Using a laptop on the road may be bothersome for more than one reason. Even if you fully charge it before you start using it in a car, the battery will drain in a few hours. Some laptops have power management features that dim the screen automatically when there is no power source. You can hardwire your laptop with your car's battery so that it has a steady source of power as long as the vehicle is in ignition. Because the battery supplies DC (direct current) and you need AC (alternating current) for the laptop, you will have to use an inverter, a device that will supply your laptop with power.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Laptop manual
- Laptop power cord
- Portable inverter
- Vehicle lighter port
Refer to your user manual and note down the laptop's manufacturer and model. While most inverters are compatible with a range of devices, if there is a product that is designed specifically for laptop, you will get better results in terms of power management, performance and durability. Get an inverter that will support your car battery type and laptop.
Read the directions that came with the portable inverter. The text has information on usage safety and optimum performance efficiency, which may vary depending on the type of inverter.
Plug in the inverter's AC input cord into the cigarette lighter port. Most portable inverters have two ends; one end fits perfectly inside the lighter, and the other ends in a boxlike arrangement with a socket, which is the DC output. When you plug in the AC input cord to the lighter, you establish a connection with your card battery.
Turn off your laptop and plug in the power cord to the DC output socket. This completes the connection between your car battery and the laptop, with the portable inverter acting as the bridge that converts power from the battery to usable power for the laptop.
Turn on the laptop and wait for the operating system and initial processes to load. When the system is idle, check whether the laptop has access to power from the car battery. You can check power on most models and operating systems from the system notification on the bottom right of the screen. When there is a constant power, the battery icon usually shows a cord beside it.
Tips and warnings
- Unplug your laptop from the DC output when you are not using it. If your computer is turned on, it may feed on the battery power, even if the system is idle.
- The solder used in the device contains lead, a substance that is known to cause birth defects and harm the reproductive system. Always wash your hands if you touch internal components, and avoid inhaling fumes if the solder overheats.
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