Your ham radio is basically useless if you don’t have a good power supply. Pick the best power supply for ham radio is not really that simple.
There are different types of power supplies that can work, such as using a “linear” or a “switching” power supply. Different models but similar types of power supplies may offer a different set of features. Some are bigger, others are more expensive, and you have more portable options.
So which ones are the best in your case? To help you pick among to various options, we’ve compiled 10 of the best choices:
Best Ham Radio Power Supply Reviews in 2020
1. TekPower Analog Display TP30SWI 30 Amp DC 13.8V Switching Power Supply
When you want to use your ham radio when you’re out camping, it’s not really advisable to tote around a large and heavy power supply. Instead, you can use this one. This measures 7.5 by 2.8 by 7.5 inches and weighs just 6 pounds.
Let’s get the technical specs out first. This is a 13.8V DC power supply, and that’s its fixed output. It also offers 30A max current. You’ll find the main DC output at the back of the device while in front you get the snap in output.
There’s an inherent issue with noise with you’re using a switching power supply, and the folks at TekPower know this. That’s why they purposely designed this to minimize the switching noise. You can use the noise offset knob to take away the noise if it’s a problem.
- Extremely portable for use in camp sites and other outdoor locations
- The volt/amp meter is well-lit and easy to read
- Has noise shift feature
- Offers more than enough power for most ham radios and CB radios
- Quiet cooling fan
- Runs fairly cool, even though there’s a warning on the case that it’s “hot, do not touch”
- Comes with several safety features, including short circuit and overheat protection
2. TekPowerTP30SWII 30 Amp DC 13.8V Analog Switching Power Supply
Add few bucks to your budget and you can get this TP30SWII. On paper, this is very similar to the TP30SWI. It’s a 13.8V DC Power Supply with a maximum output current of 30 amps. On the front you have the snap in output, and the main DC output is on the back. Its safety features also include short circuit and overheat protection.
Even the dimensions and weight are the same. It also weighs 6 pounds and measures 7.5 by 2.8 by 7.5 inches. You also get the noise offset knob to deal with switching noise.
But it looks quite different. Perhaps the difference is to accommodate the use of the extra dial in front that now allows you to adjust the voltage. The voltage can be adjusted from DC 9 to 15 volts. This also comes with a cigarette plug with a maximum of 10 amps.
- The well-lit meter in front is very easy to read
- You have an extra dial to adjust the voltage
- Small and lightweight for great portability
- Has a cigarette plug, along
- Fan is quiet as a whisper
3. Universal Compact Bench Power Supply – 30 Amp
This is a desktop bench model, though it can work in your vehicle as it also has a cigarette lighter socket with a maximum of 12 amps. There’s no meter or dial in front, as you just get the on-/off switch and the DC output sockets at the front. At least the power switch lights up when you turn it on. At the back, you also have a voltage selector so you can pick between 115- and 230-volt AC.
The cooling fan runs whether or not the unit gets hot, which may annoy some folks with the teeny noise it makes. In other power supplies, the cooling fan only runs when it gets hot enough. Still, it’s a safety feature that can help prevent overheating. Other safety features include a durable housing and built-in protection against electronic overload and short circuit.
With this, you can power your ham radio and your CB radio. In fact, it’s versatile enough to charge your smartphones and your scanner too. You get a constant DC power source that should protect your gadgets.
- Constant 30-amp supply
- Switchable from 115 to 230-volt AC
- Measures 8.5 by 8.3 by 2.6inches
- Built-in cooling fan that runs all the time
- Lit on/off switch
- Short circuit and electronic overload protection
4. MegaWatt S-400-12x 36 Amps 430 Watts 9.5 to 15 Volts Ham CB Radio Power Supply
There are plenty of MegaWatt clones out there that are made in China, but they’re just not as good as you might hope. They may not offer reliable stability, plus they end up working only about a year or so. The real deal is made in the US and can work a great deal more reliably.
This one, you can use on any 12V ham radio or CB radio that draws 36 amps at the most. The output voltage is actually adjustable, ranging from 9.5 volts to 15 volts. It’s designed so that you don’t get RF noise when you’re powering your ham radio or CB radio.
This also comes with a great built-in fan, which also works great. The fan always runs, which avoids the heat cycles that sometimes damage your power supply when you have an on and off fan. The RPM of the fan changes, depending on the heat and the load. In addition, this fan is dustproof and rated to work for 60,000 hours.
You do get a lot of safety features with this power supply too. It has a grounded power cord, plus you also have protection against over voltage. It automatically shuts down in case of short circuit.
- You get 30 amps continuously, even if you run this for 24 hours straight
- Has 120 and 240-volt AC input options
- Tough fan that runs silently and constantly
- Adjustable voltage
- No electrical noise
5. TekPowerTP50SW 50 Amp 13.8V Analog DC Power Supply
TekPower makes another appearance on this list with the TP50SW. Now if 30 amps weren’t enough, you get 50 amps instead for your maximum current output. This is mainly designed for communication gadgets (like your ham and CB radios), though you probably can use this for many other devices.
Here you get a volt/amp meter, while beside it a light comes on when it’s powered. The top front panel gives you the voltage adjust dial and the noise offset dial, and then there’s the on/off switch. Below, there’s a covered cigarette plug socket, along with a switch for the voltage (13.8V or adjusted). This switch can lock on the voltage so it won’t drift.
The meter is easy to see as it’s quite bright, while the fan comes on to cool things down when it gets hot. It also offers short circuit and overload protection. It’s rather big, but at least it’s not all that heavy.
- 110V input power
- Adjustable from 9 to 15V DC output, and can be locked into 13.8V
- Gives you 50 amps
- Measures 7.7 by 3.4 by 11 inches
- Weighs 6 pounds
- Cigarette socket in front, along with noise offset dial
6. Universal Compact Bench Power Supply
It can be annoying when you have to switch the meter to show amps or volts. This time, you get 2 meters so you can tell at a glance the amperage and the voltage. These meters are nicely lit and accurate as well.
This is a linear power supply, which explains why it’s big. It measures 14 by 9.1 by 4.9 inches. It also weighs more than 23 pounds. It’s not really what you might call a portable unit.
Heat can be a problem here, but then there’s a heatsink as well as a built-in fan. You also have protection against electronic overload and short circuit, plus fuse protection with an automatic reset.
You get the usual features, like the electronic plug-in connection, screw terminal connectors, and the LED indicator light. The power output is adjustable, however, and it can go from 12 to 15 volts. This does need a 115V power input.
This works very well with your ham radio, without RF noise issues at all. So, there’s no need for a noise offset dial, if you were looking for one.
- Separate lit meters for amperage and voltage
- Adjustable voltage from 12 to 15 volts, with a dial for adjustment
- 32 amps constantly, with 35 amps during a surge
- Plenty of overload and short circuit protection
- Has fan plus cabinet heat sink to protect against overheating
- Bulky and heavy
7. SUPERNIGHT DC 12V 30A 360W Universal Regulated Switching Power Supply
This one is super-affordable supper supply. It’s a rather compact unit, measuring 8.3 by 4.5 by 2 inches, and it weighs only 2.1 pounds. You can plug this into a 110V or 220V socket, and then you get 12V DC power with up to 30 amps.
As it’s on the small side, you don’t have any meters to check. But it does offer a bunch of safety features, including protection for short circuit and overload. It has a fan too, which activates when things get too hot. The fan rpm depends on the load.
This can work for ham radios, and it should suit your needs if you need a really portable model. However, the RFI can be a bit on the iffy side. Some people don’t have any issues with interference, while others report RFI problems.
- Works with lots of home appliances
- Very compact and lightweight
- Can be used with 110 to 220V AC outlets
- Has protection for short circuit, over voltage, and overload
- Built-in fan that speeds up as heat intensifies
8. Universal Compact Bench Power Supply – 6 Amp
This is a linear power supply, which doesn’t mean it’s expensive. It’s cheap as it offers just 6 amps, with a power output of 13.8 volts.
For a linear power supply, it’s positively compact. This measures just 7.5 by 4.9 by 3 inches. It does work for ham radio and CB radios, and plenty of customers have confirmed this.
So why is it so affordable? That’s probably due to the low amperage, plus it is very simply made. It does have protection against short circuit and electronic overload, and there’s a fuse with automatic reset. It protects from overheating as it has a built-in fan along with a cabinet heatsink.
- Compact linear power supply
- 6 amps
- Lots of protection against short circuit and overload
- Has heat sink and fan
- Screw terminal connectors
9. Audiotek – Output 16A Amp Mobile 13.8 Volt DC Power Supply
This is another super-affordable option. You plug this into a 110V electrical socket, and you get 13.8 DC volts and 16 amps. This should be able to power your 12V CB and ham radios, along with sound systems and smartphones.
This has short circuit protection, and a heatsink to protect against overheating. Use it for a couple of hours and it only gets a bit warm and not hot at all. It works for your mobile ham radio well enough, with no hum at all.
This measures 5.5 by 9 by 4 inches, and weighs 9.3 pounds. In a pinch, you can bring this to a campsite as well.
- Very affordable
- 16 amps
- 8 volts
- Works with 110V power outlets
- Not too bulky and lightweight too
10. Tripp Lite PR50 DC Power Supply
This is the most expensive power supply on this list. It’s expensive due to the use of the solid-state IC that really regulates the voltage output. It works very well with UHF and VHF radios, with line noise protection resulting in low noise. It’s really a heavy-duty power supply.
It does come with lots of protective features as well. Against the heat, it has cabinet vents and heat sinks. This comes with a fuse, along with overcurrent protection if you have an overload. It’s not really too big either, at 11.5 by 10.5 by 6.8 inches. However, it’s not really portable as it weighs 30 pounds.
This has been tested with lots of popular radios. It works with the Motorola and Radius brands, plus the EF Johnson and GE Monogram Series models. It can run the whole day, and night as well.
So, what’s the catch? With its size and weight, delivery can be problematic. It’s well-made, but inadequate packaging can result in a damaged power supply when it comes to your door.
- Heavy duty
- Up to 50 amps
- Weighs 30 pounds
- Uses solid-stated integrated circuit to regulate the voltage
- Has a fuse and overload protection
- Comes with vents and heatsinks for the resulting heat
Buying Guide: Best Power Supply For Ham Radio
This is an obvious factor to consider for any responsible consumer, but it must be noted. That’s due to how the price can vary widely. Some can cost for as little as $20, but an advanced, heavy-duty power supply can also go for more than $250 (and that’s not even counting the shipping costs).
Do you have a 110V or a 220V electrical outlet? Your power supply should work with the outlet you have. Some can work with both.
Then, you also have to consider how much amperes you can draw. The more affordable options can offer just 6 or 16 amps. The standard is 30 amps, but others can offer as much as 50 amps.
Some power supplies can also let you adjust the voltage, or hold it stead at 13.8 volts.
Noise interference can be a problem with some types of power supplies. If radio frequency interference can be a problem, then there should be some noise offset dial you can use.
Some of these power supplies don’t have any meters at all. Others show the volts and/or amps, with a switch to show either one. The bigger units can have 2 meters showing both the volts and the amps.
These meters should be accurate, and some may need adjusting. Other power supplies can give you the actual amps and volts, but some meters merely show the volts and amps settings.
Bulk and Weight
This is for portability reasons. The bigger ones can weigh as much as 30 pounds, which works well enough for home use. But if you want to use your power supply elsewhere (like a camp site, for example) then a smaller lightweight unit
Many of the better units come with fans. These can turn on or off depending on the heat conditions. Other fans turn all the time, though the rpm speed may be dependent on the temperature. See that the fans aren’t all that noisy.
You may also look for heat vents and cabinet sinks to protect against overheating.
Other Safety Features
Check for short circuit and overload protection. Others may have a fuse along with automatic reset.
Benefits of Using a Power Supply
You use a power supply for several reasons:
- AC power can be converted to DC power
- The power supply can offer power for ham radios and CB radios, along with other electronic gadgets
- You won’t need a battery anymore
What are the benefits of using a “linear” power supply?
This is a very reliable type of power supply best for home use. It generally has a simpler design so fewer things can go wrong. It offers a faster transient response. You also won’t get RF interference, noise issues, and EM interference.
Are there any drawbacks to linear power supplies?
It can get bulky and heavy, and the efficiency is low at about 20 to 25 percent. Things can get rather hot as well, which makes necessitates the use of heat sinks.
What about the pros and cons of a “switching” power supply?
This is more efficient at about 65 percent. It’s typically more compact and lightweight, making it better for portability. Traditionally this type of power supply isn’t good for RF uses, because of the resulting noise disturbance caused by the switching action. But some manufacturers compensate for this with their noise offset features.
You should thoroughly do your research online to make sure you have a handle on the specs your power supply must have to power your ham radio and CB radio. The best power supply for ham radio users should be easy enough to use as well, and obviously you ought to be able to afford it.
What you basically want is a reliable power supply that works each time with no trouble. It all depends on how you will use it. Get a heavy-duty model if you’re going to use your ham radio for hours on end. If you’re just using a CB radio for an hour or so, then a more affordable model may do just fine!