DIY 7 Day Life Support Backup System

DanTheReefer

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It’s hurricane season again, and this year I’m not going to take any risks with losing the reef to a power outage. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about freezing temps in FL, so I don’t need to run a heater. I just need a few days of water movement.

Most folks try to figure out a way to keep their main powerheads running - maybe a vortech with their battery backup option, or an UPS. However, both of these will probably struggle to go past 48 hours.
I’m approaching this a little bit different than most, and decided to get low wattage pumps that will only run when the power goes out.

How it works: A deep cycle RV/ boat battery is connected to a battery-to-USB port adapter, which is hooked up to a low wattage USB water pump. The battery is always hooked up to a trickle charger. Past that, there is a 12V relay that cuts power to the USB ports when power is supplied (i.e. “normally on”). When the power supply that keeps relay off loses power, the relay will flip and turn on the USB connectors. The battery I chose is 12V / 20 amp hours (240 watt hours), meaning it can power the 1.5 watt USB pump for about a week.

The whole system was about $130, with most of that being the battery. If you don’t feel you need it to run for a week or feel comfortable with an off brand battery you could probably save about $50 vs what I did. You could also get an extra pump and go bigger on the battery if you want more flow. An added bonus is the ability to charge a phone, etc. The flow from the 1 pump seems totally adequate for my open top 75 gallon.

Here’s pics of the battery system:
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Here’s a pic of the USB pump in the tank:
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Parts:
1X USB Water Pump 200 l/hr - $9
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1X Duracell Deep Cycle 12V 20 Ah Battery - $85 (you can save by going with off brand or smaller size). Make sure you get Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) as it’s maintenance free and safer
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1X 12V Battery to USB port $10
This one comes with a fuse, which you should locate immediately off of the positive battery terminal to prevent a fire FF88E0C8-0570-41E5-B8EE-BEB8958A81C5.jpeg

Plastic housing $6 (I got a plastic harbor freight ammo box but it’s about a half inch short, will swap that out later)

12V relay $9 (to keep system off while power is supplied to it)
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Toggle button (power switch) $1

Harbor Freight battery maintainer $9 (I pulled clamps off and replaced with
plug)


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Wire Nuts
DC Plug and Receptacle Connectors $1
12V DC plug to power relay $8 but you probably have some lying around from old electronics
 
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DanTheReefer

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Have you tried this out yet? Curious to see how long it actually runs for you.It is an interesting way to go about a back up. I have my vortechs on a marine battery.
Still testing, it’s been running for 3 days so far.

I should have mentioned that the USB pump ran for about 1.5 days with a simple 13,000 mAh USB power bank. If you’re always around your tank, it’s totally a viable backup option to have one of these USB pumps and a $30 USB power bank.
 
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DanTheReefer

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Have you tried this out yet? Curious to see how long it actually runs for you.It is an interesting way to go about a back up. I have my vortechs on a marine battery.

Stopped original test to charge battery because Hurricane Elsa was close by. Restarted - it cut out sometime between 181 and 192 hours.
Was expecting 160 hours from the 20 Ah x 12V (240 watt hours) battery, may get a little more time when voltage tails off from battery depletion, lowering the power delivered, and probably a few other factors.
 
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