Philip’s POTA power output survey

Many thanks to Philip (KA4KOE) who writes:

I posted another survey on the POTA Facebook group. I was curious as to how much power people use in their field radio work. The question I posed was “As an activator, I like to run a lot of CW. Balancing time at the site, effectiveness, battery life, similar propagation, etc., what power level do you like to employ? For the sake of simplicity, we are limiting the upper end to 100W.”

The survey size was 291 votes and does not necessarily reflect reality, but the numbers are interesting. Of course, we had some tongue-in-cheek levels entered like 11 watts from one ham; a reference to the movie “This Is Spinal Tap”. I rolled those oddball numbers into the closest one already listed. Here are my results:

100 watts: 32%
75 watts: 4%
50 watts: 15%
40 watts: 1%
20 watts: 13%
10 watts: 11%
5 watts: 23%
Less than 5 watts: 1%

If we take the accepted value for QRP as 5 watts or less, that group is 24% of the total. So, in total, the majority of hams either run full-bore or QRP.

Thank you for sharing this, Philip! 

9 thoughts on “Philip’s POTA power output survey”

  1. I’m surprised by 1/3 stating they use 100 watts. They must be in their vehicles, or set up a generator. Hopefully they put that much effort into stringing antennas up, too.

    1. Mike,

      Yes some have their rig in their vehicle running 100W. they do make good contacts. But to me takes much of the fun out of it. Most of these Hams do not have QRP rigs, but do like working POTA.

      73, ron, n9ee

      1. I understand what you are saying as I would much rather be out of the vehicle. The only reason I do it from my suv right now is it’s hot in Texas. I haven’t been doing any portable for that reason lately. After I spend time sitting up the antennas as I will usually setup a EFHW and 17ft telescopic sometimes with the wolf river and other times without. I got my General back in January and for my main base antenna I have 80-10 meter skyloop. I would much rather setup portable. I am so ready for Fall to get here as these 3 digit temps plus add more for the heat index has taken what I have most fun doing away. 73 KI5VUH

  2. I find that in my POTA activations, as concerns the overall number of contacts made, there is little difference between using 5-10 watts and using 50 – 100 watts. What does make a difference is the choice of the antenna used. The same is true when operating from my home station. The better the antenna (height and directionality) the less power is needed to make a QSO. Jerry AC4BT

  3. Interesting. In the field, I run either QRP or usually less than 25 watts on CW. When the band conditions are in the dumper, I will sometimes switch to FT8 and have run up to 45 watts. My preference is to run 25 watts or less.

  4. It would be interesting to redo this survey by mode and power. I would not be surprised to find that nearly 3/4 of the ops who responded are SSB ops.

  5. With a half decent antenna, I feel that 5 watts works pretty well most of the time for a CW POTA activations and for portable CW operation in general. Thomas is proof of that with his POTA activation videos.

    I think that 25W out on SSB is probably about equivalent and would likely give you “most bang for the watts”. Most QRO rigs will put out 25 watts with a current draw of around 5 to 6 amps peak draw. I doubt that cranking the power out to 100 watts and quadrupling the current draw on transmit really makes that much difference in results, but it sure reduces your battery life. Sure there are times where conditions warrant a bit more power, but I think that using more power just to compensate for a poor antenna is not the right solution as it does nothing to improve your reception.

    Michael VE3WMB

  6. With so many of the newer QRP rigs having 10W I can see why there would be a number running this, but calling themselves QRP. And yes most running higher power, 50-100W are using SSB.

    73, ron, n9ee

    1. When I run QRP portable If I even do it in my back yard It is always 5 watts. Two years ago I ran QRP CW from about three different Ghost towns in Iowa over a three week period. QRP is the way to go!

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