The Ultimate Buying Guide for In-Car Laptop Chargers

Thanks to their portability and convenience, laptops have become important devices in users day-to-day lives. You can take it along with you on a business trip to take down your notes and make your presentations. You can watch your favorite videos or listen to your favorite songs while on the move. However, you will need to watch your battery power. It is good to invest in an emergency power supply unit for your laptop when you are going on a long road trip.

What are the different types of car chargers?

There two main types of chargers namely, universal and model-specific. You will only find the other variations on the kind of connector used and the voltage. Many laptops have either a barrelled docking or a USB port.

  • Universal chargers - You can use universal chargers across multiple devices. They can power up laptops, game consoles, and other electrical devices. When buying a universal DC/DC power supply, make sure that the output current matches that of your laptop. Most Dell models have a 90W power rating.
  • Model-specific laptop chargers - It is always advisable to get a power supply converter with features specifically made for your laptop. When you have a D631 or D400 Dell laptop, look for chargers designed for use on Dell Latitude notebooks and netbooks. It doesn't have to come from Dell. There are other manufacturers making chargers suitable for the same models.

Can I use my AC adaptor in the car?

Most AC adaptors run on 110/220V alternating current, while the electrical power on the car is about 12V direct current. A typical Dell Latitude laptop uses a 19V charger. The only way to charge your Dell laptop in such a situation is getting a device that will convert the voltage to a 19/20V current that can charge your laptop. There are two devices that can help you with this, an in-car adapter charger or a power inverter.

What is a power inverter?

This is a device that plugs into the cigarette socket and converts the 12V current into a current that your AC charger can draw from. It usually has a normal wall socket at the other end, where you can plug-in. The inverter may place a huge strain on your battery or mess with the wiring system. Always observe extra caution when shopping for these devices.

Important tips when using in-car laptop chargers

  • Standard laptop car chargers plug into the cigarette lighter socket in your car. Make sure that you have a working socket.
  • Place the laptop in a place where it cannot get trampled on or damaged easily. The front passenger seat might work just fine when unoccupied.
  • The chargers drain a lot of power from the battery. You should only plug them in while the engine is running. Some chargers may stop working or beep once your battery power drops below the 10/12V threshold.

Content provided for informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by Dell.