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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Being a techie at heart I decided that I would take advantage of home automation and smart plugs to automate some of the functions of my aquarium. I already had an Amazon Echo Dot nearby so I bought some Amazon Smart Plugs.

I set one up for my CO2 and programmed it to start up an hour before lights on and turn off an hour before lights off. Worked great.
I set another one to turn my pump and integrated heater on and off. One set of commands just did that by voice - on/off. Another routine turned them off, waits for 8 minutes and then turned them back on automatically. This was by voice again and was for feeding so I would not wander off, forgetting to turn the pump back on. I am sure that none of you have ever done that :)

Everything has worked great for months...until last night when I happened to walk by the tank and saw no water flow. I worked for a couple of hours trying to reset the "smart" plug and research the problem. Things got confusing when I tried a spare new plug and found that it was listed as "unresponsive" also.

I eventually found that all of my Amazon brand smart plugs were offline. More research uncovered that this happens occasionally with these Amazon plugs. Evidently they are dependent upon a server(s) or system at Amazon which on occasion becomes unavailable. While this is not a life changer for a desk lamp it does not work well for our life support devices.

I read that Akasa(TPLink) plugs stayed up when the Amazon plugs were offline. I bought a few of them to try.

I would be interested in any anecdotal feedback on your own use of smart plugs or home automation with your tanks, especially brands that have been reliable.
 

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That is the reason why I am avoiding using the Amazon / Google smart plugs, and am going to use a Wifi smart power bar with an app on my phone, that way I can set schedules or manually use each outlet and check up with it anywhere in the world at any time. I assume they have a backup failsafe mode, which I could set as on or off in case of disconnection.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That is the reason why I am avoiding using the Amazon / Google smart plugs, and am going to use a Wifi smart power bar with an app on my phone, that way I can set schedules or manually use each outlet and check up with it anywhere in the world at any time. I assume they have a backup failsafe mode, which I could set as on or off in case of disconnection.
Actually my phone has the Alexa app that allows me to see the status of the plugs from anywhere. The plugs are Wi-fi enabled and require no hub. I can set schedules individually and also trigger them manually from my phone or by speaking to one of the Echo Dots.

BTW, the Dots never went down during this "event". The plugs just lost their connectivity. My Akasa smart light bulbs continued to work. I am pretty sure that most smart power bars are just a group of smart plugs combined in a line.

From my own experience the "take home lesson" is to try to find a plug or system that does not depend upon an external/cloud server. Also any strip or plug should not turn off if it does lose connectivity and should return to its schedule if it loses actual power. I believe that Akasa does make a smart bar so it might be fine...or not. I plan to investigate

The plugs were all back online automagically this morning...
 

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Currently using TP-Link Kasa smart power strips with Kasa App. We are prone to power outages and surges here and wanted to automate a schedule for lights and CO2 on/off. These have worked perfectly and easy to set up. Added bonus is the ability to turn individual outlets on/off via the app or a button, no pulling plugs!
 

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I have Kasa plugs with the app and they work exactly like I want. I think they do integrate with Amazon and maybe google home services, but I admit I avoid most home automation. I like that I don't need to make an account to use them and that the programming is stored in the plug, not on my phone or on the cloud so a loss of power or internet doesn't affect them at all. The app also syncs the clock periodically. I don't think I can reprogram them from a remote location, but I'm not sure how often I would ever need to do that.

That said, why would you use a smart plug with your pump?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have Kasa plugs with the app and they work exactly like I want. I think they do integrate with Amazon and maybe google home services, but I admit I avoid most home automation. I like that I don't need to make an account to use them and that the programming is stored in the plug, not on my phone or on the cloud so a loss of power or internet doesn't affect them at all. The app also syncs the clock periodically. I don't think I can reprogram them from a remote location, but I'm not sure how often I would ever need to do that.

That said, why would you use a smart plug with your pump?
Glad to hear that about Kasa plugs, especially that they store settings locally. I have a few individual ones on the way.

Regarding my pump. I have an Alexa command that says "Feed Fish". It turns off the pump, waits 8 minutes, and then turns it back on. I do not want to be a "bad Dad" and forget to turn it back on.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Get a Neptune Apex and quit playing with toys.
Please make your case.

What do we get for $800? More features? Reliability?

Any photos of your planted tank? Success always backs up a good argument.

Thanks!
 

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Here you go. Apex now comes in many flavors. The one for $799 is for salt. There is one for fresh without salt and ORP for $499. Neptune has the app that I used in Singapore to control my apex in Oregon. It sends alerts. Has a huge forum of users who love to program and yes, even alexa support. I have at least 30 smart devices but after buying all that this is my best automation. Hope the tank pictures come through!
 

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We also have a Kasa power strip (the 3 port one). The tank hasn't been running for that long and I'm still doing a dry start, but the Kasa has been good so far. I also use a Kasa outdoor outlet for our pond outdoors and two indoor ones for holiday lights and Xmas tree. The outdoor one needed to be reset once.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited by Moderator)
Here you go. Apex now comes in many flavors. The one for $799 is for salt. There is one for fresh without salt and ORP for $499. Neptune has the app that I used in Singapore to control my apex in Oregon. It sends alerts. Has a huge forum of users who love to program and yes, even alexa support. I have at least 30 smart devices but after buying all that this is my best automation. Hope the tank pictures come through!
Nice tank. The Apex certainly would bring my monitoring up to a new level. Can it also act as a controller for dosing?

We also have a Kasa power strip (the 3 port one). The tank hasn't been running for that long and I'm still doing a dry start, but the Kasa has been good so far. I also use a Kasa outdoor outlet for our pond outdoors and two indoor ones for holiday lights and Xmas tree. The outdoor one needed to be reset once.
For my tank CO2 and pump I replaced the Amazon brand for TP-Link Kasa. I have yet to verify that the Kasa does not need to check in to the cloud for settings but I am hoping so.

My guess is that any electrical device, controller or smart plug is prone to failure in one form or another. I had been using the Amazon plugs around the house for a couple of years. They worked great until they didn't :)
 

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Mourip, Yes. Aquacave is one of the big Neptune dealers. Go look at the Neptune offerings or better yet go to the Neptune site and look there and join the forum to have a look at what people are doing. Neptune is focused on Salt water but much can be applied to this hobby. Note: My focus is adding plants to a an already heavily stocked aquarium to help process waste. Many on this forum build planted systems and then add fish. Fertilizers, trace element and CO2 dosing experiments are not so friendly to big fish and having experienced several near death episodes I turned to watching the plants and the fish for good health and slowed down on my OCD for exact science.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Mourip, Yes. Aquacave is one of the big Neptune dealers. Go look at the Neptune offerings or better yet go to the Neptune site and look there and join the forum to have a look at what people are doing. Neptune is focused on Salt water but much can be applied to this hobby. Note: My focus is adding plants to a an already heavily stocked aquarium to help process waste. Many on this forum build planted systems and then add fish. Fertilizers, trace element and CO2 dosing experiments are not so friendly to big fish and having experienced several near death episodes I turned to watching the plants and the fish for good health and slowed down on my OCD for exact science.
I guess that my goal is to build an environment that looks natural to me with a comfortable balance between plants, livestock and maintenance.

Funny but I read Amano's first book probably 20 years ago and built a 75g heavily planted tank with sump, CO2 and lots of fish. I kept it up for 5 years. Only the first and last 6 months were much work. I even used a protein skimmer to bubble my CO2 into just before the sump pump. Now it would be considered a CO2 reactor.

I am glad that there was far less information and technology available then because I probably would not have been as successful and probably a lot more stressed!
 

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In my experience smart plugs tend to be problematic and will run into problems eventually. I used a Samsung Smart Things plug that can track energy usage...as you might imagine that didn't work half of the time. Their app is also complete trash so I would not recommend their smart plugs. Anyways, so far I've had the best luck with regular analog timers. They are bulky and annoying to setup, but once they're up they don't randomly need to be reset. Like you need to do occasionally with some smart plugs. The features that come with "smart" plugs are nice to have, but ultimately IMO are not worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
In my experience smart plugs tend to be problematic and will run into problems eventually. I used a Samsung Smart Things plug that can track energy usage...as you might imagine that didn't work half of the time. Their app is also complete trash so I would not recommend their smart plugs. Anyways, so far I've had the best luck with regular analog timers. They are bulky and annoying to setup, but once they're up they don't randomly need to be reset. Like you need to do occasionally with some smart plugs. The features that come with "smart" plugs are nice to have, but ultimately IMO are not worth it.
Thanks for the input.

I used analog timers for tank lights a long time ago. If the power goes off then they are set back by the same amount as the outage lasted. They do come back on however. They can also fail just like any other electrical/mechanical device. Mine have. There are also simple digital timers but my guess is that being electronic devices they have their own set of issues. At least they keep their settings for a while. My lights have their own digital timer connected inline with the DC power adapter.

My pump and heater do not actually need a timer. I know that I can always just plug them in directly. I use the smart plug with Alexa as a convenience and to solve the problem of forgetting to turn the pump back on after feeding. An analog timer would not work for that. I guess that I will just need to weigh the risks of outage vs my unpredictable memory.
 

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Been running my tank on Reef-pi for years now.

Reef pi is a diy controller based on a raspberry pi and reef-pi software. Im pwm controlling 2 beanswork DA fspecs, running my heaters with temp sensors. Ph monitoring and various controlled equipment outlets. It triggers my co2 solenoid, handles my return pumps. Look it up over at reef2reef forums!!

It has a web interface with graphing and also controls kasa outlets. For a relatively full build may set you back 200 or so if you are into diy. Mine runs perfectly on a lowly 10 dollar pi zero w.
 
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