P1.) What kind of batteries does the Garmin Oregon use?

The Garmin Oregon is powered internally by two (2) AA batteries. They can be Alkaline, Rechargeable NiMh, or Lithium. An option exists under Setup>System>Battery Type to select the battery type installed in the Oregon. This setting allows the battery meter to provide a proper indication of remaining battery charge.

P2.) What are the best batteries to use in my Oregon?

Most users have the best luck with >2500mAh NiMH batteries powering their Oregon. Powerex 2700mAh NiMh batteriesexternal image ir?t=garmincolorad-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0009H5VVMwith a Maha MH-C9000 chargerexternal image ir?t=garmincolorad-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000NLUSLMor La Crosse Technology BC-900 chargerexternal image ir?t=garmincolorad-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00077AA5Qis a popular combination.

P3.) How long will the Garmin Oregon run on battery power?

Garmin specs claim that up to 16 hours of battery life can be achieved with the Oregon.

I have posted some test results on GPSFix comparing the battery life of the Oregon, Colorado and 60CSx. Using 2700mAh batteries I saw battery life between 13 and 21 hours on the Oregon depending on backlight settings in a static (non-moving) environment without using the compass. There are some more results here showing the effects of each backlight level and the battery save option.

P4.) How can I improve battery life on my Oregon?

  • Minimize backlight strength and set it to turn off automatically (Setup>Display>Backlight Timeout>30 Seconds)
  • Disable the electronic compass (Setup>Heading>Compass>Off)
  • Disable WAAS/EGNOS (Setup>System>GPS>Normal)
  • Set tracklog to auto or off (Setup>Tracks>Track Log>Do Not Record)
  • Use the odometer or compass page instead of the map page or 3D View
  • Set your orientation to North Up instead of Track Up or Automotive if you do use the map page
  • Set the battery type set for the right type of battery (NiMH, Alkaline, Lithium)
  • Remove the SD card if you are not using it
  • Make sure you are running the latest Software
  • Don't use brand new NiMH batteries (or cycle new batteries a few times before using them)

P5.) When the Oregon is connected to a computer via a USB cable, an AC adapter or a DC adapter does it use battery power?

No. If the Oregon is connected to a USB power source it will use that source to power the unit. The main menu screen will display an "electrical plug" if the unit is running from USB power instead of the battery meter that is displayed when running under batter power.


P6.) Will the Oregon recharge my NiMH batteries when plugged into a USB power source?


P7.) Can the Garmin Colorado automotive power adapter be used with the Garmin Oregon?

The Garmin Colorado power adapter is electrically compatible with the Oregon however it does not fit properly into the unit because it interferes with the bottom of the GPS and falls out easily. You can find the Oregon auto kit at GPSnow.com which includes a USB adapter designed specifically for the Oregon. The part number for the Oregon auto-kit is 010-10851-10 and the part number for the DC power adapter cable (in case you've already purchased the Colorado kit or auto mount) is 010-10851-11.

P8.) Does the Garmin Oregon support 3rd party USB AC and DC power adapters?

Yes. Most standard phone and camera AC and DC USB power adapters will power the Oregon. You may find that by default the Oregon will enter mass storage mode unless you have the Setup>System>Interface setting configured to Garmin Spanner. See the next question for more details.

P9.) When I plug the Oregon into a 3rd party power adapter or a computer it enters USB storage mass mode. When I connect it to a Garmin automotive adapter it works like a GPS, why? Can I change this?

The USB standard only allows a device to draw 100 mA without negotiating a connection with a USB host and requesting more current. For this reason, USB devices must have some method of detecting a "dumb" charger. While the USB Battery Charging Specification has standardized a method for doing this, many USB devices (including Garmin units) were designed prior to release of this specification and require other methods. A common method used by many devices is to use Pin 4 of a mini-USB Type B connector, which is defined as "not connected" in the standard.

For example, Motorola and BlackBerry chargers tie Pin 4 to ground using a 220k ohm resistor to indicate a "dumb charger".
Chargers for PDA phones manufactured by HTC tie Pin 4 directly to ground with no resistor.
According to http://pinouts.ru/GPS/garmin_nuvi_power_pinout.shtml, Garmin devices tie Pin 4 to ground with a 17k ohm resistor to indicate a 1A charger, and tie it directly to ground (exactly like HTC devices) to indicate a 500 mA charger. As the Oregon cannot charge an internal battery, a 500 mA charger (grounded pin 4) is sufficient for all operations.

As a result, any power source that does not connect Pin 4 to ground, or connects it via a resistance higher than 17k ohms, is treated by the Oregon as a "normal" USB cable.

You can change the Oregon's behavior when it is plugged into a cable that isn't designed for charging it(i.e. a computer or USB power adapter) by changing the Interface setting to Garmin Spanner (Setup>System>Interface). With this setting enabled the Oregon will ask if you want to go into USB mass storage mode when you connect to the cable. If you answer "No" the Oregon will remain on, work like a GPS and draw power from the computer's USB port. You cannot transfer data to/from the Oregon in this mode, it is primarily used for tracking applications.

A short mini USB adapter cable is available from Powerlet, their part number PPC-024. The reach of the plug on that adapter is too short to fully seat in the Oregon, though, as with P7 above “it does not fit properly into the unit because it interferes with the bottom of the GPS and falls out easily.” Powerlet’s statement on correcting that problem is:
It is not economically feasible nor a component we see moving anywhere anytime soon. In your case, the Oregon is not a popular unit for motorcycling, as a matter of fact, we only hear about maybe once every few months.

With a box cutter you can shave away the plastic jacket to gain enough clearance, stopping when you hit the insulation of the embedded wires.

The following table summarizes how all Oregon's except the 200 will behave with different cables and different Interfaces settings. Note with the Oregon 200 there is no Spanner option, only the Serial Interface mode is available:

Typical USB computer cable (Type-B)
Garmin or HTC automotive power adapter (Pin 4 <= 17k ohms)
Typical 3rd party (frequently Motorola/Blackberry) AC/DC power adapter (Pin 4 > 17k ohms))
Garmin Serial Interface mode
Automatic USB mass storage mode
Automatic USB-powered GPS mode
Automatic USB mass storage mode (not useful, use Spanner mode)
Garmin Spanner Interface mode
Query at connect:
  • Yes: USB mass storage mode to transfer data
  • No: GPS mode to use with tracking application on computer
Automatic USB-powered GPS mode
Query at connect:
  • Yes: USB mass storage mode (not useful)
  • No: USB-powered GPS mode for use as GPS


Power issues are covered on the Hardware page.