sump pump - best gas powered backup power source option

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by msb, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. msb

    msb New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Long story short:
    I built my home 4 years ago and have a full basement. The sump pump runs constatnly. I have had 2 (minor) floods aleady due to sump pump failure. I installed a triple stairstepped system - consisting of 2 electrics and a (pathetic) electric back-up. I have not flooded since although the 2nd electric saved me twice already - once when the primary float malfunctioned and once when the primary float's connector rusted through and the float was floating on the top of the water. I am finishing the basement now and want more security for power outages (the basement can flood in a matter of hours).

    I am looking at gas powered backup that comes on automatically when the main power fails. I only want enough power to run the sump - not the whole house. What is the best and most economical option for this? I have a friend who is a certified electrician and can do the install. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks
  2. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Location:
    New Hampshire
    An automated generator system will probably cost more than $2000; probably $3000 with professional installation. The Generac 7 kW versions are available at discount in the $2500 range and can be run on propane or NGas.

    You could set it up so it senses utility failure or flooding and just operates the pump. It will be more if you want it to automatically transfer the pump from utility power.

    You need enough fuel to run for the unattended period.

    If someone will be around, you could increase battery backup time with more batteries and use a manually started generator system for a lot less money.
  3. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I don't understand the "triple stairstepped system" part. Is my vision of 3 pumps at diferent levels correct?

    If so, then I would look into getting more water out from under the floor before getting a generator. IOWs get it out before it gets up to the floor. Or I would look into a french drain around the inside of the wall or into adding another sump and pump or 2, or 3, and then a propane generator for power outages. Actually generators are supposed to run for an hour or so every month, so I might use the geneator all the time if I could control the noise and exhaust.
  4. msb

    msb New Member

    Messages:
    4
    I'm a decent "do it yourselfer" but am way out of my "knowledge zone" here so bear with me:

    Is gasoline not suggested due to the fire hazard? One location possiblity for the generator was my minibarn where I store the rest of my fuel. Would this be an acceptable situation? If so, why not just get an "electric start" gas powered generator (with 1000-2000 watts) for around $700 and the conversion kit for around $150. Plus install, I was hoping to be in under $1300.

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2007
  5. msb

    msb New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Correct on the vision - 3 different levels. What is an IOW?


  6. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

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    Location:
    Alabama
    Recently on one of those DIY shows on t.v. they installed a back up sump pump which operates on the water supply. It worked like a vaccum cleaner using a venturi type system... wish I could recall enough details to explain it but it worked off the principle of moving water drawing in the water in the sump well. It is expensive to operate but it is intended to operate in emergency only and saves all the damage to the house.
  7. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    IOW = In Other Words

    The water powered sump pump would only work if you are on city water, if you are on a well, you're water power will be short lived.

    Rancher
  8. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    From your first post: I am looking at gas powered backup that comes on automatically when the main power fails.

    You can run gasoline.

    I was responding to your original posting that said you want something that comes on automatically when the power fails.

    Most of the small 1 to 2 kW systems don't have electric start. Most of the small electric start (typically available beginning around 5 to 7 kW) are not set up for automatic start.

    Automatic start requires something to sense loss of utility power (not difficult), and start the generator. Think of the things you do to start a generator.

    1. Make decision to start it. (That is the easy part.)
    2. Set the choke.
    3. Push switch to turn on the ignition. (Can be part of the detection relay.)
    4. Push the starter button.
    5. Decide when to let go, either because it starts or doesn't start.
    6. Repeat start cycle until it starts or until you try to find out why it won't start.
    7. If it starts, back off on the choke as it warms up.
    8. Apply motor load to the generator. You usually don't want to start the generator with the load connected.

    If you are going to be using a transfer switch to put the pump on generator after it has been on utility power, you will need an automatic system or a manual system that is approved by the utility company.

    The Generac that I am familiar with does all of those things. You still need to coordinate with the utility company if the pump is going to transfer from utility to generator power.

    If it is going to be unattended, you will need a larger fuel supply and an automatic system for filling a "day tank" on the generator.
  9. vaplumber

    vaplumber Guest

    Most auto start generators use propane because the small propane carbs dont need a choke or primer to start, and you can store propane almost for ever, but a tank full of gasoline will go stale in a few months. You can get gasoline generators with auto choke but if the auto choke is as dependable as the one on my lawn mower it could gum up and stick and burn out your battery and starter with out starting, and never mind that your basement floods any way!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2007
  10. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

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    Location:
    Alabama
    Rancher... right... you're up the creek if on a well... the water powered jet pump is only if you're on city water.
  11. jackofalltradesman

    jackofalltradesman New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Electronic sump switch

    See my post about the Wayne AU5ES Electronic sump switch.
    It is available at Ace Hardware or through sites like Pumpbiz.com (I think it is cheaper at Ace).

    I have a similar problem than yours being in a water table, but was able to >>>increase<<< the time between cycles by several minutes.
    I completely avoided any further issues with mechanical floats and switches which are less reliable.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2007
  12. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Why would you want to REDUCE the time between cycles? Most people want to INCREASE the time between cycles to reduce starts on the pump.

    It sounds like the Wayne AU5ES people have redefined a problem (too frequent starts) as a feature (short time between cycles).
  13. jackofalltradesman

    jackofalltradesman New Member

    Messages:
    22
    -----------------
    Sorry for the mistake. The electronic sump pump control greatly>>>INCREASES<<< the time between cycles. Which is useful to those like the OP who has constant water seeping from the drain tile into the sump, like I do. I can easily change the level of where the pump begins pumping without putting a brick under the pump and cutting and gluing the 1.5" pvc. Also, the switch is rated for thousands of additional cycles over any manual float switch and you can change it without getting wet.
    A better explanation of the switch than I provided is at pumpbiz which markets the product under a different name.
    http://www.pumpbiz.com/products/index.cfm?fuseaction=pump_model_detail&product_id=7686
  14. msb

    msb New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Awesome info

    Thanks guys. Learning a lot here. I'm definetely going with the Wayne AU5ES Electronic sump switch and possibly the Generac 7 kW. The system using water pressure doesn't seem like a great option at this point. What is a good battery back up that can handle a heavy load for several hours - and where can I get it?
  15. jackofalltradesman

    jackofalltradesman New Member

    Messages:
    22
    How many sump pits do you have?

    I have two pits. The main one is connected to the footing drain tile and then to a dedicated back-up pit.

    I now have a decent sump in the main pit ( a 3/4 h.p. Flotec) and a Big Dog AC/DC back-up sump in the over-flow pit.

    The Big Dog is not a very powerful pump, but I chose it because it operates both as an AC back-up pump in the event the main pump fails for any reason, as well as a DC pump in the event of a power failure. That kind of eliminated the need to have another AC pump.

    For long power outages I doubt any battery powered pump will do for longer than a few hours, but you can always get a second battery. A gasoline powered generator that you could light up yourself or, if you have the budget for it, an automatic Generac natural gas power back would be the best.

    I am still hoping someone digs a foundation lower than my footings somewhere or that the water table drops somehow. This is a tough problem to deal with and an expensive one in terms of energy consumption and equipment.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2007
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