DIY chiller from freezer components - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-17-2005, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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DIY chiller from freezer components

Hi! just want to share a DIY project with you all

I bought some freezer components and install it in my 250gal tank to pull down the temperature to 26 C so far (and currently still going down). Before this addition with all 3 x 150W metal halides and 4 x 40W T12 burning, the temperature would reach 30-31 C.

components (sold as individuals) :
300W freezer compressor from thailand
50 x 40 x 7 aluminium freezer radiator local made
60 x 45 x 7 freezer condenser local made
some freezer hoses
30W exshaust fan from taiwan
some styrofoam

I put the radiator (the cold part) inside my filter tank (I have overflow style filter with a 25gal filter tank inside the cabinet) and the condenser (the hot part) at the holed wall of the cabinet with exhaust fan blowing out all the heat. I cover the filter sump bottom , 3 sides and top part, leaving only some of the front part with styrofoam for better cold insulation. The top part of freezer radiator that is not submerged did freeze with ice flakes. The system works slowly after 24 hours, managed to pull down to 26 C, and still dropping.
The effect is so good. My plants looks better than ever and fishes are doing just fine. I did this on a budget of about $150 considering aquarium chillers are so expensive at more than $600 for the size of my tank.The next step is utilizing a temperature switch to control how cold will it be. The drawback of this setup perhaps are the high wattage and the slowness of the system, I think I have to prepare some 5-10 gal of ice in plastic bottles on my next water change just to quicken cooling down from 29 C new water.

I have not yet utilize fan on the water surface to reduce 1-2 C by increasing evaporation. I'm worried about over evaporation that I have to re top the tank every 2 days.

I've never use a chiller, so I dont know whether a 350W chiller does the job better at a faster time and turns on lesser hours.

All comments are welcome. I really need to know if I can keep on doing this setup for the long run.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2005, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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update :

I made a small tank the size slightly bigger than the radiator and put the cold radiator in it, fill with some water and put the tank inside my sump. This way there will be absolutely no concern of something leaking or the radiator dissolving its content into the tank. All I get is the coldness of the radiator.

The system managed to pull up to 24,5 C yesterday before I did a 40% WC. I figure if I use a bigger compressor such as 450W or 600W the cooling wil gets faster and the system can runs on less hours. I will see about that next week.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2005, 05:31 PM
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I've often thought about such a project. Fortunately for me I live in a relatively moderate climate where it really only gets hot for 2 months out of the year, so it's not necessary. Maybe you could post some pictures with a little "How to" explanation.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-20-2005, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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The tropical weather all year long right here is a mixed blessing and curse. Mostly all year long I'll be needing some kind of cooling device. I even have to pick the right time to change water just to get the temperature out of my tap as low close as possible to the tank's.

I promise I'll take some pics and give a bit of "how to" some time soon. I'm fixing the looks of the overall tank (DIY MH, DIY light bracket, DIY chiller, DIY wire routing, etc) right now.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-20-2005, 07:14 PM
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I'm in the same climate as Marcel, but I've got some plants that prefer cooler temprature than are typically used here in the States (ironically, that is using native plant!). So I'm really interested in your solution, and very much look forward to those pictures.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 12:14 AM
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hi there ! great idea are you considering to rig it up with a temperature controller of some sort ? so it shuts down when the correct temp is reached and boots on again ? kinda like a PH controller for co2... i live in a relatively similar environment like you (philippines) and i have also created a DIY chiller, but i didn't rig it up with a freezer compressor... i just put ice in with the evaporator coils every morning and during lunch.... i
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Hi!

sorry for any fuzzy pics. the system is already installed and I'm trying to give information as clear as possible.

Now you can see that it is 25,5 C within less than 48 hours after changing water and pruning. So I can say that this system does the job well enough (a larger compressor will help better though).



As you can see here that I'm utilizing a Freezer compressor (the one they use in ice cream and meat freezer in shops and restaurants) and hook it up with some its wiring and plumbing to the cold radiator and hot condenser. An exhaust fan on the ribbed hole of the cabinet will make sure the temp inside will not get too high so the cooling system will work efficiently.



Next the I put the cold radiator inside a smaller tank and fill it up with water to a certain level. This serves as a safety precaution from any possible bad effect from using a freezer radiator instead of a chiller titanium radiator. All the small radiator and tank goes inside my filter sump tank. You can see the hot freezer condenser on the background, separated from the sump. I use styrofoam to insulate the sump partially from the heat of that hot condenser.



As the water inside the cold radiator tank cools down, it transfers the coldness to the moving water of the sump and it goes on cooling the whole system. It still kinda looks messy but who cares, it is out of sight anyway.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 11:23 AM
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That's very cool medicine man! And sound's like it works too! I'm sure your tank inhabitants are happier!

How's the noise?

And thanks for the pics! This will make it much easier for someone to understand what you've done, which is exactly what I was hoping for. It's really clear how you've got it hooked up. Thanks.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Yes this system does work and I can see the result right away (look at the tank photo section under open top 260 gal). What do you think? everything seems to grow better and looks greener too.

The whole system runs quiet like your refrigerator. What you can hear is a slight faint rumble and water splashing from inside the tank. The exshaust fan, however sounds like your ordinary ex fan, which might sounds more like your AC on full power. I think you can find quieter ones in USA.

I'll see about something that might come accross my mind and do possible further tinkering to refine the system. A temperature operated whitch is my next addition, So I do not have to check the temperature every now and then to keep it running in 24-26 C range.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2005, 12:49 PM
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2005, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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http://www.freshreef.com/forum/foru...p?TID=4219&PN=5

Yep that is another way to do it. It came accross me as well to do so. But I'm not really sure about the effect of low power refrigerator and the concern under my space cramped cabinet, that's why I shoot for freezer componets right away without any further experimentation.

Imagine the size of a freezer that might be running with the components used in my DIY. Must be funny to run it the way the link shows. You got a huge crate sized freezer next to the tank

For those who are using bracket for their tank instead of a cabinet, whose tank is small to medium size and have some space to spare and do not mind seeing a nice fridge taken apart, I think using a dorm sized refrigerator like that is the best way.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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new engines

Update :1/12/2005

today the fridge man comes to my place again. He got a bigger compressor and a bigger radiator that I ask for. The layout on these new engines is almost the same as the previous one.

By the time I write this, the new system has been running for 3-4 hours. Already I notice improved pulling power. I dont know yet how low and fast can it gets on this new setup. The last set pulled down temp to 24 C by running continously day and night. Lets see how things will go and take another step after that.


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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-21-2006, 07:06 AM
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Congratulations on the setup.

This is something I have played with for years with aquariums as well as other things that need to be cooled.

When it comes to refrigerators, the negative response you will see the most is that the compressors are not built to handle the load. Refrigerators and Freezers are built to keep cold things cold or in other words, not have to run all the time.

However, that is only partly true.

The truth is that no compressors are really built to run 24/7 be it fridge, air conditioner or chiller. If your setup is powerful enough that it doesn’t have to work hard (as yours seems to be), then you should be alright. The problem is when people run out and buy things too small, like a mini-fridg, and expect it to keep up with the constant 5-15 degree drop they need.

I made this mistake when I added metal halides to a 90 gallon reef tank and figured a mini-fridge would be great. I drilled holes in the top and ran a coil of tubing inside the unit. A great bonus was I could keep fish food in the freezer section making my wife happy that the “icky stuff” was no longer in the kitchen fridge. It worked and it worked well…for a while.

A little over a year later, in the hottest days of summer, it gave out. I was broke at the time and had change out packets of dry ice floating in my sump for the rest of the summer. However, I still lost a few corals.

Before the next summer, I splurged on a n inline chiller. I had to put the icky stuff back in the kitchen fridge, but it still runs today (7 years later). I couldn’t tell the difference in noise.

A couple of questions.

That aluminum radiator actually sits in your tank water?

If so, I would freak out if it was in a reef tank, but is that relatively safe in a planted tank?
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