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I'm looking into developing a system that supplies wasted heat of the transformer of my aquarium LED light (which is always quite) to the aquarium water in order to save resources. The heat which is currently emitted into the room ought to be transported from the transformer into the aquarium water using heat exchange and the water flow in tubes which are already available because of the filtration setup.

It's gonna be a hobby project, but I was planning to design a 3D printable enclosing for the transformer and the transmission of heat into the circulating water for different sized transformers in order to increase reusability.

I know from PC hardware cooling systems that water cooling is generally more efficient than air stream cooling (the LED transformer for this project works without moving air). However, I'd like to check what to consider during design of the heat transmission in order to ensure that the water cooling always is more efficient than the static air cooling so that I and potential other users don't risk damage on their transformers.

The following details reduce reusability, but I guess it's fine to develop the prototype localized at first: In the hottest summer (Berlin, Germany) the aquarium remains below 23 degree whereas I'd like to have it at 25 constantly. Thus, I assume that the water can always take all the heat of the transformer.

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Karl. All performance characteristics are dependant on heat exchanger design parameters, which are used to carry heat away from the process. In your case returning heated water to the aquarium is not an option, making a passive aircooled setup the obvious choice for a system of no complexity and minimal build challenges.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess it was misleading that I want to create the system for the sole purpose of cooling. I also want to heat the water because it's quite expensive and the energy on the transformer is wasted anyway. $\endgroup$ – Karl Richter Dec 20 '17 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ This is a fun project. It will require a more complicated design and will require a control setup to switch the output between the aquarium water for heating and a secondary dump to reject the transformers heat when aquarium water is at setpoint. Keep it simple stupid design goals and minimize complexity, and have fun! $\endgroup$ – RaSullivan Dec 20 '17 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point. I added info to the question that the water probably can always take the heat. $\endgroup$ – Karl Richter Dec 20 '17 at 20:12
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the easiest and safest way to cool the transformer and heat the water would be to get some heatsink compound (thermally-conductive grease), grease up the back of the transformer housing, and simply press it firmly against the aquarium glass near the bottom of the aquarium- and hold it there with some duct tape. the heat transfer through the glass will not be optimal, but it might well be good enough to serve your purposes.

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