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Old 11/21/2007, 10:13 AM   #1
Aquarist007
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'the cost of 24/7 business"

We all know running our reef tanks costs money. But are there shortcuts, although minimal add up over a month giving us more money in the pocket to spend at the LFS

Main filtration pumps---mine goes through 350 watts per hour. Do they absolutely have to run 24/7. could you alter them with a timer--4 hours on -4hrs off etc. For example I have three hydor koralinas in the tank which would give adequate circulation while the pump is off( and they run with much less wattage)

Lighting--my combination burns up 500watts per hour. Is the commonly stated range of 8-10 hrs for halides and 10-12 for for attinics scientifically sound or could you get away with running them 6 hrs for eg. (depending on the corals you have in your tank)

Are two 250 watt heaters a necessity or could the temperature fall to 74 degress and rise to 80 in the daytime.?

Would love some input on these questions---because there this acan I have had my eye on for sometime


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Old 11/21/2007, 10:37 AM   #2
kizkiz
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The lighting can be reduced depending on what you keep
SPS it would be a bit more of a no no, but most other corals will be fine


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Old 11/21/2007, 11:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by kizkiz
The lighting can be reduced depending on what you keep
SPS it would be a bit more of a no no, but most other corals will be fine
I realize that you would do this slowly----but is there a minimum level for halides 8hr 7hrs 6 hrs. If this is anecdotal and you had all lps what would you look for in the corals as to what level of light they would need?


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Old 11/21/2007, 12:08 PM   #4
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First off, this is not a rant or bash of your question. It's not a bad question. So please take this as constructive advice, not scolding.

I live in a less expensive area of the country when it comes to electricity, so I think we pay maybe 8 cents per kWh. (By the way.. it's not 500 watts per hour... watts is a unit of the rate of power usage in a given instant. If you use a 500W appliance for a whole hour, you'd have 0.5 kWh or 500 watt-hours. That's how the power company measures your bill, in kilowatt-hours. Sorry to be anal... I'm an engineer.) But let's say, for example, that you live where it's 15 cents per KWh. Your 500W lighting for 10 hours would cost you:

[(500W * 10 hrs/day * 365 days/yr ) / (1000 watts/kWh)] * $0.15 / kWH = $273.75 per year in lighting costs

or...

roughly $23 per month.

Honestly, that's not very much... and to jeopardize the health of our tanks simply to save maybe $5 per month..? Not worth it to me.

If we try to cut corners, we usually end up paying somewhere else. It's just how it is. Maybe you could use smaller pumps, lower lighting (use 175W bulbs instead of 250W... of course requires switching ballasts...), etc. But it all comes down to what will keep your tank happy. Have SPS and no flow or poor lighting = not happy. Feed plenty to fish and corals, but have a poor skimmer = not happy.

If I could cut corners, I'd have a huge tank by now full of awesome corals. But that's why I don't have that kind of tank, because I choose quality over economy. I want the best for what I keep. Period. No excuses.


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Old 11/21/2007, 12:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrSpiffy
First off, this is not a rant or bash of your question. It's not a bad question. So please take this as constructive advice, not scolding.

I live in a less expensive area of the country when it comes to electricity, so I think we pay maybe 8 cents per kWh. (By the way.. it's not 500 watts per hour... watts is a unit of the rate of power usage in a given instant. If you use a 500W appliance for a whole hour, you'd have 0.5 kWh or 500 watt-hours. That's how the power company measures your bill, in kilowatt-hours. Sorry to be anal... I'm an engineer.) But let's say, for example, that you live where it's 15 cents per KWh. Your 500W lighting for 10 hours would cost you:

[(500W * 10 hrs/day * 365 days/yr ) / (1000 watts/kWh)] * $0.15 / kWH = $273.75 per year in lighting costs

or...

roughly $23 per month.

Honestly, that's not very much... and to jeopardize the health of our tanks simply to save maybe $5 per month..? Not worth it to me.

If we try to cut corners, we usually end up paying somewhere else. It's just how it is. Maybe you could use smaller pumps, lower lighting (use 175W bulbs instead of 250W... of course requires switching ballasts...), etc. But it all comes down to what will keep your tank happy. Have SPS and no flow or poor lighting = not happy. Feed plenty to fish and corals, but have a poor skimmer = not happy.

If I could cut corners, I'd have a huge tank by now full of awesome corals. But that's why I don't have that kind of tank, because I choose quality over economy. I want the best for what I keep. Period. No excuses.
Thanks Mr.Spiffy for your perspective----I hear you and I would not do anything to harm the quality of conditions for my tank inhabitants--its just the quality of doing reef business.
However there probably are wastes in our hobby and that was the reason for starting this thread.
I guess I need to find the cost of kwh in our area---I was under the impression by other reefers who had similar size tanks that their total costs were between 80-100 dollars a month.

Ps--thanks for the math/science lesson


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Old 11/21/2007, 12:52 PM   #6
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Re: 'the cost of 24/7 business"

Quote:
Originally posted by capn_hylinur


Main filtration pumps---mine goes through 350 watts per hour.

I'd start there.


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Old 11/21/2007, 01:24 PM   #7
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Filter pumps: all depends on what kind of filters, a skimmer can be shut off, if it is anything biological, then should be run 24/7. otherwise the bacteria population dies off/grows again with each cycle. however, shutting off a skimmer can lead to poor water quality and increased water changes, off-setting the couple dollars a month that you saved in the first place.

lights: if you are keeping photosynthetic corals, i would run them at least 10 hours a day. i'm not aware of any natural reef that only gets 6 hours a day of the sun being up.

heaters: imo, two heaters are a must, but one is essentially a back up. as for the temperature swing, most natural reefs undergo large temperature swings. just ask any scuba diver or snorkeler if the water is a perfect 80 deg 24/7 throughout their dive... that said, 74 routinely might be on the cold end... one of my nano's routinely went from 79 to 84 daily, without ill effects. Many SPS will be more sensitive to temp changes however, so a lot depends on the species you keep.

Bottom line, the changes you mentioned would be best attempted on a FO tank, or possible those with hard soft corals.. if you want a good idea of how much your electrical costs are, go here:

http://www.reefcentral.com/calc/tank_elec_calc.php


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Old 11/21/2007, 01:35 PM   #8
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I only run my MH for 7 hours a day.
My photo period is 11 hours total...2 hours of actinic before and after MH.

Corals don't get sun all day on the reef...the most intense lighting is for about 5-6 hours a day when the sun is at or near zenith.
Just my opinion...


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Old 11/21/2007, 01:37 PM   #9
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For example, running your lights for 8hrs actincs, 10 hours 10k costs $15.77 a month (12cents/KWH)...

if you went to 6 hrs... costs $10.77/month... You would save $5, you can't even buy lunch for five bucks.

Running 350w of pumps x24h costs $30.66/month... If you ran them 12h/d.. would save you $15.33... not exactly a ton of money, esp. in this hobby.


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Old 11/21/2007, 01:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by LISound

Corals don't get sun all day on the reef...the most intense lighting is for about 5-6 hours a day when the sun is at or near zenith.
Just my opinion...
I'd agree with that. I'd also say that most of our lights have no where near the PAR of the tropical sun at high noon.


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Old 11/21/2007, 01:42 PM   #11
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I definitely agree that there are excesses in this hobby, as with anything. Especially when people go with over-the-top systems. Obviously, larger systems require more power. But having monster pumps and incredible light systems are excess. Again, these costs are augmented by larger tank size for you.

I didn't notice before how large of a tank you have. I suppose that saving a little here and there would definitely add up for you and those with larger tanks. My lowly 40BR doesn't have nearly the requirements that your tank has.

My first recommendation, as mdt178 pointed out, would be to research more efficient pumps. You have a LOT of pump power in your tank. While these new pumps cost a lot now, they will make up for it in the long term. I'll bet you can cut your pump power requirements significantly with a bit of research. You might also be able to reduce costs by running 2 smaller pumps instead of one large one. BTW, what skimmer/filtration are you using that requires so much power?

Lights are required... you cannot get around having them. But you might be able to reduce your overall main photoperiod for halides and use your actinics to create longer sunrise/sunset periods during the day.


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Old 11/21/2007, 02:54 PM   #12
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Re: 'the cost of 24/7 business"

Main filtration pumps---mine goes through 350 watts per hour. Do they absolutely have to run 24/7. could you alter them with a timer--4 hours on -4hrs off etc. For example I have three hydor koralinas in the tank which would give adequate circulation while the pump is off( and they run with much less wattage)

My water level drops a few inches when the return is off. My tank relies on the sump for calcium dosing, skimming, heating, and auto topoff. I would never run the tank is "less than optimal" mode on purpose.

Lighting--my combination burns up 500watts per hour. Is the commonly stated range of 8-10 hrs for halides and 10-12 for for attinics scientifically sound or could you get away with running them 6 hrs for eg. (depending on the corals you have in your tank)

It seems generally accepted that you can run the halides for 6 hrs. Some people are running even less. However, I like the viewing best when the halides are on, so I keep them on for 8 hours for viewing reasons.

Are two 250 watt heaters a necessity or could the temperature fall to 74 degress and rise to 80 in the daytime.?

I wouldnt worry about the heaters, as they only use electricity if they are needed. They have a high wattage but they are not running frequently.


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Old 11/21/2007, 04:47 PM   #13
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The saving from going with a shorter photoperiod will pale in comparison with going with more efficient flow. Your Mag36 pump is pulling 350W fully open, and acts as a huge heater at the same time. You can easily cut that down below 100W and still provide adequate flow for your tank. e.g. OceanRunner or Eheim return pump and 2-4 stream-type PHs.
With the average rate of $0.163 kWh in California, that's almost $30/month if it was me.
During summer, without that huge Mag running 24/7, your tank will need less electricity to cool also.


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Old 11/21/2007, 04:52 PM   #14
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I recently changed the bulbs in 2x 400w MH. To be on the safe side I reduced my lighting time to 6 hours and planned on building it back up. However, I haven't and all the sps. is thriving. No detrimental effect at all. This is after 3 weeks.


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Old 11/21/2007, 05:04 PM   #15
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I was picking up some powerheads for a little extra circulation the other day. I asked for a maxijet 900 and the person getting my stuff said I should go with a mj1200. I said for the difference in flow that the efficiency of the mj900 made it a much better choice. The mj900 is 230gph at 8.5watts and the mj 1200 is 290gph at over 20watts, for about 20% more flow it costs over 50% more wattage.


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Old 11/21/2007, 05:22 PM   #16
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Check out the kill-a-watt devices they tell you exactly how much each devices uses over a few days so you can itemize things like heaters, etc..

It breaks down how many killowatts you used in x amount of hours... then you just do the math for your electric bill per Kwh and presto..

Check ebay for those.. I have one and LOVE it.


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Old 11/21/2007, 06:53 PM   #17
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just to be a jerk. move to NE Ohio its $.05 /KW here.


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Old 11/21/2007, 07:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by useskaforevil
just to be a jerk. move to NE Ohio its $.05 /KW here.
I believe that is because Ohio is on the same power grid supplied by Ontario---you get our energy first and then we have to buy it back from the grid a higher prices--or somewhat to that effect


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Old 11/21/2007, 07:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrSpiffy
I definitely agree that there are excesses in this hobby, as with anything. Especially when people go with over-the-top systems. Obviously, larger systems require more power. But having monster pumps and incredible light systems are excess. Again, these costs are augmented by larger tank size for you.

I didn't notice before how large of a tank you have. I suppose that saving a little here and there would definitely add up for you and those with larger tanks. My lowly 40BR doesn't have nearly the requirements that your tank has.

My first recommendation, as mdt178 pointed out, would be to research more efficient pumps. You have a LOT of pump power in your tank. While these new pumps cost a lot now, they will make up for it in the long term. I'll bet you can cut your pump power requirements significantly with a bit of research. You might also be able to reduce costs by running 2 smaller pumps instead of one large one. BTW, what skimmer/filtration are you using that requires so much power?

the sump and fuge are in the basement underneath the main tank--about 7-8 feet of head pressure. Why I don't really understand is the return bulkhead reduced from one inch to 3/4 inch. I didn't want to drain the maintank and re-drill when I moved the sump so I left it this way. Without that reduction the pump with that head pressure gives me about 2200 gph. But in reality it is probably 1600-1800 gph. That's not ideal for the wattage that pump is using.
If anyone has a similar situation with a different pump arrangement I would love to hear their suggestions



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Old 11/21/2007, 07:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by mdt178
The saving from going with a shorter photoperiod will pale in comparison with going with more efficient flow. Your Mag36 pump is pulling 350W fully open, and acts as a huge heater at the same time. You can easily cut that down below 100W and still provide adequate flow for your tank. e.g. OceanRunner or Eheim return pump and 2-4 stream-type PHs.
With the average rate of $0.163 kWh in California, that's almost $30/month if it was me.
During summer, without that huge Mag running 24/7, your tank will need less electricity to cool also.
will they handle the head pressure(7-8 feet) and still deliver the gph that the mag pump does?


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Old 11/21/2007, 07:56 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrSpiffy


I live in a less expensive area of the country when it comes to electricity, so I think we pay maybe 8 cents per kWh. .

I WISH!! Around here it's 10.9/kwh before the taxes and fees that get added on.


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Old 11/21/2007, 09:17 PM   #22
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Capn.... there are several pumps that would provide you with plenty of flow and save you money every month. I use a GenX Mak 4 (PCX40) that would move over 1000gph and only use 110 watts. There are several other options that would give you plenty of flow while using less power.


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Old 11/21/2007, 10:06 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by capn_hylinur
will they handle the head pressure(7-8 feet) and still deliver the gph that the mag pump does?
The Eheim 1260/1262 and the OceanRunner 2500/3500 can handle +8' head. They will not deliver the same gph as the Mag36 and that was why I suggested that you add 2-4 stream-type powerheads as the primary flow.


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Old 11/21/2007, 11:47 PM   #24
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my wife just told me that my last electrical bill was over 200.00 thats a lot of dinero.


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Old 11/22/2007, 05:08 AM   #25
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A while back I made a thread called 'why do we assume a large return pump is needed?'. A few others and myself covered this topic.

You can...

Use stream style pumps for flow. Or at least high-flow, low pressure pumps in closed loops, powerheads, etc. Running most of your flow through your sump is very inefficient.

Use a smaller overflow return pump (I use an eheim 1250 on my 125g).

Use efficient lighting (light rails, esp for frag tanks, but for main tanks too). Use the 'power combo' of halides that are 10,000Kish for maximum output, and T5s to suppliment the blue. Use top-notch reflectors like lumenarcs for the best light coverage.

Use efficient skimmer pumps... needlewheels rather than becketts and downdrafts.

My 125g costs me less than $30 a month in electricity. What ratio is your tank at?


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