Laptop power source

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howejoyous

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Jan 3, 2006
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Hi everyone.  My husband and I are out on our first RV experience.  Luckily we are fairly close to home.  We have discovered how quickly our laptop battery runs out.  We are drycamping.  We are doing the test drive.  Come October  I expect we will be staying in campgrounds without hookups for about half of the time we are RVing  (about 6 mos of the year--we are going to become Snowbirds).  So it is imperative that we learn what we need to be able to work and use our laptop before we take the big plunge.  We do not expect to do alot of traveling, mostly short camping moves within Southern California.

I would be very appreciative of any suggestions you might have.  I am sure many of you use your computers or laptops regularly and know the secret to staying charged.  We do, incidentally, have a wifi connection that works well--so it's just power that is my dilemma. 

Thank you for your kind assistance.  And wish us luck!.   
 

Carl L

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For starters, what are you in, a motorhome or a trailer?  How big  a trailer?

Motorhome, run the generator. 

Trailer, get a 12VDC power adapter for your computer, the kind they sell for use in cars.  Use it in the trailer to suck power from your house batteries.  Get a second battery if you can.  Solar is a real possibliity since you are down here in So Cal.
 

Ned

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If your computer battery is more than 2 years old, it's probably ready for replacement. ?They seem to last 1-2 years before losing capacity. ?You could also get a small inverter that would connect to your battery via a 12V outlet and power the computer with the AC adapter. ?Or there may be a 12V adapter for the computer as well.
 

Karl

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Power settings are important too. While I don't normally recommend this with tower systems, make sure your hard drive and display are powering down after "x" minutes of non-use. Also, make sure you don't have an unused CD in the tray that's spinning up unnecessarily.
 

BruceinFL

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Mar 12, 2005
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I uses an iGo auto/air 6500 series power adapter that I bought in Best Buy or somewhere like that. It has a 12 volt plug I use in the truck and in the camper plus it also has a plug that works in some airplanes. It comes with a whole bunch of adapters that fit almost any make laptop. Do a Google search for it and you will also find several places to buy it online. I love mine....used it today with the GPS and laptop in the truck.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Buy a 75-100 watt inverter and plug the laptop in.  Forget the laptop battery except for emergencies.

You can pick up a small inverter that plugs into a 12V utility outlet (aka cigarette lighter) at Walmarts, Radio Shacks, Circuit City, Fryes, many truck stops and even some super-drug stores that carry electronic stuff.

 

John From Detroit

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BruceinFL said:
I uses an iGo auto/air 6500 series power adapter that I bought in Best Buy or somewhere like that. It has a 12 volt plug I use in the truck and in the camper plus it also has a plug that works in some airplanes. It comes with a whole bunch of adapters that fit almost any make laptop. Do a Google search for it and you will also find several places to buy it online. I love mine....used it today with the GPS and laptop in the truck.

Mine are not IGO (one is targus I think) but I have two of those (one is Radio Shack) one is airline/auto, the other auto only, both work great, I use one in the MH and one in the towed
 

howejoyous

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Jan 3, 2006
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Thanks everyone for all your great suggestions.  It is so great to get help on this website!!  A friend of ours had an inverter and got it for us, and so now I am online feeling much more connected to everyone!  I didn't realize what it was for until I read your posts this morning. 

I did neglect to say what we are traveling in...it's an older motorhome, class A, 30 ft Dolphin. 

Our newest problem is our water pump just stopped working.  The switch does not turn it on.  My hubby doesn't think it is a fuse problem---the other lights work on the panel but nothing when we flip the water pump switch.  Anybody have any suggestions?  Is this one of those things you can't fix yourself--where you just have to take the RV in?

We are supposed to move out of our site today, and we were hoping to dump the system (our first time doing that too) when we leave.  Will we be able to do that without the use of the water pump? 

Thanks for your help.
Howejoyous
 

Carl L

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Our newest problem is our water pump just stopped working.? The switch does not turn it on.? My hubby doesn't think it is a fuse problem---the other lights work on the panel but nothing when we flip the water pump switch.? ?Anybody have any suggestions?? ?Is this one of those things you can't fix yourself--where you just have to take the RV in?

The water pump may well be on its own circuit with its own breaker/fuse because of the way it operates.? Give the fuse/breaker board a good going over.? ?Bar a blown fuse, it may well be that your 16 year old pump has given up the ghost.

We are supposed to move out of our site today, and we were hoping to dump the system (our first time doing that too) when we leave.? Will we be able to do that without the use of the water pump?

Well if you are talking about the gray and black tanks, they should dump by gravity.? Just hook up to the sewer with you hose and open and close each knife valve in turn -- first black, then gray.  Close the black before opening the gray. ? ?It would be really nice to have water to wash up in afterwards, but not essential.? Dump stations typically have clean up water handy in the even of a spill.?
 

John From Detroit

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The rig's water pump has to do with fresh water,  Not used water  Thus, not a problem

As for the pump not working,,, There are many failure modes and often multiple fuses

One, is there a "PUMP ON" light? If the switch no longer turns on the PUMP on light then it limits failure modes

If the light comes on that too limits failure modes

Here is a list of possible failures,,, It may well not be complete  I'll list a few symptoms

Light does not come on:
Blown fuse, Check at the PRIMARY fuse panel for 12vdc distribution

bad switch, 2nd switch in the line that is turned OFF (My rig has two switches but wired as a logic gate, that is they are wired like a stairway light switch, (you know, where you can turn on and off from EITHER end of the stairway or hallway)  If there is more than one switch, check both, use a meter

Broken or disconnected wire (I have seen both, thankfully NOT in my rig)

Light comes on, Pump makes noise, no water

Tank empty (Don't laugh)

Lines clogged

Line broken

Tank outlet valve OFF

Bent line

In all cases I'd say the repair is obvious... One thing that might not be obvious till you see it is the pump strainer (filter screen) it may be clogged... This is usually located very close to the pump inlet

Light comes on, no noise, no vibration, no nothing

Blown fuse but not the one at the fuse panel (2nd inline fuse to the motor) check for voltage with meter or test light AT THE PUMP MOTOR or pressure switch)

Bad pressure switch on pump (if you can check between pressure switch and motor, do so, some cases this is not possible)

Bad pump (replace with new higher quaility pump)


I hope this helps.


Note, these pumps are supposed to be self priming... They won't always prime quickly though,,, I had to do a manual prime on mine.  Of course FILLING the supply tank (instead of just a few gallons) would have primed it up nicely
 

ZuniJayne

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near Albuquerque, NM
Howe,

Here is another thought on inverters.I used a 200 watt inverter for several years for my laptop charging and other small items. (Don't use the BIG inverter if you can use a small one.  The big one eats a lot of battery juice by just being ON.  Best to match the inverter to the load.  I save my 1750 watt inverter for the big loads, like microwave or vacuum cleaner or Skil saw...)

I live totally "off the grid."  I noticed last week that my cell phone, fire radio, and cordless phone batteries weren't keeping a normal charge.  I checked the output of the two small inverters (150-200 watts) and saw that the output voltage was only 90 volts tops, even tho the input was 14.5 volts.

Longterm use of such low voltage (should be at least 110-120 volts) will damage your charging items, especially by shortening their respective battery lives.  A multimeter is one of the RVer's best friends.  :)

 

John From Detroit

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ZuniJayne said: A multimeter is one of the RVer's best friends.

Oh yes, I can not tell you how many times I've been very glad I had a multmeter (VOM) on hand, or how many people have been glad I've had it.  When it comes to all problems electrical it is #1 on the list of things you need\\

I have meters ranging in value from $1.00 (Yup, got it at a dollar store) to about $200, and all are equally useful for most things,  the expensive one does a few things the dollar box does not and does all of them more accurately
 

John From Detroit

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Davison Michigan
duhfur said:
Ok what is a smaller one better? Why isn't bigger better?


He answered that in part already.. Inverters have what is called "Idle Current" that is a more or less set amount of power it will draw even if it's not doing anyting,  This is added to the power drawn to run the load.  A small, oh, say 200 watt inverter has a lower idel currrent than a large 2,000 watt job, it is that simple, less waste.

Also if the inverter is way too large it may loose voltage regulation at next to no load, but that is (today) rather rare
 
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