Inline Heater - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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Inline Heater

Hi All, i am tring to make a inline heater. I was thinking of a 150mm PVC pipe and make some kind of frame to hold the heaters in the center of the pipe. Can anyone see any problems with doing this. The input and output pipes wil be about 25mm

Thanks, Mark
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 11:02 AM
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I have considered this in the past. It should be easy to do. Here is a diagram I have just scribbled together:

http://www.geocities.com/spinjector/heater/index.html

I have attached a diagram below. All the parts are regular PVC plumbing. The only part that might be difficult to find is the Compression Fitting w/ Rubber Gasket. They look somewhat like this, but with a "slip" fitting on one end:

http://www.plumbingsupply.com/pvccomp.html

I have seen these around, but I cannot find a source or picture online at the moment. You might have to go to a plumbing specialty supply shop and have the salesmen take a look at it. Perhaps print out a picture from the web page, alaong with my diagram to show to him/her.

One interesting thing about this DIY device is that if you made it really long, and used pipe of a proper diameter, you could make your own DIY UV sterilizer. I used to work at an LFS that used this setup for exactly that; each section was 4 feet long, had 3" diameter pipe, 1-1/2" fittings, and four F40-T12 UV bulbs...! It was huge...!!!
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Hi spinjector, this is slightly difrent to what i had in mind, but will still do the same job. The only thing i want to do is have a 25mm input, but then have a ~100mm pipe going from that, and then back into a 25mm output. In other words, i would like to change the diamiter of the pipe where the heater is in you diagram. (I can get 25mm, 100mm T parts here.) Do you think there will be a problem with waterflow or anything like that??

Thank you
Mark
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 11:29 AM
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Sounds like a really good plan, nice diagram too! Gotta love AutoCAD. Could you just use a regular ol' submersable heater with this?
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 12:39 PM
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I've done essentially this same thing and water flow isn't a problem. Also I can tell you that they work great and I love not having the heater in the tank. Here is a thread chronicaling what I did along with pictures. Hope this help you out.

Brian

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 06:23 PM
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Check out my thread on Oscarfish.com, I actually just built one using a ViaAqua titanium heater. Its really nice and been running quite a while with no problems so far. The only thing I would change is try to find the GE silicone meant for aquariums. The kind I used was the bathroom stuff and I heard it could be bad for the fish.

Heres the link
http://www.oscarfish.com/my-inline-h...t-vt49974.html
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esarkipato
Sounds like a really good plan, nice diagram too! Gotta love AutoCAD. Could you just use a regular ol' submersable heater with this?
AutoCAD...???

I made that diagram in the Microdoft Paint utility...!!!

Yes I would think any kind of heater would work, as long as the tube fit the gasket in the compression fitting.

Another idea I had for this would be to use a metal tube instead of using the glass tube that comes with the heater. The reason for this being that if the unit should ever run dry, then fill up with water again, it would shatter the tube, and water would start gushing out the end where the heater is inserted.

Although I go to great lengths to not put any metal objects in any of my tanks, in this case I think it would be unavoidable because of the heat. What I would do is get a section of very high quality 1" stainless steel tube, something such as "18-8 Chrome-Vanadium", which is the formula used to make high quality forks and spoons like the Oneida brandname in the USA. Another possibility would be a piece of tubing made from some high-temperature plastic or epoxy resin material, perhaps carbon-fiber like they use on Space Shuttle wings. Hmm... Space Shuttle wings... Maybe not carbon fiber then...

Then once I have my new tube, I would take the innards out of the aquarium heater, wrap them gently in a piece of fiberglass body repair cloth, from an auto supplu shop, to insulate them from the metal. Then I would slide that package into the tube and fasten it in place, perhaps with high-temperature silicone, also from the auto supply shop.

If I was going to go nuts with it, I would look into getting the tube platinum plated, to help protect against chemical reactions with the aquarium water.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 08:26 PM
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How much did you spend on all the parts to make your DIY inline heater? I would think it would be cheaper and easier to just buy a Hydor. But of course, you could have built that long before the Hydors came out. Just curiosity. I am all about DIY. I love a good project. And seeing as how I have read a couple of threads that are about Hydors leaking you might be better off.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdem
i want to...have a 25mm input, but then...a ~100mm pipe going from that, and then back into a 25mm output... Do you think there will be a problem with water flow or anything like that??
No, I don't think using 100mm pipe would be a problem at all; it should work fine. The only problem I can imagine with that would be finding 100mm T-fittings with a 25mm side outlet. You could always use those size-adapter plugs, but I'm a perfectionist, and I would hate to not have parts that are exactly the right size. But, whatever, if the you can adapt it down, and it doesn't leak, who cares, right? It will be in the cabinet under the tank where no one sees it. If you cannot find T-fittings at the regular plumbing shop, just like with the compression fittings, you might have to go to a plumbing specialty supplier to find them.

Ok guys, I will apologize in advance, but I feel myself slipping into "essay mode"... Read on...

When dealing with water flow as it applies to heat exchangers, you kind of have the same concerns as with a biological filter: surface area, flow rate, and turbulence. What this all boils down to is a term you hear frequently in reference to UV sterilizers: "contact time". More contact is good - to a point. In all of these cases, you reach a point of diminishing return. In a filter, it's a balance between getting as much fish waste removed as possible, and starving the bacteria - or worse - producing H2S. In a UV sterilizer, it's a balance between zapping the weak germs, and zapping the strong ones. In a heater, it's a balance between water and steam. And in all of these cases, you want a reasonably expedient flow rate.

In our case, we are looking to be cheap, so we will not fiddle with surface area or turbulence. The heater tube will be smooth, and will not be changed. However.......if you did want to fiddle with these, you might be able to increase both the surface area of the tube, and the water turbulence around it, in a number of ways, but the main one I have in mind would involve introducing more metal into the unit.

(that funny noise you just heard is the gears in my head starting to rattle and roll... but mostly rattle)

What I have in mind is to add cooling fins to the heater tube. This would increase both surface area and turbulence. A great example can be seen on this web page where a guy built a DIY CPU cooler for his computer: http://www.overclockers.com/tips1215/index.asp. If you look at the third picture down the page, you can see a copper tube with fins that he soldered on by himself. He used a simple piece of copper plumbing, a propane plumbing torch, plumbing solder, and some spare bits and pieces of copper. The only thing I would do differently is twist the fins so they are a little more in line with the tube. This is so the water flows more hydro-dynamically (I almost said "aero-dynamically" ) around them, instead of across them and thus impeding water flow.

If fins were added as I describe, it would necessitate some small changes to the design of the heater. 1) In order to fit the "finned" tube into the large pipe after you add the cooling fins, you would have to use a large threaded fitting at the end, in addition to the compression fitting where the wires go in. This is because if you glued it all together as my diagram shows, the compression fitting would be too small to slide the tube in. 2) Since metal tubing is being used (rather than a glass tube with one end closed), you'd have to put a cap on the bottom end of the metal tube. Alternatively, use compression fittings at both ends of the tube so that it sticks out at both ends of the heater. 3) Because copper is involved, I would worry about copper toxicity poisoning the fish in the tank, so I would try to get the thing electroplated. This could be done at any auto-finishing shop. I would think a double or triple coating of chrome would be fine, but I am not sure about how reactive and/or toxic that would be in an aquarium, but I would think it would be better than copper. Other possibilities would be gold or platinum, but those would blow a hole in your budget you could fly the Space Shuttle through.

Markdem, as for problems with water flow, that question has two answers. If you are just a teensie bit crazy like me, and you try to make this crazy contraption with cooling fins, I would select a size of pipe just a little larger that the outside diameter of the cooling fins, perhaps giving 1cm of clearance. If you don't add the fins, and just do it "smoothie", I would think 1-2cm of space between the heater tube and the outside pipe would be fine. So 100mm pipe might be a bit large, but will still work just fine... After all we're not building a heat exchanger for a Space Shuttle. (what is this fixation I have with Space Shuttles today?)

Ok well, my essay fuel has fizzled out... I will step off the soap box now.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briandmiles
I've done essentially this same thing and water flow isn't a problem. Also I can tell you that they work great and I love not having the heater in the tank. Here is a thread chronicaling what I did along with pictures. Hope this help you out.

Brian
Brian, what is your link..? You seem to have forgotten to paste it here, and I would be interested to see what you did.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-2006, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pballdan
Check out my thread on Oscarfish.com, I actually just built one using a ViaAqua titanium heater. Its really nice and been running quite a while with no problems so far. The only thing I would change is try to find the GE silicone meant for aquariums. The kind I used was the bathroom stuff and I heard it could be bad for the fish.

Heres the link
http://www.oscarfish.com/my-inline-h...t-vt49974.html
WOW!!! A titanium heater..!! That's awesome; I have never seen those before. That pretty much makes up for all the concerns about metal toxicty in the aquarium water.

And that spacer is something I had not thought of. Great idea!

The way you put the fittings on the ends without using T-fittings is pretty neat, too. I would not have thought of that, either.

How is the end cap sealed on? What if you have to fiddle with the temperature knob? Is it glued with PVC cement, or just slipped on and sealed with silicone or something like that, so you can remove it if need be?
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2006, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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Hi All, thanks for the help. I will start building my inline heater soon and post my findings.

Thanks, Mark
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-26-2006, 12:26 AM Thread Starter
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Hi All, one more thing that has just poped into my head, is there any problems with injecting co2 into this pipe?, making it look like a rex reactor with heaters inside it. I dont think there should be any problems as the gas input is very slow, but just what to make sure.

Thanks, Mark
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-27-2006, 12:01 AM
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Naaah... It should be fine. Inject away...!
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-27-2006, 01:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdem
any problems with injecting co2 into this pipe?, making it look like a rex reactor with heaters inside it.
I was thinking the same thing... what a great idea! Damn, I just built a reactor, and I bought Hydors....
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