One of the standout features of the iPad is its long battery life – a fully charged battery should last you about 9 – 10 hours (6 – 7 when using an external GPS). Even though most general aviation flights rarely last that long, it’s always a good idea to charge the iPad the night before your flight and start with a full battery.
Using the included wall charger
One of the few accessories included with the iPad is a USB Power Adapter, which will charge the device from a 110V wall outlet. If you look closely at the specs on the adapter, you’ll see that it’s a 10 watt, 2.1 amp charger. This is important to take note of since the iPhone, iPod Touch and other replacement USB power adapters are typically rated at 5 watts and 1 amp. The higher 2.1 amp charger allows the large battery in the iPad to charge more quickly than when using the traditional 1 amp adapter (it will take around 4 – 5 hours to charge a completely drained iPad 1 or 2 battery, and around 6 hours to charge the iPad 3).
A couple notes here:
- You can still charge an iPad with a 1 amp USB power adapter, but it will take longer than 5 hours to fully charge
- The iPad’s 2.1 amp charger is still safe to use with your other USB devices (iPhone, iPod, etc.) and will not damage them
Charging in the airplane with a cigarette lighter adapter
You can also use a 12-24V cigarette lighter charger in your airplane to charge your iPad. Pay close attention before just buying any USB charger though, as you’ll want to make sure it provides 2.1 amps for optimum charging. This model offers 2 USB ports, both rated at 2.1 amps. And if you need a replacement 110V home charger, this model also provides a 2-port USB configuration.
Charging from a computer
A third charging option is to connect your iPad to a computer that has a high-power USB 2.0 port (many new Macs and PCs have this). This will not charge as quickly as when using the wall power adapter, but can often be more convenient. If you see the note “Not Charging” in the iPad battery status, your computer most likely does not have a high-power USB port.
iPad Battery Backups
You can also charge the iPad when on the go with a portable backup battery. The first option is a high-capacity battery that can fully charge an iPad and extend it’s life by over 150%. This model has 5 USB ports allowing you to charge your Stratus ADS-B weather receiver or Dual Bluetooth GPS along with your iPad. And you can’t beat the price either – it’s available for under $100.
A second iPad battery backup option includes a portable solar panel to recharge the unit. This system will provide an additional 8 hours of battery life to your iPad. And the solar panel will charge the self-contained backup battery in direct sunlight in 3 – 4 hours (the flexible solar panel works great resting in direct sunlight on your glare shield).