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Can I run my Laptop from my car's 12V DC ?

  1. Feb 18, 2009 #1
    I know DELL sells these really expensive DC to DC 'adapters' that can run my laptop. I can also run it from a DC to AC converter and plug my charger into that.
    But obviously, wouldn't it be simply a matter of having the right cable ?
    I'm just wondering what that DELL cable really does.

    Does anyone know ?

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2009 #2


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    Depends how many DC volts your laptop needs.
    If it's more than 12V you need a DC:DC converter to up the car's output to what the laptop needs. Or you can use a 110V inverter and your regular laptop power supply.
  4. Feb 18, 2009 #3
    Your car's 12V DC is not a clean source.
    If the engine is running, it will be 14V or more. In addition, there will be high voltage spikes, and you will need more than just a cable, even if your computer is 12V.
  5. Apr 1, 2009 #4


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    Kensington makes a line of laptop adapters (60 to 125 W) that have tips (most included; rarer ones available by mailing away) that step down the output voltage to the one appropriate for your laptop--some take in wall voltage, car voltage, airplane voltage or all of the above (obviously, the more bells and whistles, the more expensive):
    http://us.kensington.com/html/16414.html [Broken]

    How's this work? There's actually very few laptop AC adapter makers out there (come to think of it, there's actually very few actual laptop manufacturers--most companies just spec parts, slap a badge on somewhere, and maybe modify the case).

    EDIT: No affiliation with Kensington. Thought Belkin made something similar, but couldn't find it when I looked quickly.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Apr 1, 2009 #5
    If you go the adapter route, the Targus Adapaters are awesome, I've been using those for about 5 years. One came with my laptop but ended up burning a hole through the cord after being set against a heater during winter (completely my fault).

    So, I went a bought another one and use it all of the time, not just in the car.
  7. Apr 1, 2009 #6


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    Ah yes! Those were the ones I was thinking of!

    To the OP, if you get sticker shock out of this, the other alternative would be to buy a 100W(ish) car inverter (DC to AC converter) which you'd then plug your laptop into. Not terribly efficient, but handy when you need to plug something else in. Also, may run down your car battery (when the alternator isn't running).
  8. Mar 16, 2010 #7
    I bought this one from a website store not long ago, you can have a look.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  9. Mar 18, 2010 #8
    I think it is better
  10. Nov 16, 2010 #9
    I will soon have a used dell laptop screen. It is interesting to see how much can be packed inside a case so small these days. thank you very much.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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