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realypk

Need temp controller and probe advice

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Hi all, I need a decent heater controller that can handle up to 1000 watt heaters. Currently I have an https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01486LZ50/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and I'm not liking it because it allows a max deviation of temps, before unit turns on, of 1 degree f creating temp swings that go all the way from 77-79 degrees if I have it set at 78. Is there an inexpensive reliable solution that allows me to bring deviation down to .1 or .2 degrees? There are a lot of solutions, but i'm not willing to drop big $$ on a controller as i'm only gonna use temp functions.... Amazon would be preferred due to their fast shipping! Also the ability to calibrate the unit would be a huge plus as I have a very accurate temp probe i can calibrate it to. 

 

Would this unit be better? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01KMA6EAM/

 

Also on the temperature probes, to my knowledge the probes will rust over time, as stainless is just that stain "less" not unsustainable or rust proof. I've been told rust is bad for corals... should i wrap it in a small baggy of DI water and submerge them in the tank that way to ensure that any rust particulates not get into my tank? Will this affect the accuracy of the probe much? I figure the surrounding water should make a small baggy of water the same temp relatively quickly. Or could I maybe Plasti-dip the probe? Even better does any organization sell titanium temp probes?

 

Thanks!!

 

Edited by realypk

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My tank runs from 77-81 depending on the day. I have a 200 gallon tank and I run dual 250 watt eheims. 

 

Not sure why your worried about a 1 degree change. And what is the reason for 1000 watts of heating?  

 

Are sure you you need that much?  Seems like a waste of power. 

 

And i I run both my heaters on a Reef keeper lite. I know someone selling one on the forum for under $100. The probes don’t rust. 

Edited by epleeds

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I wouldn't worry about it.  Stainless steel rusts very, very little, and the heaters that are titanium coated don't rust at all.  

 

Besides, I think the granulated ferric oxide people run in reactors is, roughly speaking, rusted iron.

 

 

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I've never had the probes rust. They've either been titanium or completely sealed thermocouples. I've never used either of the two that you pointed to, however. I'm with epleeds on this: I'd look into whether, ultimately, you'll get better service out of an aquarium controller that can do multiple jobs for you. 

 

Some thoughts:

 

Adding more wattage will 

 

1) Bring your temperature up more quickly, possibly leading to higher overshoot of our target temperature; 

2) If implemented with multiple heaters, may give you some redundancy and protection against failure; 

3) Will demand more current if all are on at one time; and

4) Protect you better against severe chills in the ambient air (for example, if somebody left a window or door open in the winter).

 

Except for the higher cost of buying a bunch of heaters, it won't cost you or save you any money to operate because, while it's delivering heat more quickly, it's on less time (that is, it's delivering the same amount of heat total which will cost you the same overall).

 

I would not install a single 1000W heater. I'd much prefer to spread the load around between multiple heaters so I still have capacity when one fails. (I have Ebo Jagers and, over the last 7 years, none have failed.) 

 

Controlling temperature to 0.1 degree is probably going to be hard on the controlling circuitry as on-off control cycle will be short. For example, I control my tank with an Apex to hold temperature to within +/- 0.5 degrees (a 1-degree swing) staying within 76-77 degrees. With these settings, my heating cycle lasts around 6 hours. It takes about 3 hours to bring up from 76 to 77 and takes three hours to cool from 77 to 76. That means that my heaters turn on about 4 times a day and, in turn, the heater's glass envelope expands and contracts four times a day. If I were to adjust my set points to +/- 0.25 degrees, my cycle would be shortened to 3 hours and if I tried to control it to +/- 0.1 degrees, it would shorten to less than 30 minutes, leading to 48 heating-cooling cycles every day. 

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So I have a minimum temp controller rating of 1000 watts because I have 2 500 watt heaters for redundant backup. The old 300 watt eheim would not get tank temps above 76 degrees, I keep my house a nice breezy 69 year round. Problem with current controller is that 1 degree adjustments allows for a total of variance of 2 degrees, this means my temps shift from 77-79 degrees every 30-40 minutes creating more instability than some of my more finicky items like. (a few are noticeably stressed by the constant 2 degree swings) Hence I just need a simple temp controller that allows for 1/10-5/10 of degree programming/variance. I dont need a more advanced system as I have everything else pretty well regulated through normal means, ATO, smart wifi dosing, wifi lights, etc etc. I literally only need heat control and didn't want to invest in a more complex system that is overkill. I even have an high temp cutoff that cuts off heat if controller fails on.  I get that 1/10th may be hard... but i want to be able to have variance of no more than 1 degree I guess, 2 is just too vast. Currently I have 2 degree swings every half hour which is just really bad....

 

The Chicom stainless steel temp probes most definitely do rust very badly, initial signs after 3 months, fully rust encrusted within 12 months and unusable at 16 months. So i'm looking for either a temp probe that would fit that is either plastic or titanium to avoid future rust issues, otherwise thinking of my home jury rig idea, if anyone has replacement probes that would fit what i'm looking for that would be great. 

 

As far as ferric oxide i think it's a bit different as its already in that end state and nothing gets released into the water during the rusting process. 

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I use Eheims for reliability. I've been through various brands over time and one major recall of exploding heaters (a result that I was fortunate not to suffer). But I use three of them. A single 300W heater would not do the job for me. Two kept up as I recall.

 

I, too, keep my house at 69 during the winter, but raise it during the summer. I keep my tank cooler than you do, though: 1.5 degrees cooler. My basement (where the tank is) is probably warmer, too, than the main level of the house because, even though it's a walk-out, it's half underground. It's unusual (to me) that you're losing 2 degrees worth of heat in 30-40 minutes. But, then again, you're targeting a higher tank temperature and keep a cool house. This makes the delta-temp greater, and the greater the difference from ambient, the more rapid the initial decline. 

 

If you want tighter control from that other controller, go for it. I have no personal experience with that controller and having some feedback on that would be good to get. Especially as it pertains to reliability and control/stability. For a little while I used a Ranco controller - a bunch of us in the hobby did. It was made for the HVAC world and had similar specifications to what you're using today (1-degree resolution on the set points). We used it because it was considered more reliable than the bimetallic strips used in the heaters and we used it because it was isolated from the aquarium controller (that is, if the controller went down, our thermal control wouldn't follow). I abandoned the Ranco approach when it failed on me and my Apex continued to chug along more reliably. I don't recall having any issues with rust on the Ranco probe.

 

The ferric oxide comment that Jon made was to the apparent safety of it in our tanks since it's also used as a phosphate remover in reactors and flow-through media bags.

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@orgami I'll let you know how the new controller works see if its an improvement. Question would you say that rust (knowing that the probes im using will eventually rust, is not a big worry? I was just concerned that rust would kill some of the corals, inverts or anemones. 

Edited by realypk

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Great. I look forward to hearing about it. Please keep us updated as to its performance, reliability, etc. over time. That's all good, useful data for other people who might use it or something similar later on.

 

Regular iron rust is not a big worry from the standpoint of having a negative impact on your tank. There's not enough of it that will come from a probe to be a concern. That doesn't mean that it doesn't raise concerns about the ultimate, long-term reliability on the probe itself as it will eventually fail if it rusts through.

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Yea, replacements are pretty cheap under 10$ just wish something existed that is more permanent... totally makes sense happy to share so others dont have to wonder. But overall the current inkbird i'm using works but not great.

Edited by realypk

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If maintaining the temperature is your main concern, I would look at a chiller. Our aquarium heaters are more designed to achieve a specific temperature but “generally” would have a couple degrees temperature drift.  Chillers are more designed to maintain a desired temperature.  The downside to them are: they use more energy, have higher initial purchase cost, and would affect ambient temperature.  The plus side is is an extremely stable temperature all year round with only 1 device (as opposed to fan in summer and heater in winter).

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2 hours ago, DFR said:

If maintaining the temperature is your main concern, I would look at a chiller. Our aquarium heaters are more designed to achieve a specific temperature but “generally” would have a couple degrees temperature drift.  Chillers are more designed to maintain a desired temperature.  The downside to them are: they use more energy, have higher initial purchase cost, and would affect ambient temperature.  The plus side is is an extremely stable temperature all year round with only 1 device (as opposed to fan in summer and heater in winter).

His approach does not use the integrated thermostat (the bimetallic strip) in the heater. He's using an external device that has a separate thermocouple and user-selectable set points to turn power on and off to the heater. In these cases, the heater is actually set to a temperature slightly above your target tank temperature so that, when the external temperature controller applies power, the heater comes on.

 

There are way too many issue with those bimetallic strips failing.... Heaters are one of the weakest points in our systems.

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Yes, I agree as I also opted for a similar heater that is controlled by my apex to alleviate those issues.  It just seemed like a chiller may have been a better option for this application mostly due to tighter tolerance. I get cost was also mentioned, so maybe something to plan towards if the new controller doesn’t perform as desired :) .

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5 hours ago, DFR said:

Yes, I agree as I also opted for a similar heater that is controlled by my apex to alleviate those issues.  It just seemed like a chiller may have been a better option for this application mostly due to tighter tolerance. I get cost was also mentioned, so maybe something to plan towards if the new controller doesn’t perform as desired :) .

Understood. But a chiller would not be a good choice in this situation.

 

First, his requirements are improved resolution and heating. Cost and/or simplicity may to be another factor.

 

Most chillers are for cooling only. Some in the hobby only have 1 degree resolution, too. Tighter tolerances might be possible, but would lead to a lot of cycling on the compressor which would significantly shorten its life (and compressors are the heart of a chiller). But the new controller that he's pointed to above has 0.1 degree resolution (though it's unclear how far apart the setpoints can be set; at least one reviewer says that the minimum temperature difference (range) is 0.1 degree), which is more than sufficient to meet his requirements.

 

Additionally, a chiller is far from efficient and is costly. They operate using the principle of cooling by gas expansion and the thermal efficiency of generating the energy required to compress the gas,  and to transfer (remove) the heat from the water one is lossy - I'm guessing it's probably less than 80% efficient.

 

On first blush, it's surprising to a lot of aquarists to learn that a resistive heater is very, very close to 100% efficient. That is, almost all of the energy in is converted to heat that, because the unit is submerged, has nowhere to go except in the water.

 

So, a chiller costs a lot from both acquisition cost to operating cost. For strictly a heating challenge, a dedicated controller would be a much better and more economical selection. An aquarium controller would be a more expensive, more general purpose device meeting requirements, and giving him more capability (that, for now, he doesn't believe he needs). 

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You are right, just did a quick research on available aquarium chillers.  Of the top 5 shown from 2018, only 1 was noted for having heating capabilities.  Hard to believe how far behind the aquarium hobby still is.  

A little background: I was given a lab grade chiller at a past job after an upgrade we made.  This unit maintained the water to a 1/10 or 2/10 a degree C (which roughly equals 0.2-0.4 degrees F) and had both heating and cooling capabilities. Now this unit must’ve had at least 5 years on it at that point. I ended up breaking down my systems ~7-8 years ago after my daughter was born, and in the process I practically give away everything. Looking at these hobby grade units almost makes me wish I kept the chiller.

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42 minutes ago, DFR said:

You are right, just did a quick research on available aquarium chillers.  Of the top 5 shown from 2018, only 1 was noted for having heating capabilities.  Hard to believe how far behind the aquarium hobby still is.  

A little background: I was given a lab grade chiller at a past job after an upgrade we made.  This unit maintained the water to a 1/10 or 2/10 a degree C (which roughly equals 0.2-0.4 degrees F) and had both heating and cooling capabilities. Now this unit must’ve had at least 5 years on it at that point. I ended up breaking down my systems ~7-8 years ago after my daughter was born, and in the process I practically give away everything. Looking at these hobby grade units almost makes me wish I kept the chiller.

Sounds like a nice chiller! Years ago, I was fortunate enough to stumble across a guy online who came into a bunch of lab-grade, top-end Masterflex pumps that listed at something like $1600 each, including the EZLoad heads. He really didn't know much about them and we organized a group buy here to pick a bunch up at about 7% of list. To this day, I still have two of them - one in use and one in reserve. 

 

I ran a chiller on a small 30-gallon setup once a while back - in my wife's home office. It did fine, but heated the room. (It had to dump the heat somewhere.) In that sense it was even more costly to operate. Not only did I have to pay additional for the conversion inefficiency, I heated the room which, in turn, probably added heat right back into the tank. Meanwhile, my HVAC had to work to pull the rest of the added heat out of the house which, along with its efficiency factor, cost me even more.

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Hey guys, 

 

So yea I considered a chiller and decided it was likely not going to be needed seeing as 69-71 is the warmest my house ever gets regardless of month in year. And researching aquarium chiller costs and costs to operate and noise considerations I'm almost thinking my house AC bill may end up being the cheaper and more comfortable solution for me in the long run anyways!!! haha

 

Review of bayite Temperature Controller 1650W BTC211

Regardless of that the new device came in and so far color me very impressed, it was a breeze to set up, unlpugged the old, plugged in the new and it fired up my 500w finnex heaters without any issues and allowed .1 deg f variance adjustments no problems, surprisingly it even came rather calibrated and only needed a .2 degree f adjustment. It was easier to set up than the inkbird, capable of handling 1300w, and even has alarm options. The unit is also rather quiet with a barley audible click when it powers on the heater elements quieter than the running T5's so no issue there. I set the point of heating to 78.5 and allowed a .2 variance for a total of .4 degree total shift. It would have allowed me to set .1 variance at minimum for a total of .2 degree if I so choose but I'm gonna see how this works for now. 

 

Below is a comparison of previous unit vs current unit and by using seneye which has been calibrated to exact temps.

 

image.png.5159666023dbc2b387010663842267fe.png

 

Overall, this unit is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to use, and feels more robust and is laden with features. It's 30$ more expensive than the inkbird unit but well worth every dollar as long as it lasts a while. I'll give an update if everything is still working as expected in a few months and when/if it ever fails. If I don't update after my 3 month check in expect it's still working as expected! I also picked up a replacement probe for 10$ incase the one that came with it rusts. This is actually a huge benefit of this unit as the other unit's probe was hardwired and this unit has a 3.5mm jack that allows quick swap of temp probes. 

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Great initial impressions! Thank you for sharing them.

 

By the way, does the unit use mechanical or solid state relays to switch the AC?

 

We have a Product Reviews forum. Rather than my splitting off your last post, would you mind re-posting your product review there? Then, as time goes on, maybe you can update the review so we get added information regarding performance over time, longevity, etc.?

 

Thanks again!

 

 

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