The Best Cigarette Lighter Sockets (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Keep that phone charged, lighters lighting, and tires inflated with these sockets
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Hank O'Hop / LAST UPDATED ON June 15, 2021
Every car needs a cigarette lighter socket. 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
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to 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
- 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!