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HomeTips & GuidesCigarette Lighter Wiring – A Detailed Guide

Cigarette Lighter Wiring – A Detailed Guide

About Cigarette Lighter Wiring, Research shows that modern vehicles have ports like USB that connect other devices to your car electronics. 

However, before 1996, you couldn’t find many old vehicles with modern ports but only cigarette lighter sockets. 

Although this socket’s main function was to light cigarettes, today, you can manipulate it to become a secondary power outlet.

 Let’s now discuss the cigarette lighter wiring process, how it works, and other functions it can perform.

What Is a Car Cigarette Lighter?

As the name suggests, the cigarette lighter comes with one socket in most vehicles and utilizes DC power to heat a lighter coil electrically. 

However, some high-end models have more than one socket, with one on the passenger’s seat. Over the years, manufacturers have advanced the cigarette lighter into an extra DC power connector for portable accessories. 

Therefore, if you have a good cigarette lighter adapter, you can power devices such as phone chargers, fans, etc.

 isolated car cigarette lighter

 isolated car cigarette lighter

How Does the Car Cigarette Lighter Work?

Typically, your vehicle’s cigarette lighter features three main parts. First, you have a cylindrical part known as the lighter body with a slim nickel-chromium alloy coil.

 When you connect the lighter, it draws DC power from the Car battery. This current flows through the lighter body to the coil, heating it in a way that it can light a cigar. 

From there, you have the second part, the cylindrical socket body, to connect the light to the power. Last, there is the housing that protects the above two parts from accidental unplugging or plugging damage.

What’s the Cigarette Lighter Voltage?

Expect a little over 12 volts when your engine is idle, and your battery is in good condition. Additionally, when the engine runs, the voltage can shoot up to 14.6 volts, just like other electrical components. 

However, note that you can only get power from some cigarette lighters when you ignite your engine with its key.

How to Install a Cigarette Lighter Plug

Let’s see how you can install a cigarette lighter into your car.

Checking if your Car has a Lighter Hole

You may find this hole on the dashboard but it’s usually blocked with a plug. All you need to do is remove the plug and fit your cigarette lighter. 

Interestingly, you will also find the necessary wiring to connect to your lighter.

 However, older vehicle models may not have this hole for a lighter. In such a case, you must drill yours on the dashboard and do the necessary wiring.

Choosing the Right Cigarette Lighter

As you may expect, several lighter choices appear in the market. Although there is little difference between them, ensure you choose the best one to suit your needs. 

In my experience, I recommend an in-built ring light around the lighter’s base. Such a light may help you, especially if fitting in a dark area like the back seat.

Find a Suitable position and Mark It.

Please ensure the fitting spot does not obstruct other accessories and functions. I recommend a central place on the dashboard for easy driver and passenger access. 

Once you have found a good spot, use masking tape to cover it to protect your car’s surface. 

Now, take a pair of compasses and mark a ring on the tape equal to your lighter diameter. You may also make the hole slightly smaller to get a snug fitting.

Drill a Fitting Hole

In this step, you need a drill and a small bit to drill a pilot hole at the center of the ring. Now, continue increasing the size of the bit gradually to widen the hole. 

If you don’t have a bigger bit, you may use a rat-tail file to achieve the desired hole size.

A cigarette lighter hole drilled on a dashboard

A cigarette lighter hole drilled on a dashboard

Fit the Sockets

After the hole is enough, clean it by removing the masking tape. Now disassemble the cigarette lighter to separate the lighter element, the casing, and the socket body. 

From there, slide the socket into the newly made hole starting from your dashboard front. Let it slide in until the trim ring (which should be under the socket head) seals the hole.

Secure the Socket

Work from behind the dashboard and insert a threaded ring or casing into the lighter socket. For the casing, you can use the provided screws to secure it t the socket body.

While in this step, ensure the casing-to-socket screwing is snug enough to prevent coming off, which can cause shortcircuiting.

Wire the Setup

Now, you are almost done with the hard part. All that remains is powering your new port. First, disconnect your battery to prevent electrocutions and accidental shortcircuiting.

 Then, connect a cable from the central terminal of the socket to your car’s permanent live feed. 

Ensure you connect a fuse to this wire to keep your connection safe. 

Now, use a grounding strap to connect the casing of the lighter to a convenient car body point for grounding. Finally, reconnect your battery cables and then test your cigarette lighter.

What Else Can You Use a Cigarette Lighter For?

As we established earlier, a cigarette lighter is a power outlet to which you can connect many devices. 

For example, you can connect USB adapters to charge devices and a 12-volt connector for dashcams, radios, and other accessories. 

You may also use a lighter socket to power devices such as smartphone chargers, Bluetooth adapters, portable AC, etc.

A cigarette lighter socket powering a phone

A cigarette lighter socket powering a phone

Wrap up

With my research and detailed steps, you can now easily install a cigarette lighter in your car. 

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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