Reef controllers...so many, which to buy?!

klwheat

New member
So, I've been reading quite a bit, but can't find any real comparisons....so I ask the RC family. I'm looking at purchasing my first controller to add to my reef tank. What are some of the features and differences I should look for between brands? In the reef tank I currently have vortech pumps and radion lights, so I would like it to be compatible with those of course. What features/capabilities do you all use, and how much should I be looking to spend? Also, I definitely want net capability in this.
Tia for the advice!!
 

klwheat

New member
Any ideas? Personal experiences? Which one did you get...and which one find you wish you got...and why?
 

slief

RC Sponsor
Premium Member
While this topic has been beat to death, here is a copy of what I have posted in similar threads. I am a big fan of the Neptune Systems Apex controller. I've been using Neptune controllers since their first generation Aqua Controller more than 15 years ago.

I've got 3 years on my Apex and I would not have a large tank without one. I've got 7 EB8's with upwards of 40 outlets in use. Over a dozen virtual outets, PM1, PM2, two 5 led Lunar modules etc. I monitor for PH, ORP, Temp, Salinity, water on the floor, countless float switches, it manages my ATO, watches for too high or too low of sump levels and shuts things off like skimmer pumps, ATO and automatic water changer etc. It controls my Tunze pumps with several profiles for different waves and currents, flush cycles to stir up detritus, nighttime modes for mellow flow, sunrise/sunset modes etc. I've got door bell buttons that trigger mixing pumps for preset periods of time, my skimmers neck gets scrubbed every day for 15 seconds to keep my skimmers neck spotless. I get email and text alerts if my sump levels are too high, PH too low or too high, Salinity too high or too low, water on the floor etc. It can control any 10v dimmable LED, control Vortech pumps etc. All from my Apex,

My Apex has not let me down to date and I would not be without it. That said, I keep spare everything from pumps to preprogramed Apex brain so even if it did fail, I have a spare that is ready to go if I ever need it. Neptune also has great service so god forbid I have an issue, I know they are there for me. The only other controller I've ever owned was my original Neptune Aqua controller that I purchased when Neptune launched their first controller. That controller was my first. That same controller served me perfectly for upwards of 10 years (I think it was actually more than that) until I got my Apex. I don't think any controller manufacturer can demonstrate the same longevity in the industry along with the growth, diversity, innovation and loyal following that Neptune has achieved.
 

dread240

New member
I have no where near the setup that slief has, I literally just bought my apex 2 weeks ago, but it's incredible.

For a living I'm heavily involved in automation and plc's, and the apex gives you just what you need to do a tank solidly and reliably. I was contemplating building my own but the rack plc's are quite larger compared to the space this came with, and would be a lot more space/money so I went apex.

My ONLY gripe with the apex is that it doesn't have a true IO module, which I wish it did, but it's not THAT big of a deal. Other then that this thing is perfect, and I wish I would have bought it years ago
 

moondoggy4

Team RC
Most people do not ask theis question are you basic tech savvy, basic programing knowledge, understand and know where IP, how to download firmware.
I just did a front brake job in about 25 minutes but cannot program my APex it just sits, my brother is a programer but cannot do a brake job.
 

rogerwilco357

New member
Keeping it simple

Keeping it simple

Keeping it simple is what led me to the RKE and the lite . Pretty easy to setup and use . I have had these units for 4 years or so. Started using them for timer replacement and temp control and protection of a faulty heater . Love the light control ,and now using them to do my 2 part solution and auto top off . Also for the lunar lites and cycles. Next will hookup ? Will see ,love that it grows with my reefing needs .
Pick one that your comfortable programming or you will get frustrated and it will end up back in the box. Good luck let us know which way you went.
Roger
 

ThaBeast

New member
Topic has been covered over and over, but I'll add my experience. I've had both the rk and the apex. Apex is hands down better and you can't beat neptunes customer service. I haven't tried the Reef Angel. As someone pointed out some computer skill is useful to utilize the apex to its fullest potential
 

WeMa

New member
Setting up an apex is super simple, there is no 'programming' to it. You select what is plugged in to each outlet and then input the settings for it. Here is an example of setting up a light. I highly recommend the apex.

After plugging everything in and opening up the controller page, you will see your outlets under the configuration menu. This will bring to a page similar to the attached where you can select the control type, for lights enter the on and off times, and the temp at which to turn them off. That's it, nothing hard about it.

Is there advanced features that take more effort? Of course, but any advanced feature on any controller takes more work. I've used a reef keeper and 3 different neptune controllers and won't own anything else but.
 

Attachments

  • image.jpg
    image.jpg
    42.1 KB · Views: 0

klwheat

New member
So, it sounds like the apex is easier to use than the rke? Are there any features it's missing that I'll wish it had? Also, anyone have experience with the reef angel?
 

Mark Bianco

New member
I have both, For my frag tank on the other side of the basement I use a RKE basic with two pc4 and it is just the basics, temp control and timed outlets. It took about 20 minutes start to finish. I was going to buy the needed add-ons to control it with my Apex that I use for my display tank and sump room but it was more expensive then buying the RKE basic, besides I wanted some experience with RKE. The Apex controls my led lighting, T5 lighting, Tunze powerheads, Ato, circulation pumps, skimmer, RODI storage, and auto water change system. As stated above setting up the Apex for normal use is easy, advance programing you need to do a little work. As for networking hang in their soon Apex will put up a cloud server and what I have read you do not need to know anything about networking, IP addresses, or anything else related. It will be as simple as opening your browser to the cloud page and it will find the Apex and configure everything for you. We shall see. Now to discuss the Good and the Bad.. The Good Customer support with the Apex is second to none. I even have received support email on a Sunday. Now the bad. I had an issue with RKE after the third day and sent an email to them and never a response, that was about 6 months ago, I was able to resolve the problem by reading thru many forums and did a factory reset...
 

Triton_Z

New member
I have the RKE Net and I would not buy again. The online connectivity was the primary purpose of the controller and its not up to par. Th pros : It's been reliable and its easy to setup quickly.

I would look at the Apex or Reef Angel. I will likely buy an APEX when I retire or move the RFE to a different tank.
 

madweazl

Member
I'm going with the Reef Angel just because I like to tinker with stuff and the price is right. Cant wait to get my grubby lil hands on it (hate waiting for things to ship to Japan!).
 

sahin

Ultimate Reefer
Get the APEX. No questions.

I have GHL Profilux. At the time there was no APEX unit for the UK market as we are on a different voltage etc.

I've seen the APEX on friends systems and loved it. The GHL is hard to programme etc. The basics are fine and it does what I need it to do...but there are advanced features that I would have liked to setup, but programming it is a nightmare for me.

Just before Apex was released in the UK earlier this year...loads of people sold their GHL's and moved over to Apex.

Go Apex if the funds allow for it and you need the features available from it.
 

WestTexasReefer

New member
I am on the fence whether to get a controller. I have AI lights with the controller that has 8 set points so I would leave that alone. I have a Ranco temp controller, dosers on timers, a ph monitor and my ato solenoid hooked to a timer. The upside I see would be to combine all those into one except the lights (I know you can but I would leave that as is) and be able to control remotely and set up alerts etc. If I all need is heater control, 2 timer imputs for my doser, a ph monitor and a timer for my ato solenoid that can come on and off for a few minutes 3 times per day which Apex would you recommend? Apex Light or Junior? The other concern I have after reading the manual online is connecting to my internet network at home and then remotely from my phone or iPad. Although I use computers and have some knowledge I will never be confused for an IT guy and a lot of what I read went a little bit over my head. Is it easy to do that because that would really be my main reason to go with it? Also I cannot connect directly to my router because it is in another room so do you need to do that just for set up and then you are good to go or do you need another router or game box to connect to it under the tank to access the wireless network in my house.
 

James77

Team RC
They have new software/firmware coming out called fusion that is going to greatly simplify accessing over the internets.
 

Timber77

New member
Reef angel hands down is the best value. Price is better, the forum is 24/7 support, roberto is a genius, and you don't need to be a programmer to use it. If you can cut and paste with your current computer you can add "custom" code, however you dont have to write any code to make it work. The newest update makes the wizard pretty much do all the programming needed for my 400 gallon setup , calcium reactor, bank of wp40's running different modes,3 temp probes, auto top off, mh on off with delayed start, skimmer on off with delayed start, chiller/heater parameters... etc full blown sps setup... took a whole 20 minutes to re program all 16 outlets including renaming them on the web portal. Only reason i reprogrammed it was i ditched most of my led's in lieu of radiums..and wanted to have it control my morning coffee maker...Whatever new gadgets come out the RA guys will be controlling them first since its open source. Or get an apex and buy the accessorials like the wp 40 cable from ra. But then your locked into apex pricing for any options. the da controllers are the least robust.
 

Devaji108

New member
Reef angel hands down is the best value. Price is better, the forum is 24/7 support, roberto is a genius, and you don't need to be a programmer to use it. If you can cut and paste with your current computer you can add "custom" code, however you dont have to write any code to make it work. The newest update makes the wizard pretty much do all the programming needed for my 400 gallon setup , calcium reactor, bank of wp40's running different modes,3 temp probes, auto top off, mh on off with delayed start, skimmer on off with delayed start, chiller/heater parameters... etc full blown sps setup... took a whole 20 minutes to re program all 16 outlets including renaming them on the web portal. Only reason i reprogrammed it was i ditched most of my led's in lieu of radiums..and wanted to have it control my morning coffee maker...Whatever new gadgets come out the RA guys will be controlling them first since its open source. Or get an apex and buy the accessorials like the wp 40 cable from ra. But then your locked into apex pricing for any options. the da controllers are the least robust.


^ yes! I have the RA great value support is amazing from the RA community. only used it for about 2 months before I had to take the tank down. but I am very much looking forward to setting it back up!
you can get so creative with it it's just crazy...
so RA gets my vote.
 
Top