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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Ok, I always believe the simplest solution are the best. I have another idea.

Why not just somehow attach the ballasts to the bottom of the tank?

This would do a few things:

First is would warm my roots since I don't have a substrate heater!
Second, it would warm the bottom half of the tank since it is typically colder
Third, is doesn't require any pumps, coils, etc.

Let me know your thoughts!!

g
 

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A few thoughts on this as well:

As was mentioned already overheating could be a big problem, especially in the summer. I know it would be on my tank. So, the idea of a solenoid was proposed but I see some problems with that. If you had coolant somehow circulating around the ballasts and were transferring a meaningful amount of heat to the coolant shutting down that circulation would probably cause the ballasts to overheat, at best increasing energy consumption (it's been my understanding that running ballasts cooler cuts energy consumption?) or at worst cooking your ballasts.

Do you have a cabinet stand? How about just running the ballasts in there, line the inside of the stand with foam sheeting. Maybe not the most effective, but cheaper, easier, and if it gets too hot in the summer just open the door. This has the added benefit of reducing any noise your filter might make!
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
A few thoughts on this as well:

As was mentioned already overheating could be a big problem, especially in the summer. I know it would be on my tank. So, the idea of a solenoid was proposed but I see some problems with that. If you had coolant somehow circulating around the ballasts and were transferring a meaningful amount of heat to the coolant shutting down that circulation would probably cause the ballasts to overheat, at best increasing energy consumption (it's been my understanding that running ballasts cooler cuts energy consumption?) or at worst cooking your ballasts.

Do you have a cabinet stand? How about just running the ballasts in there, line the inside of the stand with foam sheeting. Maybe not the most effective, but cheaper, easier, and if it gets too hot in the summer just open the door. This has the added benefit of reducing any noise your filter might make!
Regarding the Solenoid, I was thinking it would not stop the flow, but the solenoid would stop the flow to the coil in the filter. In other words when the Target Temperature was reached the flow of the coolant would simply bypass filter and still provide cooling to the ballasts.

Cooling my ballast really isn't the main goal... I'm simply trying to reclaim some of the heat/money which lost due to having the lights... I read somewhere that 1/3 of the cost of running an aquarium is from the heater!! On a 150 Gallon, I bet that can add up.

g
 

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Keep in mind that the larger the body of water is the slower it loses heat, so it would be more efficient to heat a large tank than a small one because heat loss from the surface + evaporation is reduced the larger the tank gets (surface area to volume property).
 

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i have to agree that a regular aquarium heater is the most cost effective and safest way to go.

think of it this way... add up all the live stock in your tank. how much money is invested? now add up the cost of your ballasts, carpet/wood floors, and everything on the floor below you tank. how many thousands of dollars are you up to?

if one part of your heating/cooling loop should fail and over heat the tank you could cook every thing.
if it springs a leak at any one of the many seams/junctions/fittings while you are at work or out of town you'll have quite a flood on your hands not too mention a @%#$* off insurance provider!

any way, its a cool idea in theory but the investment required to do it in a safe/reliable way seems way more expensive than running the heater.

just my two cents

-nick
 

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There's something about mixing electricity and water that just doesn't sit well in my mind.

I also doubt that you'd get enough energy out of it to see much of a difference. For a 150g aquarium, you aren't going to have more than 450W of lighting. Assume that of the 450 watts, 20% is lost at the ballast as recoverable heat. That only amounts to 90 watts, which isn't enough to heat much more than a 20 or 29g aquarium. The minimal benefit won't justify the risk IMO.
 

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oh man, i didnt even think of an electrical fire. that will take out the whole darn house...and maybe the neighbors.

-nick
 

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And electrical fires won't burn down the whole house if they were to catch fire without a water-cooling system? People have been using water-cooling system on PC's for a long time.

I wouldn't go about opening the cases of the ballasts, but I think his idea has some merit. It's tougher than the one I'm working on, which is to mount 3W LED's onto an aluminum square pipe and run cooling water through the pipe. In my situation the voltages are only 24V, but assuming you're careful and really isolate the water and the electricity (use a GFCI for sure!) I think it's a worthy experiment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
AndyH is correct, they have been cooling PC for years now with Water. All the hard core geeks do it...

I think this would have some potential to completely eliminate my heating during the day, but I would have to use the regular heater at night.

In the meantime, I think I'll simply attaching a few of the ballasts to the bottom of my tank now... Keep in mind, I have 8 ballasts!!!

With this simply solution, I heat my roots, reclaim some of the lost energy and reduce my electrical bills and I'm not creating a situation where I can get leaks. I can't imagine that simply by attaching the ballasts to the glass, it would weaken the glass...

Also have a heat controller that starts beeping if I get 1 degree out of range so I'll keep an eye on it.

g
 

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Cooling my ballast really isn't the main goal... I'm simply trying to reclaim some of the heat/money which lost due to having the lights... I read somewhere that 1/3 of the cost of running an aquarium is from the heater!! On a 150 Gallon, I bet that can add up.

g
Are you taking into account the energy loss of having to pump more water, especially since electrical energy is more efficiently converted to heat than to motion meaning that the heater is more efficient than the pump. I think that once you take everything into account such as the cost of the pump, the cost of the tubing, the huge inefficiency of basically every idea here, the cost of timers or solenoids to regulate when the heater is on and when the heating loop is on I think you are not saving any money and are in fact spending much more than just running your heater.

The only idea I have seen that may save you some money is to put the ballasts under the tank. If you cut some holes in the top of the stand just big enough for the ballast to rest against the bottom glass you would cool the ballast, warm the tank, and the heater would make up the difference in the temperature of the water. By putting the ballasts against the tank directly you save all of the other costs. Unless this somehow overheats the tank it should work
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Are you taking into account the energy loss of having to pump more water, especially since electrical energy is more efficiently converted to heat than to motion meaning that the heater is more efficient than the pump. I think that once you take everything into account such as the cost of the pump, the cost of the tubing, the huge inefficiency of basically every idea here, the cost of timers or solenoids to regulate when the heater is on and when the heating loop is on I think you are not saving any money and are in fact spending much more than just running your heater.

The only idea I have seen that may save you some money is to put the ballasts under the tank. If you cut some holes in the top of the stand just big enough for the ballast to rest against the bottom glass you would cool the ballast, warm the tank, and the heater would make up the difference in the temperature of the water. By putting the ballasts against the tank directly you save all of the other costs. Unless this somehow overheats the tank it should work
Yes, my current idea is to simply put the ballasts on the bottom of the tank. Luckily on my stand, you can see the top of the tank from underneath!! This should be very simply.

g
 

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Yes, my current idea is to simply put the ballasts on the bottom of the tank. Luckily on my stand, you can see the top of the tank from underneath!! This should be very simply.

g
Sounds like a good idea. Since heat rises and cabinets tend to be rather air-tight, I think this is probably the best/easiest method of using ballast heat.

I am interested in the solenoid you planned on using. Do you have a link to the page? I think it would be useful in an automatic water change system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Sounds like a good idea. Since heat rises and cabinets tend to be rather air-tight, I think this is probably the best/easiest method of using ballast heat.

I am interested in the solenoid you planned on using. Do you have a link to the page? I think it would be useful in an automatic water change system.
I don't have exact parts, but it would be a good use for an Auto Water Change system. I'm sure there is something out there!! Actually for an Auto Water Change system you could probably use one of those sprinkler solenoids and the timer would be handy also for that application. The solenoids are only like $10 and the timers can be as low as $10. Those solenoids tend to be 24v valves.

g
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
i have a solenoid hooked up to a timer for my auto top-off on my reef. this is basically the same one with a 3/4 fitting for PVC instead of compression fittings for my RO line.

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-PLAST-O-MAT..."-EASMT5E_W0QQitemZ330303678249QQcmdZViewItem

i bought it used years ago and it has worked flawlessly ever since.

-nick
That is a bit big for my purpose, but yes, it would be useful... Basically this is the same as sprinkler valve which is like $10 at Home Depot!

g
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Ok guys, I came up with a simpler solution for how to control the temperature.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a heat conroller that basically turns on the power when the temp is below the set temp. To keep the heat from the ballasts from frying the fish, I want to put simple pump on the temp controller. So basically, when the tank needs to be heated, it turns on the pump with circulates the water that is heated from the ballasts.

Also, this weekend I spent some time and made my prototype. I kinda looks like I'm brewing whiskey but it came out nicely.

Here it is, my inline ballast heater/heater/co2 reactor/fertilizer injector.
 

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Here it is, my inline ballast heater/heater/co2 reactor/fertilizer injector.
Wow, that's pretty ambitious. If you can brew whiskey as well I'll be truly impressed :)

Personally I don't have enough knowledge to even consider trying to figure out how to do this safely, but I'd re-iterate others who have expressed second thoughts about a system like this. If your ballasts are hot enough to heat your water to any significant degree, it would be hot enough to make a water distribution tube that isn't metal melt over time....

PC geeks have done this, but I'm willing to be some engineer-type made some prototype with some degree of safety.

The safest bet imo is to attach your ballasts to a piece of wood, and get them near the bottom of your tank to gain back some of the heat-loss. The other options I'd be more than a little bit worried about failure. Worry itself (let alone literal failure) may cost you more in the long run......
 

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Excellent project.
It seems like an extremely difficult problem. But maybe you're like me... You do something difficult, even though the risks/etc. may outweigh the benefit, because it's FUN! :rolleyes:
Perhaps this will be in the future of responsible aquarium keeping - making use of every ounce of energy possible in order to protect our environment as well as our fishy friends in our tanks! A noble cause! ;)
Good luck and have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Excellent project.
It seems like an extremely difficult problem. But maybe you're like me... You do something difficult, even though the risks/etc. may outweigh the benefit, because it's FUN! :rolleyes:
Perhaps this will be in the future of responsible aquarium keeping - making use of every ounce of energy possible in order to protect our environment as well as our fishy friends in our tanks! A noble cause! ;)
Good luck and have fun!
Exactly!!! It was President Kennedy that said we choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy.

I love the challenge and the environmental aspect turned me on too...

g
 
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