When the power goes out, will you be able to continue using your ham radio?
If you have a small handheld radio like the Baofeng UV-5R or other small radio, it’s good to have a few spare batteries. If your power outage lasts more than a few hours or days, you’ll also want to have the ability to recharge your batteries.
My goto portable power source to recharge my radio when I don’t have access to AC power comes by using a small rechargeable Lithium Ion battery pack.
Besides being able to recharge my handheld radio battery, these portable power banks can also be used to get power to my cell phone. It can also recharge batteries for a flashlight or other small device that uses rechargeable AA or AAA batteries. Simply connect a charging cable and device to the USB ports.
Speaking of rechargeable batteries, I’ve been very happy with the Panasonic BK-3MCCA eneloop AA 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries that maintain up to 70% of their charge after 10 years (when not it use). It can certainly be frustrating to discover your rechargeable batteries are dead when you need them most. To keep my eneloop batteries charged, I use the Panasonic K-KJ17MCA Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger Pack when I have access to 110V AC. This is a “smart” charger that allows me to recharge individual batteries if needed. Many chargers only work when loaded with two or four batteries.
To power your mobile 2 Meter radio, you’ll need a bit more power. I’ve been able to run my 2M radio for several hours off a 12 Volt/7.2 Amp Hour Sealed Lead Acid Battery. To keep the battery topped off and always ready to use, I’ve been using a Battery Tender Junior to maintain my battery. If the power is out for an extended period of time, I’ve used a briefcase sized Thunderbolt Magnum® Solar 13 Watt Briefcase Solar Charger that I picked up at Harbor Freight for less than $80. This lower wattage solar panel will take longer to recharge my battery and you may want to consider something bigger.
For your HF radio, you’ll likely need more power.
All backup power options have limitations, so it’s best not to rely on just one. When preparing for situations in which commercial power may be unavailable, using battery backup is a good start, but using it long term could get expensive. Batteries can be recharged by gas/diesel generators, solar power, wind powered turbines, or a combination of these.
I’ve learned tons about solar and battery power from Steve Harris on his website at: solar1234.com