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Author Topic: Power surge and brownout protection - HF Transceiver and Auto Tuner  (Read 11962 times)

Posts: 6

« on: July 01, 2010, 07:12:51 PM »

I was wondering if most hams use a battery backup or some sort of power conditioner to protect against spikes and brownouts?  I am just using a simple power strip, but was wondering if I should invest in some sort of power protection. I notice the lights flicker occassionaly when large appliances turn on...

Kyle N9NJM

Posts: 6

« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 07:17:06 PM »

I must re-phrase. I am using a simple power strip with surge protector.

 But am not using a voltage or power conditioner.  Nor do I have brownout protection. 

Posts: 3746

« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2010, 07:34:24 PM »


I use older Liebert full sine wave UPS for all my gear, they are from old point of sale
terminals from a supermarket.  just had to vacuum them out, blow out the dust and
add fresh batteries. 

For field day I add a Tripp-Lite power conditioner, you can get them used from this
ebay seller  they are removed from service,
you just need to add a power plug (or replace the cord with one from a old PC).

73 james

Posts: 149

« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 09:30:42 PM »

You may want to investigate the lights flickering a bit. If this happens frequently you may have an electrical problem typically known as a loose neutral.  If you're in a single home you may need to contact the power company as often the loose neutral is behind the power meter. you may also require a licensed electrician as some power companies will only trouble shoot the problem to a limit and require a licensed electrician to do any repairs etc.

Regarding protecting your radio stuff.....
The newer AC line powered radios today can tolerate about 85-248VAC for example the Icom IC7700, IC7800 Yaesu FT5000, FT2000 etc. See their power supply specifications.

Typically you can see a variance of +/-5% in your line voltage depending upon the time of day and demand 114VAC-126VAC,  228VAC-252VAC

12Vdc powered radios using a linear power supply like an Astron may tolerate some power variations as they are designed for mobiles 12-15Vdc and run typically 13.8Vdc at optimum.
Switching power supplies may also have a range of AC line voltage it will tolerate..see their specification sheets.

You can invest in a UPS system they vary in size and price.  The Best Buy label "Geek Squad"
has a 1500VA rated unit for around $200.00.  That should be plenty of power for a 100-200W
station with the usual accessories. There are other brands but I can't recall their names right now as I'm certain others will chime in. Or, you can do a Google search. Tripp-Lite makes nice stuff but do be aware some of these devices may also introduce EMI/RFI challenges with your station so do your research.

Some UPS systems though do not adjust the line voltage..meaning if you have say 124VAC it will simply pass if the line voltage fails or drops below the UPS set point the batteries and inverter will kick in but will only give you 10-20 minutes of run time to safely shut things down. The UPS units that also regulate the line voltage to say 120VAC continuously can be quite expensive.

I suggest ICE AC line surge protection filters for both 120VAC and if you run a linear at 240VAC get their 240VAC unit too. The amount of crud delivered by power companies today is amazing!
They run in the $40-$70 range and you'll thank me later. Think about a whole house surge protector that installs in your circuit breaker panel box..square-D or again ICE. You home theater will thank you too.

You can get to ICE via array solutions or direct. Their in Indiana and make excellent devices including lightning protection for your antenna system.

Please come back here to report your findings and final solutions

Martin  KA7GKN

Posts: 5688

« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2010, 10:41:38 PM »

...I notice the lights flicker occassionaly when large appliances turn on...

I'd hardly classify your ~100W transceiver as a large appliance, though. *grin*

And I surely hope your lights don't flicker when you transmit, if they do, call an electrician *yesterday*. 

As for Transient Voltage Protection of your rig, a good absorber strip that is fresh should do the job for you.  "Fresh" is indeed important, as the MOV  devices used in them can indeed lose their protection value over time and with too many spikes absorbed. 

Other than that, you're larger concern would be lightning strike to the antenna or ground system and not a transient on the AC line. 


Posts: 322


« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2010, 03:05:54 AM »

Hi Kyle,
I agree with Martin, about; if you are seeing quite a bit of lights flickering and so forth have an Electrician check out your circuit system.

I'd add to the conversation that with quite a few (Especially Older) Air Conditioning systems, the outdoor unit (called the Condensing unit) which has a Compressor inside - that when it starts up, can exhibit a starting surge - of which, a lot of folks can notice or see in their lights (a flicker or fast dimming affect) You might remember to notice if this is when you see what you described.

If this is the case? They make a kit, which is simply a Starting capacitor and Start relay, also called a "Hard Start Kit" which can be added to your Run capacitor within the outdoor A/C unit which can many times HELP with his situation. In any case (with High Voltage) - have your A/C Technician check and/or add this simple device that can help (not totally stop but Help)

Just in case, that is what your seeing.
God Bless you and your Family and 73
Jerry N5JFJ

Posts: 6642

« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2010, 08:13:37 AM »

With the low cost of now available small computer UPS systems, and the large cost of ham radios, this would not be a bad investment.  Just enough for an orderly shutdown, though.
If you really want to run long-term "off-the-mains", then get a battery directly connected to the radio.


Posts: 7718

« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2010, 12:55:31 PM »

UL and CE listed equipment is designed to not fail during transients and brownouts. No additional protection is needed.
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