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Thread: Prevent failing heating causing deaths - Heat exchanger idea

  1. #1
    DIYFK member wootty2000's Avatar


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    Prevent failing heating causing deaths - Heat exchanger idea

    After just watching the UrauJoey's Youtube video about the rays dieing, the first thing I thought of was "Why not use a heat exchanger system".
    Install the heaters in a small cylinder and run the aquarium water through a heat exchanger coil within the cylinder.
    This way, if a heater was to ever fail and split, it wouldn't contaminate the aquarium water.

    As an added protection, you could always add a secondary thermostat to the exchanger cylinder and use it was a fail safe. If the heater controller failed in such a way that the output was always on, you have a second chance to cut the power to the controllers and not to overheat the water. Im an electronics repair engineer and regularly see heat controllers fail this way.

    Has this been done before? Is there something I have not thought about preventing this from working?

  2. #2
    DIYFK member Bryce Griffin's Avatar


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    It could be done, I am a Plant operator so I do know the concept pretty well but this would be expensive for just the regular fish keeper, maybe practical for joey's applications. You would just have to have a TIC ( Temperature Indicator Controller ) ( Like you explained the Thermostat ) setup to talk to your heating side of the exchanger when the tank is at temp to tell it to shut off. This would require additional pump or PVC however the user would build the Heat Exchanger or just buy one.

    YES it would be the safest route however not cost efficient. Which is why you don't see it very often or if ever.. well that and most people just see fit to just drop a heater in the tank or in the sump.


    The easiest route for this I think you would get a water heater /w expansion tank like joeys floor heating system for the 2000g he built and a water pump at minimum just to start then incorporate the Exchanger.. The water heater will draw more electricity than the drop in water heater.

    If you know a way that wouldn't be to costly maybe posting it and explaining it, you might see it becoming something hobbyist will use.

  3. #3
    DIYFK member wootty2000's Avatar


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    I do agree that this would be a bit more expensive to implement, but if you have $1000+ of live stock, i think the cost could justified.

    I was thinking, take the output of the sump pump, run that in to the coil and measure the water temperature (to feed the heater controller) in the output of the coil / return line to the aquarium.
    A proper PID controller might not be a bad idea (they are fairly cheap), so it can calculate the thermal overshoot and undershoot properly.
    Would you really require an extra pump? If you put the heaters in the bottom of the cylinder, the hot fluid would rise and the cooler fluid would fall, circulating on it's own

    I'll take a look and see what cost it would take to build something. I'm sure that it could be done fairly cheap.

    It was just my first thought that came to mind after watching the video...
    Then again, being the engineer I am, I was also thinking about going slightly overboard and also using a small cheap PLC (something like a Siemens LOGO). This would then allow for extra monitoring and could alert you if something had failed, ie, water flow rate or water temperature not within a set window. It could also do automated tasks like turn lights on and off etc. Put some electronic controlled water valves on it and you could actually automate water changes

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

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    DIYFK member Meep's Avatar


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    Sounds like you are doing a poor mans chiller in reverse... A poor mans chiller is just a mini fridge set to the proper temp, with a coil of plastic tubing inside the fridge that the output from the already existing canister filter flows through, after awhile the tank water will be chilled down to the fridge temp and held there... You could do something very similar on the cheap by just heating a secondary tank of hot water with either traditional fish heaters or an alternative and dropping in a coil of hose that the tanks filtered water is run through... It's not 'efficient' to speak of but it will work... You can drastically increase efficiency if you insulated the heated tank... Consider this on the cheap, a 30 gallon poly drum, with 100 - 200 feet of 1/2" pex coiled inside, filed with water and a few say 500W submersible filters inside set to the tank temp... Regulate the temp in that drum to your desired temp and then run the fish tank water through the coil of pex tubing... The initial rise in tank temp will be slow, but once it's achieved it should hold quite well... Doing it this way avoids additional pumps that have to cycle on and off and other complications of a on demand heating system, as this heating system is more passive... Efficiency could be improved by using a coil of stainless steel tubing over pex or using some type of corrosion resistant metal radiator submerged in the heating water, but that would add cost... Although after a quick glance it appears that you can get stainless steel tube radiators (designed to replace cast iron ones in houses) pretty reasonable, dropping one of them in a tank of water shouldn't cause too much problem, also stainless tubing isn't horribly expensive either, since you could get by with much less linear footage and get the same heat exchange vs using plastic... You can even by the stainless steel tubing already coiled for brewing chillers... https://www.amazon.com/HomeBrewStuff.../dp/B00420V094

    Surprisingly form experience those poly drums hold heat quite well on their own, as long as they are mostly enclosed (obviously they do need some venting) I do this for my chicken waterer outside, during the winter... It's a 55 poly drum with horizontal chicken 'nipple' waterers screwed into the drum, and a I believe 500W submersible aquarium heater dangling inside the drum, I made a PVC sleeve for the heater that slides over the heater and with some set screws the heater is suspended inside the center of the PVC sleeve so it never makes contact with the poly drum and risk melting... It's controlled with a separate digital thermostat that only brings the water to about 40 degrees... It's worked flawless for several years now... I'll bet in a house wrapped with a water heater blanked the drum would hold heat very, very well...

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    DIYFK member audigex's Avatar


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    A simpler solution would presumably be to place the heater in a metal container, fill the container with water, and place the container in your sump. Add a few fins to aid heat transfer and I can’t see any reason that wouldn’t work - essentially all we’ve done is enlarge the heater and enclose the heater so that it has two casings

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    DIYFK member FLDave's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by audigex Click here to enlarge
    A simpler solution would presumably be to place the heater in a metal container, fill the container with water, and place the container in your sump. Add a few fins to aid heat transfer and I can’t see any reason that wouldn’t work - essentially all we’ve done is enlarge the heater and enclose the heater so that it has two casings
    Ahh.......the missing ingredient.....Click here to enlarge

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