Backseat USB Charger


Whether you’re relegated to the backseat of your ride or just strapped for access to power, you may benefit from adding your own backseat USB charger. While this is a fairly straightforward hack, we’re surprised at how clean it turned out and at the convenience it provides.

[wongman2001] started by grabbing a socket wrench and unbolting his seat from the rails in the floor. He then disconnected the electrical plugs for the chair’s heating and power seat adjustment. With the chair disconnected and removed from the car, [wongman2001] further dissected its components, removing its back panel and test fitting a female cigarette adapter. Though this seat had plenty of room near the headrest, you may need to carve out some foam for a snug fit in your vehicle. To source the needed 12V, [wongman2001] tapped into the wiring for the seat’s motor, then soldered and insulated the connections to the cigarette lighter jack.

Check out some other clean-looking car hacks like the hidden MP3/USB Aux hack or the Nexus 7 double-DIN dashboard hack.

19 thoughts on “Backseat USB Charger

  1. Heads up if you have a car with an airbag in the seat (My Jetta has one) you will trip the airbag fault light (as I did) if you completely remove the seat/plugs at the bottom.

    1. Take the battery off before messing around with anything air bag.

      Or use a computer to turn off the airbags before starting.

      Battery is simplest, when there is no battery the system neither knows nor cares what you disconnect and re-connect so no warning lights.

  2. I can’t image a worse place than the center of the seat. It protrudes and is likely to catch on coats, goods, flesh, etc. It may make the seat unsafe both front and back.
    The door pillar would be better location or the door itself. Or the rear end of the center console if so equipped.

    1. Or put the actual USB charger in/under the seat. The USB cord can still come out of the back of the seat, but inside the pouch, so *nothing* is showing unless you choose to pull it out. I assume the motors circuit he tapped into doesn’t receive power unless the ignition is at least in the ACC position, so the charger shouldn’t drain the battery when the car is parked.

  3. He should have put in one of the USB only plugs. putting in an actual 12V cig lighter socket drastically increases the chance of fire if someone were to plug in anything high current. Those things heat up as they are a crappy design. (BMW Powerlet is better) But they sell nice USB ones that are black and would have blended in perfectly.

    1. Heated seats are usually quite resistant to electrical fire hazard… by design…

      Warrrgarrrrbling against imaginary unsafe setups just lead people to ignore real danger when it arise…
      (yea, yea, think of the children…)

  4. In addition to the other good comments above (hideous, inconvenient, and poses fire and laceration risks) – could this pull too much from one circuit, in some cars?

    Apart from all it’s clear faults, it’s just not that interesting, and can be made needless with the investment of $6 worth of longer cords.

    1. Seat motors have a decent pull, so I imagine you’d probably be okay so long as you aren’t charging a high drain device and using the seat motors at the same time. That being said, just look to the fuse panel to see what the amperage limits of that circuit are. So long as the device you’ve connected is below that, you should be okay.

  5. After the safety issues, I would be more concerned about cracking/scratching the screen with the layout used. Without having the device flush against the back seat, it makes it vulnerable to happy child feet or knees from people that are tall. Charging things tend to get warm and a blanket of leather may also impact the life of the device.

    The car looks like a 6/7th Generation Honda Accord EX(L) which has a cigarette lighter/power port in the center console which would be much easier to tap and provide rear ports. It is easy to think of this as a mundane hack however I suspect there was a desired ‘show off’ factor intended by the design. I would recommend using a charger with a light to show it off more, hopefully with a 90 degree USB port so it doesn’t stick straight out asking for cable breakage.

    Personally I think a cable-free charging solution would have been more cool.

  6. So let me get this straight? He drilled a hole on a perfectly good leather seat to insert a freaking cigarette lighter socket in it so he can plug a damn usb changer in? With this thinking he will drill a hole through the airbag cover and install a spike in the middle. At least it promotes safe driving or at the very least some Darwin award winner. This is not a hack, this is a simple wiring job at best and a full on safety hazard at worst.

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