Why ALL automobiles don't come equipped with at least one, built-in 3-prong outlet is beyond me. And why more drivers don't keep an inverter like this one from Belkin in their cars is also a mystery.
Emergencies alone make a simple inverter a super worthwhile item (we also keep a tub filled with spare clothes, shoes, MR
IEs, water, etc. in the trunk, you know, "just in case."). But apart from the once-in-a-blue-moon, doom-and-gloom scenarios where we'll be stranded in our car and need to tap the battery to charge a phone or radio, having an inverter available for daily use is a true no-brainer.
Since last April, I've stashed this 300-watt DC-AC inverter in one of the rear seat pockets. I've used it to charge my cell phone and replenish my GoBe battery overnight while car camping. In addition, I've charged up a range of devices en route on car trips — long and short — way too many times to count. Here's the short of it:
Easy to Use: Just pull out the thing, plug the business end into the cigarette lighter, flip the switch on the device, and plug in up to two devices. (Dr. Obvious says: There's no need to have the car turned on.)
Easy to Carry: The whole thing weighs just 2 lbs.; it's not as if you'll ever need to take the device backpacking, but my point is that it's never a hassle to pull out, put back, ad nauseam.
No Outside Juice Required: Requires no batteries, no charging, no sunlight because, you know, it runs off the car battery (Dr. Obvious says: Triple duh).
One Caveat: The inverter's internal fan hums rather loudly when in use. Not enough to disturb phone calls or music too much, but it's noticeably audible.
Verdict: Get one. If not this particular device, then be sure to pick one up that's got at least two 3-prong outlets... and, perhaps, even a USB. You'll rely on your inverter more than you'd expect.
~$40 from Amazon.