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Full Version: 12 volt gadgets that won't fry my 12 volt outlet
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Hi there all you wonderful and helpful people. I hope I'm asking this in the right forum. I am looking for a way to make a cup of coffee in my van and all the kettles have reviews that say it fried their 12 volt socket. Same with 12 volt pans. I will have a Jackery 1000 but it will likely be running my fan or dometic cfx18 fridge, so may want to use one of the several 12 volt outlets in my Transit Connect. It happens to some people and others are fine. I know there is regulated and unregulated 12 volt because the Jackery 1000 has regulated and the 500 does not. But not sure what that means for these products or my car outlets. Thank you in advance if you have any tips on products that work well for you or other information. Sorry forgot to say don't want to use gas. Can plug 110 into my Jackery if low wattage.
Cigarette lighter sockets were invented and began to appear in cars in the 1920s.  The cigarette lighter gets pushed in, gets hot, and the socket pops it out.  If it is jammed and can't pop out the socket protects the car from a fire by causing an open circuit.  There are two ways to do this.  One way (I've seen it in Fords) is the socket senses the heat and causes a short circuit blowing the fuse.  When it cools down the short goes away.  The other way (I've seen it in GMs) is to have a fuse like wire in the socket that is exposed to the heat and melts when there is too much current or too much heat. 

The point of the socket is to pop out and provide fire protection.  When you plug a fridge into a cigarette lighter socket the friction holding it in is not much.  It can pop out from vibration.  As it gets loose the contact between the center of the plug and the center of the socket will have resistance.  The 3 or 6 amps the fridge needs isn't enough to overload the circuit and blow the fuse.  It is enough to generate significant heat with the center contact being loose.  That heat can trigger the socket protection mechanism. 

Power sockets that do not work with cigarette lighters but still work with center contact plugs usually don't have a protection mechanism.  Often the fuse located in the tip of the plug will get hot enough to blow even though the current isn't too high.  The heat from resistance of the bad contact melts the fuse wire. 

Bottom line, it's the socket not the kettle.  I use a 2 burner propane camp stove to heat the water and and an Aeropress to make the coffee.  I got the 2 burner stove because it is low, flat, wide, and very stable.  The butane and propane singles seem to me to be tippy and likely to heat the fuel supply.
Most all of the sockets will eventually fail. The reason most use an isolated second house battery is to insure they will be able to start their vehicle but also so they can hard wire or install heavy duty connectors with heavier wire to insure every thing works without destroying the wiring in their vehicles. Marine applications offer many 12 components that are much higher quality in many cases that can be used in a vehicle as well.
This has been covered, talked about, and has the typical run of argument. I hard wire appliances. If i can't I use these.
x2 Weight. either hardwire or run a quality socket like Weight posted. highdesertranger
Although the world is filled with heat-producing electrical appliances, electricity is an inefficient way to produce heat. The heat is generated by trying to push or draw electricity through a circuit that resists having electricity passed through it. When you have a device that plugs into a cigarette lighter type connection, you usually create another spot that can't handle all the power passing through, so it heats up and eventually fails.

If all you want to do is make some coffee, it's probably simpler and easier to use something like a small backpacking stove.
Here is what is going on. Older cars had cigarette lighters in them which had a rapid heating element in it and the wiring and the sockets were made to handle that larger electrical load. But the newer vechicles have done away with the heated cigarette lighting element so now the sockets and wiring are only sized for doing the task of charging cell phones or running a gps unit or perhaps a backup camera. They now call what used to be a cigarette lighter plug an "accessory port".

So the answer is if you try to run a product with a heating element with your accessory plug that is built into your vehicle you will not be able to do so without causing damage because the accessory plug wiring and the socket are not designed to handle that much current.

If you can't do your own wiring you can hire an auto electric repair shop to do the wiring for putting in an plug socket that can handle more current than the accessory plugs that came in your vehicle. But do listen to what they have to say about what you can use it for and what you should not do with it.