Although there is nothing wrong with connecting an inverter to cigarette lighter socket or any 12V accessory jack, there are some restrictions on what you can connect to this type of connection.

If the electronics you want to connect draw less current than the cigarette lighter fuse rating, then the inverter should work fine. This is usually around 10-15A. If you need more amperage then you will need another connection solution.

Problem with Plug and Play Cigarette Lighter Inverters

While cigarette lighter inverters are convenient, they all have the same design limitations. Unlike inverters, which are connected directly to car battery (or to a dedicated circuit), the cigarette lighter inverter receives power from the cigarette lighter circuit. This means that you cannot load this type of inverter, which draws more current than the cigarette lighter fuse can handle, otherwise the fuse will blow.

In addition, there may be more in the cigarette lighter circuits than in the cigarette lighter. These circuits often have additional 12-volt auxiliary outlets associated with them, and sometimes they also provide power for lights, head unit, and other electrical components. If your car’s cigarette lighter circuit has any of these extra loads, it further reduces the amount of current you can get from the inverter that’s connected to it.

Bigger is not better (when it comes to fuses)

Before replacing a 10A cigarette lighter fuse with a larger one, note the following: Each fuse in this fuse box is sized appropriately for its respective circuit, and these fuses perform a vital function. They are designed to sacrifice themselves to save the rest of the chain. In some cases, this can prevent a fire.

If you just replace the cigarette lighter fuse with a larger one, you should be fine. But since the circuit in question was only rated for 10A (or any other fuse), you may also create unnecessary risks.

Say, for example, some of the wires in the circuit are only rated for just over 10A. If you plug enough things into the cigarette lighter inverter to pull 20 amps, then those wires become a major point of failure instead of a fuse. At best, you’re looking at some uncomfortable, costly changes. If you’re unlucky, you might get electric fire .

What can be connected to the cigarette lighter inverter?

First, find out the size of the cigarette lighter fuse, as well as how much current your equipment draws. If the device consumes less current than is calculated in the cigarette lighter circuit, then the inverter should be sufficient.

Remember that there is a difference between the amount of current an AC device draws and the amount of current an inverter draws in order to convert the ~12V DC from your car’s electrical system to 110V AC. As a rule, the cigarette lighter inverter should not consume more than 100-120 watts. Some automotive inverters dual purpose connected with this in mind. If this is the case, then when connected to the cigarette lighter, the power of the inverter will be limited to approximately 100 W, and thus it will be able to work with full continuous power at battery connection .

Some devices you can plug into your cigarette lighter include:

These devices fall within the general amperage range that the cigarette lighter inverter uses. But if you want to use a cigarette lighter inverter, you must test the amperage of the device to make sure the inverter can handle it.

Of course, anything you can safely plug into a cigarette lighter inverter can also be powered directly from a 12V auxiliary outlet with the right adapter, which is much more efficient.

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