View Full Version : Best option to power just a few things...
04-07-2007, 11:33 PM
I've got an event coming up in a few months where I will have to power a Laptop (2.5a Power supply) and a small mixer (says .5a in the manual) for about 3 hours (4 max) a day (not all at once, probably in like 5 30-40 minute increments throughout the day) for two days.
I am going to use a small inverter - probably about 400 watts, but I am not sure what the best route to go is on 12v power to the inverter. I am going to be a long way from home - so I can't get stuck with a dead battery - so I don't know whether I should go with a second battery just to power the equipment (probably a little bit of overkill, but once it is installed, I can use it for other stuff down the road), or whether maybe I should go with a small solar charger connected to the main battery instead:sunny: .
Sorry for being so clueless about supplying 120v to stuff on the road - I've never done this before in a car, so I want to make sure I do it right, have enough power to run everything, and don't leave myself stranded.
Oh - and my main battery is an Optima red-top. Truck is a Trooper.
04-08-2007, 03:06 AM
How about one big battery and a jumpstart pack just in case? Something like an Odyssey 2150 (group 31) or the big Optima Blue Top?
04-08-2007, 03:27 AM
I was thinking similar to asteffes. First, you already have an Optima Red Top which is good. A jumpstart/boostbox is a great low cost backup. Costco has a very high amp version for cheap and they are always great to have. I keep one in my truck with me all winter to help boost other cars.
If you don't have the power inverter yet, try and find one that has a low battery cutoff. The one I have won't let the battery drop below a certain point. Nice safety feature.
For the laptop, I would actually suggest a different route than an inverter. Using one you are basically going DC to AC to DC. Since the inverter uses power itself, it's better to get a cig lighter adapter for the laptop instead. They are very readily available and not expensive - just make sure the one you buy works with your laptop before buying it (especially if you buy online).
One thing worried me is when you mentioned mixer... Those draw high watts from an inverter. I actually fried my wifes Braun handheld mixer a few years back because the inverter didn't put out enough watts. It was enough to turn the motor, but it burned it out in a few minutes. At least it died making a margarita! So check the wattage rating of the mixer and if you don't have enough watts in the invertor, don't use it. The required watts should be listed on the unit itself somewhere.
04-08-2007, 03:33 AM
\I should go with a small solar charger connected to the main battery instead
Forgot to touch on this one. You really do need a fairly decent sized solar panel (or fairly expensive) for it to actually charge the battery (versus maintain the battery) or compensate for a drain like you are speaking of.
As an example, most new VW's that are made in Germany come from the factory with a nice little solar panel. It keeps the battery topped up enough to keep the battery totally fresh when it reaches the customer.
If you want to figure out exactly how many watts of solar you will need to compensate for your load, I would suggest looking at some of the other solar power threads on the board. There are some experts on the board :wings:
04-08-2007, 04:24 AM
The combo of a jumpstarter in case I drain too much and using a car-adapter for the laptop sounds like a good place to start (didn't think of the fact that I would be going DC-AC-DC with it).
Oh - and I should have been more specific with the mixer - it is a little audio mixer - I'll be recording audio into the laptop - so not a lot of power draw at all from it.
I wonder if something like a 15-watt panel would be enough to put a little juice back into the optima between the times I am using the equipment....
This is a great start - any other opinions are welcome - I haven't bought anything yet - so stuff like an inverter that has a low battery cutoff is good info to have.
I'm also trying to think in terms of flexability - so if I can find a setup that would be useful when I want to get away from the world and head into the wilderness for a couple of days, all the better.:camping:
A Xantrex 600HD Powerpack might be right up your alley.
DC power for laptop
Will run laptop for hours
Inverter for AC equipment
Ability to jumpstart vehicle
can be charged from car, AC outlet or solar panel
I did a review of one located here (http://www.northwestoverlandsociety.org/Tech/Articles/tabid/226/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/32/Xantrex-Powerpack-600HD--Product-Review.aspx)to give you some more info.
04-08-2007, 07:44 AM
I've been interested in Koldban's starting solution for some time. They sell a large capacitor that will draw energy over time from a battery that is too dead to start a vehicle and then release it at once to get you going. It might be the solution for expedition rigs. One of these and a deep cycle battery and you're set. Maybe it is just snake oil though.
04-08-2007, 04:55 PM
Well, my 05 Tacoma is stock right now, but I will quickly add lights, radio and a fan in the bed for my beloved German Shepherd Max. Totally believing that chance does favor the prepared mind, I opted for the Odyssey 2150. After a lot of research, this single unit can deliver more power than many dual setups. The reserve is staggering as well. As of this moment, I have a battery more powerful than my motor.
The fit was perfect and required the smallest amount of tweaking - pretty much dropped right in. Odyssey warranty is stelar too...
Also got an Xantrex 600 HD based on this forums advice! Amazon haas it for $109.99 plus shipping which is far less of a total than any other places price not including shipping.
04-13-2007, 03:14 AM
Just a thought, but have you considered renting a small gas generator that spec'd use with computers? I have a Honda EU2000 that works great, but it was expensive. It is pretty quiet. It is pretty stingy with gas (one filling runs several hours). Easy to start even in the cold (I've fired it up at 20 degrees).
05-10-2007, 05:41 PM
I figure I'll go with the Xantrex, because of the multi-tasking abilities it has (can be used away from truck, at home, etc), and then later on I can set up dual batteries or a small generator.
Next question has to do with picking a solar charger to go with the Xantrex that will help replenish it while I am between sessions (I'll have about 30 minutes, sometimes an hour or more, between times when I am using the equipment)
I was checking out some of the Sunforce stuff that they have on Amazon. I can't imagine I will be depleting the battery that much, but I do want to to get a little oomph back while it waits, and if I can pick something that will be useful in multiple situations, that would be even better.
05-12-2007, 01:34 AM
I'd bet the little audio mixer is powered by a wall transformer, if its 12v or under then you could fix up a 12v in supply for it (even it its more than 12v you still could just with a little more work) and eliminate the need for the inverter. Consumer inverters are not very efficient, they have to be 80% to get an energy star rating and I haven't seen anything with an energy star on it. So if you can eliminate inverters as much as possible you can save some battery time.
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