Power Up Your Laptop Anywhere That Life Takes You
- College at Brockport, State University of New York
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Working remotely using a laptop is becoming more and more common, and with it comes the challenge of keeping a computer powered up when electric outlets are scarce. Whether at an outdoor café, camping in the wilderness, on a road trip, living off-grid, or in a sudden power-outage situation, a portable solar laptop charger is a handy device to have.
Most portable solar laptop chargers function as mini power stations capable of charging other electronics like cell phones, cameras, drones, and tablets to name a few. Now, with more options than ever to choose from, weve sorted through the latest solar devices to find our favorites.
Here are the six best portable solar laptop chargers.
The Best Laptop Power Banks In 2022
Hitting the perfect sweet spot in terms of battery, versatility and price, the Krisdonia 50,000mAh Power Pack is our top pick as the best laptop power bank overall.
It comes with a massive 50,000mAh battery, which provides enough juice to power a 65W laptop about 2.5 times and a smartphone about 11-18 times. In other words, enough power to keep you going for DAYS.
Alternatively , you can charge both your laptop and other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, simultaneously, using any combination of the power bank’s four ports. These are: a DC-out for laptops, two USB-A ports for smartphones, and a USB-C port for laptops such as the 12in MacBook, as well as other devices like the Nintendo Switch. Note, though, that the USB-C port doesn’t support 20V, so if you have a 20V laptop you’ll need to buy a converter.
Passthrough charging is supported, which means you can charge the power bank while it’s charging other devices. And it comes with 28 different laptop connectors and a MagSafe 2 adapter, making it compatible with a huge range of laptops, including MacBooks. On the downside, because it’s so powerful, it’s not TSA approved so you can’t take it on a plane. Also be aware that at 1.2kg, it’s quite heavy.
Want to charge a lot of devices at once? Then as long as you’re using a Windows laptop or Chromebook , this power bank from Maxoak is the ideal choice.
Best For Usb C Laptops: Anker Powercore Iii Elite 25600
If you only need to charge a USB C-powered laptop, you can save weight and space in your bag by picking up a power bank devoted to the task. There are many models out there, but the Anker PowerCore III Elite 25600 is the pick of the bunch for a number of reasons.
To start with, you get a little extra capacity compared to many other models without an increase in weight. At 25,600mAh, it holds around 20% more power than most of the other batteries on this list.
Even more importantly, the 87W maximum output from either of the two USB C ports is unusually high for a portable laptop battery: most top out at around half that. Virtually all USB C-powered laptops, tablets, and smartphones can be charged at full speed.
There are also a pair of USB-A sockets rated at 18W, which is powerful enough to fast-charge almost all mobile devices. Thats a shared capacity, though, so expect things to take a little longer when youre using both ports at once.
The pricing is also very reasonable when you factor in the 65W wall charger included in the box. This lets you fully recharge the battery in a little over two hours, which makes the lack of pass-through charging less of a concern.
Throw in the travel pouch and USB C cable, and youve got a good value, powerful, and comparatively lightweight portable laptop battery thatll handle just about any charging job you throw at it.
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How To Charge A Laptop With Usb
The safest way to charge your laptop with a USB-C cable is if your device came with one. Laptops with USB-C chargers usually have an adapter/power brick and plug on one end and a connecting Type-C cable on the other.
One thing to note here is that not all USB-C ports are meant for charging. While all of them work for data transfer, only specific Type-C ports can help charge your device. Look up your laptops user manual to find out whether your port supports charging. For instance, if your laptop is an ASUS Notebook, there are several symbols that indicate what the various ports can do.
If your laptop comes with slots for a dedicated stock charger as well as a USB-C charging port, the former port tends to be more efficient. But the USB-C port is a convenient alternative when you dont have your stock charger.
Depending on your laptops make and model, you may experience different charging speeds. In fact, both the laptops power delivery mechanism and your choice of cable determine the charging speed. For example, a basic Chromebook may charge at about 40W, while a high-end MacBook may charge at above 80W.
How To Reduce The Risks Associated With A Laptop Charger
Modern smartphones have mechanisms that limit the input voltage. They will prevent a laptop charger from overcharging or overwhelming your phone. That being said, a laptop charger can still ruin your phone if it isnt genuine.
Laptop chargers are tricky because they are designed to work with devices that have a much higher voltage requirement than phones. This is why I encourage you to avoid fake Type-C laptop chargers.
They will put both your phone and your laptop at risk. The only way to protect your devices is to use genuine chargers. They are expensive but they are also safer.
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How To Charge Your Laptop With A Power Bank
Another alternative to charging your laptop without a charger is by using a power bank. A fully charged power bank is essentially a spare battery waiting to transfer power to a dying device.
However, note that you must consider the power output that your laptop needs and the output that the power bank provides. For example, the general ordinary power banks meant for smaller devices have an output of around 5V. However, a laptop may require about 15-20V of output capacity.
So, purchasing a power bank that can dish out something around the 20V mark is a good idea. Yes, theyre more expensive, but they work much better for bigger devices. The MAXOAK 50000 is a beast thats specially meant to fulfill your high-charging requirements. The RAV USB Power Bank has less capacity but offers full portability.
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Once you get a power bank of your choice, its only a matter of plugging in the cable to get your laptop charging. The only downside of a power bank is that once you charge your device a few times, the power bank also runs out of power.
So, its the best alternative during emergency situations, when there are no other options.
What If My Laptop Charger Is Different From Usb
Many laptops use a different and often propietary physical connector different from USB-C. There is nothing wrong with this approach. However, as of 2020, there is no other connector widely being used to power laptops and also smartphones. This means that, even if you wanted, you would not be able to plug your laptop charger into your phone, simply because it would not fit!
Still, if you strongly believe that your laptops charger can also fit your phone, chances are that what you have is actually a USB-C charger. In which case, read above.
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Usb Charging And Laptops
You have probably already used USB connections to charge smaller devices either from your computer or from an outlet. That works well because past USB connections had enough wattage to successfully power up those smaller batteries. However, prior versions of USB could handle a limited amount of power, which is why laptop chargers have typically retained their larger, bulkier cables.
USB-C changed that. This type of connection now provides enough power to juice up most laptops . Thats why laptop charging is a new topic of conversation for USB connections, especially now that more laptops are entering the market with USB-C charging compatibility.
So, how do you know if your current laptop has a USB-C port that also works with charging? You could always look it up, but the easiest way is to simply examine your charger. You can identify a Type-C charger by its unique features. USB-Cs connector is small and rounded, significantly different from the old USB version. It also works no matter which way you connect it to the right port, so theres no need to flip it the right way around. If your charger uses this connection and plugs into your USB-C port, you have a winner!
Laptop Usage Time With A Power Bank
Once you have chosen the power bank, we will theoretically calculate the estimated time you could use your laptop for a certain regular activity depending on the charging method: laptop battery removed, laptop turned off or using the laptop while charging:
1. Calculate average consumption of the laptop
2. Calculate useful energy of the power bank
3. Calculate laptop usage time
Depending on the charging method of the laptop:
- With the laptop battery removed:
- Usage time = Useful energy / Average Laptop Power Consumption
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Can You Charge A Laptop With A Usb
Yes. With the right cable and port, you can charge your laptop using a handy USB cable. The 2013 update on USB 3.0 further increased its power delivery to 100W, creating the new USB 3.1.
With subsequent improvements to USB technology, today, its not that difficult to charge your laptop via USB. Of course, your laptop must be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port, and youll need further access to a power source too. But that aside, getting some much-needed juice for your laptop is possible even without your stock charger nearby.
You can also choose between different power sources based on your situation. Whether its an extra power bank or your cars charging port, theres more than one alternative for charging your laptop if you use a USB cable. The crucial part is knowing your laptops ports and choosing the correct cable.
For your convenience, weve created an easy-to-follow guide on how to charge your laptop with the proper USB cable.
How Does A Laptop Battery Charge
When youre using a laptop, there is nothing worse than a battery that drains too quickly. At that point, you have to leave it plugged in all the time, and it might as well be a desktop.
That brings up an interesting question.
Is it bad to use a laptop while its charging?
You already know that the battery charges when you plug in the charging cable, but what actually happens?
The laptop is what draws power through the cable to the battery. To do that, the electricity has to run through a complicated circuit, and that causes a few different things to happen.
Your outlet has more than enough electricity to power everything the laptop is doing and charge the battery at the same time.
The circuitry in the laptop also allows for the current to skip the battery and directly run the laptop.
To keep things simple, we can say that three things happen simultaneously when you use a plugged-in laptop:
- First, the juice flowing to the computer charges the battery.
- Second, the electricity directly powers the computer that is in use.
- Third, some of the electricity that goes through the battery then runs the computer. That third instance is what adds a wrinkle to the original question.
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Does It Have The Required Power Output To Charge A Laptop
The first and most important consideration of selecting a power bank that is able to charge up a dying laptop is to ensure it has sufficient power delivery or output. Charging up a small device like your mobile phone is different from a much more power-hungry device like your laptop.
As different models of laptops consume different amounts of energy, make sure you check your specific model of laptop to be sure of how much wattage is required to run the device. Simply google to check your laptop specs.
However, for the purpose of finding a power bank that is able to work with most normal laptops, let us look at average numbers. According to statistics from our friendly energy retailer iSwitch, the average laptop uses a range of 30 70 watts/hour the higher end probably for laptops with a lot of processing power for gaming.
What does this mean? To charge an average laptop, you probably require a power bank with a power output of more than 50W. Of course, if you can opt for something with a higher power output the better too, as it will be able to charge your laptop more quickly too.
Important: If you use a power bank with insufficient power output, it could end up draining your battery instead of charging it, creating more problems!
Best For Rving: Patriot Power Sidekick
Courtesy of Patriot
Solar Panel Capacity: 40watts| Battery Capacity: 300 watt hours | Weight: 8 pounds | Output Ports: twoUSB, USB Type C, two pure sine wave AC output
Specializing in emergency equipment such as water filters and ready-to-eat survival meals, the outdoor company 4 Patriots also makes must-have solar devices. The Power Sidekick is a reliable and efficient solar charger thats designed for sudden power-outages, and is also a good addition to camping or RV gear.
Although it’s lightweight, the Sidekick can charge phones, laptops, medical devices, WiFi routers, radios, and more with a capacity of 300 watts. The four foldable solar panels provide total 40 watts of power to recharge the Sidekick and can also directly charge any device that has a USB port. Theres a light on the back thats useful in a tent or on the picnic table, and the clear digital display shows the charging levels and how many watts the laptop being charged is using.
The company supports active-duty military and veterans charities.
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Does It Have Compatible Ports For Your Laptop
The new industry standard for charging ports for laptop models is the USB-C delivery port, hence most power banks tend to come equipped with a matching USB-C output port enabling them to charge them.
However, if you are using an older laptop, you might need to check if the charging port is compatible with your choice of power bank. Some laptop brands tend to have their own proprietary charging ports or limited slots for charging especially for the thinner models.
Alternatively, you can bypass this issue by using a special adapter!
Calculating The Useful Energy Of A Power Bank For Laptop Charging
Once we have an estimate of the consumption of our laptop we will calculate the number of hours we could continue to use it with a power bank.
At first, one may think that one should simply apply the following formula:
Laptop usage time = Power bank Energy / Avg. Laptop Power Consumption ERROR!
The above formula is not valid, as we must take into account the energy efficiency of the power bank and the laptop during the charging process as well as other factors that we will see below.
Stored energy and efficiency of a power bank
If the stored energy is not indicated in the specifications of the power bank, we can easily calculate it by multiplying the capacity of its internal battery by its nominal voltage and dividing the result by 1000:
Power Bank Stored Energy = / 1000
The nominal battery voltage of a power bank is usually 3.7 volts, although we remind you that there are also models with 3.6, 3.8 or 3.85V batteries.
However, during the process of charging a device, this 3.7V must be transformed at the output port of the power bank to the charging voltage of the connected device, in this case, a laptop whose voltage range is usually between 12 and 20V.
For this reason, due to this voltage transformation, part of the energy stored in a power bank is lost during the charging process of the device and, depending on its energy efficiency, the loss will be greater or lesser.
Power bank Useful Energy = Stored Energy x Energy Efficiency
Litionite Useful Energy = / 100 = 62.9 Wh
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