Cigarette Light Modification! Electrial help needed.

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Hello. I recently bought one of the car light - to - usb adapters so that I can charge my iphone while I am using it (viz aux cord) with my head unit. When I tried the adapter, it only worked in very few positions in the lighter socket, I had to turn and twist for quite a while before it made proper contact.

So, instead of replacing the lighter socket, I was thinking that I would remove the lighter socket entiery, and somehow mount this lighter socket - to - usb charger in place of it.

My question is, since it is my understanding that the cigarette socket is just connected by a set of positive/negative wires, can I just solder the 2 wires coming from the car, to the two sides of this adapter?? I'm certain  this would work, but would it be an issue since it will always have power going to in? I'll include a link to a picture to explain what I want to do. Any input would be great!! thanks!!

Picture: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/42/cargq.jpg/

EDIT: I laballed the picture wrong, both the things I pointed to are ground terminals, and the pin at the back in the live wire (or vice versa). nevermind my labelling, but I hope you get the idea.

If, this owuld be a bad idea because the lighter draws power even when the car is off, here is a solutoin I have thought about:

Could i piggy back a +12V power line from say, my stereo? Where it only gets power when the car is turned on? Or could this be harmful to my stereo for not getting enough power? Or, is there somewhere else I could take power from near the lighter that only gets power when the car is on?



[edited by: JM68 at 6:18 PM (GMT -5) on Thu, May 19 2011]
Verified Answer
  • Get an accessory socket. They are available at Radio Shack for a few bucks. They have a lighter-like socket to plug your adapter into and wires to connect to whatever acc. power and ground you choose. You can tuck it away out of sight if you choose.

         RESIma

All Replies
  • Get an accessory socket. They are available at Radio Shack for a few bucks. They have a lighter-like socket to plug your adapter into and wires to connect to whatever acc. power and ground you choose. You can tuck it away out of sight if you choose.

         RESIma

  • Alex W's advice makes sense, but I am not sure it is the best solution.  As I understand it, the problem is that the USB charger does not make good contact with the cig lighter socket.  If so, it might not make good contact with the accessory socket either.

    The proposed solution should work - there are a couple of things to consider:

    • I would expect the USB adapter to draw minimal current without the phone plugged into it - even if the wiring was constantly powered.
    • Some cars (Fords, usually) have the cigarette lighter powered whether the car is on or off.  Some cars (Honda's, usually) do not have the cigarette lighter powered unless the key is in the RUN position. So you might not have to worry about the charger being powered with the car off in any case.
    • If the lighter is always powered (Ford), it would be simple to wire in a toggle switch to disconnect power when you turned the car off, but you would have to do this all the time.
    • On an older car or one with the radio already replaced with a suitable adapter, you could use the Red 12V ACC wire to the radio to also power the charger - the charger should not draw enough current to affect the operation of the radio.

    Hope This Helps!!!

    Anyone else have suggestions?

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • Aftermarket accessory sockets have much heavier contacts than OEM lighter sockets and fit much tighter. They are made to power lights, vacuum cleaners, inverters and the like. They typically come with battery clips attached (which can be cut off for hard-wiring) and built-in fuses. They should never be use with a lighter because they are not designed to dissipate that much heat.

         RESIma

  • I wasn't aware of some of that.  I knew they typically had battery clips attached, but didn't know they had heavier contacts, tighter fit, or that you couldn't use a cig lighter with them.

    Thanks Alex!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs

  • TigerHeli

    I wasn't aware of some of that.  I knew they typically had battery clips attached, but didn't know they had heavier contacts, tighter fit, or that you couldn't use a cig lighter with them.

    Thanks Alex!

    You're welcome.

    The one they used to sell at Radio Shack was pretty good. It was fused at 10 amps (I think), had 16 ga. wires attached and a nice, heavy, center conductor. Worked pretty well in my experience. I used them with devices that had the power supply built into the plug. I typically plugged them in and taped them with duct tape, then wrapped them with foam pipe insulation and tucked the whole thing under the dash or console. I have one powering the Cowon 02 in my Subaru that has been there since 2007 with no problems. You can see it in the upper right-hand corner of this picture.

         RESIma