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Old 12-23-2011, 06:43 PM   #1
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Lets Discuss Controllers - RKL

Alright... so I got the wifes approval to purchase a Reef Keeper Lite. Actually, I got the ok to purchase the Elite, but I want the lite. I have a feeling whatever I get will result in an equally expensive purchase for her (hence her quick response of 'sure').

I'm going to get this one - Reef Keeper Lite L3 - Digital Aquatics - English

It comes with-

Head Unit
2 PC4 power bars (8 total outlets)
Digital Aquatics Temperature probe
ReefKeeper SL1 pH and ORP Module(Inputs: pH, ORP, Temperature, and 2x Switch Ports)
Digital Aquatics pH Probe

Now, here's where my questions come in to play. Would the SL2 module and the salinity probe be a good choice? Are the probes as accurate as a refractometer? More accurate?

I'll also be getting the ATO switch. As I understand it, this thing can be set to be super redunant. If the salinity drops, I can have it shut the ato off. If the pH drops, I can have it shut the ATO off. Right?

This spring, I'll most likely be upgrading to an LED fixture, so I'll purchase the dimmable light controller as well.

Any thoughts on this? Should I consider another model/brand?
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:23 PM   #2
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I did months of research on controllers before I choose the RKE. I was going to go with the lite as well but it has a limit of 4 modules that can be added. So you have the SL1, two power strips and only one module left to utilize. That was way too limiting for me so hence the elite version. I believe you can control over 250 outlets with it so no way I;m gonna outgrow that one.

This was important to me because i wanted to add the moonlight module, the SL2 module and still be able to have th eoption of adding something else.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:35 PM   #3
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This is good info. That pretty much tells me that I can't use a dimmable controller and a salinity probe with the lite, only with the elite. And, I can't add another power strip if I wanted to. Now to further justify the extra $100 cost to myself.
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:49 PM   #4
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sorry to have burst your bubble. lol Just wanted you to know as i think thats kinda shady that it only can control 4 modules. It took me alot of research and reading and emailing to get that information. I too am going to need a 3rd power strip so with that youre maxed out.

I think the $100 is a small price to pay for the expandability that the elite offers. The other option is going with the lite for now and when you need those modules just upgrading the actual controller. The digital aquatics page has the option of buying just the controller in elite version for like $150. So it's $100 now or $150 later.
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:21 PM   #5
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Upgrading later on is certainly an option. I'm trying to figure out how many plugs I need. The return pump, skimmer, powerheads (2, but I could run them off one plug, no?), lights (again, 2... same plug?), ATO (which I'll be running through the controller). That's 5, but 7 if I don't combine the powerheads and lights. At some point, I'm going to DIY a GFO and GAC reactor, so that would be another 2 plugs. I would say by the time everything is said and done, I'll need another 4 plugs. That's later down the road though.

I think the lite would be a good start, then I could always sell it later on and purchase the elite. Lots to consider. I guess we shall see as I think about it this weekend with no internet or cell service.
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:29 PM   #6
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The controller has a built in wave maker so you might want to have them connected. I am going to go with 4 powerheads soon as the elite can do 4 at once while the lite can only control 2.

I will need 11 so far and thats if i don't add the GFO reactor to the controller chain.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:15 PM   #7
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Jonathan, as I posted in your other thread I'm returning the RKL for the Apex JR. I'm adding a Energy bar 8 giving me 12 outlets to control. A total of 4 can be added, so it you need that much expandability the non-JR or non-lite versions are what you want.

It has a built in web server so setup is simple, and text/email alerts are a snap. I will be adding a wireless bridge as I don't want to run an ethernet cable to the location.

I'll be able to control it from my iPhone, iPad, or any computer web browser. That's important to me when I work 12 hour+ days on projects.

My tank has been up long enough that I don't bother with pH checks anymore. Alk, Ca, Mg are kept in range and pH takes care of itself.

I already have an ATO and temp controller, so I won't be using those features, though I might move one heater to the JR and leave the other on the current controller.

It also has a programming language if you want the ultimate in control. You can do just about anything.

In reviews from folks who have both they seem to prefer the Apex JR. All other things being equal, the built in web server, and easier set up swayed me to the JR.

You won't go wrong with either. Neither is a substitute for regular water tests in the first year or so to help you understand your tank chemistry,
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:21 PM   #8
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I wish I could see both and compare them. I've been able to see the video that BRS posted on setting up the RKL, which seems VERY simple. I need to search some more on the Apex.

I would agree with your comment on testing. My intentions on getting this are to prevent problems, or catch them if they happen. The redundancy of the heater controller, pH monitor, being able to easily control the lighting, turning everything off to feed and do water changes, things like that are why I'm interested in getting on. Essentially, I want to do everything possible to make this a successful tank with the least amount of problems that I can.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:50 PM   #9
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There's a review from MrSaltwater. At the end he want to sell you the unit and give you free set up videos. That offer expired months ago and I don't think the videos are available.

Do a google search on "Apex JR review" and you should find some good stuff.

BTW, I bought LED's with 40 set points so I have a 2 hour ramp up to daylight, 8 hours of daylight, followed by 2 hours of ramp down to dusk. Then the moon phase kicks in. Much better control than either the RK or Apex units, so I don't need that module.

I did find a pdf written for all the Apex controllers that takes you step by step through the setup. Very well written and easy to follow. It's called the "Unofficial New User Guide" by Alan D. Jones. Has both good and bad about the Apex line in there.
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