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Opinion on RKL

Discussion in 'Digital Aquatics' started by neil82, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. neil82

    neil82 Prawn M.A.S.C Club Member

    I have never had a controller and don't know much about them. I have been considering the option of getting one and am looking for some feedback and opinions. I have a pretty simple setup: 55 gal drilled with overflow 15 gal sump with skimmer and reactor that runs gfo. The lights are non-dimmable leds. MP10 for circulation. The sump employs a mechanical float valve for topping off and I dose kalk in my top off resivior. Currently everything runs on cheap timers from home depot. One controls the blue leds, one for the daylight leds, one for the fuge light that comes on at night.
    I was looking at the reef keeper lite since the price point is fairly reasonable, and it appears that the basic unit pretty much just controls 4 outlets and has a temp probe. I like the idea of redundancy with controlling the heater, but are there other features or benefits to using a controller like this? Any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions about a controller that might be a good fit for my application?
  2. 19TheSaint75

    19TheSaint75 Amphipod

    I learned a long time ago that when I try to buy something that I want without spending a lot of money, I actually spend more. You will likely buy the RKL, then you will get addicted to the features and want to do more. A couple of months later you'll be selling said RKL on this forum for about 60% of what you paid for it and then ponying up the extra money to either get the full system or to buy an APEX. Either way, your investment will be 140% of the price you would have paid had you gone with a full blown system.

    I think you will also find that there are more people that can help you with your APEX woes on this forum than the RKL.
  3. Miah2bzy

    Miah2bzy Barracuda M.A.S.C Club Member

    Opinion on RKL

    I've run two tanks with rkls and they're really easy to setup for basic things like heaters, lights, ato, ph, etc. If you aren't going to get into advanced stuff then the rkl is great, they do not allow remote monitoring like the apex though.
    IMO, I'd start with an rkl and go from there. You can pick them up off the classifieds (my first unit I got by painting the living room of a reefer on the forum) or you can find them on Craigslist often.
    On my second unit the temp probe contacts came out, I contacted digital aquatics and had a new one the next day. I have never had a problem with their customer service.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2015
  4. Walter White

    Walter White Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    My thoughts on controllers, take them for whatever you think they are worth. Many people with probably have wildly different oppinions here.

    There are a few of us on here that know the reef keepers very well. As 19thesaint75 stated there are more that know the apex not to meantion that the Apex just flat out have way bett customer support and online information. I used to be a huge supporter of controlling everything with a super fancy controller, but now I realize it's just not necessary and that while they are nice for monitoring and remote contollabity if you need to turn something on or off from your phone. However those are the features you are going to pay more for.

    lights, do you really need a fancy controller for them? Definitely not especially sinse you are using non dim able LEDs but if you run halides and ever have any heat issues it is nice to have a basic controller that will turn the lights off if the tank starts to overheat on a hot day of if the AC goes out. Any basic buget controller like the RKL or Apex equivelant will do this. If you ever move to a dim able led a controller may have some really nice features for you.

    temperature. I will put my faith into a stand alone Ranco temperature controller any day of the week over the most expensive controller on the market. I use them as the main source of temp control for all my tanks. The controllers I use just monitor temp and are there as just one last line of defense. The take away here if you are looking for a controller for controlling temp skip the controller and just combine a proven high quality heater like an eheim j├Ąger and a Ranco ETC-111000. Set the built in thermostat on the heater to you upper max like 81-82 and use the Ranco to hold the true temp of the tank. This prevents the internal thermostat frome wearing out and serves as a good fail safe. By the way you can controll all your heaters with a single Ranco.

    ATO, personally I hate float switches and don't recommend using them except for absolute emergency scenarios where they never touch water and can be placed where salt creep is not an issue. That said controller are obviously a nice way to control water levels and I believe are pretty standard as a feature even on basic controllers or at the very least are an inexpensive add on. Me personally I refuse to use any of the ATO features of the any of the controllers currently on the market. I prefer once again a stand alone unit that uses vacuum pressure sensing rather than float switches or optical sensors. This is a more expensive route however as a good vacuum pressure ATO will cost about $200. I personally love the Spectrapure UPLC-II for this and once again only use the controller as the final fail safe with a float switch placed high and dry. By the way these work great for dosing Kalk in you ATO reservoir. You are using a menchanical float valve which I know many that do and have only heard of a few failures. If it's a well made float you should be fine with your current method as long as it's working for you.

    Two part dosing, here is where I believe you can come to a cross roads in terms of what is better a controller or simple cheap timers. There comes a time when in my oppinion a controller is needed. If you don't dose much and can dose daily all at once I think a simple timer or is more than sufficient. If you start. Having to does so much that pH and alk start swinging then it makes much more sense to use a controller to break the daily dosage into many small doses throughout the day. Obviously a controller is much better for this but be darn sure if you use a controller to run your dosing pumps to put them on the the magnetic mechanical relay power sockets and not the triac sockets otherwise you run the risk of the dosing pump kicking on and staying on due to the low power factor of the dosing pump. Whatever any one tells you don't use the controller pH probe to controll anything in this scenario or anything else for that matter. In my opinion pH probes are good for monitoring period.

    ask yourself what you really want out of a controller. If it's remote montioring and controll go with the Apex and spend the extra money. If you just want something with a few more features than what you currently have then the RKL is perfectly fine however if you think you might want to expand on it later once again I'd recommend the Apex. Based on your opening statement if you just want reduce for temperature control I cannot recommend the Ranco more. In my opinion the absolute best way to go.
  5. Balz3352

    Balz3352 Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    I second Walter... If all you really want to control is temp get a ranco. If you want to get more advanced I would suggest an apex.

    I have an apex jr and while on my honeymoon in Jamaica I forgot to top off my ato water. The guy feeding my fish messaged me and said a horrible alarm was coming from blue box on side of my tank. That's my ato. I opened fusion and turned off the ato. Asked him if the alarm was off and deal with the total problem when I got home 2 days later

    Couldn't do that with rk
  6. Walter White

    Walter White Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    Well you can do that with the reef keeper as well you just need the net module but if he wants to go that way I like the functionality of the apex better.
  7. Walter White

    Walter White Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    For the most part the RKE can do everything the Apex can I just feel the the Apex does it better. I have over $1000 in my RKE already otherwise id switch to the apex in a heart beat.
  8. neil82

    neil82 Prawn M.A.S.C Club Member

    Thanks a bunch for the replies. Very helpful. Since I am not to the point where a controller is a necessity I think I will hold off for now and see how my setup evolves. Thanks for the ranco suggestion as I had not heard of this temperature controller before.
  9. Walter White

    Walter White Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    Heres how I have the one set up for my 200. I wired it with a three socket cord so I can run up to three heaters off this controller if I want to. You can get these brand new for about $50 on line. I set my target temp at 78 with a variance of +/- 1


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