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Auto and semi Automated water change systems

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by Tom Barr, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Here's where to post the stuff for this.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    See item number 4635K814 - third item under
    Bronze Solenoid Valves.
    http://www.mcmaster.com/nav/enter.asp?pagenum=393

    You can use two in series to eliminate a potential failure of one.
    Cost more though......

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    Non sump ideas:

    You can also splice a Tee on a cansiter filter line with a solenoid drain line to be put on a timer. The float valve would be placed in the tank.
    You can use a cheap type of float, or you can use a spectrapure electronic flat valve to fill with a solenoid fed line, or...........

    You can use a reservior as the source make up water if you use one for RO made up water etc.

    The electronic float switch is very nice since it can turn off a pump once the water levels gets to a predetermined height.

    So that is very good for filling. They run about 50$
    They are also like a small tube in shape and less obtrusive in a tank.

    So you can also add a manual valve to the canister drain Tee, have the fill water hose enter into the tank with a manaul fill valve also.

    No water buckets or hoses need to be pulled out and set up each time.
    You can use the drain option for the manual drain valve and then add the electronic float(which is more discrete) for top off for refilling.

    That method also doubles as a refill for automatic top for evaporation that occurs with HOB,canister, internal filters, sumps maintain a constant level inside the tank itself.

    I'd caution about draining the system too fast and refilling too fast with automation. Better to go smaller, but if you want the manual methods I've suggested work much better and you never need to break out anything to do the water change for large tanks. Just flip a valve, wait 30 minutes or less, then refill.

    While you wait, trim, prune, add ferts etc

    I personally do not need the automation completely, nor want that on a client's tank, but autodosing, auto top off for evaporation I sure do.

    Those are rather simple.

    If you fear floor damage, build a small raised water proof lip under the tank where the sump is placed, or add a shallow tub etc and add a bilge pump that goes to the drain line. I would cause 200,000$ damange if my system leaked at one client's location.

    It cost some $ to do some of these things, but the mistake is far worse than these small cost.

    A tank is much like a toilet, simply flush the handle(turn the valve), drain the tank fast, then have a refill electronic or float type float switch that shuts off once the levels comes up to the top of the tank. Again, you can use two in series in case one breaks. Or you can shut things off manually. I like the float shut off personally.

    I walk by the tank, flush the handle, then the rest is done.

    It takes some $, some time, some thought, but how much might you pay yourself to do the work? Figure 1 hour for 5$.
    Say 2x a month, 2x12x5=120$.
    Say weekly changes 52x5= 260$
    So in a year, these things pay for themselves fairly well.

    The manual versions I use cost a lot less than the automated Alan designs.
    I use larger tubing for the drain lines.

    If you have a crawl space under the home, then you can run it under there and then out to a location for drainage.

    Adding drain fill lines and finding ways to do this is different for each case, but ultimately a very useful thing.

    Many mainteanace companies should pick up on this, it'll save them a ton of work, and still be able to change for the service.

    I do not take on any clients that don't have some form of auto or semi manual hard plumbed water changers installed.

    I'm there mainly to trouble shoot, tweak and prune and scape.
    I'm contracting out a 1500 gal 12x4x4 foot tank later this year.
    It's like the ADA tank but a tad longer and but shorter front to back.

    I think Amano's is 5x5x10.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. Milan

    Milan Prolific Poster

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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    Fair enough ... I still don't get a whole picture without schematics, but I would assume they are on the drain line and NC type. I just hope you realize redundancy wise, that having them in series need separate independent power sources (circuits) ... But let's not jump to conclusions, before we get more puzzles on the table.

    $86.26 a piece so far ...
     
  5. Milan

    Milan Prolific Poster

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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    What kind of timer you are proposing? Programmable, I would assume ... How do you time the drain? When does the filling start? Perhaps, have a low level limit switch ...?
     
  6. Milan

    Milan Prolific Poster

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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    Another question ... How do you control the temperature? Just an eyeball mixing of hot/cold water and hope that no one flushes a toilet or run a dishwasher/washer at the same time, or there is an in-line heater with a temperature feedback? What if it fails? Is there a shut off?
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    Yea, 87$ plus shipping etc.
    Still, not that bad, I'm sure folks could find cheaper.........but I'd rather have a nice new product!

    Part of the reason I have manual automatic water changers.
    I do not find the need for the solenoid justifies the cost since I can simply turn a valve to drain.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    A decent one with a minute scale on it.
    The X10 computer programmed timers are gnarly.
    But that's another level of know how. Alan loves all that stuff and has so muc automated in his home, you'd like his wife was a robot.

    In some systems, the fill and the drain are on at the same time. This causes some mixing obviously, but you still remove a lot of the water after running it for an hour or two depending on the tank etc. You can also pick drain and fill points at opposite ends of the tank to reduce this. Sumps are good since the fill and drain water are well sperated.

    The drain solenoid is on a timer to drain slowly for 1-2 hours etc.
    Then the fill is automatic(Float switch controlled like a toilet), as water is removed from the sump, fill water is added to the main tank(or you can add to the sump, but more mixing with new water occurs). Teh float switch is still in the sump since as small amounts of water are drained, the float switch adds the new water slowly(either to the tank or the sump).


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    Since the fill rate is so slow, the temp is much less of an issue.
    I typically mix with a temp gauge and have the hot/cold valves near by the line. But, you can tell the temp difference of 1-2F with your hand.

    You could add an in line Hydro heater though if you wanted. Not a big issue.
    I typically fill water at 5-8 F less than tank water.
    The mix of hot and cold can be set and you can add a temp gauge to that if you chose.

    There are many options and each person's case might be different and they might want different things.

    I think it might be tough to generalize a system for everyone.
    But I've bugged Alan enough to get him going on this and to do install work for others.

    If you explain what you want to the plumber, they can rig it up easily for you.
    They charge for it, but then we no longer need hassled with it, I can change a transmission, but I'd rather pay to have the guy at the shop do it.

    Clients get charged that, but as I said, my personal preferences do not require a solenoid system, just a pair of valves, drain/fill lines and a carbon filter.

    Pretty simple really, cheap, easy to use and it looks good.
    I like a rapid fill/drain.
    With Alan's slower method, the time for water changes can be 3 am to 5am 2x a week set automatically.

    This is why I know less about Alan's system, I have my own personal preferences that do not require the other items.

    You can run hard ploy lines most anywhere in a home/apartment etc to fill and drain.

    Or you can do the python thing.

    But a bucket?
    Hahahahha!!
    Muhahahaha!!!

    They are good for vacuuming though.

    Discus folks have various water changers also.
    Alan had a 2" dia drain and rapid fill on his Discus tank that was not on a timer.

    Took him 6 minutes to fill 90 gal of water and only turned two valves, took maybe 1-2 minutes to drain.

    So you can go slower, totally automate, semi automate, manual but with hard plumbed systems in place etc.

    Poke around on the web, there are quite a few people out there with all sorts of contraptions and set ups that work well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. Milan

    Milan Prolific Poster

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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    Tom, I think we are confusing a hell out of audience. We jumped right into technical details without even defining the project, and this is not going to take us anywhere. So, while we are waiting for Alan, or whoever you delegate, to put some presentation together, we can start with some definitions.

    Here is what I am proposing, and you or anyone else can fill in the blanks, erase, add stuff ...

    The Objective:

    To design/make a system which would automatically perform scheduled water changes with respect to the safety of users, equipment and environment, as well as basic water change requirements. This system would be suitable for hobbyists with aquariums from 55 gallons, up to 250 gallons.

    General Safety Requirements:
    • Prevent flooding
    • Prevent over-drains
    • Not harm/damage any existing hardware, hard-scape, flora or fauna in the tank.
    • Satisfy electrical and building codes.
    • Use of proper components (ie. against manuf. specifications)

    Basic Water Change Requirements
    • The amount of water to be changed will be 50% (or around) of the total tank volume.
    • Water must be treated for chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals. This will be done during/after (pick one) the water change cycle.
    • Water temperature fluctuation in the tank during the cycle (drain/fill) will not exceed _____ F.

    Anything else ..??


    This would be the start point, we have to agree on before discussing any technical details. So let's talk about this first. The above definitions are not carved in stone (as of yet), but bear in mind that we have to stay on automation grounds. Once we tailor them, I would suggest you to make it a read-only "sticky" where we can expand from. It may be that the Alan's system, you were so vocal about, is a perfect fit ... I hope so ... Then we will come up with the cost analysis, after we have all pieces together.

    Hope you agree ..
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    Sure, sounds like a good plan.

    Alan's system is useful since you can program the timer for any length or frequency. So it can work for about any size tank that can justify the expense.
    55gal and above likely.

    You have a slow drain/slow fill with this method. So 2-3 hours or 20 minutes can be done. Once a week or 2x a week.
    Both Alan and Bob do 2x a week, about 30-50%.

    McMaster Carr has all sorts of goodies, Spectrapure and other companies make all sorts of float valve set ups.

    Main thing is showing the diagram of one set up and the schematic as you mention.

    I have AUTO CAD but uploading requires the software also which we do not have here. So I'll hunt for some other simple CAD type schematic drawing software.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. Milan

    Milan Prolific Poster

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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    So, 55 g and up ... Sure, that's what I was thinking about too, but we have to put some upper limit too. To have a huge tank drained and filled, in a given time you need different hardware. How about 300g? That would in my mind cover most hobby applications ..

    So we scrap "Weekly", and leave it "scheduled" only ... Done!

    Anything else to be added, erased ... ?

    You don't have to upload AutoCAD to be viewed. Just take a screen capture of the active window ("Alt-PrtScn" on your keyboard), and paste it in some image editor ("Paint" is fine ...), and upload it as such.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Auto and semi Automated water change systems

    I know of no upper limit for an auto water changer.

    I deal with tanks over 300 gal often actually.

    I think 250gal is enough for folks here.

    Folks that can afford these larger tank, typically can afford specialized systems.

    I'll see about the schematics.


    Regards,

    Tom Barr
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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