Setting up a top-off.

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by sfsuphysics, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    So I'm starting to get tired of topping off water, especially when I go on vacation as it really limits me to a few days worth, and other than getting a larger sump, I'd like to automate this task. Plus when I went to Hawaii for 10 days my dad was in charge of the tanks and was a bit sloppy with top offs, and quite frankly I don't trust him at all with my tanks, or anything else for that matter as he has a tendency to not follow directions as asked (even when they're written down). So looking for some advice/opinions.

    So basic premise is fairly simple, reservoir of water, sensor to detect water level, pump of some sort to move water, some sort of safety check.

    Reservoir: No problem, garbage can full of water

    Sensors: Quite a few options here, the overly expensive Tunze Osmosolator, to the more reasonably price floatswitch from, I've read quite a few mixed reviews on the JBJ ATO, then when I found out it's basically just a couple of float switches with no pump at all I was turned off even more. I'm leaning towards the float switches/relay from simply because its simple in design and that seems more robust in the long run.

    Pump: I liked the idea of an aqualifter simply because it moved water fairly slowly, used very little power and was fairly cheap, then I read quite a few reviews of issues with them, although I don't know if its because they used it with kalk reactors or if they really are garbage. Option 2 is a cheap maxijet which while they really aren't meant to push water, I currently use one to move water from my reservoir to the tanks.

    Safety check: Step one is to tie it in with my AC3 and simply keep the power turned off except for 1 hour a day, this also would help with consistent pumping as the water level triggered the float throughout the day, also would safe wear and tear on the pump I'd guess. Another option is multiple float switches, however its hard to tell from but it looks like the 2 float switch setup is simply a way to add a range which it'll trigger and not so much used as a failsafe to shut off.

    So any opinions on the subject?
  2. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Autotopoff switches. You can use the second switch as a safety measure. You could have use the switches on the RKE that you sold off as well. :p

    MJ1200 or so to move the water. I've used aqualifters (x2) before, but after awhile the pumps fail (both started leaking after awhile).
  3. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

    Aqualifters can't pump too high (I get 3ft max). Probably not a problem. They can back siphon so set the height properly (end out of water and end above source height..or use a siphon break). Mine has never leaked nor failed (yet? lol) is what I use. safety feature with 2 floats

    You can be extra safe and put the aqualifter on a timer so that it can only be on for a set amountof time per day (enough for top off plus a little extra)
  4. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    I let gravity do the work, no switches, pumps etc. Just a bucket with John Guest fittings 1/4" tubing and a float, simple as that :)
  5. Thales

    Thales Past President

    I like
    Box of DI water with a float valve connected to the DI unit - float valve is fine in DI only
    Double float switch like tony mentions in the sump. Make it easily removable and soak it in vinegar a couple times a year.
    Maxi jet in DI box pumps water into Kalk reactor which gravity drains into the sump.

    The double float is a safety thing - if the first one fails the tank will fill to the second which you set to turn off the water.
  6. cwolfus

    cwolfus Past President

    I like Jeremy's setup. Fewer things to fail.

    My setup is still an aqualifter and a timer. Its simple, cheap, and has few opportunities for error. I have yet to have a problem.

    As Tony points out there are a few precautions for the aqualifter to ensure no syphon/backsyphon. Also, because the aqualifters are sensitive to the height of water they will flow more when the bucket is full than when nearly empty. Still, I find the impact on specific gravity in my tank negligible.
  7. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    I like Jeremy's idea too, however the feasibility of having 30 gallons of water held above the sump isn't there right now
  8. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    You're married now, make your wife hold it up there :D
  9. Eight

    Eight Guest

    Spectrapure litermeter and an float switch hooked up to your AC3. This is the setup that I use.

    - The liter meter can pull water from very far away and because it's a peristaltic pump, if you ever decide to use kalk in your topoff, you limit the risk of over kalking the tank. No chance of backsiphoning and maximum flexibility in positioning the resevoir in relation to your tank.

    - Program the AC3 to turn on the litermeter when the water level in the sump is below a certain level.

    - Program the litermeter for a rate that is a little bit higher than what you would expect to topoff per day. This way, even if your float switch fails, you won't overdose/flood the tank.

    - The LM handles being turned off and on repeatedly just fine. However, if it's annoying, you can set it to operate for a set window of time so that it doesn't bounce on and off too much. (Mine doesn't do this much though. This will be dependent on how you set your float switches up.)

    Only downside is cost of the Litermeter. I recently bought a used Litermeter (original version) for under $100 though.
  10. glee

    glee Guest

    i just use a floatswitch in the last chamber of my sump and a maxijet 6 or 900 in a 5 gallon top off tank. it's so simple a caveman can do it.
  11. yellojello

    yellojello Supporting Member

    I just picked up a Vertex Puratek 100 GPD system RODI system. I will be setting up my tank soon, and had a few questions:

    1. For the RODI unit, I have 3 options to turn off the flow. - Unplug the power / - Close the output valve / - Close the input valve. Would either of these effect the unit longevity/productivity? (i.e. always need to have water pressure in system?)

    2. For the RODI unit, is it better to do less longer runs rather than many little runs? (i.e. run a constant drip system straight from RODI vs. fill a large water container every few days and auto-top off (pump&float switch) or gravity feed (float valve))
  12. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    1. I close the input valve myself, not sure if that has any effect on longevity though, I know if your membrane dries out it's not good, but I remake water every few days anyways so I doubt I'm really affecting it that much. I used to close the output, until I realized the damn thing kept flushing water through the waste, so scrapped that idea. As to the power, if you have a solenoid valve then that could work absolutely instead of manually shutting off the water.

    2. Larger runs will give a better overall performance out of the unit. So if you're going to hook up to an auto-top off system, have it top off from a reservoir (bucket/container) rather than from the RO unit. Not to mention the potential calamity if your top off fails and you have an unlimited amount of water to dump in your tank.
  13. Matt_Wandell

    Matt_Wandell Honorary Member

    I like the Jason (Eight) method for kalk dripping. You can also do a cheap-o peri pump from

    Remember that a peristaltic pump can sometimes siphon water (very rare but I've heard of it) so ideally you set it up so that the discharge is higher than the topoff reservoir.
  14. Thales

    Thales Past President

    Be warned about APTinsturments - they take forever to fill orders (months and months) and the quality left me wanting. :D
  15. Matt_Wandell

    Matt_Wandell Honorary Member

    They are weird. I ordered 6 pumps at one time, 5 got sent right away and the last one took like 2 months. So far I haven't had issues with the quality of the normal and small units...did you get a bum one?

    The upside is that they are super cheap. If you can afford a Spectrapure LM3 just get that every time. Mine is 7 years old and still works like a charm.
  16. Thales

    Thales Past President

    Yep. I had to bug them for months to get it shipped out. They said it was shipped and it wasn't yadda yadda. Then, after it arrived all shoddily built, the shaft stripped the spindle and I didn't even bother to try to deal with them to get it fixed. 200+ bucks bye by.

    I sure miss that one we had that you could set the rate with the cool + and - buttons. :D
  17. Thales

    Thales Past President

    Hmmm. Read up on the LM3 - super cool. Ever use it with additional pumps?
  18. Eight

    Eight Guest

    Yup, I use both a remote pump module and a water exchange module with my LM3. The only difference between the two is the water exchange module has a liquid level sensor.

    The level sensor on the water exchange module is the air pressure type, so there are no float switches to salt up or get stuck. You connect some airline tubing to the nipple on the pump and the other end of the airline goes into an open ended tube which sits in your sump. As the water level rises, it compresses the air in the tube which engages the float sensor back on the pump itself. I've used the float sensors on the LiterMeters for years (two different pumps) and have never had a problem.

    The other nice thing about Spectrapure is that their customer service is impeccable. I have had two peristaltic tubing assemblies replaced free of charge over the years. No questions asked, no hassle.
  19. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yeah, I was asking about replacement tubing, both pumps failed around the same time. I wanted to get a the 10' roll the stuff for future use, but they didn't specify diameter (no way to do it online)... talked to the guy for about a week, he tried to sell me the individual tubes which cost the same as the 10' roll of tubing, I asked about the tubing, he said he'd have to find out if that would work, and never heard back from him.
  20. Thales

    Thales Past President

    So, I could use the LM proper for running water through a Ca reactor and the exchange module for top off? Neat.

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