Pacific Gas & Electric power outage in Northern CA affecting your reef tank?

NeverlosT

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I have 6.6kW of solar on the roof, production is maxed out at 5kW in the summer, and dips to a max of about 3.5kW in the winter, so the drop is there but not brutal. I make 35kW per day in the summer and about 25kW/day in the winter. On an average day currently we use about 25kW.

Still, all of this does me no good in a power outage since I don't have a battery backup, so if the grid shuts off, my inverter shuts off. Bummer.

I don't think my area is a candidate for shut downs.

I have been looking into making a home-made "powerwall" if nothing else to have minimal battery backup but really just to make it so I can draw from my panels when the grid is down.

I used to live in the northeast in hurricane country and I used to do several things to get through blackouts:
1. Borrowed buddies Tacoma that had built in inverter, ran it for 30 min every 4 hours to power main return and 1 heater. Ran like that for days. This was not super fun getting up every 4 hours all night to do it, but hey now I am a parent and getting up every 4 hours seems pretty luxurious!
2. Small generator just for main return and heater.
3. Some reactors you need to shut down manually and empty out before re-starting due to quick hydrogen sulfide buildup, biggest danger is sulfur denitrators.
 

NeverlosT

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@Stoney the power is not going out due to damage, so the 5-7 days is not time to repair lines. The power is being shut down due to high winds causing a RISK of damage and fire. I believe the 5-7 days is how long they expect the winds to last this time.

At least that is my understanding of this situation, could be wrong.
 

boacvh

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Im Socal, but have an inverter 4500 watts continuous use hook up to car. In case , the day it happens here , which it will
I am socal as well, and not ready at all. My I ask which one you have? I don't understand generators/inverters very well and which one to potentially get.
 

saf1

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Right, but if I'm powering my tanks 24/7 it probably wouldn't last too long right? Especially if I have to worry about the fridge too. I also heard that solar panels cant be wired to power your house directly, so the batteries are required for any utility at all. Just seems like solar isn't enough on it's own, especially for extended outages like this one. IMO If I have to get a generator anyways, then I might as well just get the generator since it's the only solution that covers all scenarios.
Correct. And as you noted you would need to have the battery storage units (not exactly cheap) and also be positive on the generation. So sort of like the trifecta Solar going on :)

Net positive on generation
Storage
Weather / generation window
 

saf1

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I have been looking into making a home-made "powerwall" if nothing else to have minimal battery backup but really just to make it so I can draw from my panels when the grid is down.
Is that a thing? I'll have to do some searching around to read up on this. Thanks for the info.
 
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Dkeller_nc

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The general rule of thumb for "lights-out" tolerance for acros is about 3 days. I've never pushed beyond that, but mine did fine with no light for that period.

From the standpoint of battery/solar back-up vs. generator, that all depends on your power demand and your storage capacity. You can determine this with some calculations and/or measurements. Generally speaking, you can count on a 100 gallon reef with LED lighting consuming about 500 watts during the photoperiod, and about 200 watts off-period. That's for moderate heating to 78 deg F from a room temp that doesn't go below 70 deg F. If the climate where you live is relatively cold, that will dramatically increase the power consumption if the house doesn't have back-up heat.

There's no doubt that a significant solar installation, power conversion/routing and storage capacity is going to be substantially more expensive than a manual generator backup on a per-watt basis. The advantage, however, might be that a solar/power storage arrangement is a "don't have to think about it" situation. Much like a stand-by fully automatic natural-gas powered generator with a power-sensing auto transfer switch.
 

Dkeller_nc

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Is that a thing? I'll have to do some searching around to read up on this. Thanks for the info.
You can do this rather easily with deep-cycle lead acid batteries and a solar power management center you can get from a site like inverters.com. A lot of folks with RVs/boats go this route.
 

saf1

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You can do this rather easily with deep-cycle lead acid batteries and a solar power management center you can get from a site like inverters.com. A lot of folks with RVs/boats go this route.
Thanks!
 

Dr. Dendrostein

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I am socal as well, and not ready at all. My I ask which one you have? I don't understand generators/inverters very well and which one to potentially get.
It would be easier for you get a generator. My car has 200 amp alternator, custom, for inverter. Do get Honda generator, push button start. Diesel or gas. If budget permit.
 

Stoney

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@Stoney the power is not going out due to damage, so the 5-7 days is not time to repair lines. The power is being shut down due to high winds causing a RISK of damage and fire. I believe the 5-7 days is how long they expect the winds to last this time.

At least that is my understanding of this situation, could be wrong.
Pretty sure the weather event ends today and tomorrow, the rest of the time frame is for repairs. You give PG&E too much credit haha. Did anyone see that VP dodging questions all night? That guy cant give a straight answer to anything.

Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 | 5 p.m.
The Red Flag warning is projected to be lifted for most of the Bay Area. Again, this time frame could change depending on how the weather event unfolds.

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019
PG&E says that full power restoration could take five full days. Damaged equipment from shutdown and high winds could also change this time frame.
Correct. And as you noted you would need to have the battery storage units (not exactly cheap) and also be positive on the generation. So sort of like the trifecta Solar going on :)

Net positive on generation
Storage
Weather / generation window
I don't like my odds lol. But I might get some stand alone panels just to supplement the generator. Seems like a good middle ground.

The general rule of thumb for "lights-out" tolerance for acros is about 3 days. I've never pushed beyond that, but mine did fine with no light for that period.

There's no doubt that a significant solar installation, power conversion/routing and storage capacity is going to be substantially more expensive than a manual generator backup on a per-watt basis. The advantage, however, might be that a solar/power storage arrangement is a "don't have to think about it" situation. Much like a stand-by fully automatic natural-gas powered generator with a power-sensing auto transfer switch.
Cool, good to know 3 days is definitely safe. More options if it comes down to it.

Whole house generator on a transfer switch is the dream for me. One day.
 
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boacvh

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It would be easier for you get a generator. My car has 200 amp alternator, custom, for inverter. Do get Honda generator, push button start. Diesel or gas. If budget permit.
Thanks! Will look into it. Someone on this thread is also recommending deep cycle batteries and an inverter. I'll look into that too. Generator, deep cycle, inverter, batteries, its all so confusing to me.
 

Dkeller_nc

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Thanks! Will look into it. Someone on this thread is also recommending deep cycle batteries and an inverter. I'll look into that too. Generator, deep cycle, inverter, batteries, its all so confusing to me.
If you list your tank (or tanks) size, the included equipment, and how long you need it to run, either I or someone else on R2R can calculate the number of deep cycle marine batteries and recommend an inverter for you.

If the $$$ are there, the simplest answer is a small portable generator, all of which generally deliver at least 2000 watts, which will easily supply all but the most monster tanks. And you can order one through Amazon and (probably) have it delivered by tomorrow.
 
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MnFish1

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Good luck to everyone - I frankly don't know if I could/would live with the policies that have caused you all this mess. We have our share of power outages - some lasting several hours - invested in a natural gas generator - was the best decision ever covers both tanks, heat, AC and several rooms.
 

codycolina707

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Ah california... you guys have it rough..
Ya California is terrible
Someone asked on this thread about how long a S.W. tank can go without power. I live in hurricane country, so I can answer with a bit of personal experience.

The first, and most honest, answer is "it depends". Specifically, it depends on the tank design (sumps, reactors, etc...), the bioload, and how well the tank's been maintained.

In my experience, an established reef tank full of critters can go 4-6 hours without any back-up power or circulation without issues. Any longer than that and the oxygen levels drop low enough that some critters start to die, and that causes a cascade of additional deaths as the decomposition of the dead critters uses up oxygen that diffuses in from the tank's surface.

If you've back-up air pumps (like Cobalt's) or back-up circulation from something like EcoTech's battery back-ups, then a tank can go indefinitely without power so long as 2 things remain true: the tank's temperature doesn't drop below about 72 deg F nor rise above about 84 deg F, and the aquarist disconnects any and all reactors in the system that aren't getting circulation.

That last point is extremely important. In an enclosed reactor that isn't getting circulation, setting for longer than about 6 hours drops the oxygen level in the reactor to the point where anaerobic bacteria start to produce hydrogen sulfide. If the reactors aren't removed from the system, there's a possibility that when power returns and the reactor volume is flushed out into the main tank there will be enough hydrogen sulfide to poison fish and other reef life. So disconnecting reactors if you anticipate a long power outage is a good safety practice.
I have a 75 gallon fully stocked some might say too much an my tank was off from 1:15 to 12 PM the next day no air whatsoever put a air stone and turned my heater on for a bit but by the time the power came back on about 25 hours all together only probably 8 of those hours was with a air stone and the temp was 71 no dead fish yet my anemone is looking pretty rough though not sure if he will make it was already hald bleached when I got it about a month ago was just starting to get color back its hanging on to a rock still but upside down under a rock not sure he's gonna make it
 

Dr. Dendrostein

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Thanks! Will look into it. Someone on this thread is also recommending deep cycle batteries and an inverter. I'll look into that too. Generator, deep cycle, inverter, batteries, its all so confusing to me.
Also natural gas generator . If I would do it all over again, I'd go with natural gas
 

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