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Battery Backup for Modern Condensing Boiler?

Javelin
Javelin Member Posts: 128
Hi All, I've been poking around the forum looking for a thread like this, but the only ones I found near topic were old, so figured I'd get a fresh opinion from all you pros out there. I'm in Philadelphia and while we don't have too frequent power outages, when we do they can last for a day or two.. I'm trying to figure out a way to keep my 2 zone boiler going in the event of a power failure.

I was looking at a variety of portable "Power Stations".. I thought something like a Goalzero, or Jackery or Bluetti could do the trick... something like:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082CWRGTR/

This particular unit is 2400wh... My boiler has two Taco 010 pumps (one supplies most of the house). By my math, I could run the ONE pump that does most of the house (120w) for around 20 hours... this would be enough for 20+ typical "cycles" to get the house up to temperature.

In addition to running the pump(s), I might tap in a fridge to keep food from spoiling once or twice during a black out, charge some cell phones/etc.

I could also, always buy the external solar panels that supposedly re-charge the battery in full sun in a few hours?

Does anyone have any recent experience with this sort of thing?

I have a Triangle Tube Prestige Solo 250 boiler with indirect water heater.

Thanks in advance!

Jay

Comments

  • jad3675
    jad3675 Member Posts: 40
    edited September 13
    You might be better off buy a similar spec'ed UPS from one of the big brands - trip-lite, APC or Eaton. I think you'd find them cheaper.
    I'd worry about the longevity of an off brand 'power station'
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,344
    For battery units such as you mention, it's purely a balance between the total energy which the unit can produce and the total energy which your uses require. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with your arithmetic -- except that the load you quote is for only one circulating pump. How about the power for the boiler itself? Or the other pump? Anything else you might think of? (That fridge will run a 2400 watt-hour unit flat in double quick time, for instance).

    Do your arithmetic using realistic total loads and see what you come up with.

    The solar panels are just wonderful -- except for one minor detail. If the power goes off in a storm or at night, they aren't going to do a thing for you. And that's when the power does go off...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • sunlight33
    sunlight33 Member Posts: 345
    Your gas boiler will also use electricity, not just the pump itself. Your better bet is to plug the boiler and pump into an Electricity Usage Monitor like the Kill A Watt for 20 hours and see the actual watt-hour your system consumes.
    Solid_Fuel_ManLarry Weingarten
  • Wellness
    Wellness Member Posts: 122
    I'd be interested in any good info on this subject too. My quick search produced condensing boiler power consumption data projections that are all over the map. From 6w on standby and about 100w! That's a pretty wide range. I think you'd have to know that before you size a battery backup solution.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,344
    I'd be surprised if the running consumption of the boiler was as low as 100 watts. At least some of the bigger ones.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • HydroNiCK
    HydroNiCK Member Posts: 110
    Could you use a inverter generator instead?
    Tim Potter
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,260
    One thing which will help you greatly is to change put the 0010 circulators to the 0010e units of the Grundfos equivalents. These pumps will draw around 50 watts instead of the 120 watts a 0010 standard unit does. It will also save you money all year long as a benefit. 

    A good number to use for sizing something like this is 100 watts per circulator and 150 watts for the boiler. This is rule of thumb, your actual usage may be less, but you want enough battery to last you as long as you anticipate a power loss. Do you need heat the entire time a power loss occurs? 

    An elegant solution is the Jackery and a small "suitcase generator" like a Honda or Yamaha. 

    I personally have an Ebay special pure sine wave inverter, used with the plethora of 12volt lead acid batteries which I have in the winter from summer equipment (dump truck, classic car, RV) and a small recoil start propane generator.  The 1500 watt inverter will run my boiler, fridge, and all the lights in the house for several hours. Then if the power is out for a really long period, or I need 240 volts for the well pump, i use the propane generator, and i can charge the batteries simultaneously if need be. 

    Solar is a nice thought, but not really what you want for emergencies, unless you have enough battery capacity to have solar keep the batteries topped up until they are needed. I have a 100 watt (advertised) solar panel/charger which puts out about 70 watts on the best days. I use it when camping in the RV with my family. The LED lights and water pump are the only draws in the RV. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Tim Potter
    Tim Potter Member Posts: 268
    Consumer reports rates the Ryobi RYi4022x highly, Home Depot has it for $550.00.
    It puts out 3400 watt continuous power.
    Get a couple of 6gal gas cans, fill with non ethanol gas & stable. a couple of times a year change out the gas by putting it in your car.

    Tim
    Winter Park, CO & Lenexa, KS
  • Javelin
    Javelin Member Posts: 128
    Thank you all for your comments/suggestions.. I think my first step will be to rewire to boiler to plug in rather than hard-wire, then I'll use a kill-a-watt as suggested to see what the system actually draws for heating and DHW as it gets colder.. I'll use that info to educate myself.. I know I can always go gas generator, or even a whole house natural gas generator, but since power does NOT usually go out in my area for too long, I was looking for a simpler/cleaner solution.. Still, I like to be pro-active, so maybe I'll plan for the upcoming zombie apocalypse and overdue it :) - Will let you know where I end up as I get there... Jay
  • jad3675
    jad3675 Member Posts: 40
    Javelin said:

    Thank you all for your comments/suggestions.. I think my first step will be to rewire to boiler to plug in rather than hard-wire, then I'll use a kill-a-watt as suggested to see what the system actually draws for heating and DHW as it gets colder.. I'll use that info to educate myself.. I know I can always go gas generator, or even a whole house natural gas generator, but since power does NOT usually go out in my area for too long, I was looking for a simpler/cleaner solution.. Still, I like to be pro-active, so maybe I'll plan for the upcoming zombie apocalypse and overdue it :) - Will let you know where I end up as I get there... Jay

    Don't leave it plugged into the kill-a-watt for too long. KAWs are not designed for continuous use.
  • Bart56
    Bart56 Member Posts: 4
    I have a Weil Mclean WM97+155 with 3 zones plus water tank. I live in central Mass. We get power outages often enough because of trees and overhead wires, but I keep the house heated and refrigerators cold for days.

    I wired the electric supply at the boiler with a 3-way switch instead of single pole on-off. When it is in the off position it connects the burner and pumps to a pigtailed female 110V connector. I use an extension cord to plug into an inverter (1500W) that I bought for about $250. That inverter is connected to my truck battery during emergencies and is otherwise on a shelf in my shop.

    The last storm took out my street feed wires with a fallen tree and with the truck in the driveway, a set of long jumper cables to the inverter and several extension cords, I kept the heat on, fridges cold, internet up for nearly 3 days (and 3/4 tank of gas while idling the truck.

    No wires were even warm. I would unplug the fridges to use the microwave occasionally.

    One word of caution: The inverter is a PURE SINE WAVE inverter because the heating system, fridges, and nearly everything else including the Taco circulation pumps do not work well with modified sine wave or square wave power. I did a similar thing with my old Gas Boiler using a small 300W Modified Sine Wave inverter. The boiler did not have any electronics in it. It worked but the pumps would sometimes not start and I would have to cycle the power until they did. But we stayed warm.

    Hope this helps
  • EricPeterson
    EricPeterson Member Posts: 78
    This is very helpful. I've been looking into this for some time now. The part about pure sine wave is important, as is the switch.
    For me one issue is that we have a detached garage, so it's about 75 feet from the basement to the car.
    Our power though is pretty reliable, but I want to be prepared for an outage should one occur.
    My other issue here is that the setup requires a stationary engineer. Would not be of any help when you are out of town.
    nicholas bonham-carter
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,344
    Yes you setup will work, @Bart56 And yes it does require someone to be there, @EricPeterson .

    Just don't let your building inspector or insurance company see it. It's not code.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,260
    If you want a solution that will keep the place from freezing and not be a generator.... a non-electric vented gas heater aka gravity heater with a standing pilot is the best solution. 

    Other than an automatic startup/transfer generator like a Generac, Kohler, etc. You will need an attendant there to plug things in, and otherwise keep an eye on things like charge levels. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!