Install A Cigarette Lighter Socket In Your Camper For Easy Electricity
Want to know the simplest way to get usable electricity to your camper?
Install a 12V Cigarette Lighter Outlet.
It’s the same thing you use in the cab to recharge your phone. But when you install one in your camper…
- You can recharge your phone and other devices without running down the starting battery, to avoid shortening its life and risking the need for a jump start.
- You can plug in a small inverter and run low-to-medium power household devices.
- You can do it for just a few bucks — definitely under $10, or “for free” if you have more than you need in the cab and don’t mind transplanting it elsewhere.
- You can install it pretty easily, fitting it into an appropriately drilled hole and connecting it directly to your battery or DC distribution block (via a fuse, of course, very important!)
I installed mine after my inverter broke, and I needed a quick solution to be able to charge my phone (and perhaps get some light, though that’s much easier to improvise than phone charging!).
- For the first recharge, I plugged into my dashboard socket and ran the engine — but that’s not a sustainable practice when boondocking far from civilization when I need the gas to get back!
- For the next few days I charged my phone from the 12V socket in my emergency booster battery, but it holds about 12aH max, so it after a few days of heavy recharging, it was spent.
- Then I rigged something up to recharge it from the solar panel, but that was just becoming silly.
- Finally I realized I could just steal an unused lighter outlet from the cab and hook it up to my big 160aH battery with solar, and all would be good until I could find a good deal on an inverter.
If you’re unfamiliar with the wiring, it’s easy. It’s just two wires — red and white — so you run the red one the the battery’s red (+) terminal and the white one to the other. Somewhere along the red wire you should splice in a small inline fuse rated just above the maximum current you expect to flow through it, ex. for a little 120W inverter you’ll be running 10A, maybe 15-20A peak, so use a 20A fuse.
If you want to get fancier, it's only an extra step to add an on/off switch to the outlet -- either a regular household light switch or any of a variety of small toggle switches from Radio Shack. (I haven't bothered, but might at some point.)