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DIY submersible water heater, build your own water heater

***Be sure to use a GFI plug with this!***

here is a link to the Through-Wall version http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/diy-heater-bui...

 COPPER WARNING! most of the elements are made from nickel plated copper and should not be used!

I have not found stainless elements at Home Depot. Some of the Lowes stores have them.

A quick search on the web will find several types in the 240volt range.

Some links to try:

 1500 watt in the 120 volts stainless steel unit.

http://shop.hardwareandtools.com/search?w=stainless+steel+heater+el...

 

 here are some stainless steel options. they only make them in 4000 watt+ at 240 volts.

http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Steel-Water-Heater-Element/dp/B000U...

 http://plumbing.hardwarestore.com/51-598-water-heater-elements/stai...

10-18-2013

I've made a few changes to the heater parts list and instructions..

 

1500-5500 watt stainless element

12 awg cord

1-1/2" rubber coupling

1-1/2" reduced to 1" threaded

1-1/2" reduced to 1/2" threaded

1/2" water tight connector

 

Temp controller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

install the element into the 1-1/2" - 1" reducer.

...these are made to be inserted in one direction, so you will need to use a grinding wheel, or improvise, to remove the "stop" portion of the fitting.

some are sold with a round edge (pictured here) and some are squared (pictured above)

after removing the stop, connect the wires and install into the rubber coupler.

  

 

 

 

Here are a couple different

submersible options.

the top one has the wire ran inside the 1/2" irrigation "funny pipe" and fittings.

both work great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have used a heavy duty timer to control the temp. 15 mins on the hour will keep 300 gallons warm.

pex supply has thermostats    http://www.pexsupply.com/Temperature-Controllers-12741000

Use a GFI plug with this unit!

 

 

 

 

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here are the latest submersible heaters.

Purdy :-) looks like you're ready for colder temps to move in.

Hey Rob have you or anyone else ran in to any problems with their water heater element letting off a slight charge into the water? I have been conducting countless experiments with the through-wall setup and I keep getting an electrical charge being released into the water. It is a VERY VERY small charge but I am concerned about the long term impact on the fish and overall system health. The only way it can be detected is if I am standing barefoot next to the system and if I have a small cut on my hand and that small cut is the exact point of contact with the water. If I just stick my hand in the water nothing can be felt whatsoever. Even if I touch the water with the tip of a finger without a cut, nothing can be detected. It's only if I make contact with the water on the exact spot where I have a small cut or abrasion I can feel the very small shock (my hands are always dry and cracking so finding a small cut isn't very difficult). This has been baffling me for about a month now and I can't seem to be able to find the culprit. I have meticulously checked, re-checked and then re-re-checked all electrical connections and there is absolutely no moisture in contact with any terminals. All electrical components in the system are plugged into GFCI outlets and they are not being tripped (I am running a stainless steel non-resistored 240v 4500 watt heater @ 120v 1125watts). Cutting power to any other electrical components in the system has no effect on the charge. It is only turning on and off the heating element that turns on and off the charge in the water. I even tried removing the temperature probe because some people had mentioned it needs to be coated with silicone before being submersed in the water. Both re-coating it with silicone and removing it entirely from the water made no difference. 

My only theory is that every element that I have tried thus far has failed (which is 4!!!!). Call it bad luck or maybe the stainless steel claim on the packaging is a load of sh*t, I don't know. What I do know is that after only 7 days of use this is what the base of every element I have tried looks like:

Now that might be normal for stainless steel to look like that if I maintained my pH at 4.0. Considering my pH never goes outside of 6.6-6.8 it doesn't really make sense for stainless steel to suffer that much corrosion so quickly. Also, the element itself is in perfect condition. It is the base that has suffered all the corrosion. What the hell is this base even made out of? Why am I paying for a stainless steel element just to have some cheap base (which is also in contact with my water, so it better not be some crap zinc or copper coating). 

Another thing to mention is that the orientation of my heating element is parallel to the ground. The same orientation as if it were mounted in the water heater in my garage. I originally had the element perpendicular to the ground with the electrical connections facing the ground the the tip of the element facing up. I thought maybe that had something to do with the element failing so quickly but after changing my in line heater design to a horizontal configuration, the heating elements still suffered the same fate. 

If anyone has ANY IDEAS, I'm all ears and would love some input on this one!

Hey Randal,

I am running the heater with a Ranco ETC 111000, the same one Rob mentioned in this post. 

My profile page needs to be updated haha I am currently using the heater on a 200 gallon system. 

The extension cord that I have modified to use with the Ranco controller and heat element does have a ground. However, the water heater element only has a hot and a cold terminal on it. The ground is left exposed in the sealed area where the connections are made but secured and away from the hot and cold terminal. So if any water touches it it should trip the GFCI outlet. 

I have tried many submersible titanium aquarium heaters in the past. Ironically, the reason why I stopped using them is because after a few months they would start having the same problems I am having now with my water tank heating element. 

I have looked into titanium hydroponic reservoir heaters just haven't given them a shot because of the price.

That could be a possibility with the ground, but I'm no electrician either. 

Benjamin,,ive been giving this some thought and couldn't come up with any thing until the other day!!!

check to see if you have the white wire and ground wire on the same bar in the panel??

this will give a false ground effect.  if this is the case... get a new ground bar, ground it to a real ground, and move all ground wires to it and off the white side..

hope this helps,

Rob

Unless you have plenty of amps/watts to spare go with a lower watt unit, 1500 or less if possible. A 2000 watt element heats my 250 gallons 3 degrees per hour in a 50 degree greenhouse but when I turn it on I have to shut down almost everything else to keep from kicking the 20 amp breaker. I've learned that a 15 amp breaker should only carry a max of 1800 watts and only about 1450 watts on a constant load. A 20 amp breaker is 2400 watts and 1920 watts constant so you can see the problem with a 2000 heater. Ever notice how the wires get warm? It's amazing what you learn if you just ask at Home Depot. I think my next step will be to insulate the tank.

hmmm.. FTR-- I use a 5500 watt 240v element wired at 120v plugged into a 20 amp gfi outlet, using 12 gauge wire.... no excessive heat.

I have learned a useful wiring option.. I use a 30 amp double pole 240v breaker, run it on a 10/3 w/ground, and connect it to an outdoor, two outlet box. I wire it as two separate 120v outlets so if one trips it wont effect the other.. this gives me one for the air and heater, and the other for the water pump and extras.. works great.

I found stainless steel units at Menards.

Where did you get the slotted PVC piece and the black cup thingy at the end, that go over the element?


The 'black cup thingy' is a Net Pot (a 2 inch one, I believe) and can be found at any 'ol hydro store. The 'slotted PVC piece' can be bought from Farm Tek (and probably some other places...  http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/prod1;ft_plumbing_supplies-ft_... 

...but you can cut slots into a piece of PVC with a table saw, or angle grinder...or just drill holes into it with a hand drill and a drill bit 
Kym Roberts-Hardesty said:

Where did you get the slotted PVC piece and the black cup thingy at the end, that go over the element?

Nice clean set up Rob. How do you repair/replace the element if it fails without draining the water.
 
Rob Nash said:

hmmm.. FTR-- I use a 5500 watt 240v element wired at 120v plugged into a 20 amp gfi outlet, using 12 gauge wire.... no excessive heat.

I have learned a useful wiring option.. I use a 30 amp double pole 240v breaker, run it on a 10/3 w/ground, and connect it to an outdoor, two outlet box. I wire it as two separate 120v outlets so if one trips it wont effect the other.. this gives me one for the air and heater, and the other for the water pump and extras.. works great.

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