Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. This week I talk about USB-C connectors to charge cell phones in the car.
I know you’re a computer guy in addition to being an electrical guy, so here’s a quick question for you. I just bought a Volkswagen ID.4 Electric Vehicle exactly like the one VW loaned you, so perhaps you’ve figured this out already.
How do I plug in my Apple cell phone to charge? I’ve asked the sales guy at the dealership and he seemed clueless. I did find a cigarette lighter port all the way in the back by the hatchback, but my cell phone charger won’t reach. So how do I make this work? —Larry the cable guy
(First, thank you to The Temptations for “Ball of Confusion.”) Don’t feel bad as this one threw me for a loop at first also. Like you, I searched all over the car and found the standard cigarette lighter outlet in the back. But then I noticed a pair of USB-C connectors in the storage compartment between the front seats. And, bingo, these are the new USB-C connectors found on the latest computers. So it’s out with the cigarette lighter outlets and USB-A ports, and in with the very high-powered and high-speed USB-C ports.
Time marches on…
Just as soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, things change. So I just ordered one of these cables from Amazon. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m 99.99% certain it will work to charge and link my phone into the ID.4 computer. It’s a USB-C to Lightning charging cable you can get on Amazon or Best Buy. HERE is what I just bought from Amazon.
The Right Stuff…
Of course this exact cable is for an iPhone charging port. But if you have an older Droid phone you can simply get a USB-C to Micro-USB charging cable. Or a new Droid phone uses a USB-C connection. So get the “Right Stuff” for your brand of smartphone and all will be well.
The beauty of USB-C cable is that it can provide up to 100 watts of power bidirectionally. It’s now being used on the latest HDMI displays, laptop computers, and apparently Volkswagen electric vehicles. Soon you’ll have this kind of cable all over the place. But for now you just need one to charge your iPhone while driving. Please remember not to text while driving!
I was just informed by a VW salesman that the ID.4 has a wireless charging pad for most new cell phones. I did test it and it does indeed work. But I didn’t know this at first because it took a few extra seconds for the ID.4 to play nice with my iPhone charging circuitry. So be sure to check for this feature in the newest vehicles.
OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
Join Mike’s popular and informative Facebook group.
And you don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.
For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign