Do Boats Have Cigarette Lighters?

You’re cruising on a picturesque boat, surrounded by serene waters and breathtaking views. As you relax on deck, you notice fellow passengers reaching for their cigarettes, and you wonder: Do boats have cigarette lighters?

Yes, boats can have cigarette lighters. In the past, cigarette lighters were commonly found on boats to accommodate smoking passengers and as power sources for other devices.

However, due to safety concerns and shifting attitudes toward smoking, the presence of cigarette lighters on modern boats may have decreased. Today, boats offer alternative power sources and fire-producing appliances for various needs.

Join us because we are going to talk about the history of cigarette lighters on boats, the types of lighters used, their current uses, and the safety considerations. Additionally, we’ll explore alternative power sources available on boats. So let’s dive in!

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What Is the History of Cigarette Lighters on Boats?

We’ll now look into the captivating history of cigarette lighters aboard boats, learning about their purpose and development over time. These diminutive fire-producing wonders have influenced marine culture in a variety of ways, including providing smoking passengers with space and powering necessary gear.

Early Origins and Purpose:

The journey began in the late 19th century when the cigarette lighter first made its appearance on boats. Initially, boats were equipped with cigarette lighters primarily to cater to smoking passengers.

As smoking became a popular social activity, providing a convenient means to light cigarettes was crucial for enhancing onboard comfort and leisure.

Design and Development:

The early boat cigarette lighters were ingeniously designed with functionality and safety in mind.

Typically fashioned as portable devices, they feature a compact size to fit comfortably in passengers’ hands.

These lighters were often equipped with a flint wheel mechanism, allowing users to ignite a flame with a simple flick of the thumb.

Thomas Edison’s Influence:

Notably, one of the pioneering instances in the history of boat cigarette lighters dates back to 1876, when the prolific inventor Thomas Edison utilized a cigarette lighter on an electric boat he was working on.

This innovation not only showcased the versatility of the device but also highlighted its potential as a reliable power source for various marine applications.

The existence and use of cigarette lighters on board changed as the 20th century began due to changes in boat designs and social customs. Keep reading to learn about the changes that have occurred in modern society.

Types of Cigarette Lighters Found on Boats

We will now examine the many varieties of cigarette lighters that are frequently seen on boats, each of which serves a different function and has certain benefits and drawbacks.

Built-In Lighters:

Built-in cigarette lighters, also known as “in-dash” lighters, are fixtures integrated into the boat’s control panel or dashboard. They offer a convenient and permanent solution for lighting cigarettes or starting fires.

These lighters frequently contain a spring-loaded mechanism that, when activated, automatically pops out the lighter. While built-in lighters are practical, their use is restricted to particular areas of the boat, and their design may change according to the make and type of the boat.

12V Auxiliary Power Outlets:

The evolution of boat technology led to the incorporation of 12V auxiliary power outlets, similar to those found in automobiles. These outlets serve multiple purposes, including providing power for cigarette lighters and charging electronic devices.

The versatility of these outlets extends beyond lighting cigarettes; they can also power various gadgets and appliances, enhancing the overall boating experience.

However, it is essential to note that these outlets may not be specifically designed for lighting cigarettes and may have safety features that prevent them from being used for such purposes.

Portable Fire-Producing Appliances:

In modern boating, portable fire-producing appliances have gained popularity due to their versatility and convenience. These may include handheld cigarette lighters, flameless plasma lighters, and waterproof torch lighters.

Handheld lighters offer portability and ease of use, while flameless plasma lighters utilize electricity to produce a flame, making them wind-resistant and eco-friendly. Waterproof torch lighters are perfect for marine environments, ensuring reliable ignition even in wet conditions.

However, while these portable options offer versatility, they may require a separate source of power and their effectiveness can be influenced by weather conditions.

What Are the Uses of Cigarette Lighters on Boats Today?

As we sail further into modern times, the uses of cigarette lighters on boats have evolved beyond their traditional role of lighting cigarettes. Today, they serve as versatile power sources for various devices, making them indispensable on board.

Powering Electronic Devices:

One of the primary contemporary uses of cigarette lighters on boats is as a reliable power source for electronic devices.

With the integration of 12V auxiliary power outlets, boaters can conveniently charge their mobile phones, tablets, GPS devices, and other gadgets while enjoying their time on the water.

The ability to keep devices charged ensures seamless communication, navigation, and entertainment during boating adventures.

Operating Portable Appliances:

Cigarette lighters on boats open up a world of possibilities when it comes to powering portable appliances.

Boaters can connect devices like portable refrigerators, air compressors, and fans, ensuring optimal comfort and convenience during extended trips.

These appliances enhance the boating experience by providing access to chilled beverages, maintaining desired cabin temperatures, and inflating water toys effortlessly.

Emergency Use:

Cigarette lighters can also play a crucial role in emergency situations. They can serve as a reliable ignition source for emergency flares, signaling devices, or handheld distress rockets.

Being prepared with a functional cigarette lighter can be a lifeline in critical scenarios, providing a means to alert nearby vessels or authorities in case of distress.

Lighting and Fire Starting:

While cigarette smoking may have decreased on boats due to changing social norms and safety considerations, cigarette lighters remain valuable tools for lighting various sources, such as candles, lanterns, and campfires during onshore excursions.

Their ability to ignite other fire-starting appliances, like matches and fire starters, makes them an essential safety tool in outdoor situations.

Operating Fishing Equipment:

For fishing enthusiasts, cigarette lighters offer practicality by providing power to charge fishing rod tip lights, underwater fishing lights, and other fishing gadgets. These additional tools enhance visibility during nighttime fishing and attract fish to the boat.

The adaptability of cigarette lighters as power sources for various devices has made them a vital part of modern boating. Their convenience, portability, and functionality make them a must-have on board for both leisure boaters and seasoned sailors.

Safety Considerations with Cigarette Lighters on Boats

While cigarette lighters on boats serve various practical purposes, it is crucial to prioritize safety when using them on board. Being aware of potential risks and following proper safety measures can ensure a secure and enjoyable boating experience for all. Let’s delve into some essential safety considerations related to cigarette lighters on boats:

Risks of Flammable Materials:

Boats often carry flammable materials such as gasoline, diesel, and propane for fuel and appliances. When using cigarette lighters close to these substances, ignition is risky, leading to potentially dangerous fires.

Boaters must exercise extreme caution when lighting cigarettes or any fire-producing appliances and avoid using lighters near fuel storage areas.

Fuel Storage Safety:

Proper fuel storage is critical for boating safety. Ensure that all fuel containers are securely sealed and stored in designated and well-ventilated areas away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

Never smoke or use a cigarette lighter near fuel storage locations, and refrain from refueling while smoking or in the presence of open flames.

Proper Disposal of Lighters:

Responsible disposal of cigarette lighters is essential to prevent environmental hazards and accidental fires. Avoid throwing used or malfunctioning lighters overboard or leaving them scattered on the deck.

Instead, store used lighters in a designated container until safely ashore for proper disposal in accordance with local waste management guidelines.

Fire Safety Measures:

Boaters must be prepared to cope with any potential onboard fires. Check and maintain the vessel’s fire extinguishers regularly to ensure they operate well.

Know where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them, as well as effective firefighting procedures.

Additionally, consider installing smoke detectors and a fire suppression system for added safety.

Other Fire-Producing Appliances:

While cigarette lighters are valuable fire-starting tools, they are not the only sources of fire on boats. Be cautious when using other fire-producing appliances like matches and fire starters, and always store them in a secure and dry location.

Education and Training:

To learn about the possible threats posed by cigarette lighters and other fire hazards, boaters should receive safety education and training. Attend boating safety classes that address emergency response, fire prevention, and the best practices for safe boating.

Alternative Power Sources for Boats

As boating technology advances, alternative power sources have emerged, offering eco-friendly and efficient options for modern boat owners.

These alternatives provide versatility and convenience, making them viable replacements for traditional cigarette lighters.

Let’s explore some of the prominent alternative power sources commonly found on modern boats:

The 220V System and Inverters:

Modern boats often feature a 220 Volt AC system that is typically activated when the boat is connected to the mains in the marina for charging the batteries. This system allows boaters to power appliances and devices that require higher voltage, similar to the household electrical system.

An inverter is an essential device that converts the standard 12 Volt DC power from the boat’s batteries into 220 Volt AC power. It enables boaters to use regular household appliances and charge electronic devices while on board.

Solar Power:

Solar power has gained popularity as an alternative and sustainable energy source for boats. Solar panels are installed on the boat’s deck or cabin roof, harnessing sunlight and converting it into electrical energy.

This renewable power source can supplement the boat’s battery bank, reducing the reliance on traditional power outlets and cigarette lighters. Solar power is especially valuable for extended journeys, providing continuous charging without the need for external connections.

Wind Generators:

Wind generators, also known as wind turbines or wind chargers, are another green power option for boats. They utilize the wind’s kinetic energy to generate electricity, which is stored in the boat’s batteries.

Wind generators are ideal for boaters who frequently sail in windy conditions or anchor in open areas with steady winds. They provide a reliable source of power without the need for engine-generated electricity or cigarette lighters.


Hydrogenerators are innovative devices that generate electricity from the boat’s movement through the water. As the boat sails or moves, the hydrogenerator’s propeller spins, converting the kinetic energy into electrical power.

This eco-friendly option offers a continuous charging solution, particularly during extended voyages. These devices eliminate the need for external power sources and reduce reliance on traditional cigarette lighters.

Fuel Cells:

Fuel cells are a cutting-edge technology that uses hydrogen to produce electrical energy through a chemical reaction. They are efficient and emit only water as a byproduct.

While fuel cells are still in their early stages of adoption in the boating industry, they hold promising potential as a sustainable alternative power source, providing a greener option for boaters looking to minimize their environmental impact.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can You Use a Regular Lighter on Your Boat?

No, you should never use a regular lighter on a boat. Only use lighters that are specifically designed for use on boats.

  • What Is the Difference Between 12v And a Cigarette Lighter?

The main difference between 12V and a cigarette lighter is that 12V measures electrical power. In contrast, a cigarette lighter is used to heat a cigarette.

  • Can You Replace a Cigarette Lighter?

Yes, you can replace a cigarette lighter. You must purchase a new cigarette lighter and follow the instructions in your boat’s owner’s manual to install it.

Final Say

The history of cigarette lighters on boats reflects the changing landscape of social norms and safety considerations.

While once a common feature to accommodate smoking passengers, modern boats have evolved with alternative power sources. Built-in lighters, 12V auxiliary power outlets, and portable fire-producing appliances have been widely used in the past.

However, the emergence of eco-friendly options, such as the 220V system with inverters, solar power, wind generators, hydrogenerators, and fuel cells, offers boaters more efficient and sustainable choices.

Embracing these alternatives not only ensures convenience and versatility but also contributes to a greener and safer boating experience for all.

Jack K. Pride
Jack K. Pride

Jack K. Pride is an accomplished author and a prominent figure in the boating community. With a passion for boats and a deep understanding of the maritime industry, he has been sharing his expertise through his compelling articles on

Known for his insightful and informative writing style, Jack's articles provide valuable insights, tips, and knowledge to boat enthusiasts worldwide. His dedication to the subject matter and commitment to delivering high-quality content makes him a trusted voice in the boating world.

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