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Now, you bring up a good point! I forgot about the height difference. Yes, the storage tank will be in fact higher than the display tank itself; however, they are on the same ground level - the storage bin will just be taller to accommodate space. The hose from the pump inside the tank will snake up and down along the barrel and along the floor and eventually up again into the display tank. Will all the high nooks and crannies still induce a siphon effect? Or it doesn't matter as long as one is higher than the other?

I chose to work with the relays because I don't really have a clear idea of how the float valve works. And yes I agree with you on the potential of clogging the overflow, but it's going to be an inch or two higher than the water line, so no water drains through unless it continues to flow past the float sensors. Are the float valves you speak of the same as in this kit? http://www.aquahub.com/store/product26.html

If I'm understanding you correctly, instead of relying on relays, the float valves can also electronically shut off the pump in the water storage bin.

So if I use a float valve to control the water levels in the storage tank, then I can forgo the relay all together? Would I still have to use a solenoid between the cold water and line and the RO filter?

As for the plumbing of the drains, there is an old unused bathroom with a shower drain not far from the tank and I'm simply going to have the drainage hoses for the overflows directly above those drains. Thus I am neither piping the waste water directly into my house's septic system or outside the house for that matter. It would be no different from someone taking a shower in there. :D

Looking at the picture I almost wonder if you should have a relay & float switches at all in the tank. If you connected a thinner tube to the pump in the water storage bin than the tube that sits in your tank connected to the draining pump #1 (in the picture) your tank would drain faster (1-2 minutes) down to the level of the #1 pump. The storage bin pump (connected to the same timer as the #1 pump) would also be on at the same time, however, it would not take 1-2 minutes to fill the tank but much longer since the tube is much thinner. This setup removes the need for a relay at all in the entire system and uses only 1 timer which also removes one more step that could go wrong, resulting in a safer system that costs less. You would need to put the #1 pump at 50% of the tank's height so that it only drains 50% of the water (it would still be on for a few minutes longer spinning in the air while the 2nd pump in the storage bin fills the tank). This idea is technically a continuous flow system, but since the incoming water fills much slower than the draining water you will be quite efficient about it, not mixing very much new and old water.
If I'm understanding your proposal here correctly, then instead of two timed events (one for draining and then one for filling), you're suggesting that both the draining pump and the filling pump be hooked up to a dual timer. The drain pump will drain the water quickly and the filling pump will fill more slower with the thinner tubing at the same time. How will the tank be refilled to normal levels if the drain pump also continues to run while its being filled? :confused:

If I chose to keep the draining and refilling part separately timed, is there anyway of avoiding the use of relays? I want the system to do this: when the water level reaches X, something tells the pump to shutoff. Can float valves serve that purpose?

And I assume replacing the relays with the float valves will automatically keep the water levels in the storage tank constant while its filling the tank?

So float valves > relays?
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Not a problem, I love aquarium related discussions. There never seems to be enough on the forums for me!

As for the siphoning effect, yes it will definitely occur. If the tube is full of water from one end to the other at any point it will begin to siphon even if the difference is tiny. A float valve will stop additional water from entering a container when the water touches it, it is not electronic though, purely mechanical. A float valve works by having a floating hard plastic plastic balloon held underneath an opening where water comes out. Then when the water level in the container rises the balloon floats on top and eventually is pressed upwards sealing off the opening where new water comes in. They use them everywhere even in your toilet to prevent overflowing. They are quite reliable and very cheap. I bought mine off ebay for about 10-15$ shipped. I'll post a picture at the end of the thread so you can see what they look like.

The kit you linked does not have float valves in it. There are only float switches (sensors) included in there.

The float valves should be connected to the RO part of the system and to the tank where fresh water enters. The float valves will automatically prevent water from flowing through when the level reaches the valve itself. You don't need to electronically control any solenoids or pumps with relays.

How will the tank be refilled to normal levels if the drain pump also continues to run while its being filled?
Haha, you are quite right! Two timers are needed. I'll chalk it up to replying when its past my bed time :)

Still though be aware that if the incoming water timer/pump does not turn on you'll have a half filled tank where the discus have 50% of the water they did before until you notice it. If the drain pump timer breaks you'll have no water changes at all because the float valve and the relay (if you are going to use it) will both prevent the pump in the storage bin from turning on. But you will think the water change system is working properly. The tank will just top itself up as evaporation brings the level of the water down past the valve/sensors.

If you used float valves I don't see the need for relays at all, perhaps only for redundancy to have another layer of protection in the filling the aquarium part. The RO relay and solenoid is unnecessary.

The only reason I have solenoids at all in my system is because I tapped the house water supply. There is no way for me to control when the fresh water goes on an off with a timer without adding solenoids. Your system on the other hand stores water in a bin where you have a pump that can be electronically controlled without solenoids. This gives you more options.

I drew a picture of what I'm thinking.



As soon as timer 1 goes off, pump 1 drains the tank to 50%. This causes float valve 1 to open making it possible for new water to enter the tank when pump 2 triggers.

Timer 2 triggers pump 2. Since float valve 1 is now in the open position fresh water can enter the tank until the water level in the tank causes float 1 to seal itself, preventing new water from entering the tank.

While pump 2 is active the water line in the storage bin is going down, which causes float valve 2 to open, allowing the RO unit to refill the storage bin. When the storage bin is full float valve 2 will prevent any more RO water from filling the storage bin.



This is one of the float valves I use. The black plastic hinge in the middle is where water enters the tank if the balloon on the left is not being pushed up by the water level.
 

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I actually opened up my toilet chamber to see how the ball valve worked. hahaha. :D It's quite ingenious really; I thought the float, itself, might have been too weak to hold back the water, but you're right! It's surprisingly reliable.

Looking at your diagram, I, too, don't see the need to purchase a single relay or solenoid now. Less equipment and less cost with the same functionality as an end result is a win-win in my book.

I will also be using a saddle valve to tap into the water line; would the float valve be enough to stop the constant flow of water from the RO unit? I'm assuming the pressure from the water after the saddle valve is hardly negligible, but thought I should just put it out there.

I'm not too worried about the incoming water timer/pump malfunctioning. It will be easier to spot since the tank water will be lower than its supposed to be. Actually, I don't think it should be a problem though. As you've mentioned before, there's always a siphon in the tubing between pump #2 and float valve #1, so if water is drained in the main tank, it doesn't matter if the pump doesn't work. The water will still automatically siphon from the storage tank, until the point where the water levels are the same between both tanks. Now that I think about it, the filling process can rely entirely on the siphon effect alone because the water storage tank will also be refilling itself when float valve #2 senses a drop in the water level. The pump only serves to speed up the refilling process and as a backup if the siphon ever gets broken.

If the drain pump malfunctions, then in essence, the system would become a continuous overflow system, since the water will continue to rise until it hits the overflow. It won't be as I designed it to be, but it would still be doing what I intended it to do by changing the water. I won't spot it as quickly, but eventually this can also be fixed when its time to do maintenance on the tanks.

Can you see if there was another redundancy I might have missed?

Based on your modifications, here are the chain of events as I'm understanding it:

1. Pump #1 drains the tank according to the timer, opening float valve #1.

2. With float valve #1 opened, the display tank will begin to fill back up via the siphon and the timed pump. This causes float valve #2 to drop.

3. With float valve #2 opened, water from the RO unit will refill the storage tank until it closes again.

Does this sound correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
I used saddle valves in my original design but they are not very reliable. I've talked to several people (plumbers) and they all say they are not good long term solutions. The ones I used occasionally dripped despite having been tightly secured on the house lines. If possible you should try hook up the system without using saddle valves. The boiler at my house was recently replaced, so I had the opportunity to add in two new threaded valves coming out the top of the boiler. I went to the hardware store and bought fittings that all thread into the valve to replace the saddle valves I originally had.

I'm also not sure that the house's water pressure will be high enough to run your RO system. Mine was not so I had to buy a booster pump off ebay for about $90. Have you got the RO system up and running or are you still in the planning phase?

Float valves all have ratings for what kind of pressure they can handle. The ones I bought can take over 100 psi if I remember right. I think most float valves can take quite a lot before failing, probably more than your house's water system can supply.

The water won't be a continuous overflow because the float valve will shut off the siphon/pump in the storage bin. So the tank will just top itself up from evaporation without changing any water. The float valve should be placed below the overflow's opening since the overflow is only for emergency draining. Also, be sure that you test the system out once you make it. So manually hold the float valve in the open position and let the water be pumped into the fish tank at max pump 2 speed. You want to be sure that the overflow is large enough to constantly drain all the water that pump 2 can put into the fish tank if something goes wrong.

Yes your description of the events sounds right.

Can you see if there was another redundancy I might have missed?
Not sure what you mean exactly.
 

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Everything is still in the planning phase.

Thanks for the headsup on the saddle valves. I took a picture of the water lines I will be using.


The threaded tubing seems to be attached via a nut that can be unscrewed, so it looks like I might have the option of adding some kind of fitting where I can tee off a smaller tubing size to the RO filter. Is there a fitting that would allow the storage tank to be refill automatically as planned? What kind of fittings did you use? And how did you incorporate the booster pump into your current design?

In my response to your message here:
Still though be aware that if the incoming water timer/pump does not turn on you'll have a half filled tank where the discus have 50% of the water they did before until you notice it. If the drain pump timer breaks you'll have no water changes at all because the float valve and the relay (if you are going to use it) will both prevent the pump in the storage bin from turning on. But you will think the water change system is working properly. The tank will just top itself up as evaporation brings the level of the water down past the valve/sensors.
Yes, the float is going to be placed below the overflow.

You mentioned that if the storage tank pump breaks, then there would only be 50% of the water level in the display tank. I imagined there would always be a siphon in the tubing from the storage tank to the float valve in the tank. So even if the pump didn't work, wouldn't the decreased water levels allow the float valve in the display tank to top the tank until it was restored to normal levels.

And I see. In the event the drain pump broke, then the water storage tank wouldn't be able to pump water into the tank because the closed float valve in the display tank would prevent that.

Sorry if my question was worded ackwardly. I guess you can chalk that up to late night excursions also? haha

What I meant to say was there any potential flaw in the design I might have overlooked or needed to address?
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Ahh yes you are lucky since you have faucet fittings to work with. I had a simple copper pipe coming out the top of the boiler. The fittings I used were from home depot. I used lots of small ice maker fittings (the ones that fit on 1/8" plastic tubing). I'll try take a picture of the setup when I next get home.

Is there a fitting that would allow the storage tank to be refill automatically as planned? What kind of fittings did you use?
My storage bin is a plastic food grade barrel. I drilled a hole in the plastic and screwed the float valve into the hole. The fittings for securing the 1/8" plastic tube from my RO system to the float valve came with the float valve. Just make sure that when you buy the float valve you are buying the correct diameter one. I saw 1/4", 1/8", 1/2" float valves for sale on ebay.

As for the booster, it is placed before the RO system. So fresh water from your house goes to the booster pump then to your RO system. It is an inline pump that increases the water pressure dramatically. I can't remember the exact numbers but for RO systems to work efficiently they need at least 100 psi. Some people's house water pump can put out this kind of pressure but a lot can't. My house pressure is 50-60 psi so I had to buy the booster. You might get lucky. Be sure to buy an RO system that has a pressure gauge attached otherwise you'll be in the dark as to whether you need a booster or not.

When I posted that about the 50% full I was assuming you still wanted to use the relays, so if the relay and solenoid between the tank and storage bin broke then the solenoid would keep the water off despite the float valve being open. But it looks like you won't be using relays so ignore that bit :)

Haha, yeah its easy to get caught up in the details with this kind of project, lots of tubes/devices/places where things can go wrong and get confusing.

As far as the overall design. I think things are pretty well protected. Everything has a fail safe on it so floods should be extremely unlikely unless a pipe bursts or springs a leak.



Possible outcomes:
If pump 1 or timer 1 fail then no water changes occur. No flood risk.
If float valve 1 fails then you have the overflow to prevent floods.
If pump 2 or timer 2 fail then your tank simply tops itself up via siphon. No flood risk.
If float valve 2 fails then you have the overflow to prevent flooding the storage bin.
A power outage will not cause a flood since the float valves prevent water from moving around and the pumps are not moving water around.

The only time you might have issues with flooding is if both the float valve and the overflow fail at the same time. If you make the overflow wide enough this shouldn't occur unless a discus dies and blocks it somehow. Maybe you could add a few bits of wire around the top of the overflow to ensure any dead fish or plant material can't block the opening.

I suppose you could always design another 3rd layer of protection by incorporating solenoids and water sensors but I think that might be overkill.

Actually, on second thought, I think you need to figure out a way of preventing pump 1 from siphoning the tank into the drain. Either have the tube going up and emptying above the rim of the tank or you need to drain it into a second overflow. You could connect the drainage tube to a second overflow (separate from the emergency overflow) so the drainage tube is continuous with #1 in the diagram below. Note, the white part of the tube on the right is filled with air and has a black hole drilled in the top. This part sits at the waterline on the outside of the tank.

 

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It's funny you mentioned the need to prevent pump 1 from siphoning the tank to the drain.

Today, I started working on the system by assembling the pump, hoses and fittings from the tank to the drain and found a stupid simple way to prevent exactly what you just mentioned.

Once it was setup, I decided to test run it and found out the pump was only needed to start a siphon from the tank to the drain. Once the siphon started, I could turn off the pump and the siphon will continue, albeit slower. When the water level decreased to the level where the pump was, the siphon automatically broke because it started sucking in air and voila! Problem solved! :party: No burning pump I might have to worry about, no extra work or parts. Just physics at work! I would have to make sure the pump is at a level where it would still leave a sufficient amount of water for the fish to swim in. And I will probably only time it long enough for the pump to start the siphon, so maybe a minute or two.

Quote:
Is there a fitting that would allow the storage tank to be refill automatically as planned? What kind of fittings did you use?
My storage bin is a plastic food grade barrel. I drilled a hole in the plastic and screwed the float valve into the hole. The fittings for securing the 1/8" plastic tube from my RO system to the float valve came with the float valve. Just make sure that when you buy the float valve you are buying the correct diameter one. I saw 1/4", 1/8", 1/2" float valves for sale on ebay.
Oh and curse my sentence syntax, but I meant is there a fitting for the faucet connection that would still allow water to flow freely without me having to turn those faucets? I know a lot of people who install RO filters also use those kind of screw on fittings, but would it still allow the float valves and booster pump to draw water as needed automatically?

I think for the most part, I have almost everything planned out with the exception for the faucet connection to the RO filter. From the looks and sound of it, I think I have enough fail safes for emergencies. There's always going to be someone around the place, so I don't think it will be too much a problem if anything pops up.

So here's a shopping list I made:

  1. 2x Float valves
  2. RO filter with pressure gauge
  3. Water storage tank
  4. Proper fittings for the RO filter-Faucet connection
  5. Booster pump (if needed after finding out the PSI of my cold water line)

That looks about complete doesn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Convinient! Physics helps out again.

Yes that looks like the list of everything you need.

As far as the fittings, the RO unit should come with fittings that connect to standard faucet threads.

You won't have to turn on and off the faucet every time. Just leave it always on. The float valve will shut off the water filling up the storage bin and the back pressure it generates prevents water flowing through the RO unit.

I'm looking forwards to seeing pics.
 

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So I went ahead to get a filter and I settled on the dual RO/DI system that Aqua-safe systems sells. It comes with a TDS meter, a pressure gauge and a float valve for the storage tank. Here's a link if anyone is interested:http://www.aquasafecanada.com/store/aquarium-ro-di-systems/aquarium-ii-dual-ro-di-system (Please remove it, if commercial links are not allowed.) The only thing I still need is a float valve for the display tank, since their float valve needs to be installed via drilling through the side.

I asked the manager whether a boosting pump was necessary and I got this interesting tidbit of information.

me: Yes, that made sense. Thanks. What about PSI requirements? Someone bought to my attention that my household's PSI might not be enough to actually push water through the filter as most households operate under a certain PSI. Would a boosting pump be necessitated with this system?

Mgr: well... If you have lower then 45psi (which if your on city suply) is unlikely as most psi from city or municipalities are above 50psi. Are you on a well? If lower then 45 you will most likely need a pump

me: No, I live in NYC, so I'm on a city supply.

Mgr: your good to go then

me: Great, so the minimum PSI to run this system is 50 psi?

Mgr: yeah... 45 psi at the lowest...

Thoughts Michael?
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 · (Edited)
Well, technically that is correct it will function at 45 psi, but it won't be efficient from what I remember. You need at least 65 psi from what I've read around the internet for decent functioning of the pump. Say if you buy a 100 gallon per day filter and you have low pressure at 45 psi you'll get way less than 100 gpd out of the machine (maybe 80 gpd?). Also your waste water % will be higher.

RO units don't turn all incoming water into RO water, they basically filter out the minerals in the water by shoving them into the waste water. The higher the incoming pressure is the less waste water is made.

I bought this 6 stage RO/DI system a few years ago and have been very happy with it from ebay, total cost was about the same as the site you linked so either look like good buys. I linked some info below since I found it useful when I was researching RO systems.

AQUARIUM RO 2DI REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM 1 $132.00
Garden Laundry hose adapter connector for RO DI System ................1 $8.00
TDS Water Quality Meter Tester Monitor RO DI System ..................... 1 $24.00
DI Resin Refill Bag De-mineralized De-Ionization Filter ........................1 $18.00
Shipping ........................................................................................... $4
Total: $186

From http://stores.ebay.com/filterdirectstore

Model: RD-102

6-stage 100gal/day Reverse Osmosis Water System+2DI filters (stand alone unit, no drinking faucet, no pressure tank) + Bonus Pressure Gauge

This system is a 6-stage 100 gallon per day reverse osmosis + 2DI filter system with single outputs (mainly for Aquarium and Reef).

* Note: 100 gallons per day capacity is the maximum production rate of the system, actual production rate depends on input pressure and temperature. For example, at 65psi and 60 degrees the system makes 100 gallons per day or about 3 gallons per hour. Lower input pressure and temperature would decrease production rate.
Here is a chart he had on the filter description, so it looks like its most efficient at pressures above 70 psi not 100 psi like I stated previously. I think my booster pump is putting out 90-100 psi but I will haven't seen it in a while so I might be miss remembering, but even so it is still better than having low pressure.



I got my float valve off ebay since they had a good selection of valves and I found one that wouldn't be too big to fit in the tank.
 

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That chart is really a nice visual. Using that chart, it appears the system will work, albeit not as efficiently because you are correct in that aspect. A lower PSI will undoubtedly produce less GPD than the advertised amount.

When I get the system up and running, I'll report back with actual numbers on the PSI. But in the meantime, let's say the PSI was indeed low, what about the use of a flow restrictor to force the system to produce more water by controlling the ratio of the waste water? The manager also mentioned this flow restrictor (http://www.aquasafecanada.com/store/water-filtration-parts-accessories/ez-flush-flow-restrictor) was included along with the system.

Other than more stress on the actual filtering units themselves, you see any potential adverse effects resulting from its use?

Edit: By the way, does the size of the float valve matter? I'm planning to get this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/MINI-Adjust...all_Kitchen_Appliances_US&hash=item1e68e51796.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Hmm I've never really looked into flow restrictors. What do they do? The description seems to be talking about using it to increase the psi to 700 to clean off calcium from the RO membrane?

The valve you linked is rated a bit too low I think. The pressure rating is 0.6 MPA which is 87.022 PSI. Meaning if your water pressure goes above that it can force the valve open even if the valve is completely underwater.

Better go with a slightly larger valve something that can handle at least 120 psi, if not 150 psi. I think the size of the float is directly related to the amount of psi it can stop.

Also, the one you linked is a variable control valve (see the steel screw?) this is good. Make sure you buy a valve that you can adjust the level on, otherwise positioning it perfectly by drilling your storage bin will be a nightmare.

Also, the link you posted for the RO unit seems to come with a storage tank of 4 gallons? You won't need that, see if removing it will reduce the cost of the system/shipping.

Have you decided on what you are going to use for the storage bin? I looked on craigslist and found 2 x 55 gallon plastic food grade drums for maybe $40 each, then I tapped them together to make a 110 gallon storage reservoir.
 

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Hmm I've never really looked into flow restrictors. What do they do? The description seems to be talking about using it to increase the psi to 700 to clean off calcium from the RO membrane?
I'm not terribly sure either. I'm just going to quote what the manager told me:

the great thing is that you have 100% control over the discharge water ratios of the system which means that you can apply more flow restriction then normal if need be to force the system to produce
I already placed the order for the system; and yes, I selected the option of having that storage tank subtracted from the total. It comes with a pressure gauge, TDS meter and a float valve for the storage tank. I'll need to look around for the display tank's float valve.

The problem with the storage tank is that I'm going to be putting it into a rather small space, so I needed it to be under 20 inches diameter-wise. I searched around to compare prices and I settled on this, although I haven't placed the order yet. http://www.plastic-mart.com/product/7966/45-gallon-vertical-bulk-storage-tank-tc1851ic

It's small diameter, yet tall height, is perfect my needs. I looked into buying separate tanks to drill together, but decided against it because of the ultimate space constraints and labor involved. But for everyone else, the sky is your limit in deciding what to use for storing water.

Once I get all the equipment and finish assembling the entire system, I can do a cost tally of what my system costs in relation to other variations on this system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Here are the plumbing fittings that I will use when I get a chance to hook them up with the main plumbing. The brass connector at the bottom will be soldered onto a standard size copper pipe, and then the copper pipe will be attached to standard thread that will connect with my house's main water supply.



Here are the two 55g plastic water storage bins for RO/DI water. I connected them together at the bottom and made a T connection so I can fill buckets of water up when I want to. The bin on the right is the one connected to the RO machine. It fills up and then because of the tubing connection at the bottom it fills up the 2nd bin on the left. The second bin is elevated 2-3 inches so it can never overflow as the rim of the bin is above the 1st bin. Also the bin on the right (attached to the RO unit) sits in a washing machine water catch basin which is connected to my drain tub in case the float valve ever breaks the 1st tub will overflow into the drain system.

The plastic white pipe above the tub is what I use to pump water out of the bins into my tanks.

Sorry for the dark picture, the light bulb blew and I didn't have a replacement.

 

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Just a caution to anyone doing a connection to the water in the house:
Make sure there is absolutely no way that contaminated water can back up into the house plumbing. Use appropriate anti-siphon devices to isolate your aquarium systems.
 

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Here are the plumbing fittings that I will use when I get a chance to hook them up with the main plumbing. The brass connector at the bottom will be soldered onto a standard size copper pipe, and then the copper pipe will be attached to standard thread that will connect with my house's main water supply.



Here are the two 55g plastic water storage bins for RO/DI water. I connected them together at the bottom and made a T connection so I can fill buckets of water up when I want to. The bin on the right is the one connected to the RO machine. It fills up and then because of the tubing connection at the bottom it fills up the 2nd bin on the left. The second bin is elevated 2-3 inches so it can never overflow as the rim of the bin is above the 1st bin. Also the bin on the right (attached to the RO unit) sits in a washing machine water catch basin which is connected to my drain tub in case the float valve ever breaks the 1st tub will overflow into the drain system.

The plastic white pipe above the tub is what I use to pump water out of the bins into my tanks.

Sorry for the dark picture, the light bulb blew and I didn't have a replacement.

It's good to see your setup. I'm assuming the only reason you created that complex fitting was because you couldn't work with faucet fittings right? So you're pretty much just grafting that modded pipe into the house's main supply line?

So all in all, your storage tank system holds about 110 gallon of distilled water? In this case, your emergency overflow would be the elevated position of the bins and your washing machine's catch basin.

Is the water transferred to your tanks via a pump, controlled by float valves, like in my case?

I like your modification to the tank that allows you the option to fill up a bucket. I'll probably do the same.

Here are some updates on my build. I still haven't acquired all the necessary parts, plus I realized I needed to get some tools like a dremel and diamond drill bit for the overflow and plumbing.

Here's the RO/DI filter itself:



Here's the adapter tee to the cold water line fittings. It's a combination of a extension tee, with a delrin sleeve/insert and a compression nut. Once it's screwed on properly and tightly, it works like a charm.



After it goes through the eighth stage of filtration, the filtered water exits in two ways; one, it goes to faucet for drinking water in the kitchen (left side) and the other side goes to the aquarium water storage tank with the float valve (right side).



Here's how the setup looks underneath the sink. I drilled a hole above the doors to snake out any tubing. The orange colored tubing is the waste water line, which will be configured to be right next to the drain nearby.




This is an accurate schematic straight from the aquasafe site. http://www.aquasafecanada.com/store/aquarium-ro-di-systems/aquarium-ii-dual-ro-di-system



I already have both of the float valves; the left one is going to be easier to mount vertically, so that's going into the display tank. The right one will be going into the storage tank, as it's configuration is suited for a bulkhead-style setup.



Updated to get list:
  • Storage tank
  • Bulkhead fittings and miscallenous plumbing
  • Dremel
  • Diamond drill bit
 

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Some updates on the system build.

I managed to drill the hole for the emergency overflow. For future reference, do not use a cordless drill. It took nearly 2-3 hours for me to finish because I had to recharge it several times to get the RPM I wanted.

Here's the tank during the drill process. The livestock were fine during the process and had no problem afterwards from using the water to cool the drill bit. Most of the cooled water were separated by the 2" poret foam and was largely filtered by the filter intake.



I used the water output from the filters to cool the diamond drill bit.



Finally through...

The fan is used to dry out the back where some water leaked out when I was almost through the glass.



I ran into some problems while proceeding:

1. Water storage tank size

Apparently, there was a problem with the storage tank which made me forgo it altogether; as a result, I had to improvise with a 5 gallon bucket. This meant that I couldn't do as large a water change as I had intended to. The storage tank was originally 45 gallons, so that meant a 64% water change every time the system drained and refilled my tank (70 gallons).

So instead of having one big WC, I decided to split up the water changes into smaller increments over the course of a day with the 5 gallon bucket. The digital timer I have can be programmed for 20 settings every day, so I'm going to have the drain/pump timers aligned to turn on at set intervals during the days to drain/pump 5 gallons totaling 50%, or more, at the end of the day.

I think this method might be even better for the tank inhabitants because the smaller water changes will be less of a shock to them.

2. Display tank float valve

Originally, I wanted to use a second float valve on the display tank to control the water storage tank pump. I kept tinkering with the idea, but I really had trouble devising a way to anchor the float valve to the display tank in a aesthetically non-intrusive way, and finding the right fittings to connect the pump tubing to the push-connect tubing that the float valve used. So instead of thinking about it, I decided to forgo the float valve altogether too. I decided to just leave the pump output tubing from the water storage tank open-ended above the tank. Since the bucket is going to be higher than the tank, I initially worried about a siphon effect, but it shouldn't be a problem with the emergency overflow and it's small water volume.

3. Straight RO/DI water

I researched more into using RO/DI water with discus and came to the conclusion that its generally a bad idea to use straight RO/DI water. I thought about teeing off the cold water feed line for the tap before it went to the filter, but found it significantly reduced the pressure for the water faucet. I also thought about reconstituting the RO/DI water with minerals, but this would potentially be cost ineffective and a hassle. Luckily, I had another cold water faucet fitting from the toilet to use; I'm assuming there shouldn't be a problem from doing that, since there're both tapping the same water pipe.

Updated to get list:
  • Uni-seal for emergency overflow in the bucket
  • Bulkhead for the display tank
  • Miscellaneous plumbing parts
 

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Zapins, I encountered a problem with the placement of the bucket and its siphon. Originally, I intended to let it break mechanically when the pump lowered the water to a level where it sucked in air. But I overlooked the part where the float valve in the bucket would automatically start to refill at the same time, thus creating a ongoing siphon that never stops.

So, I needed to find a way to stop the water when the float valve falls when water is being pumped into the tank. I decided to work with a solenoid after looking at your design again, but opted for one that is normally open and only closed when energized. Here's the solenoid valve I'm looking at.

I was wondering if it would work and how I would go about wiring it because I see that your solenoid also had to be configured to a plug.
 

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Zapins!

I'd like to know if you have tried playing this like a flute:
\

Don't hesitate to try! It looks promising!
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
After what seemed like forever midterms are over for my masters program and I finally have a bit of time to look at APC.

Niko, that is hilarious! It really does look like a flute now that you mention it.

Heartnet, congrats on a successful attempt at drilling the tank! I'm really curious to see how you did it though. What bit did you use and how did you prevent the glass from cracking? Do you put a lot or a little pressure on it and how straight do you have to hold the drill for it to work? Was it tricky?

A pity about the storage tank. Will you get a bigger one in the future or will you stick with the 5g bucket?

If you do decide to use a float valve you could probably rig something out of PVC pipe fittings. The nice thing about PVC pipe is that you can use the pipe sealant to join or modify the fixture so it fits perfectly. If you are concerned about the appearance in the tank you can always use a black epoxy to pain the fixture and valve black so it is less noticeable.





Using straight RO/DI water probably isn't the best idea, but you can add back the minerals manually in chemical form, or as you said by using a small percentage normal tap water.

As for the solenoid, its not ideal to rely on the solenoids to shut off incoming water but it is definitely a valid approach to shutting off the bucket refilling water. It will break the siphon effect. I still think you should try use the float valve though, perhaps in addition to the solenoid. Water damage can occur quickly and is extremely expensive and irritating to fix. I flooded my house 3 times over the years when I used to manually fill up tanks with a hose. I'd forget the water was filling and then return to the room 10 minutes later to find dozens of gallons of water had soaked through the floor into the room below, requiring replacement of carpet padding, carpet cleaning, insulation replacement, expensive anti fungal treatments, and lots of time.

Also, even though you can use a solenoid to control the water flow, I still think you should either configure your solenoid to be a closed always solenoid or buy the closed when unpowered type. If the power goes out (like last week with the hurricane/etc...) there is often still plenty of water pressure in the lines. If the solenoid is always open when unpowered it will let water fill and siphon, wasting water and potentially setting up a situation for an overflow if the drain system is blocked or compromised. In addition to that possible overflow situation having a constant flow of cold city water going into your discus tank during a power outage is not ideal. Even a small amount of cold water added to your main tank can drop the temperature quickly reducing the amount of time your tank is warm. This could make the difference between your fish dying of cold or being ok.

Here are the wiring instructions for the relay I used:
http://www.aquahub.com/store/media/TopitOffKitPremiumInstruxCompDec07.pdf
 
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