AC Plug Install
Written by Elias
I was planning on buying a DC to AC Inverter to power my laptop and other
devices on the road for quite a while. Then seeing the television commercials
for the Pontiac Vibe, which comes with an AC plug in the dash, I decided
to hardwire the AC inverter and mount the plug in the dash for a factory
Step 1 - Deciding On Power
First you need to decide how much power you're going to need. The inverter
I purchased is rated at 150 Watts. Inverters range from 100 Watts to over
1000 Watts. The more watts you want, the more you're going to spend, and
the larger the unit will be. I went with the 150 Watt inverter because it
was fairly cheap at $40, it was small, which meant it would be easy to find
a place to hide it in the car, and it delivered enough power for my needs.
This chart was on the back of my inverters packaging and gives an idea
of how much power is needed for different devices.
/ power needed:
Cellphone & Camcorder Charger
Laptop Computer / Digital Camera
CD Player / Mini Stereo / VCR
Portable Refrigerator / 9 TV
Car Buffer / 13 TV
Dremel Moto Tool
Electric Fan / 19 TV
Rotary Power Tool / Finishing Sander
Craftsman 3/8 Drill
Jigsaw / 6 Bench Grinder
/ Computer / Fax
Electric 3/8 Drill
Step 2 - Choosing An Inverter
Once you know how much power you need, next you need to find an inverter
that is "install friendly." To keep things simple, try to find
an inverter that comes apart fairly easily. The one I got was ideal. two
screws held a front plate which when removed allowed a back plate to slide
right off, giving full access to the wiring. Also, both the AC plugs and
the on/off switch were held onto the metal plate by clips from behind.
I used these same clips to mount the parts in the car.
Step 3 - Choosing Locations
My inverter was very small and fit nicely in the center console just to
the left of the parking brake handle. If you decide to go with a higher
Watt inverter, it will probably be too large to fit in the center console.
I would say your best bet would be in the dash behind the stereo. As for
the plug, I decided to mount it to the left of the cigarette lighter.
Coupe or V6 owners could also take advantage of the unused switch opening
where a convertible switch / fog light switch would be. As for the On
/ Off switch, I decided to conceal mine inside the center console compartment.
Step 4 - Installation
First off, disconnect the battery because you will be dealing with live
wires. Your individual application may vary depending on the locations
you choose, but the wiring will be the same. This is the How-to for my
Open the center console and remove the two rubber stops to reveal two
screws. After removing these screws the compartment is still held in by
a few clips. Pull up gently and it should pop right out.
Next "dry" fit the inverter in place to be sure there is enough
clearance for the compartment to fit back into place.
Now that you're sure everything will fit, it's time to do the wiring.
Open the inverter and locate the two wires leading to the plug you will
be mounting in the dash. Also locate the two wires which go to the On
/ Off switch.
Cut the plug wires and extend them as far as you need to reach the mounting
location (in my case, next to the cigarette lighter).
Cut the On / Off switch wires and extend those as far as you need to reach
the mounting location (in my case, inside the center console compartment).
It would be a good idea to put everything together and test the inverter
to be sure your connections are correct. Also, leave the inverter on for
a few minutes and feel the wires and feel the inverter for heat. If the
wires feel hot then you may need to use thicker wires to extend the plug
Now its time to get rid of the cigarette lighter plug and hardwire the
inverter. Take apart the cigarette lighter plug and figure out which wire
goes to the "center part" and which wire goes to the "side
part." This is key because getting these wires mixed up will result
in a blown fuse later. (I know from experience) 8-)
I chose to splice into the wires leading to the extra power point because
it was next to my mounting location, and it is the same wires the inverter
is "supposed" to be plugged into if used out of the box.
The wire colors may vary between different car years. This is how it was
in my '99. If you get the two wires flipped, you will end up burning a
fuse located under the hood near the battery. Check your owners manual
for the exact fuse.
Pull off the plug from the back of the power point.
Connect the "center part" wire from the inverter to the purple
and brown wire, and connect the "side part" wire from the inverter
to the black wire.
Put the inverter back together with all your extended wires sticking out
of it. Plug wires (white), On / Off switch wires (green) and Power supply
It's time to mount the plug and On / Off switch. You should check that
everything is working at this point before you start cutting your dash
The dash piece around the shifter is held in place by two clips on either
side and one clip in the bottom center. Wrap a flat head screwdriver with
a cloth to protect your dash, and pry the piece up until the clips pop
Mark where you want the plug to go and cut it out. A roto-zip type tool
would be ideal for this. I didn't have one so I ended up slowly cutting
away at the piece with a very sharp blade / box cutter. Do the same for
the On / Off switch.
Once everything is cut out, mount the plug and On / Off switch and put
everything back together.
Note: the button to the right
is a second trunk release I installed a few months ago. It has nothing
to do with the inverter. - Les
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