Budget dual stage CO2 regulator build - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-25-2019, 03:06 AM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeTheGuppy View Post

The first option is to buy a pre-assembled aquarium regulator. This is most expensive, but easiest. It can be cheap as $150 for this very questionable dual-stage model, but more realistically you're looking at about $500 like for the previously-linked GLA model.

Just passing by to say something...I did buy the "very questionable dual stage model" as I was just like you except way less handy; Co2 art is actually a good brand and my regulator has been working just fine and is very well made. I always thought that at least the solenoid would crap on me but nope, still working pretty damn well. I'm happy and not broke. So yeah if you decide to be lazy and won't bother building one, I would recommend the "very questionable dual stage".
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post #17 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-25-2019, 03:53 AM
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125 reviews and solid five stars for that CO2 Art regulator. I might get that one myself. Thank you for the tip. Never had CO2 before.

Bump: ...and I just noticed they are 30 minutes from my house. Guess where I'm going tomorrow...???

10 G / 20 G long, low-tech planted / 125 G, working on the aquascape and collecting hardware
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post #18 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-25-2019, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Broutilde View Post
Just passing by to say something...I did buy the "very questionable dual stage model" as I was just like you except way less handy; Co2 art is actually a good brand and my regulator has been working just fine and is very well made. I always thought that at least the solenoid would crap on me but nope, still working pretty damn well. I'm happy and not broke. So yeah if you decide to be lazy and won't bother building one, I would recommend the "very questionable dual stage".
Interesting. Any issues with the solenoid getting hot or "needle valve float", where the flow continues to change for a while after adjusting the valve?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patric View Post
125 reviews and solid five stars for that CO2 Art regulator. I might get that one myself. Thank you for the tip. Never had CO2 before.

Bump: ...and I just noticed they are 30 minutes from my house. Guess where I'm going tomorrow...???
I won't be getting mine for a month or two, so if you end up going this way, post back here with your thoughts on it!


Edit: I'm trying to find some opinions on TPT about the CO2Art unit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by aubie98 View Post
any other users of CO2Art or GLA regulators?

Finally did find that thread on CO2Art's dual stage regulator and the apparent controversy was it's a small regulator and people questioned whether a dual-stage regulator could be that small. Apparently they use a piston rather than diaphragm design.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkblade48 View Post
The linked regulator is not a dual stage regulator.
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldpunk78 View Post
They say that it is indeed a two-stage. They won't divulge the schematic of it though and claim it's because of trade secrets.

It obviously isn't what we think of a dual stage regulator. It could be something different that we haven't seen before but I think there's some smoke and mirrors involved.
CO2Art apparently posted drawings proving it's 2-stage in this thread, but the images are gone - guessing whatever site hosted them went under or took them down.

Apparently it uses pistons, which another comment indicated aren't good at providing a consistent output pressure. But, the two stages should avoid EOTD. I'd be curious to see some data on how well it works.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettatail View Post
Pistons!

missed the CO2 Art page this morning before I made the last post....

it is indeed a two stages, the piston first stage is not a real problem, but I guess the second stage piston is not a problem because there is no complaint of output pressure swing.

I want to try one...

Last edited by GeorgeTheGuppy; 06-25-2019 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Added info
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post #19 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-26-2019, 03:24 AM
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Wrote them a message last night and here is the reply:

Hello Patric,

Thanks for reaching out!

I'm really sorry, but Las Vegas location is just our registered office, we ship our equipment from a different address.

Good news, if you order it today, you should have it delivered to your door this week.

I hope this is not a problem.

Best Regards,
Karol
CO2Art US Support Team
www : www.co2art.us
Email : [email protected]
Thanks so much and we hope to see you again soon!

10 G / 20 G long, low-tech planted / 125 G, working on the aquascape and collecting hardware
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post #20 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-26-2019, 03:49 AM
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Orig. was really small..
But keep in mind 2004..AFAICT..
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post #21 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-26-2019, 02:36 PM
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This is where we get back to in many of the discussions of this reg. We know it doesn't have the parts that we see in other dual stage regs and that leaves us asking how it operates and we have to fall back on reviews from users. But it is the same there as in other items where we have to use reviews. The reviews are often not based on long term use but more the common human reaction to being asked if they made a good decision. Most of us do have a "defensive" response when asked if we know what we are doing and that does often lead to defending what we have done, even if we are not totally sure of the outcome!
The problem with reviews on new things is that the numbers are often skewed by reports from folks who simply want what they did to be the correct thing, not necessarily a well rounded answer from folks who have used the item for very long.
The new user reports good results but does the long term user report that it bummed out or does he simply fade from the hobby and never report?
At one point, I believe that Oldpunk 78 was to get hands on with one but that is part of the back story as well. He has only posted twice since 2016, so we may never know if is he using the reg or lost interest?
So we are back to the start where we will eventually find the truth (or close to it?) when the product become a "standard" due to value or fades away due to defects.
Right now, I have no idea which way it goes.
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post #22 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-26-2019, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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I suppose the real question would be if anyone has ever experienced EOTD with this reg. If not, I don't see why it would be worth paying more for a "better" regulator.

The only other consideration is whether the piston design is a negative. The pressure inside the tank should be very nearly static until the liquid CO2 all runs out, so I wouldn't expect that the friction of the pistons would have that much effect on the working pressure - but then again I am not super familiar with the dynamics that occur within the regulator. I guess someone would have to monitor output pressure over time to see if there were any meaningful variations.
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post #23 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-26-2019, 08:42 PM
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Yes, it is always a question of which item we are more concerned about and what level of comfort we want to pay to get. EOFTD is apparently a serious concern and many do want to avoid any possible event, but then part of my thinking on that end has to involve that I've always used single stage regs on my tanks and never had the event, even though I have left a leak at one point which did drain the tank.
But I have a far different situation than many as I am here much of the time and that leaves me watching/listening closer than most are able to fit into a work schedule. I normally plan to avoid end of tank by always checking my connections and not letting the gas get very low before refills. But on the one occasion, the EOTD was not a super large problem but more of a gush of CO2 that made me jump and look what was going on. Part of the question of how bad it gets for the fish has to involve how close we are running to gassing them and I was not pushing it too hard, plus how much extra we get into the tank and what we can do about it, if it happens. I keep a barrel of reserve water at the ready, so that when I found what had happened, I was able to do a massive water change with water at the correct temperature and ready to pump in to relieve the stress.
So I do not worry the EOTD, while it may be far more critical for other folks.
But that leaves me also looking at the small parts as just as important as the regulation part of our setup. I tend to hedge, savings money on cheaper reg bodies, while spending more to get far better solenoids and needle valves as the reg seems such a simple "mindless" item while the other parts are far more important to me to get the smooth, steady flow I want without fuss and failure.
So my chose boils down to doing a bit of work to put together a single stage reg which I buy new locally, pair it with the Clippard Mouse series solenoid that I buy cheap off the auction for around $10-15 and add a medium quality Fabco needle valve to get the smooth control.
Same old story is that there is no single "best" for all of us.
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post #24 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-26-2019, 10:43 PM
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I've got the lower end (they used to have an even lower end fixed output one, but the lesser "dual stage") co2art and it works fine for me, never had an eotd so far in about 5 tank swaps and I run my tanks nearly dry as I swap them out instead of refill. But like planted rich I splurge on the needle valves and / or flow meters i can't stand stupid bubble counters and the crappy valves they mostly come with. I've also got nice handmade regs, a cheap wyin that claims to be dual stage (jurys still out that tanks never gone empty yet.....), nilocgs mini reg... they pretty much all work well for me once you stick a good valve in there.

The issues I've had with regs so far have been when they were defective from the very start. Any fish I've gassed (it's actually not many... 5 tetras maybe) were entirely my own fault.
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post #25 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeTheGuppy View Post
Interesting. Any issues with the solenoid getting hot or "needle valve float", where the flow continues to change for a while after adjusting the valve?

Nope, solenoid is barely warm and flow is the same, didn't adjust it for months.
What I liked also: the warranty: 5 or 10 years depending on the model.
https://www.co2art.eu/pages/10-years...ly-with-co2art
https://www.co2art.eu/pages/comparison
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post #26 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 07:24 AM
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If you want GLA, just go on Alibaba and get a stainless steel dual stage regulator and print out a GLA sticker and slap it on there. There's some on there that look exactly like the GLA regulators, which leads me to believe that's where they get them. Look at the knobs when you're looking for them. Searching online on the auction site will get you a better deal. I have a job that allows me to sit on the computer all day, so I scroll down to search dual stage regulators, but now I have a life. There's so many brass ones out there. Try to go for a new regulator if you can. Add a Clippard solenoid from www.diyregulator.com., or find it online. Clippards fail on me a lot if it gets wet internally. I prefer the Burkert 6011, which is meant to run water inside of it. Since check valves fail so much, I'm even thinking about adding a 2nd solenoid so water doesn't get into the setup, but they get hot and might melt the CO2 tubing. GLA uses Fabco NV-55-18 metering valves.


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post #27 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 03:04 PM
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QUOTE:
Clippards fail on me a lot if it gets wet internally. I prefer the Burkert 6011, which is meant to run water inside of it. Since check valves fail so much, I'm even thinking about adding a 2nd solenoid so water doesn't get into the setup, but they get hot and might melt the CO2 tubing.
I'm a Clippard Mouse series supporter, so I feel this needs a bit more info added as it does not fit what I feel we need to do.

I fully admit that almost any precision item in our CO2 lineup will not work very well, long term, if we let it get wet as the minerals will certainly tend to gum up the works. But I feel the response of moving to a solenoid which is designed to carry water but also gets hot (4-7 watts?) enough to potentially melt plastic is not the way I want to solve the problem as heat is one of the major causes of solenoid sticking as it allows the internal parts to swell slightly and that means they stick.

I suggest that a far better solution is to use the Clippard Mouse series which only uses .67 watt, which can't heat enough to stick, but then make certain that water DOES NOT get that far. Consider that letting water get to the solenoid is only one step from potentially ruining the next item which is the regulator body itself! Once water is in the solenoid, there is very little to keep it from going into the reg body and making the diaphragm questionable!
To assure that water never reaches the good stuff, I add a second cheap plastic check valve as well as a small coil of tubing between the two check valves. Check valves are very prone to failing, so I keep an eye on the coil of tubing between the two check valves and when I see water creeping through the first check valve, I change it out. This is rarely a sudden issue as the water is only drawn through the check valves during the time when CO2 is not forcing it's way toward the tank and it is a slow process as it happens as the CO2 is absorbed into the water it faces. In a 1/4" airline tube, that interface is tiny and it does take a good deal of time to draw much through, giving me at least a week to spot the problem.
This group of check valves are what I prefer but I also order the same thing from USPlastics, also. Type of seal is not important for a gas as mild as CO2.
https://www.ark-plas.com/category.php?c=105
I'm willing to pay a few dollars more to save the good/ expensive stuff!
When I order check valves, I order them in groups of ten or so as I find other parts that I need from the same company and that lets me keep the cost of check valves down to a level that I feel totally comfortable paying to avoid damage to the items which cost far more---like the solenoid!
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post #28 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeTheGuppy View Post

Thanks. Any suggestions for which used regs to look for or avoid, or how to tell the good ones vs the bad ones?
Like @minorhero says, you spend a lot of time with spec sheets and learning to spot telltale signs on the regulators you want if you want to go this route. Also, look for return ability for ones you're unsure of. Or decide to pay more for that ability if you want that peace of mind.

I just did a search and the item numbers of the ones that *I* considered if I was forced to get one today (along with my thought process). I like the silver ones too.
Here's my search string if it helps anyone.

(concoa, victor, matheson, harris, smith, parker, aga, linde, airproduct, osc, alltech, airgas, vwr, praxair, hpt, high purity) regulator -window

edit as you see fit. make sure to show ALL items and not just relevant ones. Sort by lowest price if you really want to spend some time punishing yourself


233232241638 if I didn't care about the looks too much
the 3104 is supposed to deliver up to 100psi, stuck buying an in nipple, which might have to be the case anyway with most of these. not feeling it too much but with the absence of more economical units, I'll think about this a bit depending on my budget.

401702696627 can't find reliable outlet pressure on any stickers on it but not a bad price. I think the C in HPT270C meant something but I forgot now.

as I was browsing, I came across this:
133075229503
Sometimes it pays to follow 'seller's other items' . Looks like a great unit but as @PlantedRich said, the 60psi gauge gives it away as a low delivery pressure unit. so I'll consider it since I run a reactor, but it's not my best choice. Have to balance the idea a bit since the price is sort of tempting for such a unit. Having problems finding more specs on the model number in the pics so.. -1 point

also saw this by chance..
153486464905 do NOT fall for this. listed as two stage but does not have the telltale back piece.

this matheson is a beaut. too bad it's only single stage.
233261521853

this praxair might be a winner
273900314556
couldn't find much on the model number itself so I started searching for something wider.. "PRS2012 praxair", then dropped to "praxair 2000 series" based on something I saw in the previous search. netted me this:
https://www.praxairdirect.com/Specia...egulators.html
shows the model number PRS20124301 breaking down as 2012 series, 4: 0-250 outlet pressure, 3: 0-4000 inlet gauge, 0: 1/4" FNPT Port, 1: Standard Assembly
(psi/kPa Gauges)
yea, searching is an art sometimes
no returns makes me a little wary, but the price is good for a nice, clean unit. and the seller has good rating so maybe he/she will work with you if it's obviously bad? The chance you take sometimes for economy.

this airgas mayyybe, but the price is a little hard to choke on. I thought it was a rebranded matheson (out of practice), but it's really a rebranded victor gpt270 I think.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9...regulator.html
331404479637 It's new.. so it's got that going for it. But from the plantedtank link, you can see it sold for less than 50 only 2 years ago!

352684076783
poking around, I couldn't find a spec sheet for 2122301, but I did see a link on barrreport identifying it as a 212 series so I googled for concoa 212 series instead.
https://www.concoa.com/docs/catalogs...0Regulator.pdf
spec sheet revealed this to be a unit with 40psi output pressure only. enough to push past a diffuser? maaaybe, but I've heard of people needing 50 to crack them, so it's new... but, not strong enough? and now we're talking at 150+ already.

so yea, a little bit of gut, some persistence, some luck.
if I had to buy today? maybe the praxair. but if I'm not in a rush, I'd keep looking.

could always post back here or revive that regulator thread where you found your original information if you have questions on a particular item. I'm sure someone would be happy to provide some input.
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post #29 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 12:30 AM
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I've seen flowmeters talked about a few times in this thread, do you guys have a good recommendation on one for a large tank?

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post #30 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 02:48 PM
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I often mention a Dwyer flowmeter as a good option for larger tanks which require more "bubbles" than can be counted. It does give a ball which lets you read the level and have a specific number to refer back to or watch as you change or adjust the flow. However, I can't really give a specific part that I use as it tends to vary so much. I have actually used the same flowmeter and setting for a 20 long and a 75 gallon setting side by side and both using the same amount of CO2. The two tanks used near the same amount due to the way the smaller lost so much, using HOB and lots more stirring.
So my best recommendation is to do a test run of sorts on the tank before buying a flowmeter. Sounds hard but not really.
Once the tank is up and running with CO2, take the tubing off the current system and hold it under a calibrated container of some sort, like a test tube, etc and let the system run for a short time to measure how much CO2 is being used. Once you have a specific amount in a certain amount of time, you will need to do a bit of figuring.
For instance, if you get "X" milli-liters of CO2 in 15 seconds, multiply by four to get how much you need to measure in a full minute. But where it takes a bit of thought is when you start shopping for the flowmeter as you may find one that gives the measurement in a totally different way, like cubic feet per second.
A good time to go to an online calculator to convert whatever measurement you used to the one that flowmeter reads. I have to admit that all my flowmeters have been salvage and I do not have model numbers to refer folks to when buying. Best advice I would have is too start looking at the really small measurement group first as our use is terribly tiny, compared to most industrial users. Our largest use is often their smallest!
Hopefully somebody else can give better answers.
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