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Old 02-06-2007, 06:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Power Outages - How do you handle them?

(I might post this in the "Equipment" forum on APC also)

When you have a power outage, how do you all deal with this?

Since it is really cold out there right now in our area, when the electricity goes out, it can stay out for days in some areas. I'm fortunate to be in an area where it gets fixed within hours because of the population density. But outlying areas have been out for several days not all that long ago.

I know of one family that lost their fish at that time.

You have heaters at the very least to deal with. Lighting can wait a while in many cases. Pumps/filters need to continue when they are required. And I don't know the effect it would have on CO2 injection, but that wouldn't affect me. Still, I am curious about that aspect as well.

I have a power generator but never had to deal with the situation, and I wouldn't want to run it continually for days on end, but maybe it would be a must. It is not a big one, good for 3000 watts continuous, and I would need that to be able to run the refrigerator once every few hours, and possibly jury-rig something to run the gas furnace every other hour or so. It's not made to run a whole house. I could get enough extension cords running to the heaters and tank equipment but it would be a mess of wires through the house.

Some fish can deal with lower temperatures but others can't.

I have an auxilary heat source but it wouldn't heat all rooms evenly, so keeping the house "hot" won't work well in really cold weather since the tanks are in several rooms.

I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to have a couple large plastic "emergency tanks," possibly with dividers to keep some fish away from others. You could have at least 2 of these for two temperature levels.

Then it might be practical to run the heaters off a DC to AC inverter hooked up to storage batteries, at least for a day or so.

Of course I hope the power doesn't go out at all, but I'd like to know what some of you would do (or have done) when this happens.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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We had our power out for two hours in West Chester last Saturday. Good times, temperature dropped very quickly with lofted ceilings as well the -5 deg blasts of wind.

The basement was the warmest part of the house . Over 1000 gallons of water that are between 75 and 80 tend to radiate some heat.

After that short stint I was considering getting a generator. I have several colonies of fish that are worth between $500 and $1000, a $300 generator would be a small investment for such a large amount of money of fish.

I'd probably end up running the generator in sections of the fishroom. Starting with clusters of smaller tanks. My 300 gallon takes a long time to cool down. This is another argument for larger tanks...

As far as the CO2 is concerned with planted tanks, I don't believe it'd be a big deal. It's the same thing as running a Black Out where you're keeping the tank dark to kill of unwanted algae. If it was a week without power, I'm pretty sure losing your plants would be the last thing you need to worry about (read: a pretty bad disaster to take out power for a week, probably have to help neighbors or communities clean up).

As far as the rest of the house is concerned, we'd light the fireplace, and get the sleeping bags out. I don't mind living in the cold for a while... I'm an Eagle Scout and have camped in weather that people refuse to go to work in around here.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Good thread. It's always a concern. In a power outage in weather conditions such as these, when it's colder than a witch's teet, all you need to be concerned about it keeping the water warm. CO2, lights, filters, and scuba divers with bubbling treasure chests are all distant seconds. The fish will go into a pseudo-dormant state while the lights are out, decreasing their activity significantly so feedings aren't necessary, even for several days. They'll be fine. Since you won't be adding so much food and creating waste, filtration can be put on hold until you regain power. Battery powered airstones are inexpensive and will get the job done for aeration. You can also aggitate the surface with your hand or a plastic cup every so often to facilitate gas exchange. It doesn't have to be elaborate and you don't have to blow into a straw for hours on end.

Check out the battery backup units they have for computers. You might be able to find something that will run your heaters.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There were some cheap battery backups for computers at teh Dayton Hamvention last year, about $20 or $25, I believe. They wouldn't last for a long time at 300 watts, but then again, they were pretty cheap on a per unit basis.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:40 AM   #5 (permalink)
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What about using insulation of some sort around, under, and on top of the tanks (allowing for some air exchange on top, of course)?

Not sure what might be good for the task. I would avoid fiberglass. And I'm not going to store lots of polystyrene panels for the occasion--no room.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've known people to put blankets over their tanks to help keep the heat in. I'm not so worried about this myself living in central Texas. Seems like most homes around here have a fireplace which could be used to help keep the temp from dropping too much on the few days where it gets really cold.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Well, I suppose you could go to the hardware store and buy some sheets of 2" thick owens corning pink board...the styrofoam stuff. Cut it to length of all the sides, double it up, and you'd have a decent box to surround the sides of the tank. That would slow heat exchange. I'm sure you could tank the top off the tank and lay some doubled-up insulboard over it to keep the heat in that way. It's a bit involved and you'd need extra space to store the pieces, but like you said Don, storing all that would be ridiculous. It would work to hold the heat in for a little while but it wouldn't matter over the course of a couple days though. Eventually the temp is going to drop without some outside influence.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Wait, I've got it....get a stationary bike with a generator and start pedalling!
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Old 02-06-2007, 08:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy McClure View Post
Wait, I've got it....get a stationary bike with a generator and start pedalling!
That would also keep the aquarist warm on those cold days without power!
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Old 02-06-2007, 11:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Here in Oregon it never gets that terribly cold like some have listed with temps well below zero. I did lose power for a day because of an ice storm. I kept the main living area heated with my woodburning stove and that kept most of my aquariums warm.

The one aquarium in the bedroom was out of range of the heat so I covered it with blankets. I was just about to start heating water on the wood burning stove and putting it into freezer bags and then into the tank when the power came on. I know that putting ice into bags and floating them has been mentioned for cooling tanks on a hot day, so I figured the reverse would work for a cold day. I've no idea how effective it would be, but for my 29 gallon tank I thought it might prevent further temperature drops. Hopefully, I'll never have another chance to try it out.
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