Laptops Running on Portable Generators

Thread Starter

bwilliams60

Joined Nov 18, 2012
1,450
Hey Guys,
I was just wondering if anybody has had any experience with laptops being damaged by portable generators and if so, what is the cure? I have a friend of mine who goes camping and has burned out two laptops on his generator. I understand the laptop needs a sine wave and not a square wave signal and that it can cause damage. Can someone enlighten me and if this is the case, would a UPS alleviate the problem? Thanks in advance for your replies.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,224
My opinion is to use a battery charger and a battery to smooth out the dangerous parts that come out of the generator. Of course, this depends on the ability to run the computer from something like a 12 volt wall wart. So basically, I like the DC route because it's so hard to filter a generator. They have low impedance and plenty of ways to throw noise and spikes!
 

THE_RB

Joined Feb 11, 2008
5,438
The laptop charges here in Australia usually accept anything from 110v to 240v AC as the input, and make a perfect regulated DC output. The AC is rectified into DC so the AC frequency will not matter.

Maybe the problem is not the generator but a badly designed charger unit?

Any decent international charger unit should accept a wide range of AC input voltages and never miss a beat.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,224
It has enough price to justify quality at over $1000!

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/honda-eu2000i-generator-carb-compliant/34961

http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/models/eu2000i

(I'm still looking for a description of how good it is.)

A lot of information in that second link. Reviews, good and bad, but the first one says Honda provides no specification about how good it is for use with sensitive equipment.

It might be a wonderful machine, but machines that good should brag with their specifications.
 
Last edited:

alfacliff

Joined Dec 13, 2013
2,458
since our laptops used on forklifts and such all run off 18 volts, we use a supply designed to put out that voltage from 12 volts and include a lot of filtering and spike clamping. most of the wall wart powe supplies for modern laptops put out what the laptop needs to charge the batteries and run the laptop, dells need 18 volts dc. hp too.
 

t06afre

Joined May 11, 2009
5,934
since our laptops used on forklifts and such all run off 18 volts, we use a supply designed to put out that voltage from 12 volts and include a lot of filtering and spike clamping. most of the wall wart powe supplies for modern laptops put out what the laptop needs to charge the batteries and run the laptop, dells need 18 volts dc. hp too.
Dell and newer HPs use the same type of power supply. And the laptops will refuse to start up if a wrong power supply is used. Dell and HP have some power supplies that can be used on 110-220 volt AC and DC 12-16 DC by switching a plugg in cable. I am sure also other mjor laptop producers offer the same kind of solution. The latter power supply cost somewaht more. But far less than a new laptop
 

Brownout

Joined Jan 10, 2012
2,390
It has enough price to justify quality at over $1000!
Probably not everyone can afford one. Surly not everyone can afford to smoke their computers. I paid out the money because it allows me to take am passions anywhere I want to go. Now, I can't tell you exactly where, but I was able to research the quality of the unit before purchase. Maybe not hard specs, but enough users successfully doing what I wanted to do.
 

Stuntman

Joined Mar 28, 2011
222
I purchased one of these for work:

http://www.amazon.com/Powerhouse-PH2100PRi-4-Stroke-Generator-Compliant/dp/B004RCQ05Q

We use this for powering an array of fairly sensitive electronics as well as a laptop or two. We needed to be mobile, but I really had concerns about having to filter the supplies for our sensing devices.

We have been using this generator to power a 1000W SMPS 12V supply (brute power for mechanical devices) and a lower power linear supply for the sensing devices.

So far I have been very pleased with its performance and the price is very reasonable for a inverter technology generator.
 

alfacliff

Joined Dec 13, 2013
2,458
all laptops I have seen use a small switching supply to bring down the voltage for the laptop to charge the battery and power the laptop. how can anythng get past a properly designed pwm switcher to damage the laptopo? the incoming voltage is recitfied and filtered before the switching process steps it down for rectification and filtering as well as regulation before it gets to the laptop. you could even feed 110 dc into the pwm and it would still work.
 

grages

Joined May 6, 2014
5
Nope, it's clean power. It's not a conventional generator.
Brownout is correct.

We (HAM Radio Operators) use them to power our HF radios for portable operations. The ARRL magizine QST June 2012 had an article that listed the Honda as least offending. the Title was "A look at Gasoline powered invertor generators"
 

THE_RB

Joined Feb 11, 2008
5,438
all laptops I have seen use a small switching supply to bring down the voltage for the laptop to charge the battery and power the laptop. how can anythng get past a properly designed pwm switcher to damage the laptopo? the incoming voltage is recitfied and filtered before the switching process steps it down for rectification and filtering as well as regulation before it gets to the laptop. you could even feed 110 dc into the pwm and it would still work.
That was my point. :)

And an "international" charger unit will take any AC voltage from 110 to 240v with ease, so there should be no way a 110v generator could cause problems even if it goes over-voltage for a while it is unlikely to exceed 240vAC for sustained periods.

However it is possible a bad 110v generator could cook a laptop charger if the charger was a "110v only" model.
 
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