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Running Boiler During Power Outage



 
 
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  #1  
Old September 10th 11, 07:58 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.

Should electricity go out to the house during the winter, I could
certainly get by for a few days with flashlights and coolers as long as
there is heat. I have instructions for running the boiler manually, and
could connect a battery operated thermostat, but would prefer to run it
on a backup electrical connection if possible so I don't have to babysit
it in the dark.

There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.

The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort?

Is this just a quick project in the event of a major winter outage
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? I've done plenty of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.
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  #2  
Old September 10th 11, 09:04 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 9,216
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

On Sep 10, 6:58*pm, Selk Perkner wrote:
I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. *If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.

Should electricity go out to the house during the winter, I could
certainly get by for a few days with flashlights and coolers as long as
there is heat. *I have instructions for running the boiler manually, and
could connect a battery operated thermostat, but would prefer to run it
on a backup electrical connection if possible so I don't have to babysit
it in the dark. *

There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.

The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? *How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort? *

Is this just a quick project in the event of a major winter outage *
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? *I've done plenty of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.


The boiler, very little electricity is needed, even if it has a fan.
You need to asses other things too freezers, fridges lighting etc.
You really need a generator sized to around twice your actual load.

You also need to think of what arrangements you need to connect it to
the house without the danger of parallel operation with the mains.
Eg big change-over switch.

Also siting (noise/fumes) and fuel storage. Maintenance and test
running.
  #3  
Old September 10th 11, 09:07 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1,474
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

On 9/10/2011 1:58 PM, Selk Perkner wrote:
I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.

Should electricity go out to the house during the winter, I could
certainly get by for a few days with flashlights and coolers as long as
there is heat. I have instructions for running the boiler manually, and
could connect a battery operated thermostat, but would prefer to run it
on a backup electrical connection if possible so I don't have to babysit
it in the dark.

There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.

The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort?

Is this just a quick project in the event of a major winter outage
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? I've done plenty of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.


First, the thermostat doesn't use a separate power supply, it gets
whatever electricity it needs, through the boiler power supply. The type
of system you have probably requires very little current, but not
knowing the actual components involved, I couldn't tell if you could
back it up with a low voltage power source. The easiest way would be to
Install a switch in the 120 volt circuit that feeds the boiler, in
conjunction with a male plug wired to the switch. With the switch in one
position, the boiler would get it's power from the utility company
circuit. With the switch in the other position, the boiler would get
it's power from an alternate source that would be connected to the male
plug. You could use a very small generator, like 1000 watts, or even use
a battery backup pack, that delivers 120 volts AC.

  #4  
Old September 10th 11, 09:30 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1,397
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

In article ,
Selk Perkner wrote:

The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort?


you'd need to provide more info, ie model number and all those pesky rating
numbers, but as a guess you could do it with a battery, inverter and cutout
switch.

if you were going to use a generator to provide the electricity, it would be
easier to capture the waste heat instead of using your boiler
  #5  
Old September 10th 11, 09:33 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 2,030
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage


"RBM" wrote in message
...
On 9/10/2011 1:58 PM, Selk Perkner wrote:
I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.



There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.




First, the thermostat doesn't use a separate power supply, it gets
whatever electricity it needs, through the boiler power supply. The type
of system you have probably requires very little current, but not knowing
the actual components involved, I couldn't tell if you could back it up
with a low voltage power source. The easiest way would be to Install a
switch in the 120 volt circuit that feeds the boiler, in conjunction with
a male plug wired to the switch. With the switch in one position, the
boiler would get it's power from the utility company circuit. With the
switch in the other position, the boiler would get it's power from an
alternate source that would be connected to the male plug. You could use a
very small generator, like 1000 watts, or even use a battery backup pack,
that delivers 120 volts AC.


That would work. Can we also assume you have city water that is not
interrupted to feed the boiler?


  #6  
Old September 10th 11, 10:21 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1,069
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

On 9/10/2011 2:07 PM, RBM wrote:
On 9/10/2011 1:58 PM, Selk Perkner wrote:
I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.

Should electricity go out to the house during the winter, I could
certainly get by for a few days with flashlights and coolers as long as
there is heat. I have instructions for running the boiler manually, and
could connect a battery operated thermostat, but would prefer to run it
on a backup electrical connection if possible so I don't have to babysit
it in the dark.

There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.

The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort?

Is this just a quick project in the event of a major winter outage
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? I've done plenty of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.


First, the thermostat doesn't use a separate power supply, it gets
whatever electricity it needs, through the boiler power supply. The type
of system you have probably requires very little current, but not
knowing the actual components involved, I couldn't tell if you could
back it up with a low voltage power source. The easiest way would be to
Install a switch in the 120 volt circuit that feeds the boiler, in
conjunction with a male plug wired to the switch. With the switch in one
position, the boiler would get it's power from the utility company
circuit. With the switch in the other position, the boiler would get
it's power from an alternate source that would be connected to the male
plug. You could use a very small generator, like 1000 watts, or even use
a battery backup pack, that delivers 120 volts AC.



RBM, so glad to see that you still haunt this NG. I've always trusted
your electrical answers a bit better than some others.
  #7  
Old September 10th 11, 10:31 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,190
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

On Sep 10, 1:58*pm, Selk Perkner wrote:
I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. *If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.

Should electricity go out to the house during the winter, I could
certainly get by for a few days with flashlights and coolers as long as
there is heat. *I have instructions for running the boiler manually, and
could connect a battery operated thermostat, but would prefer to run it
on a backup electrical connection if possible so I don't have to babysit
it in the dark. *

There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.

The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? *How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort? *

Is this just a quick project in the event of a major winter outage *
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? *I've done plenty of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.


As far as I know, the steam boilers only require 24 VAC for the gas
valve to open. You should have a transformer inside the cavity of the
boiler.
If you could somehow get a 24 VAC transformer that you can run off
lets say a UPS, or a car inverter, you should be good to go.
  #8  
Old September 10th 11, 11:23 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,913
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

On 9/10/2011 1:58 PM, Selk Perkner wrote:
I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.

Should electricity go out to the house during the winter, I could
certainly get by for a few days with flashlights and coolers as long as
there is heat. I have instructions for running the boiler manually, and
could connect a battery operated thermostat, but would prefer to run it
on a backup electrical connection if possible so I don't have to babysit
it in the dark.


Good idea, most gas utilities won't even allow a manual bypass gas valve
for obvious reasons since it bypasses all safety devices.


There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.

The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort?


If it is just an old natural draft boiler without inducers or other
electrical loads a UPS would work. If you wanted an elegant solution
there are UPSs that can be hard wired. In that case you wouldn't have to
do anything to switch over since the UPS would do it for you.


Is this just a quick project in the event of a major winter outage
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? I've done plenty of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.


  #9  
Old September 10th 11, 11:49 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 10,563
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

If it's just a gas valve. He oughta be able to find the 110
VAC wires to the boiler. Shut off the breaker, and take the
wires apart at a junction box, and wire into there.

--
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
www.lds.org
..


"Mikepier" wrote in message
...

Is this just a quick project in the event of a major
winter outage
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get
the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? I've done plenty
of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and
switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better
than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.


As far as I know, the steam boilers only require 24 VAC for
the gas
valve to open. You should have a transformer inside the
cavity of the
boiler.
If you could somehow get a 24 VAC transformer that you can
run off
lets say a UPS, or a car inverter, you should be good to
go.


  #10  
Old September 11th 11, 12:06 AM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 6,405
Default Running Boiler During Power Outage

On Sep 10, 5:23*pm, George wrote:
On 9/10/2011 1:58 PM, Selk Perkner wrote:

I have an older Weil Mclain gas steam boiler for the radiators in my
house. *If the electricity goes out, it won't run -- I believe it needs
electricity to operate the gas valve, and the thermostat is also wired
into a circuit.


Should electricity go out to the house during the winter, I could
certainly get by for a few days with flashlights and coolers as long as
there is heat. *I have instructions for running the boiler manually, and
could connect a battery operated thermostat, but would prefer to run it
on a backup electrical connection if possible so I don't have to babysit
it in the dark.


Good idea, most gas utilities won't even allow a manual bypass gas valve
for obvious reasons since it bypasses all safety devices.



There is a single electical conduit running into the boiler which is
connected to a box with an on-off switch above the boiler, as well as a
line running from the thermostat.


The thermostat is obviously a straightforward job, but is it a
straightforward job to switch the power at the on-off switch from the
regular house current to a backup source? *How much capacity will this
backup need -- does it pretty much need to be a gas generator, or can I
get by with a battery backup of some sort?


If it is just an old natural draft boiler without inducers or other
electrical loads a UPS would work. If you wanted an elegant solution
there are UPSs that can be hard wired. In that case you wouldn't have to
do anything to switch over since the UPS would do it for you.





Is this just a quick project in the event of a major winter outage
(assuming I buy the parts ahead of time) or should I get the guy who
does the annual inspection do the work? *I've done plenty of basic
wiring like running cable for new outlets and lights and switches, so
I'm not intimidated by basic stuff, but also know better than to mess
with stuff beyond my pay grade.- Hide quoted text -


- Show quoted text -


I'd start by measuring how much current the boiler
actually draws. Then knowing that and how long
you want to be able to keep it running you can determine
if a UPS will fit your needs or if you need a generator.
The advantage to a generator would be that it can
last as long as you keep it fueled.

For about $400 you can get a 3 or 4KW generator.
They also have kits available for about $250 that will
convert it to run off of natural gas. That eliminates
the need for gas and gives you an unlimited supply
as long as the gas doesn't quit too.

If you go the generator route, I would look into a
solution from Interlockit. They have kits where you
can use a circuit breaker and their slide lock on
many existing panels. That together with an inlet
device would allow you to use an extension cord
to connect the generator when necessary and
power ANY loads in the house. You just have to
manage the loads so that you don't exceed the
generator capacity. That would allow you to run
refrigerators, lights, etc of your choice in addition
to the boiler. It's a simple modification and IMO
a lot better than figuring out how to rewire just
the boiler.
 




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