Kind Code:

A natural or propane gas fed auxiliary electric generating system is brought to actuation to continue operating the pump in a residential, office building or motel/hotel environment whose boiler operates from the natural gas or propane fed source in the event the electric power otherwise operating the pump is lost or falls below a predetermined threshold.

Brandt, Richard F. (Little Silver, NJ, US)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24D3/00; F24D19/00
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Other References:
GENERAC Guardian Owner's Manual, from Wayback Machine, March 17, 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20060317083705/http://www.guardiangenerators.com/products/guardian_manuals.asp
THE GUARDIAN SCENARIO Brochure, from Wayback Machine, March 17, 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20060317083705/http://www.guardiangenerators.com/products/guardian_manuals.asp
Guardian Manuals download page from Wayback Machine, March 17, 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20060317083705/http://www.guardiangenerators.com/products/guardian_manuals.asp
Guardian Owner's Manual, Norwall PowerSystems website, March 22, 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20060317102234/http://www.norwall.com/GPS%20brochures.htm
Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tong, Rea, Bentley & Kim LLC (Eatontown, NJ, US)
I claim:

1. A residential, office building or hotel/motel structure hot water heating system comprising: a natural gas or propane fed hot water boiler or furnace heater; an electrically operated pump coupled to said heater for circulating heated water throughout said structure; and an auxiliary generator coupled to the natural gas or propane feed lines for said heater to continue to operate said pump upon the detection of electric power supplied to said pump from electrical supply lines connected to said structure being below a predetermined threshold.

2. The hot water heating system of claim 1, also including a battery energizing source of power to switch said auxiliary generator to an operating mode upon detection of the supplied electrical power being below said predetermined threshold.

3. The hot water heating system of claim 2 wherein said battery energizing source switches said auxiliary generator to an operating mode upon detection of a loss of electrical power supplied to said pump.

4. The hot water heating system of claim 2 wherein said pump distributes circulating water through one of hot water tubing or baseboard units of said structure.



A Provisional Patent Application covering the invention described herein was filed Apr. 12, 2007, and assigned Ser. No. 60/922,984.


Research and development of this invention and Application have not been federally sponsored, and no rights are given under any Federal program.




1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to hot water heating systems operative with natural gas or propane fed boilers or furnaces, in general, and to the continued operation of such heating systems in the event electric power fails.

2. Description of the Related Art

As is well known and understood, houses may have one of several types of heating systems. Typically, they range from blowing hot air through ductwork to piping hot water through the floor. As with most all equipments, these different heating systems have both advantages and disadvantages:

a) Forced air heating and cooling systems employ furnaces to heat air in a furnace through the use of natural gas, propane, oil or electricity—and distribute the air from the furnace through ductwork and into rooms by registers. Advantages include that the air may be filtered, that the air may be humidified, that the air may be dehumidified, that it is generally inexpensive, and that it is the only distribution method that can be used for cooling. Its disadvantages, on the other hand, include that it requires ductwork and takes up space in the walls, that the furnace fan can often be heard, and that the air requires filtration and regular maintenance.

b) Radiant heating systems distribute heat via hot water tubing embedded in the floor or directly below the floor surface. Working through the process of radiation, the fuel sources might include heating stoves employing wood or coal, and hot water boilers powered by natural gas, propane, oil or electricity. Among its advantages are the comfortable and even heat provided—especially from boilers which can be energy efficient—, while among its disadvantages would be its generally expensive installation cost and its slow heat-up cycle.

c) Hot water baseboard systems utilize hot water heated by a boiler to heat a space by a combination of radiation and convection. Fueled by natural gas, propane, oil or electricity, the hot water heated by the boiler is piped to “fin-tube” baseboard units mounted along walls, with the fins increasing the surface area of heat dissipation to make the unit more efficient. Hydronic systems of this type are energy efficient, and quiet—but they provide a slow temperature increase and the baseboard radiation/convection units should remain unobstructed. The placement of the units with respect to furniture and draperies then needs to be considered.

d) Steam radiant heating systems are not oftentimes used today as they are characterized by cast iron upright radiators which are unsightly, although the heat radiation is both efficient and warms spaces quickly.

As is also well known and understood, when boilers are employed as the heating plant to provide radiant or baseboard heating, they can be small, compact, energy efficient and of low maintenance. When used to provide of the steam radiating heating, the boilers are more complex, having special gauge glass, pressure gauges, blow-off valves and automatic feeds.

As will be appreciated, moreover, where the fuel source for these boilers is electric in nature, problems arise if electric power is lost during a storm or just as a result of a fault somewhere in the electric transmission grid. While this may cause an inconvenience if the fault occurs during a warmer weather season, a significant problem may arise if it happens during very cold weather, especially for lengthy intervals. Generally, one can get by without lights and without electricity for television, but not without heat where temperatures fall and water pipes might freeze.


As will become clear from the following description, the present invention comprises a natural or propane gas fed auxiliary electric generating system brought to actuation upon electric power being lost.


The present invention will be more clearly understood from a consideration of the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawing which illustrates, in FIG. 1, the manner in which the auxiliary heating systems continues to operate.


In those systems which employ radiant heat or circulating hot water baseboard heating, loss of electricity in the house will be understood to shut down the pump which distributes the circulating water through the hot water tubing, on the one hand, and to the “fin-tube” baseboard units on the other hand. Where the boiler is fueled by natural gas or propane, the apparatus of the invention envisions the inclusion of a small gas or propane fired generator to control and turn on the pump. Such auxiliary generator would be provided with on-board batteries and a printed electronic circuit board having input controls configured to start the auxiliary generator warming up upon recognition that electrical power inputs to its contacts were lost. Coupling the generator to the natural gas or propane line would keep the generator running, and continue to pump the hot water through the house until the electric power comes back on and the circuit board controls revert to their quiescent condition.

With the natural gas or propane heating source already available in the house, the system of the invention could be used without the alternative employment of a gasoline powered auxiliary generator—and its associated problems of gasoline odor, fuse controls and gasoline storage. The auxiliary generator of the invention, as will be understood by those skilled in the art, can be an OEM item built into the boiler, or an after-market unit purchasable by an HVAC contractor who can then install it. Being of a size tailored to the boiler with which it is working, once installed, essentially there is nothing further to have to worry about in the operation of the auxiliary generator, other than to replace its on-board batteries at prescribed intervals. The problem of “venting” is not present as it would be with a gasoline powered auxiliary generator, as the generator of the invention could just be vented up the chimney, or could be mounted outside.

All that is required is to set up the electronic circuitry of the switch control so that the auxiliary generator kicks on in actuating the water pump when the electric power is lost. Furthermore, the circuitry can be set to accomplish this only when temperatures fall below a threshold set for operation to begin—and configured to remain inactive during such times as any main emergency power switch at the location is intentionally shut off. And, as will be appreciated, the auxiliary electric generating system of the invention would find particular use where the water pipes feeding the radiant heat system and the hot water baseboard heating system traverses through crawl spaces and/or the insides of the outer walls of the house where the temperatures in the winter are that much colder.

While the invention has particular usefulness in the context of a residential house environment, it will be appreciated that its teachings are equally applicable in heating constructions for office buildings and hotels/motels. All that is required is the presence of the natural gas or propane source fueling the boiler, to then be able to kick-start the auxiliary generator to operate the pump should the electric power in the building be lost.

And, whereas the invention has been particularly described in the context of a radiant or hot water baseboard heating system employing an electrically powered boiler, its applicability to activate the fan in an electrically powered forced air heating furnace system will be understood as well. All that is needed is the presence of the natural gas or propane source for the auxiliary generator to kick on the pump upon detection of the electric power being lost.

FIG. 1 of the Drawing shows the natural gas or propane fed boiler as reference numeral 10, the pump which distributes the circulating water as reference numeral 12, and the auxiliary generator as the reference numeral 14. In accordance with the invention, the pump 12 becomes actuated by the auxiliary generator 14 only when the battery operated switch control of the generator (shown as reference numeral 16) is closed, in recognition of the absence of electrical power at its input terminals (shown by the reference numeral 18). When the electric power is lost (or falls below a predetermined threshold, for example), the hot water heated by the natural gas or propane in the boiler continues to be pumped through the hot water tubing and/or to the baseboard units through the continued action of the pump under control of the auxiliary generator. When the electric power is present, or returns to its normal level, the auxiliary generator 14 remains in a “standby” mode, to be later brought into operation, when needed, under control of its appropriate electronic switch circuitry 16 and battery 20.

While there has been described what is considered to be preferred embodiment of the present invention, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications can be made without departing from the scope of the teachings herein. For at least such reason, therefore, resort should be had to the claims appended hereto for a true understanding of the scope of the invention.