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Old 07-04-2003, 05:53 PM   #1
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Low Budget lighting for power outages

I have a planted tank and live in an area that experiences power outages at least once a month for several hours to a day at a time. I got to thinking, could I use an array of candles to light up the aquarium? Here's the plan: Place many unscented candles on a glass canopy with a home built gutter to drain the melted wax into a big can. Aluminum foil placed several inches above as a reflector (with holes poked in it to help dissipate some heat. If soot becomes a problem maybe i could use a mirror suspended above and wipe it clean occasionally. What I don't know is the color temperature in kelvin for a typical wax candle. Has anyone done this? Do you think it would stimulate photosynthesis? Thanks. Any help would be appreciated
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Old 07-04-2003, 05:57 PM   #2
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I don't think the light would be intense enough, or the right wavelengths. I think something along the lines of a battery backup would be better. Would you be able to rig your lights up to a car battery that kicks in when the power cuts out? I have seen such a product before, my uncle has one at his cabin.
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Old 07-04-2003, 06:03 PM   #3
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Well, one day without lights would not kill anything, but if it were like 3-7 days you might have problems.
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Old 07-04-2003, 06:12 PM   #4
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Yeah, I was worried about intensity myself. But I figured I could fit several hundred that might be sufficient. Does anyone know the conversion from candlepower to watts? BTW, I also am worried about heating during these outages. The only thing I could think of maybe is resting the tank on a bunch of those "hot seats" that hunters and sports fans use - but I have know idea if that would work. The only other thing would be maybe a couple of sterno cans placed at a safe distance underneath the tank. Again, any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.
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Old 07-04-2003, 06:27 PM   #5
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I think a generator would be money better spent. You could find a used one, and then you could save your refrigerator items in the bargain! That way you filter would keep running, too.
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Old 07-04-2003, 08:05 PM   #6
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there is always the DIY approach

http://theepicenter.com/tow02077.html

build yourself a small generator and use it like TG said to power your fridge and your tank(s)

a few hours a month of no power isn't going to break your tank though ... same thing for heat ... unless it gets very cold very fast in your house, the tank won't loose much heat over a few hour time period

if your power is out 18 hrs or more regularly, call your public service commision, or a local USDA (if you're a rural town USDA is your best friend) branch office and start complaining... this isn't iraq, no reason that places in the US should have repeated prolonged outages
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Old 07-04-2003, 08:22 PM   #7
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Very Interesting!
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Old 07-04-2003, 08:35 PM   #8
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Thank for all your ideas folks. Unfortunately I don't have the money for a generator or the resources to build one. Is there anyone who has used one of those "hot-seats" as I mentioned before in this post or know if it would work? Or even using sterno cans as I mentioned before? I need a solution that is really cheap. In the winter it gets cold fast during a power outage as my house is poorly insulated.
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Old 07-04-2003, 09:33 PM   #9
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geforce, how about a UPS system made for computers? Here's a link to one on compusa's site:
http://www.compusa.com/products/prod...633&pfp=BROWSE

These products allow your computer and monitor to run for a while after power loss to shut down your computer so you don't lose data. I would *guess* that the power needed to run a filter and heater would be much lower than required to run a computer, hence you should get some decent time for the power to come back. I can't believe your power goes out that much, are you up in the mountains or does your power company just suck?

Ryan
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Old 07-04-2003, 09:58 PM   #10
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Thanks for your reply Reberly. Unfortunately a UPS won't do - they only keep the computer going for 5-30 minutes depending on how big of one you get....and my lights are in the hundreds of watts range so that would drain even a decent UPS almost instantly. Maybe instead of hundreds of candles I could use a whole bunch of those chemical light sticks but I've only seen them give off green light. As for the heating...I don't have alot of money at all so thats why I am hoping that a bunch of hot-seats or sterno cans will work. I can't spend more than 20 bucks. The problem is - I don't understand how those hot-seats work. If you squeeze one between your hands you can feel heat. Thats why when you sit on them they keep your butt warm. But....do they only work on people and not on inamimate objects? Would sterno cans crack the glass bottom of my aquarium - those I guess are my real questions.
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Old 07-05-2003, 12:34 AM   #11
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I think you are referring to chemical hand warmer type devices. These work for a period of time after you activate the chemicals. I do think they would work great for a tank, as the water itself will hold heat for a period of time if it is insulated. Once you activate them I guess you would tape them around your tank or something and use towels over that, but if it is that cold what do you do to keep your own self warm? Do you have some kind of kerosene heater to keep your house warm in the event of power outtages? That is what we have used here in the past during a rare ice storm or cold-weather power outtage. They keep a room quite toasty, and would keep you and your tank warm at the same time. I really think you need to look into something to keep your filter running at the same time as your lights, because other than direct sunlight there are few options for re-creating the UV you need to keep your plants thriving, and if your tank's biofilter crashes from a lack of filtration your plants are the least of your worries. What kind of fish do you have? If this is a significant concern, maybe moving your tanks to a spot that receives direct sunlight would be an option for you, which is an easy way to keep your plants alive, provided you can control algae when you do have power.
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Old 07-05-2003, 01:47 AM   #12
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yea, a kerosene or propane heater would be a good idea

also, you could buy a 4x8 sheet of R36 high-density foam insulation, and cut it into panels that fit around your tank ... that should keep it warm for a long time, since water is an excellent "thermal mass", meaning it can store thermal energy for long periods of time

as far as lighting goes, I wouldn't worry about it ... plants won't die from lack of light that quickly

keeping your filter running should be your primary concern .... UPSs aren't a good solution because they're terribly inefficent, wasting a lot of power just to convert DC to AC ... what you really need is a DC pump, a deep cycle marine battery and a trickle charger

at K-Mart you can get a 1200 GPH submirseble bilge pump that runs off 12 volts DC, it's like $40 ... build that into your filtration system if possible, and then it will continue to run even when the power dies; the battery will run the pump for a long time, at least 12 hours, probably more if you get a good sized battery (200 amp or more) (should be another $30 or $40) ... finish the system with a trickle charger that maintains the battery while the power is on

the pump will also add heat to the water, reducing the rate of heat loss
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Old 07-05-2003, 04:25 PM   #13
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Thank you everyone for your suggestions. For now I will try the cheap route and duct tape hot-seats around the aquarium for heat during 1+ day power outages. I am going to make a WCA (Wax Candle Array) for lighting the tank for my plants during 1+ day power outages (since those chemical light sticks are expensive for the number I would need) and see how it goes. When I can afford a generator I will definitely get one.
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Old 07-05-2003, 06:58 PM   #14
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BTW, does anyone have any ideas for a low budget cooling method during summer power outages? Perhaps ice-packs duct taped to the glass. I've seen endothermic chemical packs at the hospital before that you shake and they get cold. Has anyone done something like this?
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Old 07-05-2003, 07:04 PM   #15
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well, this is a little simple. Try to look for a cheap battery powered lighting system. This would work good, but if you have outages so often, you would have to worry about buying new batterys. Maybe look for rechargable batterys. I dont know, lemme know if you try it
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Old 07-05-2003, 10:00 PM   #16
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i made a generator with 1 marine battery,1 power inverter500watt, 1 charger auto,1 extension cord. this system lasted for a week at 230watts. lights,pumps heater, i leave the extension cord by my tank,and my whole system converts to 1 plug in the wall. which means if power goes out i just unplug tank from wall to extension cord. inverter 49.00 walmart. i'm a fishing and boater so i had the battery and charger. the timers will run slow!
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Old 07-05-2003, 10:34 PM   #17
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check out the DIY section on the low cost chiller
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75gal oceanic with 20 gal refugium, 750g.p.h.pump for HSA-250 skimmer, EHEIM-1250 PUMP FOR 200gph mincal. calcium reactor with 20lb co2 tank and co2 regulator with solenoid, 800G.P.H. overflow box pump and filter, aquaclearl 500 power filter for circulation and carbon use only,wave maker 900, 3x300g.p.h., pinpoint ph controller, delta star 1/3hp chiller.with 600g.p.h. pump, spectrapure automatic liquid level controller for the addition of ro.di.top off water, kent marine 4 stage delux maxxima 35g.p.d. hi-s, t.d.s. monitor, flush kit, 170lbs live rock, 5in sand bed, acropora's LG green,pink, and med purple, LG montipora encrusting purple, LG porities coral yellow, LG ruffled ridge coral, LG starburst coral green, green hairy mushrooms 100+, blue mushrooms, red mush, fluorescent green mush,green striped mush, bubble coral, LG finger leather and 2in baby, green ricordia mush, in refugium halimeda plant, caulerpa, and lot's of bug's. 1 purple tang, male and female percular clown's, 1 yellow wrasse
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Old 07-05-2003, 10:43 PM   #18
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agreed --- batteries are the way to go ... even without an inverter, you could run a couple of 55 watt halogen headlights off a 200 amp battery for about 24 hours (if my math holds up?

200 amp deep cycle X 12 volts = 2400 watts / 110 watts halogen light = ~ 22 hours

plus halogen put out a lot of heat - should take care of your heating problem

daisy chain a pair of 200 amp batteries, and you can double your light wattage, or double your run time

55 watt bulb and socket cost around $12 at an automotive store - sans the socket and it's even cheaper, just solder some wires onto the bulbs terminals

and this setup will put out a lot more light than 1000's of candles could ever hope to produce ... even a single 20 watt mr16 bulb will puts out like 1000+ candle power

-----
(begin Rant)

the facts are facts ... there is no "dirt cheap" method of suppling emergency lighting / heat or filtration unless you happen to have some or all of the parts that are mentioned in other posts

troutman's DIY stand-by UPS is a great plan, and if you had a few of the parts like he mentioned, it's very inexpensive and effective

building a 500 watt gas generator out of $60 worth of parts is another great idea, if you've got access to what would otherwise be "junk"

creating light takes a LOT of energy, which has to come from somewhere - stored chemical energy in a parafin candle is insufficent to produce any PAR light (photosythetically active radation) ... besides, the color temperature is like 1800 kelvin, most of that light won't even penetrate water ...

maybe you have some 24 hour emergency candles that are made from very hard wax ... so you rig up something that uses 100 of those ... unless someone's giving them to you for free, that sounds expensive - and you only get one day's worth of use out of them ... plus with only 100 candle power, it might as well be moonlight for the plants, they're not going to photosynthisize with that little light ...

stored chemical energy in a battery is much more concentrated, and it's a LOT cheaper per unit then a candle ... a $30 marine battery can run a pair of 2 million candle power (~200 watts ea) floodlights for a few hours ... thats a LOT of candles ... and with a $15 battery charger, you can use the battery again and again and again ... and adjust your "run time" by selecting the quanity of light you need to produce (4 million candle power is way too much

investing in a 600 or 1000 amp marine battery and a good inverter (dc to ac converter) would give you enough power to run 100's of watts of lights, heaters and filters for at least 24 hours, probably longer - add a charger and you're looking at under $200 for a system that will last you for years

an inverter will reduce the run-time of your battery, but would let you use existing equipment

as far as using exothermic chemical hot pads ... the reusable kind are expensive ... plus how are you going to transfer the heat to water? glass is a very poor conductor of heat, taping these things to the sides of your tanks will result in most of the heat being carried off by air currents caused by convection, and if they get too hot, it could cause a seal to rupture on your tank because one 'pane' of glass is 30 degrees warmer then the others it's joined to

if these heat packs are water proof (even if they're not water proof, sealing them inside a few ziplock bags shoudl work), submerging them is your best bet, since they will transfer their heat directly to the water, and create a very mild water current as well due to convection

sorry for 'goin' off on ya ... but this candle thing is just crazy in my opinion

(End Rant)
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Old 07-06-2003, 10:04 AM   #19
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That's okay glmcell (for "going off" on me) because that's what I wanted to know. You gave me the info I needed about using candles for lighting. I just couldn't find any info on their PAR or color temperature. BTW, I have cases of candles at my disposal since my wife is a caterer. Anyway, as for the DIY chiller - the cold packs are endothermic - not exothermic. They are water proof so maybe I should submerge them. What I was thinking with duct-taping them to the glass was to then wrap Tyvek and insulation around the cold packs to keep the some of the cold from being released into the air.
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Old 07-06-2003, 11:16 AM   #20
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Your best bet to heat/cool the water is direct contact with the water. Even a heat pack in a ziplock bag that is ont void of air will have less effect than a heat pack in direct contact with the water. This is because air is a good form of insolation. Why else would they be selling those double pane and triple pane windows with the air chambers.

I dont think candles are the way to go since you cant really direct the light down into the tank. candles would have to be placed around the tank and most of the plants photosynthetic sensitive cells are going to be on the top of the leaves vs on the bottom or sides.
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