LAST UPDATED: March 2, 2021
The Best Cigarette Lighter Sockets (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Keep that phone charged, lighters lighting, and tires inflated with these sockets
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PUBLISHED ON March 2, 2021
Every car needs a cigarette lighter socket. But not for lighting cigarettes; cigarettes are bad. Calling it a "12-volt power socket" is far more suitable, considering that's really what it offers you. It's a handy port that allows you to tap right into the vehicle's battery power to provide power to miscellaneous items. Your USB car charger, tire inflator, GPS, and more all rely on this energy source. Sure, you might not use it all of the time, but it can make a big difference. It's not all that expensive, and you have us to help you decide which is the best for your car.
OE replacement cigarette lighter socket. This unit fits directly in place of the factory unit, providing the simplest installation and best fit and finish.
- Superior fit and finish
- Easy to install
- Decent price point
- Included tool is difficult to use
Universal cigarette lighter socket designed to offer extended reach. This option is ideal for adding 12-volt ports to vehicles without and powering accessories like a dashcam.
- Great price point
- Offers extended reach
- Dangles around when not in use
- Loose-fitting socket
Multi-purpose unit featuring two 12-volt ports. This setup has one standard 12-volt port and one with dual USB ports. The included power switch works to prevent power drains and shorts.
- Frees ports for multiple uses
- Built-in safety
- Good quality
- Premium price point
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Cigarette Lighter Socket
- Access to 12V power. The primary benefit of a cigarette lighter socket is that it gives you the ability to tap into the vehicle’s existing energy source to miscellaneous power equipment.
- Preserve resale value. Keeping up with basic maintenance is essential to preserving the value of the car. If any of the ports need replacing in your vehicle, you should do so because of this factor.
- Custom look. 12-volt power sockets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It may not be a primary reason to buy one, but that gives you the option to use one to compliment the look you’re working to achieve.
Types of Cigarette Lighter Sockets
An OE replacement is precisely that. It’s designed to match the factory unit and simply pop in place of it. On modern vehicles, this is a highly desirable option for two reasons. The first being that they will fit right into the dash or surface the original exists on with no modification. The second reason being that pigtail connectors are used to power this outlet. While a universal unit is simple enough to hook up, not having to splice into connections and find, good grounding points are certainly worth avoiding.
As you would expect, a universal type will work with anything. Even if versatile models do not simply pop into the place of a factory option, or lack thereof, they are still relatively simple to install. However, the features and design determine the extent of the work you will need to perform. Single outlets are very popular, but panels including multiple sockets and other accessories exist.
Since 1918, Dorman has been a leading supplier of factory replacement components for vehicles. But rather than producing the same part, they always strive to make the necessary design improvements. The company works out of Colmar, Pennsylvania, and happens to take our top pick with the Dorman 56457 Cigarette Lighter Socket and Removal Tool.
CHGeek is a producer of premium smartphone accessories. The company’s offerings range from cellphone cases to wireless chargers. It might not come as a surprise that the brand is also responsible for developing some unique automotive car charging systems like the CHGeek Store Dual QC3.0 Cigarette Lighter Socket Splitter, our pick for Best Premium.
Cigarette Lighter Socket Pricing
- $10-$15: Most single sockets, including OE replacements, exist within this price range. Cost effect splitter or dual-socket systems can also appear within it.
- $15-$20: Premium brand splitters and multi-purpose setups draw in a slightly higher price point. While they rarely extend beyond the $20 mark, they certainly exist.
You want to spend your money on a high-quality cigarette lighter socket. After all, you are tapping into the vehicle’s electrical system, and you want to make sure it’s not going to short out on you. You also should make sure that the socket offers a decent fit and finish so that you don’t have to worry about a loose connection in the actual socket itself.
Keeping dust and debris out is something you need to make sure of with any electrical port. Build-up is a sure-fire way to cause a range of headaches. A built-in cover is the best way to keep the socket safe. When it’s not in use, you simply plug it up. These covers are also necessary for keeping water out if you’re looking to use the socket on a 12-volt or marine application.
- Multiple Ports. If you’re building a custom interior or are merely adding ports where they hadn’t existed before, you should consider a setup that features multiple ports. Many of these outlet systems feature a socket specifically for charging through USB chords and another to power various devices. This kind of layout can be extremely convenient as you can spend less time balancing which devices are more important at a given time.
Best Cigarette Lighter Sockets Reviews & Recommendations 2021
We are starting our list with an entry from Dorman. If you are not familiar with the name, you should know that they focus on producing replacement parts that either match, if not succeed, the quality of the original equipment. That does mean this option is intended for specific makes and models. To be specific, this socket fits GM models years ranging from 1997 to 2019. And while it may very well work for your vehicle, this can still be viewed as a representation of what is available to you if it is not a direct fit. This set includes a singular socket that will pop right in place of a faulty unit. It also comes with a removal tool that works to help you get the job done as quickly as possible. It truly is the best available option for a faulty unit's direct replacement.
What can be the problem with a replacement part that closely matches the original equipment's quality? The tool comes with. While it certainly shines in many circumstances, it's not always necessary and can even get itself lodged onto the socket.
If an accessory relies on corded power, you are at the mercy of the cable’s length. No matter how great a device is, it’s not worth it is salt if it can’t reach the area you need it to. This option is a fantastic solution to that exact issue. It’s a cigarette lighter socket with extended cords that offer you that extra reach. If you’re running a dashcam or a GPS on a motorcycle, you’ll want to consider this option to limit the need to make unsightly splices just to get up and running. Of course, we have to mention the fact that, despite being such a functional design, it’s competitively priced.
The major drawback to this option is that it doesn’t mount to the dash or any other surface. That means when it’s not in use, it can be unsightly. It’s also worth mentioning that many users claim the socket has a relatively loose fit, which is a major headache to deal with due to the design.
Who says 12-volt sockets need to be boring? Nobody. Especially not folks who understand all they have to offer a vehicle owner. The problem with a singular socket is that it can only do a single thing at once. Considering your 12v port is useful for so many things for the driver and passengers, it’s worth considering a model with a little more capability. This particular option does exactly that. It does offer a single port, but it pairs that with access to an additional USB charging port with two ports to plug phones into. That’s perfect for keeping the driver and passenger from having to cut down on tweets or road trip tunes. Another feature is the power button that allows you to cut power to this source whenever necessary.
And while it’s undoubtedly one of the better looking and most useful option, that price tag is much higher than most other options. However, it’s still a very affordable upgrade any car owner could appreciate.
We’ll come right out and say that the low price is a significant part of why our pick for the best splitter goes to this particular entry. After all, it’s about the same price as a single outlet but much more capable. Rather than having one port to work with, you have a separate port specifically for charging up your phone and other USB-dependent devices. Beyond that, it’s an excellent option for quick custom jobs and offers a nice fit and finish. We would also like to highlight the fact that the wiring comes with built-in fuse housings. Of course, you should always have some sort of fail-safe in place when dealing with electrical components, so it’s nice that it’s already there for you. Bonus tip: if you want a splitter without having to replace your factory ports, you should check out our guide to cigarette lighter splitters.
That said, this entry is not perfect. Despite what it offers at a low price, there are some things to be aware of. Most concerning is the fact that the USB ports tend to burn up quickly, meaning replacement of the entire unit is necessary.
12-volt sockets are limited to use in sealed-off environments where elements aren’t a threat. Off-road vehicles and marine vehicles are subjected to water, which will wreak havoc on any electrical components it can. In particular, this socket is resistant to moisture and is an ideal solution to the above applications and more. The body contrasts with durable plastic and is combined with an integrated cover to keep water and other contaminants out. An excellent detail about this option is that the system also features fuses within the wiring. If anything does happen and a short is created, the fuse will blow rather than starting an electrical fire.
The problem with this unit is that the socket doesn’t offer an exceptionally tight fit. For stationary items within, that’s not much of an issue. However, vibrations and slight movements may interrupt the power supply.
Owners of modern vehicles can attest to the fact that 12-volt power sources are present in multiple places throughout their truck. Of course, it’s easy to focus only on what’s immediately available to the driver, but the passenger seating and rear hatch should all have power sources available to them. If you’re looking to add a few auxiliary power ports, this is the option for you. It includes not one but three individual 12-volt sockets. Even if passengers aren’t a concern, this option still gives you additional reach for essential tools, such as tire inflators, when performing repairs at all corners of the vehicle. We should mention that each port also comes with fuses to help prevent the risks electrical shorts can create.
It is hard to find flaws with simple offerings such as this. However, the problem with these is that the sockets provide a loose fit. It’s not enough to impede their purpose but can be a headache to deal with.
It’s time we shake things up a little. This entry probably doesn’t fit the mold of what you think of when we bring up 12-volt sockets. It does, however, serve a distinct purpose the others may not. If you don’t have enough cable to access ports within the vehicle or only have a battery at your disposal, this system allows you to tap directly into that 12-volt power source. Instead of mounting inside the car, this port fastens directly to the battery. While that might sound redundant, it can provide you with the reach you need to service a remote part of the vehicle or other car if necessary. And for safety purposes, it does include a built-in fuse, which is a big plus when linking directly to a battery.
This is a tool and nothing more. That said, it only serves a specific purpose and isn’t very useful otherwise. That isn’t a problem, but considering the limited use of such an item, it is worth considering.
Yes, this is yet another single-outlet option. But it separates itself from the others by featuring an integrated faceplate that allows you to mount it anywhere in the vehicle and create an almost OE feel. That’s right; you don’t need to rely on placing this in existing holes or drilling a hole somewhere to create an awkward feel. We should state you do have the option to ditch the square bracketry if necessary. The fact that the price is for two also works in your favor by increasing the value and how useful of an option it is. Other than that, it’s a run of the mill offering that closely represents everything else we’ve highlighted so far. And yes, the wiring included does feature a built-in fuse to improve safety in the case of a failure.
The problem with this option is that it suffers from the same issue many others do. That being a loose-fitting socket. The risk of an interruption of a power supply is always worth being aware of.
This entry is probably the most useful by design. For one, it serves three purposes. The first two are pretty standard. This unit features a typical 12-volt socket and a dual USB port for charging phones and other devices. While that’s enough for most, it’s not all this unit does. The other feature is the built-in voltage monitor that gives you a live reading of the current detected while charging. That can go a long way when protecting whatever you plug into your vehicle is of concern. Furthermore, the built-in power switch allows you to disconnect the system entirely in case of an issue or if it’s simply not needed for the time being. We should also note that it looks excellent, ensuring it won’t stand out too bad in any vehicle.
Speaking of looks, there’s no getting around this panel's size. A significant amount of space needs to be sacrificed to put it in place in any case. That factor will break the deal for many consumers.
Our final entry is from NOCO. If you know anything about the brand, you know innovative products backed by exceptional quality is its specialty. That said, this is no exception. Every part of this device is pretty much over-engineered. That means it’s going to last a very long time and deliver the performance you need it to every step of the way. But this isn’t a typical 12-volt socket. Instead of mounting inside the vehicle, it links directly to the battery. The purpose that serves is specific to scenarios where the device you need won’t reach the vehicle's power supplies. Allowing you to tap directly into the battery effectively extends your reach.
Of course, the drawback to this setup is the limited use. Again, these devices are tools with a particular purpose in mind. They are nothing more than a couple of wires and a socket outside of specific circumstances.
- In the case that you are replacing the factory port, you should always try to find an OE replacement first due to a superior fit and finish.
- You’re always better off investing in the best electrical components possible. It is the best way to ensure proper function and reduce any potential risks.
- Considering you are investing in new power ports, you might s well consider setting yourself up with some new equipment like heated car blankets and power inverters.
- Power ports aren’t limited to vehicles with four wheels. If you prefer two, check out our guide to motorcycle USB chargers.
Q: Which is the positive on a cigarette lighter socket?
The wires on sockets are generally color-coded, with the red being the positive end. If they are not, the positive wire goes to the inner socket base, and the ground attaches to the body.
Q: Are all cigarette lighter sockets the same?
Not all cigarette lighter sockets are the same. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes but can be broken up into two categories: OE Replacement and Universal.
Q: Can you replace a cigarette lighter socket?
Yes, you can replace a cigarette lighter socket. You can easily remove the old one and replace it with an OE replacement or universal model so long as the power supply to do so is present.
Our opinion is that the Dorman 56457 Cigarette Lighter Socket and Removal Tool is the best option because it just slides in place of the factory unit. That means it offers the most straightforward installation along with the best fit and finish. But if you’re working with an older vehicle or don’t’ care all that much, you might want to consider the SMAKN 12V 30A Female Car Cigarette Lighter Socket. That is unless you’re building something custom? Let us know what you’re working with, and you tell us which socket is the best for it!