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Made A Cheeeeeap Chiller That's High Volume


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I believed I needed a chiller from browing browsing the web and learning that room temp water is far from optimal for growth. 65 degrees is the perfect temp for Dissolved Oxygen (DO) to be highest. And somewhere in the range of 62-58 is the degree that most retards the growth of bacteria while not shocking the roots. At 69, my res wasn't opimal on anything.

 

The concept of this build is that a pump sends the solution from the res though a refrigerator/freezer where it is chilled and returned back into the res. I used a refrigerator/freezer, a gardenhose, a pump, a drill, a 1-1/4 inch paddle bit, a fitting (from pump to hose) that had come with the Pacific Hydrostar 620 gph pump from Harbor Freight Tools for $35 (sku 7 92363 68393 7). Also found the same adapter, but not the pump, at Home Depot. The garden hose I had lying around is thin plastic--don't know if rubber would transfer heat as well--if not I'd try running the pump 24/7 at 1 hour on, 1 hour off or so, for any material that transfers heat poorly.

 

I used a half-refrigerator/freezer, this one a Haier brand, alias dorm room or apt. model. Mine cost $35 used. I ended up buying, as over the past month I failed to snag one off Detroit Craig's List Free. You probably could use any refrigerator/freezer. If it has a temp setting that shows degrees instead of hash marks for idiots (low, medium, high) it will be easier for you to set your chiller's temp and the resultant temp of the res contents.

 

To start, I drilled two 1-1/4 inch holes in the res, three inches down and about a foot apart. Next, I removed the racks and drawers from the refrigerator to create open space, and bent the bottom of the freezer unit downward. This is so the freezer unit would dump its chill into the body of the fridge; and also, to open up space for the hose to be coiled around inside. I then drilled two 1-1/4 inch holes in the door of the Haier. (Not top or 3 sides, because a friend told me there that in all refrigerators there is insulation and piping in the top and 3 sides). I positioned the holes six inches down from the top of the door and a little more than a foot apart, praying not to ruin the paddle bit (which was meant for drilling wood and not metal). But the thin aluminum skin of the Haier yielded easily, like plastic, and left the bit unharmed.

 

Next I fed the 3/4 inch, fifty-foot garden hose in one of the res holes and and then coiled most of the hose into the bottom of the freezer. I fed the other end out the second door hole, back into the reservoir through the second hole in the res.

 

I screwed the hose to the pump and dropped the pump into the res. With the return end emptying into the res, this created a simple loop whereby water leaves the res and travels through the frige/freezer where it is cooled and sent back to the res. I put silicone caulk around the hose at both door holes.

 

After several mis-starts over a week+, including time to thaw the hose out after it once froze, I have settled on running the ref/freezer at 16 (as determined by a thermometer hung in the Haier) with the pump running 24/7, 1/2 hour off, half on. The res contents are 61 degrees, and vary from that by only a few degrees. I plan to fiddle some more and see if I can get it up to up to a stable 65.

 

My cost to make a chiller for 32 to to xxx gallons:

$35 Pacific Hydrostar 620 pump and fitting that came with it friom Harbor Freight Tools

$35 used Haier fridge/freezer

$ 2 two dollar-store thermometers

$ 6 tube of silicon caulk Home Depot

----

$78

Edited by pic book
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looks awesome!

 

Have you ever seen a res chiller made by using an under the sink water chiller?

 

I picked up a 1gph chiller by cool watersuper cheap and think with some engineering it could be done.

 

 

I have limited space so my res would prob only be like 30 gal - to flower 4-6 plants

Edited by jamrock
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Pic, I like your idea, I had done something similar with a small freezer chest that we had, but were not using.

 

Drilled holes in the housing just like you did and inside the unit I dropped a spare rubbermaid 17 gallon tub. Filled the tub with water and dropped a 25 ft. coil of 1/2" copper tubing (home depot). The tub of water and copper coil were used to get better heat transfer. I connected the tubing the the copper coil and to my 70 gal reservoir with 1/2" lawn sprinkler tubing. Using a small pump, around 260 gph, I circulated the nutrient solution from the res out to the freezer and back. This dropped the res temp about 5 degrees F.

 

Most of the design was driven by using what I had around. The only purchase was the copper coil and the 1/2" tubing.

 

Seemed to work fine, but I had a concern about contamination. Between harvests I take all my tanks, stones and pretty much anything that comes into contact w/ the nutrient solution and clean it with a clorox solution. All the added piping seemed to be something that would be difficult to keep clean. That said, this is an issue I have with all systems that use multiple buckets alot of interconnect piping and a central reservoir.

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I haven't run this long enuf to know what contamination issues (if any) occur. I use a filter on the end of the hose that dumps the water from the Heier back into the reservoir. It's just a heavy sock with close weave, wired over the end of the hose. Silt and broken roots and other sediment get caught in it instead of circulating endlessly.

Edited by pic book
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The contamination I was thinking of is the algae and various bugs/fungus or whatever it is that causes root rot. Seems they would get into the hoses and then just infect the next grow set up if you could not clean them completely.

The garden hose is thin plastic so I'd guess it is just as prone to what you mention as is a plastic tote used in bubbleponics, or the pvc pipes in a rwdc system--not really much problem with algae if you keep the liquid temp at 61 or as the undercurrent poeple preach--58, to stop the growth of problems, which is a reason to run a chiller?

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Pic, I like your idea, I had done something similar with a small freezer chest that we had, but were not using.

 

Drilled holes in the housing just like you did and inside the unit I dropped a spare rubbermaid 17 gallon tub. Filled the tub with water and dropped a 25 ft. coil of 1/2" copper tubing (home depot). The tub of water and copper coil were used to get better heat transfer. I connected the tubing the the copper coil and to my 70 gal reservoir with 1/2" lawn sprinkler tubing. Using a small pump, around 260 gph, I circulated the nutrient solution from the res out to the freezer and back. This dropped the res temp about 5 degrees F.

 

Most of the design was driven by using what I had around. The only purchase was the copper coil and the 1/2" tubing.

 

Seemed to work fine, but I had a concern about contamination. Between harvests I take all my tanks, stones and pretty much anything that comes into contact w/ the nutrient solution and clean it with a clorox solution. All the added piping seemed to be something that would be difficult to keep clean. That said, this is an issue I have with all systems that use multiple buckets alot of interconnect piping and a central reservoir.

 

Boombatts says the answer he's found is to add to the res, every four days, .5 ml of bleach--your 'chlorox' above. It kills fish-tank odor and slime, all harmful bacteria, and a few friendlies as well that grows in soil soil need (but they're of no concern in hydro).

 

This is what Boombatts says and I have not tried it...Use at your own risk.

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looks awesome!

 

Have you ever seen a res chiller made by using an under the sink water chiller? I picked up a 1gph chiller by cool watersuper.

How long has 1 gallon of water got to be in the watersuper to cool a certain number of degrees? That's a factor to consider in setting the timers to pump out the water super to the res and refill the gallon.

BTW, what did the watersuper cost?

Edited by pic book
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How long has 1 gallon of water got to be in the watersuper to cool a certain number of degrees? That's a factor to consider in setting the timers to pump out the water super to the res and refill the gallon.

BTW, what did the watersuper cost?

Here's your missing component;

http://www.amazon.com/Elitech-All-Purpose-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat/dp/B008KVCPH2

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That's a valuable find, + rep. For $20, that temp controller w relay sensors seemingly will keep a res at any temp a freezer or watersuper is capable of, and so automate them just like a commercial chiller; the savings when self-built is around $900. (A 1/2 hp is priced at $1k).

Edited by pic book
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How long has 1 gallon of water got to be in the watersuper to cool a certain number of degrees? That's a factor to consider in setting the timers to pump out the water super to the res and refill the gallon.

BTW, what did the watersuper cost?

 

Honestly i'm not sure, i haven't hooked it up yet. I was browsing ebay and low balled a guy on it, and to my suprise he accepted.

 

Dont know much about it honestly.... it does have an adjustable temp. control, although not digital.

 

here is a link to a similar unit . http://www.pittsburg...ated_p_376.html

 

i picked it up for 75 and its in good condition for being used. its a knock off version called a coolwater water chiller.

 

When i get some time i'll actually run some water through it to see how long the unit takes to chill it.

Edited by jamrock
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