Aquarium heater

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Aquarium heater

Postby Smurf1976 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:16 pm

I'm just wondering if anyone has tried running an aquarium heater on a restricted hours basis to take advantage of Time Of Use (TOU) electricity rates?

A friend has a rather large aquarium and is on Pay As You Go electricity which includes TOU rates. I'm thinking that given that water has a large thermal mass and that the lights (which are on all day) on the aquarium also add some heat, that restricting the heating to the cheap power times wouldn't cause much of a variation in water temperature?

Anyone tried it?
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Re: Aquarium heater

Postby munter » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:05 pm

To fill the quiet I'll plonk a few thoughts on the table.

I haven't tried it (don't have fish!) but figure the problem would boil down to two things - how much heat transfer out of the tank you would get during the "off" cycle and what temperature range the little fishes can take.
I guess it isn't really practical to insulate the tank (or is it?) so minimising heat transfer probably equates to minimising the temperature difference between the tank and the rest of the room. Is the room with the tank running AC? If it is, can it be turned off? Keeping the room warm will reduce the amount of heat the tank needs.

Do you know what temperature range the fish can handle? Knowing that would be a useful starting point.
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Re: Aquarium heater

Postby bpratt » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:25 pm

Only guessing here, as there are a lot of variables.

If it is a 1800 x 600 x 600mm tank with metal halides on it, then I don't think you'll have an issue with using the heater on the cheapest TOU times.

Of course if you're running metal halides during the day, you'll hardly use a heater anyway, more likely to be using a chiller to keep the temperature down ! :)

Chances are if you're using MH lighting, it will be a marine tank, and as such the likely livestock is likely to include coral and invertebrates as well as fish, and temperature can be a big issue. Above 27 and coral starts to die.

If it is freshwater tropical, then the lighting is likely to be T5 flouro's and they won't add any temperature during the day... more likely the A/C in the room will have a lot more affect.


If the tank is as big as I suggested, then a freshwater tropical might only lose a degree or two during the day without a heater. The best option is to temporarily hook the heater up to a plug in timer so that it turns off at 6am the next morning, then monitoring the temperature throughout the day.
If it drops 3 degrees or more before say 3pm, then you might be in trouble during the winter, as it will drop down more.

Be interested in hearing the results.

I used to have a marine tank that size, and it was costing me around $200 per quarter electrically, and that was on flat rate tariff 11 up here over a year ago, I'd hate to see what it would've cost me on a TOU tariff !!
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Re: Aquarium heater

Postby Smurf1976 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:21 pm

Thanks for the input.

It's a fairly big tank and the idea came up because they are spending rather a lot on electricity (overall, not just for the aquarium) so I offered a few suggestions on how to cut back.

My thinking with the tank comes down to this. It might only drop a degree or two which doesn't sound like a lot. But if you've got rather a lot of water and are using resistive heating then that's a significant amount of electricity consumption that could be transferred to a cheaper time. Add that to other energy savings around the house, and things like putting a timer on the hot water cylinder, and it should come to a significant saving in $ terms. The cheapest rate is 8pm to 6:30am during Winter which I'm thinking may be long enough.

Might have to just give it a go and see what happens...
Last edited by Smurf1976 on Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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