The Don Rowe Blog

Cigarette Lighter Adapters – The Plug-N-Play Of The Inverter World

posted by Patrick Fallon

Wagan Tech Inverter

What can be more simple and convenient than plugging an inverter into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter? When it comes to convenience and ease-of-use, I am all in. Be aware that these benefits come with limitations though.

Cigarette lighters, sometimes called power ports, are installed using small gauge wire by the vehicle’s manufacturer. To protect this thin wire a 10-15 amp fuse is typically installed inline. As a result, you are only able to get about 120-180 watts worth of power from the cigarette lighter before you blow the inline fuse.

Why do 200-400 watt inverters come with a cigarette lighter adapter then?

The reason is to give you options. Inverters in the 200-400 watt size range allow you use the cigarette lighter adapter, with limitations, or to use a heavier wire directly connected to the battery for full output capabilities.

Why not just increase the fuse size of the cigarette lighter?

This is strongly discouraged as the cigarette lighter adapter fuse was properly sized for the gauge and length of wire installed by the manufacturer. Using a larger than recommended fuse size could result in damage to the vehicle’s wiring.

What happens if you pull too much power while using your 300 watt inverter through the cigarette lighter?

If you attempt to overload your cigarette lighter you will blow the inline fuse. Fortunately, replacement fuses are inexpensive and easy to replace. Just be sure to replace it with the same size fuse.

Here is an expert tip. If you can’t get your inverter to turn on when plugged into your cigarette lighter, check the cigarette lighter adapter. Some inverter manufacturers install a fuse in the adapter itself for additional protection. You can check for a fuse by unscrewing the tip of the included adapter.

These preinstalled cigarette lighters in our vehicles can be a great asset when using an inverter. Just keep in mind the potential limitations and you will be fully prepared for your next trip.

Need help determining whether the use of one of these adapters is a good fit for your application? Then contact us at 800-367-3019 or email me at

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