Cigarette Lighter Socket

The cigarette lighter socket has been a component that’s incorporated into vehicle’s designs for over eighty years. Over time the design has been modified but its functions have not. The cigarette lighter socket, also referred to as the cigar lighter receptacle, was created as a heat source to light cigars originally. This is the reason why it’s designed larger than a normal cigarette lighter would be. However, the cigarette lighter socket is used for many reasons.

Functions of the Cigarette Lighter Socket
Besides using the cigarette lighter socket for lighting your cigarettes or cigars, the socket can also power electronics in your vehicle. It wasn’t originally designed to provide power to anything, and was solely a lighter, but now it’s a common way to power various devices. There are a limited amount of devices that can be powered by a cigarette lighter socket, but most portable devices that you would want access to could be used in your vehicle.

The list of devices that can be powered by the cigarette lighter socket includes: a laptop, portable DVD player, MP3 players or iPods, cell phones, and many other electronics. The main variable of whether you can charge or power a specific electronic device in your vehicle would be the wattage information. Some devices can be plugged directly into the cigarette lighter socket, while others may need an inverter. The plug-in inverter gives you the opportunity to use the cigarette lighter socket to power much more power demanding devices.

Devices That Can Be Powered
The devices you can power in your vehicle with the cigarette lighter socket will depend on the specifics of the socket. Electronic devices that don’t require much power to work properly don’t rely on a high voltage supply. If you’re powering a low power electronic device then you will be able to use most cigarette sockets even if the voltage output is low. There are also some converters that can be purchased which allow you to select a specific voltage output so you can manage high power devices if necessary.

How the Cigarette Lighter Works
The cigarette lighter in your vehicle is basically just a cylinder with a coil made of nickel-chromium resistance wire that receives 15-20 amps of current once activated. The cigarette lighter is activated when you push the handle in to the socket. Once the lighter is pushed into the socket, it will push in a spring which hooks in place and is attached to a bi-metallic stripe which is responsible for converting the temperature. The heat source will turn bright orange in a few moments and the heat will cause the bi-metallic strip to push the cigarette lighter back out, then it’s ready to be used.

Cigarette lighters are not as common of an accessory in vehicles as they were in the past since people are generally becoming less interested in smoking, especially in their vehicles. Now, it’s likely that if you buy a new car it won’t include a cigarette lighter. However, the cigarette sockets are still a valuable part of the vehicle and are always fit into the design since they can be used to power so many helpful devices.

Problems with the Cigarette Lighter Socket
Even though this may seem like a small accessory that shouldn’t ever have problems, there are still a few things to watch out for. Generally you won’t have any issues with your cigarette lighter socket, but if you’re driving an older vehicle, it’s definitely a possibility. The first issue that should be noted would be the possibility of the socket being designed with an irregular size that isn’t capable of powering the devices. Keep in mind that these sockets were originally designed for lighting cigars, so they’re not really customized for electronic devices.

It’s also possible that the cigarette lighter socket might not be capable of powering anything, and over a long period of time it could cause some issues such as melting plugs. The cigarette lighter socket may also vibrate out of place even when driving in normal conditions. As you can see, these are rather minor issues but can be stressful if they cause damage to your vehicle or devices you have plugged into the socket.

If you ever find an issue with your cigarette lighter socket, replacing it will be inexpensive. If you’re looking to keep everything in an older vehicle in good working condition, it might be beneficial to just install a new cigarette lighter socket if you plan on using it to supply power.



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