Solar Energy System which will power MacBook?


So, does your MagSafe lead work in a car?


Okay! Progress! So, maybe what I need is a deep cycle battery and a battery box with DC car socket (female) but finding one within my budget seems like it might not be possible. At this point, since I can get a Voltaic Systems MacBook kit (panel, li-ion battery, MagSafe DC adapter) for US$300 plus shipping that may, surprisingly, be the best bet. Wish I had known that before spending all this cash on what I currently have. Oh well, the small battery pictured will charge an iPhone many times, so it’s not a total wash.


I don’t know yet, actually, parking in Tokyo is insane, so my car is kept out in one of the suburbs. I only use it for cargo transport or big grocery shopping trips at Costco. I assume the adapter could be faulty. Won’t know until I get access to a high capacity DC socket.


But, from your initial post, it sounds like you have that now, other than the box. If you can charge/power USB stuff from that setup, then your car socket has power to it, so I don’t think buying more stuff to give you another car socket would help.

And, as I keep saying, you really need to determine what voltage the computer requires. From the Voltaic site, I see they’re saying a higher voltage is required than what you have available:

Set the Voltage on the V70 to 16V if the AC Charger that came with your MacBooks gives an output of 16.5V or 14.5V (MacBook Air). If your AC Charger outputs 19 - 20V set the Voltaic Battery to 19 - See more at:

There may be other issues, like the lead for example, but this is a show stopper - a 12V battery will not supply 16.5V or 19V unless you use another box, called a DC-DC converter.

Try the inverter you have with the existing equipment perhaps.


Apple used to sell an adaptor you could use on an Airplane to power a MBP. It had a Car cigarette lighter type plug and a 4 pin magsafe adaptor. These would supply 12 volts and enough watts to run 15 inch unibody. I remember Qantas warned not to use these with the 17 inch MBP because it drew too much power.

However I did use one in a car outlet with a 17inch MBP.

My point is, in the Unibody MBPs at least could use a 12volt supply. I still think her issue is insufficient ampage and storage capacity.

Ebay Australia is currently offering 20% on some camping and outdoor using code CAMPING. Might be worth looking at, depending on delivery costs


I don’t remember that. And I don’t remember seeing cigarette lighter sockets in planes either but I may have missed them. I do remember that Apple made an EmPower adaptor though and that system is 15VDC.

[quote=“recd, post:25, topic:3239”]
I still think her issue is insufficient ampage and storage capacity.[/quote]

I agree that it’s a very small battery and it won’t do anything for very long, but it should do something if it’s getting power; at least light up the LED on the MagSafe.

If the MBP has a fully charged battery and is idling or asleep, it only draws milliamps. The 60W rating of the AC adaptor is maximum, which is 5 amps at 12 volts, but idling with a full battery it would be more like 10 watts, or 1.2 amps from the external 12V battery. Assuming this battery is fully charged, it would supply that current for a few hours at least.


Thought I had one amidst all the cables.

Some planes had a power socket that accepted the plug in the second photo Which may be the EmPower plug. That plug fitted into the “cigarette Lighter” plug in the first photo. I had used it in a car with a 15" MBP.The magsafe is in the third photo


I have succeeded! It’s charging!

UPDATE: Well, crap, I blew out the DC 12V adapter. I’m going to guess because it was charging with 16.91 watts and the adaptor was built for 12V, thus ensuring the internal mechanism burnt out. It was a $30 adapter too. Expensive experiment.


I’ve got the inverter running now, but it definitely isn’t being supplied enough power. So I went back to the solar store and looked at the big batteries. Anything more than 20ah is out of my price range. At least for the foreseeable future. I’ll look at car batteries like Geoff showed but my guess is there’s simply no way I can afford it. That’s several months of on-grid electricity bills. Not quite worth it yet at that cost.


And there in lies the problem, solar tends to have a pretty long payback at any scale (read: it’s expensive). It’s not a financially attractive option unless you have a real need (or desire). That said. I’ve seen people build some pretty big home arrays using scavaged car batteries or things from random sources.

Check out this thread:


My monthly electricity bill is pretty minuscule anyhow. It’s between about $20 a month in summer to $50 in the dead of winter. I never use air conditioning in the summer, and I layer up as much as possible in winter, but sometimes I have to turn on the heat. I have only LED or CFL lights, some running off of battery/solar. And now I only charge the phones via the foldable solar panels. Water heating and cooking are done with gas, which is another expense I want to drop eventually.

The big drains are: MacBook Pro, Time Capsule, additional external HDD, LG monitor, Epson projector, microwave and fridge. I’ve simply not used the LG monitor or the Epson projector for weeks now as I attempt to lower my electricity bill as far as possible.

My load is relatively small, so I was hoping I could put together a relatively inexpensive system for most of my needs, but I am getting the feeling it’s not really worth it.

I’m currently underemployed, but I live in Tokyo proper, and my rent is really terrible. Made sense when I signed the lease and had the best paying job I’d ever had, but I don’t have it anymore (the parting was… mutual, if not amicable). But I was smart enough to save several months of emergency funding, just figured I’d try to make it last a bit longer, but I don’t think I can afford these start up costs to create a really comprehensive system.


It sounds like you have already done a lot to reduce your use already, but since you’re trying to scrape the last few bucks off the table you will find it hard to find a financially viable option.

I was watching this thing for a while on IndieGoGo when it was coming up. It looks like a hand thing to have if you’re travelling or need power away from your normal power source.

The only reason I mention this is because it does hold a bit of power, is portable and can be charged in a number of different ways… like when you are at work for example :stuck_out_tongue: Of course the cost means that it would take a long while to get back the upfront cost.

This sort of thing is always an option too if you’re keen enough (especially if you’re already doing exercise like this):


Someone owed me some cash, so I got a decent battery. And now I have a solar powered MacBook!

Watching the WWDC Keynote:

Next question, can I run my Mac Pro…