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Black & Decker announced a couple of new automobile power inverters recently, but the one pictured above caught our eye. It’s small, plugs right into a forward-facing 12V outlet (which means no cables strung around the cockpit), and it includes a USB jack for device charging. At 100W rated output, this inverter would easily power a small laptop — and charge a phone at the same time.

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I picked up a (sadly, much larger) inverter a few years back and threw it in the car glovebox. It’s been great for times when on a long trip I want to get some work done from the passenger seat when it’s not my turn to drive. I don’t use it all the time, but it’s nice to know it’s there when I need it.

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These aren’t on shelves quite yet, but MSRP is $30. Expect street pricing to be less.

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5 Responses to A Handy Little Mobile Inverter

  1. Phil says:

    The B&D inverters, chargers and booster packs generally seem to be made by Vector, and are pretty decent for the price. I have a couple of these miniature inverters made by Vector and they are pretty handy. They can power laptops without issues, and I also use them to power cordless tool battery chargers and a 19″ LCD TV when camping or tailgating. Doubling one up with a USB charging port is a great idea.

  2. Brau says:

    I have similar small inverter I bought from Canadian Tire in my G.Box, but it doesn’t have the USB. $30 seems like a decent price.

  3. russ says:

    I saw one without usb for $10 at the B/D outlet store. I also saw another one I believe was for iphones/ipods for $10 but smaller in size.

  4. jack says:

    Some laptops (like mine) will not work with the modified sine wave produced by inexpensive inverters like this. The instruction manual for the 100W B&D inverter on their website (not quite the same model, but probably the same guts) states:

    Some products must be powered from a pure sine wave power source, such as standard household power, or a
    “pure sine wave” inverter in order to function properly.
    Your product could be damaged by this inverter if it contains:
    1. Transformer type power supplies
    2. Microprocessor controlled power supplies
    3. Capacitive coupled power supplies
    If an incompatible product is used with this inverter:
    • The product might not operate at all, with no indication of failure. The product fuse might have opened as a result
    of trying to use it with the inverter.
    • The product exhibits unusual operation (such as, intermittent operation, buzzing, and the like.)
    WARNING: If the product does not operate normally, to reduce the risk of injury or property damage:
    • Turn the product off immediately and unplug it from the inverter.

    So you should be cautious about plugging in almost anything that uses a transformer. Even if it “works”, check your laptop power adapter regularly to see if it gets unusually hot.

  5. SharkyTM says:

    We’ve used similar products for about 6 years on the water (small boats with single 12v batteries). I’ve run a dozen laptops off them, never had a problem. They are cheap, they do burn out after a while, and the fans often get noisy (sleeve bearings) or burn out.

    Nonetheless, we buy them 4 at a time, and just keep spares on hand.

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