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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bleg: Looking for a decent laptop solar charger

On the off chance that manufacturers and PR folks read this blog...

For years now I have been looking for a way to charge my laptop in case I lose power for an extended period of time (such as after a hurricane). It doesn't have to power it directly, although that would be nice; simply trickle-charging it will do. Having a battery supply that would allow me to run a box fan in order to stay cool is also a very good thing.

The problem isn't finding such a product. The problem, as always, is that I have a severely limited budget and cannot afford the several hundred dollars these systems cost. The (very) few systems that are in my price range are, shall we say, of questionable durability and I really don't want to just throw that kind of money away.

I've been told that I can assemble a rudimentary system fairly easily. Such discussions usually involve formulae of volts, amps, and watts thrown about willy-nilly. I don't do well with any math more involved than simple arithmetic and, frankly, I don't trust myself not to screw something up. What little I know about electricity has instilled in me a healthy respect for its power, and I know full-well that it is something one does not simply screw around with.

So, in the event that someone out there has an alternative energy method of charging a laptop and powering a box fan, please contact me. I am poor, but I have a good readership of techno-geeks, gunnies, preppers, and other folks who are likely to be interested in this sort of thing (my review of survival stoves was very popular and sold not a few of the ones I liked), and I would be willing to trade my pretty, pretty words in exchange for testing your fine product.

12 comments:

  1. Charging a laptop isn't a huge deal. Most laptop AC adapters draw about 65-85W. Using a small solar cell or three to trickle-charge a deep-cycle battery and then powering/charging the laptop via inverter would be the way to do that.

    A box fan, however... that's a pretty serious load for a small system. Numbers I'm finding are in the 150W range, which would give you about 2.5 hours of run time before you're done (I'm REALLY roughing numbers here, figuring a 200W inverter on a 100A-h battery drawn down to a 50% charge). Solar cells are not a good way to power motors. More pending...

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  2. See, deep-cycle batteries are 1) exceptionally bulky, 2) expensive, and 3) potentially hazardous and therefore not ideal for keeping in my room. 

    150W? Really?  It's just a simple 3-speed box fan, made my Lasko. I think the brand name is Galaxy. 

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  3. Really. I pulled the numbers from the walmart site: http://answers.walmart.com/answers/1336/product/9204066/questions.htm
    And yes, deep-cycles are bulky, expensive, and hazardous. You may have better luck with something like one of the Brunton products which use a small solar cell to charge a LiIon or LiPo battery - and then limit your tech usage to a smartphone or tablet.

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  4. All I want is a way to keep my laptop charged and power a fan so I can stay cool if we lose power. :(

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  5. You know... I didn't ask you to do the math. Just to give me the data from the labels so _I_ could do it. The formulas were just for education. [grin]

    Given your budget, if this doesn't prompt a review-gimme, you're just gonna hafta 'ssemble a system yourself.

    That box fan requirement is the killer. That's what keeps driving you up into the multi-hundred dollar range; trickle charging a laptop is easy. I still say to get a little battery-powered camp fan that'll at least put a breeze on your face. Then you can go with a _much_ cheaper laptop charger.

    I'd assemble it for you if I were in your area. As is, shipping parts to me then shipping the assembly to you would just add to the expense.

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  6. I have not tested these, but Goal Zero offers some different options, from minimalist up to base-camp level and perhaps even life-off-grid permanency. Different levels offer different price options too, but I'd say that all are relatively expensive for their output.

    http://www.goalzero.com/

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  7. Oh my goodness, I would LOVE to review some Goal Zero stuff -- particularly their Escape 150 Explorer Kit -- but that is far beyond my price range. 

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  8. Try for a T&E? Honestly, you'd probably be doing alot of people a favor anyway. I was hoping to find a good review before plonking money down myself.

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  9. I'd recommend minions. Oiled, tanned, and waving fans or feeding you grapes.

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  10. If I had minions, so many of my problems would go away...  I should hold a bake sale/ recruiting drive. 

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  11.  

    Well, if you can’t find one,
    you can do what other people do! They just buy another battery for their
    laptops and store it. Just like any kind of battery for flashlights or other
    electronic devices, it would be handy in times of emergency. Just make sure you
    check on it once in a while to see if it’s discharged.


    ReplyDelete


  12. Well, if you can’t find one,
    you can do what other people do! They just buy another battery for their
    laptops and store it. Just like any kind of battery for flashlights or other
    electronic devices, it would be handy in times of emergency. Just make sure you
    check on it once in a while to see if it’s discharged.
     

    ReplyDelete

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