rarely dip below a 1A power draw with no load and will go beyond that. This will ultimately cause the power source to run out of juice quicker and have to be either recharged or replaced–an inconvenient and potentially expensive issue if the power source is your truck’s battery.
7 AIMS Power Inverter Reviews
The UL 458 standard might not seem like a big deal looking at the various certificates, standards, and regulations that different inverters adhere to, but it is one of the best signs of quality that you can find when looking for a power inverter for truck. In fact, The Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of American Trucking Associations RP163 (Recommended Practice) calls out this UL listing for all inverters and chargers installed in a truck. UL 458 is the safety standard for Power Converters/ Inverters and Power Converter/ Inverter Systems for Land Vehicles and Marine Crafts. Keep in mind, unlike some other electronics standards, UL 458 refers exclusively to power inverters.
When it comes to UL 458, the important thing to remember is that this standard is designed to protect both the user and the inverter from sudden power surges. The reason this would otherwise be a problem is that these kinds of power inverters are designed to be mounted on a vehicle, whether a boat, RV, truck or anything else.
With the inverter mounted on a vehicle, the power inverter may not always have the option of a dedicated ground. This can lead to the electric charge in a non-standardized power inverter running back through the circuitry to the point that it can actually damage the power inverter’s components or shock the user–which would be you.
The power inverters which meet the UL 458 standard alleviate this concern by bonding the ground to the neutral and a non-conductive case. Doing this allows the electric charge to be distributed safely rather than back through the circuits. This standard also defines these devices as being unable to sell converted electric charges back to the grid, like with a solar array. All that said, it is now obvious why when choosing a proper inverter for truck it is important to look for one with a UL 458 standard — many of which we have reviewed and listed above.
by Paul Ertel January 11, 2018