Posted in: New Hams Corner

New Hams Corner: Batteries

Most ham rigs operate on 12VDC. Most HTs operate on a lower voltage, 7-10VDC. Choosing a battery has never been easy but it has a few factors that should be considered.

  • Are you going to have a way to recharge the battery?
  • How much talking do you expect to do?
  • Do you have spare batteries?
  • Do you have a backup clamshell?

If you are not going to be talking a lot your battery will last much longer. A big factor in talk time is the type of event. Road races, rallies, marathons etc might require a lot more talking as you need to give updates more frequently. For emergency use you will have a lot of talking followed by more listening as the event unfolds.

There are 3 types of battery chemistry. Lithium Ion, Nickel Cadmium and Alkaline. Rechargeable batteries are mostly LiIon today. They will last MUCH longer than the other two types. NiCads are fading away but there are still a lot around. They don’t hold a charge as long but are very durable in terms of number of recharges the battery will take. Alkaline are disposable. You use them and dispose of the dead ones properly.

If you have a clamshell for your HT you can load in AA batteries and get time so you
can recharge your other batteries later.

No matter which chemistry you have batteries have a lifespan. When they will no longer recharge it is time to buy a new battery. When you are making a purchase think about the amount of time you talk, how often you have to recharge your battery and if you are involved in an emergency communications team. Buying a higher capacity battery will be very helpful to you and give you a longer time until you need to recharge.

You should have at least two batteries. Use one and charge the other. Then swap them! Leaving one battery on the shelf is not a good idea. They need to be used. Also every now and then run the battery down and give it a full charge.

Always remember to properly dispose of batteries when they are deceased. There are quite a few recyclers or places you can drop off old batteries.

If your battery is getting super hot when being used it might have an issue. It will be time To replace it. Do not recharge until it has cooled off. If It still gets warm then do not use It again. Some battery packs have thermal regulation built in. They will blow an internal fuse. Another reason for a back up or several back ups!

When you are recharging batteries, make sure you are using the correct charger. Leave them there until fully charged for maximum talk time. If you have a VOM measure the voltage after charging. This will give you a benchmark to know when a battery is starting to fail.

Always think safety, never short out a battery! That is unless you want to start a fire.

Be safe!

73 Dolph WA2NTW