Power outage - what would you do?

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OrionN

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Did you need to get an HOA permit?
I guess it depends on the HOA. Not mine. I did have to have city permit to get new gas like from the gas main to the generator site. Very close for me so it did not cost much.
Liquid cool larger generator cost more but more efficient but cost more.
Our kids are growing, the last one will move out in about 4 years (to college) We will down size then. When we do, I will have a liquid cool automatic generator. for the whole house.
Natural gas line here in Texas are underground, there are no earthquake, so they are practically indestructible.
I do think that we are looking at alternative energy source and phasing out fossil fuel. At least for now, there will be much unreliable, and shortage of energy sources and outage like this will be more common. Don't get me wrong, this outage is not due to energy shortage, but poor preparation and weatherization by the energy folks in Texas. There will be blame going around the next few months. Just hope we will learn from this.
 
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OrionN

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This time, the power outage is completely unusual for South Texas.

Normally we don't have the extreme cold to worry about. Power outage here in Texas is normally due to hurricane. Above ground energy sources like propane is vulnerable in hurricane and flood, Underground natural gas pipeline is the most reliable. If this is not available, then we have to consider propane or petroleum as energy source. These are not as reliable, especially during prolong outage after hurricane.
I was prepared for outage, but not completely prepare for the cold induce power outage, but my tank did fine.
I have to turn off water supply to the RO dedicated to my fish tank (piping was on an outside wall and can freeze and bust with cold temp) so I shut off this line and empty the waster from it for the week. I have to jury rig my home RO to the fish room for the week.
My ability to heat the tank was just borderline. I see that I need more heaters, two 500 W heaters for a 400 gal total water is not enough when the temp drop is about 10 degree. I need another 800-1000 Watts worth of heater. I hope cold induce power outage is in the history book for Texas. I hope the ones in control learn from this and take steps to keep this from happen again.
 

lapin

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not completely prepare for the cold induce power outage,
I found by heating 2 gallons of "tank water" on the gas stove every hour worked for me. I started as soon as we lost power. My house did remain warm never dropping below 55F.
 

Subsea

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Getting back to original post. Water temperature into the mid 60 degrees has not killed fish that I have observed, but lack of oxygen will kill them quickly. To minimize heat loss from your tank wrap blankets around four edges, minimize excessive circulation at surface, if possible, cover top of tank to minimize heat loss thru convection and evaporation. Use battery air pumps to oxygenate water.

A friend was baby sitting 150G mixed reef for me while out of state. This was before Generac auto back up generator. During the night, power went off for a few hours. When he checked on the tank a few hours later, every fish was dead. Power had returned in the meantime and aside from the fish there was no apparent harm With corals and filter feeders doing great. During the following weeks, I did deal with an algae bloom which I attributed as damage to sandbed microbial organism.
 

Malcontent

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I have several kW of heaters but only a 1000W inverter. Until recent events, it never occurred to me that I might need >1000W of heat (for a 125 gal tank).

I know from doing several interstate moves that I can keep a lot of fish in a small amount of water if I have pure oxygen. During the last move, I got to my destination and found out my ABT trailer hadn't even moved yet. I had everyone crammed in a 40 gal tank but running the oxygen concentrator a few times a day kept them happy.

Had I found myself in a situation where 1000W wasn't enough I probably would have started burning things to heat water or moved the fish to a smaller tank or even into my 50 liter Pelican cooler (it even has a ruler on the lid just in case I want to measure my fish). With >2" thick walls I'm sure I would need far fewer watts to heat the water leaving only the oxygenation problem which is solved by the use of pure oxygen.

Oxygen concentrators require prescriptions to purchase new but are readily available secondhand. Oxygen tanks are also used for bait wells and readily available.

I took some readings a few weeks ago when I changed water in my freshwater tank:

2021-01-09 16_57_42-high low.xlsx - Excel.png


In the beginning, the water was only 5-6" deep, the fish were panicking and not recovering from the exertion. Meanwhile, O2 levels were trending downwards. I turned off the air stone, dropped a diffuser connected to my O2 concentrator in the tank, and it O2 levels to the moon despite the shallow water. In deeper water, it can take a 40 gal tank to 320% saturation in <15 minutes.

Once the water depth reached ~11" the air stone was more effective and able to hold ~6 mg/L. If you were ever curious about air stones' effectiveness at varying depths, here's your answer.
 

OrionN

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I found by heating 2 gallons of "tank water" on the gas stove every hour worked for me. I started as soon as we lost power. My house did remain warm never dropping below 55F.
We do whatever we can to save our tank. I try to plan so I don't have to spend all my time baby sit the tank. I am working full time in my office even as the city is out of power and many place out of water at the same time.
I have my son and wife, but if I ask them to heat up water every hours and dump it to the tank, I will never hear the end of it, even if they will do it for me.;););)
 
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Ratherbeflyen

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I also live in Texas. Our power went out for ~24 hours on the coldest night. Then it came back intermittently for a couple more days. Like many others, my grid down preparation was centered around high temperatures. Mainly a small generator and a window unit AC. I have no gas, or any way to burn wood in the house. So a low of 13F with no power was problematic.

My tank is a 220G display with a 75 gallon sump. I have a DIY automatic battery backup on one of the icecap gyres that will run for ~4 days unattended. I have a pair of 300 watt heaters, but they use the grid only. So when the power went out, I pulled out my cheapo $150 1500 watt generator and plugged in the heaters and the return pump only. I also plugged in a couple of phones and ipads.

1613838631362.png


An inline power monitor showed about 840 watts of power use.

1613838667433.png


I also taped a couple pieces of R5 foam insulation I had to the front and side of the tank.

1613838807875.png


The next day I started heating up water on my BBQ and bringing it in the house. We also hung blankets and closed doors to try and thermally isolate the living room. After the first ~15 hours, the house was in the low 50's, but the tank was holding to 1/2 a degree of the 78 degrees I try to keep it at.

1613839158514.png


1613838964519.png


The house was also noticeably warmer in the living room than the rest of the house. I would suspect that 600 watts of water heater is very similar to running a 600 watt space heater and was heating the house a little bit. After 3 days of nonexistent or intermittent grid power the tank, and the rest of my house came out just fine.

Going forward we've decided to invest in a small mini split heat pump. A 12000BTU (1 Ton) heat pump uses about 9-12 amps of power and I should be able to run it on my old cheapo generator. A heat pump will make both cool and hot air and should get us through grid failures year around. It's also a backup for when the main HVAC unit has problems, which has been more common in my house than power failures. As an added bonus, 20 seer is more efficient than my HVAC's 16 seer rating and may lower my monthly power consumption. It will also be a lot easier to just plug the generator into the mini split than storing and dragging out the window unit when needed.

1613839507065.png


Anyway, that's my former and future grid down tank/house plan.
 
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Ditryin

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Thanks for all the replies!

I had clamped a comforter around the tank and a towel across part of the top to try to hold the heat in it and had 2 battery-powered air stones in there (I have 6 of them and thought I had plenty of D batteries squirreled away just for them but could not find them) but I could hear water splash once in a while and thought the fish were suffocating so I started scooping out water with a pitcher and pouring it back in in between the pans of heated water.

And you better believe I bought a bunch of D batteries while I was at Harbor Freight!

I should have mentioned it's a 150 gallon mixed reef.

I'm definitely leaning toward the Generac whole-house natural gas generator, but like I said, the natural gas system froze up and areas of TX were without natural gas so I have to have a back-up plan for my back-up plan just to be safe.

I saw a video -- -- where he tells how to stay warm in your house (ex. make a fort under your kitchen table so you're only trying to heat a small space) so I'm looking at the tank thinking if I attach a tarp to the wall over the tank and make a tent and just focus on heating a small space for the us, the dogs and the tank....

Food for thought... if the jet stream had dipped anywhere else, this nightmare could easily have happened to Arizona or Florida instead so everyone needs a back-up plan for their back-up plan.
 
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Subsea

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I also live in Texas. Our power went out for ~24 hours on the coldest night. Then it came back intermittently for a couple more days. Like many others, my grid down preparation was centered around high temperatures. Mainly a small generator and a window unit AC. I have no gas, or any way to burn wood in the house. So a low of 13F with no power was problematic.

My tank is a 220G display with a 75 gallon sump. I have a DIY automatic battery backup on one of the icecap gyres that will run for ~4 days unattended. I have a pair of 300 watt heaters, but they use the grid only. So when the power went out, I pulled out my cheapo $150 1500 watt generator and plugged in the heaters and the return pump only. I also plugged in a couple of phones and ipads.

1613838631362.png


An inline power monitor showed about 840 watts of power use.

1613838667433.png


I also taped a couple pieces of R5 foam insulation I had to the front and side of the tank.

1613838807875.png


The next day I started heating up water on my BBQ and bringing it in the house. We also hung blankets and closed doors to try and thermally isolate the living room. After the first ~15 hours, the house was in the low 50's, but the tank was holding to 1/2 a degree of the 78 degrees I try to keep it at.

1613839158514.png


1613838964519.png


The house was also noticeably warmer in the living room than the rest of the house. I would suspect that 600 watts of water heater is very similar to running a 600 watt space heater and was heating the house a little bit. After 3 days of nonexistent or intermittent grid power the tank, and the rest of my house came out just fine.

Going forward we've decided to invest in a small mini split heat pump. A 12000BTU (1 Ton) heat pump uses about 9-12 amps of power and I should be able to run it on my old cheapo generator. A heat pump will make both cool and hot air and should get us through grid failures year around. It's also a backup for when the main HVAC unit has problems, which has been more common in my house than power failures. As an added bonus, 20 seer is more efficient than my HVAC's 16 seer rating and may lower my monthly power consumption. It will also be a lot easier to just plug the generator into the mini split than storing and dragging out the window unit when needed.

1613839507065.png


Anyway, that's my former and future grid down tank/house plan.
I also live in Texas. Our power went out for ~24 hours on the coldest night. Then it came back intermittently for a couple more days. Like many others, my grid down preparation was centered around high temperatures. Mainly a small generator and a window unit AC. I have no gas, or any way to burn wood in the house. So a low of 13F with no power was problematic.

My tank is a 220G display with a 75 gallon sump. I have a DIY automatic battery backup on one of the icecap gyres that will run for ~4 days unattended. I have a pair of 300 watt heaters, but they use the grid only. So when the power went out, I pulled out my cheapo $150 1500 watt generator and plugged in the heaters and the return pump only. I also plugged in a couple of phones and ipads.

1613838631362.png


An inline power monitor showed about 840 watts of power use.

1613838667433.png


I also taped a couple pieces of R5 foam insulation I had to the front and side of the tank.

1613838807875.png


The next day I started heating up water on my BBQ and bringing it in the house. We also hung blankets and closed doors to try and thermally isolate the living room. After the first ~15 hours, the house was in the low 50's, but the tank was holding to 1/2 a degree of the 78 degrees I try to keep it at.

1613839158514.png


1613838964519.png


The house was also noticeably warmer in the living room than the rest of the house. I would suspect that 600 watts of water heater is very similar to running a 600 watt space heater and was heating the house a little bit. After 3 days of nonexistent or intermittent grid power the tank, and the rest of my house came out just fine.

Going forward we've decided to invest in a small mini split heat pump. A 12000BTU (1 Ton) heat pump uses about 9-12 amps of power and I should be able to run it on my old cheapo generator. A heat pump will make both cool and hot air and should get us through grid failures year around. It's also a backup for when the main HVAC unit has problems, which has been more common in my house than power failures. As an added bonus, 20 seer is more efficient than my HVAC's 16 seer rating and may lower my monthly power consumption. It will also be a lot easier to just plug the generator into the mini split than storing and dragging out the window unit when needed.

1613839507065.png


Anyway, that's my former and future grid down tank/house plan.

I have Mitsubishi 2 ton model For 2 years now. what impressed me the most was that it provided very very warm air even with temperature down to 3 degrees outside. It did shut down periodically for 20 minutes to go thru auto-defrost mode when at this low temperature. I run ductless unit hard and circulate conditioned air thru central system. If I could, I would modify air mover to have a manual low low speed.
 
Fritz

Subsea

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I also live in Texas. Our power went out for ~24 hours on the coldest night. Then it came back intermittently for a couple more days. Like many others, my grid down preparation was centered around high temperatures. Mainly a small generator and a window unit AC. I have no gas, or any way to burn wood in the house. So a low of 13F with no power was problematic.

My tank is a 220G display with a 75 gallon sump. I have a DIY automatic battery backup on one of the icecap gyres that will run for ~4 days unattended. I have a pair of 300 watt heaters, but they use the grid only. So when the power went out, I pulled out my cheapo $150 1500 watt generator and plugged in the heaters and the return pump only. I also plugged in a couple of phones and ipads.

1613838631362.png


An inline power monitor showed about 840 watts of power use.

1613838667433.png


I also taped a couple pieces of R5 foam insulation I had to the front and side of the tank.

1613838807875.png


The next day I started heating up water on my BBQ and bringing it in the house. We also hung blankets and closed doors to try and thermally isolate the living room. After the first ~15 hours, the house was in the low 50's, but the tank was holding to 1/2 a degree of the 78 degrees I try to keep it at.

1613839158514.png


1613838964519.png


The house was also noticeably warmer in the living room than the rest of the house. I would suspect that 600 watts of water heater is very similar to running a 600 watt space heater and was heating the house a little bit. After 3 days of nonexistent or intermittent grid power the tank, and the rest of my house came out just fine.

Going forward we've decided to invest in a small mini split heat pump. A 12000BTU (1 Ton) heat pump uses about 9-12 amps of power and I should be able to run it on my old cheapo generator. A heat pump will make both cool and hot air and should get us through grid failures year around. It's also a backup for when the main HVAC unit has problems, which has been more common in my house than power failures. As an added bonus, 20 seer is more efficient than my HVAC's 16 seer rating and may lower my monthly power consumption. It will also be a lot easier to just plug the generator into the mini split than storing and dragging out the window unit when needed.

1613839507065.png


Anyway, that's my former and future grid down tank/house plan.

I question the 9-12 amp draw for your 1Ton unit.

Today, my 2 Ton unit with a moderate load is drawing 2.4A @ 240V. At max load, it draws 8.5A @240V which is 1840W. In general, for calculation purposes

1Ton is 1HP is 746W is 12K BTU/Hr.
 
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CanuckReefer

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Thanks for all the replies!

I had clamped a comforter around the tank and a towel across part of the top to try to hold the heat in it and had 2 battery-powered air stones in there (I have 6 of them and thought I had plenty of D batteries squirreled away just for them but could not find them) but I could hear water splash once in a while and thought the fish were suffocating so I started scooping out water with a pitcher and pouring it back in in between the pans of heated water.

And you better believe I bought a bunch of D batteries while I was at Harbor Freight!

I should have mentioned it's a 150 gallon mixed reef.

I'm definitely leaning toward the Generac whole-house natural gas generator, but like I said, the natural gas system froze up and areas of TX were without natural gas so I have to have a back-up plan for my back-up plan just to be safe.

I saw a video -- -- where he tells how to stay warm in your house (ex. make a fort under your kitchen table so you're only trying to heat a small space) so I'm looking at the tank thinking if I attach a tarp to the wall over the tank and make a tent and just focus on heating a small space for the us, the dogs and the tank....

Food for thought... if the jet stream had dipped anywhere else, this nightmare could easily have happened to Arizona or Florida instead so everyone needs a back-up plan for their back-up plan.
My setup is a rollout Generator. I have a 30 amp 125/250 volt 'inlet' installed on side of house near the main panel . It feeds 8 circuits that I deem as critical. Aquarium, Furnace, sump pump, HWT , TV and internet, and assorted receptacles, lights throughout the house. It is a manual transfer switch not automatic. So not as convenient as the automatic. However far less costly on installation. I have a 7900 W Firmen Generator was about 750 bucks Cdn at Lowes. Plenty to run the basics of the home.
As you are worried about the natural gas scenario, I would consider a similar size unit but with duel fuel technology. Will run on propane or gas. So if you run out of one, you arent scrambling.
 

Ratherbeflyen

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I question the 9-12 amp draw for your 1Ton unit.

Today, my 2 Ton unit with a moderate load is drawing 2.4A @ 240V. At max load, it draws 8.5A @240V which is 1840W. In general, for calculation purposes

1Ton is 1HP is 746W is 12K BTU/Hr.

I agree that the compressor will draw less than 9 amps, but most also have a fan in the internal and external unit. Of course not all units are created equal and some use less electricity than others. I do know that my 5000 BTU window unit draws over 5 amps. One mini split says up to 13 amps for heating, which may include a heating strip.

1613856534693.png
 

Subsea

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I agree that the compressor will draw less than 9 amps, but most also have a fan in the internal and external unit. Of course not all units are created equal and some use less electricity than others. I do know that my 5000 BTU window unit draws over 5 amps. One mini split says up to 13 amps for heating, which may include a heating strip.

1613856534693.png

My unit has a 22 SEER Rating and uses 240VAC. Efficiency on above unit is much less. The big reason for much higher amps is listed unit is 115VAC which doubles amp draw of 220VAC for same wattage.

PS: When I measured amps, I measured all amps going to system. With respect to heat strips in ductless systems, this would be deicing cycle when compressor is off.

With respect to my 22 year old central unit, the heat pump doesn’t even list efficiency ratings. When temperature gets below 40 degrees, this unit is useless, so I get off heat pump on central unit and use heat strips if required. Normally, I run 2 ton ductless unit in living/dining/kitchen area and if required I turn fan only on central unit to distribute conditioned air to remote rooms. Also, I have a wood burning fireplace to distribute more heat.
 
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Ratherbeflyen

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My unit has a 22 SEER Rating and uses 240VAC. Efficiency on above unit is much less. The big reason for much higher amps is listed unit is 115VAC which doubles amp draw of 220VAC for same wattage.

PS: When I measured amps, I measured all amps going to system. With respect to heat strips in ductless systems, this would be deicing cycle when compressor is off.

With respect to my 22 year old central unit, the heat pump doesn’t even list efficiency ratings. When temperature gets below 40 degrees, this unit is useless, so I get off heat pump on central unit and use heat strips if required. Normally, I run 2 ton ductless unit in living/dining/kitchen area and if required I turn fan only on central unit to distribute conditioned air to remote rooms. Also, I have a wood burning fireplace to distribute more heat.

I understand that the amps will be less with higher voltage, but I don't want a 240v generator. I use the generator for camping too. So I'm planning to stay with a 110v mini split.

That's interesting your central heat pump doesn't work below 40.
 
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