Cheap and dirty nano chiller
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:37 AM   #1
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Cheap and dirty nano chiller

This was posted on another site, I created a peltier nano chiller for my 20 gallon long axolotl tank, thought you guys might be interested too
This will only work for HOB filters as you need room for the heatsink to sit and still hit the water on the outflow

Peltier Chiller Tutorial
Equipment and Parts Needed:
Peltier aka Thermoelectric Cooler
12V PC cooling fan or other cooling fan
Large heatsink for the hot side
Small heatsink or waterblock for the cold side
12V to 19V power supply
Some wire
Thermal paste
Insulating material (like thin pieces of foam or cardboard)

The first thing you will need to do is decide how you are going to chill the water, for me I am using a simple method, I put the chiller together and just set the whole thing into the hang on back filter on the back of my tank
The cold heatsink will need to be placed in the water outlet on the filter housing
Try to keep the peltier out of the water, the part of the heatsink that touches the peltier will have thermal paste on it, this is non-toxic in most cases but its best not to take chances!
Below you will find a picture of the chiller in the filter, it might be hard to see whats going on and I will try and get better pictures soon

To assemble the chiller you will need to do the following:
1. Set the small heatsink on your work bench or table with the open part of the fins facing down, the bottom of the heatsink should be facing up. The bottom will be a solid surface and the top will have open fins
2. You will need to apply thermal paste to the cold side of the peltier as well as the hot, for now though just do the cold side
3. Once you have applied a thin layer of thermal paste to the peltier set it in the center of the heatsink. The thermal paste will help it stay in place
4. Now add thermal paste to the hot side and place the larger heatsink on to the newly applied paste
5. Donít worry too much about how centered it is at first, you will be able to move the heatsinks and the peltier around a bit to get them lined up. They also donít have to be perfectly centered
6. You will want to cut up the cardboard or foam into pieces that will fit into the air gaps between the two heatsinks, this will greatly improve the efficiency and make sure your chiller works as well as possible. I j ust used cardboard from a cardboard box, it fit perfectly
7. Once it is all assembled you can use many different ways to hold the heatsinks together, I just used plastic zip ties.
8. After the heatsinks are secured you will then want to mount your fan, again I just used zip ties
9. Once everything is secured and not falling apart you will want to wire up your peltier and your fan to your power supply. I just used a 12 volt power supply as it will work for both the peltier and the fan, the peltiers are normally able to use anything from around 9 volts up to 19 volts (check your specs before connecting the power supply, make sure you are not using more than its max voltage). Red wire goes to the positive terminal and black wire goes to the negative terminal
10. Once everything ie wired up just drop the bottom heatsink, the cold and smaller heatsink into the water outlet on your hang on back filter, be sure that the open length of the fins follow the water flow
And that it!
I havenít set up a water block yet, all you do is place the water block on the cold side of the peltier, it mounts and works the same way as a heat sink would. The primary difference is that you will need tubing to connect from the outflow of your pump or canister filter to one side of the water block, and more tubing to run from the outlet on the water block back into the tank.
I have not used a water block yet so I do not know how effective or efficient it is, I would imagine it would work better than the heatsink method though as you will get more water flow and with the smaller amount of metal to chill the water block should get colder than the heatsinkÖ I think, lol
I will investigate the water block option once I get a pump and some tubing and another peltier

For the hot side heatink I am using a Dell PC Heatsink model 05R180

For the cold side I am also using a Dell PC Heatsink, I dont have the model number handy but any sluminum heatsink should do, the shorter the better
Here is one I would recommend:
Model 1U581

Here is the peltier I am using, it is a TEC1-12706 60 watt peltier
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:44 PM   #2
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What is the cost of this project?
RAOK Club and BBRR Club! My thinking has been invert-ed!
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:09 PM   #3
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i had the heatsinks in my closet so those were free, assume 15 each on ebay plus shipping
the peltier is 5 to 15 dollars depending on how big you go
Im going to be making on using a water block and a 110w peltier

the wattage is a bit misleading though, they work up to 15 volts so at 12v they would not be using that much power

for the power supply i used a computer power supply, had one in the closet but a good 12v power supply will cost around 50 to 100 dollars
I would suggest buying an old computer and stealing the power supply, might as well take the fan too maybe even a heatsink or two, lol

the fan is around 5 dollars at a local shop or around the same online plus shipping

without a power supply and buying all new parts it would cost about 30 to 40 dollars depending on what deals you find on heatsinks
if you use a water block you can get an all aluminum one for around 15 dollars and all coppers ones around 20 or so

I will post details when i make the next version
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:52 PM   #4
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Thanks for the details! I am going to look around and see if I have a power supply and start doing the numbers for cost. I wish there was a way to have the peltier shut off when the desired temp is reached.

The other option is to buy chill solutions version for $210 (seems pricey but there is a built in thermometer)

What size tank are you using it on and what is the tank temp holding at compared to room temp?
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:03 PM   #5
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Turning the peltier on/off based on temperature would be pretty easy with a bit of electronics.
I would be a bit concerned with just how aquarium-safe a regular heatsink is? Especially if one decides to go with a copper block.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:23 PM   #6
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i have so many heatsinks and cpu fans from dead cpus or upgraded.

maybe i should do this with a giant OCZ tower heatsink lol
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:40 PM   #7
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I see so many concerns about metal of any type being used in the tank that I always welcome items that are proven to work and being used by so many. There was a recent discussion about aluminum use here on the forum. Obvious that other groups are not as concerned??
For control of the temp, there is a small temp controller on the bay for around $15 that will control heat or cooling. The cheaper ones will control either but only one way at a time. Watch carefully if you are buying .
It also provides a nice big readout of temp which I like.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:40 PM   #8
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wouldnt hurt, the more heat you can pull away the colder and more efficient the peltier works
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