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Old 05-07-2012, 08:12   #1
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any better 12 volt outlets?

We just bought a 26 year old boat and sailed it home from Jacksonville to the Turks and Caicos Islands. What a trip. The lightning strike was one challenge we could have done without.

Learned a lot about the boat, and of course I am neck deep in repairs and modifications at the moment.

This boat has the 'cigar lighter' type dc outlets all over the place. Portable fans, spotlights, and all kinds of other stuff previous owner left aboard are equipped with these plugs. out of a dozen outlets and dc appliances, maybe two or three work and the problem invariably is this cigar lighter connector. I understand why they are popular, the receptacle mounts flush.

I hate the things. far too many parts, etc. I am looking for something to replace them all with. I was thinking of just plain old banana jacks, which have a lot of plusses ( no pun intended). You can easily and quickly wire them, you can unscrew the nuts and insert bare wires in the holes and re-tighten, and you can stack several things onto the same outlet. Big drawback is that the posts stick up and catch things, bend, break, short, etc.

Have any of you guys come up with something better than the cigar lighter jacks?
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:36   #2
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Personally, if I were going to replace all of my cigar-lighter types of sockets, I think I would do it with something like this...

Marinco DC ConncetPro 2-Wire Charging/Trolling System - iboats
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:48   #3
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Thank you, and yes, I looked at those, but have ruled them out. $ 34 a set, and I need a dozen sets, at least. And would have to buy another half dozen spare plugs at $16 each. And I think I'd like to avoid things that only have a single source. Fed Ex and import duties down here are killer.

Looks like a good design, though.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:56   #4
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Canibul,

Here's what I've used and they've lasted 20 years. The secret is to carefully wire the plug as constant use loosens the wires and they are difficult to put in the plug. Defender, $17.


Glad you got home safely.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:11   #5
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You might consider Anderson Powerpoles. Very popular in ham radio community. They have flush mount receptacles and splashproof receptacle/plug combos for these too. One source is www.powerwerx.com

Chip
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:32   #6
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Those look pretty good. I also found these:
Sea-Dog : Quality Marine, Industrial and Rigging Hardware

which have gotten my attention. A set is only $6 at Defender
http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?...9691&id=193087

and the receptacle could be used outside. Replacement plug is only $2.

Still looking, though.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:34   #7
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

The problem with not going with a standard is that it will remain the standard when you are not. So in the future, every thing that you buy that is 12 volts and less than 10 or 15 amps will probably have a cigarette lighter plug...which is a PITA to have to change out every time you buy something new.

I would try changing out all of your female cigarette lighter plugs with all stainless plugs with some silicon grease put over the contacts and wire terminals to stop the oxidation. Yes they are ugly, but then so are 120 volt outlets when you think about it.

You could also hard wire everything that does not need to be unplugged frequently.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:46   #8
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

As David said.

There's good reason to stick with the standard plugs, so all the standard gizmos fit in. If the plugs you have are junk, just replace them with better quality plugs. Same for the lighter plugs. Some have built-in fiuses, others don't. Some have one live contact spring, on one side only. Others have two and make better contact--and stay in place better.
And a little silicon grease or CRC contact spray will help prevent corrosion inside. Looked for tinned connections, not brass or pot metal. Once you find the good stuff, you'll appreciate why it is still used and why so much of the junk is simply junk.

For an alternative I'd also recommend Anderson PowerPoles because they make good contact and don't corrode. But they're still an oddball part in the wide world, and it is not easy to make a good crimp into them unless you also buy their special crimping tool. Still, if you really want to rip out the ciggy standards...
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:45   #9
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Standards are great. That's why there are so many of them.

The BMW Power Plugs (rebranded Powerlet plugs I think) are great. My HR came with them for all the fans. I do have three lighter plugs for compatibility but they all have loose connection issues. The BMW Power Plugs are completely reliable. I had them on my motorcycles for heated clothing and had similarly good experience.

Easily available in Europe and the US. Not sure about other places.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:11   #10
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Thanks for the opinions, but I've already made the decision to change the things to something that was designed to actually be a marine connector, and not a protected cigar lighter that was never intended to be anything other than that.

I will quite joyfully cut the useless things off and reterminate to something that was designed by someone who knew what they were doing.

The cigarette lighter things are about as bad a connector as you could come up with in the marine environment, and while you can buy expensive ones, you cannot buy good ones. I even replaced two in our Land Rovers with the best stainless ones I could find, and those failed too. Junk.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:28   #11
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Iīm slowly changing over to XLR connectors. Available pretty much everywhere, working well so far but itīs only been about a year. The lock helps. Plus a couple of adapters XLR back to cig lighter sockets for the inevitable bits. At least slowly now a lot of electronic stuff is going over to usb for charging, so you donīt need so many different ones.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:45   #12
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Yeah, those cigarrette lighter setups have been terrible for years. The good ones are better, but I dislike the whole over large design. Lots of things would work. Bannana plugs might be good, they have a good amount of surface contact area. XLR's are 3 wire, but are secure, although arent the wall mount sockets rather expensive? The sockets sold for electric trolling motors are excellent, but probably add up $ wise also...
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:48   #13
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Oh, I've used those in the past. I think we used to call them Cannon connectors. Very nice.

But at about $ 30 a set, that's more than I want to spend. I've just ordered a dozen sets of the Sea Dog's for less than $ 100. Hopefully, that'll do it. Can't be worse than the cigarette lighters.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:54   #14
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

Those are nice, didnt realize they are that cheap now! essentially a marinized bannana plug I guess.
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Old 06-07-2012, 06:26   #15
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Re: any better 12 volt outlets?

I’ve never been happy with the normally available 12VDC outlets (receptacles) - not the W.P. Bi-Pin Deck Connections (Perko1189 Series, Cole-HerseyM121-BP, SeaFit, & etc), and especially not the Lighter Socket type (commonly fitted to accessories).

For 12 Volt DC accessories, I use “Midget Twist-Lock Devices” (2 Pole, 2 Wire, Polarized, NEMA Code ML-1), such as the:

Hubbell #HBL7526C Flanged Receptacle (or Cooper #7468 etc.)
Standard Weather-Proof Coverplates are readily available available.
mated with the

Hubbell #HBL7545C Plug (male cord cap) (or Cooper #7467 etc.)
The series even has a female cord cap (to make an extension cord) #HBL7506C (or Cooper #7464N etc.)

Although these devices are intended for AC use (UL rated for 15A 125VAC - polarized), they are an excellent alternative to the conventional DC outlets.
They are rugged, corrosion resistant, easily installed, attractive, and best of all “Twist-Lock”.

Not normally available at Marine stores, these NEMA type "ML-1" Midget devices are available at any good Electrical (or Industrial) Distribution Supply house. Unfortunately, they're somewhat expensive.

I haven't used the "Trolling Motor" connectors (Marinco #20188R), which though 4-pole, are "Twistlok".
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