The convenience is fantastic and the idea of a cigarette lighter launcher is practically handy. No one wants to mess around with dirty jumpers in the frozen snow while trying to jump into their car, so why not run it from the inside? The problem is that you can’t, at least not in the way you probably want.
Starting the car through the cigarette lighter
The simplest fact is that no, you cannot start a car through cigarette lighter socket At least not according to the traditional definition of the term.
When you start the car, the car with the dead battery draws a huge amount of current from the car with the good battery, which goes straight to the starter. When you start your car with the jump box, there is an equally huge current flow between the jump box and your car.
If you tried to pass such a current through the cigarette lighter socket, nothing good would happen.
Even fuse cigarette lighter didn’t burn out right away, the likely result is that something melts or even catches fire. As for whether the car will actually start or not, that will probably be the least of your worries at the time.
The good news is that while cigarette lighter launchers can’t technically provide a jump, that doesn’t mean they’re completely useless. In fact, they are quite capable of performing the function for which they are intended. This, of course, should provide a dead battery with a weak surface charge delivered over time, which will hopefully be enough to start the engine, provided you don’t have to crank it very long.
Cigarette lighter problem
The easiest way to see a problem with cigarette lighter jumpers is to look at one of them and compare the wires coming out of it to high quality jumpers. Even a cursory examination shows that the wires included in the cigarette lighter trigger and the cables used in the jumpers are rated for drastically different amperages.
If you’re having a particular adventure, you can also check the difference between the positive cable that connects your starter motor to the battery, which is probably about the same thickness as your thumb, and the wires that connect to the cigarette lighter, which is probably not even as thick. thick as a piece of spaghetti.
Another way to look at this is that the cigarette lighter circuits usually burn out at 10 amps or so, and the starter can pull up 350 amps when it starts spinning. The specific numbers will vary from one application to the next, but there is clearly a significant gap between the two connections, and it is equally clear that you will never supply the same amount of current through a cigarette lighter trigger that you can use with good jumpers.
So what’s good about starting for a cigarette lighter?
When you connect a dead battery to a good battery, a dead battery will act as a load , and it will tend to get power from a good battery. It’s not as efficient or fast as actual charging, but you can expect some charge to go from a good battery to a dead one, and that’s what cigarette lighter jumpers rely on. Unlike jumpers that you plug in, maybe wait a minute and go, cigarette lighter triggers take time — when they work at all.
If you have one of these devices and absolutely no need to use it, you will usually have to plug it in and leave for a while. If you’re lucky, you’ll come back and find that your battery has enough power to crank. If you don’t, then you probably wish you had just called a tow truck or bought jumper cables.
In most cases, you’re better off using a jump box, even an ultra-portable one that will fit in your glove box, than a cigarette lighter starter.