Charge Car Battery Through Cigarette Lighter – Is It Possible?

Wondering if it's possible to charge your car battery through the cigarette lighter or 12v+ power outlet and how to do it? We have all the answers here.

Charge Car Battery Through Cigarette Lighter

There are many ways to charge a car battery, from using a maintainer to a trickle charger. With the help of a cigarette lighter or power outlet in the vehicle, you may have even more flexibility. Is it possible to charge a car battery through the cigarette lighter or should you look at other options?

In this guide, we look at your options that include the car cigarette lighter. We will also show you how to use this outlet for charging the battery and discuss how much current it can handle. There is also a section that shows you how to use a solar charger. At the end of our article, you will find answers to a few of your top questions. 

Is It Possible To Charge The Car Battery Through The Cigarette Lighter?

It’s possible to charge the car battery through the cigarette lighter, but it’s usually not recommended due to the thin wiring and the fact that these power outlets are sometimes not connected when the ignition is switched off.

But, whether you use the old cigarette lighter outlet or a new 12V DC power outlet, you can essentially trickle charge or maintain a battery with the right device connected to it.

However, these outlets have very thin wirings and fuses and therefore are not going to be useful for jump-starting a battery or performing any function that draws a lot of power. Besides that, the outlets aren’t always live. Some require the key to be turned on in order to receive power.

To get more information on what your car is equipped for, read through the service manual. It’s advisable to follow all of the safety parameters outlined in this guide above and beyond anything you read on the internet. 

How Do You Charge The Car Battery Through The Cigarette Lighter?

Car Power Outlets

Usually, the ignition must be turned on for power to run through it. The socket will not function without the key turned on unless you make modifications. You wouldn’t want to turn the key off while you are trying to charge the battery. With that said, the newer power outlets may be set up to run without the ignition on. It depends on what car you have.

Before you get started, there are a few precautions to take. 

  • Ensure the power the charger needs can be supplied by that outlet.
  • Ensure the power source won’t deliver more than what the fuse allows or it will blow.
  • Only use battery chargers as they are intended and make sure it’s a highly rated model. 

Once you have these pertinent facts figured out, you are ready to get started. Here are some directions, although we recommend always reading the manual that comes with the charger to get the best steps.

  1. Figure out when the socket is giving power. If it’s only giving power when the ignition is on, you may want to charge the battery directly on the battery instead. This is because the ignition may draw more power than the battery maintainer will give.
  2. Use a plug that fits into the socket.
  3. Connect the compatible trickle charger, making sure the wires are lined up properly. 
  4. If you allow the wires to short the socket, a fuse will blow. 

If any of this seems confusing, it’s always best to reach out to a professional for more support. You shouldn’t mess with the electrical system unless you know what you are doing. Still, even if you damage the cigarette lighter socket, a new one should only cost you $25 or less in most cars. 

How To Charge Car Battery Through The Cigarette Lighter With a Solar Charger

Solar Charger Car
Image Source: Sunwaysolarpower

A solar charger turns the light from the sun into power that can charge the battery. These have grown in popularity over the years and aren’t typically expensive. If you want to use a solar charger in the cigarette lighter socket, follow these valuable steps.

If you don’t have one yet, you can find these at Amazon here.

  1. Only choose a solar battery charger meant to plug into the cigarette lighter socket.
  2. Put the solar charger on your dashboard with the shiny side facing up. This direction allows the charger to get more sunlight for maximum efficiency. 
  3. Plug the solar charger into the socket. If it doesn’t fit, you need to purchase an appropriate adapter to get the connection right.
  4. If the cigarette port doesn’t power up unless the vehicle is on, turn the ignition to the accessory setting. 
  5. Let the solar charger fill up for a minimum of six hours before you unplug it. 

It’s best to read through the manual of the solar charger before you get started. Additionally, it may be better plugged into one of the power outlets instead of the cigarette lighter socket. 

To ensure the best outcome, take your time choosing a solar car battery charger. Read through customer reviews to find the one that’s best suited to your needs. While you can save a lot of money on a cheap car battery charger, you get what you pay for in most cases. 

How Much Current Can A Cigarette Lighter Socket Handle?

Most car cigarette lighter sockets can handle between 10 and 15 amps safely if they are wired with a 10 or 15-amp fuse. Other power outlets may be set up to handle up to 20 amps, but the fuse must also be in line with this specification. To figure this out, you want to read the owner’s manual that discusses the handling capacity. 

To be safe, you don’t want to connect any heavy-duty battery charger that pulls more than 5-10 amps. Otherwise, you can blow a fuse, damage the socket or ruin some of the wiring.

For this reason, you also don’t want to try jump starting the car from the cigarette lighter socket. Your car’s starter motor pulls up to 100 amps of power when the engine is turning over. This is far more than a cigarette lighter can handle. 

Instead of using a jump starter in the cigarette lighter outlet, it’s best to carry a good set of jumper cables with you. Additionally, you may prefer to have a jumpstart box in the car that can be attached to the battery terminals without the use of another vehicle. Both of these options help to keep you from being stranded. 

Do Car Cigarette Lighter Chargers Drain the Battery?

A charger in the car cigarette lighter outlet shouldn’t drain the battery. If it’s just a maintainer or tender, it can be plugged into the socket long-term without draining the battery dead. 

If your battery does die, it’s probably not related to the charger. Instead, there could be an issue with the car battery that should be dealt with. Have the battery load tested and replace it if necessary. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you jumpstart a car through the cigarette lighter?

Despite chargers being available to use through the cigarette lighter, this option isn’t recommended. The car starter motor can easily pull 100 amps of power, which is more than what this socket can handle. Instead, use a pair of jumper cables or a jumper box to get the engine started again. 

Can you use a trickle charge through a cigarette lighter?

Yes. The majority of cigarette lighter sockets are made for 10 to 15 amps of power. The average trickle charger doesn’t need more than this, so you should be fine. To be sure, make sure the trickle charger doesn’t exceed the amp rating of the fuse for the power socket.

Can you use a cigarette lighter as a charging port?

In most cars, you can plug your charging port into the cigarette lighter as you would with the standard socket. However, it may not charge as fast and you may have to have the ignition turned on for power to be supplied. It’s typically best to use the charging outlet that’s been provided for your smart devices. 

Will leaving something plugged into the cigarette lighter drain the battery?

In most cars, the cigarette lighter socket doesn’t stay powered on with the car off. For this reason, the car battery can’t drain. Even if it does remain powered on, there shouldn’t be enough of a draw to drain the car battery. If the battery dies, it’s more likely that it was already dying. 

Can I connect the cigarette lighter directly to the battery?

Yes, if you are familiar with car wiring, it’s possible to connect it directly to the battery. Still, this isn’t highly recommended because you are circumventing valuable safety measures. Without the fuse in the middle, you could overload the socket and create damage. 

Conclusion: Charge Car Battery Through Cigarette Lighter

We’ve proven that you can charge a car battery through a cigarette lighter, but it doesn’t mean that you should. There are many safety precautions that must be considered before traveling down this path. You should know exactly what you are doing and make sure you have the equipment to perform the task safely.

If you need further help with hooking up a car battery charger, it’s best to talk to a professional. Choose someone that understands the automotive electrical system and has great customer reviews.

Learn more:

Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.

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