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Old 04-12-2017, 02:53 PM   #1
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Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


Hi All,

We are in the process of building our first house with a basement. I talked with one of the city engineers, and he stated that the area did not have any water table issues, but that the Storm Sewer height is higher than the basement drainage tiles, so they are routing that to a Sump Pit, and pumping it out.

I was looking at a few different battery back-up pumps, specifically ones from Basement Watchdog and Zoeller. Those models don't quite seem as heavy duty as a standard pump. So, my question is (provided there is enough space in the pit), can I have 2 standard pumps in the pit, with the secondary one maybe set up on a few bricks a few higher?

I could then take that 2nd one and hook it up to something like a UPS to power it in case of a power outage. Or maybe there is some sort of other type of battery backup that would output AC instead of DC power.

Anybody have any thoughts on this? Any positives or negatives? My family is extremely paranoid about flooding basements, and we want to take every precautionary measure to prevent flooding. Unfortunately, most new homes in the area are built on basements, and they just don't seem to want to build a slab.
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Old 04-12-2017, 03:59 PM   #2
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


No reason you can't make your own hybrid/back up system. Seems well enough reasoned to me.

You will probably do fine with a good deep cycle battery and inverter vs. a UPS back up as well.
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:21 PM   #3
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


Yes you can do this but it isn't trivial.

Motors have very high starting current so whatever inverter you select it has to be able to supply this high inrush current and not simply be sized for the average current or wattage of the motor. You should also be mindful of its conversion efficiency at the rated load to be sure you aren't losing too much power to thermal losses, i.e. the power is going to the pump motor.

You need a good charger for the battery to avoid electrolyte boil off. I recommend a marine grade "smart" charger that operates in bulk/absorption/float modes as needed to keep battery in full charge. These aren't cheap but you get what you pay for.

Expect to change the battery every 2-3 years. Back up sump pumps aren't set it and forget it technology. You have to do routine maintenance. Check electrolyte level in battery, top up with distilled water as required. Keep a specific gravity tester nearby to test each cell from time to time. And lastly run the pump occasionally. At least each quarter go to the pump in a rainstorm and disconnect the primary pump and wait around for the back up to work. Make sure it works through a few cycles then reconnect the primary. An untested backup is likely to fail when you need it most.

I use an Zoeller 585-0005 Aquanot II pump that is 12VDC and high capacity. I pair it with as large a deep cycle I can buy (just a deep cycle from Walmart) and a Xantrex TRUECharge 10A charger. Saved my basement a few times when heavy rains overwhelmed my primary pump and when we had a power fail. At least two $10,000 floods were avoided.... So this isn't an area to get too frugal about.

I also go a bit further by having a remote controlled light and internet camera pointed in my sump. I can check my basement sump from anywhere on the globe.
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Old 04-12-2017, 05:53 PM   #4
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CuriousB, thanks for all that info! It is much appreciated! I've got a lot to consider I guess. Not closing till July, so I've got some time!

Thanks again!
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:17 PM   #5
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


You can also get a water detector that links to a smartphone. Our daughter installed one after a pump failure. They have a very shallow sump so mounted the 'receiver' to the baseboard right at the floor. I suppose you could figure out a mount to the sump wall near the top.
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:39 PM   #6
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


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Originally Posted by lenaitch View Post
You can also get a water detector that links to a smartphone. Our daughter installed one after a pump failure. They have a very shallow sump so mounted the 'receiver' to the baseboard right at the floor. I suppose you could figure out a mount to the sump wall near the top.
Hmm....I'd bet that probably wasn't too cheap...on the other hand...I'd be curious if I could set up a Raspberry Pi Zero W up as a webserver and write something to notify me....That could be a fun project!!! (Software Dev here...so my computer skills are slightly better than my Handyman skills!)
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:37 PM   #7
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


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Originally Posted by curiousB View Post
I use an Zoeller 585-0005 Aquanot II pump that is 12VDC and high capacity.
I also go a bit further by having a remote controlled light and internet camera pointed in my sump. I can check my basement sump from anywhere on the globe.
2 Questions.

1.) How in the world do I edit a post? Not seeing a button for that anywhere!!
2.) Why did you chose the Aquanot 585 over the 508? They seem like radically different designs. Are there specific instances where one would work better than the other?

Thanks again everyone for the input!
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:40 PM   #8
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


Well, the S-in-L is a computer nerd but 'tighter than bark to a tree' so I'm guessing it wasn't too expensive. I can check if you want. The 'receiver' has 2 small metals probes on the bottom and is connected to a low voltage transformer at an outlet so I'm guessing it is a fairly simple continuity circuit that is completed by the water. It sends either an email or text to his phone.

Edit - The 'edit' button is there for I think 30 minutes or so after you post. Beyond that you are SOL.
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Old 04-13-2017, 07:51 AM   #9
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


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Originally Posted by pezman726 View Post

2.) Why did you chose the Aquanot 585 over the 508? They seem like radically different designs. Are there specific instances where one would work better than the other?



I bought my pump in 1998 when I finished my basement. Zoeller only had the Aquanot pedestal style pump back then but it came with two different charger options. It was a bad charger design back then and caused battery to burn off the electrolyte leading to premature battery failure. So a few years later I added the smart charger. Has worked flawlessly for 15+ years.

There are lots of backup pump options. I feel some of them are almost toys with low capacity pumps. Do your research and pick a backup pump with similar pump characteristics to your primary pump. All reputable vendors will have a flow vs head chart in the data. If they don't just discard that brand.

Also I run my pumps with a dedicated line out of the building for each. I do not tie them together with a wye fitting. Perhaps overkill but for a few $ of pipe and fittings I keep the systems independent and in the case both pumps run, they aren't fighting each other with back pressure.
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Old 04-13-2017, 08:01 AM   #10
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Re: Can I Use a standard Sump Pump as a Battery Backup?


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Originally Posted by pezman726 View Post
Hmm....I'd bet that probably wasn't too cheap...on the other hand...I'd be curious if I could set up a Raspberry Pi Zero W up as a webserver and write something to notify me....That could be a fun project!!! (Software Dev here...so my computer skills are slightly better than my Handyman skills!)


You should look into Vera HA given your skill set. You can use it as is for home automation, on/off, cameras, monitor.... But if you are a coder you can really go crazy and write your own plug ins and scripts in LUUP. I am controlling about 20 on/off switches, 1 deadbolt lock, 8 dimmers, 7 cameras, two thermostats, and a few monitors (temp, humidity, power). I'm not a strong coder so I just have a couple very simple scripts.
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