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Charging laptop and phone while travelling

  1. Sep 4, 2012 #1
    Not your typical Electrical Engineering post I'm sure but there is so much misinformation out there and I'm sure there would be some interesting applications for others here.

    I'd like to be able to charge not only my current laptop (standard Gigabyte 15 inch) and phone (HTC Desire) but future ones as well while backpacking, so obviously size is of the upmost importance. Hopefully something around 1-2kg and maybe 0.001m^3. I would hope for maybe 2-5 extra charges on the laptop and phone. This might be completely unrealistic.

    The standard laptop is 19V, the standard phone is 5V.

    It's about 1-1.5Ah for a phone, about 6-8Ah for the laptop. Laptop I imagine would charge with a general power outlet (I'm in Australia, but hopefully the principles or recommended product would apply) and the phone could be as well at seperate times, or even better would be a USB charger on the side. I'm not opposed to using solar technology either, or a combination of solar and rechargable batteries.

    Any ideas for optimising cost, size, durability, ability to charge 19VDC and 5VDC, take an Australian power plug and possibly USB?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2012 #2


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    Hi Alexander
    welcome to PF and greetings from Sydney

    you said this is to be used whilst out backpacking .... so I would have to assume that means you are out in the bush with no normal power supplies available.

    That means your only 2 significant power sources abailable would be solar or wind generator. Neither of these are going to have the capability of supplying enought current to charge a laptop battery and still remail portable and light enough to backpack.
    On the other hand a well chosen solar panel may well produce enough voltage and current to easily charger your HTC ... hey good fone by the way, have been using the HTC Desire HD for about a year and a half :)

  4. Sep 4, 2012 #3


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    There are many solar cell panels available that will 'roll up' for carrying or that you could drape over the top of your pack. The best solution for you would depend upon how long you would need to be using the equipment per day.
    I have an HTC Desire and it is the greediest thing you could imagine in its use of the battery. If you want phone communication out in the wilds, you could do much better with a normal (not-so-smart) phone - which would easily be kept charged with a sensible size of PV panel- available all over the place, actually.

    As far as your laptop is concerned, I might suggest that a small tablet would satisfy many requirements and use much less power. Bearing in mind the cost (and weight) of high power solar panels, you may be able to sort yourself out with a total solution that wouldn't cost so much more but could give you more operating time and not give you a hernia.
    Do you really need a smart phone AND a computer? I ask this because, over the years, I have realised that backpacking becomes more and more pleasurable the less you are actually carrying!
  5. Sep 4, 2012 #4
    Would love to see some actual products you guys reccomend!
  6. Sep 4, 2012 #5


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    Did you not try Google? That's all that I did.
    I have been keeping an eye out on ebay for a cheap, rugged solar panel for my boat (connected 24/7 to trickle charge my two 90Ah batteries - so a different problem). There are always interesting items to suit various applications.

    As usual, the nicest solution is usually the most expensive. I should say that good phone connection is top of the priority list if you are really off the beaten track. I think you must be young and fit if you have the energy to do art work after a day's walking. Food and sleep is all I'm ever fit for!

    Strange to say, I've moved from minimal backpacking to a sailing cruiser - which has room for just about every creature comfort you could ever want. Same problems seem to apply though - money and time!
  7. Sep 6, 2012 #6


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    You are not Robinson Caruso. :smile: To use solar panels while trekking, they need to be exposed as you walk, and may be too fragile to risk falls or knocks. I recall one avid walker who equipped himself with a foldable windmill—because he was in a windy (maybe coastal) area where he could set it up outside his tent and it would charge his gear overnight.
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