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FAQs about Aquarium Chillers: Flow Through, aka In-Line Types

Related Articles: Marine Tank Heating, Cool/Coldwater Marine Systems Coldwater Sharks,

Related FAQs: Chilling 1, Chillers 2, & Lighting Waste Heat Production/Elimination, FAQs on: Fans For Cooling, Chiller Rationale/Use, Selection, DIY, Installation, Maintenance, Troubleshooting, By Type/Characteristics: Drop-in, Thermo-Electric, By Make/Model/Manufacturer: DIY, Arctica, AquaMedic, Aquanetics (out of biz.), AquaLogic, AZoo, Current/Prime, Custom Sea Life (out of biz), Delta, Iceprobe, JBL, Pacific Coast, Premier, Resun, Sfiligoi, Teclima, Teco, Tradewind, Via Aqua, West Coast, Other Makers/Models,  & Cool./Cold Marine Set-Up, Heating, Water TemperatureMetal Halide Heat Issues,


Chillers and the Texas heat 12/10/09
Hi there,
<Hello Sabrina.>
I have a 55 gallon saltwater tank with a 492 watt metal halide system (just upgraded from 260W PC). From the beginning (even with the PC's) this tank has had big temp swings. Would range any where from 75 at night to 82 during the day. The temp in the room is currently kept around 74 during the day and 71 at night. It took a while (maybe 2 weeks) but after adding a fan to the refugium and alternating lighting in the refugium all seems to have stabilized at 80.4 degrees with little flux (maybe a degree or two). Now that the temp is somewhat settled I am putting my focus on the up and coming summer which though it's only December seems like its racing towards me.
<Planning ahead will pay off.>
I am not a DIY person. Though I would love to be every project I touch turns into a Bill Cosby plumbing episode and I am scared to death of destroying my tank to save a buck/make it look prettier/make it easier on myself. I refuse to get a predrilled tank so everything I have is hang on and hose feed.
<Well, better than a Tim Taylor episode!>
Now the reason for this lengthy email... I need a chiller and have been looking and reading and looking and reading and on and on for 2 weeks now. I asked a question the other day about the Iceprobes and found that this wouldn't work for me... so next I went looking for the drop in systems like Current and Tradewind. I have heard good things about Tradewind as a company and its uses of high end parts'¦ plus I like that they are right here in country. I like to support our industries (we have so little these days). I know nothing about Current (do you have any information on Current drop ins or the company as a whole?).
<You know what I do about where they manufacture. I can say most chiller parts in the industry are not made in the USA. Tradewind does offer twice the warranty, with the option of a longer (5 year) warranty.>
My tank is in the middle of my living room/formal dinning/breakfast nook area so the heat and noise levels are a high concern. In the summer we keep the AC at 76-77 as our electric bill is sky high so the tank could get as high as 90 if the temp is unattended. I like my home warm and never adjust the temp. The pull down then could be at least 15 degrees.
<Wow, a good bit.>
As our RO/DI system is on the fritz and I have to use my "fish allowance" to pay for any and all projects/upgrades placing too many fans on or around the tank subsequently causing to much evaporation would be a problem for me... Can't save money to fix things when you are busy spending it on others you know?
<5 in, 6 out, know the feeling!>
I read here on WWM that a remote set up could be used... how does that work exactly?
<Just plumbing a line to the chiller and then back to the tank. Ideally the chiller should be in an area with quite a bit of open space with airflow around it not restricted. They do put off a good bit of heat and need the airflow.>
Can all in line chillers work with a remote set up?
<Yes, just need to match the flow through rate the manufacturer recommends.>
Even if you could point me in the right direction would be helpful. The tank is upstairs and in the middle of the room so I'm not really sure how I would even think about putting it in my garage. Is it like a dryer where a hose comes out to the window? (I know, scary that I have been reading and still am this lost/confused)
<Yes, to plumb it remotely a line will have to runs somewhere.>
I had also read from one of your other posts that drop in chillers really aren't that great for a number of reasons (which I can't really remember right now) but that the standard chillers plumbing really isn't that complex. First do you share the opinion on drop ins and why?
<I am not a fan, the drop in chillers are just not as efficient at cooling as the inlines in general.>
And also, is this true that it really isn't that complex?
<No, it is not. Just plumb from the tank/sump to the chiller and back again.>
I have tried reading various manuals online as far as installation goes but I have no point of reference as I have never used or even laid hands on a chiller other than to point at one in the box at the LFS. Is it as simple as putting one hose in one hose out?
<Yes it is. Some chillers even have threaded input/outputs for PVC pipe fittings to screw into.>
Also, what size should I get? I had been planning on upgrading to a 125 so I had wanted to purchase a chiller that could handle both but read tonight on WWM that bigger isn't better.
<It is not, it can shorten the lifespan of the chiller. A chiller that is too large will turn on and off much more frequently, this is the toughest part on electrical compressors. I would shoot for 1/4-1/3 hp with this system.>
One other thing'¦ what is head pressure?
<Water pressure against the pump output from pumping water up. Not an issue with closed loop systems such as on a chiller will run on. Many hobbyists use the term to include frictional loss, the loss from the water actually flowing through pipes and fittings such as elbows.>
And what do you do with it/figure out/take into consideration?
<Chillers generally come with a wide range of flows. I usually shoot to flow the maximum recommended. By the time frictional loss or "head pressure" is accounted for you will likely end up flowing less than this, but well within the flow range of the chiller.>
Please help me... In this I am so very out of my element.
Thank you so very much for your time. You guys really are a fish saver.
<Welcome, I do hope this helps make sense of it all. Scott V.>

- Chiller Selection - Hello to all the fine folks at the CREW. <Hello to you, JasonC here...> I searched the archives buy I couldn't find an answer to my question about chillers.  I have the opportunity to buy a brand new 1/4 hp Via Aqua flow thru chiller on an online forum for a ridiculously low price and I am curious if any of you are familiar with the Via Aqua brand of chillers? <I am familiar but have never used one.> I have a total system volume of 240 gallons in my two reef tanks combined.  I don't particularly need a chiller at the moment because I have central A/C but in case I do need to have a chiller I thought maybe I should buy one of these chillers just in case. <If you don't "need" one, I wouldn't spend the money - often times you can do an effective amount of cooling by running a fan over the surface of the water, either in the sump or the tank - is evaporative cooling and works quite well.> Do any of you folks think these are good chillers and would one of this size/type be able to bring my system temp down a few degrees if I needed to use one in a pinch at some point in the future? <Again, for only a few degrees... I'd use a fan. If you wanted a cool marine system, that would be a different story, or if your house didn't have air conditioning...> Are they reliable and trustworthy? <More importantly... what kind of condition is it in, being used and all... I wouldn't buy a used chiller.> All the other brands are ridiculously expensive and I can get this one $300-$400 cheaper than anywhere else and it's brand new. <Hmm... if it's not used, then perhaps a good value, but I'm still in favor of fans unless you have heating problems you can't get around any other way.> Any thoughts on this? <Well... I am always suspect of deals that are too god to be true, and the Via Aqua chillers are priced below much of their competition. Do keep in mind that more often than not, you get what you pay for.> All input is gratefully appreciated.  Thanks again, Jeff <Cheers, J -- >

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