Backup Power Sources

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ZachSmith

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I'm currently looking for a backup power source to run 3-4 BC996's in th event of a power failure for 30 minutes to an hour minimum. I do have handheld radios, but I'd like to have my scanners remain on to allow me to monitor various channels for work, as I typically need to pay attention during power outages anyways.

My handheld is ok, but doesn't keep up with all of the traffic my scanners do. ( I said all this because I don't want to know about how its easier to just have handhelds.)

Would something like this: Ultra ULT33046 2000 VA 1200-Watt AVR Backup System - UPS w/ Digital Display, 1200-Watt, 6 Outlet (5 Battery Backup/ Surge & 1 Surge Only) at TigerDirect.com

do the trick? I'm not sure how much power a scanner uses to be honest. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

WouffHong

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Ups

I'm currently looking for a backup power source to run 3-4 BC996's in th event of a power failure for 30 minutes to an hour minimum. I do have handheld radios, but I'd like to have my scanners remain on to allow me to monitor various channels for work, as I typically need to pay attention during power outages anyways.

My handheld is ok, but doesn't keep up with all of the traffic my scanners do. ( I said all this because I don't want to know about how its easier to just have handhelds.)

Would something like this: Ultra ULT33046 2000 VA 1200-Watt AVR Backup System - UPS w/ Digital Display, 1200-Watt, 6 Outlet (5 Battery Backup/ Surge & 1 Surge Only) at TigerDirect.com

do the trick? I'm not sure how much power a scanner uses to be honest. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
IMHO, as a 56-year Ham and retired Eng'r, that thet 1200 Watt (UPS) is WAY overkill for just scanners, BUT would also run the PC and that could be an advantage.

For simply scanners, for the majority that are 12 VDC input, a sealed 12 VDC Motorcycle or Lawnmower battery should be fine.. or an inexpensive 350-500 VA (They like to call it watts) UPS, but remember: you are taking a Battery (in the UPS) to create 120 VAC to power wall-warts that convert back down to 9-12 VDC :)

BTW: If you have a DOG, the high-frequency inverter will drive 'em nuts!!! (At least my dogs) :)

Da Wouff
 
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ke4wkp

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I have actually been thinking about a backup system myself. I have been looking at solar panel systems. They have been getting cheap. For about the same price as the backup system you linked to you can get a solar panel system and not just run your scanner but lights too. Everything you need is included except the battery. Amazon.com: Sunforce 50044 60-Watt Solar Charging Kit: Automotive
I don't know where you live? I live in the Panhandle of Florida and when a hurricane hits we lose power for a long time. With this system I can charge my cell phone and Handheld scanner batteries and run fans, lights, a small tv and my base scanner . And with the aging power system in this country it just feels like a good Idea to have at least a small system like this. You never know if you will need it. but when you do you will wish you had it.
 

scanchs

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Zach,

Regarding the UPS in your link, I think WouffHong may have overestimated the size of the battery in that little unit. I agree that the 1200 watt rating is way overkill for 4 scanners, but it's not just the watts, it's the watt/hours that need to be considered. The run time specification on the UPS you chose said it would run for 7 minutes at half output power. If you plug a PC into that unit, the run time will be less than 30 minutes without any scanners. However, that small battery size should be able to run 4 BCD996's for roughly an hour if that's all you plug into the UPS. Anything more and you won't meet the minimum run time you specified. I did the math based on rough numbers, but I believe they're close. Good luck! :)

ScanCHS
 
K

kb0nly

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Its a lot easier, and better, to go with DC power period.

The 996's are all 12v units. Use the mobile fused power cord instead of the wall adapter, run them to a battery, put a smart charger on the battery, and your done. When the AC power is on the smart charger keeps the battery charged and the scanners running, when the AC fails the scanners keep running off battery power and never skip a beat.

Using a UPS just adds complication and additional energy consumption. Those three wall adapters running three scanners are using less than one of these large UPS units use in standby. I used a meter on my UPS units on the computers here and you would be suprised how many KWH these things can suck down without even having a load on them.

I made a setup like this for a guy a month ago, he has a weather radio and two scanners, all 12v powered by wall adapters, made up some power cords for them to run to a battery instead, a 12v 18Ah battery. Then added a two stage smart charger to it, trickle charges to float or can kick up to 1amp if the battery gets used for long periods. Put the battery and the charger in a cheap marine battery box from Wal-Mart, about $6, and tucked it under the desk and plugged in the charger. The marine battery box has a relief on each side for feeding out battery cables. Ran the power cord for the charger out one side, and the power cords to the radios out the other.

He got the battery and the charger from All Electronics | Electronic and Electro-Mechanical Parts and Supplies at Discount Prices and cost him $53 for the battery and $9.95 for the 1a charger, total of about $70 shipped. A large UPS runs around $80-$100 for a good one and its just silly to go from DC power from the internal battery to AC from the inverter and then back to DC with the wall adapters. This also limits your run time because that inverter is going to suck down a battery a lot faster then those scanners would.

His setup will run the scanners and weather radio for 8-10 hours depending on current draw, the scanners pull more current when receiving and producing audio, due to the audio amplifier. And you can turn off the display backlighting and save a bit more, etc etc..
 
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DickH

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Its a lot easier, and better, to go with DC power period.

The 996's are all 12v units. Use the mobile fused power cord instead of the wall adapter, run them to a battery, put a smart charger on the battery, and your done. When the AC power is on the smart charger keeps the battery charged and the scanners running, when the AC fails the scanners keep running off battery power and never skip a beat. ...
That is basically the same way municipal fire alarm systems operate - VERY, VERY reliable.
 

tommccabe

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kb0nly, thanks for posting that information about the battery backup you worked on. I'm also looking to put a similar system in place and your information is detailed and helpful to a novice like me.

Any chance you have photos of the system you put together?
 
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kb0nly

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I don't have any photos, but they wouldn't be much anyway... lol

All you would see is three scanners and a battery charger wired to a battery, and the battery and charger hiding in a marine battery box.

Its the ultimate in simplicity!

DickH - Yes, and security systems and emergency backup lighting, all the same basic setup. As long as the battery is good the system is. I know most of these installs they replace the battery on an annual schedule, but some go longer. Thats actually how i get a lot of used Gel Cell batteries, from UPS and lighting system maintenance.
 

sfd119

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I also do the battery charging method, but also have the scanner feed server on battery backup, my regular servers, and also my DSL/Network Switches on yet another one.
 

jackj

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Remember that, as others have said, a UPS is basically a 12v inverter, powered by a 12v battery and the battery is charged by a battery charger. There will be a certain amount of idle current drawn by the inverter even with nothing plugged into it. That idle current will determine the maximum run time and the run time will decrease as you add load. The advantage to a UPS is that it is all automatic and can be used to power any 120 VAC load as long as that load is under the maximum inverter capacity.

The disadvantage of a consumer-grade UPS is that it really isn't designed to run 24/7. They use either a gel-cell or a depleted-electrolytic 12 volt battery that will need to be replaced about every 3 to 5 years. So figure on spending somewhere between $60 to $120 per battery to keep the unit's capacity at or close to specs.
 

smason

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A UPS is pretty inefficient, and can be a source of RF interference. Why deal with losses going from low voltage DC to 120VAC then back to low DC again?
Some gel-cells a float charger and a relay would be much better.
 

jackj

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If money is no object, buy a stationary backup gen set. You can get one, installed, for around $6,000 and use it to power your whole house, not just your scanner. You will loose somewhere around 30 seconds of monitoring time while the gen set senses the commercial power loss, starts the engine and then transfers the load.
 

newsphotog

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ZachSmith

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If you want totally automatic and charger in one unit, check out the West mountain radio Powergate 40. Its a relay and Battery charger in one. just add a battery, wire it and you're all set.


Super Powergate 40S Backup Power Switching and Charging System [Super PWRgate PG40S] - $119.99
This looks like a great option. Would this obtain the 8-10 hour mark for a few scanners? Also, if I were to use this charging system would I be better off having two of these and two batteries to have one dedicated to radios and one to the PC? I only ask because I am part of Skywarn and my primary software and such is on the desktop as my laptop is only good in the vehicle.

Also regarding solar panels, I never thought about that and it is a great idea. I'd actually consider both the battery charging setup, as well as the solar panels so that I've always got immediate backup and long term power if needed. Thanks for all of the information. I'm reorganizing my setup and once I determine what I'll go with I'll be sure to post pictures. Thanks again!
 

Essexscan

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With an 18Ah or better 12volt SLA or a Group 78 marine battery. You would have plenty of run time for scanners. I use a cpl of portable car starter/jumper boxes for mine they have 12volt power outlets and last for a day. Each has an 18AH battery inside. They are the Black&Decker heavyduty models and can be left plugged in all the time to keep charged.

The West mountain unit doesn't have an inverter as part of it so it doesn't supply 120vac. You will need a good sized UPS to run a desktop for any real length of time. A dedicated laptop would be a better power choice.

I use my UPS to run my DSL modem and wireless hub and run off my laptop when I lose power. Try to make your wiring simple and standardize connections makes things easier when you have to go to backup power or mobile.
 

Flatshovel

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Well reading though this post it really got me thinking as well about rigging up some kind of power backup. Currently I have 3 base scanners, cordless phone and a Lacrosse BC-900 battery charger that stays hooked up to a 330watt UPS and I get about 70 minutes of run time on it. This is not bad considering the wattage of the unit, and it is a little to small for desktop computer to run off it. I bought the unit used for $15 to experiment with and has come in handy so far. I was thinking about running all my equipment, two-way radios VHF and HF as well as scanners, cordless phone all to a battery and then hook up a float charger to a marine battery to always keep it charged up and ready to go. In the event of a power failure I keep on trucking without losing a beat. I do have handheld radios as well but would like to keep the power on to the rest of the equipment as well if I can. If I use a marine battery I assume a float charger is the best solution type of charger to use with a lead acid battery to keep it charged? Also am I correct in saying that the battery will last longer if keep fully charged as much as possible?

Joey
 

jwile20vt

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Ill just throw my reply in for the heck of it , Had a GREAT experience with my UPS ES Series , And there even the "Green series " ;) . Live on coast in MA and when we had the big storms in march I believe and lost power for day and a half and got through the night with my 785d on . roughly 6 hours no joke or anything , I was surprised .

UPS ES Series 750
on the UPS unit I have
Uniden 785d (also have a powered Electrodyn ..spelling? .. Splitter / drop amp I was testing out
21inch Dell LCD / Mac mini setup
Airport Extreme router with 2 external USB drives connected to that

When we lost power ( about 10pm) and powered everything down SCANNER and all . went to my battery hand-held and about 30 min after we lost power I turned just the 785d back on and cranked the volume so we could hear it through the house . I didn't get the UPS alarm beeps til bout 3 or 4am and lasted about hour.

And also another thing you might want to get in case of power outage / emergency is one of those AC power inverters for your car ( if you don't have a generator of course ) . At least if you have enough gas in car can run it and recharge your hand-held scanner ..I plug my sc-200 into it and go for a spin to make sure wasn't killing my car battery , smoke a cigarette and come back let it finish charge .

Anyways , All the replies here have been great so I figure I'd do a combined personal experience / recommend .
 
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