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  1. Regarding back up power, I don’t have experience with pure deep cycle batteries, but for practical use in both car starting and backup power situations, I’ve found the Optima Yellow Top line of batteries good. I have 3, and one for about 5 years which I’ve discharged down to 5 volts several times and then successfully revived it.

    Note you can’t use ‘intelligent’ chargers to do this reviving, in fact when you do you’d be likely to give up based on what it tells you.

    You need an old-fashioned ‘dumb’ charger with lots of amps, preferably 30, and you need to watch for signs of battery heating and stop if it is getting hot.

    1. As I can tell from your comment, backup power is important to you too. I have a battery isolator in my vehicle that runs my radio so I have not chance of draining the starter battery. Take care! Grant

  2. Excellent points and recommendations.

    Identifying a problem is half the solution. Sadly, so many folks are addicted to their smart phones. Because radio requires one to learn something new, it therefore not taken seriously. In my area, hundreds have gotten their Tech license in the last few years, yet never go on air. The lack of radios on persons I saw from hours of video of the Virginia Rally is concerning. And the good old boys who are always on air, are not learning anything new.

    Batteries are not well understood. I might do an article on this, but I have many other project to do as well. I have fair amount of experience with many types. The best batteries for most folks are lead acid. A starting battery should not be used as substitute for a deep cycle battery. Marine batteries are not deep cycle batteries. Marine batteries are a starting battery with addition reserve capacity. 6 volt batteries are usually deep cycle batteries, and provide the most amp hours for the money. Sealed deep cycle batteries require special charging techniques to get the most out of them. If one does not know how to handle them, the added expense of purchase is not worth it. I cannot comment about the new lithium batteries. If one requires a sealed deep cycle, learn how to charge them properly. AGM’s do better when charged rapidly, as opposed to standard lead acid batteries that should not be charged at a rate faster than 20 percent of their rated capacity. AGM’s if charged by PV panels, require lots of panels to ensure long life. AGM batteries charged with a generator can recover quickly, and there fore less fuel is used when charging with a large generator that power a very high capacity charger that provides at least 80 amps. 1 amp will work, but AGM will last longer with high rate of charging.

    Match the generator with the charge rate of your batteries. A small generator is best for a small bank of standard lead acid batteries as fuel will not be wasted. For example, Two 6 volt lead acid batteries require less fuel to charge, if a 500 watt generator is used. If four 6 volt deep cycles batteries are to be charged, use a 1000 watt generator. If eight 6 volt batteries should be charged, use 2000 watt generator at rate close to 20 percent of the rated capcity. Charge these battery banks to 80 percent, or to about 12.5 volts, and let a photo voltaic system finish the job. In contrast, a typical and single AGM battery likes and will live longer on 40 amps, better than 10 amps. A large generator and high capacity charger is needed to efficiently charge and maximize the life a bank of AGMs. AGMs will not give one the best long term performance, namely, power for the dollar spent in the long run, when used in the typical ‘solar system’ most can afford.

    A basic understanding of batteries is needed for setting up the appropriate charging systems. Usually simple is best, and so, is the time tested standard lead acid battery.

    1. We all have some weaknesses here or there, but this is one that you can’t really “cram” for. You can go out and buy many supplies, but it takes time to get this working. Best,

  3. We very much enjoyed this series! An excellent topic, presentation, information, and reminders. My husband is a HAM (and one adult child also). We believe radio skill sets are more important than most know, and will be increasingly so in the future. Many thanks to the writer for sharing!

    1. We all have weaknesses in areas. Part of the problem with radio is that, at least in my opinion, you learn nothing about using a radio by studying for the test and you can only learn this stuff by using it which requires a license. I always want to deeply understand things and there is no way, again in my opinion, to understand all of the stuff required on the test. My suggestion .. . memorize the questions, take practice tests, get your license and then you will learn. Best,

  4. I have been an Extra class for a few years and I seem to learn something new every day! You are absolutely correct in saying you need to get licensed so you can practice BEFORE you need to communicate in an emergency! Ham radio is not something you just turn on and start talking with like a bubble pack walkie-talkie from the sporting good store. Also in the last 2 years I converted all my batteries over to Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) and can’t recommend it enough! You can use much more than the 50% depth of discharge on something like a sealed lead acid batter so a 12 amp hour battery is more like 10 amp hours versus a sealed lead acid 12 amp hour being only 6 useable amp hours…and its still lighter! Yes, you’ll most likely need new charge controllers but it worth it especially if you every have to go mobile! I’m still young, extremely fit, and through thousands of my own dollars in training each year I am twice the gunfighter I was when I was in Afghanistan with the army but that still doesn’t mean I want to be a one trick pony like so many other preppers out there!

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