Hi everybody, we are back with another extremely quick post that we hope will be very helpful...
One of the most common questions we are seeing in facebook groups at the moment is how do I charge my laptop from my 12v set up in my van?
Pretty much everybody has a laptop nowadays and a lot of people work from the road and rely on them to make money so before you take the jump into van life this is something you will need to sort out.
Don't worry the solution couldn't really be any easier and this is what we are going to cover today.
So this is HOW TO CHARGE YOUR LAPTOP IN YOUR VAN...
Let me start by saying there are a few ways to charge your laptop from 12v all will work however some methods will take a lot longer to charge your laptop than others and in some cases charge your battery at a slower rate than you are using the power so even with it plugged in and charging whilst using it the battery will still be loosing power... not ideal at all.
Some examples of methods that will charge your laptop slower than you can at home are..
USB - C / PD Chargers - lots of new modern laptops have a USB - C Charging port and this is awesome. USB- C is a wonderful piece of new technology and is the way forward we 100% agree with that, they can charge gadgets and a quick speed in your house in 240v. The problem is that the 12v technology isn't quite there yet and although you can get USB - C / PD quick charge sockets for your van the watts they can deliver is likely to be less than your laptop needs to charge.
For example my laptop (Macbook) charger is 60w and the highest watt PD socket i can find available at the moment is a PD 3.0 (the latest version) and it is only 36w so although it would eventually charge your laptop to full if left for long enough untouched, if you wanted to use it and charge it at the same time the battery would drain quicker than the charge being put into it. As I said above... not ideal.
Another option would be a 12v laptop charger like back in the day, however even once you have managed to find the correct watts, amps, and connector for your laptop you will still be disappointed at the speed that it will charge your laptop, most of these chargers are over 12v and more like 19v or 20v in most cases so the result is slower charging of the battery.
You can find universal ones on amazon for about £10 however they are not really universal at all as many new laptops have different types of connections like Macbook with Magsafe, the USB-C / PD socket I mentioned above and lots of other weird magnetic connectors that are in no way compatible with a universal laptop charger.
THE BEST WAY TO CHARGE YOUR LAPTOP IN YOUR VAN
If you want your laptop to charge at the same speed as it would in a house so you can use it as much as you like and even use it whilst it's charging then the best option is a low powered inverter.
An inverter will take the 12v of power that a leisure battery will supply and then transforms it into 240v like your plug sockets in your house so you can just plug in your normal 240v laptop charger and the inverter will charge your laptop exactly as it would in a house.
Laptop chargers are quite low wattage in general for example my Macbook charger is 60w, some other Macbooks are 85w and it is very rare to find one over 100w.
So for charging a laptop you only really need a very small inverter, with inverters is is best not to go bigger than you need as the bigger they are the bigger the drain on your battery. Also you don't want to go too small so it is running at full capacity all the time as this will not be good for the inverter.
The general rule for running a charger off of an inverter is to double the watts of what you are running, so with my example above of 85w would be 170w so let's say 200w.
200w inverters are pretty much the smallest inver you can get however we want to up the size so it isn't running flat out all the time so something like a 300w or 400w inverter would be perfect for this.
As the inverter only powers the charger and not the laptop this is good news, you do not need the expensive kind of inverter that runs on pure sine wave, you can use the cheaper type that uses modified sine wave.
We recommend this one below...
BESTEK 400W Power Inverter Car Charger DC 12V to AC 230V 240V Converter with UK Outlet Socket and 4 USB Ports Auto Adapter Power Supply
We actually love Bestek inverters they are the real deal and a decent price and this little thing is AWESOME and we highly recommend it. It comes with a lighter socket adapter so you can use it from your cab lighter socket if you wish to do so but you can also wire it directly to your leisure battery via an inline for a more built in option.
HOW MUCH OF YOU LEISURE BATTERY POWER WILL IT USE?
These little things are actually quite efficient however your laptop battery might take a few hours to charge at home so that means they do require quite a bit of power to charge then.
I will do the maths with the watts of my Macbook charger that is 60w.
60w ÷ 12v = 5 amps
This means that for every hour that your laptop takes to charge it will take 5ah out of your battery thats easy maths.
So if your laptop typically takes 2 hours to charge then it will be 10ah out of you battery and so on.
If you have a bit of a minimalist set up and don't have a huge battery bank or anyway to keep your leisure batteries topped up then this is not a problem either, just charge your laptop from your cab cigarette lighter as you drive and let your vans alternator do all the heavy work.
Ok so that's about it from us today, we hope you all found it helpful.
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