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Thread: DIY chiller

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    DIY chiller

    I'd like to make my own chiller(already have most parts needed).
    I need advice as it will work or not.
    I'm planning on using a water cooling machine(Labrador type) since it has a adjustable thermostat on it.I will be taking the water machine apart to fit it under my stand.
    Anyone ever tried this?
    Is it worth a try?
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member carrhd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Spencerville, Ontario
    Quote Originally Posted by AttiTude
    I'd like to make my own chiller(already have most parts needed).
    You don't want to put any metal parts into your aquarium unless you know for sure that they are marine aquarium safe. Most commercial chillers have titanium coils.

    I once used an old bar fridge as a chiller. I drilled a couple of 1" holes through the side and ran 1/2" ID pipe from my sump to the fridge and back. Inside the fridge I divided the 1/2" pipe down to air line tubing and put a bunch of it in the fridge all coiled up. I then pumped water through the fridge. I'm not sure that it worked very well. I think that the next time I would create a cold water bath using the freezer of the little bar fridge to chill the water then I would run the air line tubing through the water bath.

    Of course, now that we live in a straw bale house it really isn't a problem. The house has on occasion reached 26 degrees (78 F) but normally hovers in the low 20s (68F-75F). In fact, my heater often comes on at night during the summer.

    220G mixed reef main, 30 G (3 x 10) brood/grow-out, 25 G secondary, 6 G frag with shared sump

    Return Pump: Iwaki MD55RLT
    Water Movement: Tunze Turbelle Stream 6060, 4 x MaxiJet 1200
    Lighting: 60" Outer Orbit dual 250 W 10k HQI and quad 48" T5HO Actinic
    Skimmer: Precision Marine Bullet-2 with Iwaki MD55RLT, WC610 waste collector, and gate valve

    Experience: Fresh since 1976 - Marine since 1987


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    No metal will be on contact with the tank or water.I'm gonna use airline tubing(or start with) in a coil like you mentionned and drop it in the reservoir of the water cooler.I'm gonna use a medium flow pump for it to give the water time to cool down.I currently dont have a sump(will eventually built one).Where should i put the return in the tank?
    Mix with the skimmer output or in the tank where water flows alot?

  4. #4
    Moderator ShipWreck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    I would return the cold water into the most turbulant area of the tank, so a power head or skimmer return. I would do a search on DIY chillers and I think you will find they have major limitations on their effectiveness. If they didn't everyone would have one instead of the anual summer thread on "How hot's your tank?".

    If you make your chiller just remember that the chillers will remove heat from the water but in the process will add that much heat plus more back to the air. If you have your chiller below your tank you may actually raise your temp.

    If you have the parts anyway go for it. If you are buying things then I would suggest you may look into an house AC unit and a fan for over the tank. Or run a sump to a cold basement. I have this and my heater comes on most of the summer.

    Good luck

  5. #5
    Moderator cres's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    The biggest issue with any homebrew chiller is the duty cycle of the unit.

    Your water cooler has a certain capacity. Say cooling 5 gallons of water from 26C (ambient) to 4C (cool but not frozen) per day. If you need to cool 10 gallons of water 5 degrees, it shouldn't be a problem. If you need to cool 200 gallons 5 degrees, you'd best find another unit.

    By the time you include all the parts and work, etc. you typically come close to the price of a pre-fab aquarium safe unit.

    If you have the stuff and are sure you won't be running any aquarium water over any metal that isn't Stainless Steel or Titanium, then by all means try it out. But, unless you have access to HVAC tooling and supplies, you likely won't be able to achieve sufficient cooling for any serious demands.

    The good old fan over the tank or sump, will cost you $5-$10 (for a decent small quiet fan) and almost no electricity and will easily drop your tank 10 degrees over a day or two.
    Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

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