How does a car cigarette lighter work?

It always interested me that cars used to have a built-in cigarette lighter. However, I don’t understand how they functioned. How do car cigarette lighters work?

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Answer provided by
Andrew (Andy) Biro
Answered on Apr 27, 2022
Traditionally, a car cigarette lighter worked by harnessing a small current of electricity to heat a small coil of nichrome wire gradually. Once the wire glowed red hot, a cigarette or cigar could be pressed against it and lit.
In most modern cars, you’ll find the cigarette lighter to be either a metal or plastic cylinder containing a coil of thin nichrome—an alloy of nickel and chromium—wire. When inserted into the accompanying socket, it completes an electrical circuit and allows the wire to heat up.
Once the wire gets hot enough and starts to glow, the end of a cigarette or cigar can be touched to it and lit.
Nowadays, you can purchase different plugs instead of cigarette lighters, which allows you to use the electrical current to power devices such as a phone or mp3 player.
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