CQ Amateur Radio

Backup Power When the Grid Goes Down

Many hams enjoy building, planning, and preparing for emergency and field operations almost as much as operating. Turns out, the transformational electrification of transportation is a genuine game changer in these areas. More than half of the dozen-plus deaths in Hurricane Laura were from carbon monoxide poisoning from home generators. On the other hand, electric vehicles (EVs) and plugin-hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) now have huge batteries with energy capacity ranging from 4 to 85 kilowatt hours (kWh) (and / or 50 kilowatts or more generators in the plug-in hybrids) suitable for powering field or grid-down home power for hours or days, as noted in the ARRL publication “Energy Choices for the Radio Amateur.”1

My latest toy is what I call the back-to-the-future FrankenVolt shown in Photo A. It is simply my old 2013 Chevy Volt (cost $12k used in 2017), modified with plywood side panels to hold the liftgate horizontal to support three rather large low-cost flat solar panels totaling to about 240 watts peak in the summer. Not only can this added energy amount to about 30 more free solar miles a week, but the real advantage to me is providing

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