Charging lap-top on the road

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:34
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Would welcome advice on the means by which people keep their laptop batteries charged when on the road. Along the same lines, how to re-charge AA re-chargeables, for the camera, whilst touring.

Appreciate the help.

Spliney
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Reply By: Notso - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:39

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:39
You can get yourself a smallish Inverter probably better if you get a pure sine wave or if you get the cheaper type check and make sure your laptop will run off it before you buy it They produce 240 volt from a 12 volt battery. 200 watts will run pretty well any laptop and charge your batteries too. You just need to make sure you don't flatten your battery, so a second battery is a good idea unless you only use it will driving.
AnswerID: 168116

Reply By: pprass - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:40

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:40
I use a standard 300w inverter from JayCar. Runs off the second battery of the Patrol, but can run off the main battery as well of coarse. The inverter has been used for the Laptop, recharging batteries for GPS, camera and the PDA.
AnswerID: 168117

Follow Up By: spliney - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:46

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:46
Many thanks. I've got a three-battery setup in the cruiser + CT. What will a Jaycar inverter cost?

Spliney
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:56

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 17:56
under 200 mate for a 300w MSW (modified sine wave) one take a look at www.jaycar.com.au you'll be elucidated
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Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:26

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:26
I have a 350 W modified sinewave inverter from Mr Inverters. Found it on the net, rang and had it in my hand within 48 hours. About $160 from memory. Runs the laptop great. I have it hard wired to the deep cycle battery and when driving we just plug it in.
I'm almost certain you can get a simple charger for AAAs . We have one for AAs that we bought from Woolies including 4 batteries. Don't remember the brand. It is in the 4B. I can dig it out if necessary.
We just plug it into the inverter. Do the same for phone batteries, camera batteries, etc.
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Reply By: Derek from Affordable Batteries & Radiators - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:27

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:27
You will need a small inverter and a 240v AA battery charger.

The Sinergex Pure Sine waves are still on easter special.
AnswerID: 168129

Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:41

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:41
Bad advice. Don't need an inverter at all.

DSE/Tandy have a 12 volt charger for up to 4 AA batteries (dV/dT type, good stuff). (~$25). There are also 12V to 15-18V switchmode laptop power supplies available, once again at a reasonable cost (~$80-110 depending on power output required).

No point in spending $200 and wasting a lot of power going up to 240V and back down to whatever you need, if there is a more "direct" way of doing it. Damned site safer to, if you have kids around, or like the occasional "dip" in the river that may go wrong, and accidentally forget to turn the inverter off....

Stick to the least number of conversions needed, and use seperate items for seperate purposes, then if one thing blows up you are not lost.

We don't need advertising in the forums either.....
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Follow Up By: Derek from Affordable Batteries & Radiators - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:55

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:55
I would be more worried about drowning the kids than a small inverter getting wet. Cost of the inverter v/s buying 12v chargers is higher as the guy already has the laptop charger and may also already have the camera charger. Why buy more chargers when you can buy one inveter and use it for many other 240v items.

Visit ABR is you want a price.

Regards Derek.
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Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 20:24

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 20:24
The inverter goes belly up and you are toast. Solution, carry two inverters? $$$ gets ridiculous.....

Still a lot of power wastage if you are camping in one place. Inverters 70-85% efficient, PSU for laptop 80% or so, ie almost twice the power actually needed to charge the laptop batteries/run the appliance (by the time you take 75% of 80% = 60% of power actually going to the laptop).

All of a sudden your laptop instead of taking 70-80 watts, needs to draw 125 watts. So, using a can inverter going in real terms from a bit over 6 amps to a bit under 10, or a difference enough to run your fridge for "free". A big difference if you are on solar.
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 20:57

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 20:57
GaryInOz,

Many of us use them without any dramas whatsoever mate.
Bill


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Follow Up By: Derek from Affordable Batteries & Radiators - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:02

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:02
GaryInOz

If you stay away from Jaycar stuff it won't go belly up.

I have not had one fail, although I don't buy from Jaycar.

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Follow Up By: Derek from Affordable Batteries & Radiators - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:08

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:08
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Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:30

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:30
Gary, as already said. We already own a 240V AA charger, phone chargers x2 (2 separate phones), camera chargers x2 (2 separate cameras), a laptop charger, (built in to laptop) and probably a couple of things I haven't thought of. To run them all, we use one small inverter, and it lets us add anything else we like. To use your system, we would need a bag of separate charges and a new one for every device we buy.

Your system works and that it great. But I'm happy with my little $160 one size fits all inverter. I don't think the inverter is 'bad advice', just different advice to yours. Isn't that why we are here.

Yes inverters have some inefficiencies built in, but we we use it when driving whenever convenient and after all, that is why I carry a generator and deep cycle batteries.
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Reply By: V8Diesel - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:51

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:51
I keep it simple and use a 12V adaptor off the car cigarette lighter for my 19.3V Acer laptop. I have also wired a multi port outlet direct to the main car battery so it can charge everything at once without needing the keys in the ignition.

In Perth there is a business called (funnily enough) 'The 12 Volt Shop' and all you need is available straight off the shelf. This way I can use my gear in any vehicle such as a hire car. Much smaller and lighter too.

I have also standardised my battery requirements to AA size and use 2600 Ni-MH with a 12V charger. I now run my torches, radio, UHF's, cameras, reading light etc all off the one the one "bucket 'o batts".

My fluro's, water pump, iPod charger etc all run off 12V and I have waterproof outlets strategically placed around the exterior of the Cruiser which make it a breeze when you park up.

K.I.S.S. IMHO.
AnswerID: 168133

Reply By: Stuck in Hedland - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:56

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:56
First up I'd like to say I'm not being rude in anyway when posting this response, but I have to ask.... Why oh why do you need a laptop while traveling? Is'nt it all about getting away for everything and EXPLORING OZ?
AnswerID: 168134

Follow Up By: Footloose - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:14

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:14
Yep it sure is, but most lappies have a mapping program and a GPS which enables you to explore Oz just a tad better.
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Follow Up By: Eric M - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:22

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:22
Yes the lap top with oziexplorer and the GPS gives you a good navigation aid out in the interior when you are off tracks, just driving over areas that are criss crossed with all of the geologist tracks over the sand dunes etc. Ii is an excellent aid and you can explore with confidence, however not withstanding the mandatory compass, paper maps and sat phone etc.
Ericm
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:26

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:26
Of course Laptops in the bush are used for far more than this. Storing photos, writing that travel story etc ...
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L- Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:33

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:33
Those that take outback touring seriously, usually run oziexplorer for real time mapping, as I do, which requires the use of a lop top. I also down load my photos at the end of each day, and also for keeping your trip details as you go. I then at the end of each day copy all upgraged files to my Flash Drive which is half the size of your average cigarette lighter.

Regards

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:42

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:42
Yep apart from running Ozi Explorer and Nat Taster maps, my wife is a photography freak. If we are away for a few months, it would cost me a fortune in storage cards if we didn't take the laptop.

In fact we now carry 2 laptops, one for me (mapping, planning, trip notes etc) the other is hers for her photographs. She didn't like me pulling hers out on the road or in the dust. Bought a good second hand one on eBay for about $500. Not a problem so far.

The other issue on a long trip is, as long as you have wireless capability, you can drop into any McDonald's or Accor hotel and log on via wireless connection. No need to use internet cafes etc for sensitive transactions, PINs, etc. This is a Bigpond service.

Of course laptops are not essential, but we regard them as a good tool.
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Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:42

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:42
Of course that was a Raster map last time I used it
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Follow Up By: V8Diesel - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:44

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:44
Having worked professionally in exploration, I can say you can get a lot further with a laptop / GPS combo than without. I've driven out of remote locations at night. Anyone who tells you that can be done in the dark easily without one has never done it.

I also like to take lots of photo's these days. One of my biggest regrets is not taking enough pics of my younger days. Unless you're a millionaire, digital is the only way to go.

It takes up as much room as a UBD mapbook, and only comes out when required. I never rely on it mind you, but I think they're great.

Matter of fact I've got friends who are paying for an extended trip around WA using a laptop and sat phone. She's a CPA and can do bookwork and e-mail it via the laptop frpm the road. Makes more dough in an arvo that way than a week of backbreaking work picking melons. No need to limit yourself to a yearly 4 week holiday, travel indefinately around Australia this way.
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Follow Up By: Stuck in Hedland - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:01

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:01
Obviously I'm in the minority with my foldable map and sense of adventure.
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Follow Up By: V8Diesel - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:23

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:23
Still got both those things, use 'em constantly too. They're not mutually exclusive.

It's like airconditioning or an Engel fridge. You can get by without them and a lot of the time they don't get used at all, but christ they are sooooooo good when you do want them.
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:31

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:31
SIH, I was exactly the same for 30 years. Maps, compass etc. No way was I going to get involved with the new fandangly techno c%^p. However when I found out what it can do, and the fact that it could be relatively cheap, I was hooked.

Imagine that its an overcast day, and you come to a track junction without signs
that isn't on the map. Now you can try a few and see if you've got the right direction...but it can double back or peter out. And doing this will waste precious time, water and fuel. With moving maps you KNOW where you are, if you've taken the correct track.

Or following a track around trees because of fires (say Cape York). You've already travelled further than the map says...are you on the right track ? Nowhere to camp , dark is falling. With moving maps you know whether to camp and wait till daylight or continue a little further to your destination.

Sometimes you can't even see a track because its overgrown. No worries with moving maps.

One further point. Paper maps still provide an essential backup....lectronics arent always perfect.
I've met a few people who won't go near this stuff, but I've never met anyone who's told me that they've had such a system but went back to paper maps on their own.
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Reply By: Ray Bates - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:57

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 18:57
I use an ordinary non-modified inverter to charge my batteries but only run the laptop off the charged battery
AnswerID: 168135

Reply By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:16

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:16
I use a 12 volt laptop power supply which I picked up from an autopro shop. $49.95 and outputs a selectable range of voltages from 13 up to about 20 something.

We have also standardised to AA batteries and have a 4 bay NmHi/Nicad charger.

Cheers

Pete
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AnswerID: 168138

Reply By: macandrita - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:26

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:26
Hi guys and gals,

I charge everything from 12 volt. Laptop, mobile phone, Camera batteries ect.
My laptop charger/power supply also has usb outlet to power usb reading light, personal fan etc. 12 volt chargers and power supplies are available for just about anything. Zap from 12 volt less lethal
Mac
AnswerID: 168139

Reply By: stevesub - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:54

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 19:54
We like others use an el'cheapo inverter - why, well we have a couple of cellphones, 2 digital cameras and a laptop so our inverter supplies power to all and we only need one adapter for each unit. We travel in different vehicles all the time incl camping for 4 months in Europe last year (lease car) and the inverter certainly made life easy - even if we got weird questions when it was x-rayed at various security checks on the way, quite a laugh.

Even though it is a cheapie and hardly even a modified sign wave, we have had no problems charing anything and we have also been know to use 230vac flouro lights at night - cheap and very bright when compared with the 12V ones. (use the ones that replace a normal 230 light bulb with a baynet fitting).

Stevesub
AnswerID: 168147

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 20:54

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 20:54
spliney,

Plenty of advice already and as you can see, there are several options to choose from.

I personally use a mixture. I started off with a Kerio adaptor for the laptop, until I traded up to a new one and found the Kerio didn't suit it. So I bought a new adaptor which takes either a 240 volt AC input, or a 12 volt DC input and runs the Laptop whilst charging its battery at the same time.

I also have a "Digitor" brand AA & AAA charger which normally runs from a 240VAC/12VDC transformer. I made up a lead that connects directly to 12VDC so I can run off the vehicle supply when travelling, without the need for the more bulky 12VDC/240VAC Inverter.

Then along comes Murphy again. I bought a new still Camera which does not run off AA batteries, but a type requiring its own charger. SO, out comes the Inverter when charging these batteries.

Over all, I try to avoid using the Inverter whilst travelling on the "road", as I have enough cables connecting the GPS/Laptop/Touchscreen without complicating things further. I use the inverter when necessary, during stopover camping at the end of the day.

So there is not really any particular solution that suits all situations and all equipment. You just need to start with what you think you need and add to it if necessary.

To start with, a 150 watt or 300 watt Inverter will power most Laptops, but you need to check if yours will need the cheaper modified sine wave, or a more expensive pure sign wave Inverter.

For the AA and AAA batteries, I can recommend the Digitor brand of charger available from Dick Smith's. This charger can easily run off the car ciggy lighter socket with the inclusion of a Ciggy Plug Extension lead. (DS Cat # P1683).
This lead comes with a fused cig. plug on one end and a DC socket/plug set at the other. One of the DC plugs (I think the 3.5mm) will fit the socket on the charger.

Bill


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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:06

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:06
Oh!, and by the way, a 150 watt Inverter is big enough to run the Laptop, but if you are buying one, the 300 watt will give you more flexibility for other uses, for only a slight increase in cost.
Bill


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Reply By: Robin - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:59

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 21:59
Hi Spliney

Check out post 32293 , many laptop's run off 14-15v charger and as such
can be directly connected to cars 12V , this is massively much more efficent ,saves use of high voltage's in the car and lesson's chance of radio interference.

Robin Miller
AnswerID: 168191

Reply By: Utemad - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 23:00

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 23:00
Not sure why this is but I had a 150w Jaycar inverter. It ran my HP laptop fine but my Dad's Dell would make the inverter shut down. Even when the laptop was turned off.
When I was touring Tasmania a screw came loose in the inverter and shorted it out. So when I got back I grabbed a 300w inverter from work. Brand new and twice the cost of the Jaycar unit but it would shut down when I plugged my HP laptop into it??? Once again even with laptop turned off.
So I kept that inverter for charging batteries and running other 240v stuff and bought myself one of those adjustable DC voltage things to run my laptop from Electus.

Both inverters were/are modified sine wave.
AnswerID: 168206

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