12V Socket in cars - cigarette lighter alternatives - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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12V Socket in cars - cigarette lighter alternatives

I don't know what forum this belongs in but it certainly is very applicable for mobile phones.

Why are we still using cigarette lighter outlets for electrical power in vehicles in 2010? I know that they are standard in all vehicles but surely there is a much better form factor for 12V DC power than a bulky cylinder that is about 1.5cm in diameter and about 4 cm long? Why don't we start to switch to something like USB plugs or micro USB since that is becoming the standard for mobile phones. Or even the small plugs that are used on devices like laptops or that come out of most DC wall wart adapters?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 12:19 PM
 
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I've been wondering this also. Specifically are there aftermarket options that could hardwire a microUSB cord?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 12:56 PM
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I use one of these. Actually I just got the little adapter on the left. Sticks out about 4mm once inserted.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 01:02 PM
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Newer car models are coming out now with such features as USB power, iPOD hookups, and aux audio input on the radios. Some even have built-in 110VAC outlets for small devices.

The old 12V socket will live on due to all the legacy equipment still on the market as well as the fact that it can safely conduct large current (I've seen 25A on some vehicles!).



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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 02:09 PM
 
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My car has a 110V outlet but it isn't grounded so I still need an inverter for my laptop. I do use the outlet for my cellphone, it is so convienent not having to have to buy car chargers

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 02:29 PM
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We've been letting the kids watch movies on a laptop during long trips since 2004, and long since switched to inverters to facilitate it.

We have a 300W inverter in the back of two vehicles, and a smaller 75W "floater" unit that we use to top up cell phones etc. in the front.

I also recently noticed the newer inverters feature USB as well as AC power. Nice.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 03:34 PM
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My '09 Ram came with a 110v plug and a usb connect right on the dash.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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My SUV has a 110V AC plug in the back but that isn't very useful for the driver wanting to plug in a cell phone and iPod. At least the vehicle has two cig lighter outlets.

My other car has a cig lighter and audio input in the center console. But the silly thing is that if you plug your iPod into both you need a ground loop isolator or else you get a lot of hum. These used to cost about $30 at Radio Shack/The Source but you can now get them on eBay (likely from China) for under $10 including shipping.

But USB outlets make a lot more sense since I am guessing that upwards of 90% of the use of electrical power in cars is for cell phones and iPods. Next up would likely be portable DVD players.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-08, 09:42 PM
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My 2009 Honda car has a USB plug in the center console.

My 2009 Honda ATV, though, has an old-school cig-style plug. I guess the two design teams don't talk!
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-09, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Why are we still using cigarette lighter outlets for electrical power in vehicles in 2010?
I have a dual USB port adapter that provides power for my cell phone etc. However, high power devices, such as computers, lights, air pumps, power inverters etc., draw too much power for USB. Also, strange as it may seem, there are still some who use a cigarette lighter.

BTW, my car has two of those big outlets, one is controlled by the ignition switch and the other is on all the time. In addition to my USB adapter, I also plug in an air pump and power inverter to provide AC.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-09, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
I do use the outlet for my cellphone, it is so convienent not having to have to buy car chargers
If you have USB power available, all you need is the appropriate USB cable for many phones and those cables can also be used wherever a there's a computer handy or on many aircraft. I recently bought a couple of micro USB cables for my Nexus One @ $10 each.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-09, 08:36 AM
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I think the main reason is simply legacy. There are a lot of 12V accessories out there (new and used) that use a cigarette lighter plug.

For my hobby (ham radio) most of the equipment is 13.8V and I've wired all my gear using Anderson Power Poles. They're designed for various gauges of wires and can withstand very high currents. Plus, they're "polarized" in the sense that it's impossible to plug in a Power Pole'd device with the postive and negative leads reversed.

Reverse polarization is BAD for DC devices. Best case is you blow a diode in the device; worst case is you fry the entire board.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 2010-09-09, 12:30 PM
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Check the specs of the car's USB port

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesK
However, high power devices, such as computers, lights, air pumps, power inverters etc., draw too much power for USB
Yep, USB ports can deliver only about 500mA, while some only do about 350mA. That's fine for MP3 players and most mobile phones, but not so good for many smartphones, netbooks, etc.

I can only use the 12V Cigarette Lighter-to-USB adapter that came with my Nokia N900 in order to get the ~1A it requires (it is a very power hungry device when I have all my neat stuff running on it). If I plug it into a USB port on a computer I get a screen message on the N900 saying that the recharging capability has been turned off, but if I plug it into a simple, no-brain 350 or 500 mA USB car adapter my N900 will blow its fuse if it has one, or else just fry it.



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