Car Accessories Utilizing a 12V Outlet

/ / Car Accessories
Person plugging in a 12V plug into outlet

If you’ve ridden in a new vehicle lately, you may have noticed that manufacturers aren’t including cigarette lighters in vehicles anymore, but the 12V outlet is still featured in many. You may be wondering, unless you’re plugging in an adapter for more USB charging capabilities, when or why exactly would you need the 12V outlet? Why wouldn’t the manufacturers just build in more charging capabilities for phones?

Many products, like emergency equipment and camping gadgets, come with 12V options. However, there are several products that you could use daily that have 12V plugs. For example, did you know there is a 12V sandwich maker on the market? Instead of wasting the outlet, you can find a product that will make it useful during your daily commute to work or perhaps on your next road trip. As attested by highly rated reviews from customers who have used the products, here are six handy car accessories that can use your car’s 12V outlet. The methodology we used to select these 12V-powered items will be explained in more detail at the bottom of the article.

Portable Tire Inflator

Person putting air in their car's tire

A tire inflator is one of those emergency tools you should always keep in your vehicle. Many of the top-rated tire inflators come with alligator clips that attach to your vehicle’s battery — however, some people may not be comfortable with touching the battery. Luckily, there are also 12V plug options. The AstroAI Portable Tire Inflator uses your vehicle’s 12V outlet to power up with the flip of a switch. All you need to do is attach it to your tire and start the machine.

This tire inflator can fill your tire from 30 to 36 PSI in one minute. It comes with a digital display that can set a preset pressure, so you won’t over-fill your tire. When it reaches your preset PSI, the machine will auto shut-off. For the affordable price of $32 when it’s not on sale, you may wonder if this tire inflator is a gimmick. It comes with a 4.5 out of five-star rating from over 86,000 buyers with many positive written reviews. However, there are limitations. It’s not recommended you use this inflator on bigger trucks, like tractor-trailers and cargo trucks or vehicles with tires larger than 28.5 inches.

Retractable Car Charger Adapter

12V car adapter plugged in

No one really likes having a charging cable hanging around getting tangled, but in today’s day and age, on-hand charging capabilities is a necessity. However, Amazon sells the DreamBee Retractable Car Charger Adapter, which can help to solve that messy problem. This 12V adapter comes with two cord types — a type-C and a lightening cable — and has the unique ability to retract the built-in cables back into itself when you’re not using them. Additionally, it comes with a type-C 3A port, a USB 2.4A port, and a screen letting you know how many volts are running through the gadget. And not to worry, you can use all four ports and cords to safely charge up to four phones at once.

There’s also the ability to adjust the direction of the adapter to fit securely in the 12V outlet’s area in your vehicle and have it facing in the direction you find the most convenient. This nifty gadget comes with a 4.6 out of five-star rating from over 1,000 reviewers. Many are very satisfied with both the charging capability and how simple it is. However, some do mention that the design is a bit large for some car layouts, so you may want to find where your 12V outlet is located in your car and make sure it will fit securely before purchasing.

12 Volt Portable Car Refrigerator

Three men around a table out drinking

A refrigerator is usually not something typically atop the list of car accessories, but it can be a useful gadget to replace a cooler at a tailgate or while camping in your campervan and save you the hassle of dealing with melting ice. The AstroAI 12V Portable Car Refrigerator is a fairly innovative design that allows you to keep your food and drink as cold as you need while on the go. It has a 55L capacity and comes with two sections — One works as a fridge and the other can either be a fridge or a freezer depending on your needs. It’s also energy efficient. You can choose between eco mode, which consumes 45W, or max mode, which uses 60W.

The refrigerator comes with a 4.5 out of five star rating from over 500 people. Many reviews state that the gadget works great and holds the temperature, keeping food fresh. Although, some did complain about how loud the fridge runs and that moisture and frost do build up a bit, even though it’s advertised as being frost-free. However, one convenience is that this product comes with both a 12V plug and a 120V plug, so you can always plug it in at the house. You can use it during cookouts or as an emergency fridge to plug into a generator during power outages.

Mini Portable Electric Lunch Box

An electric lunch box with a white background

You’re traveling in your vehicle during a long drive and want to heat up your lunch, but you can’t access a microwave or don’t want to stop at a gas station to use one. With a 4.7 out of five-star rating from over 40,000 reviewers, the Hotlogic Mini Portable Electric Lunch Box is an innovative meal-heating choice. It comes with a 12V adapter that can safely plug into your 12V outlet and start heating up your meal. It comes with a slow-conduction heating pad placed on the bottom of the lunch box, so you can place your food on top of it.

The product photos show a glass container being used to store your food — however, this lunch box can safely reheat metal, glass, plastic, and cardboard. Though, in the reviews, someone does state not to use very cheap plastic or ziplock-style bags because they can melt. This product can do more than just reheat. You can also fully cook a meal up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It is suggested that you give the lunch box up to 40 minutes to get your meal to the desired temperature. Be aware that this heated lunch box also comes as a 120V to plug into standard household outlets— though that would require a separate purchase.

12 Volt Car Electric Kettle

Thermos with boiling water in car cup holder

If you’re late for work and don’t have time to make a cup of coffee, you can use your vehicle’s 12V outlet instead. With a 4.3 out of five star rating from over 400 buyers, this 12V Car Electric Kettle will let you heat up water while on your way to work or if you’re car camping and need to boil water for a meal. It can heat liquids up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit in 25 minutes. That is a long time and one of the complaints in the reviews. However, if your drive is going to be about a half hour, you’ll arrive with hot water ready to be used.

It is made of stainless steel with a high temperature resistant plastic kettle body, so even though the water will be hot, you can still hold the cup without burning yourself. This kettle can also be used as a vacuum cup, meaning you can keep the lid tight on it and place it in a bag to transport while liquids are still inside it. However, during the boiling process, you will need to open a rubber seal for ventilation, so don’t forget to close it before handling the container.

Car Air Purifier

Car air purifier with white background

There are many air purifiers and ionizers on the market with great reviews — however, for your car, you’re going to need a mini air purifier that doesn’t take up too much space and can utilize your 12V plug. The Pure Car Air Purifier is one that not only has multiple features but comes with a four out of five star rating from over 4,600 users. Many reviewers have said that they’ve noticed a difference in their vehicle’s smell with the purifier only being plugged in for a day or two. However, it’s important to remember that the gadget only works when the car is turned on, so if you haven’t driven in a few days, you may notice a difference in your car’s air freshness.

You’ll notice that the purifier also comes with two USB ports. One of them is a normal 2.1A, and the other one is a 3.0A quick charge. According to the company, it can charge four times faster than normal charging. This product also does not come with the need to replace a filter, which can save money in the long run. However, that does question the life expectancy of the item. There is nothing in the product information about it nor is it mentioned in the reviews.

Our methodology for choosing these 12V car accessories

Close up of 12V plug cover in car

Vehicles come with so many unique tech accessories, but why not add a gadget or two to center your vehicle around your needs? The 12V accessories discussed in this article were selected based on high ratings and positive reviews from consumers who have bought and used the products in their vehicles. Each item has at least a four out of five star rating from hundreds of people weighing in. Additionally, other than the portable refrigerator, each item is under the price of $35, and along with the high ratings, this makes them both reliable and affordable. 

However, we do recommend you do more research on these gadgets to consider if they would work well in your vehicle. For example, the retractable car charger adapter comes with a lightning cable, and if you have a family of Android users, it won’t come in handy. However, the same company does make a Dual TypeC adapter. With that being said, the products listed in this article are readily available on Amazon.

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