Best 12-volt multi-socket adapters 2023
If you need to charge multiple devices on the go, a multi-socket adapter can be a real lifesaver. These are the best ones currently on sale...
Every day, countless family arguments arise on the subject of who gets to charge their device on the move. Sometimes a car just doesn’t have enough power sockets to go round, and that’s why multi-socket adaptors are handy things to have.
These adaptors plug into your car’s 12-volt ‘lighter’ accessory socket and convert it into an array of power outlets. Some simply provide additional 12V sockets for car accessories such as tyre inflators and coolboxes; others offer USB sockets that allow you to charge tablets, mobile phones and games consoles in the same manner that you might at home.
There’s a multitude of designs of adaptor available, offering different combinations of power outputs, socket types and mounting options, and some are more versatile than others. To help you choose, we’ve tested some of the best on sale. We’ve split this test in two and we’ll kick off with multi-sockets, which can split a single 12v “lighter” socket into several, and often provide one or more USB outlets as well.
Our criteria checks these devices for user-friendliness, such as cable length, portability, ease of fixing in place, whether you can safely use a cigarette lighter should you want to, and whether the power plug can be securely used in sockets of varying widths. Illuminated sockets obviously come into their own at night, and we feel that onboard battery voltage indicators are useful when using power-thirsty accessories such as tyre inflators (although we advise that you play it safe by keeping the engine running when you use such devices).
For the second half of our test, we’ll focus on 12v to USB adapters.
Top 5: 12-volt Multi Socket Adapters
5. Carpoint 2-Way Socket
Carpoint’s adapter is literally a power plug that leads to two individual 12-volt sockets at the end of 20cm wires. That’s quite a practical design, making it possible to place devices on either side of the centre console while they’re charging. However, at its sub-fiver price, Carpoint's 2-Way Socket isn't bristling with extras. The sockets aren’t illuminated, they don’t seem particularly robust, and there’s no 22mm adapter for the power plug.
Overall score: 2/5
4. Ring RMS13
Ring's RMS13 sits snugly in most cup holders, meaning it stays put, in a convenient location, without having to be permanently secured in place. We like the self-coiling 1m power lead, too, which prevents the cable from becoming untidy. As well as two 12v sockets, the RMS13 boasts two USB outputs: a Type A socket and a neat Micro-USB plug on a 60cm retractable lead. Other plus points include a battery voltage monitor, and a power plug that works with various diameters of socket. We're less keen on the price and the disappointing max USB current of 1 Amp shared between both outputs.
Overall score: 3/5
3. Ring RMS10
Closely related to Ring’s RMS13, the only real difference is that the RMS10 has two USB Type A sockets, rather than the other model’s retractable Micro-USB plug. Arguably the two-socket approach is more useful these days, with Micro-USB becoming increasingly obsolete. As with the RMS 13, a thumbs-up goes to the cup-mount design, 1m coiled lead, illuminated sockets, the battery charge indicator, and a power plug that works with various diameters of socket. Again, though, the paltry 1 Amp total USB output limits its appeal.
Overall score: 3/5
2. Ring RMS4 – RECOMMENDED
With four sockets, Ring's RMS4 is a great piece of kit for accessory addicts – and smokers. Why smokers? Well, one of the four sockets is heat shielded, making it safe to use with a cigarette lighter. And in all other ways, this Ring is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the others: nicely finished, illuminated sockets, a battery level indicator, and a collar that ensures the power plug will fit no matter how wide or narrow the socket. Ring also supplies mounting screws, but this highlights a problem: if you don’t want to mark your dash by screwing the unit down, the pull from the 1m self-coiling lead becomes a nuisance.
Overall score: 4/5
1. Carpoint 4 Way Socket – BEST BUY
Slightly dearer than Ring's four-pot RMS4 but, we feel, worth the money, even if minor RMS4 niceties, such as the voltage monitor and socket illumination, are missing. The main advantage of this model is its slide-on/off mounting plate. You can permanently mount it using the screws supplied, you can use the less scarring – but nonetheless effective – adhesive pad, or you can leave the plate off and stash the adapter in a shelf or in a cubby hole. Its 1.3m long conventional lead doesn’t exert the same irritating pull as the RMS4’s coiled one. Tidy socket covers and a light that shows when the power is connected are welcome features.
Overall score: 5/5
The products or services referenced in this story have been reviewed independently by our experts. When you buy using the links on our site, we may earn a commission, but this will never influence our opinion or ratings.
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