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I'm looking for a power inverter to use it primarily to power up a vacuum cleaner in the car.

The vacuum is 550 Watts.

There are power inverters 600+ watts, but they are a bit more expensive and looks like they cannot be plugged in to the cigarette socket (only to the battery directly, which is not practical for cleaning at all).

But there are other inverters which are, for example, 400 watts continuous / 700 watts peak.

So I would like to know what that 'peak' characteristic is and also can I use the 400/700 watt inverter to power up my 550 watts vacuum.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'm pretty sure "peak" means you can pull that much momentarily, but if there's a sustained load that high, it will trip the circuit breaker.

If your vacuum is rated 550 watts, that's probably the sustained draw, and the power needed to start the motor is probably A LOT higher. I would just go with a sufficiently powerful inverter model that clips to the battery terminals directly; they're easy to use.

If you want to make it more convenient, you could mount it in the engine compartment and run a 120v extension cord and relay switch to turn it on/off into the dash somewhere.

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