Power Inverter for Charging Laptop in the car? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-30-2007, 05:31 PM   #1
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I just wondered if anyone had purchased a power inverter for charging and using a laptop from the car's power plug (i.e. what used to be the "cigarette lighter plug") and if so, how well do you like it (and what brand did you get)?

It looks as though it's important to get a pure sine wave inverter rather than a modified wave inverter to avoid computer glitches.
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:21 PM   #2
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I have a 75 Watt inverter that I've used for about 7 years to power a laptop, and charge lap top batteries. Anything in that area will work just fine.
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:48 PM   #3
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Byron,

Is it pure sine wave or modified? What brand and where did you get it? Thanks!
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:51 PM   #4
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I found that all 3 of the inverters I purchased to use as you describe produced RF interference. Made monitoring CB and/or amatuer radio almost impossible because of the interference.

I got a 12 volt direct to computer plug. It steps up the 12 volts to the 16 volts most laptop computers get from the AC power supply. Yes they are about double the cost of an inverter. The last a long long time. Mine is 8 years old and still working just fine.

Curt
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:53 PM   #5
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Byron,

Is it pure sine wave or modified? What brand and where did you get it? Thanks!
My memory doesn't go back that far. I'll look up the brand when I get home, if it's marked on it. Probably got it at Wal-Mart or some such place. Bought it just for using with the LapTop, but have used it for a couple other things.
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:56 PM   #6
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I saw a new type at BJs that hangs from the back of your car seat and it is advertised as working with a PC.

Because the PC runs internally on DC anyway, and just takes the AC 50 or 60 cycle sign wave and converts it to DC through a full wave bridge rectifier then filtered, I really doubt if it really makes a difference how clean the sign wave should be. You would have to look at it on a scope to see if it had any ripples in the DC.
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Old 08-30-2007, 07:13 PM   #7
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I have used modified sine wave inverters (the ordinary cheap ones) for several years. Tried to run my wife's sewing machine on one and the machine refused to run.

The information I have about lap tops running on these garbled waveforms is mixed. Some say they can and some warn agains it. Hard drives and scanners may refuse to run properly I have been told.

Because of the sewing machine fiasco I bought a 300w pure sine wave inverter in a brand popular with truckers (If anyone should know, they should know, right?). Samlex is the brand, Ebay is the place. The sewing machine smiled, started right up and quilted right along. Anything that runs off 120v house current will safely run on these little gems. Price was quite a bit lower than from Camping World or other RV suppliers.
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:46 PM   #8
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We have used many, as we like to use the map programs on the computer while we drive. Since it is running and not just charging we found we need a higher watt. We tried 100w and that sizzled. We now have a Black and decker from Wal-mart that puts out 400 watts and don't have a problem as long as the auto is running. When the auto is shut off the still running computer draws enough that there is an alarm that sounds saying low battery which stops as soon as the auto is started again. We have used a hairdryer and coffee pot on the inverter a few times and they seem to run just fine too if we turn the auto on.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:08 PM   #9
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We have used many, as we like to use the map programs on the computer while we drive. Since it is running and not just charging we found we need a higher watt. We tried 100w and that sizzled. We now have a Black and decker from Wal-mart that puts out 400 watts and don't have a problem as long as the auto is running. When the auto is shut off the still running computer draws enough that there is an alarm that sounds saying low battery which stops as soon as the auto is started again. We have used a hairdryer and coffee pot on the inverter a few times and they seem to run just fine too if we turn the auto on.
Wow, this is good to know because I would have assumed that a 400 w inverter would draw too much from the car battery, even with the car running (but what do I know about car batteries anyway?) I saw that Black & Decker model and will look into it further, as well as the Samlex that Per mentioned. Some of these units look awfully big, but if that's what it takes to safely charge and power a laptop, then okay.

Just checked Ebay and there's only a 600 watt inverter from Samlex, which is more power and more expense than I was looking for right now, so the B&D model might end up being a good one, but I want to investigate Curtis' suggestion too... so many different options!

Thanks!
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:09 PM   #10
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I've had a Belkin ACAnywhere for years to run the laptop in the car. Pretty inexpensive, 140watt 300 watt peak, probably got it at HD or Wally. I believe most laptop power supplies condition the output to the laptop anyway so never worried too much about the Inverter. Never had any problems running or charging the laptop with it for many years now and have never had any interference with anything from it.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:11 PM   #11
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I found that all 3 of the inverters I purchased to use as you describe produced RF interference. Made monitoring CB and/or amatuer radio almost impossible because of the interference.

I got a 12 volt direct to computer plug. It steps up the 12 volts to the 16 volts most laptop computers get from the AC power supply. Yes they are about double the cost of an inverter. The last a long long time. Mine is 8 years old and still working just fine.

Curt
Brand? Store? Price range? Any additional details would be great!
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
I've had a Belkin ACAnywhere for years to run the laptop in the car. Pretty inexpensive, 140watt 300 watt peak, probably got it at HD or Wally. I believe most laptop power supplies condition the output to the laptop anyway so never worried too much about the Inverter. Never had any problems running or charging the laptop with it for many years now and have never had any interference with anything from it.
Cool... Belkin seems to be a decent brand. They manufacture surge suppressors and power back-ups as well, so should know what they are building. I will look into it, 'cause I ain't lookin' for anything real' fancy, just want something that won't fry the laptop and create frizzle-frazzle on the radio. Thanks!
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:47 PM   #13
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I just wondered if anyone had purchased a power inverter for charging and using a laptop from the car's power plug (i.e. what used to be the "cigarette lighter plug") and if so, how well do you like it (and what brand did you get)?

It looks as though it's important to get a pure sine wave inverter rather than a modified wave inverter to avoid computer glitches.
Hi Val...I use a power plug in my van to charge the batteries for my tools for work... Mine says it is a mobile plug 175 - it has a little fan in it that runs as it is charging my batteries... I am using this to charge different wattage of drills and saws, anywhere from 7.2 V to 18V. I do not have a laptop so cannot help with that end... but I understand the sine wave inverter is the best. If you look at www.carmanah.com you may get some information... I have their information for the solar panel system I want to put on the boler for next season.... hope this helps some.... Kathy from Ladner, BC Canada
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:48 PM   #14
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As promised here's the skinny on my old inverter.

Wagen Tech.
75 watt continuous output
150 watt peak.
Made in Taiwan.

The main thing is to check the power supply "brick" for power needed. Little above that is good. A lot above is ok, but not necessary.
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