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Author Topic: power for my laptop  (Read 694 times)

willh2o

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power for my laptop
« on: July 07, 2017, 09:22:36 PM »
My Dad doesn't like me to use the generator to power up my laptop batteries, yet likes to dry camp for several days at a time. Any suggestions? We have bought 3 inverters that quickly die. I have extra laptop batteries that I try to keep charged up, but even so run out of power.
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

Sun2Retire

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2017, 09:39:51 PM »
Depending upon the required input voltage of your laptop you could get a stepup or step down converter and power it straight from 12v. You'll need a cigarette lighter plug, wire plus the appropriate plug which fits the laptop (try Radio Shack if you can find one open). Much more efficient than converting 12v to 120v with the inverter then back to 16-19v (or whatever your laptop needs) with your AC adapter. However, it will still be drawing power, somewhere in the 3-4 amp range. The laptop uses power, no way around it.
Scott
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JoelP

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2017, 09:56:00 PM »
While it is true that you can take a 12V input from a cigarette lighter plug and create 5V to a USB port, not every PC can be charged from a USB port. You might want to use a tablet instead which can be charged this way, perhaps one with a wireless keyboard. I had heard that some Fujitsu PCs have USB C ports that might work this way, but I have not tried it.

Does you Dad's RV have a built in inverter?  These inverters sometime provide power to one or two plugs in the RV. 

If you don't want to use a cigarette lighter plug you could connect one of the adaptors in the link below to a 12V lamp socket or switch and have a couple of hard wired USB ports to charge a tablet.  I have seen small inverters, but I cannot vouch for their reliability. 

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OTPFK34/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Joel from San Jose

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BinaryBob

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2017, 10:01:52 PM »
I have one of these accessory plug inverters when I'm off the grid with my surface pro. This works very well.
2004 Itasca Suncruiser 37B

"Every hobby perpetuates its arcane mysteries. How else would we impress the newbies with our superior knowledge?"
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Sun2Retire

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2017, 10:19:12 PM »
While it is true that you can take a 12V input from a cigarette lighter plug and create 5V to a USB port, not every PC can be charged from a USB port.


This is true. My suggestion was to use something like this:


https://www.amazon.com/uxcell-Converter-Regulator-Transformer-Waterproof/dp/B01N4109JD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499483757&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=12v+to+19v+converter&psc=1
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350 "OURVEE"
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab "RTOAD"
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Isaac-1

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2017, 11:25:48 PM »
If your notebook happens to have an 18VDC input (fairly common, but some are higher and some are lower) you might check this out http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-Effciency-100W-18V-Foldable-Sun-Solar-Panel-Grid-kit-Power-Bank-for-RV-Boat-/302321655914?hash=item4663c6606a:g:BU4AAOSw9OFZHsYO

I don't really like the idea of connecting a solar panel directly to a notebook for charging, but you might get away with it.

I would prefer to use solar panels to charge the RV batteries, then a cig lighter style DC power adapter to charge the computer.  (not an inverter and the standard AC power adapter)
using a kit like this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Semi-100W-Flexible-Solar-Panel-Class-A-Kit-for-boat-caravan-motorhome-camper-USA-/172221368820?hash=item28193189f4:g:BDoAAOSwepZXSGNc

or
http://www.ebay.com/itm/160W-12V-Mono-Solar-Panel-Off-Grid-Kit-20A-CMG-Battery-Regulator-for-RV-Yacht-/302284632453?hash=item4661917185:g:vJ8AAOSwmgJY8U~7

wired to the RV deep cycle battery

then something like this for the notebook computer

http://www.ebay.com/itm/PWR-CAR-CHARGER-FOR-DELL-19-5V-4-62A-90W-LAPTOP-DC-ADAPTER-POWER-SUPPLY-CORD-/221075465001?epid=1131766302&hash=item33791fe329:g:UdcAAOSw-0xYVHl5
of whatever voltage is appropriate for your specific model
along with something like this

If you share the brand and model of notebook computer with us we may be able to give more specific advice
2002 Safari Trek 2830

SkateBoard

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2017, 01:34:45 AM »
Many many years ago those car chargers cost $200 instead of $19

John From Detroit

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2017, 07:08:50 AM »
Two suggestions in fact.....

Some companies, I-Go is one, make 12 volt to computer voltage up-verters, Charge it direct off 12 volts.. I have a couple of 'em lying about  I do not often use them but they do come in handy (The reason I do not use them is a bit complex).
This Amazon page shows many such devices

NOTE: not all computers need the same feed, Some need more current or less (If you plug a 3 amp charger into a computer that only needs 2.5, no problem, the other way around Problem)

Some use different voltages,, That MUST match  My HP's for example are 19, not sure of the Toshiba.

Next is a better inverter.. Say a Samulux 300 pure sine wave.

Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2017, 08:16:07 AM »
Quote
We have bought 3 inverters that quickly die.

Could you elaborate a bit more on this?  Small inverters are common and not expensive these days, and quite reliable too. Did you mean the batteries die (insufficient charge) so the inverter stops supplying power?  I would think an extra 12v battery or two would handle your computing needs for several days.  Or plug the inverter into the car/truck (with the engine running) occasionally for some charging.

You didn't mention how much time you need daily on the laptop. Are we talking an hour or two, or maybe you use it all day for entertainment as well as email and some web surfing?
« Last Edit: July 08, 2017, 08:18:11 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
Gary
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Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Old Radios

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2017, 08:35:57 AM »
Inverters waste power.  Most major laptop companies make 12 volt cigarette lighter power adapters. Go look for one of those for your make/model.
For boondocking I switched everything in our rig to run off 12 volts except for the microwave and AC.  I installed additional 12 volt plugs throughout the RV.
Nothing goes in it unless it will run directly from the batteries. We even use a stove top percolator for coffee.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2017, 08:43:17 AM »
Old Radios is right about the reduced efficiency with an inverter (about 10% loss), so a 12v adapter for the laptop is the best bet. But whether using inverter or adapter, the battery is still the critical path.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

kdbgoat

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2017, 10:44:31 AM »
My Dad doesn't like me to use the generator to power up my laptop batteries, yet likes to dry camp for several days at a time. Any suggestions? We have bought 3 inverters that quickly die. I have extra laptop batteries that I try to keep charged up, but even so run out of power.

Have you tried just not using the laptop , and get out and enjoy nature?
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant


2016 Leprechaun 319DS

willh2o

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2017, 02:23:32 PM »
Thanks for all the comments. I will share all of the suggestions with Papa who is an engineer and has an electrician license....

Here are a couple of answers to questions posed in your comments.

Our 2004 Itasca does have an inverter, but only seems to work for the TV. I plugged a surge protector in and the only thing that works is the TV.

I have a Lenovo x230 tablet.

Thanks again,
Sandra

Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

willh2o

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2017, 02:32:01 PM »
In response to Gary's questions. The 3 inverters we bought from Amazon totally died after using them a few times.

My preference is the use my computer for lots of things, emails, business, photo management... The batteries take quite awhile to re-charge and don't stay charged for very long.

I have 2 extended ThnkPad 67+ (6 cell) batteries as well as the smaller battery that it originally came with.
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

BobNSam

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2017, 03:06:23 PM »

Old Radios is right about the reduced efficiency with an inverter (about 10% loss), so a 12v adapter for the laptop is the best bet. But whether using inverter or adapter, the battery is still the critical path.
If laptop is similar to mine, charger output is 18VDC which would require a DC-DC converter to use the 12VDC RV battery. What that means is it has the same inefficiencies that an inverter has plus some. It has to convert/chop 12VDC and step it up to allow the inverter section to produce 18VDC. The TANSTAFL principle.
Only solutions are more batteries either for laptop or RV with a quality inverter to produce needed power for laptop. Add a solar power charger to your existing battery system to add a little more power.
Look at moving over to a tablet which has lower power overhead and will operate much longer on less power and less load on RV battery for charging.
2017 Newmar Ventana LE
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2017, 04:46:41 PM »
There are 12v car chargers for Thinkpads on Amazon at reasonable prices,$20-$30 deepening on the model needed.

I can't imagine 3 inverters failing like that unless something is wrong with the power source, but not having seen them I cannot even guess. Certainly many of us use them. But the key remains the amount of battery capacity the RV has - or Papa is willing to add. The watts of power has to come from somewhere!
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Isaac-1

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2017, 12:19:31 AM »
Gary I can see low end inverters failing like this, at my previous work we issued notebook computers with these small lighter socket powered inverters to our salesman who typically spent 4-6 hours on the road each day going from customer to customer.  Under this sort of daily use those cheap inverters would typically last less than 6 months.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

BinaryBob

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2017, 12:42:11 AM »
Unfortunately for me, Surface Pro has not as yet developed an alternative charger for their proprietary plug. I'm stuck with the socket inverter to the 120v plug which I use on the motorcycle.
2004 Itasca Suncruiser 37B

"Every hobby perpetuates its arcane mysteries. How else would we impress the newbies with our superior knowledge?"
--Gary RV Roamer--

DamianF

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2017, 08:46:54 AM »
I run solar and a lot of batteries and inverter on our tow vehicle for our rig. However, when we are travelling and end up with a quick overnight somewhere (rest area, Walmart, truck stop, etc) I didn't want to have to take the time to hook up the truck to the trailer, so I purchased a plastic tool box from Home Depot and set in a couple of ES 12-12 batteries in series, a Samlex 24 volt 300 watt pure sine wave inverter, and an inexpensive wheelchair style 5 amp 24 volt charger. The 12-12's are in a plastic box inside the toolbox, and I mounted an XLR connector port for the charging, and a 50 amp Anderson Power Pole connector for the output to the inverter. So in round numbers it's 12 amp hours at 24 volts (or 288 watts). We run laptops, charge cell phones, grind coffee, sometimes run a floor fan off of it. It's portability is a key benefit, just grab it and go. Simply plug it in to 110v when it's available. You could run your laptop under a shade tree anywhere! I don't have a picture of it, but could if you want to see it.
Damian, Trina, & Viper
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73Camper

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2017, 09:43:48 AM »
If you want one now and do not want to order it, Radio Shack has the small to large inverters that work well. I got a 1000w and it lasted me 5 years of heavy  use
1973 Sports Coach Motorhome 28ft - Sold
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BobNSam

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2017, 11:43:44 AM »
If you want one now and do not want to order it, Radio Shack has the small to large inverters that work well. I got a 1000w and it lasted me 5 years of heavy  use
Radio Shack? Where is there still a Radio Shack?
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John From Detroit

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2017, 05:46:33 PM »
There are still a few Radio Shacks I'm told but I do not know where (add dot com and find a store)

Truck Stops all carry Inverters but I don't know how good they are.. I've not really looked.

And you can get 12 volt to computer supplies at MicroStation.  (Add dot com again).
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

73Camper

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2017, 01:26:06 PM »
Radio Shack? Where is there still a Radio Shack?


Texas
1973 Sports Coach Motorhome 28ft - Sold
2002 Fleetwood 22ft TT - Sold
2006 Outback 34ft TT - Sold
1973 Cavalier. TT Work in progress and loving it.
1999 F250 5.4l TV  4x4 286K miles
Awesome Wife and two wonderful girls

willh2o

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inverter outlets in Suncruiser Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2017, 07:34:55 PM »
Ok, Papa and I just went to where we have Harvey stored. Turns out the guy who installed our Vizio 39" flatscreen TV covered the old TV hole with a board and put the TV cord through a hole and plugged it in. I don't readily have access to see that plug outlet to or to try plugging my laptop into that outlet and using the coach inverter.

Does anyone know which outlets throughout the coach might be 'hot' when we have the inverter turned on? I know the TV can work w/ the inverter on.

Just wondering if I could either plug my computer in there (with an extension cord) if that should work. Or preferrably somewhere else in the coach.

Looking at the Owner's Manual again on page 8-19, in indicates that the back TV is supposed to also work from the inverter.

Also does anyone have any idea what the inverter actually is? How much power, how long the TV, DVD/VCR combo, and/or bedroom TV should work on it? and now hopefully my laptop, an Apple TV...?

Sorry this is confusing, it's because I am confused. Seems to me just letting me run the generator as necessary would be the easier, less time consuming and cheaper way--but Papa does not like that solution. He also doesn't like the solution of buying a Portable Solar Generator from Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Solar-Generator-Portable-256Wh-Emergency/dp/B00HVQ4GPQ/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1500592940&sr=8-2-fkmr2&keywords=solar+generator+140+watt+Life+Pro+battery+plus+inverter+with+panel that my brother suggests.
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

RedandSilver

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Re: inverter outlets in Suncruiser Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2017, 09:17:22 PM »
Does anyone know which outlets throughout the coach might be 'hot' when we have the inverter turned on? I know the TV can work w/ the inverter on.


On my coach most, if not all, plugs work via the inverter.
There are a few ways to check if they are working with the inverter.
A voltage meter, a regular light bulb, or the easiest is probably plugging in your cell phone charger and looking to see
if it says it's charging.  Move around to each outlet and try one method and you should find all the outlets that work with the inverter.

What is Papa's objection to running the generator?  Noise? Fuel used? Wear and tear on the generator?
When you run the generator it should charge the house batteries which would help the inverter work longer with fully charged batteries.
Also It's generally better to run the generator to exercise it with a full load on it.   
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp

robertusa123

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2017, 09:55:57 PM »
I use a inverter to.power my laptop for.work   never needed.one bigger then 200 watt
1996  26ft. 3 kids 2 dog and the wife too

DearMissMermaid

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Re: power for my laptop
« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2017, 06:11:07 AM »

First, Lenovo has some awesome programs for battery management to extend the life to the max.

Next, figure out your priorities on the laptop and do the most important first.

You don't mention if you are working or playing on the laptop. One of the huge bonuses of camping is unplugging and getting out in nature. You may be missing out on some one of a kind adventures in nature.

There are several options, one is to have multiple laptop batteries, but generally each battery has to be plugged into the laptop to charge.

It's possible the 3 inverters that died on you simply blew their fuse. Replace the fuse and you are good to go. You need a tiny inverter for the laptop, not a big one.

For instance my Lenovo 110 charger says 90 watts, 20 volts. So I believe that means you need either a 12 volt cord that steps up to 20 volts, or you need a 110 inverter that is only 100 watts. Most 12 volt inverters have a fuse hiding inside the cigarette plug.

Years ago when I lived on my sailboat in the Caribbean with solar panels as my only battery charger, there was a company that would build a 12 volt cigarette adapter for my laptop. It worked beautifully. Sadly they are no longer in business. At that time, laptops were rare and the internet wasn't happening yet. But there I was zipping away on my laptop with the sunshine power to keep the batteries topped up. I was using the laptop for work and thought the idea of people using a computer to "play" was absurd and would never happen. Boy did I have a lot to learn!

If your batteries aren't holding a charge for long, then it's time to replace them. Lenovo has a great battery program that will tell you the state of your batteries and if they are ready to replace.

Alternatively, there are battery banks now that will run your laptop. Then when you do have power, you can simultaneously charge the battery bank and the lenovo battery.There are simple solar systems that will recharge the battery bank, so I think that is going to be your best bet. The bonus being you will have the power bank for power outages elsewhere.

I own this power bank:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071RC5Y3N/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&psc=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=motorhomeandrvstore-20&linkId=fafab30cb111552aad1b7c53bbf56515

I don't have the solar yet, but I understand it accepts a 15 volt solar input. So basically you could be using your lenovo on its own battery while your power bank is using solar to recharge, then when your battery dies on lenovo, plug it into the power bank which will run the laptop while recharging the lenovo battery. When your battery is topped up, unplug and let the solar recharge your power bank. Since it's all portable, you don't have to be parked in the sun with the camper, you just have to find sunshine for the solar panel.

The other choice is get papa a solar panel for the RV battery and get a 100 watt inverter to use in the cigarette outlet. A hard solar panel lasts a lot longer than the flexible ones. A movable solar panel is better than fixed. You can find the sunshine without having to park/camp in full sun.

I bought a high capacity extended life lithium for my lenovo, it sticks out the back bigger than most batteries. It lasts about 7 hours if I have it on max battery life for settings.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=lenovo+extended+life+battery&rh=i:aps,k:lenovo+extended+life+battery&linkCode=ll2&tag=motorhomeandrvstore-20&linkId=51b3f04c2e694205cb60c4474d002d6c
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