Teslas are some of the most high-tech and sought-after electric cars on the market, and the Tesla Model 3 is one of the latest developments in Tesla technology. With rapid cultural and aesthetic changes in the automobile industry, certain traditional car features such as the cigarette lighter have been moved aside.
There is no cigarette lighter receptacle in the Tesla Model 3, but a “cigarette lighter” outlet is still included. However, it does not come with a lighter, nor should you try to use one. To locate it, look in the center console and underneath the console tray, and you will find the 12V outlet.
If you want to use an AC inverter, you will be able to use the 12V outlet as you would in any vehicle. However, if you are looking for a cigarette lighter port because you want to light a cigarette, you may be disappointed. In general, there are some key details to note when using various electronic equipment with the Tesla Models 3’s 12V outlet.
12V Outlet vs. Cigarette Lighter Receptacle
The majority of new cars on the market today do not include cigarette lighters or ashtrays, but the vast majority have a 12V outlet. What some still call cigarette lighters these days are, in fact, 12V outlets for various electronic accessories, and they serve a multitude of other purposes.
Original cigarette lighter receptacles had an entirely different look, with a metal sleeve and coils. The 12V outlet has taken its place with a much sleeker, plastic design with a single electric prong hole meant to transfer electrical current, but not necessarily heat.
Really, 12V outlets are not frequently used by the average driver. They typically exist for running devices that use AC power. If you need to charge a larger electronic, such as your laptop, you need an inverter that plugs into the 12V outlet. The inverter will convert DC energy from the battery into AC.
Make sure to purchase an inverter that comes with Tesla’s seal of approval or is known to be compatible. After all, doing so is important since it brings quite a few benefits, including:
- Not blowing fuses or overheating the system
- Charging your devices faster
- Less chance of them being rejected by the car
An iPhone will reject a cheap charging cable, and it is much the same when using a Tesla’s 12V outlet.
Can You Install A Cigarette Lighter in A Tesla Model 3?
If you think about it, since Tesla’s whole model seeks to reduce pollution, having a cigarette lighter would be pretty confusing. Plus, the fire hazard posed by placing cigarette lighters in cars is too great a risk.
While it is on some level possible to install a cigarette lighter into your Tesla Model 3’s 12V power outlet, it is not recommended. There are no cigarette lighters that are electronically supported by Tesla, though there are accessories sold on Amazon which claim to make traditional cigarette lighters compatible with modern 12V outlets.
If you do install a third-party cigarette lighter in the center console, you risk blowing fuses. It also creates a fire hazard, as many flammable items get put into the center console, and an incompatible lighter may heat up to temperatures higher than what the surrounding outlet can handle, potentially melting plastic and wiring.
Plus, some reviews show that while you can install a cigarette lighter, the device will be ineffective at actually lighting your cigarette. Others say that it blows the fuses in some vehicles immediately upon being plugged in. All in all, the risks far exceed entertaining the idea.
Using Tesla Model 3’s 12V Outlet
There is nothing different about Tesla Model 3’s 12V outlet versus those found in other vehicles, except that it runs 16A instead of the usual 15A. If you simply want to plug in your old phone’s 12V charger, you will find that this should fit just fine into the Tesla Models 3’s 12V socket.
But remember, you may want to opt for a charger supported by Tesla’s unique technology so as not to make a costly mistake. Although the 12V outlet can still be used for multiple electronic accessories, USB ports are typically more efficient unless you are using an inverter.
You can also turn a 12V outlet into a three-prong outlet by purchasing a micropower inverter that converts DC to AC. In this way, you will be able to use everyday gadgets instead of purchasing those custom-made to be compatible with USB or 12V ports.
While all fuses in the typical car can affect the proper function of other electronics in the vehicle, even more care should be taken with a Tesla. Since the entire vehicle is electric, there are far more wires being crossed. Because of this, plugging in an accessory that is not supported or manufactured by Tesla can cause malfunctions.
Possible Gadgets to Use With Tesla Model 3’s “Cigarette Lighter”
The “cool” factor that stems from a cigarette lighter these days is all of the other fun gadgets you can use with a 12V outlet. They are built-in so that you can use and charge more powerful devices than just your smartphone.
There are hundreds of random devices on the market that are specifically designed to be compatible with 12V outlets. More than just the practical aspect of being able to charge your computer, you can also plug in the following, to name just a few:
- Electric Kettle
- Mini Fridge
- Air Purifier
Given the Tesla Model 3’s 12V outlet location, or “cigarette lighter,” some gadgets may be impractical to use. However, you can purchase an extender that can branch into multiple 12V outlets and sit outside of the console. Just make sure not to overheat the fuse or drain the car battery.
How Much Power Can Tesla’s 12V Outlet Handle?
Tesla’s 12V outlet can handle up to 16 amps, though you should keep the load below 80 percent capacity. A mini-fridge made for a 12V outlet will average around 3 amps per hour of use. In fact, most of the gadgets used with a 12V outlet will only take a maximum of 3-6 amps.
Even though the Teslas 12V lithium battery (separate from the main lithium-ion battery) is used by the car itself to run all of the background lighting, there is more than enough space for you to plug in your own devices. Note though that whereas the main Tesla battery can be recharged, the 12V functions like a typical car battery.
While it would be fairly difficult to blow a fuse in the Tesla Model 3, it is still best to purchase a quality inverter (typically a 150-watt inverter), just as you would for installing a Tesla’s charging port in your garage. Again for reference, a mini-fridge uses around 60 watts.
The chances are good that if you use the appropriate hardware, you will be able to run almost anything you may need on your Tesla’s battery. After all, you will most likely not be plugging in any hardware that overloads the 12V outlet, though remember that when a 12V battery dies, it must be replaced as with any vehicle.
Although there are some options for installing a cigarette lighter in your Tesla Model 3, it is in your best interest to forego this antiquated feature and opt for a regular lighter. If you did not know already, there are various other high-tech features that the 12V outlet offers, which is why this port is still in the newest cars today.