Should you Charge your Phone from the Car?

Forgot to charge your phone from the wall outlet overnight? Are you now wondering whether it is safe to charge it in the car?

Charging the phone while in the car can be a convenient way to keep its battery topped up, particularly if you’ve switched on power hungry services such as the GPS for navigation, or Bluetooth or are streaming music and video.

Can you charge a phone safely from the car? If so, how best should you do it so that the battery is not drained and the phone battery is not damaged?

This post explains how to safely keep your phone charged while in the car, its drawbacks and suggests the best ways of keeping your phone charged while in the car.

Is it Ok to Charge the Phone in the Car?

Yes, it is ok to charge your phone while in the car. Many cars provide a 15A fused cigarette lighter socket that you can plug a USB type charger with a cigarette type plug into for phone charging.

Also, more and more cars now come with USB ports that you can plug a charging cable into, and more recently the more expensive but convenient wireless charging ports.

Provided you use a good quality charger of the type recommended by the phone manufacturer, your phone should safely charge from the car.

Keep in mind that these types of chargers limit the charging current to the phone and therefore you can expect the phone to longer to charge compared to when you use a wall outlet!

Does a Car Phone Charger Drain the Battery?

A car phone charger draws power from the car battery and therefore drains the battery albeit slowly.

You’ve to turn the ignition key to the ACC mode.

In the OFF position, the car accessories circuit is not powered (in most cars) and there is no power draw by the charger.

To minimize the drain on the battery, make sure the car is switched to ACC mode and not ON where the power draw is higher.

Additionally, you can charge the phone while the engine is running to replenish the power drawn by the phone during charging.

How Long a Charging phone takes to Drain a Car Battery?

It can take between 2-3 days for a phone plugged into a cigarette lighter socket to drain a 50 Ah battery to 50% of its capacity.

If the battery is fully charged and in good condition, you should be able to start your car in the morning after leaving the car ignition set to ACC mode to charge the phone overnight.

An old or partially charged battery can be drained overnight easily.

Consider using a portable power bank or charging from a laptop USB socket instead of leaving the car ignition ON overnight to charge it.

Note Estimated runtime of 50Ah battery while charging phone assumes that the current draw is about 370 mA.

Does Charging Phone from the Car Damage the Phone Battery?

If you use good-quality car phone charger (recommended by the manufacturer) there should be no damage to the battery.

Poor quality chargers can apply a higher than recommended charging voltage that is harmful to the phone.

In addition, partially charging the phone can affect phone battery life. Your phone will likely be partially charged while in the car because of the slower charging time with car phone chargers.

How Long to Charge phone from a Car battery?

There is no one number for how long you can expect a phone to fully charge using a car phone charger as there are a number of variables involved – whether the phone battery is partially discharged or not, the phone battery capacity (mAh).

A completely discharged phone or one with a larger battery capacity (mAh) will take longer to charge.

With that said, in general, charging the phone from the car generally takes longer from the car than when you use the OEM charger plugged into the wall outlet.

How to Safely Charge a Phone from the Car?

To avoid damage to the phone while using a car phone charger:

  • Only use chargers that are recommended by the manufacturer. With these, you’re confident they’ll not supply dangerous voltages that can harm the phone’s electronics.
  • Use the charging cable recommended by the manufacturer. The phone not only charges faster with it but they also make a good firm fit with the phone’s charging port. This is often a point of failure with poorly designed charging cables.
  • Always aim to charge the phone fully. If you’ve only been able to charge it partially while in the car, at the next opportunity, charge it fully from a wall outlet for the battery to last as long as possible.

Final Thoughts

You can safely charge your phone while in the car provided that you use a good quality charger and phone charging cable.

There is some power drawn from the car battery while the phone is charging and yes, you can expect the phone charging to drain the battery over time.

Charge the phone battery fully for the phone battery to last as long as possible.

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