Heater Controller/Thermostat recommendations? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-07-2015, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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Heater Controller/Thermostat recommendations?

Can anyone recommend any heater controller/thermostat that is reliable, accurate, but still decently priced ($20-50)?
Looking to incorporate one as a safety measure to keep from frying my fish and plants.

I am looking for it to handle at least a 600watt load (x2 300w heaters). 800w is better though, and more is better yet.
Prefer it to give a digital temp reading, but I am open to analog controllers.

Been looking at the Finnex heater controllers (800w), but want to hear other options. Pretty much any with a temperature probe, a male cable to power the unit and a female plug to connect heater elements to.

I've seen heater controllers for terrariums (out-of-water air temps), but not sure if those are usable for aquarium settings (submerged water temps).

Looked at the "DIY" units with no cables, but for the price, I think I will just pay for one already sealed and wired up "professionally".



Just so I understand how thermostats work. They work by short circuiting the heater elements right? So even if the heater relay malfunctioned and stuck open/on, the power to the element would be cut off so it wouldn't heat up past the set temp, right?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-07-2015, 11:03 AM
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I ended up buying the finnex max300. You would need two. One for each heater. Although I really wanted a digital display. It's super easy to set up and adjust. Accuracy is within 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit. I've checked with two different thermometers.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-07-2015, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterLife View Post
Can anyone recommend any heater controller/thermostat that is reliable, accurate, but still decently priced ($20-50)?
Looking to incorporate one as a safety measure to keep from frying my fish and plants.

I am looking for it to handle at least a 600watt load (x2 300w heaters). 800w is better though, and more is better yet.
Prefer it to give a digital temp reading, but I am open to analog controllers.

Been looking at the Finnex heater controllers (800w), but want to hear other options. Pretty much any with a temperature probe, a male cable to power the unit and a female plug to connect heater elements to.

I've seen heater controllers for terrariums (out-of-water air temps), but not sure if those are usable for aquarium settings (submerged water temps).

Looked at the "DIY" units with no cables, but for the price, I think I will just pay for one already sealed and wired up "professionally".



Just so I understand how thermostats work. They work by short circuiting the heater elements right? So even if the heater relay malfunctioned and stuck open/on, the power to the element would be cut off so it wouldn't heat up past the set temp, right?
Some more info may help. The controllers that I use work like this. They can often be used for heating or cooling, so you choose which you want, for us that is heat, and then I set a temperature to not exceed. Then I set a slewing value. In my case I set is to about 2 degrees. (Power on at 76 or below, off at 78?) When the temperature drops below the high limit, the controller will let the heater have power. At that point the thermostat on the heater controls the temperature. As long as the temperature stays below the high limit I've set, the controller continues to provide power to the heater. If the heater should fail, the temperature will likely go high and reach the upper limit set on the controller. The controller then shuts off power to the heater.
The controller does not protect me from heaters which fail to heat but then that is not a big hazard as it takes really cool temperatures for quite some time to harm my fish. The controller gives me a big bright display that I can see from across the room so I have a good long time to notice it is not normal. Any reading more than a degree off of 76 will make me look for problems-- unless it's summer!

The 10Amp controllers can provide power up to that limit. If we are using 110AC, that converts to near 1200 watts. For my tanks, that is way plenty but for my greenhouse I would like to use a 1500 watt heater and go to other controllers.
For $15 or less, I just find it really good insurance.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-07-2015, 02:23 PM
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I built my own. The one I use is an Inkbird ITC-1000. I found it for like 15 bucks on [Ebay Link Removed] I had to assemble a box for it and there are some on the internet but I thought of a different way using a smaller box. Anyway the Inkbird also has a cooling side. I can use that side to run an array of fans or a chiller in case of high heat. Between the fans and heat you can keep your water in a 2 degree window. That may not be a big deal for you but my house gets somewhat hot in the summer so it is something I like having. For less than 25 bucks I have a controller that will heat and cool.

I also have the Finnex Max 300 and it does not work with some heaters notably any of the Aqueon Pro series. Nor will it work with the Tetra ht10.

I have a Finnex 810 and had issues with the radiation coming from my light screwing up the sensor and causing the temperature reading to swing wildly. I had to move it to another tank then it worked fine.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-07-2015, 04:11 PM
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I have a Finnex HC-0810M. I don't have much good to say about it. I was using it to control my two Hydor inline heaters. I really wanted to like it and thought it was going to work well for me. But, it had a couple annoying features and one fatal flaw for me.

The temperature probe wire was shorter than I would like. Might not be a problem depending on your setup, but on my 75 gallon tank it restricted the probe placement and the controller placement.

The current temperature displayed never matched the set temperature. The set temperature was two degrees cooler than the current temperature, even if the heaters were on and heating. The set temperature appeared to be correct (compared to a couple other thermometers) and the current temperature was always 2 degrees too warm. Once I figured that out, it wasn't a big deal (just confusing at first). An annoyance, but not a show stopper.

What had me stop using it was on more than one occasion it would seemingly reset the values to factory defaults, which was warmer than I wanted and read in Celsius. I routinely turn off my filters and heaters to feed my fish. Most of the time the controller would remember the settings when powered back on. But, a few times it reset to default values. Resetting all it's values is just stupid and potentially dangerous. Since I couldn't trust it, and had to have it mounted somewhere inconvenient, I "retired" it.

I thought about selling it, but I really wouldn't want that responsibility for potentially killing someone else's fish. All it would take to be a problem is a power outage when you aren't around.

My "solution" has been an Apex Jr. Not at all in your price range, but it's been working out really well for my needs (for the heat controller and much, MUCH more).
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-07-2015, 04:33 PM
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Both of my Finnex controllers have short probe length which is very annoying.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-08-2015, 06:27 PM
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I have the Hydor Hydroset Thermostat, works well.

There are two versions, a digital and analog one.

The analog is the one I have and it keeps my temp at +/- 2*f.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-08-2015, 08:43 PM
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I'm using a
Finnex Max-300 Finnex Max-300
Digital Aquarium Heater Controller with a 200w Hydor inline heater. It works fine. I set it for 79F and it comes on when the tank drops to 78. Tank never exceeds 79.

I couldn't tell you whether its reading is dead accurate because none of the other thermometers I have can be considered reliable enough to make that judgement. I have two types of digital thermometers and one infrared gun. None of them agree, exactly. All I can say is that they are consistent in how they vary. So, I consider that the controller is within a degree or less, and that is good enough for an aquarium.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-13-2015, 02:07 PM
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I had a couple of the finnex controllers, they were great until the probes got wet and then they were useless. I went with the cheap ebay controllers after that and expanded my DIY knowledge. But even then the probe still failed. Solution: coat the probe with silicone so it doesn't die. The good thing is those probes are replaceable.
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