Inverter for Compressor: Complete Buying Guide

If you’re looking for an inverter to run your compressor, then you’re in the right place.

Why?

Because this article is a complete in-depth guide on the subject.

Continue reading and you’ll have all the answers to what size inverter to run a compressor, the best inverter for compressors, and how long an inverter will run a compressor, plus much much more!

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting information about all of this and it can get a little bit confusing.

That’s why I decided to put together this information based on my own first hand experience with power inverters.

So whether you want to paint or inflate, together we’ll find you the inverter to run a compressor. 


Can a Power Inverter Run an Air Compressor?

Yes, you can absolutely run an air compressor off a power inverter. It is very common to do so.

It is a great way to produce AC electricity almost anywhere, anytime. All you need is an energy source such as a deep cycle battery or car battery. Many contractors have an inverter hooked up to their truck battery in order to use power tools like this when there’s no mains electricity available.

You just need to make sure you have a big enough inverter to run your compressor.


What Size Inverter to Run a Compressor?

There is no exact size inverter to choose for your compressor. It all depends on how much power your compressor uses – this could be 200 watts to over 2000 watts!

For your inverter to work properly it should have a wattage capacity of 20% more than your compressor draws.

For example, a 1100W compressor needs at least a 1300 watt inverter. 

To work out the size you need to multiply compressor wattage by 1.2. So the calculation for the above example is: 1100W x 1.2 = 1320W inverter. Personally, I’d go a little bigger still and use a 1500W inverter. 


How Many Watts is My Compressor?

So now you’ll be wondering how do you know how many watts an air compressor uses??

Well, it’s pretty easy to find the information. It should be clearly listed in the technical specification and user manual. Quite often there’s even a stick on the equipment with the running wattage.

I also like to use a wattmeter. This is an awesome little device you can attach to any appliance to get a live power reading. Super useful if you’re running an inverter.

To give you an idea for any decent compressor you are probably looking at between 1100 – 3000+ watts depending on size.


Do You Need Pure Sine Wave Inverter to Run a Compressor?

Yes, you will need a pure sine wave inverter to run a compressor as it is an inductive load. Pure sine wave output replicates the AC electricity supplied by the mains grid.

Your compressor will not take kindly to a cheaper modified sine wave inverter due to the sharp steps in voltage change.


Best Inverter for Compressor Reviews

Now you have a better understanding of the requirements for a power inverter to run a compressor, you will be able to choose a product more confidently. To help you are the top options available today. All of the below deliver at least 1000 watts of pure sine wave output. I have included the best inverter in each size range to suit your needs.

Best 1000 Watt Inverter for Compressor

Let’s start off with a neat portable power inverter with enough grunt to run small compressors. You’ll be getting 1000 watt pure sine wave output which is able to run appliances up to around 800 watts.

This is a brilliant option if you’re going to be moving your equipment around a lot. You can quickly hook up to the car battery using the included alligator clips. Then simply plug into the AC outlets while charging a phone from the USB ports.

The neat design is in a briefcase shape making it easy to carry, although you won’t be able to mount this one in a permanent spot. A crisp digital screen allows you to keep track of power output while the silent cooling fan spins at different speeds based on power draw.

You still get all the important safety features you expect to protect against overheating, voltage fluctuations, and short circuit. In addition, there’s an 18 month warranty. 

A portable powerhouse for smaller jobs.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Pure sine wave
  • Easy to use
  • Digital screen

Cons:

  • Lacks power for bigger requirements
  • Not mountable
Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Best 1500 Watt Inverter for Compressor

If you want to get a little more power without getting too cumbersome then take a look at the AIMS 1500.

What I love about this one is its rugged durable build quality. This is unlikely to let you down and should run equipment up to around 1200 watts. The 3000 watt surge capacity will have no problem firing up your compressor.

You’ll enjoy all the important features of a power inverter without any over-the-top bells and whistles. There are 3 AC outlets and a USB port for flexibility in what you can run. You can add a remote switch to it if you want.

It’s perfect for providing mobile power in work trucks, you can easily mount it permanently with the included plates and drill holes. 

AIMS Power always delivers outstanding products and it’s backed by a reassuring 2 year warranty.

Pros:

  • Pure sine wave
  • Durable build quality
  • Great for work trucks
  • Mounting plate
  • 2 year warranty

Cons:

  • No screen
  • Not very portable
Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Best 2000 Watt Inverter for Compressor

Stepping up to 2000 watts delivers you an inverter that starts to take the limits of what you can run. You will be able to fire up tools that require up to 1800 watts!

Of course, with the Renogy you’ll be getting 120V pure sine wave output via 3 AC outlets. It arrives with everything you need to get going so you can quickly connect to your battery and switch it on.

There are no frills with this one, just pure performance! All your equipment is well protected from voltage changes, overheating, overload, and short circuit. There’s also GFCI protection and an AC terminal block for heavy-duty work.

Awesome power in a sleek package, plus you can choose a 3000W model too.

Pros:

  • Pure sine wave
  • AC terminal block
  • Awesome performance
  • No frills
  • Multiple sizes available

Cons:

  • No screen
  • Not portable
Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Best 3000 Watt Inverter for Compressor

Now, you can pick up the Renogy in 3000 watts but personally, I’d like something with a few more features at this power level. You’re likely to want to run multiple appliances simultaneously so the addition of a screen is very useful.

SL Euthtion looks as good as it performs too. Of course, you’ll be getting a whopping 3000 watts of pure sine wave power to run your air compressor. This includes 2 AC plug points, USB port, and a hardwire terminal block, so you can use it any way you want.

The cool part is the screen and remote control combination. The in-built display gives you a raft of information including power output, voltages, frequency, and battery levels. Plus this is all repeated on the remote control so you can monitor and adjust from 10 meters away.

Performance stacks up on the safe side with guards against undervoltage, overvoltage, overload, overheating, short circuit, and reverse polarity.

All the power and all the features!

Pros:

  • Pure sine wave
  • Digital screen
  • Remote control with screen
  • 3000 watts
  • Mounting plates

Cons:

  • Not a well known brand
Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

Best 4000 Watt Inverter for Compressor

This is a seriously chunky piece of equipment from Cantonape, it’s got everything you need to deliver a punch of power. 4000 watts on continuous pure sine wave output and a savage 8000 watts peak surge capacity!

It weighs in at over 11 pounds so you’ll need to mount it securely in place in your truck or van. Keep track of the input and output voltage using the dual LED display, plus switch power modes with the compact wireless remote control.

4 AC plugs and a USB port give you plenty of flexibility to run multiple appliances. You’ll most likely be able to run a few different things at once with this amount of capacity. Built-in fuses are accompanied by an extra 6 40A fuses so you’re covered if you blow while you work. 

As you’d expect all the critical safety features are in place to protect even the most demanding inductive loads like your air compressor.

A real workhorse for your tools.

Pros:

  • Very powerful
  • Pure sine wave
  • 4 AC and 1 USB
  • Wireless remote
  • Voltage display
  • Spare fuses

Cons:

  • Heavy and cumbersome
Check Price & Reviews on Amazon

How Long Will an Inverter Power a Compressor?

The length of time an inverter can run a compressor comes down to two things – battery capacity and compressor power.

It’s important to understand that it is your appliances that decide how much energy is used, not the inverter itself. A 3000 watt inverter won’t always draw maximum load. For example, your compressor might only use 1500 watts.

Then, the runtime comes down to the energy capacity stored in your battery.

It can be a little confusing to work out, so I’ve created this handy formula for 12V battery and inverter runtimes.

(10 x battery capacity in Ah) divided by appliance power in Watts = Runtime

So let’s say you have a 12V battery with 200Ah capacity and a compressor using 1500 watts.  

(10 x 200Ah) ÷ 1500W = 1.3 hours.

So a 200Ah battery can run a 1500 watt air compressor for 1.3 hours.


Final Thoughts on Inverter for Compressors

That’s it, everything you need to know about using an inverter to run a compressor.

There’s a couple of important points to keep in mind:

  • Pure Sine Wave is a must
  • Inverter should have 20% more power capacity that compressor

Take the time to find out how many watts your compressor uses so you can pick a suitable inverter for your needs. Don’t just use any equipment before checking it, air compressors tend to be very high-powered pieces of equipment, sometimes using thousands of watts.

For a good quality inverter take a look at the reviews above plus read my guides to the Best Pure Sine Wave Inverters and Best 3000 Watt Power Inverters.

Thanks for reading and happy compressing.