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Saturday, 11 May 2013

A look at the JBL Cooler Aquarium Fans

To try and keep control of the upper temperatures my Reef aquarium may achieve, i decided to invest in some fans to exploit the evaporation heat loss technique.

I cannot really use the desk fan method, due to the fact of the hood being really high… and it looks aesthetically nasty!

A few fan setups exist on the market, but more recently JBL have released their “Cooler” range of aquarium fans. A series of 2, 4 and 6 bank of 12volt fan units.

I initially wanted to go for the 6 fan unit and mount it on the end brace bar to breeze across the length of the water surface, but thankfully one of my local shops, Mansfield Aquatics, were happy to unbox things and allow me to stick a tape measure across the units and find out the overall lengths.

Unfortunately the 6 fan unit revealed to be around an inch too long to fit between the front and rear brace bars! So i opted to take a 4 fan unit and see how well it would fit into the aquarium.

I also picked up the CoolControl temperature controller that has been released alongside the Cooler range and offers quite a nice neat and cheap enough control unit. I will elaborate on this in another post…

01-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.44

02-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.19

The construction of the units is solid and neat, from a combination of aluminium and plastic…

03-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.4904-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.57

The angle of the clamps is adjustable to get the ideal flow across the water surface…

05-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.38

When opening the power transformer for the cooler however, the UK market has sadly been overlooked…

06-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.10

Thankfully i have an adaptor or two available for test purposes, but it would be nice if JBL could add a proper 3-pin transformer in there in future, as I'm sure other customers would be less than impressed if they had to then acquire an adaptor on discovery of the Euro 2-pin. I personally don't like to use adaptors long term either, as the transformer sits in quite a precarious position as a result, knocking it by accident could easily rip it out of an adaptor and possibly cause an electrical arc…

By standard, a small rocker switch on one side serves as a control. One would need a timer plug at least or some form of controller to switch the unit on-off for any automation. As said previously, the CoolControl is an available add-on…

13-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.26

As it stands, the clamps are mounted in such a way that (as per translation) the cooler is to be positioned on an “aquarium wall” or the vertical glass panes, as shown below…

Image is from JBL website.

60909

Sadly this isn't an option for me as the hood is naturally mounted against the top edges of the aquarium glass.

As a result there is no way to mount it horizontally to a brace bar, you cannot adjust the angle in such a way so the fans will blow in the required direction.

However be removing and swapping the clamps to the opposite ends, done simply by removing the screw…

14-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.30

The clamps then effectively work 90degress in the other direction, meaning…

16-JBL Cooler 200 Aquarium Fan.07

It can be mounted on a brace bar, and the fans are pointing in the right direction…

Now the fan unit would mount on the side brace bar as i had originally intended, but if you remember from earlier, i could not fit the 6 fan as their was not enough room.

The 4-fan is shown mounted to the rear brace bar and this has resulted in an unexpected bonus!

If the fan is mounted on the side brace, it would end up slightly obscuring the light pattern from the Radion mounted above it and cause a bit of an odd shadow.

Being mounted on the rear brace, it is sufficiently out of the light beam, causing no issues at all! I was pretty damn please about this!

As my hood is effectively made into 3 sections, i am going to add a second 4 fan unit in one of the the remaining sections hopefully giving a good amount of cover in a very low profile way. I could add a third to the other section, however the weir poses a little bit of intrusion at that one end.

Pros

  • A nice, solid and well built unit
  • Decent air flow, as a steady breeze, it’s by no means a gale force wind.
  • Reasonably priced. The 4 fan is £55 the 6 fan is around £80.

Cons

  • Euro plug for the UK market, hopefully a short term shipping error.
  • Seemingly no instructions. OK it’s fan with an on-off switch, which doesn't really call for much tuition. But there is the ability to swap those clamps round and allow alternative mounting.

I couldn't comment on the actual cooling effect as of yet, i need to look into this very shortly. This review/post is mainly just a look at the unit and an unboxing event. I will reflect on the actual performance very soon.

I also haven't placed the noise in any position yet. When running, there is an audible hum from the unit, however this is sat up close to the unit. I am yet to see if it causes any excessive annoyance when enclosed into the hood and running.

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