Cooling your LEDs with tank water - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Cooling your LEDs with tank water

I have had this idea floating around my head for awhile now. I was thinking of using aluminum tubing to make a water cooled heatsink for mounting LEDs on. Just run the return from your filter through the LED pipe before going back to the tank and it should cool the LEDs and warm the return water similar to a heater.

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:28 PM
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Hi discgo,

I typically try to avoid mixing electricity and water. Also, in the summer months my water can get pretty warm just due to ambient room temps, adding additional heat isn't a benefit.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi discgo,

I typically try to avoid mixing electricity and water. Also, in the summer months my water can get pretty warm just due to ambient room temps, adding additional heat isn't a benefit.
No offense, but you may be in the wrong hobby. I also plan on running the water inside a sealed tube with the electronics ran safely on the other side where there is no water.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:43 PM
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It should work just like computer cooling. You could probably use the same parts.

Personally, if you have a sump I would rather use a closed loop system with a better heat transfer liquid and then have a heat exchanger in the sump and on the LED's. Similar to how industrial heat exchange towers work.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by UDGags View Post
It should work just like computer cooling. You could probably use the same parts.
I had looked at the water cooled computer systems but the cost is extremely high and the inlet and outlet sizes are not really compatible with existing tank equipment.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by UDGags View Post
It should work just like computer cooling. You could probably use the same parts.

Personally, if you have a sump I would rather use a closed loop system with a better heat transfer liquid and then have a heat exchanger in the sump and on the LED's. Similar to how industrial heat exchange towers work.
Sorry, I responded to your post before I read it all.

The idea was to try and keep it simple. Just run the return line from your canister up to your hood before going back into the tank.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:53 PM
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You can water cool a computer, so why not leds! i think its a good idea, it could supplement your tank heating.. (as long as it didnt get to hot) with a large enough volume of water it could work out well.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:56 PM
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What the heck is the point? I have custom WC loops for my computer, but that's like me saying "hey I think I will WC my monitors." A nice aluminum heatsink will do the job more than adequately.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:57 PM
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this has been discussed at nausea on various reef forums.

first hurdle is cost: aluminum / copper / stainless / itanium tubing is rather pricey and in the case of aluminum difficult to work with.

second hurdle is well adding a source of copper to your tank ... not so good for inverts and plants.

third hurdle is operating a pump that is powerful enough to lift water to the light fixture, yet weak enough to slow the water for adequate heat transfer to make the system worthwhile. yet the pump needs to shut off completely and run off of an external water reservoir when the aquarium is too warm.

Then once all this is accounted for the notion of tank water flowing through a conductive coil where the potential for stray voltage is rather high must be taken into account.

so put this all together for a little heating added to the tank (not nearly enough in wattage alone for your average tank) for much more cost, a cost that would be better spent on a passive or active heatsink (more aluminum fins or a nice quiet fan) on the fixture itself.

its a nice idea, reclaiming waste heat, but the cost and benefits do not add up to a worthwhile endeavor.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TexasCichlid View Post
What the heck is the point? I have custom WC loops for my computer, but that's like me saying "hey I think I will WC my monitors." A nice aluminum heatsink will do the job more than adequately.
The point came from trying to price out heatsink. All the commercially available options are pretty expensive compared to aluminum tubing which I can buy at a hardware store. The other point that it addresses is trying to cool one part of your tank (the light) and trying to heat another part (the water). I don't think there will be enough heat to be a concern in the summer but it may be able to supplement the heating during other times of the year.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Algae Beater View Post
this has been discussed at nausea on various reef forums.

first hurdle is cost: aluminum / copper / stainless / itanium tubing is rather pricey and in the case of aluminum difficult to work with.

second hurdle is well adding a source of copper to your tank ... not so good for inverts and plants.

third hurdle is operating a pump that is powerful enough to lift water to the light fixture, yet weak enough to slow the water for adequate heat transfer to make the system worthwhile. yet the pump needs to shut off completely and run off of an external water reservoir when the aquarium is too warm.

Then once all this is accounted for the notion of tank water flowing through a conductive coil where the potential for stray voltage is rather high must be taken into account.

so put this all together for a little heating added to the tank (not nearly enough in wattage alone for your average tank) for much more cost, a cost that would be better spent on a passive or active heatsink (more aluminum fins or a nice quiet fan) on the fixture itself.

its a nice idea, reclaiming waste heat, but the cost and benefits do not add up to a worthwhile endeavor.
Where is the copper added in at? Could you link to some of the discussions you mentioned?

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 07:02 PM
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Your idea can be made to work, but I'd be worried about aluminum, or any other metal other than titanium, corroding with prolonged contact with water. You'd have to protect the metal with another substance, and that substance being one with similar heat transfer properties as the original material used to create the heat sink pipe.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Would stainless be a better option? I know ss water bottles aren't very good at keeping there contents hot or cold.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 07:21 PM
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A much less expensive way to do this is to use a few more LEDs, and drive them at a lower current, so the heatsink doesn't need to be "high tech". If the light fixture has water hoses running to it, raising and lowering it will be a much more difficult problem. If you want the light suspended above the top of the tank it would also be very ugly with the two hoses going to it. If the light is in a hood, gaining access to the tank for maintenance could be difficult, since just lifting the hood would be a problem. All in all, I would go for more LEDs at lower current.

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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Well I guess it's just an impractical idea. Thanks to everyone for helping talk me out of it.

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