How can I change the cigar lighter from ACC to permanent live?

What options do I have to be able to change the cigar lighter to permanently live?

I've bought a solar trickle charger to keep the battery topped up. I was expecting to plug it in to the cigar lighter but it's wired as an accessory and not permanently live so when keys are not in and turned to ACC there's no connection to the battery. I may be able to go through the bulkhead and clip on to the battery terminals but the solar pannel should be disconnected when running the car and that would mean the adapter connected to the battery lying around inside the car which I don't want to do. Unless I lift the bonnet and disconnect the leads which partly defeats the object of getting the solar charger.
 
My Haynes manual shows the +ve connection for the cigar lighter comes from fuse 22 and before that the accessories relay which is activated by the ignition key being in the ACC position.

With the key at ACC fuse 1 is also set to live. This fuse is for electric mirrors, audio, navigation system, instruments, clock, phone.

So ideally I would like fuse 22 permanently live and not fuse 1. So working at the ignition switch and joining the two wires which connect at ACC key position is not an option. This bodge would also mean the accessories relay were permanantly energised and therefore consuming power, although I don't know how much it would use.

The accessories relay only feeds fuse 22. I could remove the relay and bridge the gap between the two connections that would be joined when the relay is energised. There would be no drain on the battery. It could easily be restored by replacing the relay.

I'm still thinking this over and any advice would be appreciated.
 
Of all the relays in the Almera, the accessories relay is one of the three most difficult to access. It is located on the rear of the passenger compartment fuse box with two other ignition related relays. Some dismantling of the facia panels is required and the fuse box to be removed for access.

I couldn’t find anything online about removing this fuse box or changing any of these relays. Only the easy to access relays and fuses are written about or seen in YouTube videos. With the aim being to set the cigar lighter socket to permanent live I have described my procedure to achieve this below.

There are some helpful images available online that go further than the Haynes manual with images of the rear of the fuse box. I’d like to thank fuseandrelay.com for their website. The link below is to their Almera N16 page. I’ve copied one of their pictures of the rear of the fuse box, relay codes and their legend. I needed access to the R3 relay.

https://fuseandrelay.com/nissan/almera-n16.html

Nissan Almera fuse box rear.jpg
  • R1 Ignition relay
  • R2 Blower motor relay
  • R3 Relay for additional equipment (electrical accessories)
This was another useful image of the relays copied from Nissan Europe parts catalogue.

https://nissan-europe.epc-data.com/almera/n16/2962-qg15de/body_electrical/252/

Nissan Almera Relays.png

Section A is the passenger compartment fuse box. Part 25224BA is the accessories relay.

The accessories relay is a normal open relay, type 1 make. When the ignition is off the relay is open and there is no power to the cigar lighter socket. When the ignition is at ACC or ON the relay is energised, the circuit is closed making one connection, and there is power to the cigar lighter socket.

The el.pdf component of the N16 service manual, available on this site, has some tables containing descriptions and images of the relay types and circuits.


Procedure

Disconnect the –ve lead from the battery terminal.

Remove the plastic cover from below the steering column. There are two recessed crosshead screws holding this on. It is clipped loosely to the smaller part above the steering column and they can be separated. Be careful not to overtighten the screws when replacing them as they only go into plastic.

Remove the drop down storage container in the lower right hand side of the facia panel.

Unclip the control panel for the electric mirror adjustment and headlamp height control. Disconnect the connectors from the back. This makes it easier to see the fuse box and allows it to be moved.

Remove the lower facia panel. There are two crosshead screws. The one on the right is visible. The one on the left is close to the ODB2 port and difficult to see. Release the top of the panel which is clipped in by pulling it forward. It only needs to be dropped down for access to the fuse box so only remove the ODB connector and another ventilation pipe and connector if needed.

The fuse box is clipped in, two clips at the top and one on the lower right. They are part of the fuse box housing and clip to metal brackets above and to the right when in situ. Release them with a flat blade screwdriver and pulling the fuse box forward at the same time to prevent them reengaging while trying to release the others.

Unclip the wiring bundle from the left side of the fuse box housing and allow the fuse box to hang forward supported by the wiring loom. See picture below. I took this picture after I had removed the accessories relay. The socket is half hidden behind the brown relay.

1 fuse box rear hanging forward from above.jpg

Release the clips holding the accessories relay and remove it from the socket. This picture shows the rear of the fuse box and the accessories relay socket with the relay removed.

2 fuse box rear acc relay removed.jpg

This is the relay. These pictures show the part codes, circuits and terminal numbers.

3 acc relay top.jpg 4 acc relay side.jpg
5 acc relay side circuit diagram.jpg6 relay numbered blade connectors.jpg

When the ignition is set to ACC or ON, power is supplied to the circuit of terminals 1 and 2 which energises the relay and closes the switch between terminals 3 and 5. The circuit from battery to relay to fuse to cigar lighter socket is now complete and the battery voltage can be measured at the cigar lighter socket.

For the cigar lighter socket to be permanently live the connection between terminals 3 and 5 needs to be permanent and not reliant on the status of the ignition. In this case the relay is not needed as there will not be anything to switch.

Permanent live can be achieved by bridging the two spade terminal connections for terminals 3 and 5 in the relay socket on the rear of the fuse box. To do this I made a connector by soldering two spade terminals on to a short piece of 13 amp cable.

7 connector.jpg 8 connector.jpg

This is it fitted in the relay socket.

9 connector in relay socket.jpg

Refit the fuse box and bodywork.

The cigar lighter socket is now permanently live. A multimeter measures the same voltage at the socket that is measured at the battery terminals.

10 voltmeter.jpg

I completed the installation at 14:00 on Thursday 5th May 2022. Since then the solar pannel has been connected to the cigar lighter socket and the car locked.

I don't need to use the car for a few days. Before next use, i.e. engine running and alternator charging the battery, I will check the battery voltage. I'd like it to be higher than the 12.5 volts shown in the picture. I will post the result here.
 
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After four days having not used the car and with continuous solar trickle charging, I disconnected the solar trickle charger to measure the battery voltage.

Immediately after disconnecting the solar trickle charger 13.50 volts.
'Resting voltage' measured one hour after disconnecting the solar trickle charger 12.75 volts.

The description of the solar trickle charger I bought says;
"Automatic solar charge controller protects your battery from overcharging and stops back flow of current into the solar panel."

Therefore, it should be possible to leave it connected without damaging the battery. Which is what I will do and periodically measure the battery voltage over the next weeks and months.
 
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