Powering Diesel Glow Plug from small battery source

Thread Starter


Joined Apr 22, 2012
I am working on a project that requires powering a diesel engine glow plug from a relatively portable power source. The diesel glow plugs come in a variety of voltages, most common are 6v, 12v, and 24v. From what I understand, the most commonly found ones are 12v and draw around 10 amps. I have tried a number of configurations with varying success and at this point I am pretty frustrated with the trial and error method and so I am here to ask for help. I have been successful using a small 12v lawnmower battery(capacity unknown) with the 12v glow plugs, but it is WAY too big and heavy for my intended use. When I tried hooking up the same 12v glow plug to a series of 8 x D cell batteries, I was able to achieve a glow, but it seemed to be nowhere near its full heat potential. I am going right now to buy a 6v glow plug in the hopes that by using the lower voltage, I will be able to supply enough current with the 8 x D batteries. The power sources I have already purchased that may work include:

1. 1 X 12v Lead Acid Lawnmower battery (way too large) http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/detail/SSB0/U1L/N0057.oap?ck=Search_N0057_-1_-1&pt=N0057&ppt=C0218

2. 8 X D cell alkaline batteries and various holders for different configurations

3. 1 X 6v 4500mah Lead Acid Alarm System Battery

4. 1 X 7.2V 2000mah NiCad Battery

Obviously I am lost and have no idea what I am doing, so any kind of help would be much appreciated. The priorities are as follows:

1. HOT - it must reach full heating potential which is a glowing orange almost white hot.

2. Speed - it must reach that temperature in a relatively short time window, less than 20 seconds, by design these plugs are supposed to be fully hot at 5-10 seconds.

3. Size - I really need this to be portable, if it takes a car battery to do it, then its not going to work. I would like to keep the power source smaller in volume than a 12oz can of soda. If it could fit in a large pocket, that would be even better.

4. Capacity - It will need to be able to bring the glow plugs to full heat and maintain that heat for approx 10-15 seconds at a time. I am hoping to be able to complete at least 30-50 of these heating cycles before the power source is depleted.

5. Rechargeability - Preferably, it will use a power source that is rechargeable, however if the cost is too much or it will substantially increase the bulk to use a rechargeable power source, using disposable alkalines or nimh is a possibility, theoretically even a disposable 6v lantern battery could work.

I really appreciate any and all input that you guys can give me!

Thanks Alot,


Joined Apr 16, 2010
The key issue is the 10amp requirement. That means a relatively large capacity battery, which translates to a relatively large physical size. That's not a problem in a tractor or an auto, but the portability you need is an issue. Have you considered a glow plug for a small engine like those used in model planes? Depending on your application, you might also use a small piece of nichrome wire.

Thread Starter


Joined Apr 22, 2012
Thanks for the reply.
Thats kinda what I was thinking. I have explored using the small glow plugs for RC cars and airplanes etc, they don't put out nearly enough heat for my application and they also have a very small nichrome element in them that will barely stand up to being blown on. The diesel glow plug is ideal because it gets very hot, very fast, and is completely sheathed. For my application I can't use anything very fragile, it has to hold up to being exposed to liquids/oils. As far as using nichrome wire as a heating element, I have considered that but the problems I have with that are that it is unsheathed, and that it cools down very very quickly if submerged or blown on.
Thanks again, and any input is appreciated.


Joined Mar 14, 2008
A motorcycle type absorbed-glass-mat (AGM) battery may work for your needs. They come in various sizes.

Edit: Such as this.
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