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Old 06-01-2009, 01:29 AM   #1
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Laptops and occasional dry camping?

We want to dry camp every other day or so and use our laptops and printer. The 12V outlet in the trailer doesn't provide enough juice. Either our batteries are crapped or overloaded by this. I'm not savvy with electricity.
Has anyone used a UPC in their trailer to power up appliances and such? I'm looking for a recommend and some realistic usage times (like 4 hours for 2 lappies and a printer).
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:55 AM   #2
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Hi Silver!

You will need at least a 500w inverter in order to power one laptop. I;ve tried with a 400w, and it overloads when the HD spins up. About UPS, they usually do not like to be run /charged from an inverter. I have a 17" laptop and I don't think I could rxpect 4 hours on 2 12v batteries.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:48 PM   #3
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This is not my area of expertise at all but couldn't you use something like this:

IBM ThinkPad X23 100 watts DC 12V & AC 110-240V to Out DC15-26V Laptop Universal Power Adaptor

It looks like that can be used for other devices using DC15-26V. I know my laptop uses 20V so it looks like that would work for mine unless I am missing something. I don't know about a printer though.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:59 PM   #4
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Not quite sure what your power requirements are. I use a Compaq Pressario F730US. I can run it with a 300 watt inverter. Just use it when needed. I still have a 6 hr limit on battery charge. This is with 2 marine batteries. Can't wait till I can get solar.

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Old 06-01-2009, 11:57 PM   #5
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I routinely use a tiny plugin adapter to power my Apple 17-inch Powerbook G4 off the 12v plugs in our Airstream. I've operated this way for hours and hours. The AC adapter on this laptop is a mere 65 watts. Our trailer has solar panels so the batteries are the glass mat variety.

You should be able to find a suitable adapter for under $30 so just try it out and take it back if it doesn't work for you.
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Old 06-02-2009, 12:13 AM   #6
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Skip the inverter and get a car adaptor for your laptop. They can be hard to find but if it's a reasonably common model and a little time you should be able to find one on the internet. post your laptop model and I'll take a look.
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Old 06-02-2009, 12:26 AM   #7
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We got a Targus car adapter for our Toshiba laptop at Best Buy. Works just fine in the trailer. It will run the laptop as well as charge it.

It will also run and charge using the inverter, but I think that takes more battery juice as you are converting 12v DC to 110v AC, then back to 15.5 DC for the Toshiba. The Targus goes straight from 12v to 15.5.
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Old 06-02-2009, 02:22 AM   #8
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Ultra Portable Power Inverter 150

Kensington Ultra Portable Power Inverter 150 provides up to 150 watts of AC power and recharges our MacBook Pro laptop computer when we are dry camping.

I bought it from the Apple Store in San Diego.

See my article, "Safari Solar Power", History Safari Express, Airstream Life Online Community for pictures on this and other ways to minimize power consumption and still enjoy your laptop, iPod, and other electronic goodies while doing "dry camping" or, as I like to say, non-hook-up camping.
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:46 AM   #9
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We have a car adaptor for our laptop, wouldn't want to travel without it. Have also been known to take the laptop into the bathhouses, which often have outlets, and plug in for a bit to check news, etc.
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:06 AM   #10
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Lots of choices

I almost always have a small (~150-300watt) inverter with me, but they do waste power converting back and forth. A computer specific car adapter is the way to go IMHO. BUT be aware that many if not all Dell products will not always work with generic adapters, I ran into this problem starting with a Dell D610 it would only work with the Dell adapter.

As far as printers, depends. I have an ancient Cannon BJC85 with a battery pack my larger HP printers use lower voltage than standard 120v, so with careful shopping you might be able to find one that runs directly from 12v. I know they are out there, just not sure who makes them. Every time you step power up or down you lose.

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Old 06-03-2009, 07:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverGate View Post
Kensington Ultra Portable Power Inverter 150 provides up to 150 watts of AC power and recharges our MacBook Pro laptop computer when we are dry camping.

I bought it from the Apple Store in San Diego.

See my article, "Safari Solar Power", History Safari Express, Airstream Life Online Community for pictures on this and other ways to minimize power consumption and still enjoy your laptop, iPod, and other electronic goodies while doing "dry camping" or, as I like to say, non-hook-up camping.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:14 AM   #12
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I have used a Statpower PROwatt 250 inverter with 3 different Dell laptops for many years in both my TV and AS. It seems to work real well and I have not had any problems with it. I normally use it for 15 to 30 minutes at a time when dry camping.
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Old 06-23-2009, 02:30 PM   #13
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Laptops have integral DC power supplies driven by internal DC batteries. There is no need add an inverter to create AC just to plug in a AC/DC transformer to recharge your laptop DC battery!

As has been stated in this thread, simply find the "car kit" for your laptop model which will include a 12v DC adapter which you can plug into either your Airstream or your tow vehicles 12v source to rechanrge your laptop. Unplug it as soon as your laptop is charged.
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:21 PM   #14
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I'll vote staying with DC and avoiding the inverter also. It's a huge waste to invert it back to AC only to to let the laptop convert to DC again. Buy the auto power adapters for the laptops. If you only have one 12v DC outlet and you want to run two laptops, I would try a 12v DC Y adapter that converts the one port into 2 (or more), some also have a USB port to charge devices that sip their power from USB.

As for the printer, I've seen car adapters for some of those, so if you need to kill trees while off the grid...

ArtStream, something must be seriously wrong with your inverter if you can't power that 17" laptop with a 400w inverter. Most laptops made in the last 5 years should be using less than 75 watts. Some are down in to 15 watts now. Maybe your extreme power requirements are related to all the flashing lights under your Airstream!?! (Love those lights by the way).

FYI, I recently replaced our 19" Sony LCD with a 22" Vizio (VA22LF) and running it off the battery and through a Kill-a-watt meter shows it draws about 42 watts with the sound up way too loud, 35 watts with sound muted.
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