Inverters & Laptops

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 22:10
ThreadID: 19340 Views:2560 Replies:9 FollowUps:4
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Hi all,

We are looking at buying a laptop for when we travel for e-mail, photo storage, and more importantly DVD's and games for the rugrats to make the long stretches on the black top bearable for them and us.

1. Having said this is it possible to run a laptop from an inverter while the car is moving?

2. How many watts inverter would I need?

3. Do we have to have a 'pure' sine wave inverter or will a normal one do?

4. What sort of dollars would we be looking at to buy the right inverter?

5. Alternatively would we be better off buying a second battery for the laptop?

6. What sort of set up are other people using?

Thanks in advance for your replies

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Reply By: Peter 2 - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 22:24

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 22:24
You would be better off to buy a proper 12v switchmode power supply for the laptop, much more efficient, uses less power and there are no 240v leads running in the car. 240v can kill !!!!
There are generic 'Kerio' brand power supplies available from the likes of Jaycar, Dick Smith etc if your laptop manufacturer doesn't make one.
As far as DVD's go a better and cheaper option may be to but a designated DVD player available from lot's of places now in the $4-500 or cheaper range, sall enough to tuck away out of sight when parked.
AnswerID: 92882

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 16:48

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 16:48
I notice DSE are now selling a dual screen (2 separate 6.5" screens that mount over the front seat headrests) portable DVD player for around the $500. With the second screen so both kiddies have their own directly in front, it may well better than a laptop.
FollowupID: 352076

Reply By: David Au - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 22:56

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 22:56
A pure sine wave is normally better and my preference. Depends on the switch mode power supply that comes with your laptop. Refer the previous post about getting hot. I would not use a modified sine wave on that type of gear.

150w inverter like the excellent Jaycar sine wave 150w unit $220.00

I would not buy a second battery for the laptop. They don't last as it is and they are expensive for what they are.

The 12v adaptors like the Kerio from DSE are good - HOWEVER you need to check carefully they have sufficient capacity. The newer more powerful laptops take a reasonable amount of power. For my midrange daylight screen Toshiba nobody makes a 12vDC adaptor. Consequently I power my Toshiba from a Jaycar 150w sine wave inverter. Buy a decent power socket like the 16mm DIN plug and socket while you are at Jaycar. The cigarette lighter plug is NOT suitable.
AnswerID: 92887

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 23:10

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 23:10
We're running an NEC Versa M400 laptop off a Digitor 300W modified sine wave inverter from Dick Smith, cost about $120. Spoke at length to DSE and Jaycar about our requirements and both recommended the 300W modified sine wave for our purposes and all I can say is it works perfectly for us. We use the laptop to download pics, GPS data, type up our trip journal and even watch the occasional DVD.

We also have the Kerio 12V unit that others have recommended and this worked fine for our old laptop but unfortunately won't run the new NEC. This cost about $95 so not much cheaper than the inverter.

In the end we decided to go with an inverter rather than buy another dedicated 12V gadget for the laptop as we're sick of continually buying new 12V adaptors everytime we purchase a new phone, camera etc. The beauty of the invertor is that it can be used for other things, not just the laptop. We are now able to recharge mobile phone batteries, digi camera etc. However, remember with an inverter you are dealing with 240V so care must be taken - keep it out of reach of the kidlets.

Hope this helps.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 92894

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 16:44

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 16:44
I'm with Melissa on this one, and have a the same set-up for the same reasons.

Pure sine wave would be marinally safer for those overly sensitive gadgets but we were advised the cheaper, modified sine wave was perfectly safe and we haven't suffered any problems in the past 2 years.
FollowupID: 352074

Reply By: V8Diesel - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 23:34

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 23:34
Not an inverter answer I'm afraid, but I bought a 12V adaptor for inside the car and also a 'gel cell' 12V 7A rechargable battery for outdoor operation. One size of these batteries fit nicely into a small, black cordura bag with enough room to fit a 12V cigarette lighter socket in the side pocket. Cheap as chips and runs the laptop for ages.
AnswerID: 92901

Reply By: Willem - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 01:15

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 01:15
If you want more answers than you need to your question go and do an ARCHIVE SEARCH on the forum page. Your question has been asked 1000's of times during the past 4 years. Good luck.
AnswerID: 92921

Reply By: hl - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 07:08

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 07:08

We have run 2 Toshiba laptops simultanoeously of an older Jaycar 200W inverter and it works fine (modified square wave type).
One thing you should keep in mind if you decide to purchase a 12V adaptor instead of going the inverter route. Some of the multi voltage units can be fairly easily set to the wrong voltage and you may end up cooking your laptop. I have seen it happen to a friends! They also can get quite hot and fry themselves if left under a seat or somewhere with insufficient ventilation.

AnswerID: 92929

Reply By: Member - Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 08:55

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 08:55

A 300 watt modified sine wave inverter are cheap and will cover almost all your requirements. Either Dick Smith or Jaycar sources are OK.

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

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AnswerID: 92947

Follow Up By: GQgaspig - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 09:21

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 09:21
Hi All,

Thanks for the responses, it sounds like an inverter might be the way to go given its flexibility.

We also have some concerns about storing the laptop in the car on hot day when we are out and about. What is the liklihood that the temp in the car could damage it and how do you all securely store it (obviously out of sight) to avoid theft?

Many thanks

FollowupID: 351911

Follow Up By: V8Diesel - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:33

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:33
I think Bunnings have laptop safes for sale at the moment.

I have a similar one bolted through the floor in my Patrol for keeping my special goodies when away from the vehicle eg: GPS, DV camera, stills camera, Epirb, hand hald two-ways etc.
FollowupID: 351990

Reply By: paj - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 17:38

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 17:38

I do occasional maintenance work at REDARC in SA and asked them the same questions.

They reckoned that 300W would do fine but they have found that some newer laptops cannot handle modified sine wave. The issue seems to be with the mouse not working properly.


AnswerID: 93087

Reply By: Woobla (WA) - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 23:11

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 23:11
I Dont know if this is of any help but I am thinking of getting one of these for myself as I dont fancy carting a laptop around with me.
Its an in dash pc come gps,dvd etc.etc, Check out the neltronics website and look for the Smartrider mobile PC.
AnswerID: 93152

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