A Honest Review of the eKoral

Discussion in 'eKoral' started by The Bearden Pack, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. The Bearden Pack

    The Bearden Pack Member

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    I have had the eKoral Controller for about a month now. I haven’t had it an extensive amount of time to give an accurate feeling, however I will give my 2 cents worth. As time progresses, and more devices are added to the system my opinions may change. For now, here goes.

    ekoral-2.jpg

    I thoroughly enjoy the controller, with some major exceptions. As with everything, nothing is perfect. Personally I feel like I am buying a higher quality product. The aesthetics are fantastic and far superior in my opinion to other controllers on the market. It’s like buying a BMW or a Mazda. With that said, I can deck out a Mazda with bells and whistles and in reality be better than a BMW. In reality that’s what I did, I used to have a BMW, now I have a decked out Mazda. This analogy is how I feel the eKoral is right now. I feel eKoral is a BMW (or even Tesla since it's a startup) without any extras.

    Do not get me wrong. I really like the eKoral a lot. For what I need, and with there future addition of a doser, it works. I have my controller set up to have my temperature locked in. My system now only fluctuates within .1 degree. If and when something fails, I have created IF THEN scenarios to turn off devices. IF THEN are functions that allow you to turn on off devices if a sensor detects something is out of a certain range.

    I get alerts when my pH is out of range. I set all my alert settings tight to avoid problems. The app on my android is great and easy to use and very easily accesible. That reason alone is why I chose to go with eKoral. Which, maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did. It is also, where I anticipate eKoral to grow even more. As that is where their edge compared to other controllers is. With eKoral’s plan to integrate a web based function in 2019 as well, that will make it even more marketable.

    I had planned (not sure anymore) to get more sensors that eKoral has, and depending on the quality integrate their auto top off pump. Which will only make my system that more stable and also create a bunch more IF THEN scenarios.

    My Kessil Lights are connected to the controller. I didn’t have to buy a separate controller. That saved me some money. However, with Kessil’s future lighting systems coming out, it will be interesting to see if this function will even be useful. My lights are daisy chained by an audio jack and for the most part works.

    The Exceptions:

    Now, here is the big buts. Not butt, but buts. Homonyms in action. The first but has to do with the power strip. The eK Power 6 I feel is too small for me and needs to have more outlets. Right now I am two outlets short of having everything hooked up to one source. eKoral is competing with Apex, and Apex biggest controller has 8 outlets. The perfect number for my system. I have to obtain another eK Power 6 to have all my devices plugged in or use a 3rd party power bar. I do believe eKoral made that decision for you to buy more devices, and turn a higher dollar profit. However, I think that was a bad decision. If you only need 6 outlets, then you are in good shape. Skip to the next paragraph. If you needed more than 8, and didn’t want the Apex, then you are in good shape, next paragraph. As you would have had to buy more with them as well. I’m just stuck in the middle having to either not hook all my items to the power bar, or shoveling out more money.

    The second but, is that my system has disconected 4 times so far. I got an alert while sleeping each times. I didn’t hear my phone. Luckily it came back online, and it wouldn’t have been a problem anyway. Maybe it was an update? However, what happens if it didn’t come back online. I can’t tell you. Hopefully after time the kinks will be worked out in the future.

    Third, even worse the last two days the eK Power strip has disconnected during the night. The first time I didn’t realize it until after 4 hours. The lights didn’t come on. The second time I didn’t notice until after an hour. The only way to get the lights to come back on is to manually power off the eK Power strip and back on. For some reason the pumps had come back on by themselves, but the lights did not. When checking to see if there is power each device it will show up with 0w. If I was on vacation and something like this happened, I could have lost everything.

    Screenshot_2018-10-30-07-48-57.png Screenshot_2018-10-30-07-42-54.png

    The fourth but, is customer service. If you need help, don’t expect to get a reply till the night time. Since they operate from another country, they don’t have people responding to you till late at night. Also, I went to order their doser and other sensors and they wrote me back asking if I wanted to wait till November to receive all my items. The eK Doser doesn’t come out till November, but the sensors are already available. Since I was wanting the sensors sooner they told me to cancel my order and reorder twice so that I could pay another $15 extra for shipping. From a person who runs multiple businesses, I can tell you that is a no no. I have kids, I use no no all the time. I’m sorry, but having someone jump through hurdles just to give you $15 more is not worth it. For that reason I still haven’t reordered the eK Doser and sensors. I will just wait till November if I order it again.

    Fifth there are some quirks that need to be worked out which are not as big as the others. When setting up a temperature in the IF THEN function, I didn’t have the option for adding a point in the keyboard. For example if I wanted to add 79.1, I couldn’t. After saving the function (or rule) to 79, I could go back and it would come up with 79.0 in the settings. I could then alter it. I only accidentally discovered that option. Another option for me was to type the temperature (79.0 or 79.1) in another app and paste it in the eKoral app as a workaround. I’m not sure if it is a problem with my phone’s keyboard interacting with the app, or just the app itself. Either way, quirks like that I presume will be worked out over time. For reference look at the photo below for a better understanding of what I mean.
    Screenshot_2018-10-30-08-59-18.png

    Sixth my pH sensor is acting finicky. It spikes to near and around 13 generally once a day which is not accurate. Right now I am running it in a cup of tank water for 3 days. It hasn’t spiked, but I presume once I put it back in my sump it will do the same thing again. Right now I there is no remedy to fix it from having a spike false reading.
    Screenshot_2018-10-19-23-22-13.png

    On to my final but. Returning back to my car analogy, is I feel the eKoral is like a Tesla. Looks great, runs nice, and a bit pricey for a startup. But, Tesla’s also catch on fire. Right now we don’t have a bunch of people racing to buy this product. Most are waiting for others to buy it before they jump in for fear of something going wrong like a tank crash. There are not a lot of compatible products. eKoral has a lot of things to catch up on. However, when they do, much like Tesla people will flock to buy them. That is with the assumption they have someone who will properly run their business and make them succeed. With that said, why were they not at Reefapalooza in California? Apex had a huge setup. eKoral has to be at all trade shows if they expect to break into this market. Why are they not having large stores showcase them for free instead of charging them? They need to do what they got to do to have places like BRS sell their product.

    A Few Other Observations:

    There is no user manual. Everything is done by their app and a few little postcard type photos. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    The eK Power 6 does not have a mounting template. However, you can download it here: https://www.ekoral.io/assets/docs/eK_Power_6_Mounting_Template_A4_en.pdf

    When controlling lighting, I wish I could be able to use a chart to see the settings rather than a set of numbers. My presumption that the lighting ramps up over a curve and not a direct change at each time setting. Also there should be an option to add more time settings rather than a standard 6. Some people may be more picky than me wanting more control.

    There were some other things I didn’t like about the app, but has been resolved. Which is good news, as things I have had problems with got fixed without me saying anything.

    Make sure when adding devices to the eK Power settings that you toggle the default settings to on if you want devices like a pump on at all times. Somehow either that was not an option when I first started, or I skipped over it. Originally I had set everything to a schedule, but everything turned off at 23:59 till 00:00. For a few weeks it did that, till I found the option to change the default settings to on. Don’t be like me and skip over that box on setup.

    There is an option to set scenes. If you want to do a feed setting you just click the execute bar after you have one set up to your liking. I have my pumps turn off as well as my protein skimmer. However, this maybe something I just do, but I use to have my skimmer turn off for a longer period of time especially if I am hand dosing corals with stuff like Red Sea Trace Colors. It would be a nice option to allow different devices to turn off for different periods of time rather than having them all set for the same time. Maybe I’m the only person who would like it that way. I don’t know.

    Just for kicks, maybe eKoral should add a place to make notes. There are a lot of apps on the market that allow you to make entries that keep track of your nitrates, phosphates, calcium levels etc. It would be cool to use one app for everything, and not have to go to another app.

    Conclusion:

    Now, I am not sure how many people will read this review. If they do, I’m not sure how many will read it in it’s entirety. I have high hopes for eKoral. Right now it is not ready for prime time, at least not the device I have. It could be a fluke. Maybe mine is the only one with problems. With time, and proper management they can do a lot of good and be great competition giving us more options. Shoot, they should hire me for a good price and I’ll go to all trade shows and show off their products, and offer ideas to make their product better. Exposure is key, but it should be done by the company and not by offering a mediocre few hundred back via reviews. As that can entirely backfire.
     
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  2. Scdell

    Scdell Active Member

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    Hmm, read the whole review. Sounds like you're wanting to like it because you decided to spend the money on it. But I'm really don't see much to like there. Did you check out profilux? A bit of a pain to figure out some things, but once your done it's there. Like a rock!
     
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  3. Guillz

    Guillz Member

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    I was getting ready to write up my review after a week of it being set up and read through yours. After having mine I can say this is a great honest review.
     
  4. SawCJack00

    SawCJack00 Most Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Doesn't sound too good from this write up. I'll pass.
     
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  5. HawaiianReef

    HawaiianReef Active Member

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    Thanks so much for taking the time and sharing your experience/thoughts with us.
    It's awsome to see more competition in the controller market. Looks like there getting the bugs out of the system and should be a good product.
    Right now I'll keep my ol' classic running and I'll be watching eCoral for a possible upgrade down the road.
     
  6. cgonser9

    cgonser9 Member R2R Secret Santa

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    I personally have never heard of this controller before but am currently in the market for a controller. That being said, this is a fantastic review! Thank you for your honesty and taking the time to write this up.
     
  7. timrocks311

    timrocks311 Active Member

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    Thanks for the honest write up. I read it all. It does sound like it needs some refining.
     
  8. Guillz

    Guillz Member

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    I’ve had no issues like the ones mentioned after a week of using mine. Food for thought.
     
  9. Skep18

    Skep18 Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    +1 for the great honesty review. Sounds like it has some issues to work out. Some important issues.

    That said, IMHO I would think people would only truely consider this over Apex if it were significantly cheaper than Apex. Apex has a ton of functionality out of the box. With the new $500 EL out, they're now priced more competitively too. Their interface is pretty good. I wish the coding was better. But all that said, competition can only be a good thing for the consumer.

    Thanks again for the honest review!
     
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  10. The Bearden Pack

    The Bearden Pack Member

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    I didn't start having issues with pH spikes till around 2 1/2 weeks. They've told me it's a biofilm buildup. However, wherever I place it in my sump or tank I have the same problem. The eK Power strip started having problems just short of 4 weeks. Their response was the controller and power strip can't communicate when it turns off. It's an inch away from each other, and I have on expensive Wi-Fi in my house with relays, so I don't presume that's the problem. Hopefully it is just something I am having an issue with, but either way it is still happening. Assuming you have had no problems, you probably haven't had to contact them. With that said, I hope yours continues to work without fail and that my issues sort itself out.
     
  11. Guillz

    Guillz Member

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    Just posted my review and I will definitely be looking out for the issues you’ve experienced. I talked with them a few times with questions about the controller before purchasing and they were responsive. I hope you get your issues resolved. Did you by chance try restarting the controller? Would probably be a step backwards but shouldn’t take too long to set up again.
     
  12. The Bearden Pack

    The Bearden Pack Member

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    I just went and read yours as well. I haven't done a hard reset yet, only a shut down and restart. I might try a hard reset in the future. We shall see. Luckily today my power strip didn't shut off. So there is that. As for customer service, they generally respond to me in 1 to 3 days. If I e-mail them late at night, I generally get a response faster. Hopefully someday when they get bigger, they will have someone responding 24/7. That might be years away.
     
  13. Scdell

    Scdell Active Member

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    Customer service can be great and all that. But the unit needs to work. P!ain and simple. I'm not going to trust the money I have invested or the life of my livestock to maybe it'll work. Nope! Don't care if it's free.
     
  14. Ezduzt_nyc

    Ezduzt_nyc Member

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    Do you have an update, please?
     
  15. The Bearden Pack

    The Bearden Pack Member

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    Since my review, I haven't had any disconnection from either the controller or the power bar. So that is one big positive. However, my pH probe stopped working for three days straight. It did start working 8 hours before I sent it in. I sent it in over a week ago. I haven't heard any response. They have made updates to the app, but never addressed any of my concerns as of yet.
     
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  16. MSB123

    MSB123 Someone out there put something smart here. R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Santa Barbara Reef Co-Op Build Thread Contributor

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    Did you ever decide on a controller?
     
  17. Ignitros

    Ignitros Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Did you know that this is just a repurposed power strip.. not something they designed themselves. The original unit which was stand alone has the same connection issues.
    https://www.amazon.com/Revogi-SOW32...0416&sr=8-5&keywords=revogi+smart+power+strip
     
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  18. Ignitros

    Ignitros Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I was actually thinking about bringing eKoral into our store but they made it so difficult and the dealer pricing sucked to the point that we just opted for GHL and Neptune Apex. Not to mention the fact that as a dealer I like to try the product out on our demo system first and both Neptune Apex and GHL offer their product to dealers for demo at a substantial discount to get you on board. eKoral made no such offers.
     
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  19. eKoProCS

    eKoProCS Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Hello, I am not sure where we made it difficult for you, but if that's how you felt, it wasn't our intention. We do understand that store owners would like to try out the product before they make any decision, so we do have a policy in place for that purpose. What is your store name? Thank you.
     
  20. Waters

    Waters "...in perfect isolation, here behind my wall." R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I already have an Apex, but based on your observations, I think I would go without a controller before purchasing that product, as it sits now. Down the road, who knows :)
     

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