DIY Auto top off with circuit breaker HELP? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-03-2015, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Auto top off with circuit breaker HELP?

so i am doing a DIY auto top off and everything is wired up and running....

what i wanted to know is, is there a way to add a circuit breaker into the mix?

i need it to break the circuit if the float switch ever drains to much water to dry out the bucket of water that the pump is in...


so what i mean is that if the bucket of water ever gets to low before i can see it, there is a float valve in the lower bucket before the pump runs dry. when that is flip on... the circuit will turn off the power and will no be allowed to turn back on unless i manually flip the circuit breaker back on....


my issue was that when the bucket water ran low, the pump will turn off due to the lower float valve, but what ever was in the tube then drains back down into the bucket which turn the pump back on and the water goes half way up and turns off the pump and it keeps on doing this over and over again...


for this reason i need to add some kinda circuit breaker into this mix to have the power cut off completely when this happens...


any help or links would be great thanks...
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 04:03 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone have any idea?
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 02:12 PM
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hmm, interesting problem. Circuit breakers and fuses reacts to overflow of current so you can't use them in this case.

Maybe use a check valve on the tube so it doesn't drain back into the container.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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I checked to see if pic check valves would work or not but they run on a spring action and the water pumps we used for aquarium doesn't provide much of pressure to push the spring valve up

But let's say it does push up the spring... It would lose a lot of momentum to push the water up the tube now if it even has the strength to even do that after the spring


Correct me if I'm wrong here...
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 08:35 PM
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yup, check valves do reduce pressure but it might still work.
It's worth a try. You can always return it.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Parts20-A...6-6D/100150323
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-05-2015, 02:55 AM
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What are you using in your setup? How does it work?
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-05-2015, 04:40 AM
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I use a bilge pump float switch that activates a relay to power my top-off pump (also a bilge pump).

Bilge pump float switches deactivate at a lower water level than they activate, which gets rid of the issue you're talking about.


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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-05-2015, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhysicsDude55 View Post
I use a bilge pump float switch that activates a relay to power my top-off pump (also a bilge pump).

Bilge pump float switches deactivate at a lower water level than they activate, which gets rid of the issue you're talking about.

wouldnt this give me the same issue with the pump? lol its similar to what i currently have running


i run a 9v to a relay which is connected to the float valve, if the float valve drops down then it will activate the coil in the relay in which the pump will then get a 120vac power and turns on the pump... once water level raises the float valve to where it needs to, the relay coil will be deactivated and the pump will turn off...

i know i seen a post some where a while back about a guy using some kinda breaker in his top off but i cant seem to find it anywhere now lol...
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 03:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryanmc1988 View Post
wouldnt this give me the same issue with the pump? lol its similar to what i currently have running


i run a 9v to a relay which is connected to the float valve, if the float valve drops down then it will activate the coil in the relay in which the pump will then get a 120vac power and turns on the pump... once water level raises the float valve to where it needs to, the relay coil will be deactivated and the pump will turn off...

i know i seen a post some where a while back about a guy using some kinda breaker in his top off but i cant seem to find it anywhere now lol...
I don't really understand what kind of circuit breaker you're talking about and how it would solve your issue.

The bilge pump float switches activate at a higher water level than when they deactivate. In other words, it will turn the pump on at 3/4" of water, but will not turn off until water level has fallen to 1/4" of water, so there's a gap there which gives some wiggle room for water coming back down the tube, etc.

Another alternative is to put some type of timer or capaciter on your 9V feed line, which keeps the relay activated for an extra 5 seconds or so. This would also alleviate your issue.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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even if you give the pump an extra 5 seconds, the water will stay in the tube as the bucket of water runs dry and you end up with the same issue of the water flowing back down from the tube into the bucket and raise the bucket water to activate the switch which tells the pump that there is still enough water and turn it on... and when the pump starts pushing the water up half way up the tube, it switch is activated again saying hey turn off the pump there isnt enough water and your running the pump dry and down the water does again from the tube thats half full and it repeats...


if that makes senses now lol
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 04:47 AM
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So no check valve?

You can stick an arduino to give the pump a little brain. The pump won't turn on again until the top float valve has signaled on, meaning you've filled up the container again.


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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 05:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryanmc1988 View Post
even if you give the pump an extra 5 seconds, the water will stay in the tube as the bucket of water runs dry and you end up with the same issue of the water flowing back down from the tube into the bucket and raise the bucket water to activate the switch which tells the pump that there is still enough water and turn it on... and when the pump starts pushing the water up half way up the tube, it switch is activated again saying hey turn off the pump there isnt enough water and your running the pump dry and down the water does again from the tube thats half full and it repeats...


if that makes senses now lol
I see what you're saying. Have you already experienced this? You must have a long/thick tube from your reservoir or a very sensitive float valve or something. I wouldn't think the volume of water inside the tube would be close to enough water to trip the float valve inside your reservoir. I've never had this be an issue even when I used a 5G home depot bucket with a relatively small footprint.

I still stick with my bilge pump float switch suggestion. There's no way you have enough water volume in the tube to trigger one of those switches if you stick one of them inside your reservoir. I've used one with absolutely no issues for 3+ years. I can see how you'd have this issue with a regular float switch, the kind you buy on ebay, but with any switch designed for a bilge pump, they're specifically designed to not have this issue by having different activation and deactivation water levels.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 05:19 AM
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Yeah, I'd try the bilge float too. It's only $12.


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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 07:59 PM
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I put together an ATO system and a main pump stop system using a combination of these:
http://www.aquahub.com/store/product26.html and http://www.aquahub.com/store/product67.html

I dont have a "circuit breaker" but I do have a failsafe built into the setup so that if the water level in my main tank get too high, or if the water level in my sump gets too low; the main pump shuts off and will not restart unless I press a button. Now unfortunately its been a while since I put all this together and cant quite recall all the exact details but you might be able to learn something you could use from my ramblings here!

So I've got various float switches in my display tank, in my sump, and in my ATO reservoir and that all gets hooked up to this "control panel" I fabbed up:


The switch on the top left lets me turn off the ATO if I ever need to (most often during a water change). The red and green light next to it are wired into the system so I can check it just at a quick glance. Green light on means the ATO is currently pumping from the reservoir into the sump. Red light on means the ATO reservoir got too low (and therefore allows a float switch to drop).

Then the larger switch on the bottom is for my main pump. I can turn it off (and back on) as I please (and again most often turn off only for a water change). The red light next to that will trip only if the water level in the sump gets too low or if the water level in the main tank gets too high. Then there is a little momentary switch/button next to that main switch. If the red light turns on (meaning sump level too low or display level too high) then the pump can not turn back on unless i press the momentary button.....even then the pump wont turn back on unless whatever condition caused it to trip has been correct (ie water level in sump is now back up to normal level or water level in main display tank is back down to normal level).

Now as far as wiring it up I essentially used the instructions that came with the kits:
http://www.aquahub.com/store/media/T...xCompDec07.pdf

http://www.aquahub.com/store/media/P...struxMar12.pdf

It did take a good bit of fiddling before I had it all working correctly....but it was definitely worth the time it took as this particular tank is pretty much self sufficient now which is exactly what I intended as its at my office and I'm not there daily.

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Curator of an ever growing fishroom that currently houses 30 different tanks. Most full of at least water....some even have fish!
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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thats what i needed is the failsafe switch you were talking about where i would have to push the switch in again if it ever fails... thats what it was that i needed not a circuit breaker lol
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