View Full Version : Backup power?

11-29-2005, 04:14 PM
My power was out for 4 hours last night, and it's only the first snowfall of the year. I've heard rumours that last year power was out for 4 days mid-winter before being restored. :confused:

Does anyone run a battery back-up system on their tank and if so what do you use?
I have a 36 gallon tank and think that the inhabitants would survive with one powerhead in an emergency, just enough to keep the water moving until power is restored.

I've had a battery back-up system on my computer at work, but it is NOISY when it is running from the battery, beeping all the time. I'd like to avoid the noise if possible.

Any thoughts?

11-29-2005, 04:35 PM
I've been thinking about this a lot.

The problem is, the loads we run on our tanks are mostly inductive and resistive, and they're not small (yours aside).

If I were you, I'd go to Costco, and pick up a 1000VA APC UPS.

Yes, they'll beep, but you're not going to find a product that will do what you want it to without beeping.

11-29-2005, 04:42 PM
One or 2 of these should work if you don't want to buy a ups.

11-29-2005, 05:15 PM
that might be ok for the fish but the coral needs water movement and heat in the winter.

11-29-2005, 06:17 PM
I don't have any corals yet, just two fish, live rock and lots of inverts, but am looking to add some in the near future. . . but that is the subject for a future post :biggrin:

Thanks for the link to the battery operated air pump. Initially that seems like it will do the trick, but I think I need something that will kick in immediately if the power goes off, just in case I'm not home when it happens.

I guess a UPS is the most practical solution - I could hook it to a powerhead to maintain some waterflow as well as a heater to maintain temperature. If only they weren't so loud. I'm sure my husband and housemates don't want to hear it in the middle of the night.

11-29-2005, 06:27 PM
Then just disable the Beeper!!!

11-29-2005, 06:48 PM
The problem with a UPS, is you're not going to like the price of one that can drive a 200W heater and a powerhead or two for more than 20-30 minutes.

Assume 300-400W load for your tank (on average), and you quickly start looking at $500-1000 UPSes to deal with that kind of load.

And again, UPSes arn't designed to deal with resistive loads.

11-29-2005, 07:20 PM
Thanks for the link to the battery operated air pump. Initially that seems like it will do the trick, but I think I need something that will kick in immediately if the power goes off, just in case I'm not home when it happens.

There's actually a better pump then that Hagen one. I threw my Hagen one out after getting a couple of these.


It powers up when you have a power failure and its quieter than the Hagen one. Of course, if you tank temp drops to below 20C, the pump isn't going to help.

11-29-2005, 07:21 PM
If the power went out for 4 days last year I think a generator would be better then an UPS. you can use it with a ceramic heater to get some heat in your house too.


11-29-2005, 07:47 PM
I made due during last years day long outage with a plastic ladel for current and a camp stove to heat water. Darn good thing I was home for the day anyway.

11-29-2005, 11:23 PM
Hi my power was out to last night so today i went and picked up one of these .it will run heater and power heads.anyone else have one or know anything about them.Paulhttp://images.canadiantire.ca/media/images/Template/SolarPanel/powerbox_280x425_en_44f23.gif

11-30-2005, 12:58 AM
Compare the cost of your tank, equipment, livestock, time, and committment to the cost of a generator. For me the generator wins hands down as the cheapest, most realiable, and able to run a lot more things in my house that just the tanks. I live in the north though and although I have a huge wood stove for heat it is always nice to be able to run a small space heater.

11-30-2005, 01:22 AM
While I agree that a generator is always the best idea, those of us living in apartments (or in townhouses if the strata rules forbid it) don't have that option.

Just did some quick pricing, and to run a 400W load for 6 Hours, you're looking at around $1,500 for a UPS.

At that point, strata rules be dammed, I'd have a generator.

11-30-2005, 01:28 AM
Check out the new Honda generators - they came out with some super quiet ones in the last couple of years. You pay for them no doubt but I use mine for camping as well and you can stand right beside it and have a normal conversation. It's quite amazing.

11-30-2005, 01:46 AM
well you hit a topic that I know about.

Being that I just moved here from Nova Scotia. Some of you may know of the power outage we had last year for 6 days in the winter. I had my SW running at the time.I used my computers UPS(uninteruptable power system) to run the tank and I used a 5000w generator to run my house breaker panel , which fed the whole house. So I still had the furnace etc etc.I had to fill the fuel every 8 hrs but I still had power.And we ended up taking in 4 families until power was restored around the area. I was also able to set up some local reefers there with the generators too to help keep their systems going. Power outage is something I think every reefer should consider. Buy a 5KW generator from costco or canadian tire. And have it for a back up.Even if it is only 4 hrs. Another $500 investment that will save the other $1000-7000 you already spend on livestock....small price to pay I say.

My 2 cents for what its worth.


11-30-2005, 01:53 AM
Hi i see the link did'nt work try thishttp://www.canadiantire.ca/assortments/dept_landing.jsp?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=25343743035 17530&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474396670271&bmUID=1133319157732&FOLDER<>browsePath=2534374303517494&FOLDER<>browsePath=2534374303517530they have all differant sizes. Paul

11-30-2005, 02:04 AM
A 'well planned' tank should have no problem coping with the average power failure we see. In reality, most tanks should/could easily survive 6 hours without power.

Smaller tanks may require some insulation to retain heat (simply wrapping a blanket around can radically decrease the speed of decline).

Some fish with higher o2 requirements may require some extra water movement, but trying to keep return pumps, and powerheads is by no means necessary. A simple / cheap battery backup airpump installed as an airlift will provide more than enough circulation / surface aggitation for even these sensitive creatures.

One could theoretically plan to power a heater, but I wouldn't try to maintain your 'normal' temperature, keeping a temperature of 72-74 should be adequate for survival for the majority of creatures. Once power's back on bring the temperature up slowly.

Longer term powerfailures, yes would require some forethought - but lets face it, the majority of canada is rather unlikely to see hurricanes, or major natural disasters... Well other than vancouver sliding off into the pacific - but at that point I don't think y'all are going to be thinking about your tanks :)

I don't see much need to spend thousands on a generator, or huge UPS system, in a vain attempt to keep the system as a whole running. Provide the basics and be patient for the lights to come back on. A situation of hours without electricity is rare - why get stressed about it?


11-30-2005, 02:30 AM
That may be true for people that live in or close to larger centers but my power goes out at least twice a year for 12 hours or longer and the last 2 years it has gone out for 4 days in a row. I'll stick with my generator thanks and as an added bonus use it for camping. I don't know about Vancouver falling into the Pacific but I do think that one of these days we are going to have a large scale natural disaster of some sort. I personally know how scared everyone was a few years ago when they discovered the hole in the WAC Bennett Dam. This hydro electic project provides something like 33% of the provinces power and then some - which we quickly sell to the US

11-30-2005, 01:19 PM
A 'well planned' tank should have no problem coping with the average power failure we see. In reality, most tanks should/could easily survive 6 hours without power.


6 hours is a small blackout for many parts of the Island.