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  • 12VDC Computer

    I'm a newbie to this fine forum.

    I'm selecting which computer to use in a minimal 12VDC off-the-grid system.

    Every laptop I have seen requires 19VDC. However I have noticed that some Chromebooks (Samsung were the ones I looked at) use 12VDC chargers. Bingo! My reasoning is as follows:

    Why would I want to use a 19VDC laptop, requiring a DC-DC buck converter to convert my battery's 12VDC up to 19VDC, or worse yet, requiring a 120VAC inverter together with a 19VDC laptop power supply... when I can instead choose to use a computer (Chromebook) that natively runs off 12VDC?

    One alternative: some Android tablets, which runs off 5VDC (a phone USB charger). This also does require a voltage conversion, 12VDC down to 5VDC (using a car charger), which seems slightly inefficient. On the plus side however, this certainly would be a low-power-draw computer. Wattage consumed by a tablet is in the single digits.

    Another alternative: some of the cheap Windows tablets that appeared a few years ago, running Windows 8, which also use a 5VDC phone-type USB charger.

    But for me, looks like a 12VDC Chromebook would be just the ticket. I'll simply obtain the appropriate power plug for the Chromebook, use an inline fuse, and power the Chromebook directly from my 12VDC battery system. Any reason why this would be unwise?

    Any comments or suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Perhaps others have sorted this out already. My google searches didn't come up with much specifically on this issue of 19 vs 12 vs 5 volts for an off-the-grid computer.

  • #2
    I wouldn't touch a ChromeBook with a 10 foot pole. My-wife works at a company that uses Chromebooks and Macs, and she's begging for a Mac. I would too.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Rick- View Post
      Why would I want to use a 19VDC laptop, requiring a DC-DC buck converter to convert my battery's 12VDC up to 19VDC, or worse yet, requiring a 120VAC inverter together with a 19VDC laptop power supply... when I can instead choose to use a computer (Chromebook) that natively runs off 12VDC?
      Because many "12V" appliances cannot handle the ~10-16 volt range you see with a typical lead acid battery system. So you generally need a converter anyway.

      Fortunately almost every laptop out there has a car adapter available. This is a device that takes 9-16 volts and converts it to a stable 12V (or 19V, or 16V etc.)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Rick- View Post
        I'm a newbie to this fine forum.

        I'm selecting which computer to use in a minimal 12VDC off-the-grid system.

        Every laptop I have seen requires 19VDC. However I have noticed that some Chromebooks (Samsung were the ones I looked at) use 12VDC chargers. Bingo! My reasoning is as follows:

        Why would I want to use a 19VDC laptop, requiring a DC-DC buck converter to convert my battery's 12VDC up to 19VDC, or worse yet, requiring a 120VAC inverter together with a 19VDC laptop power supply... when I can instead choose to use a computer (Chromebook) that natively runs off 12VDC?

        One alternative: some Android tablets, which runs off 5VDC (a phone USB charger). This also does require a voltage conversion, 12VDC down to 5VDC (using a car charger), which seems slightly inefficient. On the plus side however, this certainly would be a low-power-draw computer. Wattage consumed by a tablet is in the single digits.

        Another alternative: some of the cheap Windows tablets that appeared a few years ago, running Windows 8, which also use a 5VDC phone-type USB charger.

        But for me, looks like a 12VDC Chromebook would be just the ticket. I'll simply obtain the appropriate power plug for the Chromebook, use an inline fuse, and power the Chromebook directly from my 12VDC battery system. Any reason why this would be unwise?

        Any comments or suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Perhaps others have sorted this out already. My google searches didn't come up with much specifically on this issue of 19 vs 12 vs 5 volts for an off-the-grid computer.
        You would not want to run directly off the battery, due to the fluctuations mentioned above, but you can run off the load taps of any decent Charge Controller (just not the super cheapo ones) and get a more stable voltage, and low voltage disconnect protection,

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        • #5
          I would run a 24v system and a step down for 12 and 19volts.

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          • #6
            Thank you for the responses!

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            • #7
              If you are truly off grid, you will have a much better time with a 24v plus system. Step down converters are cheap and reasonably efficient. Do not forget terminal fuses and circuit fuses, and switches for the step down converters as they pull some power even when the device is turned off.

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