Ham Radio Emergency Power
Portable, Wind, Solar, Emergency Generators and
 Family Emergency Survival Buyer's Guide
Solar PanelEmergency Portable GeneratorWind Turbin Power

This article is in 3 parts:

1. Emergency Generators

2. Solar Power and Wind Generators

3. Family Emergency Survival Guide

Electricity Generators for Ham Radio Emergency Power
 at home and in the field in worst case disasters

Part 1. When it comes to emergency power for the ham radio station and your personal home survival there are two basic types of power sources for survival:

Generator and Battery.

For the purposes of this article,
we define a generator as a sustained source of electrical power which can be from commercial suppliers, wind turbine generators, solar panels, water driven, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, etc.

We define a battery as a temporary electrical energy storage device where electrical power is stored and used over a period of time and then recharged.

This article assumes there is no commercial power for an unknown period of time and in extreme situations of widespread disaster. It also assumes that you will want to be prepared for your personal survival with all of the needed items used during a prolonged emergency! See bottom of power article for more on personal survival during emergencies!

When that battery runs down, and it will, what is left to charge it?

Enter the fuel generator and a good charger!

The most economical way to supply power to that charger or any other electrical equipment during a power outage for your ham radio station or your home is to use a
portable generator of the appropriate wattage for your needs (at least 4000 Watts for starters) and run extension cords into the shack or home to power your equipment. A safer system is to have a certified electrician install a power transfer switch, connected to the shack's main electrical panel. Just fire up the generator, run a single extension cord into the transfer switch and power the circuits you need through the main circuit breaker of your home. This eliminates the risk of electrical back feed injuring utility workers repairing downed power lines.
 Small portable gasoline-powered electric Generators can provide power for ham radios and station equipment, computers, TVs, small kitchen appliances, lights and other comforts of civilization when you are out roughing it in the woods or in an emergency situation at home. If cell and land line phones are out, you won't be! If power lines are down, odds are the land line telephone is dead also.

Portable Generators can be put to work on sites that have no electrical service, providing clean, reliable power to operate the Amateur Radio station and other desired survival equipment. Most are gasoline-powered, a few run on diesel, and some models have multi-fuel capabilities, running on gasoline, propane or natural gas. These are generally full-featured machines with engine idle control, GFCI receptacles and 120 Volt full power switch.

Residential Standby Systems

Emergency home and ham shack standby Generators can automatically restore power to your house in about 20 seconds. When the power goes out, the generator automatically starts if it is auto starting and continues to run until power is restored or you run out of fuel. You can choose a generator that delivers enough power for the entire house (including air conditioning or at least heat during the winter) or go with a smaller unit and power a few selected circuits, like the ham equipment, refrigerator, sump pump, furnace fan or heat and several lights for basic survival plus your ham equipment under emergency power situations. It all depends on your budget and how well prepared you want to be and in the very worst situation, how long you want to live!

These all-weather Generators are installed outside the home and are wired through an automatic transfer switch usually sold separately to the main electrical panel. The use of an automatic transfer switch is required when generators are connected to home wiring.

Home standby systems can be fueled by natural gas, LP gas, diesel fuel or gasoline. Most Amateur Radio operators use the gasoline models. Many models can be connected to the home's natural gas line, eliminating the need to fill fuel tanks. Standby emergency power system capacities range from about 6,000 Watts up to 40,000 Watts and more, and start automatically-even if you are not home.

Depending on the fuel supply, and that is the critical phrase here, size of Generators , and the power generated, you can run for hours, days or even weeks! Your running time all depends on the amount of fuel you have either on hand or access to. If there is a massive widespread power outage over an entire grid or several states due to severe storms, earthquakes, floods, etc you won't be able to get fuel from commercial sources... their power is out too!  Even if fuel is out there somewhere, can you get to it?

Plan on enough fuel to last under worst case emergency situations, but how do you plan the unknown? If fuel can not be obtained, then no fuel powered generator will run on air!

RV Generators

Quiet, powerful gasoline, diesel or LP-powered generators can be installed in your RV, 5th wheel trailer, truck camper, tent trailer or travel trailer to provide electrical power on those camping and field day operations or just bring along a portable fuel type generator that fits your power requirements.

Questions You Should Ask Before You Buy a fuel powered Generator

  • What is the generators wattage capacity and will it support your needs, including startup surge power required by some equipment? What are your peak kw hour requirements?
  • Does the generator have enough outlets to plug in all of the items you want to power? If not, what can you do about it?
  • How noisy is the generator? Are there noise restrictions in your neighborhood? Would they be enforced in an emergency situation?
  • What type of fuel does it use? Will you be able to get to fuel?
  • How large is the fuel tank and how many hours of operation will it provide? How many hours of operation will you need? How much fuel do you have on hand? Where can you get fuel when all power is out over an extended area including gas stations? If you can't get fuel, your fuel powered generator is of no use to you when it runs out!
  • Is the generator easy to move around? Does it have built-in wheels and handles for portability?
  • What accessories will I need to run the generator (fuel, heavy-duty extension cords, transfer switch)?

How Many Watts Will Your Emergency Generator Need to Produce regardless of what type it is?

Add up the wattage of your ham equipment, tools, appliances, motors and any other equipment or household items you want to run at the same time. Then select a generator with the RUNNING wattage rating to exceed the total load. Keep in mind that tools and appliances with electric motors require additional tool/appliance SURGE wattage at startup that can be double or triple the normal running wattage requirement. Look at the surge watts required and make sure you choose a generator with enough additional wattage to start them. Keep in mind that you typically are not starting more than half of the items at the same time.

Most home appliances and power tools are 120 Volts; larger appliances like electric stoves and clothes dryers may be 240 Volts. Generator power is measured in Watts: Amps x Volts = Watts

You can use the Wattage Chart below to estimate the wattages of the equipment tools, appliances and motors you will be operating at the same time. Wattage noted below are approximates only; please refer to tool, equipment or appliance itself for specific wattage required and pay close attention to the "Surge Wattage" required as a minimum!

Wattage Chart

Portable Generators
Running Wattage Required Surge Wattage Required at Startup
Coffee Maker 1750 0
Dishwasher: Cool/Dry 700 1400
Electric Fry Pan 1300 0
Electric Range: 8in. Element (Boiling water) 2100 0
625W Microwave 625 800
Refrigerator or Freezer 700 2200
Automatic Washer 1150 2300
Electric Clothes Dryer 5750 1800
Furnace Fan (Gas or fuel oil): 1/8 HP 300 500
Furnace Fan (Gas or fuel oil): 1/6 HP 500 750
Furnace Fan (Gas or fuel oil): 1/4 HP 600 1000
Furnace Fan (Gas or fuel oil): 1/3 HP 700 1400
Furnace Fan (Gas or fuel oil): 1/2 HP 875 2350
Lights As indicated on bulb 0
**Ham Radio Transceiver** 50-200
(Depending on output)
Sump Pump: 1/3 HP 800 1300
Sump Pump: 1/2 HP 1050 2150
Color Television 300 0
RV Air Conditioner: 13,500 BTU 1500 2200
Room Air Conditioner: 10,000 BTU 1500 2200
Central Air Conditioner (for 2200 sq. ft. home*) 10,000 11,250
Small Appliance 200 1700
Heating and charging equipment
Portable Heater (Kerosene, Diesel Fuel): 50,000 BTU 400 600
Portable Heater (Kerosene, Diesel Fuel): 90,000 BTU 500 725
Portable Heater (Kerosene, Diesel Fuel): 150,000 BTU 625 1000
Battery Charger: 15 Amp 380 0
Battery Charger: 60 Amp with 250 Amp Boost 1500/5750 0
Battery Charger: 100 Amp with 300 Amp Boost 2400/7800 0
Desktop 600-800 0
Laptop 200-250 0
Monitor 200-250 0
Fax 600-800 0
Printer 400-600 0
This list is not an all inclusive list and your requirements may be different!

*Based on average-sized unit. Central air conditioners differ in wattage requirements; consult owners manual for specific wattage requirements.
A transmitter will usually operate at about 50% efficiency, so double the RF output to obtain the amount of power required. The equipment fuse is usually rated at 150 - to 200% of the actual current draw, so multiply the fuse value by 0.5 to 0.67 to calculate the approximate current consumption.
Since most modern ham transceivers operate from 12 -15 volts DC, you will need either a fuel type generator that outputs this DC voltage directly or you will need to have your power supply for the transceiver plugged into the emergency supply to convert the AC to DC for the power supply.

typical calculation based on using only one HF transceiver:

Transceiver 400 watts (This adds some overkill as most transceivers transmit about 100 watts with full power output)

Laptop computer 40 watts

lamp 60 watts

(Source: ARRL)
Suggested generator: 1000 watt Generators
Now add:  one refrigerator 2200kw

one electric range (8"element) 2100kw

Plus radio gear with one extra 60 watt lamp for total kw = 4,860kw generator
NOTE: It is best NOT to run a generator under it's full rated capacity! Add about 20% capacity to the kw hour total above to the generator rating to be on the safe side. Now add 20% extra = 972kw for a total of 4860 + 972 = 5832kw generator needed.
Recommended Generator: 7.5KW Generators

So by adding together the wattage requirements for all the electrical devices that you want or must run to determine the minimum continuous wattage, or start at the same time, AND BY ADDING YOUR HAM EQUIPMENT TOTAL WATTAGE to that number, you can determine the minimum surge wattage, you will need from emergency power Generators .

Typical Home Standby Power Needs:

Minimum Recommendations for Typical Home Standby Power
(1 kw = 1,000 watts = 10 each 100 watt bulbs for 1 hour)

Situation Type All Items at once
Situation #1
Color Television
Furnace Fan (assuming gas heat)
Sump Pump
Situation #2
Includes Customer #1 and central air 10.5kw
Situation #3
Includes Customer #1 and a well pump 10.5kw
Situation #4
All of the above 13.5kw
Red sections are recommended kw hour generator when using all items at once.


So what fuel powered generator should I buy?
When in doubt, remember that bigger is better! Oversize if at all possible.

Solar PanelWind Turbin Power
Part 2. Solar Power and Wind Generator Alternatives
 for the Ham Radio Operator!

Now that you have learned more about fuel powered generators for backup or primary use in a very drastic emergency situation, you may have decided to think more about what you would do in a worst case situation pertaining to the NO FUEL to power that generator when things get really bad! There are really only 2 logical choices left.......

This is where solar or wind power comes into play.

Each has it 's merits and each is designed with a specific source of energy to power it.

Just like the fuel powered engine that gets it's energy from hydrocarbon based fuels, solar power of course is powered by sun light which is FREE, and converts sunlight into DC electricity. So if you live in an area that gets lots of sun year round, then this is a very good choice or a good alternative to other types when they need backup.
The suns energy is converted to DC electricity using solar cells arranged in panels or arrays that are mounted outside facing direct sunlight. The DC is then transferred to usually a charge controller that charges your batteries. Then the battery current is converted sometimes depending on the system, to AC which runs your equipment and other devices in your home. As long as the sun shines on the solar cells, they produce electricity to charge your batteries. Depending on the output of the solar cells and their size, the size of your batteries and other factors, you now have an endless supply of electricity. The main factor involved is the amount of sunlight available, and the solar systems specifications. Always consult with the experts to determine your specific needs:
GoGreenSolar.com - #1 online destination for solar panels & wind power!

Wind power, is just that.... wind turning blades connected to a turbine that generates either AC or DC. The electricity is then passed to a controller that charges batteries for further conversion to a useful voltage. Wind is also supplied FREE by Mother Nature!

Since wind powered systems depend entirely on the speed of the wind, they must be mounted in a location and geographical area and height above ground that will enable them to make maximum use of those breezes. Many if not most will not operate nor generate electricity in very low wind speeds. Most are governed against very high winds. All wind powered systems are totally dependent on the speed of the wind. Without wind, there is no power generation unless you have another backup system in place like Solar power. So you can see that in very extreme situations, you may want to consider using both if at all possible. Your needs for survival will take much decision making and planning on your part.

Your location will determine if the average wind speeds are sufficient to make the wind powered system feasible. So it is always advisable to check with the experts concerning specific details of the required wind speeds and systems for your area and requirements.

A wind powered system can be very complicated for the average person to install that will produce large amounts of power for home use. Consult with the experts always and be safe.

Editor's notes:

Regardless of what type of system you choose for emergency survival power, you will have to take a close look at your individual situation and determine which system/s will best fit your long term goals. Remember, you could be without commercial power and fuel for only a few days...or it could be weeks or even months depending on where you are.....If you are looking at the long term, unknown, worst case conditions, then there are only two choices you have to consider...
wind or solar or both when you can't get fuel...simple as that.
Do you remember January 2009? Keep reading......

The January 2009 ice storm was a major ice storm that occurred over parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The storm produced widespread power outages for over 2 million people due to heavy ice accumulation. The hardest hit areas were in Western Kentucky with over 500,000 residences without power during the height of the storm, including 100,000 without power for over one week, and northern Arkansas, with 300,000 residences without power. This ice storm killed 65 people nation-wide, 35 in Kentucky. Most deaths were attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to power generators or kerosene heaters being used indoors without proper ventilation.....(Source, Wikipedia)

We highly recommend GoGreenSolar for Wind or Solar power systems.

Part 3. Family Survival Guide in Emergencies!
What will you and your family need to survive
 in a major widespread emergency? More click here!

Click now to get PREPARED!

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