Monday, October 29, 2012

12 Volt Battery, Device Power Connection

When the grid power goes out for any length of time you’ll need a way to recharge your batteries for flashlights, radios, cell phones and even your laptop if you have a 12 volt plug for those devices. One of the ways I do this is by using a car battery with a 12 Volt Battery Power Connection. I have an old car battery that’s still good and I keep it on one of my Prepper shelves just for this use. You can also use your vehicles battery, lawn mower or motorcycle battery for the power source. With this connector you can also power a 12 volt DC to 110 volt AC inverter and have 110 volt power to run your 110v chargers, small TV or radios. Mine is a 150 watt model I bought at a truck stop for $35 about 8 years ago and it is now used full time with my solar panels giving me the 110 volt power I need for radios and a small flat panel TV. This connector is another inexpensive and great item to keep in your Prepper stocks.

If using your vehicles battery you may be thinking you’ll just plug your device into the lighters socket. The trouble with that is most lighter sockets require the ignition be switched to ‘accessories’. Doing this you may have other unintended power drains somewhere else in the vehicle, plus you have to leave your keys in the ignition while you’re charging the devices. To avoid leaving your keys in the ignition you’ll need a 12 volt socket (cigarette lighter socket) with short leads and alligator clips to connect directly to the vehicles battery, connect your device and close the hood.

The photo below is the connector I purchased from Radio Shack, P/N 270-040. It is of surprisingly good quality and rated for 10 amps. It is made by Enercell and called the “Accessory Outlet with Terminal Clamps”. The cost was under $10 and for that amount of money there’s hardly an excuse not to have one in your Prepper stocks.

This company also makes the plugs to fit this socket that are of the same good quality witch will allow you hook up and of your 12 volt powered devices directly into the socket and they also make a plug with two sockets pig tailed from that plug allowing you to run two 12 volt devices at the same time. I use both items because I have a dedicated 12 volt power-supply just for my mobile 12 volt CB and 12 volt Shortwave Ham radios that are used primarily indoors and using these connectors is how I easily connect 12 volt power from the dedicated power-supply to the radios.

In the package.

Out of the package.

Attached to the battery and ready to go to work!


  1. OK, I'm a confirmed mornon when it comes to anything electric. But what you're saying is that I can buy that doo-dad, hook it up to a car battery and plug in anything that would normally plug into the lighter socket in the car, right? Nothing will "surge" or "zap" or "overload"? So the next step is buy a 12-volt (i.e. the little round plug thing) adapter for whatever electronic devices I want to run, right?

    We have one of those adapters that plugs into the car lighter socket and the other end changes into a "regular" plug. Could I use that instead of getting new 12-volt plugs for my stuff?

  2. Carolyn,
    ‘Any’ 12 volt device with a 12 volt plug that you plug into a 12 volt socket will be fine. They are designed to run on 12 volts and the battery can not provide more than 12 volts so none will go ‘zap’ or be ‘overloaded’.

    The adapter you have now that plugs into a car lighter socket sounds like it has a built in inverter that changes the 12 volts into 110 volt household current. You can plug ‘small’ 110 volt devices into it like a flashlight battery charger, lamp, fan, radio, possibly a laptop etc. Send me a picture and I can probably tell you more.

  3. Good info as always! Thanks.


  4. After reading the Reponses I must add to them. It is mentioned running radio equipment particularly HAM radio equipment. You have to be aware that what ever 12 volt equipment you hook up to a 12 volt supply will have enough amperage to function correctly and not potentially damage your equipment. A very good example is the HAM Radio equipment. If you are running an HF rig then the most common output of HF transmitters is 100 watts PEP. This being said then the Walmart style cigarette lighter connections will not work as the wiring for them is too small and unable to carry the 16-20 amps of 12 Volt DC . When wiring a 12 volt piece of equipment it is mandatory to know the voltage and amperage requirements of the unit. Depending on the amperage requirement you may have to use a 10 or even 8 gauge wire to supply the 12 volts and the required amperage to operate your device, It is advisable to install a supply bank directly off the battery with a large enough wire to support all of your 12 volt equipment running at peak operation at the same time. You will then connect the proper size wire between the supply bank and the device. I hope this helps, just trying to save you a lot of head ache and ruined equipment. Most devices will have the amperage and voltage requirements listed in their installation manuals.

    1. Peter, you are correct and thank you for pointing this out. The intention of this battery connection is to run listening devices and even Ham to receive/listen. To broadcast you must follow the manufacturers wire gauge size. It something I do but forgot to post it within. Thanks, your comments are always welcome.