Trilogy 100 Plug Adapter Issue and Cigarette Lighter Adapter Workaround

We had a pretty scary experience with Gwendolyn’s Trilogy 100 bipap while on vacation in San Diego. Gwendolyn has been using the Trilogy for about 9 months now and we absolutely love it. We’ve had no problems with the machine and we haven’t found anything negative about the machine — nothing at all — until now. At this point, Gwendolyn is more or less dependent on bipap to breathe and she needs it about 23-24 hours a day. Obviously, this leaves us pretty vulnerable if anything happens to that life-critical machine. We’re in the process of getting a backup machine, but we currently only have one Trilogy.

When we were down in San Diego on vacation last week we went to put Gwendolyn’s Trilogy into the bottom tray of her stroller as we always do. We rolled her in to the van and went to plug the Trilogy into the inverter to charge the Trilogy batteries while we drove to our second day at Sea World. Right away I could tell something was wrong. The plug adapter wouldn’t plug into the side of the Trilogy. [gulp] With so much use and plugging and unplugging and moving from her room to the living room to her stroller, one of the two metal contact pins inside the actual machine — not the plug adapter — broke off. I cursed (literally). We cursed (literally). Then, we took a big, deep breath. And we went through the options. Remember we’re about 5 hours from home and have no backup machine so time is of the essence here…

Luckily, both batteries in her Trilogy were fully charged at that point. We knew this gave us about 6 hours (tops) until the machine would stop working without an alternate way to run it. There was the option of packing up quickly and heading for our durable medical equipment (DME) provider near our home to get a new machine. There was the option of trying to get a new machine delivered to us in San Diego (no such luck). There was the option of figuring out which hospital in San Diego we would need to get Gwendolyn to if the first option didn’t pan out and we needed to get her immediate breathing assistance. There was the ambu bag that we always have with us. There was a combination of those options. Then we remembered that we had a cigarette lighter adapter that came with the Trilogy and…we had it with us. Thank goodness! We plugged the cigarette lighter adapter in and…voila…the Trilogy would RUN off the cigarette lighter adapter. But, we would learn, it would only RUN the Trilogy. It wouldn’t CHARGE the batteries. Sigh of relief for sure as we knew we could at least run the machine in the van off the cigarette lighter adapter, but we still had to figure out how we were going to run the machine out of the van to get us through the trip. Trust me, we were bound and determined to not let this ruin our trip!

We found a workaround at the local Radio Shack for less than $100 to convert the cigarette lighter adapter to work out of the van as a normal plug. It still wouldn’t charge the Trilogy batteries, but it would at least run the machine in the hotel room or off any normal plug. We could enjoy a short day at Sea World and the last day of our trip running the machine off batteries and know that we could run her machine off of the cigarette lighter adapter in the hotel and in the van to get home to pick up a new Trilogy the next day. Disaster averted. [phew]

It also turned out that when we took the broken off piece of the metal contact pin and shoved it in the plug adapter it would make enough contact with the machine to run off the normal plug. Jury rigged no doubt. But we were back in business.

Here’s what we used to convert the Trilogy cigarette lighter adapter to run off a normal plug. We’ve found that these are the types of things that you don’t buy or think of until you actually need it. I’d really recommend that SMA families using the Trilogy consider getting a similar set up for those emergency situations (you can see all of our power and backup power tricks by clicking HERE):

About Bill Strong

Passionately dedicated to raising awareness of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic killer of young children, and accelerating promising research towards a cure. Together we will end SMA: one person and one dollar at a time.


  1. Phew! So glad that it all worked out and that you guys had a great time! : )

  2. Sarah Turnbull says:

    Thanks for the info! So sorry you had to deal with this . . . I can’t believe you don’t have a backup vent yet. :( Hugs!

  3. Jaime Gooden says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so glad that G is OK and you were all able to stay calm think on your feet. I can say that calls have been made to add a cig adapter to our emergency arsenal. Disney is just around the corner :-)

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