How to Install a Cigarette Lighter Plug: Strip and Crimp 12 Volt Wire

How to Install a Cigarette Lighter Plug: Strip and Crimp 12 Volt Wire
Success breeds success! When you are done and yo can now plug 12 volt cigarette appliances into your house battery, you will want to do more!

Today I want to look at one of the simplest of all projects, but one that all of us should know how to do. The main value of this simple project is it will show you how to strip and crimp wire. Once you know how to do that a whole world of simple 12 volt projects open up to you. I know many of are already groaning to yourself that this is simply beyond your capacity so you are going to stop reading right now—PLEASE DON’T!!! At least give me a chance to change your mind. It is short, mostly pictures and won’t take long so just hear me out! There are lots of 12 volt appliances that come with cigarette lighter plugs so you should have one for your house batteries. If you don’t, this post will show you how.

You need to buy 4 things to make this project work:

  1. A cheap Stripping/Crimping tool from Walmart,
  2. A Roadpro Cigarette Lighter Outlet from a truck stop or from Amazon.com.
  3. Two 3/8 inch, 16/14 gauge Ring Connectors
  4. A house battery to connect it to.

This is the first thing you need, a simple receptacle to plug your cigarette lighter appliances into:

I bought this from  Walmart for less than $5 at the automotive section.

I bought this from
Walmart for less than $5 at the automotive section.

RoadPro 12-volt Auxiliary Power Port or Outlet From Amazon.com

The next thing you need is a stripper-crimper. This is a simple tool you can buy from the automotive section of Walmart for less than $5.

It does three things:

  1. Cuts Wires
  2. Strips the rubber cover off the end so you can get into the bare wire underneath.
  3. Crimps on connectors.

The pictures below will make that start to come clear.
 

 

 

All the 12 volt appliances you buy need to be connected to your battery to draw power. Fortunately many come with cigarette lighter plugs, so that is easy. But many others just come with two raw wires coming out of them, one positive and one negative. It’s up to us to find a way to connect them to the battery. To do that we are going to use connectors that we strip and crimp onto the bare wires coming out of the appliance.

The two connectors we will use most are butt and ring connectors. We will use a butt connector to connect two bare wires-usually to make them long, like an extension cord. Essentially a butt connector is the way we connect two wires together permanently as an extension cord. A Ring connector goes at the end of the wire and is how we connect an appliance to the battery. Most batteries come with posts that have nuts on them. All we have to do is take the nut off, slide the ring connector down over the post, and tighten the nut back on (photos of this below).

Here is a picture of some of the most commonly used connectors, including Ring and Butt Connectors. Our cigarette lighter plug-in came with 6 foot wires, so we don’t need a butt connector to make it longer. We just need ring connectors to attach it to the battery. You will notice that some ring connectors come with small rings and some with big rings. Since ours needs to go over the lug of your house battery (which is pretty big) we need the larger, 3/8 inch rings. You can buy them at Walmart as well. At the bottom of the post are links to packages of them from Amazon.com. 

So lets get started. The Roadpro comes with a 6 foot cord and for most of us that should be long enough.  12 volt electrical wire comes with strands of copper wire wrapped inside a rubber sheath. To get to the  copper wire we need to strip about 3/8 inch off the end of the rubber sheath:

 

Stripping the wire leaves the copper wire exposed.

Stripping the wire leaves the copper wire exposed.

Next I need to crimp on the ring connector to the bare end of the wire. So I slide the the bare metal into the end of the connector and use the crimping part of the tool to squeeze it down tightly on the connector. That squishes (yes, that is the technical term!!)  it down tightly on the wire so electricity flows freely through it. As you look at the pictures, you will notice a gap in the metal of the connector, you want to squeeze down squarely on it because it spreads the easiest.

The ring connectors after I crimped them on. Notice I squeezed down on the gap in the metal of the connector and it spread around the exposed copper wire. After you are done crimping, ALWAYS give the connector a good tug on the wire to see if it is held tightly by the connector.

The ring connectors after I crimped them on. Notice I squeezed down on the gap in the metal of the connector and it spread around the exposed copper wire. After you are done crimping, ALWAYS give the connector a good tug on the wire to see if it is held tightly by the connector.

 In this picture we see the crimping part of the tool at work:

You have now stripped and crimped a 12 volt outlet for your new house batteries. To finish the job you just use a pair of channel lock pliers to loosen and remove the nut on the battery, slide the ring connector down over the stud and re-tighten the nut.  

And that’s it!! You did this whole job in about 30 minutes and it made your life a lot better! 

The final step is to tak the nut off the lug, slip the ring connector over the lug, and tighten down the battery. Black is negative (-) and Red (althogh in this case it is more of an orange than r</a></p>
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The final step is to take the nut off the lug, slip the ring connector over the lug, and then put the nut back on and tighten it down. Black is negative (-) and Red (although in this case it is more of an orange than red) is (+).

Having done this project, it is very easy to use these simple skills and apply them to all kinds of things that will drastically improve your vandwelling life. I started out with a simple project like this one (but I couldn’t find anything like this post to teach me how) and it worked well. Then I bought an LED light fixture and used butt connectors to make the wire longer and a ring connector to attach it to the battery. Very easy!  My inverter  came with short cables so I used these skills to make a longer one out of heavier cables to move it further from my battery.

I just kept using these few simple skills to do more and more complex things. One day I realized that I had all the knowledge and skill I needed to install solar panels. All I had to do was strip and crimp wires coming form the solar panel to go into the solar controller. Then I had to strip one end of a wire to go into the solar controller and strip and crimp ring connectors to go onto the the battery (I also stripped and crimped a fuse onto the positive wire, but more about that another day!). My point is, once you have mastered stripping and crimping, the sky is the limit!

Here is the Roadpro Cigarette receptacle:
RoadPro 12-volt Auxiliary Power Port or Outlet

Here is a great little kit from Amazon.com that comes with the tool and a good assortment of connectors:

Neiko 175 Pieces Solderless Wire Terminal & Connection with Wire Stripper Crimper Tool

I use lots of ring connectors so I keep lots of them on hand. Here is a good deal on them from Amazon.com:

Install Bay Vinyl Terminal Ring Connector 16/14 Gauge 3/8 Inch 100 Pack Blue – BVRT38
Install Bay Vinyl Terminal Ring Connector 10/12 Gauge 3/8 Inch 100 Pack Yellow – YVRT38T

The cheap tools you buy at Walmart work okay, but I got tired of them and bought high quality Channel-Lock tools  from Amazon, and it made the job so much easier! But they are expensive and you have to buy three tools to do the three jobs. It was well worth it to me:
Channellock 908 Wiring-Stripping Tool

Bob
About

I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

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