Apr 30, 2012

How well to external laptop batteries perform?

I have a trip coming up next week and I'll be taking my laptop along. I'll be analyzing data from racebike onboard data recorders between track sessions, so about every 20-30 mins for a couple of days I'll have to grab the data and help figure out what changes to make to the bike. Cool, eh!? I'll be away from power outlets other than generators which I don't feel comfortable using, so I won't make it though the day with just the standard battery. I'm thinking of trying an external extended laptop battery for this trip, but I haven't tried any of them out other than reading the manufacturers' fluff. How well do they actually function in the field? Are they pretty durable? Oh, and are there any that stand out from the pack?

Tom's Hardware has a good external battery roundup that you might find useful:

External Battery Roundup: Stay Away From The Wall Socket

"If you need battery life and frequently find yourself in a situation lacking wall sockets, I would flat out recommend Electrovaya’s PowerPad. These batteries give you gobs of battery life, and if you have a Dell, it’s the only way to go. If you have something other than a Dell, Tekkeon’s MP3750 isn’t a bad choice. Both use an input tip system and allow you to charge your notebook at the same time. This saves close to a pound in luggage, as you only have to carry around one charger. Just toss the battery into your backpack and connect the input tip. When you need power, unspool the output cable. You can keep your notebook’s charger in your backpack, too. When you are at your desk, pull the AC cable out of your backpack and everything charges at the same time.

If you travel internationally, the PowerGorilla is a fair choice because it gives you a decent travel set."

The first brand that comes to mind when I think of external batteries is Electrovaya, which makes the PowerPad range.  One nice thing about Electrovaya is that you can use your laptop's charger to recharge the PowerPad, since it allows charging at different voltages.  That's one less thing to carry around.  It would probably be my first choice.  


An option that you might want to consider is one of those portable power units/vehicle jump starters that you see at auto parts stores and some big box stores.  They are basically a 12 volt car battery in a case with a converter to power a couple of  120V AC outlets.  Much cleaner power source than most generators, although a friend of mine has a Yamaha gas generator that has clean GFIC...that he paid $1000 for.  I think I paid $75 for a Schumacher portable unit that you plug in and recharge.  I've used mine with my laptop many times and it has worked great.  One thing I did find was that my laptop uses more power than I though, so even with this large but still portable unit, the laptop drained it in a few hours.   


One of those solar battery/charger combos might also be worth a try.  You could use it, then once discharged, switch over to your internal batter while letting it recharge.  I've only used those will smartphones, though, so I'm not sure if the capacity is enough to power a laptop for a significant amount of time. 

Answer this