pump vs. powerhead? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-25-2008, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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pump vs. powerhead?

What is the difference between a water pump and a power head. I have a submersible pump that I use for water changes but I've never used a power head. Is one better than another for a DIY filter?

Thanks,
Laura
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-25-2008, 06:11 PM
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A powerhead is pretty much nothing but a small submersible pump. Once you get into needing a lot of head height or large flow rates you move into where pumps are needed, but essentially they are the same thing unless you are getting into external pumps.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-25-2008, 10:05 PM
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Powerheads were originally used to power undergravel filters. In their normal position, they will clamp to the tank rim, with the inlet pointing downward (to pull water from the UGF) and the outlet to the side.

With Water Pumps, the inlet usually points horizontally to one side, or is hidden in a strainer.

But in the end, they are the same.

If you plan to have the pump on top of your filter, a powerhead might be the better choice. If you want the pump sitting on the bottom, a water pump might work better. Some models/brands are flexible when it comes to positioning, while others complain if you put them upside down or sideways.


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 03:30 AM Thread Starter
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Ah okay, that makes sense. My plan is to make a wet/dry sump type filter for my ten gallon. I'll be putting the pump at the end for the return. Other than that, I haven't settled on any design for the sump yet. I'm thinking of using a plastic tub of about 5 gallon volume.

Any suggestions for the pump brand wise or strength wise?

Thanks,
Laura
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 01:46 PM
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Pumps create pressure. Powerheads don't......


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naja002 View Post
Pumps create pressure. Powerheads don't......
Huh? Companies that provide pump curves for their powerheads (such as Aquarium Systems) provide head height numbers for their powerheads, which is a measure of pressure for the pump. Perhaps if the powerhead is just sitting in a tank with no output restrictions then there is little pressure to think about. If you connect 50 feet of hose to that same powerhead and have any type of vertical rise in that run, there is certainly pressure created in the system whether it is a pump or a powerhead (which are essentially the same thing).

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 02:28 PM
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Please post a link to the "Powerheds" that you are referring to.....


Your post really doesn't clarify what you are saying. If you are referring to pumping out of a tank--then there really isn't any "vertical head" and gravity takes care of overcoming the static pressure.

But if you are talking about using a powerhead to pump through 50' of tubing with an actual 4' of vertical head---it isn't going to happen.

Keep in mind that the terms powerhead and pump are used somewhat interchangeably. You may need to look at the application for which the device was intended......


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 02:35 PM
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Actually, I am using a Maxijet 900 to pump water from my change bucket back to my sink which is a horizontal run of 50 feet with a vertical rise of 30 inches or so. It won't set any speed records, but it does indeed create enough pressure to get the job done. Four feet would probably be pushing it, but that was just an example.

Go here .. notice the "maximum head height" listing. My Maxijet pumps actually have this information printedin nice typical pump curves, but I am still trying to find it online.

http://www.aquariumguys.com/maxijet.html

Maybe we are talking about the same thing. I am using the Maxijet (sold as a "powerhead") as a pump. The Maxijet is nothing but a small pump made to work as a powerhead in an aquarium by having the correct output connections afterall. It can be used in many other ways (as a pump if needed) as well.


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 02:40 PM
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OK .. this isn't the best picture but it is from the source. Go down in the page until you get to the Maxijet line. You will see they have a head height listed for each pump.

http://www.aquariumsystems.eu/EN/pom...bmersible.html

I guess in all fairness they actually refer to it as a small pump. I have only seen it sold as a "powerhead" so perhaps that is where some confusion came in (not that it takes much for me ...)

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 03:13 PM
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Thank You. You help prove my point. The link to aquarium systems has them all listed as pumps. The manufacturer would know. Resellers like:

Drs foster & Smith

Have them listed as: powerhead/water pump. Because that's what they are these days--both.

and

Its easy to find the 400, 600, 900, 1200 series listed both ways.



The Maxijet series 250, 500, 750 and 1000 are/were pumps.

The Maxijet series 400, 600, 900 and 1200 are/were powerheads.

The 250, 500, 750 and 1000 series--pumps--have become much harder to find over the last few years. Mainly hydropnics and overseas.

My guess is that aquarium systems has improved the impeller and its housing to offer a device that is a powerhead and a pump.

Basically, a powerhead just moves water around. Yes, it needs to generate some pressure, but traditionally--not enough to matter. A pump has the ability to move water against resistance.

If you surf powerheads--they normally don't offer much info in reference to head. Its normally GPH. Pumps usually offer both head and GPH.

Its somewhat ambiguous, but for the most part--pumps are listed as pumps and powerheads as powerheads.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 04:49 PM
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I don't know that I have proven anything of the sort (only confused the issue to my mind). The Aquarium Systems site might have it listed as a pump, but that is more of a marketing decision in my opinion. Why call it a powerhead, when "small utility pump" sounds such much better? I can assure you that the actual box it comes in lists the product as "Maxijet 900 PH Powerhead" just to muddy the waters more

I only own two brands of powerheads: Maxijet and Aquaclear. I have used both to move water vertically, so from my limited experience I think that at least for modern products "powerhead" and "small pump" are fairly interchangeable terms. I'm sure there are some cheap ones out there that won't produce enough head pressure to use as a pump, but I haven't used or run across them. Regardless, I think we are both saying the same thing in the end

In the end, like anything else it means you have to research a product before you use it. To the OP, look at the product information at the manufacturer's website. If you can't find the information you are looking for, move on to a different product. If you find a powerhead that meets your requirements, use it. If you need to move to a product specifically labeled as a pump, check the curves and find one that fits your needs. Because I have recently been shopping in this category, I can tell you there is a lot of gray area in between the two product lines.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 07:21 PM
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Both pumps and powerheads work the same way... a rotating impeller creates pressure, and out the water goes. Different chamber and impeller designs, and of course characteristics of the motor, will create different pressure and flow volume. But without pressure, nothing moves.

Hold your finger in front of a running powerhead, and you will feel some pressure

I think it is really just the suggested position that makes a pump a powerhead. For typical powerhead applications you don't need to overcome a lot of head and therefore no need to create a lot of pressure.


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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 07:33 PM
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Right, and there's a reason that you used a pump for your DIY canister filter--and not a powerhead.


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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-27-2008, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Hey guys,

Thanks for the discussion. So really for my needs it seems that a small pump or a powerhead would work. I have a small generic pump around that I think I'll try first. I might upgrade to something with a little higher quality later on. Thanks,

Laura
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