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You’ve probably heard of chargers that can keep your car battery topped up and potentially charge a drained battery but are skeptical if it works, how well it works if there are limitations, and need more information to an informed decision then read on.
This post explains whether it is possible to charge a car battery from the cigarette lighter socket, the benefits, limitations.
Quick answer. Yes, you can charge a car battery by plugging a car battery charger (battery tender, maintainer, or trickle charger into the car’s cigarette lighter socket (Note – there are special chargers with cigarette lighter plugs recommended for charging this way).
Using a Cigarette Lighter Socket to Charge a Car Battery – Is it Possible?
Yes, you can use a solar or grid-powered battery maintainer or trickle charger to keep the car’s battery topped up. The cigarette charger wiring is connected to the car battery. This is one way of conveniently charging a car battery without disconnecting the battery terminals.
How to Charge a Car Battery Using a Cigarette lighter Socket
To charge the battery, if using a solar battery maintainer, make sure it is exposed to the sun and plug the special adapter into the cigarette lighter socket.
The grid power plugged battery maintainer should be plugged into a wall outlet and the adapter plugged into the cigarette lighter socket.
What you Need
You need a battery charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter adapter. Make sure the cigarette lighter socket is not automatically powered down by the car systems after a preset time as is the case in some cars.
The Benefits of Charging a Car Battery from a Cigarette Lighter Socket
Charging a car battery using a cigarette lighter socket is more convenient. You do not need to open the hood to charge the car battery!
#2. Little or No Risk of Reversing the Polarity of Battery Cables
No need to worry about potentially accidentally reversing the battery charger’s positive and negative terminals of the charger. using a special adapter you can plug the charger into the cigarette lighter socket directly saving you the trouble of figuring out which terminal connects to
The Limitations of Charging Using a Cigarette Lighter Socket
Suited to Slower Charging
The inbuilt cigarette lighter socket is usually limited to 10-15 amps maximum and is limited to low amp chargers such as battery maintainers or trickle chargers.
It is suited to maintain an already charged battery against self-discharge or battery drain from the onboard car electronic systems that drain the battery over time.
Solar trickle chargers only work when the sun is available
If you plan to use a solar trickle charger, you need to make sure that the panel is exposed to the sun for it to keep the battery charged.
Can You Put a Car Charger in a Cigarette Lighter?
Charging a car battery from the cigarette lighter socket is suited to battery tenders, maintainers, or trickle chargers with a special cigarette lighter plug that you insert into the cigarette lighter socket.
These are low amp chargers whose current output usually limited to 5 amps is within the limits of the cigarette lighter socket wiring of about 10-15 amps.
Check whether the charger you plan to use is suited for use with a cigarette lighter socket and is a low amp charger
Consult the charger documentation or the manufacturer if the charger is recommended for plugging into the cigarette lighter socket before you do so.
Do Cigarette Lighter Chargers Drain Battery?
A good quality cigarette lighter charger should not drain the battery. It can be plugged into the socket for weeks or months keeping the battery topped up without the danger of the battery being drained flat.
If the battery is drained flat then there’s an issue with the charger and it should be replaced.
You may also be interested in this post: Car cigarette lighter – does it drain the car battery?
Can you Charge a Leisure Battery from a Cigarette Lighter?
It is possible to but beware of the limited current handling ability of the cigarette lighter socket and its wiring usually limited to 10 -15 amps (check the car owner’s manual). If the current supplied is within the limits of the socket then the leisure battery can be charged up depending on the battery voltage.
Can I Wire a Cigarette Lighter Directly to a Battery?
You could wire a cigarette lighter socket directly to a battery with a suitable wire gauge and fuse for protection. This is can be particularly useful to achieve a higher charging rate than what the inbuilt cigarette lighter socket can support. Make sure the cigarette lighter socket can handle the charging current.
Can You Jumpstart a Car Using a Cigarette Lighter Socket?
No, do not attempt to jumpstart a car by making any connection to the cigarette lighter socket. The starter motor can draw as much as 100 amps or more when turning over the engine which is well over what the cigarette lighter socket can safely handle.
Instead, use a pair of good quality adequately sized jumper cables or a jumpstart box connected to the battery posts. The wire gauge can safely handle the large current.
How Much Current a Cigarette Lighter Socket Can Handle?
A car cigarette lighter socket is usually limited to handling about 10-15 amps safely with a 10 or 15-amp fuse (wired depending on the current handling capacity of the wiring). Check your car’s owner manual to confirm the current handling capacity
Do not connect a heavy-duty charger capable of 10+ amps beyond the wiring’s capacity to avoid damage to the car’s cigarette lighter socket and wiring.
You may also be interested in this post: Should you leave a trickle charger connected to the battery? – How to avoid damage to the battery
Do not use the cigarette lighter with a high-current charger or to jumpstart a car with a flat battery because of its limited current capability.