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Solar, Field Day, or Emergency Response: Emergency Power Options. George Ure AC7X. Agenda. Outage Scenarios: When could the power fail? Power demands are band and mode dependent On-the-fly power Introduction to Generators Battery Basics – Charge and Discharge Parameters

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Solar, Field Day, or Emergency Response: Emergency Power Options

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Presentation Transcript
  • Outage Scenarios: When could the power fail?
  • Power demands are band and mode dependent
  • On-the-fly power
  • Introduction to Generators
  • Battery Basics – Charge and Discharge Parameters
  • Battery-powered Options
    • Inverters
    • Inverter/Chargers
    • Grid-Interactive Systems
  • Wind Machines
power outage scenarios
Power-Outage Scenarios
  • Drunk driver hits a power pole
    • (1-12 hours)
  • Earthquake (New Madrid?)
    • 1 Day – 1 month
  • Terrible weather event (Sandy-class)
    • 1-day to 2-months
  • EMP/Regional Nuclear Event/Bio war
    • ???
  • Field Day: Till the beer runs out?
emergency what to plan power for
Emergency? What to Plan Power For…
  • “Crisis Lite” 1-4 Days
    • Almost ALL hams with a handheld are set!
  • “Regular Crisis” 5 Days to 5 weeks
    • 30% of hams are ready? 1-5 recharge periods
  • Major Crisis 5+ Weeks
    • 5% or less are ready: Ongoing recharge requirement is harder to meet
key planning points
  • Emergency Power requirements depend on:
    • Expected duration of emergency
    • Bands which will be used in response
    • Role of ham using equipment
      • Net control talks more, needs more energy
      • Traffic handlers need more, too!
    • Antennas, transmitter power, various losses
example emergencies
Example Emergencies
  • Semi/Local: (Ike passing through, Joplin)
    • Mostly VHF/UHF – scattered HF
    • Quick recovery period – external aid coming quick
  • Regional: (’64 Alaska quake, supply lines disrupted, regional coms down)
    • V/UHF for impact areas
    • HF Health, Welfare, and News from ‘outside’ Phone patch?
  • EMP/Nuke War/Massive Solar Flares: (still ahead?)
    • Mainly HF – most repeaters/grid would be down long-term due to the grid impacts, most repeaters gone in a week.
on the fly power
On the Fly Power

Don’t forget the cable to connect to the radio!

  • Alligator Clips are your friend:
    • Some open 1” wide
language of power
Language of Power

A “Cell” is a single chemical reaction device.

  • C cells, D cells
  • AA cells, etc.

A “Battery” is a collection of cells

“Cells” are measured in volts/per cell

“Batteries” are measured by terminal voltage

a cell vs battery
A Cell vs. Battery

A single cell is just like a polarized capacitor:

EXCEPT instead of a dielectric there is a chemical reaction which delivers or absorbs energy!

batteries collections of cells
Batteries (Collections of Cells)

Key Terminology to be aware of:

Energy Density: The “work to weight” ratio.

Cycle Life: How many discharge/charge cycles will a given battery deliver?

Discharge Rate: How many hours will a battery deliver how many amp? Typically 20 min., 1-hour, and 20-hour rates are cited.

Depth of Discharge: What is the recommended level of discharge beyond which cycle life rapidly declines?

Peukert Exponent: Effective shrink rate of a battery at high rates of discharge.

dry cell basics
Dry Cell Basics

Dry Cells:

Metal cap

Plastic Seal

Expansion Space

Porous Cardboard

Zinc Can

Carbon Rod (center)

Chemical “Goo”

Major difference between cells is the chemistry of the “goo” and whether the chemical reaction is reversible!

how to equalize

Never attempt to equalized SLA – sealed lead/acid batteries!!!!!! They tend to blow up.

Use plenty of ventilation (outside!) because Brown’s Gas is HIGHLY EXPLOSIVE

Usually Charging Voltage is increased to drive 2-5% of the battery’s 20-hour rate (in amps) into the battery. So a 100 AMP-Hour battery would equalize at the 2-5 AMP rate for 1 hour.

Monitor closely to prevent thermal runaway!

Safety timer! Safety Glasses! Do NOT overfill batteries (with distilled water only) if Equalizing!

deep cycle vs starting batteries
Deep Cycle VS Starting Batteries

Plate depth versus toal plate area determines it:

battery spec sheet example
Battery Spec Sheet Example

Typical good quality deep cycle battery is a Trojan T-105 which is a 6-volt standard.

amp hours vs kilowatt hours
Amp-Hours VS Kilowatt-Hours
  • Amperes of current for X number of hours
  • BUT Battery voltage declines over time
  • SO Ending energy is different than starting energy:
    • 13 V times 10 AMPS = 130 WATTS
    • 11 V times 10 AMPS = 110 WATTS
  • A Watt-Hour integrating meter is what measured actual ENERGY (work done)
  • 1,000 Watt-Hours = 1 Kilowatt-Hour
battery rules for hams
Battery Rules for Hams

Terms like “cold cranking AMPs” is only marginally useful as comparison information.

Most ham gear will operate to 10.5 Volts

Operating to 10.5 V was required for marine SSB type acceptance

10.5 V is when a 12V battery is “dead”

peukert shrinking battery effect
Peukert: Shrinking Battery Effect

Batteries deliver less total energy on their way to 10.5V “dead” if discharged FAST

Where Cp is Peukert Capacity and both i and t are time and currents of two different discharges such as 10 amps for 20 hours (20-hour rate) vs. 20 amps for 1 hour (1-hour rate). The n is the exponent value.

one more rule
One More Rule

Here’s what a T-105 weighs:

If you are down to two batteries in your shopping, pick the heavier battery if you’re after long cycle life – heavier means more plate material is being used!

how to charge batteries
How to Charge Batteries

Multiple Choices:

From a gen-set: Simplest is a chain saw motor on a piece of plywood connected via a drive belt to an alternator. Add voltmeter and whatever if more control is needed.

From Solar

From Wind

why wind is a poor choice in texas
Why Wind is a POOR Choice In Texas!

Works good on a sailboat – such as the one we lived on.

BUT no significant power below 10 Knots/ 12 MPH

Generates some noise, besides PWR

Depends on swept area – bigger is better on wind gens.

4 5 6 5 kwhr s m 2 per day
4.5-6.5 kWHr’s / M2 Per Day

Solar is not initially cheap, but over the long term is does have good payback – breakeven at between 10-18 years depending on how much you do yourself.

solar has many pieces
Solar Has Many Pieces

The Panels

Charge Controller

Battery bank

Grid-Interactive inverter

kinds of mounts
Kinds of Mounts

Simple (fixed)

Single-Axis (panels are mounted on hinges so from March 21 to Sept 21 they are at 20° tilt otherwise (wintertime) they are at 45°

Highest priced:

Full tracking systems

Which track E/W

I chose T-Post and

Rebar for ours…

small scale solar example
Small Scale Solar Example

Components are: Panel, Battery, Charge Controller. This plus an old ATV winch raises and lowers my tower.

Low NO maintenance!

projects you can bury solar in
Projects You Can “Bury” Solar In…


  • Solar-power driveway and outdoor lighting!
  • Battery “topper-upper” for RV or other battery use which gets infrequent use:
    • Tractor, ATV, Go Karts, Motorcycles, Lawn tractor…
  • “Helping the environment!” “Global Warming!”
  • Basic choices:
    • Gas (get avgas?) or Diesel (works in tractor)
  • Ham favorite is the Honda 2 kW with inverter mode which varies engine speed to load
  • Conventional generators are much cheaper.
  • In gas generators, consider a good oil additive like AvBlendwhich is FAA Approved: or

operating highlights
Operating Highlights
  • Pop for electric start if over 2 kW!
  • If using for your home, have electrician put in a transfer switch
  • Best quality choices:
    • 2 kW & Under: Honda
    • 2-6 kW – Onan or other RV type are good
    • 6 kW up: Tractor PTO Type -
    • 6 kW+ Isuzu diesel
basic rules axioms for gens
Basic Rules & Axioms for Gens


Natural gas gens require lots of fuel but are a very long-life option.

Bad choice though if concerned about earthquakes or infrastructure damaged.

some notes on the honda eu2000i
Some Notes on the Honda EU2000i

Very good unit reports WA7BRI – he uses the Econo Mode with Icom 7000 and now voltage sag problems from key down to listening.

‘BRI meticulously runs every month and uses STABIL in his gas, however! Runs 8-12 hours on a single fill in contest setting, 100 watt xmt class, no RFI issues

how big a genset
How Big a Genset?

From Onan manual good list of watts.

Applies whether your are planning an inverter off batteries (sep. charger), solar (big or small) or buying a genset.

Add up peak loads and that’s your sizing.

More loads = More $$$

2 8 kw onan generator fuel consumption
2.8 kW Onan Generator Fuel Consumption

Typical 24-hour contest time: 6.7 gallons at 50% load.

Full Power 24-hours = 11 Gallons per day

Full load uses almost 3 times fuel of no load.

generalized fuel consumption
Generalized Fuel Consumption

Ballpark: 50% load is 60% of max fuel use

generator time to charge batteries
Generator Time to Charge Batteries

85% of charge in Battery size divided by generator/alternator output.

Example: 100 AHr battery will be 85% full in one hour on 100+ Amp alternator or generator-run source such as charger.

Last 15% of charge takes about 2 ½ Hrs. regardless of size – “absorption charge rate” also called “finishing” charge.

if on pure battery source
If on PURE Battery Source

Operate initially from 100% full to 60% depth of discharge.

Recharge to 85% of charge level

Resume ops to 60% depth of discharge

The 85% down to 40% of capacity is the “sweet spot” where batteries give up – and accept charge most readily.

don t get fooled by an ammeter
Don’t Get Fooled by an Ammeter

When charging begins, battery may not begin charging right away.

Reason: Takes time for the battery chemistry to “change directions”

Delay in discharge to charging reaction is called ‘Coup de Fouet’ by battery gurus. (“crack of the whip”)

Read current after 5-minutes of charging, or so

Coup de Fouet is why active (charging braking) on electric vehicles is so problematic – energy can’t just “reverse and save” – takes time!

operating style
Operating Style

Plan on 10% transmit and 90% receive unless you are net control.

Turns off dial lights is available.

Use power output at minimum level to get the job done. V/UHF 1 watt often sufficient. HF use 100 to establish coms, then reduce to path requirements.

Keep mental picture of fluid situations, make notes if possible.

Keep Radiogram pads on hand if regional emergency – doing public service traffic – be sure to get delivery phone number and confirm them.

power and s units
Power and S-Units


If a 100-watt station is S-9 and drops to 25 watts the result is S-8.

From 25 watts down to 6 Watts is about S-6

2W about S-4 etc.

100 W increased to 2 kW ≈ 1½ S-Units

One S-unit is a change of 6dB in signal strength, which corresponds to double the VOLTAGE or four times the POWER at the receiver input.

on hf horizontal antennas are quieter
On HF Horizontal Antennas are Quieter

Max Signal

Is 6 DB over

Noise Floor

Max Signal

Is 18 DB over

Noise Floor

With S-6 Signals, Antenna Noise becomes a major factor in good communications…

for hf emergency use
For HF Emergency Use

Easiest to Install Quickly

  • Buddy-Pole ™
  • Mobile Whip
  • Vertical into a tree

Best Performance

  • Random Long Wire (Horizontal or “L”)
  • Inverted VEE
  • Flat-Top Dipole
  • Delta Loop
  • Horizontal Loop, 1λ overall length and at least 1/2λ high
my dream emergency antenna to minimize power requirements
My Dream Emergency Antennato Minimize Power Requirements

160 Meter 1 λ Loop at 25’ or higher Used on 20 Meters where it has some gain…

NVIS low bands, 160/80 some gain on 40-& 20 Meters. Quiet (it’s a loop!).

Only problem is size and height and needs a tuner and open wire!

for antennas that are ground dependent
For Antennas that are Ground-Dependent

Verticals, Mobile Whips, and Long-wires need grounds

Signals Depend on Grounds


  • Metal Roofs
  • Metal gutters
  • Chain link fences (noisy in certain wind conditions)
  • Sprinkler Systems (copper), fire stand pipes, hydrants
  • (My favorite!)….

Keep all generators 50 -100 feet or more – and preferably downwind - from humans. Carbon monoxide is carried as easily as oxygen in the bloodstream.

Never work circuits hot even if they are 12V -12 V is enough to kill! It’s the current (less than 5 ma.) that kills!

When wiring wear rubber-soled shoes and trust no one.

thank you

Thank You!