Last weekend I was at the South Milwaukee Swapfest in Oak Creek. This is a classic tail-gate style hamfest, and was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. While I was there to sell antennas and chat with fellow hams, I also enjoy browsing the tables and picking up interesting items, like a rotary dial wall phone that now hangs on my kitchen wall. One other item I purchased was a Super PWRgate PG40S from West Mountain Radio. West Mountain had a table at the swapfest and was selling refurbished items at a discount. The PWRgate was an item I had been looking to pick up for quite some time.

So how does it work? Click on the video link above for a full rundown.

So today I’m going to talk about batteries and charging them. I’ve used many different items over the years to charge my portable batteries. This little 1.5 amp maintainer/charger works great with flooded lead acid batteries but not so well with Sealed Lead Acid or the newer AGM batteries. As long as you’re not a heavy user, it will keep your battery charged up. I’ve used this unit along with a marine battery as a power supply for many years.

Needing to charge bigger batteries faster, I bought a smart charger. This works fine with marine batteries and AGM batteries, and will charge up a depleted battery in just a few hours. But you can’t use the battery while it’s charging, so you are out of luck if you are looking for continuous operation. And it doesn’t work very well with smaller sealed lead acid batteries.

Enter the PWRgate. This device turns your 13.8V power supply into a battery charger maintainer. It also works as an uninterruptible power supply, and if a battery is connected it will seamlessly switch to the battery when the power goes out. It works best with AGM and sealed lead acid batteries, and will also work with gelled sealed marine batteries. The manufacturer doesn’t recommend using flooded or ‘wet cell’ marine batteries with this charger.

The PWRgate has four different charge rates ranging from 1 amp to 10 amps and can be used with batteries that are 3 amp hours and up. The charge rate is determined by these fuses located on the front panel. There is also a jumper inside the unit that will slightly elevate the charge voltage which is needed for AGM batteries.

The PWRgate is best used as part of your overall station power source. It provides up to 40 amps of output, so you can add it inline with your power supply for an effective battery backup of your radios. My thought is to use it as part of a portable power solution, maybe using it with a solar panel to charge and maintain the battery. The PWRgate PG40S retails for about $140 and is available directly from the West Mountain Radio website or from many various amateur radio retailers.