Hopping inside a car and starting the engine for the sole purpose of listening to the radio isn’t always practical or efficient. But did you know that you can turn on the radio without starting the car? There are various methods to do this without wasting fuel or being a source of loud noise. Considering the convenience of these methods and the importance of being able to turn on the radio without starting the engine, this article intends to provide an extensive guide on how to do so.

Method 1: Use an External Power Source

The first method we would like to introduce is using an external power source, such as a portable battery or power bank. Many modern car radios have a port for a 12V DC power supply (usually a cigarette lighter socket). You can use an external battery to turn on the radio by plugging it into the socket.

When choosing an external power source, make sure you opt for a battery or power bank that can supply enough power to your radio. Our top recommendations include the Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger and the Aukey 20000mAh Portable Charger.

To turn on the radio, simply plug the external power source into the 12V DC power port, and your radio should turn on.

Method 2: Use a Jumper Cable

If you don’t have an external power source, you can use a jumper cable to turn on the radio. However, keep in mind that this method is preferably for older car radios or aftermarket radios. It might not work on newer cars with more advanced audio systems.

The first step when using a jumper cable is to choose a power source. You could either use another car battery or a charged battery. Next, connect the red jumper cable clip to the positive terminal on the battery and the black jumper cable clip to the negative terminal.

Proceed to connect the other end of the black cable to any metallic part of the car, such as the door striker. Then, connect the other end of the red cable to the 12V DC power port on the radio.

Note: While using jumper cables, it’s essential to take adequate safety precautions, especially when dealing with a running car engine.

Method 3: Power from a Car Battery Charger

Using a car battery charger is another option to turn on a radio without starting the car. This method involves using a car battery charger with a power inverter to produce 120V of AC power, which is then transformed to 12V DC power through the car’s cigarette lighter socket.

Start by connecting the battery charger to the battery and plug in the power inverter to produce 120V of power. Then, plug the car power adapter into the inverter and finally into the cigarette lighter adapter port.

The 12V DC power port on your radio can now be connected to the cigarette lighter adapter to power the radio. Wait for a few seconds for the radio to turn on. It’s important to make sure all the connections are securely done to avoid any damage.

Method 4: Connect the Radio to a Secondary Battery

This method involves installing and using a secondary battery to power the radio directly. It’s one of the best options for those that don’t want to rely on external backup power sources or jumper cables. As expected, it requires a bit of work and expertise.

The first step is to position and install a secondary battery in a secure space and connect it to the primary battery using a battery isolator. Afterward, connect the radio to the secondary battery directly. In addition to powering the radio, the secondary battery could provide backup power for other car electronics when the car engine isn’t running.

However, keep in mind that installing a secondary battery requires specialized knowledge, and this method might not be suitable for everyone.

Method 5: Use a Solar-Powered Radio

The final method to turn on a radio without starting the car engine is by using a solar-powered radio. These radios have built-in rechargeable batteries that can be powered up by simply placing them in the sun. The radio’s battery can also be charged via USB.

Our top two recommended solar-powered radios include the Kaito KA600 Solar Crank Emergency Radio and the RegeMoudal Emergency Solar Hand Crank Radio.

To use a solar-powered radio to power your car radio, allow the solar-powered radio’s battery to charge fully. Then, use the 12V DC power cord to connect the solar-powered radio to the car radio.


In conclusion, we’ve explored five different methods to turn on a car radio without starting the engine, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing the best method for you, consider factors like affordability, convenience, availability, and safety.

The easiest and most efficient option for most people is using an external power source like power banks and battery chargers, followed by solar-powered radios. However, for those that prefer a permanent solution, installing a secondary battery or using jumper cables might be a better choice.

Regardless of the method you choose, remember to follow all the instructions carefully and prioritize your safety when dealing with electrical equipment.

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By Happy Sharer

Hi, I'm Happy Sharer and I love sharing interesting and useful knowledge with others. I have a passion for learning and enjoy explaining complex concepts in a simple way.

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