Waveline DC5000 Variable Speed DC Aquarium Pump
As most of you know, I don't "review" products and don't intend to start! It is not often that I am so excited about a product that I take the time to write about it. In fact, I can only think of one other reef aquarium product (Oceans Motions) that has impressed me enough to openly reccomend it (without hesitation) it to other reef aquarists.
I have documented my struggle with phosphates and am still struggling to keep them under control. Over the past 7+ years my "wish list" of upgrades and changes to my system has grown. One of those "wishes" has been a better closed loop pump. Until recently, I have not been able to find what I have been looking for. The release of the Waveline DC pumps has inspired my to finally undertake an entire system redesign based on these pumps. I will document the project as it unfolds. In the meantime, here is some background regarding my current closed loop pump and why I am so excited about the Waveline DC5000.
Velocity T4 Silent Aquarium Pumps; Heaters?
I struggled to find a suitable closed loop pump when I setup my 75 gallon in-wall reef aquarium. The reef is adjacent to my home office and home theater and silence is very important. What good is a silent overflow if the return pump and closed loop pump sound like swimming pool pumps? I ended up settling on the Velocity T4 (then Poseidon T4) aquarium pump (no longer being manufactured by anybody). These pumps are so dead nuts silent that you have to touch them or look at the output to see if they are running! The problem is that the Velocity T4 pump has a titanium volute and impeller that transfers a tremendous amount of heat to the water and quickly attracts calcium deposits. The other major downside is the rather low (terrible) efficiency of ~ 1000 real world GPH @ 140W. The high power consumption, high heat transfer and frequent maintenance have forced me to almost hate this pump over the years. I have been searching for a suitable replacement for a long time!
Variable Speed Aquarium Pumps; Where?
For years I have dreamed of implementing a variable speed closed loop pump. I have gone as far as purchasing the parts for and constructing a 3-phase variable speed closed loop pump. The bottom line, I have been unable to find a 3-phase motor and VFD combinatoon that is quiet enough for my tastes (and still affordable)! I had considered the Red Dragon DC variable speed aquarium pumps but they were far overpriced and extremely unreliable.
AC motors are messy to speed control compared to DC motors. so I began searching for an appropriate DC motor and wet end. In 5 years of seraching I have concluded that the only route would be messy (expensive) DIY electronics, mounts and controls. In essence I have patiently waited for a company to introduce an affordable and reliable variable speed DC aquarium pump. Waveline appears to have done exactly that!
Why a variable speed pump? It will allow me to control the wave action in the aquarium by ramping the flow up and down during different parts of the day, during feeding and maintenance. My end goal is to have this effect follow the lighting a lunar cycle. More on that later...
Waveline DC5000 Variable Speed DC Pump; Finally!
In my quest to find the perfect pump for my closed loop I stumbled upon a youtube video (below) showing a demonstration of the Waveline DC5000 and DC10000. I was so impressed with the video that I wasted no time calling H20 Systems Incorporated (the manufacturer) to ask questions and find out where I could place an order.
You need Flash version 8 and JS enabled to view the video
Not only did H20 Systems answer my questions, they indicated that at some point, they hope to allow the variable speed pump to be controlled by external logic instead of only by the supplied keypad! With or without the 3rd party control, my mind was made up and I called RLSS to check on availability and find out where to place an order for the pumps, indicating my desire to rebuild my entire reef around them. I was told that the DC10000 was still several weeks out and the DC5000 was shipping but sold out. A few weeks later RLSS/H20 Systems contacted me and offered to send me a DC5000 and a DC10000 for evaluation.
I need to make it very clear that my comments here (or elsewhere) regarding Waveline pumps have not been biased by the fact these pumps were offered to me for evaluation. If the Waveline pumps did not live up to my expectations (they have far exceeded them) I would be more than happy to explain exactly why and continue on my search for a suitable line of pumps. As I stated in the opening paragraph, I simply don't often find reef related products that stand out enough to be worthy of public praise, the Waveline pumps are a welcome exception and as such, my intent is to purchase at least (3) more of them. I have yet to find a single complaint with the product, but will certainly update this article if I do find any.
DC5000 First Impressions; Amazing!
The Waveline DC5000 pump is well built and lightweight with a very simple design. The DC motor appears to be fully potted in epoxy and has a mounting flange for the volute. The magnet and cermaic shaft are massive and appear to be much better designed than many of the "power head" style pumps being sold today. The DC5000 carries a real impeller with vanes, not one of those crappy paddle wheels found in powerheads. Folks, this is a pump, not a powerhead! The key point for me is that the meaty cermaic shaft, magnet and impeller are supported by a substantial flange that has 3 positive locking points on it. The shaft DOES NOT extend into the volute for support, something that I have always hated with many of the the other magetic drive pumps. I am simply impressed with the simplicity and robustness of the design.
CLICK ON IMNAGES FOR FULL SIZE:
Left two images: The Velocity (Blueline, Custom Sea Life, Bayside) T4 along side the Waveline DC5000. Right two inages: Exploded parts views of the Waveline DC5000.
Most of you have seen the bullet points listed in other reviews:
- 6 Speeds
- Waterproof 3 pin connector between keypad and pump
- 1320 GPH @ 40w (0' of head) max
- 10 minute feeding mode
Something super important not mentioned in the other "reviews" is that the pump appears to remember its last setting after a power failure. This is huge! I can turn the pump off and not have to worry about it starting at the wrong speed!
The reviews I read do mention that the DC5000 comes with tubing adaptors but don't indicate that in addition to the captive barb adaptors for thick wall and thin wall tubing, the volute threads appear to be NTP compatible! This means that 1.25" PVC can be directly attached to the DC5000 without having to resport to epoxy or weld-on!
Side note: Both the DC5000 and DC10000 share the same volute profile (the motor sizes differ). This means that one can be interchanged for the other if need be. This is another unreported (in other reviews) "feature" that is huge! Instead of keeping a spare of each nodel (you do keep a spare pump, right?) a single DC5000 can be kept to use in an emergency. That is, I can easily switch out a DC5000 for a DC10000 or visa-versa.
Waveline DC5000 Closed Loop; Goodbye T4
I have replaced the closed loop pump (Velocity T4) with the new Waveline DC5000. For the time being, I have used the captive barbs to attach the pump to the existing 1" Spa-Flex hoses that connected the Velocity T4 to the closed loop. I have opted to use hose clamps, as the existing Spa-Flex hose ends had to be heated and stretched to fit the T4 barbed fitings. When I rebuild the system, the DC5000 will be hard plumbed with unions.
The DC5000 is not quite "dead silent" like the T4 and emits a barely audible (pleasant) hum. It is far quieter than the ReeFlow Snapper (to soon be replaced by the Waveline DC10000) return pump, or any other aqarium pump I have been around (with the exception of the heat monster called the Titanium T4). The pitch of the hum varies with the speed setting of the pump but at no point is it bothersome. Remember as a point of reference, my 3-phase VFD trial projects all produced a horrible whine that I could not live with and I am not very tolerant of noise coming from the fish room! I HATE the sound that comes from the Reeflo Snapper and Marineland Magnum 350 attached to my system! I can hear the ReeFlo from the bedroom upstairs and can not wait to be rid of it!
I have the DC5000 running at roughly 80% output in the same closed loop the Velocity T4 ran on. If I turn it up to 100%, the pump begins to cavitate. I attribute this to the fact that the intake plumbing is too restrictive and the DC5000 is capable of substantialy higher real world flow than the Velocity T4 was. That is, the Velocity T4 was (at best) pushing 1000 GPH at 140W and the Waveline DC5000 is likely doing 1000GPH at less than 40W and capable of more. The 1320GPH rating of the DC5000 may be somewhat conservative, or the rating of the Velocity T4 is overly optimistic. In any case, the new Waveline DC5000 is clearly outperforming the Velocity T4 and more than I could have hoped for.
These pumps are well designed and well built and amazingly affordable. H20 Systems has put some serious thought into the DC5000 (and DC10000) pumps. I am elated to be rid of the Velocity T4 and have noticed a real world 4 degree difference (lower) in the reef aquarium temperature. The pump is quiet and has a small footprint. I am so happy with the performance of the Waveline pumps that my system redesign will be built exclusively around the DC5000 and DC10000 pumps for ALL of the sytem flow (skimmer, return pump, closed loop pumps).