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Re: Colorado's Blizzard (UPS)

Bill, which small pumps have you had problems running on the cheap UPS
units? I used the $40 APC "UPS ES 350" for the test and was able to run the
following pumps successfully:

- Eheim 2217 Canister
- Duetto DJ-100 and DJ-50
- Aqua Clear 201 and 402
- Unknown brand small fountain pump

The sinewave was indeed poor as you said but it didn't have any problems
starting or running the pumps that I had available to test. I'd be
interested in knowing which ones you found that failed so I can avoid buying
them seeing I'm using these UPS units on my filters. I also tried a 1700AH
Smart UPS borrowed from the server room and to be honest I couldn't tell
much difference in performance, flow rate or noise from the pumps using one
UPS of the other. I guess if the impeller is dirty and partially clogged
there might be the chance that the inferior sinewave doesn't have the kick
to start the rotor turning but I haven't had this happen to me yet.


Giancarlo Podio

----- Original Message -----
  a.. To: aquatic-plants at actwin_com
  b.. Subject: Re: Colorado's Blizzard
  c.. From: Bill Wichers <billw at waveform_net>
  d.. Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 19:32:20 -0500


>about aquariums?  I simply wrapped the 28-gallon upstairs and prayed.  As
>of now all the fish seem okay, but it's the tank with a dozen cardinal
>tetras, and I hope they don't start giving up the ghost in the next days
>because of the stress.  That tank got as low as 68 degrees, and I added
>warm water at that point.  It never went lower.  I have 2 small tanks in

I don't think you'll have a problem with tetras at 68F. I've had tanks
down around there in the past when heaters have died and I've never had a
problem. I think you'd need to have gotten into the 50's to start having
serious problems.

BTW, it is dangerous to operate kerosene heaters indoors if they don't have
outdoor venting of the exhaust. There are various emissions that you don't
want to be breathing. Carbon monoxide is a big problem with them.

>I didn't worry much about toxins because of the plants, temperature seemed
>to be the big problem.  Now that it's all over I still can't think of how
>to be better prepared to handle this kind of situation for the
>aquariums.  Does anyone know of battery devices, etc.?  Are there efficient
>and non-harmful ways to add warm water?  I worried that to add water warm
>enough to help there was a danger of burning anything that was in the
>stream as I poured it in.

Another post mentioned a UPS, which is basically a battery backup system
normally sold for computers. These units work great for running small
devices like powerheads and air pumps, but you need a true sine wave output
to get the little powerheads and similar pumps to work. The only true-sine
UPS that I know of that is affordable is the SmartUPS series made by APC
(American Power Conversion). About $250 gets a small one. A UPS won't run
your heaters for very long though since the runtime of most UPSes at high
loads is only in the 7-15 minute range. As load decreases on the unit,
runtime increases non-linearly, so 1/2 load might actually give 3 times the
runtime. That's the reason UPSes are great for running tiny loads for long
periods. If you're curious, this phenomenon is due to the nature of the
discharge curve of rechargeable batteries.

The best solution to long-term power problems is to use a generator with an
automatic transfer switch (ATS), which will be in the several thousand
dollar range for a small (approx 7000 watt) unit. Home Depot and Costco
Wholesale have both had the Generac kits that include a natural gas /
propane fired generator and a 100 amp ATS and breaker panel for about $3000
for a 7000 watt unit. The kit is a good deal and is an excellent way to run
electrical devices during long power outages. The  7000 watt capacity can
easily run even many very large aquarium setups NORMALLY and INDEFINITELY,
with full lighting, heating and filtration. The unit can also support other
important household devices like your furnace, refrigerator, and of course
the computer you use to read the APD :-)

For brief interruptions you could put very hot, just below boiling, water
into glass jars CAREFULLY to prevent breakage (heat the jar then put the
water in, quick temperature changes can fracture glass). Float the jar in
your tank. The hot glass with very hot water in it won't be any different
than a hot glass outer envelope for an electric heater. The only real
difference is that you'll have to manually regulate the temperature of the
tank by taking the jar in and out and occasionally refilling it. This of
course assumes you have a way to make hot water without electrical power.
Gas cooktops and camp stoves are good ways to heat water with no
electricity -- camp stoves are self contained, and gas cooktops can usually
be lit with a match or lighter when electricity is not available to run the

I doubt that pouring hot water directly into your tank will be a problem as
long as you don't pour the hot water directly on your fish or plants. Water
is a very good conductor of heat and the hot water and tank water will
equalize temperatures very rapidly (seconds).