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Need help with laptop power issues
Jan :)
I have a bit of a problem and I am in hopes that someone might have an
answer.

I took a drive down to near Glassy Mountain, SC to attend a wedding over the weekend, and planned to come back through the Great Smoky Mountains. As it was my first time ever driving in that area I wanted to take my laptop with MapPoint and my GPS to make sure I didn't get lot, of if I did, I had some way to find my way back to a main highway someplace.

Upon recommendations of several friends in the private ngs I bought a power adapter so that I could power my laptop off my car battery along the way. On the trip down and for the first couple of days it worked fine, but, on the way home, as I was going through the Smoky, I started to smell something like very hot wiring or plastic. I pulled over and checked the adapter and it was only warm, and then I checked the plug in and it was very hot to the touch. I quickly unplugged it to let it cool down. As I was doing a lot of climbing and was at high altitudes, I thought perhaps it had gotten over heated for some reason, so I left it off for a while. Once out of the higher elevations, and needing to have my MapPoint back up and to running to make sure I took the right turns out of the mountains, I went to plug the adapter back in, and when I pushed on it to insert it into the cig lighter, the cig lighter popped out of the hole in the ashtray were it was supposed to be! The plastic all around it had gotten overheated and melted and that was what had been smelling. It would not fit back into the hole, as the plastic had cooled and was erros, so the cig lighter would not fit back into the hole. So, I plugged the adapter into the cig lighter anyway and it seemed to do just fine, it never overheated again, was never more than warm to the touch, which was normal. This was the first time I had ever used it, so I was not sure what caused the overheating.

I'm not worried about the cig lighter as I don't smoke and no one else ever uses it. But, I would like to find a better means to hookup to that power source for my power adapter. I was wondering if there might be some sort of until that could installed utilizing the wiring of the cig lighter that would provide a better means of connection, and one that would not overheat. Something that could perhaps bolt under the dash so plug the adapter into. I have several other devices that I could use the cig lighter for, such as the portable battery charger for my digi camera, my cell phone charger, etc. but, would like to be able to have a more substantial unit to use besides the ashtray.

If anyone has any suggestions I am totally open and interested to hear/read them.
Marvin Hlavac
Jan, I have always disliked the cigarette-lighter-type connections. My guess would be that the overheating was simply due to bad contact between the plug and the accessory outlet. Perhaps the plug wasn't all the way in, or there might have been little bit of dirt preventing good contact.

One possible solution would be to purchase a car power inverter, such as the one shown below (~$40), and wire it directly to the car's battery (via a fusible link), or connecting it somewhere in the fuse box. If you don't feel like doing it yourself, I'm sure your friendly car repairman will do it for you while you wait .

The inverter would give you regular household power (110 Volts) for your laptop and other accessories.
Jan :)
Thanks, Marvin, I will look into this. I have never really felt comfortable using the cig lighter in the car for much of anything, but, thought that perhaps the newer technology would make it more adaptable for such uses. However, as you say, it could have been a bad fit in the connection.

Thank you again for the information, I truly appreciate it. :-)
zammer
I happen to have that exact inverter and plan on trying it with my laptop in the near future,good to see that its recommended.
Jan :)
Here is the one that I bought. I think it will be a good unit for my needs, and I am going to conenct it direct to the battery.

Model: CPI 450
SN# 707060837

400 Watt Continuous
800 Watt Peak


Jan
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