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I'm wanting to connect my lipo to a computer for use in a remote area. I have to use a lipo and I have an idea but I want to make sure I'm not going to blow anything up.

  • Lipo to car cigarette lighter socket
  • Car cigarette lighter socket to small dc/ac inverter
  • inverter ac outlet to computer

Will this work? Can I be more efficient without cutting wires? Do I need to add a low-voltage alarm?

Also, what if I want to power another device on the same lipo?

** EDIT **

(1) And what computer is using a 12 V AC supply?

(2) Have you calculated your power budget? Use P = V x I.

(3) Then figure out how many watt-hours (Wh) you need.

(4) Then calculate the Wh capacity of the battery.

  1. I'm powering a 12v Microsoft kinect via an AC/usb adapter.
  2. Power budget is roughly 6400mAH x 20C (= 128.00A)
  3. I don't completely understand Wh but I'd like to get at least an hour out of the battery.
  4. Wh of the LiPo battery is 6400 x 11.1 = 71.04

** EDIT **

I'm finding out that my current Kinect adapter converts the power from AC/DC in the first place so I can skip that by going straight into DC power, the steps of which are mentioned is this battery to kinect adapter tutorial

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What is a lipo? Liposuction? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2016 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ LiPo - lithium-ion polymer battery. Sorry for the confusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jacksonkr
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ (1) And what computer is using a 12 V AC supply? (2) Have you calculated your power budget? Use P = V x I. (3) Then figure out how many watt-hours (Wh) you need. (4) Then calculate the Wh capacity of the battery. Post all the info in the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume you mean a 120V AC outlet? \$\endgroup\$
    – bitsmack
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That's 12V DC. not AC. \$\endgroup\$
    – Asmyldof
    Mar 31, 2016 at 17:05

1 Answer 1

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That Kinect USB supply is a strange beast :)

The most straightforward way is to do as you suggested. That is:

Battery -> Inverter -> Kinect power supply -> Kinect.

You can use any convenient connector between the battery and the inverter. If the inverter is already wired to a cigarette adapter then that would be a convenient choice.

However, this isn't very efficient. Each time you convert power you lose some of it to inefficiencies. You are taking the battery voltage (~11V DC), changing it to 120V AC, and then changing it again to 12V DC. Let's say that each conversion is 85% efficient (which is reasonable). 0.85 x 0.85 = 72% efficiency.

So, here's how you calculate it:

  1. The Kinect power supply is capable of outputting 1.08A @ 12V DC. This is your worse-case consumption. 12 x 1.08 = 13W.

  2. Now account for the inefficiencies. We already calculated 72% eff, based on earlier assumptions. We need the battery to provide 13W / 0.72 = 17.8W.

  3. Your battery is rated at 6.4 Amp-hours. Multiplying by 11.1V (which doesn't account for actual battery discharge conditions) gives 71 Watt-hours.

  4. So your battery can provide 71 W-h, and your system needs 17.8 W. Divide it out, and you should get around 4 hours.

This is a rough number. On one hand, the Kinect won't always draw full power. On the other hand, the converters might not be that efficient. If they are both 80%, then the total efficiency changes to only 64%!


There are a few other things to consider.

  • How low do you expect the battery voltage to go before you consider it depleted? Make sure your inverter can run that low.

  • How will you decide when to stop drawing down the battery? You don't want to just run until something stops working :)

  • For 17.8W and 11V, the battery will need to supply 1.62A. This is fine with your battery, but I've included it here for reference. Unless you have good reason, you generally want to keep your current to 0.5C (which in the case of your 6.4Ah battery, is 3.2A).


Finally, as you have mentioned in an edit, you are starting with DC and ending with DC. Why go through all these conversions?

Two main reasons:

  1. You don't need to modify / destroy your power adapter

  2. Your battery isn't supplying the 12V needed by the Kinect. You'd have to step up the voltage, which is a whole other design challenge.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Will the Kinect not run straight from 10 or 11 V from the battery? Is it not all regulated down to 5 V internally? (I've never seen one.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Mar 31, 2016 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @transistor It's possible, I suppose! I haven't looked inside one, either. The Kinect cable from the Xbox has both 5V and 12V wires. It appears that the external power adapter is only necessary with the original Xbox 360 console. Without knowing the internal circuitry I wouldn't want to suggest under-spec'ing the input voltage. \$\endgroup\$
    – bitsmack
    Mar 31, 2016 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bitsmack This is one of the best answers I've ever gotten. I'm a noob with electronics but I'm learning fast, this is going to be very helpful. Also, I read that you keep bees?? Bees are amazing! Do you have a blog or something I can follow? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jacksonkr
    Mar 31, 2016 at 20:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jacksonkr Thanks for the kind words! Glad to help. Yes, bees are amazing! They're a perfect hobby for engineers and computer geeks :) You get to learn an amazing system and then figure out how to tweak it! And you get to practice being calm so they don't sting you. As close to Zen as I get! No blog of my own, but I got my "basic training" by reading through David Burns' blog at basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com. Take care! \$\endgroup\$
    – bitsmack
    Mar 31, 2016 at 21:44

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