I've got a 2012 Honda Odyssey. I'm wondering if I can plug in my hair dryer or if it will overload the car. It uses 1500 watts I think...not sure what wattage a car can handle.

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 15 '18 at 2:43
  • They do make travel hair dryers that plug into the cigarette lighter socket, but these are miserably weak. – SteveRacer Mar 16 '18 at 2:00

Your owner's manual will explain what the inverter plug is rated for in watts. The hair dryer will also have a label explaining the maximum watts.

I'm pretty sure the answer is "no". That plug is for laptop chargers and very small electronics that do not draw much current. A hair dryer (with the heater) is a huge electrical load - even if it is the 1500 watts you think, that represents almost a 13 ampere load @ 120 volts AC.

I doubt the inverter system in your Odyssey is rated for that.

I could be wrong - I suggest checking the owner's manual to be sure.

A quick internet search seems to suggest that each outlet is only rated for a maximum of 120 watts. Far below what you would need. The fuses seem to be 10 amps, so at roughly 12V DC that means a maximum of 120 watts before inverting to AC.

  • The efficiency of the the inverter is about 87% as a result the 120 watt DC outlet will supports only a 100 watt inverter. Definitely not possible. – Old_Fossil Mar 15 '18 at 4:51
  • Also, factory ports like that often have an amp rating either marked on the outlet or specified in the manual. – kyle_engineer Mar 15 '18 at 5:06
  • Question. What if the hair dryer's heat switch is in the "off" setting? That should decrease the load substantially and might actually work.. – elrobis Mar 15 '18 at 15:18
  • @elrobis Maybe ... but don't forget the inrush current for the fan motor might result in a load well above 120 watts power. – SteveRacer Mar 16 '18 at 1:37
  • @resident_heretic I agree with your efficiency prediction, but I found one source that claims the manual (I have not seen it) specifies 120 watts AC load maximum. How this is done through a 10 ampere fuse taking into account the inverter losses is beyond me. One possibility is the running system voltage might be closer to 13 volts DC. I wonder if the sockets are live with the ignition off? – SteveRacer Mar 16 '18 at 1:40

For "will a hair dryer overload my car?" yes, an inverter capable of powering this hairdryer is not going to be fitted as standard, but you could purchase one and fit it or have it fitted.

  • An expensive proposition - a 1500 watt capable inverter is going to need short 4 AWG cables connected directly to the battery to handle the nearly 150 amps DC load required, assuming an 87% conversion efficiency. – SteveRacer Mar 16 '18 at 1:58
  • @SteveRacer The OP did not mention cost... but it is a viable solution if they really want to power a hairdryer... also size of battery is a concern. – Solar Mike Mar 16 '18 at 6:01

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