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Old 02-03-2020, 15:35   #1
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Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

I have a Costway 54 quart electric cooler. The previous owner had it hooked up to a female cigarette lighter receptacle that became pretty hot.

The line was run directly from the battery to a spot approximately 12 feet away.

Based on my reading of Calder this wire should be a 14 gauge wire to keep the voltage drop less than 3%. So far so good. However the wire from the male end to the cooler is about 8 feet long and as near as I can guess its 16 gauge.

So my questions are this:

1) Does the gauge of the wire to the male connector sound about right?
2) Should the wires go directly to the battery for a refrigerator like that or to the panel with the other accessories
3) Should I shorten the wires on the Costway to reduce the drop in voltage caused by the smaller gauge wires from the end of male run to the actual unit.

Thanks as always.
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Old 02-03-2020, 15:48   #2
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

Cigarette lighter sockets are rubbish for anything drawing more than a handful of watts at the best of times. Upgrading the wire size or shortening the run will help but the fact it's the socket that's heating up tells you that the socket is a component of - if not the - problem. The modern approach, especially for a fridge, is to use a 50A anderson plug in place of the cigarette socket arrangement.
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Old 02-03-2020, 15:53   #3
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

I'll look up the anderson plug.

I suppose it would be helpful to say that the refrigerator is rated at 50 watts which by my imperfect math yields a 4 amp draw.
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Old 02-03-2020, 15:59   #4
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

There are smaller Anderson plugs, smaller in size and in price as well as ampacity. Worth a look for this application.

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Old 02-03-2020, 16:05   #5
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tmacmi View Post
I'll look up the anderson plug.

I suppose it would be helpful to say that the refrigerator is rated at 50 watts which by my imperfect math yields a 4 amp draw.

It will work, and many portable fridges are connected this way. In a marine environment though, the cigarette plug and socket has two pretty big disadvantages. The first being their tendency to develop bad connections with even light corrosion because it's hit or miss which parts contact what with a limited contact area to start with and, secondly, their tendency to unknowingly disconnect with even a slight bump (just what you don't want when running a fridge full of perishables!) because the plug and socket have no positive locking system incorporated into the design. Anderson plugs solve both these issues with self cleaning contacts and positive locking.
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Old 02-03-2020, 16:10   #6
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
There are smaller Anderson plugs, smaller in size and in price as well as ampacity. Worth a look for this application.

Jim

There is a 15A anderson plug, and sizes all between up to hundreds of amps, but the 50A is a pseudo standard of sorts, not being too bulky and having plenty of capacity. A lot of new gear now, including portable fridges, come standard with the 50A Anderson plugs in lieu of the old style cigar lighter plug. In fact I purchased a new portable fridge for the boat a couple of weeks ago and it was immediately obvious during the research phase that the there has been a shift to using the 50A Anderson connectors. Which, IMO, is a very good thing!
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Old 02-03-2020, 16:12   #7
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

Trolling motor or solar panel plugs.
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Old 03-03-2020, 07:49   #8
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

Ok, got it. Change both ends of the wiring to anderson plugs.

Next question: should it go to the panel? It currently goes to the battery.

I am not experienced with electrical systems and boat electrical in particular.

Here are some general questions:

When do you know if the wiring should go directly to the battery or to the panel? I get that that the bilge should go directly to the battery. What about other equipment?

When choosing the anderson plugs, I hear that the 50 amp plug is somewhat the standard, however what implications are there for running equipment that has 4 amp demand through a 50 am plug. Wouldn't that create a differential that causes a problem (voltage drop?)
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Old 03-03-2020, 08:26   #9
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

Tmacmi,

Recently finished doing all the 12v in my boat. Also have a portable fridge, little Chinese made Stakol which I bought off Amazon a year ago, still works. Wired in to the fuse panel with 12 gauge wire via a standard cigarette lighter plug. The only direct battery connections I have are the solar panel charge wires, the bilge, and the shore power charger wires. Everything going direct to the batteries have inline fuses. My understanding is one needs to limit direct battery connections and those connections need to be fused. Also, it never really hurts, other than cost, to bump up a wire size. Hope this helps. Be safe.
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Old 03-03-2020, 10:00   #10
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

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Originally Posted by Tmacmi View Post
Ok, got it. Change both ends of the wiring to anderson plugs.

Next question: should it go to the panel? It currently goes to the battery.

I am not experienced with electrical systems and boat electrical in particular.

Here are some general questions:

When do you know if the wiring should go directly to the battery or to the panel? I get that that the bilge should go directly to the battery. What about other equipment?

When choosing the anderson plugs, I hear that the 50 amp plug is somewhat the standard, however what implications are there for running equipment that has 4 amp demand through a 50 am plug. Wouldn't that create a differential that causes a problem (voltage drop?)
No there is no differential created and it won't cause a problem. There is just more contact material, which makes for a better connection and less resistance. Anderson connectors are Hermaphroditic and panel adapters are available

Anderson Power Pole Panel Adapter
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Old 03-03-2020, 10:53   #11
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

You've got some excellent advice here but I should add that you need to circuit protect the installation. This means running this to a breaker panel and installing the correct size breaker for the anticipated maximum load.
Please, please do NOT connect this directly to your battery, you would be without adequate protection and some really bad things can happen (like your boat catches fire and ruins your whole day). Recommend that you spring for Calders "Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual" and/or Charlie Wing's "Boatowners Illustrated Electrical Handbook".
One more thing, use the correct materials and tools: tinned wire, marine connectors, proper crimping tools.
Good Luck
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Old 03-03-2020, 11:31   #12
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

Being ignorant, I had to look up what an Anderson Plug was!

Nice Australian video about how to wire them up here: -
https://youtu.be/_hdNL2fFnq0
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Old 03-03-2020, 11:48   #13
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exctyengr View Post
You've got some excellent advice here but I should add that you need to circuit protect the installation. This means running this to a breaker panel and installing the correct size breaker for the anticipated maximum load.
Please, please do NOT connect this directly to your battery, you would be without adequate protection and some really bad things can happen (like your boat catches fire and ruins your whole day). Recommend that you spring for Calders "Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual" and/or Charlie Wing's "Boatowners Illustrated Electrical Handbook".
One more thing, use the correct materials and tools: tinned wire, marine connectors, proper crimping tools.
Good Luck
A simple fuse will do rated at the load needed , you are protecting your wire run not the unit., there is no need for Calders book unless you really need that much night time reading or re wiring a boat, simple google will give you amperage of wire needed for load and cable run,
Tinned wire if your certain there will be any moisture , normal wire is fine if in a dry place , I wonder how all our houses are not tinned.
marine connectors again is there going to be water present and I do not mean humidity, come on a good connector will be fine from any hardware store or car place if your wires are behind panelling etc, unless you are washing the inside of your boat.
One would expect there will not put some wire together with a spoon
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Old 03-03-2020, 12:39   #14
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

My Engel fridge and Alpicool freezer are both hardwired to the DC fuse panel and require the battery switch to be on. The battery switch is off when not onboard at the marina but both are connected to 110v then.
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Old 03-03-2020, 13:40   #15
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Re: Rewiring for cigarette lighter outlet

We recently went to Andersen connectors for a connection that we use to run the air pump for inflating our RIB (which we let the air out of for passages). It has made a huge difference. What it replaced were modified extension cord plugs for 240 v AC. I (the electrical dummy on our boat) was quite impressed. They're a little tricky to put together properly.

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