Power outage - what would you do?

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Ditryin

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So I'm in Texas and as you all know the power went out... It stayed out for about 11 hours on Monday and that evening I was here on R2R scouring threads trying to figure out what I could do to keep my tank going when the power went out again. That was at 7:45pm and didn't come back on for 19 hours. As the temperature inside the house was dropping, I was heating pans of tank water on our gas stove and pouring them back into the tank one pan after another until 2pm the next day so the tank only dropped to about 72 degrees (until I went to Harbor Freight to hunt for an inverter and my husband let it get down to 70 degrees) while inside the house was down to 54 degrees. Everything looks ok now so I think I dodged a bullet there.

While I was at Harbor Freight looking at the inverters, I was reading the manual on the 1000w model and it said at so many amps it would last one hour and at another amp it would last 3 hours. How many deep cycle marine batteries do you need to power heaters and the pump for 19 (or more!) hours???? Plus, my buddy who was with me said if I got the battery right then it probably wouldn't be completely charged up. He said Auto Zone, etc trickle charge the batteries they sell and count on your car to finish charging them up. With no way to charge one up right then I was still screwed.

I think this ordeal finally persuaded my husband into getting a whole-house natural gas generator but part of the reason Texas went thru this power outage is because the natural gas pumps, etc were frozen so some people didn't even have gas, so that kind of generator may or may not work if/when this happens again.

So not only do I need a back-up plan, but I need a back-up plan for my back-up plan. So I need ideas.

We don't have a fireplace so we need a way to heat at the very least the area around the tank (which is in a pretty large space). I have one heater in the tank and to try to help it warm up the tank after the power was restored, I pulled the one out of my saltwater mixing tank and threw it in the overflow, but those 2 together wouldn't have made a dent when the house was 54 degrees. So I need to be able to keep that area around the tank warm when the power's out in the winter. Do I get a ventless gas space heater and a boatload of cans of the gas for it? A big enough Honda generator wired directly to the HVAC? [Let me mention that my car was out of gas and in case we were going to have to spend the night in the car with the heater going I had to go to 6 different gas stations before I found one that had power to run their gas pumps so I may not be able to get enough gasoline to run a generator for an extended period if/when this happens again]

Someone mentioned a single solar panel kit just for the tank - how many hours/days would that run the pump?

While we were driving I noted that houses with solar panels on the roofs were covered in 4 inches of snow so they were probably up the same creek I was.

What would you do if you were me?
 
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Pistondog

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Put in a gas fireplace insert or standalone gas fireplace to heat the house.
Marine batteries for recirc dc pumps, battery powered air pumps.

If you want all to run, you need a generator, but refueling can be a problem in emergency situations.
 

laverda

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So I'm in Texas and as you all know the power went out... It stayed out for about 11 hours on Monday and that evening I was here on R2R scouring threads trying to figure out what I could do to keep my tank going when the power went out again. That was at 7:45pm and didn't come back on for 19 hours. As the temperature inside the house was dropping, I was heating pans of tank water on our gas stove and pouring them back into the tank one pan after another until 2pm the next day so the tank only dropped to about 72 degrees (until I went to Harbor Freight to hunt for an inverter and my husband let it get down to 70 degrees) while inside the house was down to 54 degrees. Everything looks ok now so I think I dodged a bullet there.

While I was at Harbor Freight looking at the inverters, I was reading the manual on the 1000w model and it said at so many amps it would last one hour and at another amp it would last 3 hours. How many deep cycle marine batteries do you need to power heaters and the pump for 19 (or more!) hours???? Plus, my buddy who was with me said if I got the battery right then it probably wouldn't be completely charged up. He said Auto Zone, etc trickle charge the batteries they sell and count on your car to finish charging them up. With no way to charge one up right then I was still screwed.

I think this ordeal finally persuaded my husband into getting a whole-house natural gas generator but part of the reason Texas went thru this power outage is because the natural gas pumps, etc were frozen so some people didn't even have gas, so that kind of generator may or may not work if/when this happens again.

So not only do I need a back-up plan, but I need a back-up plan for my back-up plan. So I need ideas.

We don't have a fireplace so we need a way to heat at the very least the area around the tank (which is in a pretty large space). I have one heater in the tank and to try to help it warm up the tank after the power was restored, I pulled the one out of my saltwater mixing tank and threw it in the overflow, but those 2 together wouldn't have made a dent when the house was 54 degrees. So I need to be able to keep that area around the tank warm when the power's out in the winter. Do I get a ventless gas space heater and a boatload of cans of the gas for it? A big enough Honda generator wired directly to the HVAC? [Let me mention that my car was out of gas and in case we were going to have to spend the night in the car with the heater going I had to go to 6 different gas stations before I found one that had power to run their gas pumps so I may not be able to get enough gasoline to run a generator for an extended period if/when this happens again]

Someone mentioned a single solar panel kit just for the tank - how many hours/days would that run the pump?

While we were driving I noted that houses with solar panels on the roofs were covered in 4 inches of snow so they were probably up the same creek I was.

What would you do if you were me?
Snow can be cleared of off solar panels. The real issue is when the grid is down they get disconnected anyway unless connected to a battery back up system.
You could set up a 12 or 24 volt solar system strictly to run a DC pump or two. If connected to a battery pack, it should be able to run 24/7 on sunny days maybe longer.
 

lapin

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What you need is a whole house generator and a large propane tank. You might already have the tank
However this cost money plus installation. Please hubby, pretty please.....
Next step is to figure out how much power you need to keep the return pump (best) or powerhead (second best) and a heater going.
You need the wattage of your devices
This will help It has a calculator for a battery backup

The other option is what i have a smaller generator. The issue here is filling it with gasoline. Gasoline will make it run longer than propane if you get a dual fuel one . So with this power mess in Texas I had to conserve gasoline and everytime the power came back on i unhooked everything form my generator and plugged it back in and vice versa.

Since i have chickens and a pool I could not power my tank heater, the generator I have is just too small for everything. I was forced to heat water on my 70 year old stove (it has pilot lights if anyone knows what they are) . I have a 1000g propane tank in the ground and it wont freeze.
Be sure you have extra water for top off. If you are on city water, they can shut you off. Im have rain water and I can power on my pump with my generator for a few min if I need water and the power is off .
 
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laverda

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For flow there are many options available to help make sure it is not a disaster at minimal cost.
The first and cheapest is this Battery air pump. It has to be turned manually but will oxygenate the water and create a small amount of water movement. I just attach a piece of rigid air line long enough to reach the bottom of my 30" deep tank tank. I do not use the air stone as the resistance of the stone reduces the amount of air a lot. This pump uses just 2 D batteries and will run for a day at least on on set.
Considering the price there is no reason not to have at least one of these for every tank!
Marine depot and others usually stocks 3 models of the cobalt rescue air pump. These start at $40.00 or so. The big advantage is it will turn on automatically when the power goes out. Sadly it does not turn off automatically when power is restored. They have a built in battery and also run off a USB power supply. So they will run off any axillary phone battery pack or even your laptop from the USB port. Depending on the model they come with a separate battery pack. Another advantage is the battery pack can easily be recharged in your can in extended power outages.
Again there is no excuse not to have one or more per tank!
There are several other larger, stronger battery powered air pumps available as well.
Heating a tank is much harder to do on a budget. A very large UPS will work for a while, but a small generator is really needed.
 
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Whole home generator is the way to go. Get something 5000w and up. Will run the whole house using the 220 plug. Will run over night without needing a refill. As far as heating goes if gas goes out a propane tank and a buddy heater is your best option. They are safe and burn clean.
 

tnw50cal

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5 decades of saltwater here. 4 years into saltwater(that would have been 1972 and I was 12 with 1 30 gallon long tank )we had a 3 1/2 day power outage(no school snow was 4 feet deep). I already had a battery powered air pump(used it on vacations to Florida to collect stuff for aquarium) and natural gas hot water tank. Took a 1/3 of the water out of tank and floated hot water bottles in tank with airstone for water movement. Didn't lose a thing.
Present day 2 generators and stabilized gas read to go. Gas is used and new gas to replace it every year.
 

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OK so the pragmatist in me is coming out now... This kind of cold snap and power outage is extremely rare. I think you did exactly the right thing adding warm water to your tank to keep the temp up. If this ever happens again, a more simplified solution might be to put your hot water into a container of some kind and let it radiate (think hot water bottles for the tank). Water has an AMAZING thermo-reactivity. If you are pro-active from the start, you can likely avoid any issues of temperature loss altogether, and also avoid the hassle of doing water changes as an attempt to add warm water to your tank directly. (assuming of course you did that) lol
 

Brian_68

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My backup if the furnace dies is a good old kerosene heater, can put out 25k btu give or take and a tankful lasts 10 hours. I have a few gallons of klean heat so no kerosene smell and stores well if I need it. Brand new a heater cost around $140 so very reasonable and often on sale for less than $100 every spring. Have never had to use it so it sits in the box, but have used my generator to run the furnace a few times.
 

zoa what

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You told me the gas powered generator would START! But you've been trying to start your piece of crap for two hours and I'm cold, tired and hungry!
 
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I never heard of a well maintained natural gas generator would not start or ever runout of natural gas.
my unit self start and run every week I set for 15 mins, all year long and text me if my problem.
 
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Batteries are OK for tiny reef tank and short power outage. If we have to provide heat for a larger tank for any length of time, the energy use is too much for battery power. Continuous power from a running engine is needed, car engine with converter or generator is needed.
If we have to use 500 W heater, no battery can last too long.
The easiest solution is a transformer to convert 12 V dc to 120 volts AC. From a card to run a reef tank. You cannot draw that much power from a running car battery but it is workable for small tanks
 
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lapin

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Batteries are OK for tiny reef tank and short power outage. If we have to provide heat n larger tank for any length of time, the energy use is too much for battery power. A generator of a power converter from a running engine is needed, car engine or generator is needed.
mid we have to use 500 W heater, no battery can last too long.
How long have you had the 22KW Do you like it?
 
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