You want reliable power for your radio operations, a solar system may not always do the job. Here is where it might get a bit tricky but I believe I have worked out all the fine details. I use a Honda EU2000i gasoline generator. The reliability and quality of Honda generators are without rival. The 2000watt rating is plenty for any radio work I want to do with plenty of capacity left over.
In my last post I wrote about using battery power in conjunction with a deep cycle gel battery. See Ham Radios on Battery Power – Part #1 <click here> In that post I shared with you all the power components to get your mobile Ham radio up and running on axillary power. And outlined what solar panels and charger/controller unit that I use to keep that battery charged.
But the sun might not always shine and keep your battery charged. Or, you may have such an electrical load demand that a solar charging system might not be able to keep up with charging needs. This article will take care of that situation with the information I provide below.
Mission – Provide charging capacity to maintain sufficient 12vDC electrical power via battery to run Ham radios.
Requirements & Restrictions –
- Must be sturdy and reliable.
- Must be fuel efficient.
- Must be able to produce a minimum of 1500 watts of continuous “clean” 120vAC power.
- Should be capable of converting to propane fuel.
- Should be capable of propane or gasoline operation with an easily operated switching device.
- Should be easily transported by one male adult.
So here is how I hook up the system for mobile operations:
- I still use the battery mentioned in the first post (Ham Radios on Battery Power – Part #1) to power the radio. That gives the radio the “cleanest possible” 12vDC power supply.
- I can hook the generator up to the battery to charge it. However, there are two very different ways to do that, one is not such a good idea.
- Not so good idea – The EU2000i comes with a 12vDC outlet. I can use the 12vDC outlet and hook it straight to the battery to charge it. But once again, the power is not as clean (“filtered”) as I would like it to be. This method could cause undue wear and tear on the battery reducing its effective life. It could also produce “noise” via the electrical system in the radio itself.
- Good idea – I hook up a Schumacher SC-10030A battery charger to the 120vAC outlet of the generator and then connect the battery charger up to the battery. The battery charger has circuitry built-in that is specifically designed to charge a 12vDC battery optimally. It will automatically adjust the charging amps (rate) to the needs of the battery. This method of the generator and battery charger will charge the battery far faster than radio operations can use the power. So the battery charger will shut down when the battery is fully charged. I can then shut off the generator until charging is needed again. However, if I don’t shut down the generator I am in no fear of overcharging the battery. The microprocessor controlled battery charger will monitor the battery for me and simply kick back on when the battery needs charging.
To use my generator to recharge my handheld radios I have a power strip that I can plug all my charging trays into at once. I can charge all my handhelds at one time and it only takes about 2 – 3 hours to recharge them. That is usually about a pint of gasoline or so. Yeah, the Honda EU2000i is an awesome little fuel-efficient generator.
COOL Note: I have installed the “3-way” fuel adapter on my Honda EU2000i generator. With that adapter I can use gasoline, propane or natural gas as fuel at a simple turn of a lever. Propane is far more efficient for running a generator and much easier to store than large quantities of gasoline.
- I keep 2 – 4 extra Honda brand spark plugs on-hand.
- I keep extra gasoline filters on-hand and I am not shy about changing them.
- I change the oil very regularly, more than what is recommended in the owner’s manual.
- When I am done using my generator I dump out any extra fuel and then run the generator until it runs dry and stops. This ensures that I don’t leave gasoline in the carburetor to become “varnish” and causing issues next time I use the generator.
- If I am going to store gasoline for the generator I add Pri-G stabilizer. StaBill is an option but I don’t think it is as good as Pri-G.
Almost Last Note: The Honda EU2000i generator, when it is running it is EXTREMELY quiet. From 30’ away it is hardly noticeable. Put it around a corner of a building and you will have to go look to see if it is still running. It is incredibly reliable. I have heard people using these generators for years and never having a single problem.
You should know by now how this is better that a single generator system for most “preparedness” scenarios. It is a great concept and works really well in the real world when the lights go out. You have what you need but you only use what you need.