Buy all your VW California Accessories at the Club Shop Visit Shop

With recent innovations - charging laptop question again

M

Meerkat1234

VIP Member
Messages
76
Location
Cheshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Hello,
I know this question has been asked before, and I've read those posts, but I am wondering if time, innovation and new kit might have updated the answer.

What is *the* best charging option for a laptop in a Cali Ocean with the engine off? Both short term and long stretches of time. We both need to work whilst away so we need to find a way to work connected for several hours. FYI - ours is a 2018 model.

And whilst on this charging question, has anyone produced a really easy reference that explains what all the power points in the Cali do/can't do, convertors needed, additional plugs that can do this and that, where it draws the power from etc? Three years in and we're still a bit befuddled and unsure!
 
Last edited:
jonr71

jonr71

VIP Member
Messages
115
Location
London
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 204
Hello,
I know this question has been asked before, and I've read those posts, but I am wondering if time, innovation and new kit might have updated the answer.

What is *the* best charging option for a laptop in a Cali Ocean with the engine off?

And whilst on this charging question, has anyone produced a really easy reference that explains what all the power points in the Cali do/can't do, convertors needed, additional plugs that can do this and that, where it draws the power from etc? Three years in and we're still a bit befuddled and unsure!
I "work from home" from my Ocean on occasion and use a EcoFlow River Max - I charge it at home and when connected to my laptop, it takes about 20-25% of the battery capacity of the EcoFlow to operate for a full day. I could work without hookup for 2-3 days with it. It charges from the mains in around 2.5 hours (to 80% in 1 hour) so is easy to top up once you have power. I also use a solar panel (160w) connected to it - on a decent day it'll easily fully charge the EcoFlow. The reason for the eco flow is to avoid having to use the inverter socket on the front seat. I want to be able to charge my electric bike, power items that need >300w (heater, hairdryer etc), have sockets I can use when not on EHU and act as a backup for the leisure batteries. (I have used it to act as a portable EHU at a festival to make sure my leisure batteries don't get too low and my fridge and lights stay working.) There are other similar large "solar chargers" such as the Ecoflow from Jackery, Anker and Bluetti. I chose the Ecoflow for flexibility, look and feel and fast charging, but especially the high capacity 240v sockets.
 
M

Mehdime

Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
141
Location
Ireland
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 204
Hello,
I know this question has been asked before, and I've read those posts, but I am wondering if time, innovation and new kit might have updated the answer.

What is *the* best charging option for a laptop in a Cali Ocean with the engine off? Both short term and long stretches of time. We both need to work whilst away so we need to find a way to work connected for several hours. FYI - ours is a 2018 model.

And whilst on this charging question, has anyone produced a really easy reference that explains what all the power points in the Cali do/can't do, convertors needed, additional plugs that can do this and that, where it draws the power from etc? Three years in and we're still a bit befuddled and unsure!
Assuming that you want to charge using the Cali’s leisure battery and assuming you have a T6.1, then using a 12Vsocket-to-USBC adapter is what you need.

All 12V sockets in the van (including both sockets on the dashboard) are powered by the leisure battery in the T6.1 (this is different from previous models where some 12V sockets were powered by the engine battery).

I’ve used this adapter to work from the van on my MacBook Pro all day for a couple of weeks this summer and it worked perfectly: LinkOn 130W USB-C Car Charger... https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09MWG8VWS/?tag=eliteelect-21

The plug does get a little hot (although never dangerously hot as some reviews says) so I never leave it plugged in when I’m not in the van or at night. But apart from that, it’s perfect.

EDIT: just noticed you said you have a 2018 model so a T6, not T6.1. In that case, just check which 12V socket is powered by the leisure battery as not all might be.
 
Last edited:
P

pcevanrulo

VIP Member
Messages
137
Location
Eindhoven
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 150
We use our 230 inverter underneath the seat in our T6.1. We went for 2 months (80% off grid) and both worked 6hrs a day on our laptops. The MiFi was plugged in the USB. We do have 2 solarpanel which kept our batteries in good condition.
 
The Tall Luthier

The Tall Luthier

VIP Member
Messages
317
Location
UK
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 150
Assuming that you want to charge using the Cali’s leisure battery and assuming you have a T6.1, then using a 12Vsocket-to-USBC adapter is what you need.

All 12V sockets in the van (including both sockets on the dashboard) are powered by the leisure battery in the T6.1 (this is different from previous models where some 12V sockets were powered by the engine battery).

I’ve used this adapter to work from the van on my MacBook Pro all day for a couple of weeks this summer and it worked perfectly: LinkOn 130W USB-C Car Charger... https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09MWG8VWS/?tag=eliteelect-21

The plug does get a little hot (although never dangerously hot as some reviews says) so I never leave it plugged in when I’m not in the van or at night. But apart from that, it’s perfect.

EDIT: just noticed you said you have a 2018 model so a T6, not T6.1. In that case, just check which 12V socket is powered by the leisure battery as not all might be.
I tried this and ended up putting the 12v plug in the fridge it got so warm.
I suspect I must have had a cheap usb C converter for my MacBook as the results were very poor.
 
M

Mehdime

Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
141
Location
Ireland
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 204
I tried this and ended up putting the 12v plug in the fridge it got so warm.
I suspect I must have had a cheap usb C converter for my MacBook as the results were very poor.
Absolutely. Do not ever use any cheap old electrical adapter, cable or plug you find on Amazon or random electrical shops. Almost all of them are absolute junk and can be very dangerous.

In general, I only ever buy genuine OEM adapters (from e.g. Apple) or Anker-branded stuff as Anker is one of the few reputable brands of electrical equipment out there. They’re a lot more expensive than the cheap junk but I value my life at more than a £20 saving.

In the case of 12V-to-USB-C PD adapters, I couldn’t find any from a well-known reputable brand. But after a fair bit of research, LinkOn seemed to be as close to reputable as it gets from the brands available to buy in the U.K.

I still don’t trust it obviously hence why I’d never leave this plugged in when I’m not there. But it’s been working really well and not getting too hot - even when used in 38 degrees temperature in France this summer.
 
M

Meerkat1234

VIP Member
Messages
76
Location
Cheshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Thanks everyone for your replies. Quick reminder - we got our Cali in 2018, so it's a T6, not a T6.1.

So on that basis, what would be our vehicle-powered options? Using which plug socket, with which adaptor, drawing which power from where and for how long only?

What about also charging the laptop as we're driving?

Are the power bank answers above basically inferring that you don't charge your laptop from the Cali, or wouldn't for the scenario I listed? If we were to go down that route we'd like something as small as possible for around £300 max. The Eco Flow mentioned by @jonr71 looks great, but big and pricey.
 
jonr71

jonr71

VIP Member
Messages
115
Location
London
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 204
Thanks everyone for your replies. Quick reminder - we got our Cali in 2018, so it's a T6, not a T6.1.

So on that basis, what would be our vehicle-powered options? Using which plug socket, with which adaptor, drawing which power from where and for how long only?

What about also charging the laptop as we're driving?

Are the power bank answers above basically inferring that you don't charge your laptop from the Cali, or wouldn't for the scenario I listed? If we were to go down that route we'd like something as small as possible for around £300 max. The Eco Flow mentioned by @jonr71 looks great, but big and pricey.
The challenge is to find a unit at that price point that has a 240v output and enough capacity. You might be best fitting a solar panel and using the Inverter socket.

When I bought, there wasn't such a thing. I think if someone made something like it, it would be brilliant. Agree that the Ecoflow River Max is big and pricy.
 
T

The Saint Essex

Messages
50
Location
Essex
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
Both my laptops are USB-C powerd and I've got a couple on Anker 12V to USB-C PD converters. They work a treat (also charge the kids Switches) and prefer this over using the 240v inverter as this would be inefficient going from 12V to 240V and then back down to 12-20V that laptops work on.

As we are typically out in the van most days I don't worry about the leisure battery levels as they will get topped up while driving. But if I wasn't going to move for a while and was without EHU, I'd probably consider a PV panel to keep things topped up.
 
babble

babble

VIP Member
Messages
378
Location
Brussels
Vehicle
T6 Coast 150
i worked from my T6 cali for a while and just plugged my laptop into the inverter-plug connected to the leisure battery. It's the one down the bottom of the door pillar in mine it looks like this:

1663861015076.png
The other plug up at the top on the side of the sink is only live when you are plugged in form the outside.

Other than that, you can indeed just connect a usb c cable straight in from any of the 12v sockets in the back on the van, which are all, as far as I know, connected to the leisure battery - just like fi you were charging a phone. (it will charge much more slowly than your normal charger, but will keep your computer from draining and will charge overnight. You can run/charge all of these while driving too, no problem.

The issue you have is keeping the leisure battery topped up. No issue if you are driving every few days, if not, you need some solar panels or to run you engine for 30 minutes, for example.
 
babble

babble

VIP Member
Messages
378
Location
Brussels
Vehicle
T6 Coast 150
apparently, however, the inverter is not as efficient as getting a 12v adaptor and connecting through a 12v socket.

 
M

Meerkat1234

VIP Member
Messages
76
Location
Cheshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
You haven't mentioned what laptop you have - is USB-C charging an option?
I have a Macbook Air but it doesn't have any USB-C ports. It's of a date that the only option to charge this is through the Magsafe main charging point, ie the one that I use day in, day out to charge the thing plugged at home into my everyday wall socket.
 
M

Meerkat1234

VIP Member
Messages
76
Location
Cheshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
So, given I can only charge my Macbook through the Magsafe port, what would be the optimal configuration of adaptors/charging points in the Cali that I could use if I were charging it:
a) while the engine is off and not hooked up to anything
b) while the engine is running and we're driving
c) while we're hooked up to power?

(still confused!)
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

Retired after 42 yrs and enjoying Life.
Super Poster
Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
21,736
Location
United Kingdom
Vehicle
T5 SE 180 4Motion
So, given I can only charge my Macbook through the Magsafe port, what would be the optimal configuration of adaptors/charging points in the Cali that I could use if I were charging it:
a) while the engine is off and not hooked up to anything
b) while the engine is running and we're driving
c) while we're hooked up to power?

(still confused!)
What is the power requirement of the Magsafe charger?
If you have the Inverter socket on the Bpillar by the kitchen then the Magsafe charger must be 150w or less, if on the base of the Drivers seat RHD then 300w or less.
If that is the case then using the Inverter socket would be the easiest.
The inverter runs off the Leisure Batteries so they will be recharged if driving or on EHU.
 
M

Meerkat1234

VIP Member
Messages
76
Location
Cheshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
What is the power requirement of the Magsafe charger?
If you have the Inverter socket on the Bpillar by the kitchen then the Magsafe charger must be 150w or less, if on the base of the Drivers seat RHD then 300w or less.
If that is the case then using the Inverter socket would be the easiest.
The inverter runs off the Leisure Batteries so they will be recharged if driving or on EHU.

It's 45w. So if there's a dual/triple inverter socket adaptor out there we could run 3 <50w each devices off that one socket, is that right? And more from the driver seat socket?

Do you know how long could we simultaneously charge two laptops from the inverter socket without flattening the leisure battery?
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

Retired after 42 yrs and enjoying Life.
Super Poster
Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
21,736
Location
United Kingdom
Vehicle
T5 SE 180 4Motion
It's 45w. So if there's a dual/triple inverter socket adaptor out there we could run 3 <50w each devices off that one socket, is that right? And more from the driver seat socket?

Do you know how long could we simultaneously charge two laptops from the inverter socket without flattening the leisure battery?
That 45w seems very low. I have an old Macbook with the magnetic charger lead and it states 1.65amp at 240 v which makes 350w, approximately.
 
M

Meerkat1234

VIP Member
Messages
76
Location
Cheshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
That 45w seems very low. I have an old Macbook with the magnetic charger lead and it states 1.65amp at 240 v which makes 350w, approximately.
Hmm.. that's what Apple just said when I asked, they said "the power requirement is 45w" and they got this from the tech spec of it having a "45W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter". But I notice in the same spec it says under Electrical and Operating Requirements it has a "Line voltage: 100–240V AC".

Watts.. volts... power req.. line voltage... I'm lost!
 
Y

yossarian

VIP Member
Messages
359
Location
Scotland
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 150
Do you know how long could we simultaneously charge two laptops from the inverter socket without flattening the leisure battery?
Yes, you have about 1kWh in the Ocean to play with. Your fridge will use about 0.35kWh per day depending on the season and how often it's opened. Look at your laptop battery capacity to determine how much energy it'll absorb from flat. Typically around 0.1kWh at (lets say 80% charging efficicncy) is about 0.125kWh from the leisure battery.

Simple calculations that'll give you a rough idea.

Recharging your leisure battery to 80% will take around 3 hours with the alternator running (this region is pretty much linear)
 
vmaxkiddy

vmaxkiddy

VIP Member
Messages
414
Location
Revesby, Lincolnshire
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
So, given I can only charge my Macbook through the Magsafe port, what would be the optimal configuration of adaptors/charging points in the Cali that I could use if I were charging it:
a) while the engine is off and not hooked up to anything
b) while the engine is running and we're driving
c) while we're hooked up to power?

(still confused!)
I use a Lavolta 12v supply for my MacBook Pro, very similar to this.
 
kave

kave

Messages
1,509
Location
Boras Sweden
Vehicle
T6 Beach 4Motion
Hello,
I know this question has been asked before, and I've read those posts, but I am wondering if time, innovation and new kit might have updated the answer.

What is *the* best charging option for a laptop in a Cali Ocean with the engine off? Both short term and long stretches of time. We both need to work whilst away so we need to find a way to work connected for several hours. FYI - ours is a 2018 model.

And whilst on this charging question, has anyone produced a really easy reference that explains what all the power points in the Cali do/can't do, convertors needed, additional plugs that can do this and that, where it draws the power from etc? Three years in and we're still a bit befuddled and unsure!
The best solution is using a USB-C adapter and a Mac with a M1 or M2 cpu, the battery will outlast anything with Intel.
 
Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Messages
75
Location
Netherlands
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
You have a fine campervan that includes a built-in inverter, so just use that. You’ll be able to charge two Macbooks at the same time (45W is right for a MacBook Air with an Intel chip). Battery capacity for a Macbook Air is about 50 Wh (0.05 kWh), so the leisure batteries can power a full charge from flat many times over.

Optimising further by using 12V chargers for more efficient charging only makes sense if you are trying to stay off-grid without driving for multiple days. Even then, in most weather conditions the fridge or the heating will use more battery capacity than the Macbook charger.
 
California_Ocean

California_Ocean

VIP Member
Messages
156
Location
Germany
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 204 4 motion
I use the inverter under the seat to power both my 2nd screen and laptop (45W USB-C power supply), together they draw about 50W if the laptop is fully charged.

The 310W solar panels on the roof deliver this easily, and as I only do Van Office when the weather is nice, I have no problem with power using the 2 standard VW leisure batteries and VW inverter.

Biggest drain is the fridge which uses 0,35-0,45 kWh a day - but this is also easily covered by the solar during summer.
 
M

Meerkat1234

VIP Member
Messages
76
Location
Cheshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Top