There's nothing more frustrating than embarking on a road trip or long morning commute, only to find that your laptop is dead or close to it.
Whether you planned on wrapping up that afternoon presentation or catching up on your favorite shows, it’s possible to solve this issue by charging your laptop in the car.
That’s right. Charging a laptop in your vehicle is easier than you’d think, and in this complete guide on how to charge laptop in car, we’ll tell you exactly how to do it.
Page Contents (Click Icon To Open/Close)
How To Charge Laptop In Car (4 Different Methods)
As it turns out, there are several ways to charge a laptop in a car. Each one is outlined below with the step-by-step details:
1. Power Inverter With A Laptop Charger
Laptop chargers are designed to work with AC (alternating current) power, and since a car’s battery runs on DC (direct current) power, you can’t charge your laptop by plugging it in directly to your car.
However, there is a way to convert the DC power into an AC charging source, and that is possible with the help of a power inverter.
By using an inverter, you can directly charge your laptop by plugging your normal AC charger into the inverter that has been plugged into the car’s DC power source. You can easily find an affordable inverter that’s compatible with your car and laptop on Amazon.
2. USB Type-C Cable
Another option for how to charge a laptop in a car is to use a USB Type C Cable. Just as you can use a USB cable to charge your smartphone or tablet, the same goes for charging a laptop.
However, since smartphones require a much lower wattage than a laptop battery, you’ll need a special USB Type C laptop car charger to charge your laptop using this method.
Once you’ve purchased this charger, you can plug it into your car’s charging port and use a USB Type C cable to connect the laptop to this port. And voila, your laptop battery will start charging.
Related: How To Charge Laptop With HDMI Cable
3. Laptop Power Bank
Power banks are an extremely handy tool for anyone who lives an on-the-go lifestyle. You can purchase a power bank that’s strong enough to charge laptops, and there’s no need to connect anything to your car.
Just make sure the power bank is fully charged before you travel/commute, or else it will be rendered useless. A power bank is also great for charging a laptop during a power outage.
4. Use An Adapter
Using an adapter to charge a laptop in a car is very similar to using an inverter. The main difference, though, is that you won’t need an extra cable to charge your laptop with an adapter.
As long as you have an adapter that’s compatible with your laptop’s charging port, all you have to do is plug one end directly into your car and the other into your laptop.
How Many Watts Are Required To Charge A Laptop In A Car?
The amount of electricity a laptop uses depends on many factors. But generally they need around 50 watts of electricity, so you’ll want to make sure that whatever power source you’re using can handle this. The Family Handyman gives a full explanation of the watts required to charge electronics in a car using an inverter:
“The power output of the inverter is limited to the fuse size of the car’s power outlet, or lighter socket in our case. For example, a 10 amp–fused 12-volt lighter socket will safely power about 1 amp of 120-volt AC (or about 120 watts)....A 15-amp socket will power 1.5 amps of 120-volt AC (about 150 to 180 watts), and a 20-amp will power about 2 amps (about 200 to 225 watts)...Most cars are about 15 amps, but many larger SUVs and trucks have 20-amp sockets.”
Popular Laptop Brands & How To Charge Them In A Car
The most popular laptop brands - like Acer, ASUS, Dell and Lenovo - all make it possible to charge their devices in a car. As long as you have the right equipment, like an inverter, adapter, USB-C charger, or power bank, you shouldn’t have any low-battery issues.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how to charge some of the most popular laptop brands in your car:
How to charge a Dell laptop in a car?
To charge a Dell laptop in your car, you can use any of the 4 methods listed above. However, if you opt for the USB-C charging option, make sure that the Dell model you’re using has a compatible USB-C port.
How to charge an HP laptop in a car?
In the brand’s guide on different ways to charge your HP without a traditional wall charger, HP says that all you need to do is “turn on your engine, plug the car charger into your vehicle’s charging port (you might not even need a car charger since many newer vehicles have USB ports you can plug into), and plug the USB-C connector into your laptop.”
How to charge a Lenovo laptop in a car?
The easiest way to charge a Lenovo laptop in a car is to use a USB-C DC adapter. You can easily find one online, and it’s relatively affordable.
How Long Can A Car Battery Power A Laptop?
As long as you have a healthy car battery, you should be able to charge your laptop for about 5 hours. However, the charging time depends on the laptop’s wattage, and the higher the wattage, the shorter the charging time.
In general, most car batteries can charge a 45-watt laptop for just over 5 hours, but a 60-watt laptop will only be able to charge for roughly 4 hours. Charging for too long means you run the risk of draining the car’s battery.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How do I know if a charger is compatible with my laptop?
The best thing to do to ensure that the charger you’re using is compatible with your laptop is to use the charging device that originally came with the product. If that’s not an option for whatever reason, there are 3 factors for compatibility if you’re using an adapter for your car:
- 1The voltage of the adapter has to be identical to the device’s voltage.
- 2The amperage of the adapter has to be equal to or greater than the laptop.
- 3The polarity of the adapter has to be identical.
What happens if you charge your laptop with the wrong charger?
If you use a charger that’s not compatible with your laptop, you’re running the risk of damaging the device. When the charger’s voltage is too high, for example, the laptop can overheat and fry the components.
Can a 12V car charger charge a laptop?
Yes, but only if you have the right adapter/inverter. Using a power inverter turns your car's power outlet into a 3-prong outlet that is compatible with traditional laptop chargers. If you don’t have an inverter or an adapter, the best option is to use a power bank.
Now that you know how to charge your laptop in your car, you’ll be able to keep using your laptop, even on long road trips or commutes to the office.
Each of the 4 methods outlined above is suitable for charging a laptop battery, and purchasing the necessary equipment - an inverter, an adapter, a power bank, or a USB Type C laptop charger - won’t break the bank.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.