Greener aquaria - insulating tanks
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Greener aquaria - insulating tanks

This is a discussion on Greener aquaria - insulating tanks within the Freshwater Aquarium Equipment forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> Anyone ever tried insulating some sides of an aquarium with styrofoam sheets? I was wondering if it would make enough difference in heat loss ...

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Greener aquaria - insulating tanks
Old 03-28-2011, 02:38 PM   #1
 
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Greener aquaria - insulating tanks

Anyone ever tried insulating some sides of an aquarium with styrofoam sheets? I was wondering if it would make enough difference in heat loss to actually save any electricity. I'm not talking about making a cooler, just putting some insulation on the bottom and back (behind any background).
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:59 PM   #2
 
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Im not sure it would make a difference as heat rises and will escape through the gaps between the lid and filter.
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:36 PM   #3
 
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That's what I was thinking, but I'm pretty sure at least some heat is lost through all exposed surfaces. I couldn't really think of any easy way to insulate the top, particularly with lighting installed for plants. I suspect the entire idea probably would not be cost-effective overall. After all, that's still leaving 4 uninsulated surfaces.
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:31 PM   #4
 
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hmmm

on my porch during the freezing winter i use an insilative fiber that is in side a plastic sleeve..and plexiglass the tops...i have even used seran wrap when i new a really big frost was inevitable..i am not sure if you would save on power but i do know that the yeaers that i didnt inslate the tanks somewhat heaters would fail..or you would see heat lines from the overworked tanks...in theory yes you would save..but i must say the tanks were far from astheticly pleasing..
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:29 PM   #5
 
Using styrofoam 1" sheets to insulate the sides not viewed through would have a effect on conserving energy. Heating is usually by far the biggest energy consumption on the tank. The glass also has a low insulating effect. Covering the sides will help reduce heat loss, though not stop it completely. Tightly sealing the top of the tank will also help reduce heat loss. If you experience lots of evaporation, its generally a sign that something can be done better. On really cold winter nights when its in the negative teens or more outside I throw a big opened sleeping bag on my 55 in the basement for the night, just disconnect any light timers. Helps the heater from overworking and saves power.

You would be surprised actually at what you can do via cheap, non-ground breaking methods. In summer I disconnect most of my heaters. The tanks run a little on the cool side. I was starring at one of the lights on my planted tank. A 55 watt PC on a 20 gallon. These things get hot. I think I had been flushing my cars radiator a few days before... I got an idea. Basically if you pump tank water through the light fixture and back into the tank. It will have a surprising effect on tank temp. I tested it. It of course has limitations, possible problems/downsides, and of course hazards. It does work though.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:36 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
On really cold winter nights when its in the negative teens or more outside I throw a big opened sleeping bag on my 55 in the basement for the night, just disconnect any light timers. Helps the heater from overworking and saves power.
I did this same thing this winter. We had a spell of really cold weather. I tossed down blankets over my big tanks once the lights went off, and removed before the lights came on. I'm sure it saved on some power since the heaters didn't have to work nearly as hard.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:44 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
You would be surprised actually at what you can do via cheap, non-ground breaking methods. In summer I disconnect most of my heaters. The tanks run a little on the cool side. I was staring at one of the lights on my planted tank. A 55 watt PC on a 20 gallon. These things get hot. I think I had been flushing my cars radiator a few days before... I got an idea. Basically if you pump tank water through the light fixture and back into the tank. It will have a surprising effect on tank temp. I tested it. It of course has limitations, possible problems/downsides, and of course hazards. It does work though.
I was hoping to maintain the aesthetics while implementing some energy-conserving ideas. I don't want to make a styrofoam monster! I'd prefer as low-maintenance as possible. I like viewing from three sides. The evaporation issue and top insulation/cover is certainly a good point. I had never thought of sleeping bags @ night - very neat idea!

All these are interesting possibilities. Plastic tubing run over the light outlet to warm tank water from waste heat (GFCI electrical outlet in use, of course!)....Very "cool" Problem is, if an extra pump is used, then we waste power with the pump. Run it off canister filter circulation? Could use an automatic solenoid valve to divert the flow to tank when the temp got too high, but that's $$ for the valve, the thermostat, and requires electricity to run/monitor. hmmmm.

Good ideas! Keep 'em coming and I'll try a few out!

Kymmie - glad to have you back in the discussions, missed your insights!

Last edited by DKRST; 03-29-2011 at 08:47 AM..
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:52 AM   #8
 
efficency and asthetics rarely go hand in hand. A very stong pump power head is needed. Canister would work but you need to get down to a small diameter tube. Though I got surprising results with what I setup I am positive it could do better. I was limited on supplies and never really got around to modifying it. There were lots of inefficiencies. I used a modifie pump from a whisper 10 filter. The pump consumes very little power. Control as you mentioned is certainly a hassle. Tank is heated a set degrees above outside temp. For simplicity its not a stand alone system. Used along side a normal heater it should still reduce heater useage.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:54 PM   #9
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If your looking at something to insulate and is somewhat ascetically pleasing then your best bet is probably going to be to create an acrylic cover for the back and sides of the tank its a little expensive but heres what I'm talking about;

  • You will need 3 sheets of acrylic each a little larger then the back and sides you will be covering
  • acrylic joining compound
  • double sided tape or something other to keep the acrylic attached to the top and bottom plastic pieces of the tank
  • Some spacer to fill the void between the tank and the acrylic at the front of the tank (weather striping?)

The general concept will be to create a U shaped structure to go around the back and sides of the tank, the pieces of acrylic will be larger then the glass of the tank because we want there to be a gap between the glass and the acrylic and the plastic strips that hold the tank together will give us a perfect sized gap for this. The reason for this gap is because one of the best insulators we can use is just plain old air the reason we think of air as not a good insulator is because it is constantly moving and exchanging with colder/warmer air so we have to keep the air still so their is no exchange. Essentially what we are creating is a double pane window (except with out the special gasses they pump into them to get an even better insulation value).

I've never created this but from my stand point this would be the most aesthetically pleasing way to insulate your tank, and if you wanted to go a bit more crazy, use the fogged acrylic for a nice ambient glow coming from the sides of the tank instead of just the standard clear stuff. And if you use the fogged stuff you could probably also add in some see through colored plastic wrapping paper to create different lighting effects around the tank. Nothing like an ambient blue or green light on the walls around your tank while still having clear light inside it.

My 2 cents :)
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:06 PM   #10
 
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zof, you always have the great DIY ideas!
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