Category Archives: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Off Grid, On The Cheap. You Can Do This.

cheap

Many amateurs badly want off grid capabilities, but cite financial concerns as the main barrier. Can off grid amateur radio be done on the cheap? The answer is subjective, depending on how one defines “cheap” and how much power is needed, but in general, yes, it’s doable and I’m going… Read more »

The Portable Solar Power Station: You CAN Have It Both Ways (Sort Of)

Based on reader comments and what I see around the internet, the off grid amateur radio community seems to be of the mindset that there are only two real options for solar energy: Large, expensive arrays that produce a lot of power but are permanently installed, and small inexpensive panels… Read more »

Generator Safety: Power Up Without Getting Knocked Out.

generator safety

Inexpensive gas generators are a big favorite in the amateur radio community. Everyone seems to love these effective albeit cheaply made power plants! As they became more popular, the law of averages kicked in and there was an unfortunate but not unexpected increase in accidents and deaths related to small… Read more »

Off Grid Technology That May Soon Power Your Amateur Radio Station.

This is a very exciting time of changes for off grid and alternative energy. The cost of established systems is coming way down and many new discoveries are in the pipeline. For sure, a lot of emerging off grid technology is highly theoretical and may never appear on the end… Read more »

Is Wind Energy A Good Fit For You?

wind energy

The off grid amateur radio world seems to revolve around solar. There’s a good reason for that: Solar has become easier, less expensive, and the required equipment is relatively hands off once it is installed. The other options have shown incremental improvements as well, but none have matched solar in… Read more »

Inverter Generators: What You Need To Know.

inverter generator

Thanks to advances in technology, off grid power is a lot cheaper and easier than in the past. One area that barely changed for decades was generators. Since the time of Edison, it was straightforward: A mechanical power source turns a magnet inside a copper coil and creates electrical current…. Read more »

Taking Care Of Your Storage Batteries.

storage batteries

Storage batteries are the “gas tank” of any off grid power system. When the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, batteries make up for the deficit. The only real alternative to storage batteries is a mechanical generator, which of course needs fuel. Since constantly running a generator isn’t… Read more »

A Radio Amateur’s Guide To Solar Panels.

SOLAR PANELS

One of the perceived barriers to off grid amateur radio is the selection of solar panels. Most hams fall into one of two categories: Those who spend many hours researching the various options and end up more confused than when they started; and those who impulsively buy whatever is cheapest/easiest… Read more »

Solar Efficiency: It’s Not What You Think, Part 2 of 2.

In Part 1 we started with some conceptual topics, then moved on to the physical hardware that is the cause of inefficiency. In Part 2 we’ll address batteries, then go step by step through a typical system and identify where solar efficiency is compromised. Batteries: The great unknown. Calculating battery… Read more »

Solar Efficiency: It’s Not What You Think, Part 1 of 2

One of my readers asked about inverter efficiency and suggested that it would be helpful to the Off Grid Ham community if I did an article about overall solar efficiency. Since that’s not the first time the question has been raised, I’ll accept the invite. In this two part series… Read more »

An Introduction To MC4 Connectors.

If you have been running small solar panels or a kit system, all of the real work is done for you. Just plug in and go. But if you have any aspirations of upgrading to a more powerful or custom built solar energy system, you’ll need be familiar with MC4… Read more »

Solar Panel Kit Systems: Unwrapping The Package.

solar panel kit systems

I’m sure you’ve seen those portable solar panel kit systems that give you everything you need in one package, for one price, and appear to be a complete plug-and-play solution. I’m going to explain why solar panel kit systems are not the best choice for the off grid ham. Although… Read more »