Solar Laptop charger

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 15:31
ThreadID: 79426 Views:3054 Replies:4 FollowUps:4
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I have a freind who's daughter is doing some work/study in the Philipines. This involves going to remote villages for days at a time. Sh'e finding it hard to do her studies without a reliable power source to charge her laptop and dictaphone.

One thing she does have is plenty of sunshine so I thought I'd ask here if anyone has used a solar charger to keep a laptop going? And what sort of performance they can give?

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Reply By: Member - Neil G (VIC) - Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 15:45

Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 15:45
Hi,
I have purchased a few products from www multipoweredproducts.com.au with great success. They have a range of solar chargers that sound like they would do the job, even though I haven't used them myself. I am just a satisfied customer and have no other connection with this crowd.
Hope this helps.
Regards,
Neil
AnswerID: 421203

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 17:59

Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 17:59
While I'm generally in favour of solar, I suspect that in this application it may create more troubles than it's worth. It would not be possible to run the laptop directly from a solar panel without a pretty special controller and I doubt if such exists. (Even if it did, the panel would need full sunlight while the laptop wouldn't be useable in bright light.) The other issue is whether it's practicable to travel with a panel, say 1m x 0.5m.

I think about the only way to go with solar would be to use a 12V (car type) laptop power supply with a 12V gel battery for storage, and solar panel with a controller to charge the battery. I would expect that a 12V charger should also be available for the dictaphone. The sizing of battery and panel would depend on the extent of intended use. If this could be restricted enough, a reasonably small battery and panel might be useful.

One option that might be worth considering is to simply use a 12V system with a battery big enough to cover the time away from reliable power. This would reduce cost by eliminating the solar panel, but might call for a bigger, heavier battery.

Another possibility is to carry spare batteries for the laptop and dictaphone, and charge them all when power is available.

All depends very much on level of usage.

HTH

John


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AnswerID: 421218

Follow Up By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 07:43

Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 07:43
John,
The only problem with this solution is she has to carry whatever it is in a backpack.. A small portable solar rig was what I was thinking of but it seems they won't give enough output.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 08:23

Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 08:23
Yes, I rather suspected that. Our laptop uses about 3 amps from the 12V battery; that's about 30+watts. To run our laptop for an hour would require one hour's output from at least 1/2 square metre of panel, 2 hours sunpower from 1/4 square metre, etc..... and of course a battery for storage. Pity, but it really isn't feasible at backpack size. She could double her running time by carrying a second battery for the laptop, which seems to me to be the easiest and lightest solution. Minimising the laptop's power requirement as already suggested would also make a major contribution to running time.

Cheers

John
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
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Reply By: Member - Christopher P (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 18:52

Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 18:52
G'day mate, laptops run either a 70watt or 90 watt power supply from 240 volts. As someon mentioned before it would be difficukt to fully charge a laptop while inuse and to run off a solar panel. as i have stated above, the laptop will either run 70/90 watts. A solar panel roughly runs 80% capacity, then an inverter will run 80% effiecent, these are rough figures.

My suggetion would be for her to buy 3 to 4 laptop batteries and charge them before she goes and carry them in a protected case and run the lappy with the minimum requirements possible, i.e. 50%power for processor and 50% screen brightness. You can buy extra batteries of ebay cheap enough.

i could be wrong.
AnswerID: 421229

Follow Up By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 07:44

Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 07:44
That may be the most practical solution.
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Follow Up By: Stevesub1 - Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 16:53

Friday, Jun 18, 2010 at 16:53
For most latops, you can get bigger capacity batteries. I got a bigger battery for my Dell and old Sony, both ended up with double the battery life. They are slightly bigger and stick out the rear a bit more than normal.

Get a few of them from eBay. I got mine on eBay from China and have not had a problem, even a couple of years later. In fact the Chinese Dell battery has lasted longer than the genuine one.

Also some of the new Netbooks do up to 12 hours!! One of those with several batteries would be the go.

Also get a new dictaphone which takes AAA batteries. Min e lasts forever on a set of batteries.

I have a backpack with solar panels suitable for charging re-chargable batteries, camera and phone batteries. Bit of a gimick for me but may be the go for everything other than laptops, they just use too mcuh power.

Stevesub
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Reply By: happychap - Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 20:47

Thursday, Jun 17, 2010 at 20:47
Hi,

This new development may not solve her problems in the immediate future, but may be something to follow up - a fuel cell powered by water.

A recent article can be found at this website:
http://apcmag.com/Content.aspx?id=5801

cheers
John
AnswerID: 421242

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