Centre Console Modifying

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i have got hold of a centre console and it currently has a cig lighter fitting in the armrest so i am planning to fit a 3 in 1 extension and plan to connect it to my original cig lighter fitting from the cubby hole (gonna put an ashtray in) so was hoping that someone might be able to advise what sort of wiring/fuses i should use? I can wire Speakers up etc but not sure on the safety side so thought i'd better ask before i start a fire!

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The standard fuse in the interior fuse box for the power socket is rated at 20A so I'd expect the cable to be rated a bit above that, probably 25A judging by the diameter of the cable.

If you need to use "full whack" then it would probably be best to use 25A rated cable although I don't recall having seen a power socket with a rating above 16A.

The fuse is there to protect the wiring so should be a lower value than the maximum rating of the cable which should means the fuse blows before the wiring catches fire. Even though I'm only likely to run a portable light from it I used 25A cable when adding an auxiliary power socket (rated for 10A) in the boot as I'd much rather have the fuse blow than have a wiring induced fire.

Almost forgot, make sure you use good quality connectors and a good crimping tool so there's a sound contact between the cable and connector.

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thanks for the info Rob.

I am thinking about fitting one of these into the armrest cubby hole:

should i use a block connector with a 25a or 10a fuse then? I take it i can use wiring that is rated above 25a - i have some spare 240v cable, could i use that?

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Excuse the crude 'text' diagram', but it's much quicker than me mucking about with Paint or Pinta.

20A Fuse ========== Orig Power Skt -- xxA Fuse ------------- 2nd Power Skt
|___Original Factory Wiring______| |____Your Extension for 2nd Skt_______|

Your extension cable must be rated to allow for the maximum current that you will be drawing plus a small safety margin (i.e. about 5A). However, since the upstream (i.e. the factory) cable) is rated at around 25A there's not much point in using cable larger than that in your extension. Ideally try to keep the section of cable between the original socket and the xxA fuse as short as reasonably possible; this minimises the length of unprotected cable.

Example :-
Your device (say a portable kettle) being plugged into the 2nd socket draws 20A at full load.
The cable must be able to withstand at least 20A continuously so it doesn't overheat and thus catch fire.
Add in a safety margin (e.g. 5A) to ensure the cable is not running at its maximum continuous rated value, therefore a good choice in this case would be some 25A cable.
The xxA fuse (in the extension) must be be greater than the maximum rated value of the cable (25A) otherwise a short would overload the cable before the fuse had chance to 'blow'.

I wouldn't use mains cable as :-
The flexible cable (as used from plug to appliance) is typically rated for continuous use at 5A, 10A or 13A which may well be less the intended load.
The solid core grey sheathed cable (as used from distribution (a.k.a. 'fuse') box to light,socket,cooker) is not suitable for use where the cable is subject to vibration as it likely to fracture internally due to work hardening of the single core during movement.

Maplin don't do any 25A cable, but they do a small range of suitable automotive 2 core cables, 6A, 10A, 15A, 20A.

As for the 3-way adapter :-
The Bay of E add says in point 14d that its a total 60W (i.e. 5A) load which means they should be using 7A or 10A cable (maybe 10A) cable, but for £2 I'd guess the manufacturer has probably penny pinched and used 5A cable.
If you're only running small items, i.e. Sat Nav, Phone Charger, Ipod then a 5A fuse would be safer than using a 10A fuse; just make sure the total current draw of the plugged in itmes does't exceed 5A or 60W (depending on how the items quote their load values).
The plug on the end of adaptor would ideally have fuse built into the tip, but if the picture is accurate it doesn't look like it.

If you need to convert Watts to Amps (only for DC ratings, AC ratings are different) then use this :-
Watts = Volts * Amps
Amps = Watts / Volts

When adding the extension I wouldn't use 'Scotchlock' type connectors as in higher power usage the 'Scotchlock' need to match the diameter of the cable cores properly; they're only a friction fit over a very small contact area (just think how slim the blade is).

A good thing to keep in mind is that a fuse's purpose is to sacrifice itself in order to protect the cable (from overload damage) and thus by inference the safety of your car.


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thanks for that info Rob - i think i will ask my brother to do it as he knows this sort of stuff better than me!

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