Why NOT to invest in back-up power

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  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,509 admin
    Re: Why NOT to invest in back-up power

    And making choices on where to live/work/keep things are also important.

    Building below sea levels/on a beach front, home in an old stream bed/flood zone, basement prone to flooding, etc. are all things that increase risk...

    Technological tools to fight mother nature are going to be expensive and always have some sort of risk of failure.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,343 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Why NOT to invest in back-up power

    Personally I like my solution, a pair of Samlex 1000 watt True SIne wave inverters to run from the most dependable generator/battery combination I have, our pair of Chevy Volts.

    BTW I have about 20 gallons of backup fuel in my Colorado Pickup with stabil.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Why NOT to invest in back-up power
    williaty wrote: »

    So, big investment in backup power saved about $90,000 worth of cameras, computers, woodworking tools, etc from being flooded under several feet of water.
    But couldn't you have accomplished the same thing a lot cheaper with a generator or a fossil fuel driven pump?
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Why NOT to invest in back-up power
    ggunn wrote: »
    But couldn't you have accomplished the same thing a lot cheaper with a generator or a fossil fuel driven pump?

    Or insurance policy?
  • williatywilliaty Solar Expert Posts: 58 ✭✭
    Re: Why NOT to invest in back-up power
    ggunn wrote: »
    But couldn't you have accomplished the same thing a lot cheaper with a generator or a fossil fuel driven pump?
    We did that before and a propane-fired generator is still a part of the plan since we use electricity at an average rate of ~2.0kW when fighting off a flood, which is more than is reasonable to supply with any alt-e means in an area with as little wind and as little sun as Central Ohio. Alt-e is a supplement to a fossil-fuel powered generator. However, it's not so much the average cost of the fueling a generator that's the problem. Actually running for more than 10 hours off a generator is a nightmare. Someone has to stay awake with it 24/7. It has to be fueled at regular intervals, it has to be monitored for any sort of problem constantly, and someone has to be around to make sure it isn't stolen. Not to mention that you really need two generators, not one, for a situation like ours where a single generator failing will lead to disaster. Not to mention that there's usually a several-day period after the deluge has passed where the total flow is decaying on a log curve where the pump may cycle off for 10-90 minutes at a time yet the house would still flood in a couple of hours if the generator weren't supplying the pump with power. That's hugely fuel inefficient and not really that great for the generator.

    We did the generator-only thing for 7 years. It sucks.

    With the combination of the generator and the backup power system, it's much easier to live with. Yeah, on the first day and, more annoyingly, the first night while the flow rate is still huge, someone still has to set out with the generator all night long with fuel, some tools, and a big enough stick to convince people that another house would be easier to rob. However, after that first bit, the flow drops enough that we can run it off batteries long enough to charge it at dusk, take the generator inside to secure it, let it run off batteries all night, bring the generator back out at dawn to recharge the batteries, and repeat as long as required. It's a MUCH less stressful and MUCH less tiring pattern.

    This is what I'm trying to get across to the guys treating this as a strictly monetary problem: Sometimes you spend money not based off of pure economics but to make a problem more comfortable. We dropped what is, to us, a huge amount of money (maybe not that much to other people) on the backup power system. In return, the house stays dry AND everyone gets to sleep at night AND no one's safety is being risked by staying outside to prevent the generator from walking off all night. While those latter two factors can't be put into a spreadsheet, they're worth some serious bucks!

    NorthGuy wrote: »
    Or insurance policy?
    1) You just go ahead and try to get enough money out of the insurance company to replace all the things a flood would destroy. You'll quickly find out they pay what they feel like, not what it costs to replace everything you lost. Then try to avoid getting dropped by your insurance because you made a big claim. Then try to get insurance with ANY company after you've been dropped by another company.

    2) Insurance money doesn't replace family photographs, artwork, mementos, etc.

    3) Insurance won't really help you sufficiently with the knock-on effects of having the house saturated. It's a terrible thing for a structure to go through.



    Depending on insurance to pay out after a flood rather than trying to avoid it in the first place is an idiotic idea.
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: Why NOT to invest in back-up power

    Using the genset to charge the battery puts you in hybrid territory. You are keeping the genset closer to its most efficient spot so overall you're using less fuel. Especially after the first day or so when you would be running it just for occasional burst. So a good deal all around.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
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