You can charge a motorcycle battery with a battery charger, and a jump starter cable which is obviously a more conventional and safe way for charging. There is one more option to charge a motorcycle battery which motorcyclists often want to explore – the cigarette lighter! So, can you charge a motorcycle battery through a cigarette lighter?
A cigarette lighter is a common source to power small devices such as phone chargers or portable music players but is it capable enough to perform motorcycle battery charging?
If yes, are there any risks involved in charging a motorcycle battery through the cigarette lighter? What is the correct way to charge a motorcycle battery using a cigarette lighter?
You will find the answers to these questions and many others related to motorcycle battery charging in this post!
Can you charge a motorcycle battery through a cigarette lighter?
Yes and no. Generally, motorcycles do not have a cigarette lighter option so you cannot charge the battery directly through the motorcycle.
Alternatively, you can find some aftermarket cigarette lighter sockets that can be installed on a motorcycle for charging various devices. But the amp capacities of such sockets do not favor battery charging.
On the other hand, you can charge a motorcycle battery through a car’s cigarette lighter socket provided certain requirements and factors are met.
First of all, both the batteries (motorcycle and car) should have the same voltage capacity.
Secondly, necessary add-ons in the form of an adapter/charger, and a current resistor/limiter will be required for proper connection and to control the current flow.
Moreover, a battery should be properly placed, connected, and secured to avoid electrical hazards and explosion risks in a car.
Taking the above factors into consideration you can successfully charge a motorcycle battery using a cigarette lighter however the process is still potentially dangerous.
Doing this could lead to a battery explosion, acid spillage, damage to the car and its accessories, and physical injuries or accidents.
It is therefore not recommended to charge a motorcycle battery through a cigarette lighter as it is not specifically designed to supply power for charging.
However, if you have no other option but to use a car’s cigarette lighter for charging then ensure the following requirements are in place…
Same voltage batteries
The first criterion to use a cigarette lighter for charging is battery volts. Car batteries are 12 volts and motorcycle battery volts vary according to the size and type of motorcycle.
If the motorcycle battery volts are less than 12 volts it could blow the fuse in the cigarette lighter circuit and seriously damage the motorcycle battery. Ensure the battery volts are the same otherwise…
Connect an adapter/charger and a diode or a bulb
Never try to connect a motorcycle battery directly through the cigarette lighter, especially the one that is significantly discharged. Such conditioned batteries pull power heavily which could be too much for a cigarette lighter.
Connect the battery through an adapter or specialized chargers for proper connection with the cigarette lighter. There are extended adapters/chargers that you can find here to help you connect and charge the battery in the correct way.
To balance the voltage and amperage add a diode or a small bulb series to your connection. This will ensure to keep the current flow in check while charging the battery and prevent the vehicle parts from getting damaged.
Related Read: Jumpstart a car with household items
Place the battery in a secure spot
You won’t be able to charge a motorcycle battery without disconnecting it and taking it into your car. As a matter of fact, this is one of the biggest drawbacks of using a cigarette lighter for charging.
You will have to find a place suitable for charging and it should be close to a cigarette lighter for a hassle-free connection.
Taking the car seat into consideration, you can secure the battery in the foot well which will also offer convenience and flexibility while charging.
Moreover, keep the windows open while charging to let the gases evaporate sufficiently which will keep the risk of sparks and fire away.
Correct terminal connections
It is very important to connect the charger clips to the right terminals of a motorcycle battery.
Wrong connection is a common mistake many motorists perform so ensure both cables are connected in proper order (with one being grounded).
From a grounding perspective, you may have to choose a metal that is safe and effective. In this case, you may have to look below the car seats to find suitable bare metal for grounding of cable.
The risks of charging a motorcycle battery through a cigarette lighter
There are certain risks and dangers you must take into account while using a cigarette lighter as a source for motorcycle battery charging.
Battery explosion and spillage due to overcharging
Since the cigarette lighter is not designed to handle the charging current required for automotive batteries there is a potential risk of electrical hazards due to overcharging.
The fuse circuit may blow out owing to the difference in battery power and voltage. The low amp resistance of cigarette lighter could damage the motorcycle battery causing it to explode and spill acid.
Automotive batteries consist of sulfuric acid and water that evaporates in the form of hydrogen gases. The process continues irrespective of the battery position which always poses the risk of sparks and fire.
It is extremely dangerous to charge a motorcycle battery inside the car with doors and windows closed.
When the hydrogen gases come in contact with other flammable substances it can generate sparks which could turn into disastrous fire.
Injury, eye, and skin irritation
Flammable gases circulating in the air are not good for human health. With the cabin closed, the combination of these battery gases released during charging may cause skin and eye irritation when you remain in the car.
In a worst-case scenario, if the gases explode it could cause physical injuries to the person performing the charging.
Damage to the car
Expect serious damage to the car’s electrical system, battery, and overall structure with the explosion of battery (s).
With the spillage all around you are bound to witness burns, holes, and crack to the car’s flooring, upholstery, and electrical parts which could be disturbing and expensive in the long run.
Note: The flammable gases and spillage scenario is only applicable to lead-acid batteries. Sealed-gel batteries and maintenance-free batteries do not pose a risk of gases and explosions.
How to charge a motorcycle battery through the cigarette lighter correctly?
Keeping in mind that the amperage output of most car cigarette lighter sockets is typically lower than the efficient requirement it may take longer than usual (maybe hours) to attain complete charging.
If you are fine spending hours monitoring the charging process then here are the steps to follow:
- Isolate the battery from the motorcycle and place it in the car. Ensure the place to keep the battery is fully secure and safe from internal movement.
- Next, connect the adapter/charger to the car’s cigarette lighter socket. Make sure the extended device is compatible with the cigarette lighter socket and charging perspectives.
- Now, connect the charger’s positive cable to the positive terminal and negative to the negative terminal with one end being grounded to the bare metal. Use the metal frame below the seat to ground the cable.
- Turn on the car’s ignition, but do not start the engine. This will provide power to the cigarette lighter socket.
- Turn on the charger to begin charging the battery. Monitor and wait for the charging process to finish. The amount of time it takes to charge the battery will depend on the cigarette lighter and charger’s output and the battery’s condition.
- Once the battery is fully charged, turn off the charger and unplug it from the cigarette lighter socket. Remove the charger cables from the battery terminals.
- Use a multimeter to test the voltage of the motorcycle battery. If the voltage reads sufficient power reconnect the battery to the motorcycle.
Note: you can improve the charging speed by running the engine or the car for a few miles. This will ensure the battery receives a steady and consistent charge. However, make this a short trip as prolonged charging can potentially damage the car’s electrical system.
Can you use a trickle charger to charge a motorcycle battery through a cigarette lighter?
Personally, I would not recommend this process due to the insufficient power capacity of a cigarette lighter socket but yes, a standard 12-volt trickle charger can be used to charge a motorcycle battery through a cigarette lighter.
Again, you will have to use a 12-volt cigarette lighter plug to connect the trickle charger to the car’s cigarette lighter socket and then connect the cables with battery terminals for charging.
The risks of overcharging, overheating, and electrical hazards cannot be avoided so, make sure to adhere to the voltage, amperage, and environmental conditions before using a trickle charger with a cigarette lighter.
What can I use to charge a motorcycle battery?
There are many charging devices that can be used to charge a motorcycle battery including:
Other than the conventional charging devices you can also use unconventional methods of push-starting a motorcycle or using other typical charging units such as a laptop charger.
To be on the safer side, it is always best to charge your motorcycle battery with the dedicated and specifically-designed charging equipment’s listed above.
How long does it take to charge a 12V motorcycle battery?
The charging time for a 12V motorcycle battery may typically take between 5-10 hours. The actual amount of time may vary depending on the type of charger, the condition of the battery, and the method and source of charging you use.
Moreover, it is important to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper precautions and specific guidelines on charging time.
Using a cigarette lighter for charging the motorcycle battery is possible but not recommended.
An external cigarette lighter charging socket is available for charging but is not strong enough to supply current to charge a motorcycle battery.
The same goes for a car’s cigarette lighter. Lack of power and amp capacities make the cigarette lighter a risky and dangerous option to charge motorcycle batteries.
Using a cigarette lighter for charging should be the last choice. Ensure to consider all the risks and take proper precautions while charging the motorcycle battery through a cigarette lighter.
A battery charger or jumpstarting the motorcycle battery should be preferred and recommended. Notwithstanding, keep the battery always clean and maintained so that the need to charge it remains the bare minimum.