But you also get double duty from the AC. The room my tanks are in doesn't get cool air in the summer from the AC in the rest of the house, so it gets pretty warm in there. I've combated that be having a fan in the doorway blowing cool air in the room but that gets old. So in my case, the AC makes sense because that room needs cooled anyways so might as well kill too birds with one stone. It also allows me to cool all the tanks not just one or two or however many a chiller can cool.
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if the 12g chiller is only a 100, it sounds like an ice probe or similar. the ice probe wont come close to cooling anything beyond a 5 gallon tank in 85+ temps, and even then its running all the time. i use current 1/20 or 1/15hp chillers on tanks as small as 10g and they work fine. teco makes a nice small one but be prepared to pay mercedes prices for em.
I bought a used 1/10 hp for 125 on Craiglist. Often time price is negotiable. You just have to keep looking and look for the one a little far away too. I drove an hour to get mine. Ask the seller a lot of questions too. If he sounds like a decent person and answers all of your questions then buy. I think saltwater and freshwater chiller are the same thing? Correct me if I'm wrong please.
How much temperature drop are you guys looking for, and for how many gallons? This actually has me curious now, and as I googled a couple I was shocked to see the prices of what some of that stuff was going for