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I will be Traveling cross country with my MacBook Pro Laptop - how do I power it on the road

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Posted by Saki on August 13, 2008, 6:52 pm
I will be Traveling cross country with my MacBook Pro Laptop - how do
I power it with Solar? Are there recommended kits?

The power adapter says:

Input 100-240V~1.5A 50-60 Hz
Output 16.5-18.5 V 4.6A Max

Posted by Eric Sears on August 13, 2008, 11:08 pm

On Wed, 13 Aug 2008 11:52:10 -0700 (PDT), Saki

The simplest way is probably to get a suitably-sized solar panel, a
12volt (probably gell) rechargeable battery, and a 12v adapter for
your laptop. Under some circumstances you might do away with the
battery, and just use a simple regulator to make sure you do not
exceed the input voltage of the adapter.

However, there are a number of other questions that need to be asked
before you do this  - such as -
1) WHY do you want to use solar? (its likely to be the least
cost-effective solution)
2) How many hours per day do you wish to use it?

Suggestions -
It you are travelling by car, using the car battery is likely to be a
better option. Just get a suitable 12v adapter (they are about $0
here is NZ - suit most computers).
Some people just use a small, cheap inverter, but personally I think
the dc adapter is a better, more efficient option.

If you are travelling by public transport, and depending on how long
you are travelling each day, its unlikely you will be able to do much
solar charging while you are travelling.

Eric Sears

Posted by Roderick on August 14, 2008, 1:10 am
 It would take a large solar panel to recharge your laptop.  I'm not
saying it can't be done, but you would probably need about an 80-watt
panel, and that would be something rigid, and at least 2 feet by 3
feet.  There are flexible panels sold, but those would be even larger,
as the output is less.  And the cost of such a system would be a few
hundred dollars.

If I were driving my own car, I would get an inverter that plugs into
the cigarette lighter, and use that to power my laptop charger.  If I
was going by bicycle, I would just carry a charger, and rely on
plugging the laptop in at motels or coffee shops.  If I knew that I
had to be away from power outlets, I might carry some spare charged
batteries.  Or, maybe I would use a smaller, less power-hungry
device.  A PSP can surf the internet, and so can many phones.

Posted by Saki on August 18, 2008, 5:29 am
Thanks for the info.

As for the Solar Panel, what if I just wanted to charge my laptop, but
not run it? What all do I need? This is for when I'm camping away from
power. Unfortunately, I need my laptop.

As for when I'm in a car, will this work?

Or do I really need a $0 adapter - okay if it's what is safest.

Posted by dold on August 19, 2008, 9:38 pm

That adapter is kind of small.  69 watts might not run your laptop.  
Look at the rating on your AC adapter.  Mine is 90W.

I use a 175W adapter that I bought at Kragen Auto parts for about $0,
something like

I have the laptop powered off and plugged into the inverter while I'm
driving, so the battery tends to be fully charged when I stop.
The Belkin might work for that sort of charging, without running the laptop
at the same time.  Most of the small inverters just shut down if they are
overloaded, so if you already have the Belkin, you could just try it.
Mine also has a low voltage alarm if the input (car battery) drops too low,
and will shut off before the battery is too low to start the car.

Kragen also has a 15w solar panel and charge controller...

Clarence A Dold - Hidden Valley Lake, CA, USA  GPS: 38.8,-122.5

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