How to Charge Your Laptop In the Car

How to charge a laptop in a car

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Planning to go on a road trip but can’t live without the laptop?

Traditionally, laptops were charged through a wall-mounted AC charger. But modern laptops come with a variety of charging options. Today, you can easily charge your laptop inside a car. Let’s explore how.

Can I charge my laptop from the car outlet?

Of course, but you need the right accessories for your laptop. For the 12V power outlet, You may need a USB Type-C adapter or an AC inverter. We will explain this later in the post.

Modern vehicles have integrated USB ports that you can use to charge your devices. But it will only work with your laptop if it can charge through USB (type-C).

Charge Your Laptop through USB-C

Most modern laptops come with a USB-C port that you can use for charging. What’s more, many modern laptops don’t even have a dedicated charging port. You have to power them through the USB-C port. Modern Macbooks also ditched the charging port in favor of the standard Type-C port.

If your laptop has a USB-C port, then it’s very easy to power it in a car.

Use the USB ports in the car

A lot of cars these days have built-in USB-A or USB-C ports. If your car has one, then you just need a compatible cable to charge your laptop.

USB Type-C ports inside a Car. You can charge your laptop through this prot.
Image: USB-C ports inside a car.
USB-A ports can be used to charge your laptop in the car.
Image: USB-A port in a car.

Just buy a USB-A to USB-C or USB-C to USB-C cable depending on the port you have in the car. And you are ready to go on that road trip!

Use the 12V power outlet

If your car has no integrated USB ports, you can use the 12V cigarette lighter socket. Plug in a USB adapter in the outlet, and connect your laptop using a USB-C cable.

You can charge your laptop using a USB car charger as well.
Image: An in-car USB charger plugged in the 12V outlet.

Note: For faster charging, use a charger with high wattage. We recommend this 42W car charger from QGeeM.

Charge your laptop from a power bank

You can also use a Power Bank to charge your laptop if it supports USB-C charging. Simply connect your laptop to the power bank using a Type-C cable; you should see your laptop starts charging right away.

A laptop is charging from a power bank.
Image: Charging a laptop using a Power bank.

One downside is that the charging speed won’t be great. Unless your power bank’s output current is high enough. We recommend this Notebook Power bank from Anker. Its 45W USB-C port provides enough power to charge a laptop at full speed.

Charge your laptop using an Inverter

If you have an older laptop with no USB-C ports, you’ll need to use an inverter with the original laptop charger charger.

First, buy a car power inverter. This device converts 12V DC from the outlet to 110V AC current. Now you can plug your laptop charger into the inverter, and charge your laptop on the go.

We recommend: BESTEK 300W Car Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC.

A car power inverter from Bestek.
Image: Bestek 300W Car Inverter

Does the cigarette lighter works when the car is off?

Most cars turn off the 12V cigarette lighter socket when you shut the car down. If you want to use the socket, you need to start your car. You don’t need to turn the engine on though, just the car.

Will charging my laptop drain the car battery?

Probably no. Yes, if your engine is off and you’ve been charging your laptop for a long time.

Your laptop doesn’t draw much power unless you’re gaming or doing other resource-heavy tasks. Besides, the alternator in the car automatically charges the battery when the engine is running. So normally it’s safe to charge your laptop. Just be careful when your engine is off. You don’t wanna drain your car battery, not when you’re out somewhere.

How long will a car battery power a laptop?

An average car battery has a capacity of over 50 amps-hours or 600 Watt-hours. If the engine is off, the battery can power a typical laptop(<60W) for more than 10 hours and still be able to start the engine.

It is recommended that you turn on the engine for 30 minutes every 3-4 hours so that the alternator can charge the battery. Though car alternators don’t generate much power(~300W) when idle, It’s enough to extend the battery backup for a few more hours.

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