Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

Hill_CountryHill_Country Solar Expert Posts: 96 ✭✭
Wanted to see if any other folks had experience with automatic water shutoff systems (i.e. systems that will automatically shutoff the water if a certain amount of water passes by), and, if so, what their experience, or advice, is for something like this. I was looking at a product like the following: WaterBlock Shutoff System WB-26, which is about $160.

Our motivation is this: since we will be relying completely on rainwater for our water needs (we'll have 10,000 gallons of total storage once the system is built), we are concerned that the household water system could leak (busted pipe, blown fixture, etc.) and completely empty our hard-earned rainwater, either while we're sleeping or gone for the day. Obviously, on an extended leave from the house (2+ days) we can close the main valve between the rainwater storage tank and the pump/pressure tank. However, for the times that we're out away from the house for part of a day, it seems like an automatic water shutoff system might be a good investment (versus losing all our water for whatever reason).

This is somewhat different than a "leak detection" system in which a physical detector detects water in a specific location in a house and then shuts off the water. I'm looking for something that does not require power (off grid) and does not require a sensor to be placed in specific locations, as is common with leak detection systems.

Thoughts?
100% Off-grid with: 8 Solarworld 275 Watt Panels, 8 Concorde SunXtender 405aH 6v AGM Batteries, MS-4448PAE 48v Inverter, MidNite Solar Classic 200 Charge Controller, 10,000 gallon rainwater collection system, etc.

Comments

  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    I don't know what size lines you have but you can adapt a water sprinkler timer that goes on a hose 3/4 " uses water flow to power it and set a time limit on it or maybe gallons. $15.00 or so at the garden department. I have used one on my boat for years, if you get a leak, the boat will sink from the inside with dock water. Once a week you can put a 30 minutes to a hour or so on it and your good.

    Here is one type, there many others of all types.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Orbit-Mechanical-Water-Timer-56908/202819560?N=5yc1vZc63j

    Here is a fancy one.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Melnor-Automatic-1-Outlet-Hose-Timer-558-026/203062295?N=5yc1vZc63j
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    Two ideas.

    I have 4, 3000 tanks, two of which are full and closed off. So if something happens, I still have 6,000 gallons to fall back on


    For automatic dishwashers, they have "flood proof" connection lines, that allow a low flow of water though, but if it gets too high (broken pipe) it cuts the total flow off.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Hill_CountryHill_Country Solar Expert Posts: 96 ✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    Thank you both for your suggestions!!

    I am still researching my options, but have yet to find anything that would be ideal besides the WaterBlock WB-26.

    The garden timer idea is a smart and simple solution! However, I think it would not be a good fit for household water usage patterns, as those tend to be somewhat random and cannot be preset into a schedule. The issue is that it is a time-based measurement, rather than flow-based. So if you have a leak or ruptured pipe during those times when the garden timer is set to open, you lose water until the time range passes. The other concern is that this equipment is not necessarily intended for use as a 'whole-house' solution, but rather at a point use location (aka a spigot, or some other single use area). After reading reviews of some of the cheaper products it seems like they can be more of a liability than an asset, unfortunately.

    The flood proof supply lines are smart too...but again, they only work at the point of use. What happens if a pipe breaks under the house, or a leak somewhere before the supply line? However, they are relatively cheap and work...extra insurance!!

    Thank you for the suggestions!!
    100% Off-grid with: 8 Solarworld 275 Watt Panels, 8 Concorde SunXtender 405aH 6v AGM Batteries, MS-4448PAE 48v Inverter, MidNite Solar Classic 200 Charge Controller, 10,000 gallon rainwater collection system, etc.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,869 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    Mikes idea is best in my opinion. Multiple tanks to protect your harvest.

    We have a major wildfire here in Yosemite region now, If I had to leave, I definitely would not recommend shutting the supply down for my outside hoses. The house water supply needs to be on during fire season and even unattended it is cheap insurance.
    Thank you both for your suggestions!!

    I am still researching my options, but have yet to find anything that would be ideal besides the WaterBlock WB-26.

    The garden timer idea is a smart and simple solution! However, I think it would not be a good fit for household water usage patterns, as those tend to be somewhat random and cannot be preset into a schedule. The issue is that it is a time-based measurement, rather than flow-based. So if you have a leak or ruptured pipe during those times when the garden timer is set to open, you lose water until the time range passes. The other concern is that this equipment is not necessarily intended for use as a 'whole-house' solution, but rather at a point use location (aka a spigot, or some other single use area). After reading reviews of some of the cheaper products it seems like they can be more of a liability than an asset, unfortunately.

    The flood proof supply lines are smart too...but again, they only work at the point of use. What happens if a pipe breaks under the house, or a leak somewhere before the supply line? However, they are relatively cheap and work...extra insurance!!

    Thank you for the suggestions!!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • Mustang65Mustang65 Solar Expert Posts: 42 ✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    Just a few questions..
    How big are the pipes that you wish to monitor the flow?
    How much pressure are we looking at?
    Is this clean water?
    How far is the tank location from an electric source?
    How far is the tank from the place where you want to monitor the flow?

    After 2 major leaks in my main water feed, and loosing 10K+ gallons ($$$), I have set up a system that will shut down the water supply in the event of a water leak.
    My system has the following:
    1 - A 3/4" FLOW sensor at the point where the supply pipe enters my property.
    2 - A 12 VDC 3/4" electric ball valve is installed right after the FLOW sensor
    3 - A 3/4" FLOW sensor at the point where the main water feed arrives at the house (60').
    4 - Installed a couple "T's" at this point
    5 - A 3/4" FLOW sensor for "SUPPLY" water feed into house
    6 - A 3/4" FLOW sensor for "SUPPLY" water feed to hot water heater
    7 - A 3/4" FLOW sensor for "SUPPLY" water feed to outside sprinkler/hoses

    The 2 main flow sensors are #1 and #3.
    Logic: Flow sensor output of #1 must = #3, if flow sensor #3 is less than #1 there is a leak in the main feed, and turns off the ball valve.

    I am using an Arduino Mega 2560 to run the software, and control the ball valve and trigger an alarm (hopefully never has to be activated). Currently I only have the #1 flow sensor, #3 flow sensor and ball valve programmed.

    - Electric Ball Valve - http://www.amazon.com/MISOL-motorized-electrical-acuator-reduce/dp/B00FDMP5MS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406768870&sr=8-1&keywords=motorized+ball+valve+3%2F4

    - Flow Sensor - http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/G3/4_Water_Flow_sensor

    I have seen these items in 1" also.

    Just another option to look at....

    Good Luck!!
    Don
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    Be careful of water hammer if you use a ball valve.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Hill_CountryHill_Country Solar Expert Posts: 96 ✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    Regarding separate tanks...for our 10,000 gallons of storage we will be using two 5,000 gallon above-ground polyethylene tanks that will be connected to each other via pipe. We plan on putting a manual shutoff valve between the two tanks so that we can empty one and not the other, or vice versa. I guess this is similar to those folks suggesting tank redundancy, albeit not as many as we probably should.

    Mustang65, we'll have a 1-1/4 inch pipe between the pressure pump and the above-ground rainwater storage tanks. This distance will be about 50 in length. After the pump (a Red Lion 1/2 HP AC jet pump) it will become a 1 inch diameter pipe that will then connect with a 33 gallon pressure tank and to the house, which is about 20 ft. from the house. We will be setting our pump pressure switch such that it has a range between 30psi (min) and 50psi (max). It will then connect to PEX tubing which goes throughout the house to the various fixtures (a kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, laundry, and an outdoor spigot). The PEX tubing is 1 inch in diameter. All the water is rainwater. It will go through a nominal strainer, but will not be "potable" by any means. Our "potable" water will be from a gravity fed Berkey water filter, which will be manually filled from water from the sink.

    I was hoping to have the WaterBLock WB-26 somewhere between the pump/pressure tank and the connection to the house's PEX tubing (somewhere in that 20 foot length that I mention in the previous paragraph).
    100% Off-grid with: 8 Solarworld 275 Watt Panels, 8 Concorde SunXtender 405aH 6v AGM Batteries, MS-4448PAE 48v Inverter, MidNite Solar Classic 200 Charge Controller, 10,000 gallon rainwater collection system, etc.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Automatic water shutoff system for rainwater collection-fed off-grid house

    Yucch
    It will go through a nominal strainer, but will not be "potable" by any means. Our "potable" water will be from a gravity fed Berkey water filter, which will be manually filled from water from the sink.
    Water you wash dishes in, brush your teeth, and wash your body and face (eyes) should be treated somehow. It only takes one nasty incident to make you a believer. If the water is strained pretty clean, an ozone bubbler would be good, only about 50 watts (24/7) for the light and air pump together.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

Sign In or Register to comment.