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Old 08-30-2006, 09:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Quality Regulator vs. pH Controller / Monitor

I walked into my LFS yesterday, and saw one of the most beautiful tanks i've ever seen. So after drooling over the plants for a while I start inspecting this guys equipment. Good filter, TONS of light (used a pinkish colored bulb mixed in), but then i look at his CO2 setup... He's got a very simple looking regulator with a bubble counter, and then a controller. Ok so far so good.

I get to talking with the guy who owns the place and maintains the planted tank, he's telling me all about the great CO2 setup he's got. He tells me that his regulator is by far the best part of the system - it cost him around $400-$600. He was really pushing this setup and trying to get me to buy a whole setup from him. I've never heard of a regulator for planted tank purposes costing more than $220 (Which i only saw at another store where everything was excessively marked up).

So with all that said, my question is this: Given that you are using a quality pH controller / monitor that you recalibrate regularly, what is the benefit of a top notch regulator vs. say the Milwaukee MA957 Regulator (a perfectly adequate regulator IMO)?

I'm thinking that as long as you've adjusted the flow according to a bubble counter, and your pH monitor is well calibrated- why spend money on an expensive regulator. Less leakage with more xpensive regulators?? I'm all ears.

I also read over this thread to see if anyone had previously discussed this...
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Old 08-30-2006, 10:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Go to an industrial gas supply for your regulator. You will get a better product at only a slightly more expensive price than the JBJ, Milwuakee style kits. You will have to find the adapters and needle valve yourself though. There is no doubt that there are much better, much more stable regulators available than those cheap ones used in most store bought kits. Buying one of the good ones from a fish guy is kind of silly, especially at those prices.

For example, I purchased a BlueShield regulator from Air Liquide up here in Canada. It cost me $100CAN for the regulator, and another $50 or so for the needle valve, a low pressure regulator (optional), and the associated adapters. I got the needle valve, lpr, and adapters all from rex grigg.
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Old 08-30-2006, 10:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Benefits of a Pricey "better" regulator:

1) Solenoid may last longer than the all in one combos. Some (few) reported a broken solenoid after a few years. Others have reported continous postive use with the All in one combos for years.

2) Better pieced together regulator may have a better needle valve to control fine bubble output

Overall, to me it's all the same. I haven't had any issues with any of my Milwaukee and Azoo regulators on timers. The CO2 output needs to be watched and adjusted with the needle valve over a few days in the beginning, and ocassionally once a month to service, but they works very well for me.

-John N.
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Old 08-30-2006, 10:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Definitely good advice, thanks Quaid. I've actually already purchased a regulator, which I'm fine with. My query is more related to whether or not quality in regulators makes a BIG difference when you're using a pH controller / monitor. And if so, why and how much? Then make a quantitative dollar estimate from that answer and see if that somehow adds up to a $600 regulator this guy from the LFS was talking about.
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Old 08-30-2006, 12:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Don't forget the prestige factor... some people just like to be able to tell others about their $500 regulators, etc.
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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A very high end dual stage gas regulator will run you about $150-$200 from a welding shop.

After that you have around ~50-$100 in solenoid and needle/metering valve.

I buy beer regulators to build all my regulators. They work just fine.
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