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Running gas boiler w/o electricity?

what the rules for Powerpile are in NJ, but here in New England it is not required to have a shut off switch on fully dedicated steam systems on Powerpile.


  • Running gas boiler w/o electricity?

    Can I run my gas boiler without electricity? As far as I can tell, electricity is used for the thermostat and the low water level cutoff and maybe the pressuretrol. My burner is old enough that it has an always on pilot light, so I don't think any electricity is used there.

    I am asking this just in case I ever lost electricity in the winter. I'd like to know what to do to keep my family and house warm without electricity, if that's possible.

    Thanks in advance,

  • kevin coppinger_4
    kevin coppinger_4 Member Posts: 2,124
    not sure that jury-rigging ...

    is a good plan. A properly installed generator is probably a way to go.

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  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
    If the boiler is ...

    Steam and in fact has a power-pile generator pilot, it already is "off grid." If it is a gravity system, sans circulator - that may too may be "off grid."

    If a circulator is present, you must have a line voltage source or circulation will be impossible - UNLESS it is steam or gravity H/W.

    Whattaya think? Might you have a power-pile (a/k/a millivolt generator) style pilot system?

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  • The boiler is steam...

    and I don't have a circulator (I'm assuming that a circulator is an electric pump of some kind).

    I'm not sure about the power-pile. In fact, I've never heard for them before. I did find some pictures of them on the Internet, and I do have something that looks like a power-pile. What would be the other choices?
  • If you have a powerpile system

    it will run without electricty. On steam systems you could also have a thermocouple type pilot system with that operating the pilot safety system side of the unit only. It is also possible to have a steam system with powerpile.

    If you have forced hot water or forced warm air those also could have a powerpile system operating the burner side of the system. The obvious is that the circulator or blower need power to operate. You can however in a power failure run the boiler on gravity by opening the flow check valve or zone valves manualy and on the control for the boiler usually the relay there is a manual switch by tripping it to manual the boiler will cycle on high limit and with the controls mentioned manually open you will get gravity feed until power comes back on, then swith the switch back to auto and close the zone valves or flow valve.

    On the warm air system the blower will not run but you can pull the blower door off and run the furnace on gravity as the thermostat will still be operating the powerpile system with high limit protection. When power comes back just put the door back and you are all set.

    Powerpile systems were the best systems ever made for gas.
  • Brian, if there is no 120 volt shut off

    switch for your boiler then it is powerpile. The powerpile system runs through the thermostat, pressuretrol, low water cutoff and runs the entire system so in a power failure you are all set.
  • 120 volt shut off

    Thanks, Tim. I guess I don't have a powerpile then. There is what looks like a regular household light switch on the boiler with wires going to the the pressuretrol and low water cutoff.
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
    Don't be fooled...

    Just because you have a red plate and typical mlight-switch on/off tiggle does not necessarily mean it is 115-volt powered!

    All boilers, both line voltage and self-powered types should have a on/off switch.

    The real question is: "Does the switch get powered from the breaker/fuse panel - or not"! If there is no obvious wire or BX going from the on/off switch to the house wiring fuse/breaker box - a power failure has no impact on your heating system. Typically, the breaker/fuse panel has each breaker/fuse labelled. Code states, "You must have a dedicated breaker/fuse for the boiler." Meaning, only the boiler is supposed to be on that circuit. If your wiring is very old, that may not be the case. But if you have breakers, not fuses, chances are well over 90% that the dedicated breaker, code requirement, will be a fact - and you'll see it - and know for certain what powers your steamer - 115 volts; or, the flame of the pilot only.

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