12v doodad ideas
April 14, 2013 8:08 AM   Subscribe

So I've finally bought a car of my own (Alfa Guilietta) and in the boot (trunk) is a 12v outlet marked "180W maximum". Can anyone come up with ideas about what to use this for? It seems relatively pointless to me.

I'm looking for practical, geeky or downright silly things that can be plugged in in the boot, either temporarily or permanently.

I already have a compressor / inflator for tyres, but that could be plugged into the 12v in the cabin.

posted by hardcode to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Some kind of flashlight/lantern/torch seems like it might be a practical choice.
posted by box at 8:10 AM on April 14, 2013

Best answer: I have a birthday card that plays the opening theme to Star Wars whenever you open it. Just food for thought.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:17 AM on April 14, 2013 [9 favorites]

I think these trunk outlets are often powered by the battery even when the car is off, so people will leave their phones in the trunk to charge. Although I may be getting these confused with DIY trunk outlets that have been aftermarket modded to have this ability.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:26 AM on April 14, 2013

It could be for a cooler/fridge. It gets hot in Italy.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:26 AM on April 14, 2013

How about a Raspberry Pi with a GPS module and a couple of cameras, have a cool little journey recording tool that might even pay off if you ever get into an insurance dispute over fault, or just share a recording with a few mates when something crazy happens.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:51 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Power inverters from 12V to both 110V and 220V are available. You might find a variety of uses for one. I use one to keep my computer charged while I'm out in the field doing tethered time lapse photo over several hours. You have to be careful to not drain your car battery completely and ending up unable to start your car.
posted by X4ster at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2013

As Static Vagabond says, triplapse photo. I use Nikon's Camera Control Pro with my camera tethered to the computer. I use the plug in inverter for charging camera batteries and keeping the computer fully charged.
posted by X4ster at 9:00 AM on April 14, 2013

180W at 12V is a lot of power: 15 amps. We've got one of these rear outlets in our Caravan and we've had a cooler, air compressor, laptop via inverter, air pump for air mattress, camp lantern, electric blanket, battery charger for my drill and charger for our FRS handhelds all plugged into it at one time or another.

Some of the other 12V accesories I've seen being used include an impact wrench for changing tires; coffee pot; vacuum; rechargeable flashlight; and hair dryer.

Or how about an oven; mmmmm, road trip nachos.

d. z. wang is right that some of these outlets are always on (we have half a dozen power ports in our Caravan and they are split with half of them being always on and half on only with the accessory). It's important to know which way it works. You don't want to leave something power hungry plugged in over the weekend if it's the always on type.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 AM on April 14, 2013

I've got one in the back of my car, too. Back when I bought it, the new-car brochures were marketing mine as being for camping (air mattress inflation, camp lights) or tailgating and picnics (coolers or blenders.... 'cause who knows when you might suddenly need a margarita!)
posted by easily confused at 9:34 AM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Keep in mind this 180W is coming off a cranking battery. If you're drawing power with the engine off it's quite possible run out of power and do not-so-nice things to the battery. You could always replace the stock battery with a deep cell marine battery if you plan to use it a lot.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:10 AM on April 14, 2013

180W? I believe the entire purpose of that is for installing a boot-filling, and booty-shaking, ginormous sub-woofer. Anything less than the maximum size that will fit will result in getting no play.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:39 AM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: sexyrobot, that's quite possible as the upgraded sound system (which I don't have) has a subwoofer in the boot which you have to remove to get to the spare wheel.

Keep 'em coming please, I like the idea of an impact wrench in case of puncture.

I'll be careful to make sure I have a charger at home for the battery if I plug anything that draws much.

And SpacemanStix I wonder if I could run some lights, a smoke generator and something to play also sprach zarathustra on opening the boot?
posted by hardcode at 12:22 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is also a World of Warcraft character (or so I hear) who uses this as a taunt:

"Who dares violate the sanctity of my domain? Be warned, all who trespass here are doomed."

You pretty much would never have to worry about anything getting stolen from the boot. Add the lights and smoke, and you are golden.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:10 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've always thought that those rear power outlets (which are most common on SUVs) were for camping and picnicing, mostly. They are pretty nice if you're pulled off the side of the road and want to run a 12V lantern or other small appliance without stringing wires out of the passenger compartment.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:27 PM on April 14, 2013

Went long term camping and used 12v appliances alot. Even installed an extra battery for it. We had a coffee pot (perculator), fans, crockpot, and a cooler that heated the contents with the flip of a switch. Saw a guy on the beach with a 12v electric knife, he was fileting his catch. Check at a truckstop for other interesting 12v stuff.
posted by misspat at 2:57 PM on April 14, 2013

Best answer: A ton of possible ideas here.
posted by Dansaman at 9:20 PM on April 14, 2013

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