Jul 28, 2008

in-dash 110v outlet project

I bought an inverter a few months ago to be able to power 110-Volt AC stuff in my car. It's a cheap-o, 200-Watt Wal-Mart special. It plugs into any 12-Volt DC cigarette lighter/accessory outlet and provides a 110-Volt AC outlet, 5-Volt DC USB port and a 12-Volt accessory outlet. Plugging it in and having this thing sit out in the open, however, creates a tangled mess of wires. The new Toyota Tacoma's have a 110-Volt AC outlet in the bed of the truck. So I thought, "hey I've got this inverter, I'll mount an outlet somewhere in my jeep." I finally decided, since my jeep has a covered 12-Volt DC accessory outlet and a cigarette lighter in the dash, I would mount the outlet under the existing accessory cover and still have the cigarette lighter outlet for 12-Volt stuff. I should have taken before and after shots, but I didn't so my before picture kind of sucks. This is my dash before the install.

The boxed part is kind of difficult to see, but you can see the cigarette lighter on the left, the ash tray in the middle and the cover of the accessory outlet closed on the right. I pulled the bottom panel of the dash out and started to tinker. It was a royal pain to find an outlet that looked right and also that fit into the space I had, allowing the existing outlet cover to close. I finally settled on one of those female connectors that are sold to be put on the ends of extension chords. I needed to put a lip on it to mount it in the hole where accessory outlet had been. So, I took the plug to a band saw and trimmed it down until it fit. I also had a small LED rocker switch laying around and decided it would be cool to be able to switch the outlet on and off. I drilled a hole above the outlet cover and mounted the switch. After burning out 3 fuses trying to figure out how to wire the switch and after applying some mad JB Weld skills, this is what the back of the panel looks like:

This is what the front looks like with the cover closed:

This is what it looks like with the cover open and the switch on:

When I got the whole thing wired up I realized that the inverter had to be switched on using a switch on top of the inverter every time power was lost. I didn't want the inverter on the whole time, but I also didn't want to have to push the button on the inverter every time I flipped my cool LED switch on. So, I pulled the inverter apart and removed the circuit board that made the inverter turn itself off every time power was lost. Now the inverter only turns on with the toggle switch and is tucked up under my dashboard out of sight as shown below:

Kiri and certain others think I'm a total dork for doing this, but I'm pretty proud of myself. The final product is shown below:

People may ask why anyone would want a 110-Volt AC outlet in their dash. I say "who wouldn't?" There's no tangle mess of wires for me.

5 comments:

eric said...

I'm one person who would like a 110 V AC outlet.

How many amps is the inverter rated at?

Kiri Levie said...

Yeah, I pretty much think you're a dork.

aaron said...

1.74Amps I think (200-Watts). It's on the small end, but it runs my laptop. The nice thing is, if I ever want to upgrade it, I can just swap out the inverter under the dash.

Matt&Jen said...

Are you going to do mine next?

Matt J. Duffy said...

Impressive project. I'm thinking of doing the same thing. Thanks!