55 Gallon Tank Wanting A Backup Power Option

  • #1
Question: I am wanting a new/backup option for my 55 gallon tank. Would a regular car battery work to run 1 air pump, 1 lighr bar, 1 heater and 2 filters? My husband had the grand idea to use a regular normal truck battery to run my tanks power. Our light bill is through the roof and we are trying to think of ways to lower the bill. I have 2 tanks. My 10 gallon will stay as is, but my 55 gallon has way more running parts to it and he thinks, it's running up our electricity bill. Would a car battery work? If so, what type of battery would need to be used.
  • #2
I've never hear of somebody doing this so can't help but normally 1 or 2 low tech tank shouldn't increase the power bill by much
86 ssinit
  • #3
No a battery won’t work unless it’s being charged. The battery will go dead in about 2-5hrs. 2 tanks shouldn’t be much on your electric. Like everything else electric bill are going up. Do you have led lighting?
  • #4
Running the A/C less will make a much bigger dent in an electric bill.
  • #5
2 tanks are not going to make a big electricity dump. Everyones electricity is going up.
  • #6
You can get a power or wattage meter fairly cheap. Sometimes libraries or your power company lend them out.
It can tell you how much wattage your filter or heater is using.

With that, you'll have ammunition to back your argument. ;)
  • #7
I used to have several saltwater tanks with high-intensity lighting to maintain corals, clams, anemones, etc. I also had some very large submersible pumps circulating water. My electric bill went up over $100 a month. I no longer do saltwater. That was only one of the reasons.

Freshwater aquariums do not need as much light or water flow as marine tanks.

While you could use a battery and inverter to provide emergency backup power, that is far less efficient that just using mains power to operate your devices. In an emergency, you could use a gas powered generator, but that is not all that efficient either.

Years ago I had power go out for several days due to an ice storm that took down the power lines. I took water from the tank and heated it on a gas stove to keep the water from getting too cold. I also removed water from the tank and poured it back to oxygenate the water. I opened the window blinds to let in a much light as possible. I did not lose a single fish during the outage.
  • #8
I have a solar backup system setup for my fish room
It's 4 100ah batteries and 4 100 watt solar panels.

It can run the hang on back filters and air pumps for all my tanks indefinitely.

However, lights and heaters draw such high amperage that it doesn't take long to drain the batteries.

I mainly use mine to keep the air pumps running on sponge filters at least one per tank. This way if I have an outage and I'm away, there is air and some filtration.

When the power kicks back in the canisters, sump pump, other air pumps, and HOBs pick up where they left off.

To add heaters to the mix on the order of 1500 watts for my tanks, I'd need to triple the batteries and panels.$$$

  • #9
So as an option to *lower* power bills on the mains you definitely would need to go solar, wind/thermal. If powered by the mains exclusively; If you ran an inverter behind a bank of battery's that are constantly kept charged/conditioned as a *back up* you would actually use more power as there are power losses every time electricity is transferred from ac-dc or has a step up-down in voltage.

As far as what's required for back up power; common 55s have a ~200 watt heater, ~22 watts of mechanical filter, ~60 watts of led light bar if planted/~30 watts led if not planted, ~7 watts auxiliary air.

The heater will run a 15-20% duty cycle (on/off time) if the temperature in the home is close, but if it's a winter storm and the house loses heat, it may get up over 80% duty cycle. The heater will use ~20 amp hours/hour at full duty cycle if looking at 12v batteries as a power source. The expected power usage true would be about 5-15 amp hour/hour based on weather, with peak current draw near 20 amps.

The rest of the equipment if planted led would use ~120 watts during the light cycle, ~60 watts during the night cycle. 60 watts is roughly 7 amp hour/hour after loses, or 14 amp hour/hour during light cycle. Combine this with the heater in a cool housea and you have ~30 amp hour/hour for all your equipment.

U1 deep cycle batteries (The medium sized batteries people use commonly for high amp, low duty cycle tasks ie trolling motors or solar lights) are usually 30-35 amp hour. This is handy as it will tell us right away, during your day cycle with the heater at 50%, you would deplete ~one of these batteries every hour.

Aiming for an 8 hour power outage you would need:
All equipment on: 240amp hour (8 batteries).
Just the filters/pumps: 56 amp hour (2 batteries).

This math is also handy for calculation of solar to run the tank, if we add more loss for the battery charger, we can look at 35 amp hour solar systems, this is about 425 watts, if you expect ideal placement and 10 hours of charging time that is going to increase the requirement to near 1000 watts to actually run the gear while charging the day after a depletion ( you will also need to add more/larger batteries for the 14 hour vs 8 hour run time). I think I could set up a nice system that size for $1,200-$1,800 + batteries, the total would likely come out in the $3,000-$5,000 range if we wire everything nicely and don't leave hazards laying about.

That math is a bit intimidating to my wallet (and it has been done here a few times) so I settled for running on the mains primary 24/7, I have a rack of charged trolling (u1) batteries in the garage (my boys and I are avid fisherman) and a 5,000 watt (8500 peak) generator in the trailer. If we lose power we set up a few trolling batteries in parallel and a 200 watt inverter on just the pumps; this runs my fish room 8-10 hours. Everyone in my house is capable of carrying a u1 battery, but if required we also have a few marine starting batteries we can toss on. If it's winter, or extreme summer either my home needs a little heat, or the fridge needs some cold so we roll the generator out for anything long enough to cause issues, it powers all the tanks equipment and heaters plus a couple freezers or a heater.

Tldr, a couple u1 batteries on a maintenance charger and a little power inverter in the closet can run your pumps and keep your fish alive all night. Trying to run heaters and lights gets crazy, and none of this is going to "save" money. Though if a tank goes stagnant during an outage and you lose a couple thousand (not all tanks are stocked equally) in fish/stock you could consider that a mitigating factor in savings.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
No a battery won’t work unless it’s being charged. The battery will go dead in about 2-5hrs. 2 tanks shouldn’t be much on your electric. Like everything else electric bill are going up. Do you have led lighting?
Yes both tanks have LEDs
Running the A/C less will make a much bigger dent in an electric bill.
That's not an option. It's been between 98-115 here so we need the ac lol

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