This article was first published in 2008.
Here’s a really easy project that is also very
useful – no matter what car you drive.
These days, plenty of cars have extra accessory
power outlets. They might be located in the back (eg the boot or the load area
of a wagon) or they might be in the centre console. You can plug in phones, an
accessory air compressor, fluoro lights – you name it. They’re also good when
camping to run lights or a portable fridge. And they’re much safer than using
alligator clips to connect directly to the battery or running some half-baked
wiring around the car.
And here’s the best part – adding a power socket
to your car is dead-easy.
What You Need
The most important part is the power socket. While
you could use any old cigarette lighter socket, it’s much neater to use a socket
designed for use as an external power socket. This one came from the wreckers
for just a few dollars.
In addition you’ll need a fuse holder and
appropriate fuse (10 amps if the outlet is rated for 120W), and spade and eye
terminals. You’ll also need some cable and a small piece of metal to make the
bracket on which the outlet mounts (I used an off-cut of aluminium).
Decide where you’re going to mount the power
outlet. Keep in mind that there needs to be clearance behind and in front of it.
Cut a hole in a bracket to suit the power outlet – this one clicked into place
in the right sized hole and its security was aided with some silicone sealant.
Make more holes to allow the bracket to be bolted in place.
Test fit the power outlet – this one was placed
under the bonnet near the battery. Its primary purpose will be to power camping
Remove the power outlet from the bracket and then
make a wiring loom to suit. At this stage leave out the fuse. We suggest the
wiring run right to the battery. Place the fuse holder close to the positive
terminal of the battery and solder or crimp all the connections. The positive
from the battery goes to the tip connector of the power outlet, and the other
connection goes to the negative of the battery.
To neaten and help weatherproof the loom, we
wrapped it in black insulating tape.
The power outlet was then reinstalled and the
leads run to the battery, with the eye terminals easily bolted to each battery
post. The final step is to insert the fuse and then test you have power
available at the socket.
Here’s the finished product.
There’s nothing to stop you running multiple
outlets (just wire them in parallel) - you can be sure that they’ll prove very
useful during your ownership of the car.