Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review of a Current eFlux 1900-gph DC pump with flow control.

Review of a Current eFlux 1900-gph DC pump with flow control.

If there is one thing I loathe about aquariums with sumps and overflows is the noise from splashing water going into the weirs overflow and then the return water into the sump via the pluming. I have written and made some YouTube videos on how to remedy this problem by adding a reducer endcap at the end of the return 1” pipe in the sump that equals that of the pumps output. Most pumps will never meet the requirement of a 1” pipes fulfilment to make it a solid full suction pipe.  However, once that problem is remedied to one’s satisfaction then the next issue is the return pump that is the heart of the system making noise and/or heating up the aquariums water.

After buying the SCA 50 gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium complete package which comes with an Atman PH2500 return pump, (650-gph with a 7.5’ head shut off using 45.5 watts of power) is not quite the right pump for complete control over the restricted water coming from the weir into the sump via a 1” return pipe. It works, but because of the pumps short comings of a reduced amount of torque and only pumping at a measly 275-gph due to head pressure it would falter in keeping the weirs water level at a precise preset water mark.  Note: If water in the weir drains too slow to the sump the water will then rise in the weir until it begins to trickle down the emergency standpipe and make noise. If it drains too fast, then the sumps return pipe will start sucking in air with water and begin to make and unbearable noise in the sump and weir too. Therefore, you need a pump that can overcome these hindrances in keeping water levels steady in the weir and keeping the whole system quiet when running.

It now was time to get a more competent pump to do the job than the smaller Atman that came with the setup could not do. In my aquariums, I like moving volumes of water from point A to point B as fast as possible without hindering the inhabitance daily routine. This way particulate matter gets into the mechanical filter and out of the waterbody giving it a clean polished look. Velocity on the other hand, may deceive the hobbyist into a false sense security that they are moving lots of water when they have only restricted volume and turnover rate of the aquariums pump. Because the SCA comes with Duckbill outlets as part of the pluming, to stimulate velocity, a stronger pump will do the same plus add the needed volume output to keep the system cleaner. Most aquarium turnover rates should be between 5-10 ratio of the tanks volume and I prefer to keep turnover at the higher mark. All pumps in this review can be use internally or externally if needed.

 Choice one on my short list was the Eheim model 1262 hobby pump (898-gph, head 11.8’ to shut off and 80 watts of power consumption priced at $ 179.99 USD.).  Eheim is one of the better aquarium products out there in my opinion for the hobbyist in as far as reliability and quietness.  Been using Eheim filters and pumps now far over 30-years with nothing but good and positive results.
The second pump on my list is the Supreme Mag Drive (MD 18) pump. (1800-gph, head shut off @ 16.85’ ,145 watts and cost $184.99 USD.) At present time, I’m using a 2400-gph (MD24) on my pond and this pump has been running now nonstop far over 15-years. The MD 18 is my backup pump in case the MD 24 would ever need servicing or quit. Noisy, yes, but the reliability is on par with the best.  They are available at most hobbyist stores and Garden Centers and have a very wide network outside of just buying them on the internet.

The third pump on my list is the Current eFlux 1900 DC Pump, one of three in its line of hobbyist’s pumps, with flow control and the ability to have add on power heads or Loop system if that is a must for biotic reef keepers. Current USA, in case you haven’t heard of them sell aquarium lighting and have been around far a long time, if not one of the oldest lighting companies in the hobby. This is the pump this review is all about. It’s rated at 380-1900gph veritable controlled rheostat that not only lessen the water output but also the electrical consumption of the pump too, from 11-55 watts, with a shut off head @ 14.75’ and costing $178.95 USD. I paid far less for the one I bought than the give price listed. The price point of all three of these pumps is about the same and each one of them has a better head shutoff than the smaller Atman pump that came with the SCA system.

However, the eFlux pump nudged the other two contenders out of the picture because the eFlux uses less electrical energy than the others do along with a higher gph output and with very good torque. It uses what is called an enclosed turbine impeller, the same as used in air-raid sirens and professional leaf blowers. Runs cooler than the Mag Drive and Eheim pumps and takes up less room in the sump than the Eheim. The only part on the eFlux 1900 that gets warm is the AC/DC power converter that sits on the outside connected by an Umbriel cord to the pumps control center and that’s it. The motor itself seems to not have any influence on water temperature like the Supreme pumps do. 

 It’s also a 24-volt DC pump which makes it safer because of it low pure DC voltage and not the very dangerous AC voltage. DC voltage sources are more constant or should I say cleaner power source than AC and such motors are always used in High End turntables because of their stability. It wasn’t long ago when stray AC current from submersible pumps in salt water aquariums was to be grounded with a Titanium probe to earth because of stray voltage bothering the sense organ called the lateral line in fish.

Some of the key selling words that advertisers use in selling pumps is ultra-quiet, whisper-quiet, quite operation, virtually silent and silent running[1]. None of these adjectives are true in my opinion because being an owner of all three of these pumps I do not find then to be dead quite or silent running as the advertisements lead the consumer to believe. In my experience, the lesser the pumps water output the less noise it will make when running under load. None of these pumps fall into that category of reduced water output and therefore hum noise is unavoidable.  How much noise is audible from a DC pump is from 20dB-55dB and is up to the consumer and their tolerance level for pump hum noise if that is too loud.  The eFlux does make hum noise and doesn’t fall under the umbrella of “dead quiet”, but nothing I find to be out of place with a pump of this magnitude comparing it to its top-of-the-line AC brethren. With that said, you can buy quieter DC pumps but they may cost you an added $100-300 dollars more than the eFlux 1900 does and have more bells and whistles added to them via their controls (see Ed. Notes).

The trim pot and/or rheostat that comes with the eFlux 1900 pump is not a very precise actuator and will turn the pump on to full throttle even though it may still have more room for adjustment. It probably would be better off if Current USA just had six preset buttons on the controls with indicator lights and just leave it at that. So, don’t think you can dial in the pump so precisely (as some have stated in advertising) for an Animal Bean Overflow and do away with expensive valves instead; it’s just not made for that kind of accurate output control.

 Since I’m using a reducer endcap that I came up with on my 1” return (as shown on my YouTube video) to the sump from the weir, no problems on turning the eFlux to full output using the ½” return/s pipe with no restrictions into the aquarium. With the Atman pump the reducer endcap has a 7/16 hole (3.25psi or 7.5 foot of head) in it and the new endcap using the eFlux 1900 pump has a 17/32 hole in it (6.5psi or 14.75 foot of head). That makes it 22.5 % larger, making that much more water to go through the whole filtering system. A 22.5% larger hole may not sound like much until you realize that about 650gph is now going through the system verses the 275gph with the Atman pump.[2]

 Water flow is accurate enough (as can be expected) with the eFlux 1900 no matter how full the sump is or how low the water is in the sump. This was a problem with the Atman pump that would change the water in the weirs water height too when sump water levels went low. It did not have enough torque to overcome these obstacles. 

I know I left a lot out of this review but I though most of that information would be impertinent and most hobbyist just want to know is the product being review worth the price of admission or not?  I feel that DC energy efficient pumps are going to nudge out their counterpart AC pumps one day like LED’s have extinguished the Metal Halide and T5 and T8 lights of the past. With cost going south for DC pumps like the Current USA eFlux 1900, that now makes such great pumps like Eheim and Supreme Mag Drive performance and energy efficiency behindhand in caparison to DC pumps. So, one must ask: Why would you buy old technology when the newer technology is so much better? After all we don’t use cathode ray tubes anymore because better and more efficient technology has superseded it, not because it didn’t work.
eFlux Pump

MD 18

Eheim pump

My recommendation is this: You can never have too much of a good thing until you don’t need it. DC pumps with their rheostats controlled outputs or push button water regulation really are the future of this aquarium hobby. They give you room to expand when it is needed and may save you money on additional power heads and pumps in the future along with saving room on electrical cords and valuable real state on that power strip. For the price, I find the eFlux 1900 to be worth the cost of admission and then some. AC is out and adjustable DC is now in. It now gives me the water movement I want and turnover rate without sacrificing velocity over volume.

Ed note: I’m sure there are quieter DC pumps out there put at what cost? Will that cost be justified in better quality of the pumps stator and rotor or just added gimmicks? They all seem to have ceramic bearings and shafts so where does all the extra hundreds of dollars go for? Plus caution must be taken with some DC pumps because they come from Europe and have metric fittings and oddball size connectors that nothing here in the USA, as for as PVC piping goes, will fit it, so the hobbyist must use only the fitting that are provided with the pump.

[1] Some advertising terms used: QUOTE: “Epoxy filled, hermetically sealed, low energy consumption motors result in silent, efficient operation while surpassing the highest safety standards”. And “Quiet Operation, the sealed DC motor and magnetic drive design allows the pumps to run virtually silent.”

[2] This output would be significantly better if a ¾” or 1” pipe I.D. output was being used instead of the ½” I.D. pipe.

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