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Powering my PC and monitor from a battery?

Discussion in 'Power Supplies' started by Lee James, 30 Jul 2019.

  1. Lee James

    Associate

    Joined: 5 Jun 2017

    Posts: 23

    Location: UK

    I'd really like to run my PC from a battery (in a place where I don't have access to power outlets). Can this be done? I know almost nothing about power and electronics.

    I'd need two separate outlets: one for the PC (around 345 watts max) and one for the monitor (113 watts typical)… call it 500 watts total for good measure.

    Ideally I'd like something that could run like 8 hours or more, and warns me when the battery's low. It would also be great to connect to a solar panel, though that may be a bit too ambitious and/or expensive for me.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. Quartz

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Apr 2014

    Posts: 11,586

    Location: Aberdeen

    You're going to need a generator.
     
  3. bremen1874

    Capodecina

    Joined: 20 Oct 2008

    Posts: 11,433

    A sine wave mains inverter should do what you want. The runtime would depend on the battery capacity.
     
  4. Quartz

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Apr 2014

    Posts: 11,586

    Location: Aberdeen

    A 4 kw battery is going to cost you about £3000; a 900W generator will cost you £150.
     
  5. Semple

    Soldato

    Joined: 5 Mar 2010

    Posts: 7,051

    I did see an advertisement from EDF the other day selling battery storage: https://batterystorage.edfenergy.com/powervault/powervault-with-grid-services/

    As Quartz says though, a 4kWh battery is going to cost you a bit over £3k, and an 8kWh battery is £5k.

    Is there a particular reason you need to do this? Seems a very weird requirement if you ask me.

    The above power vaults that EDF are selling are intended for general house usage during evening/night when the solar panels won't be charging.
     
  6. SonicSW20

    Hitman

    Joined: 1 Apr 2019

    Posts: 974

    Could be possible with an array of 12V deep cycle leisure batteries. They come in a variety of capacities, but the 100aH ish ones are not too expensive, which in theory would provide up to 1.2kWh, but I think realistically you'd be looking at a bit less than that. 5-6 of those + a 500-600W inverter may work. Not very practical, definitely not portable, and you still need a reasonable charging solution.
     
  7. james.miller

    Capodecina

    Joined: 17 Aug 2003

    Posts: 18,789

    Location: Woburn Sand Dunes

    Buy a laptop.
     
  8. skyripper

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 19 Jul 2011

    Posts: 2,094

    Or an extension lead.
     
  9. SonicSW20

    Hitman

    Joined: 1 Apr 2019

    Posts: 974

    Or read a book.
     
  10. Lee James

    Associate

    Joined: 5 Jun 2017

    Posts: 23

    Location: UK

    Thanks to all for the replies :)

    OK, it looks like a battery is well out of my budget then. As for a generator, that's a great idea, thanks. Though I hate the idea of making any kind of noise (I like peace and quiet plus I do music) - and running a long cable isn't practical. Also not keen on the idea of having to buy fuel, or moving parts. But this is an idea I'll keep at the back of my mind, thanks!

    OK, I would be hopeless building anything myself, so it would more or less have to be a ready-made product - which probably means it's not going to happen.

    Yeah, I had originally thought about using a laptop with my keyboard and mouse plugged into it. But then I started to anticipate problems…

    1. First, I wouldn't want to use any screen other than my monitor, which doesn't have thunderbolt, so that would mean getting some kind of adapter.
    2. And then most laptop batteries wouldn't power my monitor for very long.
    3. I also have several hard drives to house somewhere, so that's further complication.
    4. Plus, I'd ideally love to connect my amp/speakers too.
    5. I do a lot of GPU-intensive work and heard that a lot of laptop users are using external GPUs now because they don't naturally fit inside laptops.

    So overall I figured the simplest and neatest solution was just to power my PC with a big battery… I guess not now though! Maybe I'll have to revert to the laptop idea.

    OK I guess I'd better explain, in case anyone is interested (this may be boring)! There are three reasons actually:

    1. One reason is that I spend a lot of my time working at home, but my flat is really horrible and dark, so I'd love to have days out, drive somewhere nice and do my work somewhere beautiful. That's surely not so weird is it?

    2. This one's more of a fantasy, but I've always dreamt of living somewhere remote, far away from other people, surrounded by nature, like in a caravan. I could manage to cook without AC power, but the main problem would be how to run my PC.

    3. Finally (and this is actually my main reason): whether or not anyone believes me, I have always been highly sensitive to electrical fields. For instance, I have never been able to use telephones because I get a terrible headache within minutes of putting a phone near my head. I've been this way since I was a small boy and it was years later that I tried to work out what was causing my pain and eventually hypothesised that it could be EMFs. I bought an EMF meter and immediately saw a direct correlation between the pain I had been experiencing and the field strength where it reaches my body, so for me EMFs seem like the most logical explanation.

    It's not just telephones, almost all electrical devices have this effect on me, depending on proximity. Generally, holding anything electrical in my hands will give me some degree of discomfort. Mobiles and laptops are really bad and I can't touch them. I've always been fine using a normal PC, keyboard and mouse, presumably as the fields are very low.

    Anyway, I recently moved into a flat, and it must have really bad wiring because it has the biggest magnetic fields I've ever seen, in every room. (Moving out as soon as I can.) I noticed that every time I use my computer here I get horrible pain in my hands (have it right now) so I tested my keyboard and mouse and the fields are higher than 4 MG / 0.4 µT, which exceeds the government safety recommendations in several countries.

    So I figured that if I can run my PC on some kind of battery, there's no connection with the circuitry in the house and no high EMFs, and no hand pain!

    I was hesitant to disclose my sensitivity because admitting to having disability/pain all my life when using electrical devices usually causes people to ridicule and hate me. Sadly, I am used to the abuse now. :(
     
    Last edited: 30 Jul 2019
  11. Quartz

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Apr 2014

    Posts: 11,586

    Location: Aberdeen

    Generators aren't necessarily loud and you can put noise-absorbent material between you and it..
     
  12. skyripper

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 19 Jul 2011

    Posts: 2,094

    Ok, I'll bite. To answer your points 1,2,3

    1 if you are driving somewhere with your PC, then you could take a camper instead of a car. Built in battery and generator (ie the engine) just needing a 12v to mains inverter.

    2 see above. If you truly want to live off grid you'll need power anyway for stuff like lighting and a fridge freezer etc unless you want mediaeval living conditions. And peasant farmers don't use PCs...

    3? Build a Faraday cage. Cheaper than moving home.


    Still think your actual solution is to switch to a laptop and either stock additional batteries or a temporary power supply rather than a replacement for mains power. Storage can be an external drive with stuff mostly hosted in the cloud - or are you going to limit yourself to mobile connectivity only?

    Trying to have a desktop PC, external monitor, lots of external storage and a fat GPU while off-mains and staying affordable is asking for the moon on a stick.
     
  13. Semple

    Soldato

    Joined: 5 Mar 2010

    Posts: 7,051

    I think this last paragraph pretty much sums it up.

    Whilst you might have valid reasons for your suggestions. It's unnecessary and would work out very expensive.

    You say you do a lot of GPU intensive work and therefore a laptop would unlikely be able to sustain battery life. Unless you're gaming, most processing work can be done on a secondary device - I.e. Have a PC at home doing the grunt work, and you can be in another location with a laptop.
     
  14. Hotwired

    Soldato

    Joined: 17 Aug 2009

    Posts: 7,180

    What you're asking for makes no sense, even from your point of view. You want to have enough electrical power to run your desktop and monitor and speakers and amp for substantial lengths of time. But not on the mains.

    To do that requires creating an inferior version of 240V 60Hz AC mains electricity and once you have that, what have you actually done? Everything powers up once again and operates exactly the same. Including your mouse and keyboard which never sees mains electricity or even AC, they run on 5V DC whether they are plugged into a PC or laptop.
     
  15. area51

    Gangster

    Joined: 22 Mar 2009

    Posts: 468

    Location: Down town gaza/Lah'darn


    Ideally you need to by pass the PSU's on both devices as no longer would need to convert to DC or 12 volt!
    The 12 volt side isn't a problem just need something in line to control it?
    But need a circuit to reduce to 5.5 and 3.3 volt and maybe 12v minus?

    It's doable for sure but the question is how much you want to invest in storage capacity? as now they have areas of new build running of battery power alone at times.
    you need X plus Y for headroom to give you Z.
    The monitor would need to find it's native voltage it runs at? if 12volt fine so you will just get in and by pass the psu inside it mind even better with external types.

    Hard drives switch to SSD's ultra low power needed then as whats kills laptop batteries along with screen.

    Ring mains create EMF and any time current is inverted creates RF.

    If you had a camper van could have panels on the roof plus units that stand alone of perched up for a while plus generator that slots in beneath van on runners so can pull out to use/service.

    Will have a chat with friend his company builds/installs/runs those massive solar farms you see he also has another friend that could build what you require as do marine etc builds for all sorts of boats etc
     
  16. Phil2008

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 17 Dec 2004

    Posts: 8,301

    You need a UPS thats generator friendly, unless you want to spend mega money on a decent inverter generator.

    I have a 1800watt online ups powering all my stuff in my main room and then a 2800watt generator that I plug the UPS into when the mains power fails and the generator last about 10hrs between re-fueling.

    A normal generator volts can vary a bit, so its best to use a UPS to keep the voltage constant and smooth. Or buy a decent inverter generator as these smooth out the voltage before the power is outputted, but these are twice expensive then a normal generator.

    If you do get a normal generator though, make sure your get one with AVR (Automatic volt regulator) as this stops the volts spiking dangerously high/low that could cause damage to sensitive equipment.. These are the links to my ups and generator if interested .........

    Generator
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Böhmer-AG-Electric-Generator-6500W-Petrol/dp/B078W96337/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=generator&qid=1564697028&s=gateway&sr=8-8

    UPS
    https://powerwalker.com/?page=product&item=10122099&lang=en

    These are what big companies use,,, a UPS to keep the the power from going off during powercuts and then the ups flicks over to generator power once the generator its started and running, so there's no loss in power.

    Normal generators needs the engine to maintain 3600rpm at all times as the rev of the engine alters the voltage output. But the engine with inverter generators work differently and doesn't need to maintain a constant speed. So decent inverter generators are great for camping as there not all that loud, but they cost much more, as cheap inverter generators are not much better than normal generators
     
    Last edited: 1 Aug 2019
  17. AMDPower

    Mobster

    Joined: 24 Feb 2004

    Posts: 2,627

    Buy laptop, with a battery charging station of some kind, leave your main pc on in the flat and remote login to your main pc to perform more computational intensive tasks. This is the least troublesome solution and least expensive.

    You can get external monitors that work of usb power, my brother has one.
    Any other way would require serious investment or compromise.
     
  18. Steveocee

    Soldato

    Joined: 5 Nov 2011

    Posts: 5,176

    Location: Derbyshire

    I think the top and bottom of this is that you can't have 21st century living with dark age mentality.

    A laptop will do everything you need and more, you don't need the additional screen if you get a nice 17" IPS version and spare batteries are easily available for long sessions. The solutions have all been fantastic but a lot don't suit your portability criteria.

    PS Don't forget to turn off the WiFi chip in your laptop or you'll still have a headache out in the wild lol
     
  19. Scania

    Capodecina

    Joined: 25 Nov 2004

    Posts: 24,385

    Location: On the road....


    If I ran my laptop via an inverter in my truck for more than a few hours I’d have to run the engine for a while to top the batteries back up, otherwise you could guarantee it wouldn’t start in the morning due to being flat, it has two 1150 CCA batteries in a 24V setup , you’d need a hefty battery to get 8 hours use!