powering laptops on the move

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:47
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not to dumb a question i hope but how do u power your laptop when travelling . my battery is only good for around 2 hours.
Pete
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Reply By: Member - Barry (NT) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:49

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:49
Pete

square wave 400w inverter

Cheers Baz
AnswerID: 407070

Reply By: Member - Heather G (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:03

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:03
Hi Pete,

A 12v (car) lead works as efficiently as being plugged into the 240v power lead. I bought mine from Dick Smiths for around $70 a year or more ago - has variable voltage settings to suit different brands. My laptop is an Asus and I use it plugged into the 12v outlet on the van or car.

Cheers Heather
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AnswerID: 407073

Reply By: ABR - SIDEWINDER - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:07

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:07
Hi Pete

500W Modified sine wave inverter.

Honda EU2.0 when in the caravan.

I try to charge the laptop while I drive so it is ready to use when I stop.

Regards

Derek
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Follow Up By: ABR - SIDEWINDER - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:08

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:08
I also use it to charge the camera batteries and my cordless drill.

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Follow Up By: ben_gv3 - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:39

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:39
Seems to be a very inefficient way to charge the laptop. You lose efficiency in the inverter, you lose efficiency in the generator.

Why not use this instead:

Jaycar laptop power suuply

It converts 12VDC to 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24VDC up to 6A.
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Follow Up By: ABR - SIDEWINDER - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:11

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:11
Both the jay-car and the 500W inverter are about 85% efficient and will only draw what it needs and if done while driving there is no affect on battery capacity.

One is only for a laptop and can't be used for any other purpose.

What do you mean inefficient ?

Generator powers the caravan charger, a/c, microwave etc. so it is doing another function at the same time. You would be silly to charge only the laptop on a generator.

Regards

Derek

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:33

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:33
The 12 v power supply as recommended by Ben is excellent and so easy to use. No messing around with turning on inverters etc, and a more efficient use of the power.

One of my lap tops would not even work from my sine wave inverter, but i could charge the battery. The other worked from both the sine wave and the modified square wave, although only used on the latter in desperation when the since wave one died.

The advice to get the 12 v power supply was top advice.

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Follow Up By: ben_gv3 - Thursday, Mar 04, 2010 at 10:38

Thursday, Mar 04, 2010 at 10:38
Even though they might be only 85% efficient, with using an inverter you go from 12V -> 240V -> 19V (depending on your laptop power supply). So in effect you lose out twice as there are two places where you get inefficiencies.
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Reply By: Brett and Judy - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:08

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:08
Dick Smith - auto/air adaptor. in the latest catalogue its priced at $49

http://www.dse.com.au/cgi-bin/dse.filereader?4b8dc292041dbc6e2742c0a87e0106ea+EN/catalogs/CTG1000010

Brett
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Follow Up By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:37

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:37
This is the more effienct way of driving your laptop, as you are not double-converting the voltages, going up to 240, then back to 18-20v.
If 240v plugs directly into the laptop, then this option is of course not suitable.
Jaycar and others also sell quite cheap similar converters.

Just make sure, before you buy;
- the output DC voltage of your existing 240v power pack is in the range of the DC adaptor you're going to buy and that the DC current rating is suitable. This info is on the label of your 240v power pack.
- that the plug adaptor to plug into your laptop is supplied with the converter.

And make sure you select the correct output voltage and polarity before firing it up.
Gerry

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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:19

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:19
We ensured we had a laptop which runs of 14.4v , which means it can be used with a straight connection to the cars 12v supply.

This is both the most efficent and radio noise free way.
Robin Miller

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Reply By: chisel - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:19

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:19
Cheap-ish inverter does the trick.
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Reply By: Member - Troll 81 (QLD) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:42

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:42
I run mine from a 300 modified sine wave inverter along with camera chargers, battery chargers, phone chargers...etc etc. I don't leave home without it.
AnswerID: 407101

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 18:12

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 18:12
We've tried both and the auto/air type of 12v power supply from the likes of Dick Smith/Jaycar is the most efficient, no converting 12v to 240 then back to 18 volt or whatever the laptop requires. Check that your laptop can be both charged and powered by the chosen power supply at purchase. Generic brands are cheaper than manufacturers specific ones.
I went a step further and bought a Kensington 33197 120w power supply which powers and charges from either 12v or any AC voltage from 110v to 240v so is good for travelling overseas as well.
Works well and means you can just have the one unit to run/charge the laptop from anything, plus it is far smaller than the 240v half brick supplied by Toshiba.
Peter
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 18:25

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 18:25
Pete,

All the solutions given above work for those people using them, but it really depends on your laptop as to what is most suitable.

Some laptops will NOT run on a square wave 12 volt/240 volt Inverter and you would need to use a more expensive pure sign wave inverter if going with this solution.

A 12 volt adaptor will, in most cases work well and is the most effective and compact solution in most cases.

The Kerio Auto/Air Adaptor available from Dick Smiths is one of the best units. It comes with a variety of tips and voltage adjusting blades to suit most computers.
It simply plugs into the vehicle's cigarette socket then increases the voltage to that required by the Laptop. The box will show what brands are supported. These are very good and I can recommend them, although I can't use mine with my current laptop.
It is a Dell and this brand is unique in the way it is "wired".
Unless you use a Dell brand adaptor, or a suitable sine wave inverter, you cannot charge the laptops battery even though you can power the laptop itself.

So, depending on the Laptop you have, the chances are the Kerio will give you what you require. Just be aware of the "problems" as identified.


Bill.

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Follow Up By: GOM - Tuesday, Mar 09, 2010 at 09:36

Tuesday, Mar 09, 2010 at 09:36
Sand Man,

Could you explain the "unique" way your Dell laptop is wired? I'm looking at ways of powering my Dell Mini 9 netbook, and it seems to have a fairly normal setup (5.5 mm outside diameter plug delivering 19 Volts).

I bought a cheap ($11) Chinese cigarette-lighter adapter for it, but the cigarette-lighter end doesn't fit. (Wikipedia tells me there are two specifications for cigarette lighters - US and European). I'm still thinking of getting either the Kerio or Kensington units, but if they don't fit a Dell computer, I'll have to modify the Chinese job.

Cheers,

GOM
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 09, 2010 at 18:29

Tuesday, Mar 09, 2010 at 18:29
GOM,

Dell have the laptop power socket configured in a way that requires a Dell brand adaptor to enable the battery to be charged.

Unless you have this adaptor, you would need to use an inverter and the original power pack.

When I bought my Inspiron 6000 laptop a few years ago, an accessory that was available was an Auto/Air adaptor which looked identical to a standard power pack, but you can plug either a 240 volt (AC) patch lead, or a 12 volt (DC) patch lead into the input end of the adaptor. The adaptor is auto voltage sensing and configures itself accordingly.

I originally obtained a plug and voltage bridge for my Kerio adaptor that fitted the laptop and supplied the correct voltage, allowing the laptop to run, but the battery would not charge.


Bill.
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Follow Up By: GOM - Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 16:27

Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 16:27
Sand Man,

I was worried for a while there. After a fair bit of trawling on the net, I found out that only some of the Dell laptops present a problem with after-market chargers. There's quite a useful discussion of this at http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/9519-2-dell-laptop-power-jack-pinout and at http://www.laptop-junction.com/toast/content/inside-dell-ac-power-adapter-mystery-revealed . It seems that some Dells use a 3-contact plug, with the third pin used to check the identity of the charger. Without the right identity the Dell won't allow the battery to be charged.

Fortunately my Dell Mini 9 (i.e. Dell Inspiron 910) uses a conventional 2-contact plug. After changing the Chinese cigarette-lighter plug to a slightly smaller diameter, my after-market charger works just fine with the Dell.

I'm still looking at getting a Kensington/Targus/Kerio charger to keep things simple when I travel overseas.

Thanks for your help.

Cheers,

GOM
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Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 17:51

Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 17:51
"Dell have the laptop power socket configured in a way that requires a Dell brand adaptor"

- It's this "you can only use OUR expensive Accesories" attitude that makes me avoid manufacturers like Dell and Sony like the plague !
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Follow Up By: Member - Wayne B (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 18:06

Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 18:06
The Del will run all day from the cig type adapter lighter but you cant charge the battery without the DEL charger.
PITA
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Follow Up By: GOM - Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 18:34

Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 18:34
Wayne,

Yes, the battery won't charge for some models. However, for the Dell Mini 9, it will run the computer and charge the battery at the same time. I suspect the same applies for all the Dell Mini range, because I can't find any discussion of this problem on the DellMini forum.

I've previously used a 14" Toshiba laptop (running OziExplorer of course) for navigating when out bush, but it tends to be a bit bulky. I bought the Dell Mini 9 for that job because it is more compact (but still readable) and also has a solid-state "hard disc". With no moving parts (other than the keyboard), that should make it tougher.

I agree with Mike's comment about being forced to stick with manufacturers' accessories, but if you want good brands you have to live with that. (If anyone knows how I can get another power plug to fit my Sony Cybershot camera, please let me know - it looks more like a piece of Origami than a plug!)

Cheers,

GOM
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Reply By: parjopete - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 18:33

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 18:33
thanks everyone, i just went down to DSE and brought one of those auto air adaptors and got home only to find it doesn't fit my computer. not many they don't fit but mine is one of them. so will see what jay cars got or go the inverter. thanks again.
Pete
AnswerID: 407141

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 19:32

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 19:32
Hi Pete

The Jaycar power supply came with many different adaptor to suit a large range of laptops. However the dealership in Roma asked us to go and get the computer to be certain they sold us a suitable product. It cost around $79 and was the one recommended to me by members who are here on this thread.

Mh
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Follow Up By: parjopete - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 20:22

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 20:22
ok thank u for that , will go and see them tomorrow when we go into town.
Pete
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