Questions about Apex vs GHL vs Hydros

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BradB

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We already have lots of Apex vs GHL vs Hydros general threads, so I am not trying to create another one. I did still have some specific questions that don't seem answered.

1) I started with the idea I needed to upgrade an old cheap dosing pump that clogs frequently and is near end of life. Thinking about this more, having a computer logged pH solves clogging issues and is something I want anyway. Is there any reason to prefer one over another solely based dosing solution? Does it make sense to buy an Apex and a GHL doser? Can a Profilux control a Neptune DOS? Even if you recommend a standalone doser that works with any controller, I still want to know if there is any difference in my dosing options based on controller choice.

2) GHL seems to have better quality probes, at least based on the forums. Is this only an initial setup issue? Or will I have better accuracy 20 years from now because I bought a Proflux?

3) Lots of talk about interfaces being easier or harder. I am not concerned about this, as I write software and I'd design and build my own controller if I had time. What concerns me about GHL is it is a desktop app. The ability to monitor especially but also change things while I am on vacation is huge. Is Internet accessibility a reason to choose one over another?

4) Monitoring power usage is a big plus, especially if costs keep going up. Can they all do this? Any advantages to one or another here?

5) I have an RO connected to a 75 gallon reservoir 50 feet away. When the reservoir is full, I have to manually turn off the RO. If I time it wrong or forget entirely, the reservoir overflows and I have a flood. A monitor to tell me it is full would be great, or at least something to let me know it flooded. Controlling a solenoid to the RO would be even better. Is this a reason to choose one over another?

6) Any difference in durability? Salt spray and humidity are not kind, and even reef equipment designed for this shows damage after enough years.

7) My display tank is in my office, my sump is in my basement, and running wires between them is difficult but not impossible. I'd like an automatic fish feeder, monitoring the temperature of the display tank, possibly controlling powerheads. Doing so wirelessly would be a huge bonus. Do any of the do this? Or do this better?

8) I am a DIY LED guy and have been planning and putting off building my own PWM lighting controller for about a decade. I know the GHL advertises 32 fully controllable PWM channels. I assume Apex and Hyros are similar, but don't advertise this as heavily. Am I correct?
 
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BradB

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In reference to 5). A simple float valve on the container would solve this concern.
Maybe, this isn't something I haven't thought of before. I'd be drilling a container that costs as much as the controller. Float switches can also stick, or something could leak between the supply and reservoir. I've lived with this for a decade, so it isn't the highest priority. But if 1 controller solved this easily, it might sway my decision if I were undecided.
 

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Maybe, this isn't something I haven't thought of before. I'd be drilling a container that costs as much as the controller. Float switches can also stick, or something could leak between the supply and reservoir. I've lived with this for a decade, so it isn't the highest priority. But if 1 controller solved this easily, it might sway my decision if I were undecided.
Makes sense. I use cheap brute containers so drilling and adding a float valve is no biggie.
 
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Doing some more reading, for 8) it looks like neither Apex nor Hydros have easy PWM solutions. It can be done, but a stand alone Arduino lighting controller probably makes more sense.
 

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Maybe, this isn't something I haven't thought of before. I'd be drilling a container that costs as much as the controller. Float switches can also stick, or something could leak between the supply and reservoir. I've lived with this for a decade, so it isn't the highest priority. But if 1 controller solved this easily, it might sway my decision if I were undecided.
I use my Hydros to refill my DI reservoir. Transfer from mix tank to fresh saltwater reservoir if it goes low and the mix tank is ready to use. It also refills the mix tank after the transfer. All I have to do is add the salt mix and press a button when it is ready to use. I do use float switches and for backup a float valve. I also have the refill outputs timed so if they stay on too long they shut off and it sends an alert. I also have a leak detector where the tanks and RODI unit is located in the garage. I have a build thread here on R2R where I have screenshots and explanations of what I did here https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/canopy-and-stand-build-for-42-gallon-hex-tank.317822/page-7 . The RODI and storage control starts at post #128. Whenever Hydros come out with new output types and I took advantage of them I would repost the changes to do that. So there are more post later where I did this with the RODI.
 

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As for number 1 Hydros uses simple dosing pumps that run when powered. The Hydros does all the calculation and decides how long to run the pump. I use a Hydros dosing pump for ATO and Intllab for AWC and dosing. I made my own cables to connect them to the Hydros drive ports. The drive ports are currently only on the X4 and X2 but next year there will be an XD and a Kraken that also has drive ports. I heard that the XD might do PWM from the drive ports. They are 12v but it should be easy enough to drop that to a 5v signal. I will be getting those if so since my lighting is also PWM and the 0-10v to PWM converters I have tried do not transition from off to on or on to off as well as using a PWM signal from my Archon to do that.
 

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Regarding #3.

I used the Hydros system for my latest P500 build. One major thing about Hydros is if you have a mesh network, any support on connection issue is "mesh network is the devil and you need to replace it with a single AP".

My pain is specific to the cheap power strips that come with their kits. I'm a bit turned off that I've been sold something that doesn't work well, blamed for having a mesh system - that works great for everything else except with their product, and pretty much left with a broken system I'm still troubleshooting to this day. Skip the power strips and get their XP8 for power outlet control. I have a sour taste from my experience so I'm not buying anything more then what I have since it does what I need even if I have to delete 30-50 email alerts a day.

Aside from the cheap power strip, the system overall has been pretty good. I've been away a few times and was able to monitor and diagnose issues while away.

I would add to have an external camera with two way voice capabilities. It worked great for troubleshooting.
 
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As for number 7. The Hydros has a wifi fish feeder so it would not need a wired connection to the controller. They also have wifi power strips that you can use but I prefer the XP8 or drive ports for anything critical. They do have pre made data only command buss cables that are 25' and 50' for long runs. Someone also posted conversion cables to be able to use CAT5 cables for the long runs. I used CAT5 on mine since the garage where all my ATO, AWC and dosing is is 35ft from the tank. I have 4 controllers at the tank and 5 in the garage. The controllers do have to have wifi connectivity but they will continue to run with the command buss cables if wifi is out. The only thing you would loose is connectivity with the wifi devices and also the cloud which would send an alert that the controllers are offline. I loose the internet a lot so I get those alerts quit often along with cameras and other devices that go offline other than the tank controllers. The Hydros does have an app for both Apple and Android devices. There is also a web app that you can use with computers but it is limited since it does not interface with bluetooth. Bluetooth is needed for initial setup and changing wifi settings if you ever need to do that. You can also use bluetooth if for some reason you loose wifi and or internet. Just turn off wifi on your phone so it uses mobile. Then start the app and select bluetooth form the menu. You cannot make setup changes in bluetooth mode but you can override outputs from off, auto or on. It also let you see the state of the inputs and outputs.
 
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I work from home, so Internet being out is rare because it is a huge issue. Wifi being out is even rarer, although I've heard of a lot of wifi issues with all 3 devices. I have 2 PC computers that never have wifi issues, a Mac and Android phone that rarely have wifi issues, and a smart TV that frequently has wifi issues. Location is not part of the issues.

It seems like Hydros is the way to go if I want 2 pH and temp probes, 1 for the display and 1 for the sump.
 
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#4 on the GHl you can se power draw but no charts or programming based on power.

#5 lots of options for that hi-low tank control and non contact float switches if you did not want to drill container for float switch.
I'd rather have the ability to export raw numbers than to see someone else's chart.
 

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Regarding #3.

I used the Hydros system for my latest P500 build. One major thing about Hydros is if you have a mesh network, any support on connection issue is "mesh network is the devil and you need to replace it with a single AP".

My pain is specific to the cheap power strips that come with their kits. I'm a bit turned off that I've been sold something that doesn't work well, blamed for having a mesh system - that works great for everything else except with their product, and pretty much left with a broken system I'm still troubleshooting to this day. Skip the power strips and get their XP8 for power outlet control. I have a sour taste from my experience so I'm not buying anything more then what I have since it does what I need even if I have to delete 30-50 email alerts a day.

Aside from the cheap power strip, the system overall has been pretty good. I've been away a few times and was able to monitor and diagnose issues while away.

I would add to have an external camera with two way voice capabilities. It worked great for troubleshooting.
The big issue with mesh is it is hard to separate the 5ghz and 2.4ghz channels. Some mesh networks will auto switch devices to 5ghz. The Hydros controller can only work on 2.4ghz. The wifi power strips can do both but if they end up on 5ghz they will loose communication with the controllers still on 2.4ghz. If you can set a different name for the two channels that should help. Also an inexpensive access point setup with a different name than your normal wifi and only using 2.4ghz would be ideal. The only issue is you would have to go through the wifi setup for each controller and the pair the wifi strips again using the replace function. I don't have a mesh network and I do not have an issue with communicating with the wifi devices like the power strips but that said I do not use then for ATO,AWC or dosing and I never have. I have had Hydros since it came out. The wifi strips will stay in whatever state they are in until communication is restored or they loose power which will cause them to come up in the off state until the controller tells them otherwise. I have used them for things like return pumps, heaters but they have their own thermostats, skimmer cooling fans and a couple of reactors. None of those would be a major issue if communication was lost. Now all of those are on a XP8.
 

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Regarding #3.

I used the Hydros system for my latest P500 build. One major thing about Hydros is if you have a mesh network, any support on connection issue is "mesh network is the devil and you need to replace it with a single AP".

My pain is specific to the cheap power strips that come with their kits. I'm a bit turned off that I've been sold something that doesn't work well, blamed for having a mesh system - that works great for everything else except with their product, and pretty much left with a broken system I'm still troubleshooting to this day. Skip the power strips and get their XP8 for power outlet control. I have a sour taste from my experience so I'm not buying anything more then what I have since it does what I need even if I have to delete 30-50 email alerts a day.

Aside from the cheap power strip, the system overall has been pretty good. I've been away a few times and was able to monitor and diagnose issues while away.

I would add to have an external camera with two way voice capabilities. It worked great for troubleshooting.
I turned off email alerts and just use the push notifications only. The only thing so far I cannot get the emails turned off on is the XP8. All others do not send any emails. I have the internet drop out several times a day and have 9 controllers so I was getting 18 push notifications and 18 emails if it was out long enough each time. No down to just the 18 push notifications and 2 emails each time.
 
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Chee-tomorpha

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In regards to #5

I use my Hydros in conjunction with an Aquatic Life Smart Buddie RO/DI Booster Pump for my RO reservoir. It's been working flawlessly for a few auto-RO-refill cycles in my 50gal barrel.

The Hydros controls an RO soleniod to turn on/off source water flow via two water level sensors, high and low, located inside the 50gal drum. I have a float valve inside the barrel as well as a secondary flood failsafe that works with the RO Buddie's built-in auto shutoff valve. Any back pressure and the source water shuts down even if the RO solenoid is open.

With this system, once the high and low-level water sensors become dry. The Hydros will open up the solenoid, and stay open until both water level sensors are wet again. Should it not close for any reason, the float valve and the auto shut-off valve will stop the source water flow.
 

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We already have lots of Apex vs GHL vs Hydros general threads, so I am not trying to create another one. I did still have some specific questions that don't seem answered.

1) I started with the idea I needed to upgrade an old cheap dosing pump that clogs frequently and is near end of life. Thinking about this more, having a computer logged pH solves clogging issues and is something I want anyway. Is there any reason to prefer one over another solely based dosing solution? Does it make sense to buy an Apex and a GHL doser? Can a Profilux control a Neptune DOS? Even if you recommend a standalone doser that works with any controller, I still want to know if there is any difference in my dosing options based on controller choice.

2) GHL seems to have better quality probes, at least based on the forums. Is this only an initial setup issue? Or will I have better accuracy 20 years from now because I bought a Proflux?

3) Lots of talk about interfaces being easier or harder. I am not concerned about this, as I write software and I'd design and build my own controller if I had time. What concerns me about GHL is it is a desktop app. The ability to monitor especially but also change things while I am on vacation is huge. Is Internet accessibility a reason to choose one over another?

4) Monitoring power usage is a big plus, especially if costs keep going up. Can they all do this? Any advantages to one or another here?

5) I have an RO connected to a 75 gallon reservoir 50 feet away. When the reservoir is full, I have to manually turn off the RO. If I time it wrong or forget entirely, the reservoir overflows and I have a flood. A monitor to tell me it is full would be great, or at least something to let me know it flooded. Controlling a solenoid to the RO would be even better. Is this a reason to choose one over another?

6) Any difference in durability? Salt spray and humidity are not kind, and even reef equipment designed for this shows damage after enough years.

7) My display tank is in my office, my sump is in my basement, and running wires between them is difficult but not impossible. I'd like an automatic fish feeder, monitoring the temperature of the display tank, possibly controlling powerheads. Doing so wirelessly would be a huge bonus. Do any of the do this? Or do this better?

8) I am a DIY LED guy and have been planning and putting off building my own PWM lighting controller for about a decade. I know the GHL advertises 32 fully controllable PWM channels. I assume Apex and Hyros are similar, but don't advertise this as heavily. Am I correct?
Before I get into your specifics, I just want to say what is the most important thing to me and that's RELIABILITY. Nobody beats GHL's proven track record for robustness/reliability. I would gladly give up minor features knowing that my controller is never going to be at fault for causing catastrophic or other problems with my tank. Their hardware and firmware is the best and why it's also the choice for commercial applications, outside the hobby.

1. Eh, not sure. I'd just go with both GHL.
2. Salnity probe for sure. Get the temp probe too. GHL for ORP as well if you decide to monitor that. Ph.... I haven't really noticed a difference with other brands here. Any will work and you should replace your pH probe annually.
3. GHL has desktop, web and mobile device app interfaces. I believe a couple initial setup things still have to be done on the desktop app (Control Center), and the Light Composer for their lighting products is still desktop only.
4. Never saw any advantage to this so I don't have details. I'm going to run what I'm going to run regardless and so many devices are now more efficient anyway like lighting and pumps.
5. Multiple ways to handle this with GHL and I'm sure Apex too. No experience with Hydros.
6. Been running GHL for 10 years now. Wouldn't use anything else.
7. Monitoring can be done wirelessly but equipment has to be directly connected to the controller or the controllers power bars. You wouldn't want to rely on wireless connections for anything important that actually controls the tanks.
 
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n2585722

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In regards to #5

I use my Hydros in conjunction with an Aquatic Life Smart Buddie RO/DI Booster Pump for my RO reservoir. It's been working flawlessly for a few auto-RO-refill cycles in my 50gal barrel.

The Hydros controls an RO soleniod to turn on/off source water flow via two water level sensors, high and low, located inside the 50gal drum. I have a float valve inside the barrel as well as a secondary flood failsafe that works with the RO Buddie's built-in auto shutoff valve. Any back pressure and the source water shuts down even if the RO solenoid is open.

With this system, once the high and low-level water sensors become dry. The Hydros will open up the solenoid, and stay open until both water level sensors are wet again. Should it not close for any reason, the float valve and the auto shut-off valve will stop the source water flow.
You can also set a maximum on time once you know how long it normally takes to refill. Also set it not to run past max on time and also setup an alert so you will get one if it ever times out.
 
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The big issue with mesh is it is hard to separate the 5ghz and 2.4ghz channels. Some mesh networks will auto switch devices to 5ghz. The Hydros controller can only work on 2.4ghz. The wifi power strips can do both but if they end up on 5ghz they will loose communication with the controllers still on 2.4ghz. If you can set a different name for the two channels that should help. Also an inexpensive access point setup with a different name than your normal wifi and only using 2.4ghz would be ideal. The only issue is you would have to go through the wifi setup for each controller and the pair the wifi strips again using the replace function. I don't have a mesh network and I do not have an issue with communicating with the wifi devices like the power strips but that said I do not use then for ATO,AWC or dosing and I never have. I have had Hydros since it came out. The wifi strips will stay in whatever state they are in until communication is restored or they loose power which will cause them to come up in the off state until the controller tells them otherwise. I have used them for things like return pumps, heaters but they have their own thermostats, skimmer cooling fans and a couple of reactors. None of those would be a major issue if communication was lost. Now all of those are on a XP8.
I've set up an AP on my mesh network. The AP is about 6 feet away from the DT where the X4 and its power strip reside. That strip still disconnects from time to time which I find really annoying. The X2 downstairs throws it all the time.

To manage the email notifications, I set up a filter in my email box. I skim through them when I get a chance and remove them if it's the lost connection alert. I don't use the strips for anything mission-critical since they can't be reliable. I have to go through them since I have other alerts coming through too which are a bit annoying and take away from the whole automation-makes-reefing-easier part of the investment.
 

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I've set up an AP on my mesh network. The AP is about 6 feet away from the DT where the X4 and its power strip reside. That strip still disconnects from time to time which I find really annoying. The X2 downstairs throws it all the time.

To manage the email notifications, I set up a filter in my email box. I skim through them when I get a chance and remove them if it's the lost connection alert. I don't use the strips for anything mission-critical since they can't be reliable. I have to go through them since I have other alerts coming through too which are a bit annoying and take away from the whole automation-makes-reefing-easier part of the investment.
Is the AP wired to the router?
 
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