How to Charge Your Laptop on the Go
When you're on the road it can be hard to find somewhere to plug your laptop in. One way you can make sure it's always charged is to get a car charger for your laptop as well as your mobile phone.
What About an Inverter?
The first decision you should make is whether you would be better served by using an adapter or an inverter. Either can power your laptop from your car battery but you should be aware of the trade-offs you have to make for each one:
- Inverters: Where a rectifier converts AC power to DC, an inverter does the opposite. It converts the DC power your battery provides to the AC your laptop's regular charger needs. One advantage of this approach is that you can power just anything that you could use in your house; the disadvantage is that because you're converting from DC to AC and then back to DC, you're losing quite a bit of power in the process and you'll see that at the gas pump.
- Chargers: Going with a charger gives up flexibility, as even a universal charger can still only provide DC current. At the same time, you get a lot more efficiency by taking AC out of the equation. It's easier on your battery, and your computer because some inverters put out square rather than sine waves and that can be hard on circuitry.
Universal or Proprietary?
There are two ways to approach getting a car charger for your laptop. You can either go with a universal charger or a proprietary car charger that's designed specifically for your laptop. Obviously, there are some manufacturers that don't make car chargers, and in that case, the decision is made for you.
- Proprietary: The advantage of a proprietary car charger is that it just works. It aims to work with your laptop so all you have to do is plug one end into the cigarette lighter and the cable on the other end into your laptop. This is the easy way to power your laptop in your car.
- Universal: A universal car charger has the advantage that you can leave the charger in the car and use it with multiple laptops. Most come with multiple connectors, so you can use the one that works with your laptop. Always check the polarity since using a positive polarity plug with a negative polarity laptop can damage your system.
Using a Car Charger
Everyone charges in the car. While some cars offer USB ports built-in, you can always benefit from a fast car charger. Many USB chargers offer dual ports, so you can plug in multiple devices. Do be aware that one cigarette lighter can usually only handle a single laptop charger, especially if it offers quick charge.