Fan ideas for a DIY Digital Temp Controller - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2016, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Fan ideas for a DIY Digital Temp Controller

I live in the high desert and temperatures reach up into the 110's at times during the summer/fall. I've seen the tank get up to 86 degrees. With a newly set up planted tank there's no way I'm taking the risk of just seeing how it plays out this summer.

I'll be making my own digital temp controller using the stc-1000. I have all the parts on order. I'm searching far and wide for info on specific fans that hobbyists are using for evaporative cooling and coming up empty.

I've ran through a few options without pulling the trigger. My biggest concern is what size fan to get, to cool my 72 gallon bowfront effecitvely. I like the idea of using a regular office type clip on fan, just not sure if that will work best. I also like the idea of using pc cooling fans but trying to figure out how much cfm I need is stumping me.

So any suggestions on a fan set up would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2016, 02:03 AM
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I have the same controller. My plan is a computer fan array mounted on a wood platform, hanging on the tank, that will blow across the length of the tank. I am using this on a 75 to begin with and will probably use 4 fans 110v 120x38mm. I will plug the fans into a surge protector that is itself plugged into a receptacle connected to the cool side of the controller.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2016, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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I have the same controller. My plan is a computer fan array mounted on a wood platform, hanging on the tank, that will blow across the length of the tank. I am using this on a 75 to begin with and will probably use 4 fans 110v 120x38mm. I will plug the fans into a surge protector that is itself plugged into a receptacle connected to the cool side of the controller.
Good idea on the surge protector. The other thing is my tank is open top. I did research enough to see alot of people complaining that the pc type fans just don't move much air in that set up. I think with a canopy they are much more effective.

Let me know how it goes. If you get the fans on there and they're moving a good amount of air that may be the route I take.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2016, 02:31 AM
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Its going to be a bit. I wont even need them for 3 or 4 months, we just had a blizzard go through. I wouldn't think it would take much. I dont expect to cool the tank a whole lot. The fans I am looking at are high speed models and will probably produce some noise. They also make a speed controller for them as well.

You have another option as well if I may suggest it. Use the cool side of the controller to run a pump and pump the water through cooling pipes arranged in coils in a mini fridge, in essence a home made chiller. They actually make small ones for truckers that are actually 12 volt that you could connect to an ac/dc power supply. Wouldnt cost much to do. The home beer brewing industry is a good place to look if you are interested in that type of setup. Of course that will take more room than a fan but will be much more effective and will cool more efficiently and quietly. Ive thought about this option as well. A small cooler would fit well underneath my tank cabinet.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2016, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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You have another option as well if I may suggest it. Use the cool side of the controller to run a pump and pump the water through cooling pipes arranged in coils in a mini fridge, in essence a home made chiller. They actually make small ones for truckers that are actually 12 volt that you could connect to an ac/dc power supply. Wouldnt cost much to do. The home beer brewing industry is a good place to look if you are interested in that type of setup. Of course that will take more room than a fan but will be much more effective and will cool more efficiently and quietly. Ive thought about this option as well. A small cooler would fit well underneath my tank cabinet.
Wow, you just sent me on a 20 minute meditation trip with that one. I spent that time planning the whole thing out logistically. Lol I know a bit of HVAC and refrigeration. This sounds like a fun option. I'll give it some more thought. It just much more involved than clipping on a fan or two.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2016, 03:14 AM
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Definitely more involved but for the type of heat you have it would work better and keep your temps more consistent than fans would it seems to me. I'm going to subscribe to this thread, I hope you will let us know what you do and how it works out.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2016, 03:31 AM Thread Starter
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For sure, I'll update it as I go with this project. If I can keep the tank steady at anywhere from 80 to 82 then I'd call it a win. I have fish and plants that should be able to tolerate that temp range.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 09:26 PM
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Hey I had the same type of problem on a Reef setup I had. Basically it was on the top floor of my house and it was a HQI bulb. I didn't want to invest in a chiller so I bought a fan that had a thermistor built into it and set it up to blow across the water especially hitting the location of the overflow and high surface agitation areas to best cool the water.

There is a brand called IceCap that makes these fans and they are ready to go no DIY needed and they work great. For my tank I had the themp probe resting right on the canopy so as the lights went on and the heat went up the fan ramped up accordingly. Being that the water level was right below that the probe could sense the temp rising off the water and would ramp up if the temp got too bad even with the lights off.

I see marinedepot has them for $35. I think I may have gotten mine off of ebay for like $20 brand new.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-02-2016, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
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Appreciate the info. I ended up going with an STC 1000 controller and a fan. I can plug my heater into the control box as well. It ended up being alot more money than what that Ice Cap fan costs. At least I got to build and use my tools though, that's priceless.

I'll post a picture of the set up when I have it up and running. It's ready now, just not warm enough to use it yet.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-04-2016, 01:12 AM
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@SNAXX Would you say it cost more considering you got heat and cooling control? If you could to do it over would you do it different?

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-04-2016, 06:43 AM Thread Starter
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If I could do it over I would have not bought the $20 mounting arm or the $20 fan off Amazon. It was an impulse buy and took the total past $60. It looks great though. It's a clamp on camera/whatever mount and the fan pushes good cfm. I think a simple clip on fan would have sufficed.

As far as the controller I have no complaints. It was easy to gather the parts and build. I'll need to buy another project box as I ended up mauling the controller cut out before I realized all I had to do was turn the Dremel up to speed. No biggie though. The alternative is a $200 or more chiller or a mini fridge set up that I researched and seemed like it just wouldn't help with a 72 gallon tank.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-04-2016, 08:25 AM
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I still have to setup the cooling side on two of my tanks. I'm curious to see how well this works for you as far as temperature drops you see with it.

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-04-2016, 08:46 AM Thread Starter
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I'll be testing it out soon. I'll keep the thread updated as I go.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 03:22 AM
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I like to keep it as simple as possible and things like cooling that I don't use too often get very little. I find just moving the humid air out so less humid air moves in over the water is all I need for evaporative cooling to get what I need. That lets me use computer fans. They are like $4-5 dollars new from Fry's or better is used salvage from old computers. I like to find 12VDC fans so that I can use power supplies from salvage. Most any power supply will run one or more fans so it leaves the wiring very simple as I tie them into the controllers I use.
For mounting? I go simple and use plexiglass. Cut the piece, cut a hole for the air and bolt it on.


The odd shape is due to me using it as a camping fan also. It fits the shape of my car window! That's why it has a bug screen?
For tank use, I just lay it flat or prop it. At 12VDC, I don't worry much if it should ever slip in. One reason I like 12VDC is that I always have to plan for accidents. Another reason to like the computer fan is the noise. They are as quiet as possible and I can still add more fans if I did need them. I can't see beating the price.

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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 03:38 AM
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@PlantedRich Simple and effective. These could easily be controlled with those controller boxes as well and kicked on and off as needed. Good stuff with no difficult mounting. I like it.
Edit: Oh and low cost as well which is always a plus in my book.
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