Battery Backup Systems for Pumps – Do they work?
About 20 years ago (yes I have been at this for a long time) a client asked me to install a battery backup system. As we were new to this service work, we just finished a year of being one of the select few that purchased a CCTV camera to use as a tool to determine causes of flooding. Not too many companies owned these, let alone a new drainage company. I was heckled (more about that on a later post). I was excited to install a battery backup system. It was a great idea. Power goes out, battery is used to power up a pump and dewater a house. Plain and simple.
I purchased one at the local plumbing wholesaler. The box was pretty light. I am used to installing good quality pumps like “FE Myers”, “Zoeller” and “Liberty” brand pumps. Cast iron housing with commercial grade impellers and proper connections. They are heavy.
The box I opened had a plastic pump, something similar to my 6 year-old’s outdoor kiddie pool pump. It also came with a 12 volt car battery that would pump for maybe a few hrs before running out of power.
I wondered how this pump, along with the power required, was going to pump 80 gallons per minute (gpm) up 24 vertical feet. The packaging looked good, and there was a great sales pitch about these. How was this little plastic pump going to perform like the engineered design pump system that was installed at this house? Well, without going into details, there is no way possible that this battery system was going to replace what was designed. Specifications say that these, on average, can pump 23 gallons per minute at a maximum total head of 10 feet!
I told my client that I couldn’t knowingly install this pump backup system as it wouldn’t do anything during a power outage, other than fool my client into a false sense of security. He was adamant that this was what he wanted. I gave the system to him, didn’t charge for it and left. He called me two years later, the day after his first power outage. He flooded.
With over 500 pump station installations over the last 20 years, the total homes that could use one of these backup systems is ….ZERO.
Please understand that a backup system is what it should be, a backup system. Something that actually acts like what is installed. If you go to a house fire, you use a fire hose. You wouldn’t hook up a garden hose. That pretty much sums up the difference with your currently installed, engineer designed, pump system and a battery backup system.
Please call if you would like more details on installing a proper emergency backup generator or battery backup system. Use your existing pumps to pump what they are designed to pump, and modify how those pumps are supplied with 24-7 power. We are an authorized Cummins Dealer for home standby generators and can size a system that meets the needs of your pumps and other vital circuits. New commercial and off-grid battery systems can run some pump systems, but for short periods of times.
Next read about how residential pump stations are designed, and why do you need good quality and properly chosen pumps in one of our other blog posts.