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Thread: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

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    Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

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    After owning both type of regulator and experimenting with them, i have been pondering on why is there a need for a dual gauge when the single gauge one works the same. And seeing that a lot of people are confused of the terms for CO2 regulators and to help out people who have just venture into high tech planted tank, I am sharing some of my knowledge to help others enjoy the hobby better.

    My first CO2 regulator is a JBJ dual gauge regulator with solenoid control, needle valve and brass bubble counter. 1 gauge for cylinder pressure and 1 for working pressure which is factory set at around 25 psi permanently. The perfect co2 system for most high tech planted tank. It will be complete it I add in a pH controller.

    Recently I got my 2nd CO2 system with an UP Aqua single gauge regulator without solenoid control or needle valve. This is the so call manual regulator. There is only 1 single gauge which is to indicate the cylinder's pressure. I added on a needle valve for a more precise control.


    Before I go on further, let me explain more on "manual" and "auto solenoid" regulator first.

    SOLENOID - Actually all regulator are manual. The function of the regulator is just to regulate the amount of gas being output by reducing the pressure to a less dangerous and workable level. It is the electric solenoid that makes it auto using magnetic operated valve. By connecting it to a timer switch it becomes auto on/off. When power is on, the magnetic control valve will be magnetized and the valve will open and when power is cut off the valve is closed as there is no current to keep the valve open. In actual fact a single gauge regulator can also be fitted with a solenoid just that it is not a common combination. No idea why. Majority of the LFS sells it as a set with everything already assembled for simplicity. Just tell the LFS you want manual or auto regulator and they will know which one to sell you.

    PRESSURE GAUGE - Typically all dual gauge regulators are installed with an electric solenoid. Main difference for a dual gauge regulator is there is a 2nd gauge to measure the working pressure. This is where the interesting part comes in.
    All regulators reduces the pressure to a more workable and manageable pressure from 1000 psi. 1000 psi directly from the cylinder is too high to be work on and is very dangerous. A lot of people misunderstood that only a dual gauge regulator steps down the pressure and often have the misconception that a needle valve will work well only with a dual gauge regulator because the pressure is reduced. This is not true, all regulator including single gauge ones reduces pressure and that is why it is a regulator.
    For a working pressure adjustable regulator, the 2nd gauge is useful as you will need to know the exact pressure you have adjusted to.
    But if you get brands like JBJ where the working pressure is fixed, it is not really needed as the output pressure will always be the same. Yes, the working pressure will fluctuate slightly when running but there is really nothing much you can do about it on the regulator. The fluctuation is actually caused by the inconsistence output at the diffuser/atomizer end and the expending of the tubing. Don't believe? Remove the diffuser/atomizer with the CO2 running and the working pressure gauge indicator will be consistent.
    All single gauge regulators have a fixed working pressure and are set at different pressure for different brands. You will need to check the specification or with the manufacturer to find this out. I suppose majority of it sold by LFS are already set at a safe pressure for aquaria use. By default, most of the single gauge regulators do not come with needle valve but have a smaller knob to control the pressure. You need very steady hands to get the correct bps using this knob as a very small turn makes quite a significant difference.

    NEEDLE VALVE – It is needed for a more precise control of the CO2 flow and will work with either type of regulator as long you get the correct fitting size. Again it is NOT true that it is difficult to adjust the pressure with a needle valve if you do not have a dual gauge regulator.

    SPLITER - To split the output so that you can connect the same CO2 system to more than 1 aquarium. It will be tricky when adjusting the bps between the 2 different outputs.


    In a nut shell, you do not need a dual gauge regulator if the working pressure cannot be adjusted. It just looks nicer and does nothing but add on to the cost of your purchase. Maybe the only way to adjust it is send it back to the manufacturer or to a professional who knows how to readjust it.

    A solenoid control valve is needed if you want to prevent pH swing and do not want to manually turn on/off the CO2 every day. The on/off is controlled by using a switch timer.
    Wondering why there is a need to turn it off? When CO2 is left running while the lights are off, CO2 are not used by the plants at all. There will be a built up of carbonic acid causing pH level to drop. pH level may drop to a dangerously low level especially when the aquarium water have a low KH.

    Needle valve is needed for a more precise control of CO2 flow and will be a good to have.

    Just my tiny contribution back to AQ. I may not be 100% correct so do add on if you spotted discrepancy.
    Enjoy reading… and happy planting…

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Great contribution to the AQ!

    My one is dual gauge with solenoid which is made in China.

    It works well except solenoid will become very hot when its on. The heat will transfer to all the metal part including the cylinder. Temperature is too high to be touched, estimated above 70C.... Since the hose is steel, the silicon tubing around there will be very fading and bent easily. It will cause problem if the tubing is curved. The tube may turn sharply and block the CO2 inside, thus will explode "big Bang".

    I wonder why need to power on when it is working? Why not switch it on/off through a latch which is triggered by electromagnet. That means not only the solenoid will not consume the expensive electricity, but also it will be not hot.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by ladygaga View Post
    Great contribution to the AQ!

    My one is dual gauge with solenoid which is made in China.

    It works well except solenoid will become very hot when its on. The heat will transfer to all the metal part including the cylinder. Temperature is too high to be touched, estimated above 70C.... Since the hose is steel, the silicon tubing around there will be very fading and bent easily. It will cause problem if the tubing is curved. The tube may turn sharply and block the CO2 inside, thus will explode "big Bang".

    I wonder why need to power on when it is working? Why not switch it on/off through a latch which is triggered by electromagnet. That means not only the solenoid will not consume the expensive electricity, but also it will be not hot.
    I believe it is due to the design of the valve for the solenoid to pull it open. When the solenoid is not charged, the valve is closed with a strong spring. When the solenoid is magnetized, it pulls the valve open compressing the spring. It will take lesser effort to open the valve than to keep it close in a small footprint. Wiki have some explanation of how it works.
    I think if they design it your way, something very strong is needed to keep the valve in place be it on or off and this will also means a very strong solenoid is need to go against this force. I believe there will be higher wear and tear also with such great force not to mention the bigger size to house everything. Just my 2 cents.

    Anyway, if your solenoid can heat things up so badly till the cylinder is hot, you better change it asap. Too risky...
    If you are using PU tubing, don't have to worry as it can withstand pressure above 1000 psi.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Great article on how regulators works.
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...age-Regulators

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffteo View Post
    Great article on how regulators works.
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...age-Regulators
    While this 100+ page thread is a mine of information, and is a very useful resource for general reg information, please note that it's a US based forum, where they use a different thread type from the rest of the world, including a different co2 tank connection, as well as solenoids that run on 110V.

    Just a point to note before anyone want to purchase any of the components linked there.

    They have very nice components tho, and that's why I'm in the midst of assembling a reg that should be the last one I will ever need, but the different standards are a real pita.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Here is some more info
    scroll down the metering valve selection thread for solenoid selection info.
    Metering valve selection on The barr report
    Metering valve selection on The planted tank

    Completed leak check, double stage CO2 pressurized system

    Sample picture( they are on the market, I am the seller)

    Double stage re-branded Parker Hannifin Veriflo regulator(Western Medica)
    Clippard Mouse solenoid valve, with three way manifold, expandable two extra ports in 10-32 thread.
    Swagelok stainless steel M series metering valve
    Cippard quick connector
    ADA style inline glass bubble counter
    Cross split rubber core inline check valve.

    Function check and leak check completed.












    Victor HPT500 double stage regulator.
    Clippard Mouse solenoid valve with three way, 1/4" OD tube enforced permanent port manifold.
    Swagelok stainless steel M series metering valves, 3.

    3 cross split rubber core inline check valve
    3 ADA style glass bubble counters.

    Function check and leak check completed.




















    Last edited by bettatail; 30th May 2011 at 08:32.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    OP, the title is not right.
    It is single stage regulator vs double stage regulator.
    gauges only indicate the input pressure and output pressure.

    2 stage has two chambers, two diaphragms, and a poppet valve in between. This configuration end the problem of END OF TANK OUTPUT PRESSURE RISE, or commonly refer to by hobbyists, as END OF TANK DUMP ( EOTD) problem.
    The DIY build quality of these setups are far more better than the setup you see in the fish store, some of the double stage regulators we use are over 1000 USD when new, also the Metering valves, some are in USD 100+ range.
    Last edited by bettatail; 30th May 2011 at 08:50.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by bettatail View Post
    ...
    Sample picture( they are on the market, I am the seller)
    ...
    Hi bettatail, welcome and thanks for chipping in!

    Just so you know, most of the members of here are from Singapore on the other side of the globe, while the rest are from the nearby region(I do know some from as far as the UK).

    Nonetheless, my post above still stands, the US standards are quite different from the rest of the world. Different CO2 tank connection(cga-320 vs bsp), different regulator/stem/connectors/solenoid threads(NPT vs bsp/g?), different solenoid operating voltage(110VAC vs 240 VAC).

    You could technically get one to work, but will require some luck and effort to source for parts or what might be easier is to hack an existing euro type regulator for parts, which basically means you either end up with inferior connections or you hacked up a perfectly fine euro reg. But even then is never a drop in perfect fit which I'm currently waiting to see if my setup is leaking.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    adapters

    the two setups I just show only need the regulator to co2 tank american standard to metric standard thread fitting adapter.
    the solenoid valve is 24V DC, universal.
    the metering valve is 1/4" OD tube port, but a 6mm metric standard air hose do fit(the black hose in setup one is 6MM)

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid


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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by bettatail View Post
    Here is some more info
    scroll down the metering valve selection thread for solenoid selection info.
    Metering valve selection on The barr report
    Metering valve selection on The planted tank

    Completed leak check, double stage CO2 pressurized system

    Sample picture( they are on the market, I am the seller)

    Double stage re-branded Parker Hannifin Veriflo regulator(Western Medica)
    Clippard Mouse solenoid valve, with three way manifold, expandable two extra ports in 10-32 thread.
    Swagelok stainless steel M series metering valve
    Cippard quick connector
    ADA style inline glass bubble counter
    Cross split rubber core inline check valve.

    Function check and leak check completed.












    Victor HPT500 double stage regulator.
    Clippard Mouse solenoid valve with three way, 1/4" OD tube enforced permanent port manifold.
    Swagelok stainless steel M series metering valves, 3.

    3 cross split rubber core inline check valve
    3 ADA style glass bubble counters.

    Function check and leak check completed.














    Definitely a Lamborghini, luxury!

    They're O2 regulator, right? The high pressure is up to 4000psi.

    Somebody said CO2 may cause erosion to metal part of an O2 regulator if water go inside since it's acid.
    Rules for Aquarium
    Rule No.1: Do change the water weekly, not the fish.
    Rule No.2: Do your responsibility: take care of the water.
    Rule No.3: Do not take care of the fish. Fish will take care of themselves.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by bettatail View Post
    regulator to co2 tank american standard to metric standard thread fitting adapter.
    Great! Thanks for the info, could you kindly point me to one of these adapters, I have been trying to find one for several weeks now, and are definitely not easily found around here. Still using a hacked euro nut that is a good 2mm wider than the stem on my US reg.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by ladygaga View Post
    Definitely a Lamborghini, luxury!

    They're O2 regulator, right? The high pressure is up to 4000psi.

    Somebody said CO2 may cause erosion to metal part of an O2 regulator if water go inside since it's acid.
    Acid? Who told you that?
    no worry

    the materials inside can withstand O2, what HCO- can do to such materials?

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by bettatail View Post
    Acid? Who told you that?
    no worry

    the materials inside can withstand O2, what HCO- can do to such materials?
    Not HCO-, it's H+. H+ will wear most metal.
    Rules for Aquarium
    Rule No.1: Do change the water weekly, not the fish.
    Rule No.2: Do your responsibility: take care of the water.
    Rule No.3: Do not take care of the fish. Fish will take care of themselves.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by bettatail View Post

    Hi bettatail,

    Thanks for the link! Sorry to be a pain, do you have any idea which size is the one thats required between the reg and tank? Couldn't figure it out!


    BSP



    CGA-320

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by ladygaga View Post
    Not HCO-, it's H+. H+ will wear most metal.
    ?
    H+ ?
    O2 regulator are rated for corrosive gas service, co2 is never be a problem---CO2 is the inert gas for visually all industrial regulators serving other gases, that means co2 is ok for all of them.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by fongalv View Post
    Hi bettatail,

    Thanks for the link! Sorry to be a pain, do you have any idea which size is the one thats required between the reg and tank? Couldn't figure it out!


    BSP



    CGA-320
    need a little more time to do more research on this topic, will give you an answer.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    Quote Originally Posted by bettatail View Post
    OP, the title is not right.
    It is single stage regulator vs double stage regulator.
    gauges only indicate the input pressure and output pressure.

    2 stage has two chambers, two diaphragms, and a poppet valve in between. This configuration end the problem of END OF TANK OUTPUT PRESSURE RISE, or commonly refer to by hobbyists, as END OF TANK DUMP ( EOTD) problem.
    The DIY build quality of these setups are far more better than the setup you see in the fish store, some of the double stage regulators we use are over 1000 USD when new, also the Metering valves, some are in USD 100+ range.
    I wanted to put the title by stage but too technical and will confuse user. Most LFS here will not know what it is also. They only go by manual or auto solenoid regulator which most user knows the later will be a better option.

    Mod can you make this sticky please. This will help a lot understand the differences when getting pressurized CO2 especially for people who are new to this hobby.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    two gauges and two stage are totally different concept though, let 's don't get it mixed.

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    Re: Single gauge CO2 regulator vs dual gauge CO2 regulator w/solenoid

    @ bettatail:

    Just to let you have a better idea of the "market" over here to aid you in your sales, AFAIK 95% of the co2 regulators found in LFS are made in china/taiwan. They are really affordable; USD$15 for the manual single stage ones up to the more common "decent" JBJ dual stage solenoid which cost <USD$100. The remaining "high end" branded ones like dennerle/ADA will cost several times more for what is arguably "better" performance. Arguably because I doubt it offers pinpoint bps control like my swagelok or the ideal valves.

    Another common method is paintball canisters which are also popular in the states, but is almost non-existent here(we have paintball ranges but no equipment shops!).

    Repurposing industrial regulators has not really caught on here yet as welder shops are far and hard to come by, or in really inaccessible areas. Otherwise we have really unhelpful sales people here who seldom "entertain" small home users like us( local Burkert distributor was initially replying promptly to my queries until I told them I only needed one unit and I got radio silence since then).

    These industrial used components can still cost an arm and leg, easily upwards of SGD$500+ if you go full SS parts, but they will probably outlast your interest in the hobby, or your lifetime whichever is longer

    Very often people will claim that these are value for money, and do so because when new, these components can cost thousands, but there are also others who feel that this is an overkill for a planted aquarium. For me, I like the unparalleled control and reliability it offers, of which neither the branded ones nor their clones can offer.

    So my point is, these are quality components and while I highly recommend them but only if you are prepared to tinker around abit. Also do note the shipping costs(mine didn't come cheap, about 1/3 the cost of the reg), these regulators are heavy enough to topple my full 2L tank which then has to be secured.

    Then again, USD is at all time low now

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