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DIY Cooling Systems
I've been considering a cooling possibility (though admittedly for a 180
reef, not my plant tank).
The reef tank will be in a basement room, and have reasonable access to an
outside wall. This offers the possibility of boring a hole into the ground
outside the house, at a depth of 6 or 8 ft, from the basement, in order to
install a ground-cooling system.
I live in western PA, and so have relatively low ground temperature year
round. A pipe (say, 1.5 inch diameter, for example, with an end-cap, could
be pushed into the bored hole. Length of the bore might be something like
10 to 15 ft. A smaller diameter tube would then be inserted into the larger
pipe, stopping just short of the end (maybe an end piece on the tube would
provide for a defined gap at the end of the tube to the pipe plug). A
temperature controller (or thermostatically controlled) pump could pump
water into a the tube to the end of the pipe, with the return path being the
annular gap between the inner tube and the outer path. Some plumbing
creativity is needed to make a header so that the tube and pipe can be
separated at the basement end of the pipe, but that is doable (maybe a "T"
on the end of the pipe, with a tube entering the bottom of the "T", for
The plumbing could use PVC components, which would be inert relative to the
aquarium water chemistry.
The advantage is that no chiller, or refrigerator is needed (little
electrical cost, less to fail), and the heat does not get transferred to the
same room, ultimately then needing more AC capacity in the surrounding
The ground boring may be tricky, but is also a matter of using some
ingenuity. For a 1.5 inch pipe system, the hole should not be that
difficult. Could be done by hand with a home-made tool of some sort (maybe
a cutting blade fixed to a long strip of wood), and a good shop-vac. And
then boring patiently. getting through the basement wall is also a job, but
The pumping should not be that difficult, as the sizes of the tube and pipe
would be fairly healthy. Slow flow through the system will actually help
the performance anyway.
I have not actually made this, and have not really calculated cooling
efficiency (can be done) or pumping needs. I believe that a year-round
ground temperature of 45 to 60 F at 6 to 8 ft. can be assumed where I live
(also need to check that).
Any thoughts? Anybody ever seen such a scheme? (There are home
heating/cooling systems based on the same idea, though with much larger
dimensions and heat capacities, and using more traditional heat exchange
fluids and heat pumps).