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OT: Canopy Cooling Solved

Posted By: Mr. Leadfoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Sunday, 7 September 2003, at 5:26 p.m.

Some of you may know that I recently completed building a canopy for one of my tanks, a 29 gallon. Although I have only one 65 watt compact flourescent inside the canopy, I discovered that the canopy retains enough heat over several hours to actually warm the water by 6 degrees F!

Although the back of the canopy is pretty much open, it seems the lack of circulation is what actually causes a heat pocket to form in the canopy, and while the heat itself is not nearly enough to damage anything, I was surprised that the water temp increased that much.

This canopy is the predecessor to a canopy I'm designing for my 75 gallon, so I'm spending some serious time fine-tuning this one so I know EXACTLY what to do for the 75 gallon canopy.

While I've been entertaining the thought of venting the top, I've always thought fans would offer much more cooling, even without venting the top. I looked into the 3 and 4 inch IceCap fans, which are supposed to be super quiet and was shocked to see they were between US$40 and $60 each. I happened to have an old 1.5 inch computer cooling fan, and placed it on the back of the canopy near the outside edge, just to see what might happen. My first test was to face the flow outward to see if such a tiny fan would draw any of the heat out, and lo and behold it COMPLETELY cooled the canopy! The fan was a bit noisy being that it was 12 years old, so I went down to the local computer store and found another updated model of the same size for US$8.95. The new one runs on a ball bearing and is so quiet you can hardly even hear it!

Now, although the IceCap fans have a thermal probe you can place anywhere to automatically regulate the speed of the fans, I found models of computer fans that also have the same design. But get this: the IceCap fans are very LOUD compared to the ratings on many similar computer fans! And, comparable computer fans are only $12-17! I even called them and spoke to a tech about their claim for "super-quiet", yet their specs state 36dba at 37cfm. The answer I got was that you can "definitely" hear the fans. Well the fan I have is blowing only 7cfm and it's plenty for drawing out heat. Admittedly I'll need more flow for the 75 gallon canopy, but I found some computer fans that run blow 19 cfm, which is adequate, and they're rated at only 12dba! And considering the fact that 10 decibles means a factor of 3 for humans, rather than being 3 times quieter than the IceCaps at 36 dba, the computer fans are more like 7 times quieter! And those are only $16! So, even if I get two computer fans, I'd not only get better displacement by mounting them in two different locations, it'll still be 3 times quieter AND still considerably cheaper than only one IceCap fan. And, I'm getting GOOD computer fans. Standard computer fans are a bit louder, but still not as loud as the IceCap fans, blow comparable CFMs at 28 to 40 cfm, and are even cheaper yet! It makes you wonder, doesn't it? On top of that, IceCap marketing hype is that their fans are better at withstanding the elements than the next guy's fans, but guess what? The computer fans are plastic with stainless steel ball bearings, and coincidentally have the same life expectancy. Sounds to me like IceCap is hosing people. I wouldn't be surprised if IceCap just puts their own brand name on a computer fan!

At any rate, if any of you have a heat problem in your canopies or hoods, my recommendation is to look into the computer fans... you won't regret it!

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