New 12 Volt Outlets for the Cabin

By , April 11, 2013

We have found a set of 12 volt outlets to be very useful in our off-the-grid cabin. While we have an inverter to provide our AC power needs, there’s little sense in stepping our DC power up to AC, then stepping it back down to DC to charge our computers, cell phones and other electronics. Most of these can be powered with 12 volt “cigarette lighter” chargers plugged into a 12 volt socket.

We’ve gotten by for a while with a 3-outlet bank that I picked up at a garage sale sometime in the past. However, it has proven unreliable. One of the cylinders cracked. Even with a binding of electrical tape, it held the plugs poorly. One of them shorted out and melted the housing. I fixed it, but never fully trusted it again. For all practical purposes, the bank has been reduced to one reliable outlet for a few months now.12VoltPlugs

I recently upgraded to a new set of outlets. This was simple: I merely purchased a socket extender for a car cigarette lighter, and modified it to our needs.

I got a set of 4 sockets, each with its own cover. One of the 3 is heat-shielded to take a car cigarette lighter (I doubt we’ll ever need that, but one never knows). There’s even a USB outlet on the other side of the unit.

I clipped the socket end off the cord, and tied it into the positive/negative wires I’d run from the battery bank to the area where we used the old plugs. The unit is fused in the plug, so I tied in another fuse to the positive line at the outlets. We now have 4 reliable outlets in a much nicer unit, and have been enjoying the benefits of it ever since.

5 Responses to “New 12 Volt Outlets for the Cabin”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    While setting in the storm shelter last night cranking on my dynamo driven weather radio waiting out the tornadoes I got to thinking a solar panel with a battery backup might be a solution to providing some low level lite and power. LEDs work, but that was just something to think about while listening to the wind and rain. All in all 15 houses, a church, a barn and a 18 wheeler were destroyed.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Linn, we used to live in northern Texas. Two kids from earthquake country found tornadoes very frightening. We used to go down to our apartment’s storm shelter during warnings, where we only had to share space with one or two other non-Texans. Our neighbors were very matter-of-fact about tornadoes, but asked us how we could bear living in the earthquake zone.

  3. Linn Hartman says:

    We lived two years in Allen just north of Plano in the mid 80’s. Everyone needs to live in Texas at least once. We saw the economics when things were going gangbusters and saw them when things started down. When my old boss from Mississippi called and wanted to know if I wanted to come back it did not take long to pack.

  4. Charity says:

    Mark, You make it all sound so simple!

  5. Mark Zeiger says:

    That, my dear, is because I write the blog! Ask me sometime, and I’ll confess the stupid mistakes I made along the way that you might want to avoid when you get around to improving your homestead’s system.

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