Vapers bring their e-cigs and mods with them everywhere, and advancements in battery tech have allowed devices to maintain a charge longer than ever before. If you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic, or traveling on vacation, is it safe to plug your mod into the cigarette outlet for a boost?
Charging your vape never really causes an issue if you’re at home, but there will come a time where a wall-outlet is not an option. Surely, you’ve used your car’s cigarette lighter for other electronic devices, but how safe really is it for your vape?
In order to find our answer, we must first break down the difference between a standard wall-outlet and that cigarette lighter in your vehicle.
- Typically rated for 120 volts
- Uses AC current (alternating)
- Typically 60hz frequency in the U.S. (50HZ in Europe)
- Typically rated for 12 volts
- Uses DC current
- Often used with a DC-inverter
The first major difference between the two charging options is the type of current. Cigarette outlets work in the confines of DC, or direct current – while typical wall outlets use AC, or alternating current.
DC power connectors/outputs are bulkier, have relatively low current ratings, and very poor contact reliability. With DC, electricity is only able to flow in one direction; it is also used to power many of the electronic devices you use everyday (including batteries). Because direct current does not have alternating flow, a power inverter is often used to charge devices you may have.
AC power outlets are more reliable, can convert voltage levels with a single component, and are the most popular option for delivering power to houses and businesses. AC uses a device called an alternator that works as a generator to produce the alternating current you’re able to use. It is also capable of converting electrical energy to mechanical for powering large automobiles and other means of transportation. Alternating current reverses flow direction occasionally, which changes the flow of voltage.
Without boring you with the science behind the two currents, you’ll be happy to know that, apart from their obvious differences, using DC will not adversely effect your vape or e-cig in anyway. Even if you choose to plug directly into your trucks outlet without an inverter, your device will receive a safe charge.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using a cig outlet. If it’s cold outside, you should expect a drop in voltage (about 5-6v). Because of this, make sure you unplug your car-charger and device while starting your vehicle, and before you turn it off.
The second scenario where voltage drops can occur, other than key on/off situations, is jump starting/or disconnecting the battery while the car is running. Because DC does not alternate, leaving your e-cig plugged into the receptacle is not advised – as the temporary spike in electrical current can cause adverse effects to any device with an internal Li-Ion or Polymer battery.
With that being said, I advise vapers to check the optimal charging voltage on their vape FIRST and compare it with the cars. Most vehicles in the U.S. and Europe use 12V, so any device requiring more or less should not be charged repeatedly.
NOTE: Keep in mind that even under optimal conditions, a 12v outlet can fluctuate as much as 2+/- volts in either direction.
Your car/truck’s cigarette outlet may not be the ideal option for charging on the go every day, but will not cause issues if used occasionally. Just remember to unplug your device before turning your vehicle on or getting a jump.
If you’re running low on power, and on your way to work, don’t be afraid to use that portable charger to give your vape a quick boost!
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