HomeHardware


Power for laptop in Vehicle.
edh
I am quite interested in opinions of laptop owners who use their laptops in their vehicle about what they do for power. What equipment have you got, brand etc and how reliable have you found it?
I'd be interested in reading about instalation problems or tips for inverters and also from anyone who has experience using any other power option.
I have purchased an inverter and have intended to build a stand for my vehicle that would hold the inverter and the laptop. I've spent a little bit of time trying to figure the most efficient way to install it. The manufacturer seems to discourage installation in the engine compartment, but recommends a short line from the battery to the inverter. Their recommendation is about 3 ft only. No restrictions on length of extension cord. My engine compartment is a bit crowded and the location I like is behind the grill but this would expose it to winter winds and rain.
I'm also a bit paranoid about surges etc as a result of alternator malfunction.
Any comments and tips will be really appreciated!!

Ed
tcassidy
I am surprised with the manufacturers 3 foot limit unless your inverter is in the 800w+ range. Your laptop should run fine on a 200w inverter. At 80% efficiency, that would be under 20A running full tilt. Probably much less than 15A running the laptop. You could go considerably farther than 3 feet at that current with a mid-size wire.
I usually mount the inverter under the front seat but you may not have as much room. Remember, you need to mount the convertor for the laptop as well (the thing that changes the 120v from the inverter to whatever voltage the laptop wants).
The worst that could happen with a voltage spike if the regulator fails is a failure of the inverter. Usually they are protected against that. The laptop wouldn't see the overvoltage.
Terry
edh
Hi tcassidy,

Yup, thats me, the bane of my life. Why have a single decker when you can have triple decker for less than double . I got my inverter on sale at CT and had in mind that I could use it for power tools as well.
It is about 800 watts does that mean that there is not a problem installing it in the empty CD player compartment under the front seat?

Ed
tcassidy
Ed,
Not a problem if you limit the things you use it for. It will only draw the current it needs to provide the output you ask for. To be safe, you should use an in-line fuse of about 20A on the home run positive lead. Size the wire based on the distance plus that current.
You won't need to run the negative lead back to the battery. Just provide a good ground on the body or frame close to the inverter.
The in-line fuse should protect the inverter, wiring, and you if you suddenly decide to use your circular saw with the inverter.Trouble lights should be fine though.
Terry
Ducati
I have a couple of Thinkpads a T41 and an x31.

IBM / Lenovo uses a factory combo Home/Car/Airplane slimline charger.

To switch to different power source all you do is change the cord that connects from the power block to the power source, ie. wall plug-in or car adapter.

You could even charge cell phones etc. with optional tips.
http://lenovoblogs.com/designmatters/?p=194
Overland1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducati
I have a couple of Thinkpads a T41 and an x31.

IBM / Lenovo uses a factory combo Home/Car/Airplane slimline charger.

To switch to different power source all you do is change the cord that connects from the power block to the power source, ie. wall plug-in or car adapter.

You could even charge cell phones etc. with optional tips.
http://lenovoblogs.com/designmatters/?p=194
I just upgraded to a ThinkPad (from a Sony VAIO); that AC/DC combination power supply setup is great!

For those looking to buy an inverter (I used a 400-W unit to power the Sony), be careful about the 12VDC input. While running it from a "cigar lighter" jack may work, you may notice a fair amount of noise in the car radio (mostly AM band). When I noticed this, I wired the inverter to the battery and the problem seemed to diminish markedly; the remaining noise was caused by the Sony power supply. I then connected the inverter back through the lighter jack and ran a ground to a known good grounding point on the vehicle; this resulted in some reduction in noise.

Because many people rarely use the AM broadcast band (and/or run HF radio equipment) in the vehicle; the above may not be a concern.
Ducati
I just bought the very recent "previous" version. OEM new in box. I am very happy with it.
Ducati
What model Thinkpad did you get? I have a T41 and an x31.

I like them because they are very durable. I work alot at night so I really like the "Thinklight" keyboard light and the "UltraNav" touchpad as well.

I have found that working in a dark to very dark environment that by dimming the screen all the way down and turning the keyboard light on works very well.

It is nice to have the ability to upgrade these as well.
derek_b
I'm using a whistler 650 inverter that I installed in the trunk of my Kia Sonata (little suv). It came with a 3' chord and aligator clips for high curent applications, but so far I haven't needed to use it. I have a power strip plugged into it, run under the seat. This model has a fairly loud fan and I like having the slim power strip with some 8 sockets (including 2 spaced for wallwarts) to plug things into. (laptop, printer, chargers, passenger laptop, etc). It has an audible alarm in case I go crazy and plug in a hammer drill , j/k.
laptopgpsworld.com About