During the summer season, many of us would often find ourselves devastated due to the hot temperature. But did you know that temperature also causes a major impact on our plants? A huge impact! However, there are several ways of keeping the temperature down in the reservoir.
While obsessing over humidity levels, heat, ventilation, lighting, and everything else above ground, it’s important not to forget what’s going on down below. One way of keeping the water cool is by using a water chiller.
Much like other technologies within the ever-improving hydroponic industry, water chiller technology has come a long way. Affordable, efficient options are readily available to consumers. Gone are the days of being limited to expensive aquarium-specific chillers. With many choices to be made, it is important to choose the right water chiller that fits your garden’s needs and your performance expectations.
Water chillers work in conjunction with water pumps. As the nutrient solution is circulated throughout the system/reservoir, the mechanics naturally heat the solution. This solution is then pumped through the water chiller, where it encounters cooling coils and is chilled to the desired temperature. This cooled solution is then circulated back into the system, providing ideal temperatures for explosive root growth and disease suppression.
Hydroponic gardens are one of the state-of-the-art techniques that many of us had been incorporating in our gardens. Hydroponics is good for people who don’t have that space outside their homes. However, having one can be expensive and tedious to maintain. It requires a lot of time and money, mainly because their needs are different from the usual plants. But compared to the mainstream gardens, hydroponic gardens are most cost effective.
What Is an Aquatic Chiller?
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/574701602439258328/
An aquatic water chiller is a device that is used to lessen the temperature in the water. It has a thermostat that helps you see the temperature in the water and allows you to adjust when you think it is too high for your aquarium or hydroponic garden.
When buying a water chiller, it is very important to buy a hydroponics water chiller with a titanium heat exchanger. If your chiller has not got a titanium heat exchanger than contamination between the metal can spoil the nutrient solution. Because many hydroponics nutrient solutions have a high acid or alkaline content this can corrode cheap base metals to the extent that metal perforation and contamination of the water becomes an issue to your background water levels.
Why Do You Need a Water Chiller?
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/179018153916769973/
Using water chillier for a hydroponics nutrient solution can be highly beneficial for the rapid and healthy growth of plants. A hydroponics system in most cases uses a circulating pump to circulate the water solution around the system, which adds heat to the water. With that, the ambient temperature of the surroundings and indoor lights, the water temperature in an indoor growing environment, can rise to levels where water oxygen holding levels can be extremely poor. When grown in soil, plants roots are always kept at a steady temperature naturally, but when grown in water the latent heat content makes water a good conductor of heat from the surroundings, hence why water is used as a coolant in automotive, industrial and manufacturing processes.
An aquatic water chiller is often used for fish aquariums. However, many gardeners started using the aquatic water chiller for their hydroponic gardens. In a water-based hydroponic garden, plants are not planted into the ground but are rather soil-less. They usually rely on water to survive. As a hydroponic gardener, you need to remember that high temperature can be problematic for your garden. It lessens the oxygen dissolved in the plant roots. The oxygen dissolved is considered the life source for most hydroponics. Hence, maintaining one at the recommended level will help you grow a better and healthier garden.
Types of Aquatic Water Chillers
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/701576448172075145/
Drop-In Chillers. Drop in water chillers are often placed directly into the water filters. They usually come with a probe that helps in filtering the air and improves the air that is being filtered. If you are into deep water culture hydroponics, this is the best aquarium water chiller for you. This water chiller is very easy to install and doesn’t take up too much space.
Thermoelectric Chillers. This is the best aquatic water chiller for smaller aquarium and hydroponic system. It can hold up to a maximum water level of 55 gallons of water. This water chiller does not produce a vibrating sound when it works. Among the types of water chillers, thermoelectric is considered more cost-effective because it has a low-maintenance upkeep as compared to the drop in and in-line.
In-Line Chillers. The in-line water chiller is intended for a larger water system. Oftentimes, they require plumbing because of the in-line filters, which filter the water and keep it at a constant temperature. It comes in 1/5 to 1-ton sizes. This is the best aquarium water chiller for NFT hydroponic system.
What Size of Water Chiller Do You Need?
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/355432595581283125/
It is important that you get the size of your reservoir If you are a hydroponic gardener who is planning to get an aquarium water chiller for you to get the correct size of the chiller. Here are the instructions on how to get the size of your water chiller.
- Get the accurate amount of water in your hydroponic system. Aquarium water chillers have a different water level capacity. It would also help you determine the time it would take for your water to chill.
- Determine which time of the day has the highest temperature. Also, check the places that have easily heat up during this time. Your goal is to get the maximum temperature of the room. There are other chillers that work depending on the location; this will help you determine if that water chiller will work in your garden or not.
- After that, try to decrease the temperature down to 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can chill down the system by adding sealed bags filled with ice. You can also use 2 liters of frozen water in plastic bottles.
- When doing this process, it is very important that the bags and the water bottles are sealed. Your aim is to check the water temperature. It is important that you don’t add too much water. This can affect the result of the test.
- Once the water has reached the desired temperature, you need to remove the ice bags or water bottles from the system. Allow the water to circulate through the system.
- After that, get a timer and a notebook or notepad. Press start, and then measure the starting temperature of the water.
- After an hour, check the temperature again. Then jot it down.
- Once you have done getting the temperature, subtract the starting temperature from the new temperature after an hour. The difference of the two will be your temperature differential.
- After that, use this formula BTU= Gallons of water X (multiply) 8.34 (the weight of one gallon of a water X (multiply) temperature differential.
With this, you can now get the correct number of BTUs that you need in your garden. Here are some of the standard measurements of BTUs per ton.
- 1,200 BTU ; 1/10 TON
- 3,000 BTU ; 1/4 TON
- 6,000 BTU ; 1/2 TON
- 12,000 BTU ; 1 TON
Example Reservoir Calculation
Here is a basic formula to correctly size a water chiller for your garden:
First, is calculating the total system volume like the nutrient reservoir and any bucket systems.
Then, operate everything in the grow room (lights, fans, pump, humidifiers, etc.) and let the grow room reach its maximum temperature.
And, once the grow room and nutrient solution has reached the maximum temperature, cool the system or reservoir by utilizing ice packs as the system runs.
And finally, remove all ice packs from the system and continue to run for one hour. Once one hour has elapsed, take note of ending nutrient temp. Subtract the starting temp from the ending temp and plug all data into the following formula total system volume in gallons x 8.34 (established weight of water) x starting and ending temperature difference = minimum BTU per hour needed
Total system volume: 100 gallons
Desired temperature: 68°F
Temp after one hour: 74°F
100 x 8.34 x 6 = 5,004 BTU
Note as this calculates the minimum BTU required for this system, it is recommended to purchase a water chiller 20 per cent above the minimum requirement to make up for any performance loss. Also, choose a water chiller model that has a titanium heat exchanger to prevent any minerals from leaching into the nutrient solution.
Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/275212227209261692/
Personally, I really think that getting something cheaper is like not getting any at all since they’re usually unreliable. But paying too much may be a tad excessive, and that’s especially true if you’re a newbie. So, I made a list on the best aquatic chillers to use for your hydroponic garden.
Active Aqua Chiller
This is considered as one of the best aquarium water chillers because of its refrigeration capacity. This water chiller has a 13-106-gallon capacity that easily cools down in the span of 20 hours. It is safe to use because of the R134a substance that keeps the system cool and running. Aside from that, the said device is equipped with a microcomputer control system and LCD system to adjust the temperature in your garden. It is very easy to assemble and a user-friendly device. It doesn’t vibrate and produces zero noise when you start this one. The machine is very durable, and it can work around the clock. Plus, the water easily chills in the span of one hour and a half. However, some of its tubing’s easily break that you need to handle them more carefully. The device has also a temperature sensor issue. So, you would need to buy a separate water pump for the aquarium water chiller.
Hamilton Technology from Aqua Euro Max
The Aqua Euro Max aquarium chiller is considered as the best aquarium water chiller for both hydroponics and fish aquariums. The said machine is equipped with an anti-freezing system that prevents the heat exchanger to freeze. It maintains a constant water temperature even when you lower the temperature in your reservoir. It is equipped with a digital led display control that allows you to tweak the temperature depending on your preferred temperature level. It has also a faster freezing rate as compared to other chillers in the market. It can easily chill bathtub filled with water in the span of 30 minutes. It doesn’t heat up or produces annoying sound when it starts to work and it is very easy to install and user-friendly too.
In addition, it has a powerful and compact design. And the controller features a built-in memory recall, which will maintain settings in the event of a power outage.
Also, the reliable compressor uses Dupont ozone friendly refrigerant and the Anti-Freezing System protects the heat exchanger from damage by freezing. The heavy-duty condenser quickly releases captured heat for efficient water cooling too.
But, the negative thing is that there are no instructions on how to clean the filter and condenser. The chiller is not loud but the operation is audible. So, when purchasing this device, it is best that you get this from a reputable seller to avoid fraud and damaged products.
IceProbe Water Chiller
If you have a smaller reservoir sizing up to 55 gallons or less, then the Ice Probe might be the best aquarium water chiller that you are looking for. Ice Probe is equipped with an efficient and state-of-the-art thermoelectric technology that keeps your reservoir cool. It comes with pre-filters and siphons for easy cleaning.
Aside from that, this electricity-powered machine comes with a separate temperature controller that turns on and off the device on a pre-determined temperature. This is the best aquarium water chiller for deep-water culture hydroponic system. In addition, the temperature drops a degree lower from the original temperature being set. It comes with a one-year warranty and It is durable and made of excellent quality. However, the temperature fluctuates depending on the garden location. There are some reported technical problems with the separate controllers.
If you have a small aquarium the IceProbe chiller might be just what you need to drop the water temperature a couple of degrees. The small size, quiet operation, and simplicity have it made it a favorite small-tank chiller for over ten years.
The reliable seal system ensures that drilled tanks won’t leak. Iceprobe chillers are a favorite for Nano reef tanks. Some aquarists have used two IceProbe chillers to cool their tanks. If you have a larger aquarium, you’ll have to go with a traditional chiller.
JBJ Arctic Aqua Chiller
The JBJ Arctic Aqua-Titanium is known for its cost-efficient condenser. It produces less noise, but it can easily chill the water in your reservoir in a short time. It is also equipped with an environmental-friendly refrigerant called R-134A.
Aside from that, this device is named the best aquarium water chiller because of its durable and corrosion free housing. This device is also equipped with a LED display control that allows you to adjust the water in accordance with the preferred temperature. It can easily cool 120 gallons of water in a short period of time. There are no temperature fluctuations. The water is kept at a constant temperature level and the company has a good customer service. However, there are times that the machine produces a vibrating sound. You must buy this machine from a reputable buyer to avoid fake units or imitations.
The JBJ range of aquarium chillers is one of the most popular with aquarists. The company is dedicated to making it easy to select a chiller with their on-line calculator. Unlike the EcoPlus chillers, JBJ has proven to last for many years.
The super-quiet operation, two-year warranty and high reliability make JBJ the “go-to” chiller for freshwater and reef aquariums. If you’re keeping cool-water fish like koi or goldfish indoors or battling heat from reef lighting, consider the JBJ chiller line. They are reliable and provide good performance and a reasonable price.
Ecoplus Aquatic Chile
This machine has garnered good customer ratings because of its efficient compressor. Aside from its well-made compressor, this machine is hailed as the best aquarium water chiller because of its dual fittings. You can either use a one-inch PVC pipe or flexible tubes when using this aquarium chiller for your hydroponic system or water tanks. It has a LED display control for temperature adjustments. This water chiller is not just used for hydroponics and aquarium tanks, but it can also be used for other personal purposes.
Meanwhile, the water temperature remains constant and the water easily chills in a short period of time. Also, it has a durable casing; this aquarium water chiller is made from galvanized steel. However, when you opt to buy this aquarium water chiller, it is best that you purchase it from a reputable buyer. Because of its popularity, many attempts to produce imitations.
Teco Tank TK-500 1/6 HP
The Italian-made Teco TANK TK-500 is a complete temperature control system for aquariums. It is more advanced than the other chillers we’ve looked at.
The Teco TH-500 has a built-in heater and cooling capabilities! The build-quality is at the highest level. The fit and finish are excellent. This means no sharp edges and no annoying rattles and vibrations. The TK-500 is rated for tanks up to 130 gallons. Unique to the TK-500 is a rotatable top exhaust conveyor that allows the user to direct air flow and heat exchange away from the chiller unit, allowing better performance in its operating space.
The design increases the heat transfer out of the water, making this chiller very efficient. A large high-quality fan moves a lot of air without excess fan noise, which is common with smaller fans. Users with aquarium cabinets can extend the exhaust conveyor opening in 2-inch increments using modular conveyor extension pieces. This means you can direct the hot air out of your enclosed cabinet or closet.
Inset and rotating water inlet and outlet valves help with unit placement in tight confined spaces or cabinets. The rotating hose barbs make it easy to hook up the water hoses.
Additionally, the filter screen is attached magnetically to the front for effortless maintenance, removal, and installation.
TANK chillers feature an easy to use digital thermostat controller with accurate temperature detection from 32 to 95 ºF.
The water temperature probe uses incoming water as a reference. This ensures that the thermostat is reading the water temperature in the aquarium, not outgoing chilled water.
The red display makes the temperature settings easy to read. The thermostat display can be configured to show temperatures in Fahrenheit (ºF) or Celsius (ºC), and audible alarms can be programmed for certain situations.TANK chillers are designed with near-perfect protection against corrosion.
Water in and out connections fit 3/4-inch diameter tubing. The TK-500’s small form-factor makes it perfect for use in confined operating spaces. The TK-500 has a generous two-year limited warranty. Dimensions are 12.2 x 12.2 x 16.4 inches.
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/506443920584508519/
Keep in mind that every aquarium chiller manufacturer designs their units differently. Some are more efficient than others. Chillers are rated in horsepower or BTUs. The best recommendation for sizing a chiller to your aquarium is to visit the manufacturer’s website.
Some manufacturers simply state how many gallons their chillers will cool based on how many degrees you want the temperature to drop. It is important to use the highest water temperature you expect to have when using a calculator or looking at manufacturer’s sizing charts. Aquarium chiller size charts will usually give two recommendations.
As you can see the warmer the water the fewer gallons the chiller can handle.
Some aquarists select a chiller that is rated one step above what the manufacturer recommends. This provides a slight reserve of cooling power if they add another powerhead, larger pump or more lighting.
The slightly larger chiller will operate on shorter cooling cycles compared to an undersized unit.
Using a remote reservoir is a great way of reducing root zone temperatures. Grow room atmospheric conditions will quickly heat up any nutrient solution. Indoor reservoirs can simply be placed outside of the grow room. Outdoor reservoirs can be buried, along with any return lines.
Whether you’re a hydroponic or soil grower, root zone temperatures should be a priority. As it is one of the best ways of improving plant performance, water chillers are one of the most effective ways of producing optimal root zone temperatures. Figure out what works for you and your garden and experiment—it’s what we growers do best.
Although there are many ways to keep the temperature down in a hydroponic system, it is not an assurance that it will work well as it goes. Using aquarium water chillers in hydroponic gardening is hailed as one of the most effective and cost-efficient technique to keep your garden healthy.