Week 6: Wiring your reef tank, everything you forgot to think about | 52 Weeks of Reefing #BRS160

July 31st, 2015
Welcome to the electrifying Week 6 of 52 Weeks of Reefing, where we share some tips and tricks on electrical safety, management, and planning!

We are dealing with saltwater and electricity which can be both a health and fire hazard. It’s not that difficult to make it safe with careful planning during tank setup. The most important components to consider are your home's electrical infrastructure, water safety, and proper cord management. We’ll of course finish with the installation of our solution for the BRS160.

The first step of this is make sure you have enough power for your tank. A typical four foot reef tank might have a 300 watt heater, LED lighting around 300 hundred watts, 50 to 100 watts of powerheads, a 100 watt return pump, 50 watt skimmer, and maybe another 50 for other filtration equipment.

That's a base line of about a thousand watts for a typical aquarium. Add a chiller, UV light, T5 or halide lighting, calcium reactor, ozone reactor, Zeovit reactor, refugium and other various pieces of gear and you can quickly start using a considerable amount of power.

Now that you know what you are working with and what the limit is we need to figure out two things; what else is on that circuit and and how much power will your tank consume.

Once you have figured out your electrical load and how you are going to handle it try to avoid plugging more occasional high consumption items into that circuit in the future. Make sure you let your family know that it is a bad idea to plug in vacuums, clothes irons, hair driers and similar items into these outlets!

Since we are dealing with water it is also highly recommend to use either GFI outlets or circuit breakers which help protect your tank and home from shorts, especially those related to water. If you can’t do that you can also use power bars which have GFI’s built in.

Neatness and cord management are often overlooked, but this can also contribute to your tank's electrical safety. A dedicated "electrical board" goes a long way to keeping things organized and safe.

Note: When choosing a fire extinguisher for your tank, make sure you go with a CO2 filled extinguisher, and not a monoammonium phosphate or ammonium sulfate filled one. 

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