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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V4 #1388-RE M3 heat cables
"Natural Aquariums" <naturalaquariums at starpower_net> asked:
". . . does anyone have any experience with the M3
> heating cables? They seem very reasonably priced. They also have a
> an analog or LCD heat controller. Has anyone used these? Which, do
> prefer? I am a high tech gadget guy who is looking for low
Some humble opinons:
The cables are indeed reasonably priced -- jsut keep looking around!
The insulation is thinner than that found on some other much more
expensive cables and includes no ground wire, unlike the FishVet brand
sold by, [Redacted]. But lack of ground wire should not be an issue provided that
you connect the cables through a GFCI and have a grounding probe in
your tank -- both are very good ideas in any event! I have used a set
Ed's M3 cables for almost 2 years without undesireable results. The
substrate reaches a maximum temperature next to the cables of about 90
degrees F after running all night -- I was afraid it might be much
higher than that. They run cool enough not to melt the epoxy coating
on, for example, TopFin and other similar packaged gravels -- if that's
what you have. In terms of wattage per foot, these are more like Dupla
(higher watts/ft.) than the Dennerle (low watts/ft.) So they are
likely to cycle on and off in most tanks, given the heat from the
lights, etc. Some prefer the cycling and actually use higher wattage
cables with timers to prevent the substrate from becoming evenly heated
and thereby not producing the desired convection currents -- but
that's another story -- see prior postings by George Booth on this
The digital controller is used by many manufcturers of heating and
chilling equipment of various kinds -- not just in the hobbyist aquatic
market but also in the industrial and farm markets -- need to keep
those chickens and dairy cows warm in the winter and cool in the
summer. :-) The controller is a standard in several industries and
very reliable -- but I think it's maker recommends that the spread
between trigger-on and trigger-off be at least two degrees, which some
might think is high -- but you can set it to less. Ed sells it for a
very good price -- I haven't seen it for less but I have seen it for
I am not familiar with the analogue unit at M3 but I recall i0t being
an Azoo, the same as the cables as probably as good and reliable as the
Otto (see below).
A cheaper but usable alternative is the Ultralife Reef Products digital
heat controller. I have found these to be reliable also, although less
versatile than M3 -- they are for heat control only. I use them with
glass tube heaters so that the water temperature is controlled by a
thermostat separated from the heater coils. If all you want to do is
control a heater, it's a pretty good controller. Even cheaper but
practical is the Otto analgue heat controller. Again, a reliable
product but you set the temp with an analogue dial instead of a digital
readout, so it takes a little longer until the setting is just where
you want it. With the digital models the display shows just what
temperatrue you have set the controller to and what the tank temp is.
The analogue dials have to be checked against a thermometer until you
get the setting jsut right.
You can get Ultralife and Otto equipment at
and probably other places.
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