How to charge notebook in the car

How to charge the laptop in the car from the cigarette lighter

Today the laptop is a popular gadget, which is inferior in prevalence only to smartphones. It is used for work, study and entertainment. Modernity dictates the new rules of life: people do not sit in one place, they like to travel and always take their favorite laptop with you. And often face the problem when the computer power indicator rapidly empties and the only available option – to put it to charge in the car.

Ways to charge the laptop

In fact, not everything is as hopeless as it might sound. Modern technology includes three working options on how to charge a laptop in the car:

  • 12V adapter. Specialized 220V equipment that plugs into the cigarette lighter. Has outputs for charging a variety of devices, including laptops, smartphones, electric shavers, etc. Gives enough power only when the ignition is on.
  • Car charger for laptops. Universal or one that fits only the model of your laptop computer. It is desirable that the manufacturer is the same as the laptop, but not all brands produce such devices.
  • A stand-alone start-up charger. A small box, works on the principle of a power bank. First, the portable device is charged from the mains, after which almost any device can be connected to it.

How to choose the right charger

Car charger-adapter works the same way as a normal charger for a laptop – converts the current received from the mains into the energy needed by the gadget. The only difference is in what such equipment is connected to. The main parameters that you need to pay attention to when choosing:

  • The characteristics of the portable computer. It is necessary that the auto-adapter corresponded to them – did not overload the power supply, but passed a sufficient amount of charge.
  • The type of connector of the laptop’s outputs. Ports such as USB are standard in all devices, but the charging jacks of different manufacturers may differ. Your job is to pick a plug that is compatible with the connector.
  • Wire attachment. Look for models with extra protection for the plug’s connection area with the rest of the equipment.
  • The length of the wire and the dimensions of the accessory. Especially relevant if you plan to charge the laptop from the cigarette lighter. It is better if the set will be compact and the wire length is adjustable, but it is a matter of convenience and does not affect the performance in any way.
  • Price. Inexpensive can be purchased in an online store with delivery. However, in a regular store you can ask the seller for advice and test using the dealer’s scanner. On the Internet, however, there is no guarantee that immediately after purchase the device will work properly and it will not have to be taken to a service center.
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Laptop charging from the cigarette lighter

Connecting to the cigarette lighter is easy to do – you just need to connect a suitable plug to the socket. This requires minimal effort. Much more difficult among the assortment to pick up the right equipment. There is no instruction for this, but there are general rules:

  • The volts and amperes should be the same as indicated on the power supply of the “native” laptop charger.
  • It is recommended to buy equipment with overload protection.
  • Pay attention to the voltage of the cigarette lighter, if you have a “passenger car”, and the accessory is bought for a “truck”, the car battery or the laptop itself will fail because of such charging.

12 V adapter

This is a laptop charger for the car in the form of an inverter – adapter, which connects to the car cigarette lighter on one side and has a USB output (or other type of port) on the other. The average power of the device is 150 V. Functions as a converter of car battery power to power a laptop or other electrically powered device.

The advantages are ease of use, compactness and versatility – you can keep not only a laptop, but also a smartphone or tablet (but do not get carried away, so as not to overload the engine). The main disadvantage is that the equipment charges only if the ignition is turned on. The price range of the adapter – from 1 490 to 6 130 rubles.

12V car adapter

Universal car charger for a laptop

This accessory is suitable only for computers. It looks like an ordinary charger, but it receives electricity not from the network, but directly from the cigarette lighter, so it has a plug corresponding to this connector. For the device to fit all models of laptops, adapters are needed. The advantage of this charger is that it is very easy to charge. The disadvantage: the wire. You can buy this accessory for about 2 000 r.

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Standalone battery charger

Equipment with which it is very easy to charge a laptop in the car, but only if it itself has previously received power from the mains. Capable of keeping the device running for about 3 hours. The advantage is that it does not power the laptop from the cigarette lighter, so it does not depend on the car. Minus: enough only for a few times (then you need to recharge the charger itself), the cost (from 6,490 to 9,760 p).

Standalone Starter-Charger



Michael, 42 years old Charging the laptop in the car was needed during a long trip. It is good that I worried about this issue in advance. I have tried all the options and the auto adapter in the form of an adapter seemed the most suitable. It has enough power, I charge it when I sit behind the wheel, and by the time I stop, I can work on my laptop again. I recommend this method.

Alexey, 31 years old. Three years ago I bought a special power bank to charge my laptop while traveling in the car. To me, it is the best option if you often travel. If you always connect the laptop to the cigarette lighter, it is a heavy load on the battery, and I value my car so much to use it that way.

Vasily, 34 years old Automobile charger bought not out of necessity, but just to not grasp my head with thoughts of “what to do” if my laptop suddenly runs out of battery in the car and will be needed urgently. I think this alternate replacement is more temporary than permanent. I don’t work on my laptop all the time, so I’ve only charged it in the car a couple of times.

Car charger for a laptop with my own hands

On a trip to the Caucasus, we, like all tourists, took a bunch of electronics: 2 phones, SLR, soapbox, two zhps (car and tourist), battery chargers for flashlights, portable radio and a laptop. I agree – there is a lot of unnecessary, but experience is the son of mistakes :)

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The biggest problem with all this stuff is that you have to charge it. Almost all modern devices are powered by either 5 volts or 12 volts, and it’s a good thing the car has both voltages. But there are relatively problematic devices: laptop and camcorder, which need 220V for the native charging, or charge controller 2S lithium from 12 volts.Rarely what laptop now runs on 12 volts – it’s ancient netbooks required such voltage. Most modern ones are pretty ravenous, they want 18-20 volts and consume up to 3 amps.

I have just such an assistant navigator in my possession – Itronix IX-250. It is really indestructible brick, which can be used as a stool, a jack stand, a sandtrack, a board for cutting vegetables and after that open the map in it and drive on.

Actually, this comrade needs the very 19V @ 3A, which is not normally found in the car. Many are doing just that – buy an inverter, which plugs into the cigarette lighter, the inverter is an ordinary mains charger three meters long, and there is already a laptop. It turns out the following conversion: =12V – ~220V – =19V.

This design has the only advantage – through the inverter you can charge not only the laptop, but also other things like the same SLR.

However, the disadvantages are much more:

oooh very long beard design, which in a long trip, and even more so at the competitions will constantly get in the way underfoot. the efficiency of this chain tends to zero :) on each inverter (inverter + laptop’s Bp) will lose up to 10-30% of energy just for air heating. Buying the inverter with modified sinus does not allow me to internal prejudices and technical education, and a good – with a pure sine wave cost a pretty penny, and to buy it only for the laptop is too expensive. I have considered all possible connections and decided on step-up DC-DC converter. That is, we will directly raise the constant 12 (14) V on-board network into constant 19V. Such a converter can be bought ready-made, but those that were presented in local stores did not inspire confidence: non-ventilated plastic case, thin wires, flimsy plastic … Needless to say, I have one at work, it heats up like a kettle and starts to stink.

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I decided to try and make such a thing myself. I can’t lie about it, I didn’t count on it and didn’t make a board, just used a ready made one:

150W Boost Converter DC to DC 10-32V to 12-35V Input voltage: 10-32V Output voltage: 12-35V Max. output current: 6A Max. input current: 10A

You know, you can’t use it in your car, so it would be nice to find a skin for the board. For example this one:

Converter preliminary needed some modification: shunted electrolytic capacitors with ceramics to filter HF noise, and tweaked controller’s feedback as Ksiman advised.

When I took the board and the case in my hands, it is obvious, that the board with heat sinks will not fit in the box, and even without. I decided to unsolder heaters, power elements (diode and mosfet) and to cut board on a sharpening machine until it needed sizes.

After cutting one end we had to restore the track with a wire, and taking the opportunity to unsolder the LED and terminals – they are not needed there. The legs of the power elements had to be bent so that the heat dissipating part was at the same level with the new edge of the board for good contact with the new “heat sink”.

The diode assembly and the diode connector were put on the thermal paste through a thermal rubber band directly on the aluminum housing serving as a radiator and securely fixed with a screw.

As the connector GX16-4 was chosen – it is an “aviation” 4 pin connector able to withstand currents up to 15 amps according to the datasheet. On two pins I let the incoming voltage, and on the remaining two – the outgoing high voltage. The pluses of this connector are its relative tightness and the connector’s solid fit.

Anticipating the hard operating conditions I took care about cables: the input one was a high-temperature resistant multicore 2*1mm2 in double-silicone sheath (Basoglu SIMH). To tell the truth, I even didn’t expect such quality – cable is very soft, pleasant to the touch, inside the outer sheath there are wires in talcum powder, it solders perfectly. I used regular laptop coax as the output. These are usually very hard-wearing cables with a good cross section. I’ve been using these for a long time for crafts where the cable will be under constant strain. I soldered the laptop connector from what I had (temporarily).

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With a bit of trickery I packed both cables into the plug, and put a spring on the thin cable – this design greatly extends the life of the cables around the connectors, as it greatly increases the bending radius and prevents kinking. A ferrite ring on the output line to suppress interference is not superfluous either.

It would be more convenient, of course, to use two sockets in the case – for input and for output from different sides. This is more convenient to install, and the “pass-through” design is more convenient to use. But each pair of pa-mama locally costs 200r, saved.

If you want and a little effort design can be made completely airtight, because both the body and the connector already have a start on this.

My laptop was able to load the converter to only 3.6A @ 11.8V input, at the same time for 20 minutes at this current housing warmed up a bit more than ambient temperature. The pyrometer read 32.3°C. Measuring the temperature of the aluminum box with the pyrometer is not quite correct, but even after painting the area with a black marker the reading did not change.

This is how the whole construction looks like in the car, with the laptop without the battery to confirm the operation. Half an hour of notebook idling had no effect on the temperature of the converter, especially from 13.8V on-board network it will work easier than from 11.8V at home.

The budget came out about 1000 rubles, considering that half of the parts were taken in China. If you take everything locally – you can safely multiply the price by two.

It is necessary, of course, will run the device under a good load before advise it to someone else, but I can see it suits me a hundred percent.

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