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Old 01/02/2012, 12:05 AM   #1
Aaarrrggg
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Lightbulb Automatic Water-Changer using LiterMeter III

I posted this in my build thread but I thought it might be helpful to post it here too so people can use it as a guide.

Let me start at the beginning...

My previous water-change routine went something like this...
Put 5g jug in sink and fill up with RO. Remember (= forget!) to set stopwatch for 2hrs so I don't waste a ton of water. Fill Rubbermaid trashcan with 20g of RO water and add salt. Let mix for 24hrs with pump and heater. Do water-change by manually siphoning out old water and adding new water -ie a lot of lugging of 5g jugs and potential for spillages(!)

This was all fine for my nano, but not really the most efficient procedure for a 144g. I started researching online and found some inspiring threads about water storage tanks and automatic water-changers. I knew I wanted in!!

I have a large cupboard next to the sink in the utility room which had just been used to store random tank related stuff -mostly 5g jugs. As you can see it wasn't a great use of the space:



I thought this would be a great place to put 2 water storage tanks; the only problem... it is quite far away from the aquarium! I needed some way to move the water from the storage tanks to the DT.



Lounge:


View from in gym into lounge:


View from lounge into gym:


I looked at a couple of different waterchange systems but after talking to Scott at SpectraPure, decided on the LiterMeter III.

I asked on the local reef club forum anyone knew a creative handyman/plumber. I struck it lucky when Grim, one of the members, offered his services!

With Grim and Scott at SpectraPures guidance, I ordered all sorts of goodies!



- SpectraPure LiterMeter 3
- SpectraPure Water eXchange module
- 2 x 55g water tanks (from eBay. I would have liked to go a little bigger, but any wider and they wouldn't have fit through the cupboards skinny doorway)
- Black Float Switch (didn't end up being needed)
- Auto Shut Off Kit for Reverse Osmosis Systems
- Dual Inline TDS Meter
- SpectraPure Top Off Controler
- 1/4" Red and Blue RO Tubing
- PanWorld 40PX External Water Pump

Not pictured:
- SpectraPure Remote Pump (forgot to put it in photo! Posted Image)
- Plumbing for water containers
- Black and White 1/4" RO Tubing (bought separately from Lowes)


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Last edited by Aaarrrggg; 01/02/2012 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 01/02/2012, 12:05 AM   #2
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Grim took out the weird wooden step I had at the bottom of the cupboard and made a stand for the water drums:



Then he did all sorts of clever plumbing!



The RO/DI unit is plumbed in under the sink on the other side of the wall. Water travels through the black line to the RO unit. (Waste water from RO unit goes back to the sink drain via the yellow line.)



As the water goes through the unit the TDS is checked before the DI cartridge (blue "OUT") and after the water leaves the system (red "IN.") This lets me keep an eye on how the cartridges are doing. The water leaves the unit through the white line on the left.



The water goes into the freshwater tank via the Auto Shut Off Kit for Reverse Osmosis Systems. This float switch cuts off the RO/DI unit when the freshwater tank is full. Whenever the water drops below that level, the RO/DI unit kicks in automatically and fills the tank until it's full again. No more setting (and forgetting!) my stopwatch for 2hrs to make 5g of RO!



Now comes lots of plumbing!



I can move the water around by opening different valves and turning the yellow pump on/off.

To move the RO water into the salt tank:
CLOSE: 1, 2, 4, 5
OPEN: 3, 6
PUMP: ON

Once the RO water is in the SW tank I open the lid and pour in the correct amount of salt.

To mix SW tank:
CLOSE: 1, 3, 4, 5
OPEN: 2, 6
PUMP: ON

The plumbing continues under the water lvl inside the SW tank. This makes the mixing nice and quiet when the tank is full. All I can hear is the slight whirr of the pump. The brown stuff is from the Oceanic Salt. It did the same thing in my nano SW mixing bin. I'm thinking of switching to Instant Ocean salt instead to save a bit of money and hopefully get rid of these horrible (clay?) deposits.




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Old 01/02/2012, 12:06 AM   #3
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The other taps are used for draining the system or taking out a little SW or RO for my nano.

Draining tank water into sink using pump (it was regular tap-water that we'd used to leak test)



Draining last drops of water out of pipes (no pump used.) There was a tiny bit of water left in the bottom of the tanks which was impossible to get out, but hopefully that shouldn't matter in the grand scheme of things.



Pumping 5g of SW out to do a water-change on my nano.




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Old 01/02/2012, 12:07 AM   #4
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Next up was getting the water from the 2 tanks to the aquarium. Both the SW and RO tanks have tubing inside that extends to the bottom.



The tubing comes out the back of the tops of both tanks and through a hole in the wall



Grim found some electrical wire hiding stuff at Lowes that worked perfectly to hide the colored tubing. (It even has sticky back plastic backing for easy installation!)





Through another wall... (the black line you can see is for waste water; more on that later)



Nearly there! (Aquarium on left)




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Old 01/02/2012, 12:08 AM   #5
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Now comes the LiterMeter magic!



Here's the email Scott at SpectraPure sent me explaining how everything should hook together:

Quote:
If you want to do both ATO and water exchange, get the LM3, the TCM, one RPM and one WXM. It would be best if they were all installed under the tank.

See the manual here:
http://spectrapure.com/manuals/PRINT...Meter3J-PF.pdf

I'll suggest a different scheme than shown in the manual.

You can run a bundle of three, 1/4" poly tubes any way you want to, generally along your blue dotted line. High, low, inside, under, around, it won't matter. #1 - let's call it white - will take new salt water from the closet and deliver it to the sump. #2 - call it black - will take old salt water from the sump and send it to your sink drain. #1 and #2 are for the water exchange. #3 - blue - will take fresh DI water from the closet and deliver it to the sump for ATO. You could use one color for all three, if you keep them straight.

Install the sensor tube for the TCM in the constant-level side of the sump. It will guard against a sump over-fill, as it will shut off the LM3 if the over-all sump level gets too high. Use the built-in Pump A to take water out of the sump and send it to the drain on the black line. This line is only one-inch into the constant level part of the sump, so it can't possibly accidentally drain the sump.

Use the RPM as Pump B to put new salt water into the sump, using the white line. Set the LM3 to move the same number of liters per day for Pump A and Pump B. Easy Water Exchange!

Use the WXM (with its own sensor tube level control) as Pump C to do the ATO. Set it for a little bit more than you think you are evaporating, and the sensor tube (in the evaporating part of the sump - usually a bit lower than the constant level) will keep that level constant.

I've seen people build a 3-sided wood "cover" for the bundle of tubes to hide them on the wall. Also, a 45-degree piece of wood can cover them up along the baseboard. There are also rubber "doorway sills" for computer cables that you could run in front of the doorway along the floor.
The LiterMeter plugs into the Top-Off Control Module which is then plugged into a power socket.



The funny tube is a water level sensor. It's placed in the constant lvl of the sump to guard against overflowing. If the water rises it will shut off the LiterMeter and all the attached pumps. (Oh, I almost forgot to say... we flipped the sump around so the water now runs from right to left.)



The LiterMeter has a built in pump (Pump A). It draws water from the tank via the white tube and carries it outside through the white/black line. The tip is held 1" under the water by a magnetic clip so if something ever did go wrong, it couldn't drain the whole system.



There is a tiny hole drilled in the wall next to the dog flap so the water can empty into the garden.



The water is replaced by the Remote Pump Module (Pump B). It pulls water from the SW holding tank via the red line and delivers it to the sump.




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Old 01/02/2012, 12:09 AM   #6
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Finally there's the Water eXchange Module (Pump C.) Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of this one before I installed it, but it looks exactly like the previous pump, but with a water lvl sensor (like the top-off control module had.)

This pump sends water from the RO storage tank to the sump. The water lvl sensor tube is in the variable lvl of the sump so when the water reaches the max lvl, the pump shuts down and cannot deliver any more RO until more evaporation occurs.



Here's how it looks altogether!



(I have the Top-Off Control Module stuck to the back of the stand so it's well away from any splashing.)

Side Note: I discovered these things are awesome for sticking components onto the inside of the stand! MUCH stronger than velcro! Highly recommended!


The next step was calibrating the 3 pumps. This involves putting the LiterMeter into calibration mode for each pump and letting it time how long it takes to move 500ml. Button wise it's very easy; push button to start... wait for 500ml to pour into measuring jug, push button to stop... easy!



...but it gets a little bit more complicated when one of the lines goes outside! I ended up going outside with the measuring jug and phoning my husband to tell him when to push the buttons!



Once all the calibration is done, all that's left is to tell the LiterMeter how much water you want it to move. My nitrates are still pretty high, so I decided a 20% weekly WC would be prudent for the time being (eventually I'd like to get it down to 10%.) I set up pump A and B to move the same amount of water per day; 5g (18.9 liters) and pump C to deliver around 4g (15 liters) per day (a little more than I've been manually topping up, but the water lvl sensor tube will prevent it from adding more than is actually needed.)

So that's that! Huzzah for effortless waterchanges! I'm not going to miss those 5g jugs!


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Last edited by Aaarrrggg; 01/02/2012 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 01/02/2012, 04:39 PM   #7
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Fantastic write up! I've read it 3 times already.

The only recommendation I would have is to make sure the water you are depositing outside is away from your foundation.

Thanks for the step-by-step.


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Old 01/02/2012, 05:32 PM   #8
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Thanks!

Yeah it does seem a bit weird dripping onto the foundation; apparently that's actually a good thing in Texas though because problems occur when the foundations dry out. Seems odd to me coming from England, where wet foundations is a big no no!

I might try to pin the line so it empties onto the ground rather than the house itself. I doubt the grass will like it much, but that's the "doggie loo" area of the garden so the grass is already pretty unhappy there!


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Old 01/05/2012, 09:59 PM   #9
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Wow, never would have guessed that about the foundation. Guest it's a good thing i'm not in construction, especially in Texas.

Again nice write-up. Next time i'm in Lowes i'm gonna pick up some heavy duty fasteners.


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Old 01/05/2012, 10:35 PM   #10
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Actually some guys got back to me in the local forum and suggested it might be better to move the drain away from the foundation. It sounds like the problem isn't if it's wet or dry... but changing between the 2 quickly. I have no idea about all this stuff so I decided to play it safe and extend the line...



Another problem has been brought to my attention in another thread. The way I have the float meter set up in the RO tank causes the RO/DI unit to kick in as soon as the water lvl drops. As I'm only adding tiny amounts of RO top-off to the tank at a time, it means the RO/DI unit is generally only operating in short bursts.

This isn't great for a RO/DI unit and results in the TDS creeping up and the RO membrane being exhausted more quickly. I'm going to try and sort out a better system, but in the meantime I've started turning the water off at the mains under the sink. I'll wait for the RO tank to empty more before allowing it to fill up again.

I'll update when I find a better long term solution, but I wanted to mention it in case anyone wants to do something similar. Any suggestions welcome!


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Old 01/19/2012, 11:16 PM   #11
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Where did you get that magnetic clip for the single 1/4" dosing tube? Haven't seen one of those before? Real nice write up of what you did.


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Old 01/20/2012, 09:34 AM   #12
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You can get our LLC-SVC-2FLT-4-10 , seen here:

http://spectrapure.com/St_alc_p6.htm

You can set the high and low floats anywhere in your tank (like at the top and then a third of the way down) so that some amount of water needs to leave the tank before the RODI turns back on.

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Old 01/22/2012, 12:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmsalt1 View Post
Where did you get that magnetic clip for the single 1/4" dosing tube? Haven't seen one of those before? Real nice write up of what you did.
I *think* it came with the Litermeter... although it's possible Grim got it for me from the LFS. It part of a pack with various sized clips that fit onto the magnet. Sorry I know that's not very helpful; in all the excitement to get it set up I neglected to take a picture of the box-o-clips.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpectraPure View Post
You can get our LLC-SVC-2FLT-4-10 , seen here:

http://spectrapure.com/St_alc_p6.htm

You can set the high and low floats anywhere in your tank (like at the top and then a third of the way down) so that some amount of water needs to leave the tank before the RODI turns back on.

Scott
SpectraPure, Inc.
Thanks again Scott! I actually ended up going for a simpler solution...
As per forum feedback (thanks internetz! ) I added a few bits to the fish cupboard to make it more efficient. Shown here are:

Top: Reverse Osmosis System Flush Valve Kit
Bottom: JG 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch Union Ball Valve



RO/DI unit with new bits added:



The Ball Valve goes in between the RO/DI unit output and the float switch. When I close the valve the back pressure shuts off the whole RO/DI unit (no more reaching under the sink, yay!) Rather than letting the float switch constantly top off the freshwater tank with tiny splashes of (increasingly dirty) RO; now I just flip this switch and shut the whole thing off. Once the RO tank is empty enough, I open the valve and let it fill back up. The float switch prevents it from overflowing and I just need to remember to turn it back off again when it's full.



The flush valve goes on the waste water (yellow) line. After I've made a batch of RO I open the flush valve for 20s. This allows the waste water to bypass the flow restrictor and rush though the system, pulling any crud and impure water with it.



This solution isn't as automated as using Solenoid Valves, but as I always have to mix up more SW before the FW runs out anyway; it's easy to keep an eye on the FW tank lvl and turn on the RO/DI unit on/off when necessary.


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Old 01/23/2012, 08:42 PM   #14
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I finally added the last part; a Drain Saddle Adapter



I didn't talk about it before because I forgot to buy it when we first set the waterchanger up. This clamp plumbs the RO/DI waste line directly into the sink drain.



Red line = RO/DI waste to sink drain
White line = sink water to RO/DI unit (I'm assuming a copper fitting is OK to use here as it's before the RO/DI unit? Please correct me if I'm wrong!)


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Old 02/04/2012, 09:33 PM   #15
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Great informative Litermeter thread with pictures, thanks. A Tunze 8555.000 would keep your ro tank topped off without having to turn off. If you do go this route keep the float valve as a safety. I would like to know if you see any benefit with dailey changes? Thanks, Scott


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Old 02/14/2012, 10:05 PM   #16
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I was trying to come up with a set up that would incorporate a third reservoir to the right the RO unit that would contain a large batch of kalkwasser to be dosed over the course of 20-30 days much like RHF. I do this now but manually fill the kalk reservoir to add the RO/DI used to mix up a batch of kalk.

In my ideal world, that kalk. reservoir would be tied in so I could fill it using the same pump that feeds the saltwater reservoir as pictured in your system. Unfortunately, I don't think you can leverage the same pump to supply the RO water to the kalk container because of the saltwater residual that will remain in the pump and part of the plumbing as well. Can't have any saltwater getting into the kalkwasser reservoir I believe, even a small amount. I wanted to set up a series of valves (only one more than your sysem) that would allow me to do all of the following:

Pump RO to the saltwater reservoir
Pump RO to the kalk. reservoir
Pump Saltwater to the sump for larger water changes.

I used to do my large SW changes via gravity feed from the SW reservoir to the sump but changes to my set-up will not allow that soon.


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Old 03/07/2012, 01:29 PM   #17
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absolutely loved your write up. thank you so much you actually answer several questions and gave me a few ideas. much appreciated!


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Old 05/04/2012, 08:00 PM   #18
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This is an awesome write up!!!! I live in Phoenix, AZ and went to Spectrapure this week to talk to them about an ATO for my RO/DI reservoir for my Tunze osmolator. My next thought was.... automated water changes. I am going to talk with Shane over there on Monday about this. My only problem is that I am in an apartment and my space is limited. And my fiancee doesn't appreciate the cool gadgets of automated stuff probably like your husband does! AWESOME write up!!!


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Old 07/14/2012, 11:01 AM   #19
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+1 about your write up! You really documented the entire process well.

I may have missed this but where did you get those neet magnetic clips that hold your tubing in place in your sump? Are those also from Spectapure?


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Old 07/14/2012, 11:08 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaarrrggg View Post
Actually some guys got back to me in the local forum and suggested it might be better to move the drain away from the foundation. It sounds like the problem isn't if it's wet or dry... but changing between the 2 quickly. I have no idea about all this stuff so I decided to play it safe and extend the line...



Another problem has been brought to my attention in another thread. The way I have the float meter set up in the RO tank causes the RO/DI unit to kick in as soon as the water lvl drops. As I'm only adding tiny amounts of RO top-off to the tank at a time, it means the RO/DI unit is generally only operating in short bursts.

This isn't great for a RO/DI unit and results in the TDS creeping up and the RO membrane being exhausted more quickly. I'm going to try and sort out a better system, but in the meantime I've started turning the water off at the mains under the sink. I'll wait for the RO tank to empty more before allowing it to fill up again.

I'll update when I find a better long term solution, but I wanted to mention it in case anyone wants to do something similar. Any suggestions welcome!
OK, I can't help but to notice what a cool dog ramp you have there. All your animals must live a life of luxury!


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Old 04/26/2013, 05:18 PM   #21
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Great write-up! It has me interested in setting up automatic waterchanges. I would love to know how this has worked for you now that it's been setup for over a year. Have you ran into any troubles? Have you seen any benefits from the constant water changes? Do/did you still perform periodic "manual" water changes?

Thanks!


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Old 07/07/2013, 04:16 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leeweber85 View Post
Great write-up! It has me interested in setting up automatic waterchanges. I would love to know how this has worked for you now that it's been setup for over a year. Have you ran into any troubles? Have you seen any benefits from the constant water changes? Do/did you still perform periodic "manual" water changes?

Thanks!
Yep, great write up. Was wondering if you have an update for us.


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Old 08/19/2013, 07:37 PM   #23
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Hi, I just bought a litermeter3 with water exchange module. my question is do I need a circulating pump inside my salt water tank? Thank you for your help.


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Old 08/20/2013, 10:23 AM   #24
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^^That's a personal choice really however it makes sense to keep it circulating.

Shane
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Old 09/25/2013, 11:28 AM   #25
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Great write up. Aaarrrggg. I had a question, are you still running this same set-up? Any issues ever? How long have you had the auto water change system going ?


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