How to choose a controller?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by yellojello, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. yellojello

    yellojello Supporting Member

    I know a lot of people have been getting the APEX or Reefkeeper Elite. I'm looking for entry level like ACJr or Reefkeeper Lite... and then upgrading as I go. But maybe I should just buy a full controller at the beginning?

    Basically, I don't want anything fancy. Just lighting controls, and temperature control. ACJr or RKL is same price as a standalone temp controller, so it makes sense to get the ACJr or RKL. I'm lost with all the PH control, ORP, and all the other functions, and don't know if I even need it yet, or I will do it in the future.

    This is the equipment I have:

    120 G (24 x 12 x 12) Single Corner Overflow AGA tank
    2 x 250W MH (Lumenbright Mini's, 10k Reeflux, Coralvue Ballast)
    2 x Coralvue High Seas CV-102B
    1.5" Caribsea Aragamax Sugar-sized Sandbed
    ??? Lbs live rock (VietNR1 just gave me a bunch, didn't weigh it out)
    55 G sump (Drain>Skimmer>Fuge>Return)
    Turbo-Sea 1090 Return Pump
    Warner Marine K2 Skimmer
    BRS Dual GFO/Carbon
    Vertex Puratek RODI Unit
    Level-Loc ATO gravity feed from RODI Resevoir
  2. kvosstra

    kvosstra Guest

    there are a lot of used controllers available - even some of the higher end units. When you buy, make sure to ask if all the outlets are functioning properly, and get a guarantee from the person that they are working as such.

    You will want pH control if you will use a calcium reactor, and ORP if you use Ozone. Other than that, they are just fun toys, and that is part of the fun of the hobby anyway.

    I'm of the belief that a simple unit works just fine - get 8 controlled outlets and then buy a DJ powerstrip off ebay, to have easy acces to an additional 8 outlets, but that wont be controlled by your computer. for which one to buy, I subscribe to the do it once, do it right philosophy, since it will be cheaper in the long run, however, the JR and RKL have almost identical functionality to their larger bretheren, but for easy online capabilities - so decide if this is a must for you, and that may help make your decision.

  3. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Well knowing what you really don't need can go really far in helping you decide

    ORP is not necessary, IMO that can help steer you away from the Apex/Elite controllers. pH. do you/will you have a calcium reactor in the future? If not you can probably really eliminate the Apex/Elite controllers, pH can give a nice gauge when your alkalinity drops or something, but other than that, not really necessary unless you have a Ca reactor or actively drip kalk.

    The ACjr or RKL are nice in that you can integrate temperature control to them in case your heaters go wild, which I'm guessing is why you want them. Lights, if your ballast is one plug for 2 - 250w bulbs it MIGHT have issues... but I've been running on the wildside myself with mine. You can pick up timers for each light though and that would be oodles cheaper than hooking them into a controller (or worse, having to buy more controller modules!).

    If you run some sort of ATO off an pump, it's nice to have the controller only turn on for the minimal amount per day so you can steer clear of flooding, if you have a 2 part solution and want to dose precise amounts, either of the light versions will do. Both the ACjr and the RKL have their downsides, ACjr has a set number of programming lines (20? 40?) which shouldn't be a problem as long as you don't go to crazy with what you want to do, the RKL has a limited number of add-ons (4 I think, so 1 for a PC4 - 4plugs -, if you want pH that's another, etc).

    If it were me, I'd think I'd go the RKL because at $100 that's a hard price to beat, the ACjr one is nearly twice that, but you do get twice as many plugs.
  4. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Not to mention the APEX lite as well Mike./
  5. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yeah but the "lite" version really doesn't cut too much from the non-lite version as far as price, you're still going to pay quite a bit for that one, I think if I were to spend that money but didn't want to go over the top and do 5 bills on the full version, I'd go for an older one like the AC3. I personally love mine, I'm not a big fan of that whole menu driven interface personally, but then again I think mine is too much horsepower for what I really need it for I very easily could have gotten away with a Jr or a RKL.
  6. treylane

    treylane Supporting Member

    The network-access of the AC3 is what makes its pricetag increase worthwhile. Being able to edit the program with a web browser rather than getting lost in the menus is pretty nice.
  7. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    That is true, hell I don't even know how to program it via control pad I jumped straight to the web interface and started typing away.
  8. d0ughb0y

    d0ughb0y Guest

    best bang for the buck is to find a used ac jr. It is not fancy by any means, but is functional and will serve you well for years. don't pay more than $180 shipped with serial port and ph probe. (well maybe $200 if it is really clean and if serial cable is included).

    you may want to hook it up to a computer and use my program to web enable the ac jr. and access it via any web browser or iphone app.
  9. xcaret

    xcaret Supporting Member

    Does the AC Jr. has to be flashed to work with your program or is just plug n play? I have couple Jr's that I don't use since I found RK1 and 2 to be more friendly or better said "Fancy Timers"
  10. jdizzle707

    jdizzle707 Guest

    I got the DA reefkeeper lite for my 72g and I think it will serve me good for a while. I was thinking of dropping another $179 to get the level 3 kit or $379 for the Elite but decided to hold off. I'll save the money and just buy a new one in a year or two. I expect these to get cheaper and better in the months ahead.

    So here's why the RKL is a good start for me.

    iTemp is used in the sump to monitor h2o temp to control my submersible heater.

    Outlet 1: Has one power strip with my return pump, skimmer, and koralia 4 powerhead attached to it. I programmer this for a 15 minutes standby when I do feedings. It's nice to have a convenient button to turn off all pumps when I feed. Starts backs up automatically after stNdby timer runs out.

    Outlet 2: Programmed to be turned on and off by the iTemp. Currently set to 80deg and has my Heater plugged to it.

    Outlet 3: Programmed to be time activated. Turns on between 3 - 11pm and has 2x T5s plugged to it.

    Outlet 4: Also programmed to be time activated. Turns on between 5 - 10pm and has 2x 150w MH plugged to it.

    That's all good for me for now. If I need the pH probe, I believe it's an incremental $50 for it.

  11. d0ughb0y

    d0ughb0y Guest

    It will work as is, as long as your AC jr has the serial port and you got the serial cable.

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