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paddyob
02-20-2012, 01:15 AM
I am considering purchasing an Auto Top Off.

Just looking to see how many people use them, and if experience was good, or bad.

When I say bad, I have heard of people's ATOs malfunctioning and overfilling, or failing to function at all.

Also, please let me know what you might be using, as it will guide me to purchase one product or another.

Thanks

MarkoD
02-20-2012, 01:19 AM
I have an avast marine ATO. Works great. It has never malfunctioned.

I have a 15 gallon reservoir holding top off water and about 20 gallons of available room in my sump.

And I use an aqualifter pump

sphelps
02-20-2012, 01:29 AM
Two solenoids in series connected directly to RO unit and controlled by profilux. Profilux can be replaced with timer and float swtich to do the same thing.
Always used similar systems never had issues plus it's actually automatic, I see little difference between filling a sump or a bin...

paddyob
02-20-2012, 01:30 AM
Two solenoids in series connected directly to RO unit and controlled by profilux. Always used similar systems never had issues. Profilux can be replaced with timer and float swtich to do the same thing.

Which is more reliable.... or should I even ask? Assume its the current system you use?

The Grizz
02-20-2012, 01:32 AM
2 JBJ ATO's on 2 tanks & I will never be without one again.

Reefie
02-20-2012, 01:33 AM
I'm running one, just got sick of manually topping off. It paid for itself over the summer as my place has a ton of windows and lots of natural sunlight.

I'd recommend the Tunze Osmolator, super simple to install. Just keep the Top Off tube out of the water or use a check valve. I kept mine out of the water just because if you don't it will back-siphon. The instructions don't mention any of that, I had it submerged, so guess what happened to me? Haha!

lee9
02-20-2012, 01:34 AM
JBJ ATO also. I would never go without one again either.

fishytime
02-20-2012, 01:41 AM
two words......Tun Ze.........never plumb a never ending source of fresh water directly to your tank.......dont be lazy and use a reservoir

Myka
02-20-2012, 01:41 AM
I won't use anything other than a Tunze Osmolator. Never had any issues with them. I have two that are 3 or 4 years old.

never plumb a never ending source of fresh water directly to your tank.......dont be lazy and use a reservoir

Agreed. 100%

I see little difference between filling a sump or a bin...

If there is a malfunction the difference is a wet floor vs a potential crash from sudden salinity drop. I know of at least 2 or 3 tanks that have had complete crashes this way. Redundancy is insurance, laziness is risk.

wingedfish
02-20-2012, 01:45 AM
DIY
Couple of eBay floats in series with an aqua lifter.

sphelps
02-20-2012, 02:03 AM
I won't use anything other than a Tunze Osmolator. Never had any issues with them. I have two that are 3 or 4 years old.



Agreed. 100%



If there is a malfunction the difference is a wet floor vs a potential crash from sudden salinity drop. I know of at least 2 or 3 tanks that have had complete crashes this way. Redundancy is insurance, laziness is risk.

Malfunction is highly unlikely if even posible. The solenoids fail in off position and even if one fails the second one will prevent failure. Max on time is set with profilux or timer so even if float fails sump will only fill slightly over float. Profilux also has alarm for this case.

How would such a system fail? More likely one would forget to fill reservoir, pump runs dry and fails, tank crash.

Don't mistake laziness with convenience or progress for that matter.

paddyob
02-20-2012, 02:08 AM
two words......Tun Ze.........never plumb a never ending source of fresh water directly to your tank.......dont be lazy and use a reservoir

Huh?

Reef Pilot
02-20-2012, 02:08 AM
DIY
Couple of eBay floats in series with an aqua lifter.

I feed my rodi water directly to my sump, but through two floats (similar to yours). One is mounted slightly higher, and if the lower one malfunctions for some reason (not sure how, as they are pretty simple mechanical devices), the other will catch it. Cheap, and foolproof, IMO.

tim the toolman
02-20-2012, 02:10 AM
Pressure sensitive activated and have enough extra room in my sump to hold my entire reservoir.

fishytime
02-20-2012, 02:14 AM
(not sure how, as they are pretty simple mechanical devices).


salt creep, snails?

kien
02-20-2012, 02:17 AM
auto top off from an 8gallon reservoir with an autotopoff.com (http://autotopoff.com/) float switch (with emergency cutoff float switch to prevent over filling). Two and a half years with this gadget now and no issues.

The only thing I would change on this system if I could would be a larger reservoir, but I don't have the space for it sadly.

Reef Pilot
02-20-2012, 02:32 AM
salt creep, snails?
No snails in my sump. Salt creep doesn't have a chance to form, as the water varies enough (with water changes, skimmer cleaning, other fiddling around) and washes it off. Besides, I have the higher back-up one that would kick in.

The 2nd higher float gets exercised regularly too, when I vary the water level, with other stuff I am doing in the sump. Lowering the skimmer water level (to clean it) happens at least once a week, which then raises the sump water level.

And once in a while, I test them, by just pulling the float down with my finger.

When water flows in through the float valve, I can hear it quite clearly (like a fizzing) so easy to keep an eye on it.

fishytime
02-20-2012, 02:52 AM
Huh?


never plumb a never ending source of fresh water directly to your tank

a couple peeps have suggested plumbing you ro directly to the sump....



.......dont be lazy and use a reservoir

and Steve said that to have to fill a reservoir defeats the purpose of having an ATO......cappice?

jtbadco
02-20-2012, 03:07 AM
JBJ ATO system....comes with 2 sensors for low and high water...no over-fill

es355lucille
02-20-2012, 04:20 AM
This is the one that I purchased. It took Doug from RC a couple of times to convince me.....and I am a die-hard believer now!!! I will not be without one ever again!!.........and I cannot believe why I was without one so long!

One of the most understated, hardest working piece of mechanical gizmo that you can have.

http://www.jlaquatics.com/phpstore/store_pages/product-info.php?product_ID=tz-osmolator

Lance
02-20-2012, 04:29 AM
two words......Tun Ze.........never plumb a never ending source of fresh water directly to your tank.......dont be lazy and use a reservoir


+1 Love my Tunze!

patd
02-20-2012, 04:42 AM
JBJ
An ATO is perhaps the single best purchase I have made for my tank (it's between that and my RO/DI filter) ...NO WAY would I ever be without one.

RuGlu6
02-20-2012, 04:51 AM
two words......Tun Ze.........never plumb a never ending source of fresh water directly to your tank.......dont be lazy and use a reservoir
+1
Tunze

spawn
02-20-2012, 05:02 AM
Was this a real poll? I don't understand the question

patd
02-20-2012, 05:05 AM
I don't understand how someone can be uncertain whether they are using an ATO :question:

fishytime
02-20-2012, 05:16 AM
Was this a real poll? I don't understand the question

:lol:

paddyob
02-20-2012, 05:40 AM
Thanks. Appreciate the input.

whatcaneyedo
02-20-2012, 06:06 AM
I used a simple float valve and bucket for a few years. It worked well except then I wanted to start including kalkwasser in my ATO which would cause the valve to plug up all of the time. I would also manually fill the bucket which meant packing about 15 gal of water across the basement each week. To deal with the kalkwasser issue I bought a used Tunze ATO for $50. It lasted for about 5 years until recently the photo eye started to act up. Sometimes it wouldn't start and sometimes it wouldn't stop. Rather than replace it with a new system I recently just added two float switches and a maxi jet to my Apex and programmed it to do the ATO. So far so good so I'll just leave it alone for now.

To cut back on my weekly bucket brigading and for a few other reasons I've got an RO/DI on a solenoid controlled by the Apex to top off a fresh water can three times a week. I recall reading somewhere that its not good for the membrane to run short bursts of water through it so this allows me to run it non stop for a couple of hours at a time. It also means that if something sticks on I won't flood the aquarium with an excessive amount of freshwater.

Money pit
02-20-2012, 01:06 PM
My first was a JBJ, my second is a Tunze. I like the Tunze better, but I would recommend either depending on your budget.

Aquattro
02-20-2012, 01:23 PM
I've plumbed my RO through a solenoid and float valve with a pressure shutoff. Works great. No hauling jugs, filling reservoirs, etc. My solenoid also fails in off position. Even if my float valve fails, the timer for the solenoid matches the evaporation rate. Best thing I've ever done in the hobby!

paddyob
02-20-2012, 02:12 PM
I don't understand how someone can be uncertain whether they are using an ATO :question:

Yes. I think I shortened that last one too much. Ha. Ha.

Uncertain if I will.... Lol.

Cugio
02-20-2012, 03:47 PM
I don't understand how someone can be uncertain whether they are using an ATO :question:

I voted this because i'm using my dosing pump to top off. It's not precise as there is no float valve/sensor to regulate the water at a certain level.

ALang
02-20-2012, 03:57 PM
I'm running one, just got sick of manually topping off. It paid for itself over the summer as my place has a ton of windows and lots of natural sunlight.

I'd recommend the Tunze Osmolator, super simple to install. Just keep the Top Off tube out of the water or use a check valve. I kept mine out of the water just because if you don't it will back-siphon. The instructions don't mention any of that, I had it submerged, so guess what happened to me? Haha!

Exactly what he said.
I'd never go without one again.
I have a 30gal top-off tank that I fill only about once a week. Great for going on short holidays.

molotov
02-20-2012, 04:49 PM
I plan on using one of these.

http://www.conceptaquatics.ca/index.php/eshopps-float-valve-for-auto-top-off.html

No solonoids, no pumps, no electricity, just plain physics. I can't see there being anything more reliable, simple and straight forward. Of course you'd want to have it plumbed to a reservoir. I cannot see anyone plumbing an ATO to an endless water supply.

sphelps
02-20-2012, 04:56 PM
I plan on using one of these.

http://www.conceptaquatics.ca/index.php/eshopps-float-valve-for-auto-top-off.html

No solonoids, no pumps, no electricity, just plain physics. I can't see there being anything more reliable, simple and straight forward. Of course you'd want to have it plumbed to a reservoir. I cannot see anyone plumbing an ATO to an endless water supply.

Manual floats are less reliable than electronic. Electronic has endless capabilities for redundancy and safety back-ups. Salt creep alone is enough to keep a manual float from closing.

ScubaSteve
02-20-2012, 05:07 PM
I've got a Tunze ATO. By far THE BEST investment I've made for my tank.

paddyob
02-20-2012, 05:52 PM
The JBJ is almost half the cost of the Tunze.

I see both come recommended. Why such a price difference?

BlueTang<3
02-20-2012, 05:55 PM
The tunze comes with a pump and is a way more reliable system uses a optic sensor, don't cheap out on this we did and lost most of a tank a few years ago.

MarkoD
02-20-2012, 06:59 PM
Look at the avast marine ATO. It uses a pressure sensor. When the water lowers and the pressure is released it tops up until the pressure builds up. No moving parts to get stuck

paddyob
02-20-2012, 07:11 PM
The tunze comes with a pump and is a way more reliable system uses a optic sensor, don't cheap out on this we did and lost most of a tank a few years ago.

Hmmm. What was it that went wrong?

molotov
02-20-2012, 07:27 PM
Manual floats are less reliable than electronic. Electronic has endless capabilities for redundancy and safety back-ups. Salt creep alone is enough to keep a manual float from closing.


I completely agree that salt creep would be enough to keep a manual float from closing. I also think salt creep could also cause a float switch to fail as well.

For redundancy using a mechanical float switch, I would position one mechanical float slightly higher than the main float. Should the main float ever fail, the higher float would cut water to the failed float. My thinking could be flawed but I've read quite a few reviews on BRS and people swear by them. I am new to this and definetly no pro so anyways those are just my thoughts.

cwatkins
02-20-2012, 07:30 PM
+1 on the Tunze with the optical sensor. Hasn't failed me yet!

Well the little pump motor did burn out on me just recently, but I get lazy and forget to refill my reservoir on time, so the pump often runs dry. It's smart enough to turn the pump off after a bit, but I guess I let it happen too often. Opps!

Smudge
02-20-2012, 08:00 PM
+1 for the Elos Osmocontroller. Easy to set up and keeps my level exactly where I want it.

aqure591
02-20-2012, 08:34 PM
+1 on the Tunze ATO. It is one of the best pieces of equipment i have on my setup and I love it!


+1 on the Tunze with the optical sensor. Hasn't failed me yet!

Well the little pump motor did burn out on me just recently, but I get lazy and forget to refill my reservoir on time, so the pump often runs dry. It's smart enough to turn the pump off after a bit, but I guess I let it happen too often. Opps!

sphelps
02-20-2012, 11:19 PM
I completely agree that salt creep would be enough to keep a manual float from closing. I also think salt creep could also cause a float switch to fail as well.

For redundancy using a mechanical float switch, I would position one mechanical float slightly higher than the main float. Should the main float ever fail, the higher float would cut water to the failed float. My thinking could be flawed but I've read quite a few reviews on BRS and people swear by them. I am new to this and definetly no pro so anyways those are just my thoughts.

Yes but with electronic you have options.
1. You can connect multiple floats in series by simply wiring them in series and placing one slightly higher than the next. They are also small enough to fit pretty much as many as you feel comfortable.
2. You can use a timer to control how long the ATO is allowed to activate for each day and how often.
3. You can connect multiple pumps or solenoid valves as well.
4. You can even wire in some kind of alarm to alert of whatever kind of failure.

With manual you don't have any of those options. You'll have to explain how to connect two manual floats together in series. I've never seen a manual float that can be connected that way. While you may view the manual float as one part and simple that doesn't mean reliable. One part means one part to fail, with electronic many parts have to fail at the same time for an error to occur and how many parts is up to you.

mike31154
02-21-2012, 02:18 AM
I prefer the simpler approach. There comes a point where redundancy, particularly with regard to electronics becomes overly complex & self defeating. What if there's a power failure?

If I could do a gravity feed thru mechanical float valve I would. Alas, I don't have a sump & no way to elevate a top up container above my display, which is what I need to top up. So for the time being I'm using a bit of both, mechanical & electric. A 7 gallon glass wine carboy pressurized by a small air pump on a timer feeding water thru a mechanical float valve. Takes a bit to figure out the timings in order to keep the glass container pressurized enough to match evap rate, but once done it's all good.

Only failure I've had with this set up is the timer (electrical component) messing up & top up not keeping up with evap. Happened last week while I was away but since my daughter was checking in on the system almost daily, she was able to get 'er fixed up again. I often add alk, mag & calcium to the carboy in reasonable doses & the mechanical valve (designed for whole house furnace humidifier) has never failed in over 4 years now. Salt creep has never been an issue either.

sphelps
02-21-2012, 02:29 AM
What if there's a power failure?

You tell me.... As far as I know electronic devices using a power system that's down wouldn't power up... So I guess the top off won't work during a power failure. Is that an issue? Timers have memory so that wouldn't be an issue. I don't know I give up...

mike31154
02-21-2012, 02:47 AM
You tell me.... As far as I know electronic devices using a power system that's down wouldn't power up... So I guess the top off won't work during a power failure. Is that an issue? Timers have memory so that wouldn't be an issue. I don't know I give up...

I guess it depends on how you set up your system. Just saying that with a strictly mechanical valve, a power failure is a total non issue, since that would also stop topping off. No doubt any power failure is going to cause more serious issues with lighting, heating, cooling etc. There are of course also battery backups & generators etc. Just relating my own experience with simpler set up, less to potentially go wrong. Not everyone is an electronics wiz & knows how to properly set up a complex, rendundant system with solenoids, switches & all, not to mention cost.

sphelps
02-21-2012, 03:42 AM
I guess it depends on how you set up your system. Just saying that with a strictly mechanical valve, a power failure is a total non issue, since that would also stop topping off. No doubt any power failure is going to cause more serious issues with lighting, heating, cooling etc. There are of course also battery backups & generators etc. Just relating my own experience with simpler set up, less to potentially go wrong. Not everyone is an electronics wiz & knows how to properly set up a complex, rendundant system with solenoids, switches & all, not to mention cost.

Well to be perfectly honest I'd like to see a system that would cause problems with a power failure and then I'd like to meet the person who made it.

There's nothing complicated about such a system.

1. Install 1A rated (most common) float switch at desired location in sump.
2. Install 24VAC solenoid valve
3. Connect negative from 24VAC power supply to solenoid negative
4. Connect positive from 24VAC power supply to one wire from float
5. Connect other wire from float to solenoid positive.
6. Plug power supply into a digital timer set to turn on at desired time each day for just long enough to top tank off.

That's it, if you want more security, the following two options are easy additions but not needed, system is perfectly safe without.
1. Additional solenoid, connect another solenoid directly to the other one (positive to positive, neg to neg). Plumb in series not parallel with the other one.
2. Additional float, install another float slightly higher than the first. Wire in series with the other one (power source to float 1 wire 1, float wire 2 to float wire 1, float 2 wire 2 to solenoid(s).

As for cost:
float: $5
Solenoid: $25
Power supply: $10
Timer: $20
Wire: $5
Plumbing parts for solenoid (if needed): $15
Tubing from RO to tank: $10

Total (on generous side): $90
With extra solenoid and float: $120

Not bad for an actual auto top off that doesn't require any space.

mike31154
02-21-2012, 05:09 AM
Ok man, you got me, now I give up. My apologies to the OP.

fishytime
02-21-2012, 05:31 AM
Timer: $20

I dont even trust those for my lights, let alone for something as important as an ATO:razz::razz:

sphelps
02-21-2012, 03:59 PM
I dont even trust those for my lights, let alone for something as important as an ATO:razz::razz:

:lol: I think some people just have trust issues :wink:

fabbroc
02-21-2012, 06:33 PM
my DIY auto top off consists of three float switches, two on my sump (one for redundancy) and one in the reservoir. 5v runs through these and actuate a relay for my pump. I would never trust it if I connected the pump directly to them. It works great so far. :biggrin: Almost a must with a skimmer

SeaHorse_Fanatic
02-21-2012, 08:00 PM
I love mine. It is fed by a 5g bucket so even if it goes haywire (never has and hope never will) adding 5g of fw to a 165g with 90g wide sump will not have a major negative effect. I top it off every 4-5 days (glass covered display). This would not have worked on my 210g with 75g sump (all open top) cause I lost 3+g a day on that system.

martinmcnally
02-21-2012, 08:25 PM
I have one of these:

http://autotopoff.com/

Its has never failed. Used to use a Tunzie, I was buying new pumps for it every 3 months until the controller gave up.

doch
02-21-2012, 09:29 PM
CONSIDERING!?!?! Really? This is a no brainer. My Tunze broke a couple weeks ago, and it makes me angry to do it manually. That said, my whole tank makes me angry right now, but that's a different story.

christyf5
02-21-2012, 09:42 PM
used to have a gravity fed system with a float valve that failed once a year. I'd replace it and it would be good for another year. Finally when I set up my most recent tank I decided to look into a float switch. Turns out one came with my controller so I set that up. Its failed on me a couple of times (small brittle stars get into the floating part of the switch and jam it) but my topoff tank is small enough and the main tank large enough that if the whole topoff tank ends up in the sump, its not a huge deal.

intarsiabox
02-22-2012, 02:03 AM
I asked the same question a couple months ago and while most people responded Tunze everyone else just said what they currently had was the best. So I went a different direction and started googling what systems have failed and why. I couldn't find any instances were a Tunze ATO caused any damage or overflows. Lots of pumps dying but usually due to owner not filling up the water. Other systems had more problems but I'll leave you to research any particular methods you are interested in.