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12V accessory outlet - best quality?
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kguarnotta Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 1:48 pm    Post subject: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

My Vanagon has had 2 backlit accessory outlets (I used to call them cigarette lighter outlets)

They worked ok - it was nice that the ring around them lit up when I turned my lights on. They just started giving me issues again - they are kind of junky quality, and the lights don't always work. I want to replace them, but don't want to buy more junky quality.

Things I like about the ones I have - they are backlit, to disconnect, and they are threaded in to install.

Does anyone know who makes a good quality one? Is the Go-westy one nicely made?
https://gowesty.com/products/illuminated-lighter-assembly-2

It look like theirs's is a snap in model, and you just install once. But if you have to take them out - you need to sort of break them? Maybe that is a better system?

Also - should I give up on that 12V outlet and just go for the USB adapters - https://www.amazon.com/Outlet-Automatic-Laptop-Cha...&psc=1
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 1:57 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

I purchased the Blue Sea outlet.
They have a twisting locking feature.

Dave
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:08 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

ok- I know Blue Sea - I heard they make good quality stuff. But I don't see on that has a light on it. The only one I see that lights up when you turn your headlights on - is the go westy one.

Otherwise they have a switch on them - to light up and power up when you turn them on.

I like that the ones I currently have provide charging power as long as the engine is on, and light up as long as the headlights are on.

Then again - the more I think about it, I could probably forego lighting up when I turn headlights on - I just think that looks cool - but realistically - I basically leave my phone charger plugged in all the time, so I don't need to see that outlet when it is dark out.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:17 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure you can get one at a FLAPS that will light up with the headlights on, like this:

https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/BK_7821600?impressionRank=2
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:27 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

I would go with BlueSea - it's known good quality.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:44 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

That NAPA one looks like what I'm looking for - anyone know the quality?

And has anyone given up on these, and just gone the route of installing a USB outlet? Maybe that is more forward thinking, I'm just wondering if there is a reason not to just get the USB outlets...
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 3:11 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

I changed all mine to either Anderson Pole connectors or USB outlets. No more dodgy connections! This is not the cheapest option, but if you have quite a few 12V things to plug in (compressors, fridges, vacuum cleaners, whatever) then they make very good sense.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 3:32 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

So far- I basically just have cell phone chargers, or headset chargers, sometimes I charge a tablet - but that is pretty rare.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 3:52 pm    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

kguarnotta wrote:
should I give up on that 12V outlet and just go for the USB adapters?


Yes. When you hit the cig-lighter adapter wall, it’s “over”.
No need for a gangly mess of wires that flicker when you go over railroad tracks.
USB + USB-C + voltmeter in the Cig Lighter hole (how-to w/pics)

If you slide the passenger seat off the rails (much more difficult with a westy swivel Evil or Very Mad but possible), there's a great place to put a "legacy" cigarette lighter socket.
The socket would be behind the passenger's legs, the hole facing forward.
Near the top, almost to the seat.
Very easy access to the battery.
In the dash is no longer a good place, now the phones plug in there.
Put the cig-socket somewhere else.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

A 12v crock pot is a good reason to keep a legacy cig-lighter socket.
This is one of my favorite new toys.
You can stop at the supermarket and get a frozen lasagne, or a Chicken pot pie.
Put it in the crockpot (frozen), keep on truckin',
and in 45 mins or an hour you have a nice hot dinner.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 4:41 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

I have had the Blue seas outlet behind my passenger's seat for my 12v fridge or my XM radio. It's really great quality but it doesn't light up.

The outlets that I have purchased for other areas in the Westy have been mostly USB but have put in a few of the cig sockets too.
One that has the voltmeter and two USB ports color is blue, it looks really nice but if you put anywhere that can be seen while you are in bed, its going to be really bright.
I put one of these on the bench kick panel close to the slider, the light helps you find your shoes at night if you need to get out of the Westy.

The red receptacle's I feel are best on your eyes at night. You can clearly see them and the won't burn your eyes out of the sockets.
Hers's a pic of the red variety and you have several choices of colors if red is not to your liking.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I had already drilled the holes and installed the outlets and then GW came out with their fridge vent + portholes for the outlets.
I had wanted this for years but only saw the metal ones in European sites but not for sale.

USB outlet.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GF1CPV8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1

Cig Socket.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BT88WH5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1

Voltmeter + USB's.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FXH5ZZK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 4:51 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

Keep in mind as you put in USB sockets today that USB is rapidly changing protocol to the new USB-C.

It is no longer a rectangular plug but is now rounded.

Install a mix.

Dave
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 5:17 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

I love the idea of a warm blueberry pie upon reaching my destination (at least that is what that picture looks like). I never imagined hooking up a slow cooker to a lighter outlet in my van - I figured that would draw way too much, but never actually looked into it.

DAve - that is what I was wondering - then again a lot of these adaptors/charger things are only about $10-$20. I already have the 2 holes in my dash from a previous owner (or maybe one was originally there?)

I notice almost all of these outlets just have two electrical connectors - so they lighting part of it is not wired with the interior lights (which is a feature I like, but is not really necessary)

I think I may just go with one of these - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08SQCBC2C/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?smid=A3IBRCMNGJUPVG&psc=1

It has USB A and USB C. I think if I got the one with a switch - I'm sure I'd forget to turn it on (and not charge my phone) or forget to turn it off (and kill my battery). This one is simpler - no light, but I can live with that.

I like the suggestions of alternate locations - and that is on my list of upgrades - but for now, I just want to get my phone charger working, and the hole in my dash plugged...

thanks for the feedback.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 5:29 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

When I redid my 86 "weekender" I installed several lighter sockets at the rear seat locations.
I then got adapters to USB for them.
This worked out great for travel with the Grandkids and their various electronics that seem to always need charging.

I at that time saw the lighter socket to be more versatile, you could keep up with future changes simply buy purchasing new adapter plugs.

I'm not clear why one needs lit outlets. My PO put in a USB plug in place of the stock lighter on my 90, I find the constant glow annoying.
Rarely am I ever in a location that it is SO DARK with no ambient lighting at all.
Besides, just by instinct and feel, I know where things are inside the Van.

Dave
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 7:22 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

djkeev wrote:
When I redid my 86 "weekender" I installed several lighter sockets at the rear seat locations.
I then got adapters to USB for them.
This worked out great for travel with the Grandkids and their various electronics that seem to always need charging.

I at that time saw the lighter socket to be more versatile, you could keep up with future changes simply buy purchasing new adapter plugs.

I'm not clear why one needs lit outlets. My PO put in a USB plug in place of the stock lighter on my 90, I find the constant glow annoying.
Rarely am I ever in a location that it is SO DARK with no ambient lighting at all.
Besides, just by instinct and feel, I know where things are inside the Van.

Dave
I just bought a ‘lighter adapter’ that has both USB A and C ports on it for the very reason you mentioned Dave, the cords ‘are a changing’… Wink Wink
It’s easier than swapping our existing USB A ports out for now to have have a new dedicated C port.
The only thing I would add about that NAPA outlet that’s linked, make sure the access to that probable tiny incandescent bulb is easy to do. You”ll be changing it at some point sooner than later if you can’t put an LED bulb in its place during installation.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 7:36 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

Hey sodo - I understand this is off topic - but what kind of slow cooker/crock pot did you get?

When I looked online - I only found one by Roadpro that did not get very good reviews...
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 7:49 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

Three types. Anderson Powerpoles all around for high current devices like electric blankets and the fridge. Plus two of the old style cig lighter sockets for legacy devices. Plus barrel socket 2.1 x 5.5mm outlets for low current like lighting. Several have remote control switches which is pretty convenient.

NOTE on PowerPoles: do NOT fall for cheap imitations sold on eBay, they may not be cross compatible with the real thing!
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 8:03 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

Blue seas. Marine quality. Lifetime warranty. Especially on USB charging. Yeah we are converting to USB C but there are USB A to USB C cables.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 9:11 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

Blue Sea dual USB socket in the dash.

Blue Sea dual USB socket in the kitchen near the drawer (replaced a PO's 12V socket).

Uniwerks 12V socket and lighted USB socket (switched) in the back (replaced fridge vent).

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I've only used the 12V socket once since installing it. About 99% of my electronics use USB cords (GPS, phone, tablet, two-way radios, etc.).
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 9:51 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

I just added a couple of these to my Amazon list. I like that I could use it to charge my computer without needing to haul around power converters.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZYWVHBM/?coliid=I1V54..._lig_dp_it

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 10:01 am    Post subject: Re: 12V accessory outlet - best quality? Reply with quote

On plugging the hole in the dash, it couldn't be easier. $14 and crimp two spade terminals and it plugs right into your OEM socket. We're talking 10 minutes install. They are fairly easy to upgrade later, or if the $14 unit doesn't last.

SOME of them require that you enlarge the dash hole a little and some do not. Amazingly, many of the sellers are secretive about the "hole size", providing all other dimensions, so it looks complete, but omitting the hole size. The USB socket I used here was same-size as your OEM cig-lighter hole (1 1/8" or 1.12" or 28mm).

If you choose a higher power unit (like 48watt or 60 watt) I think you should choose an aluminum-bodied unit so it can cool by conducting heat to the metal dash.
But if just charging a phone, 30 watts is currently considered fast-charge!
Fast-charge is real handy those times when you 'need it'.

I'd go with the switch so you can turn it off. When camping, if you are enjoying the 'real dark' you will find the LED to be 'real friggin' bright'. I found the little plastic snap-on cover to be 'in the way' too often and cut it off. You will learn within a couple cycles that when the light is on, it's gonna charge. and when the light was off, it didn't. I like to have at least one of the sockets have a voltmeter.

kguarnotta wrote:
I love the idea of a warm blueberry pie upon reaching my destination

The one I got is 60 watts, it's about the same as one headlight bulb. I've seen 40 watt units too. I think 60 is just right. 45 minutes from frozen to lightly sizzling is no time at all during a roadtrip. It fills the van with "aroma". Blueberry pie, is a pleasant aroma. To me, the aroma of Lasagna was pleasant when I was hungry. Heavy garlic can be risky, and I'm prob not gonna test warming fish.

The crockpot was $33 on Amazon here (now $26) It's ultra-cheapo and one of the four plastic latches has broken, but it still works just fine. You can remove the stainless tub to wash it. I can't complain for this intro to 'the roadtrippin' method' (that long-distance truckers have known for years). I'm so happy with "the method" and 60watts, I'd like to find a high quality unit.

Search "12v lunchbox" or "12v oven". There are several that are a hot-plate that heats "your own casserole dish" which could be a better method because you can use glass casserole dishes from home. And perhaps prepare entres, freeze, and put them in the van fridge. But the total cost is less than one 2022 restaurant meal, it's not an expenditure to fuss about. Unless it fails mid-trip and leaves you wanting. We also got a 12v kettle (for water) to boil water for tea while driving, that's been nice too. Now all we need is another roadtrip.

Anyway, that's a reason to retain a legacy cig-lighter socket.
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