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Considerations When Selecting Appliances
for Off-Grid Living:

Telephones and Answering Machines

    Your basic vanilla flavored telephone instrument gets all the power it needs from the phone company. If you want a phone with more features, a cordless phone, an answering machine or some combination of these it is worth your time to look for one which runs from a 9-12V DC power supply (the ubiquitous wall wart). Of course, you need to realize that these devices are phantom loads and must be accounted for in your overall power budget. (If your battery pack is 24V or 48V you can get a voltage regulator to convert to 12V.)

    Because the phone company grounds their positive supply voltage, and your power system grounds it's negative supply voltage, it is common to run into 'ground loop' problems when powering telephones and answering machines directly from a DC power system. If you have a ground loop you will hear a buzzing noise in your telephone or on recorded messages. It is possible to purchase a small and low-cost unit that can supply a 'floating' DC supply to your telephone and answering machine to solve this problem.

    Seriously consider signing up for your telephone company's VoiceMail service so that you will not need an answering machine.


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Last update: 5MAY2003

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