You’ve heard of cigarette lighters and USB ports in cars, but what about electric outlets? What does the 120V outlet in your Chevy Silverado do?
Silverado Outlet Wattage
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You normally find 120V outlets in high-end vehicles with expensive multimedia systems. However, they are gradually becoming a common sight in medium and low-end models. You can’t confuse them for the probes that accommodate phone chargers because they resemble the 120V outlets you find in the average home.
But do they actually work, or are these outlets for aesthetic purposes? This is what you should know:
First of all, these outlets work. They have an inverter that turns your battery’s DC voltage into AC power that traditional electronic devices can use. Your battery is still the power source, but you have 120VAC at your disposal instead of the 12 volts of direct current people associate with cars.
Try to find the inverter ahead of time, just in case a malfunction occurs, and you need to troubleshoot the device. Check the manual if you need guidance.
You use the outlet by plugging an electronic device into the slots. However, some outlets won’t work unless you start the car by turning the key in the ignition. These outlets have an indicator light that illuminates when they are in use. The indicator light will turn off when you turn the car off or if a malfunction occurs.
Others can pull a current from the battery even when the engine stops running. However, they will drain the battery rapidly. You should only use them (when the engine is off) during emergencies. Otherwise, it is safer to run the engine while using the outlet.
The load matters. For instance, you are less likely to drain the battery by charging a phone. The same cannot be said for a portable drill.
Cars have a protective mechanism that kills the circuit when it detects an overload. For instance, if you connect a heavier load than the inverter can accommodate. The outlet will stop working until you reset the circuit.
If the device you want to run works for a few seconds each time before it stops, the load is probably too big.
The experts at cars.com associate these outlets with a maximum rating of 150 watts, which limits drivers to smaller electronic devices. But according to this Eagle Ridge guide, the outlet in a 2022 Chevrolet Silverado has a 400-watt inverter.
The 2023 Chevrolet Silverado has a similar wattage. In other words, the wattage will vary depending on the model. Some vehicles are more powerful than others. 400W amounts to roughly 3.3 amps.
But that doesn’t mean you can connect any device you want if it uses three amps or less. Some manufacturers are picky about the devices you can run using their outlet, and they will tell you as much in the manual.
Like conventional outlets, a Silverado outlet can develop faults and malfunctions. But most faults originate from the same set of problems, including:
- First of all, are you sure the outlet has refused to work? For all you know, the vehicle has merely rejected the device you want to run. Some manufacturers include a list of items you cannot run on their outlets. They publish this list in the manual. Make sure your electronic items are compatible with the Silverado outlet.
- You can blame outlets that refuse to work on a blown fuse.
- Fortunately, any driver with basic technical knowledge can check and diagnose the fuse. If you eliminate the fuse as a potential culprit, look for loose wiring. Are all the cables secure?
- Some outlets will only work when the vehicle starts running. They stop once you turn off the ignition.
What Can I Plug Into My Silverado Outlet?
You have three amps to work with. That means heavy-duty devices like refrigerators and cookers are out of the question. Stick to charging phones and laptops. The manual will tell you if your inverter can handle a larger load.
As was noted above, some high-end vehicles have sophisticated multimedia systems. You can probably run powerful gaming devices on their outlets. But you shouldn’t take any chances unless the manual tells you otherwise.
Fortunately, you have overload protection mechanisms. Stay away from extension cords. They may compromise the overload protection mechanisms. If you want to run a heavy load, wait for the engine to start. Otherwise, you will drain the battery.
Things To Consider Before Plugging Into Silverado Outlet
- Check the wattage. You need to know the load the vehicle can accommodate. Manufacturers use watts to represent an electronic device’s electrical draw. Therefore, comparing the outlet’s watts to the watts of the items you want to run will tell you whether or not your vehicle can handle the load.
- You can also check the wire gauge. The gauge reveals a wire’s current-carrying capacity. If you can’t find the outlet’s wattage, the gauge will give you an idea of the amps the outlet can safely carry.
- Find out whether the engine needs to run for the outlet to work. Some people think their Silverado outlet has stopped working when, in truth, it can’t operate your devices until you start the car. You can confirm your suspicions by testing the outlet when the engine starts and stops.
- Identify your car battery’s ampere hours. Determining the battery’s capacity gives you a better understanding of the power the outlet will provide. This will also tell you how long the battery can last if you use the outlet when the engine has stopped running.
- Do you check the battery during your regular maintenance routine? Have you noticed any signs of wear and tear? Do you need a new battery? The outlet gets power from the battery. Therefore, the battery’s health should concern you.
- Test the car’s protection circuit. You need to know that the protection circuit will kill the power if you push past the inverter’s capacity. Don’t forget that fires can start if you overload a circuit. Manufacturers print the gauge on the cable because they don’t want you to exceed the conductor’s limits. Doing so will lead to overheating. A functional protection circuit will give you peace of mind.
- Stay away from devices whose electrical draw spikes when they cycle on. One example is a refrigerator. The power a refrigerator uses will increase dramatically when it first starts. This is called the starting wattage, and it exceeds the running wattage significantly.
- Don’t use devices that require a stable power supply. For instance, running medical equipment on a Silverado outlet is a bad idea.
- Don’t attach multiple devices to the outlet simultaneously. This is why extension cords are a bad idea. They make overloads more likely because you can connect multiple items to the same Silverado outlet. This can result in a fire.
- You don’t have to run everything on the 120V outlet. You still have a cigarette lighter socket. It can accommodate a multitude of personal electronics, including phones and tablets. You can also do the same for seat warmers, portable food warmers, electric coolers, fans, and more. Give the outlet are break. You should only use it when you need to run substantial items such as hair dryers.