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Solar Charging an HT?

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I’d like to find an opinion for powering my HT via solar. 

The radio I’d like to charge with solar  is a Kenwood TH-D74a. 

I’m looking for a solar system for power  that is super easy and under 70$ if possible. 



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  • Administrator

Hey Kyle, a couple of questions first. When you say 'power an HT' do you mean charge an HT? Or, do you mean to keep it running via the 12v (13.8v) input?

Also, is this to charge at home or on in the field?

Regarding the price, it might be difficult to match $70. We'll see...

Next question: have you already done some research? Have you looked at panel/charger/battery combos or are you leaning towards all-in-one solar/battery solutions, the kind that Amazon sells that come from China?

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@K3MRI I’d like to charge the HT. As for the price, More like $70-$100 but I’d rather stay cheaper.

Here is the problem, I’d like to operate my Kenwood D74 when there is no power. 

Whether that means charging or running, I just want to operate when no more power is coming to me from the power company. I’d like to find the cheapest and quickest way to charge/run my equipment.

Now I’m not really sure about the research, there are 1000s of options but I’m not sure. Do I get the battery pack option? Something that mounts to the truck? 110?12v? Usb? I really dunno, and that is what this post is about. 

I’d  really like to charge/run all my equipment:


Thanks for any help tips or ideas!


KI5DZU, Kyle

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Wow, lots of gear to charge. I really don't think that you'll be doing all this charging for $70 to $100. Rather than give you a long list of actual items to buy, that's research that you can do, I'll give you paths to take from many years of rights and wrongs setting up solar. I'll also invite @W4DOI to chime in because, he too has much experience.

The most versatile setup is going to be solar panel + charge controller (mppt or pwm) + battery + any step up or down transformers you might need.

Solar panels run different wattages and different prices. I have several different types but my favorite is probably https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B06WWQHV2T/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1. Note that this is only 50W, not mega power, but good enough to charge a battery and run gear. As you will note, the price is $145 and that's just for the panel. Good news is that it comes with a PWM controller. Note that solar controllers tend to give off RFI (more impact on HF than VHF/UHF). Say you get this, now you still need a battery. A reasonable size battery is 50AH. Are you sitting down? A 50AH LiFePO4 battery will run you over $400!!!!! Okay, forget Lithium... if you go for AGM, you're still looking at ±$100. Micro issue... the PWM that comes with this panel has two outputs: 12V and a USB 5V output. What about your Lenovo?? That's likely 19V!! So if you want to power it, you'll need a transformer like this one: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N0PVENT/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1. This is also one that I use. Good news is that it's only $13.

So Kyle, I know you were hoping for both a cheap and simple solution, but you won't find it easily. Hate me yet??

Screenshot 2020-03-20 08.30.44.png

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yikes! Right now, that seems very much out of my budget, at least for now in this crisis. Thank you for your recommendations that probably would be a Dream option for me.

I would still maybe like to run my HT the Ken wood THD7a on solar, more as a way to feel like I am not completely tied to the grid. 

I'm thinking about a poor boy option like: 

https://www.amazon.com/AEcreative-charger-Kenwood-TH-D74A-TH-D72A/dp/B07KVLBLSM =$19

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HG456JN/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=isitworthit12-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07HG456JN&linkId=327d5936165b9dcb4808914d77a6dbf8 = $43

I think that would work. 

@K3MRI Am i missing something? 

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Hey Kyle.

So, I've had really bad luck with solar power banks, which I've turned to calling power bricks. This said, the one you've linked to seems to be very highly rates. So I would say go for it! The only down side is that you will be trickle charging which is absolutely fine for low usage. On a day where you're using it extensively, a 5 to 12V solution with just a few mA will not keep up. Again, it's worth the try and definitely report back with a review of the product in our Reviews section!

For the price, I might try it out myself. I like having too much power at home and on the road. It's one of those things that you don't need, until you do!

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  • 3 years later...
  • Ionosphere

I currently use a 12 volt Marine battery as a "power bank" and I keep it "topped off" while in use with a 15-watt Nature Power solar panel https://naturepowerproducts.com/products/15-watt-semi-flex-solar-panel  with a 2-year warranty.

I've run my 2 meter radio Go-Box all day with that set up with barely a noticeable drop in the battery.

I've found the "Thunderbolt" stuff Harbor Freight (Hardly Freight) sells to be pure chinese junk.  The 90-day warranty they offer is generous.  The Thunderbolt power controller I bought lasted 9 hours before one of the buttons stuck every time I pressed it and the LCD display started doing all kinds of freaky stuff.  I disassembled it and found the plastic buttons still had the mold sprue flashing on them and the little plastic pin they used to press the micro switch on the board was so misaligned it would hardly press the switch and would get jammed beside it when you pressed the button.  My backup solar panel is a Coleman solar panel  https://www.lowes.com/pd/Coleman-12-44-in-x-19-13-in-x-0-79-in-10-Watt-Portable-Solar-Panel/5000087145  with a 5-year warranty.

I decided I needed a "backup" solar panel when I was unloading my mess out of the truck for an event last year and a wrench fell on my solar panel and shattered it into 184,394,913,288,233,456 little pieces.   🤨

A good rule of thumb for solar panels when using a battery bank is more is not necessarily better.  Choose a solar panel with about 10% of the output of your battery amperage.  For instance my 12 V Marine battery is 75 amps (not cold cranking amps, but amp hours), thus I use a solar panel that puts out about 7.5 watts give or take.  If you use a solar panel with too much wattage output, it may charge the battery too fast, causing it to overheat, swell up, and leak, damaging the battery.  Coleman offers a 18 watt solar panel, but that would be  3x my battery rated amp hours and would probably fry my battery or shorten it's lifespan considerably.

Anthony, KD3Y

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