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AQQA co op style heater


Pepere
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I loved the 50 watt co op heater and hated to see it discontinued.

I bought a 50 watt AQQA look alike heater off of Amazon and got it today..  I thought I would share my findings on it.

Other than the logo it looks identical.  The manual is written with rather poor English Grammar and parts are hard to understand what they are trying to say.  
 

The Error codes are the same.

This model reverts to the flashing EL when the internal clock reaches its limit.  I run my on Inkbirds, letting the Inkbird control it and using the internal temp control as a failsafe temp limiter.  As such it will take longer for the clock to accumulate run hours as it only runs when power is supplied to it.  And, once the clock time has accumulated, the flashing EL will only appear when it is actively heating.

The AQQA unit is less money than the co op heater sold for, but I would pay 50% more to be able to buy from the co op instead.

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My issue with the temp controllers is the replication factor. I don't just keep 1 or 2 or 3 tanks, I have 1.5 racks of them. It's bad enough I have to buy heaters, but controllers too? Can't bring myself to it. 

[Before you say "why not just heat the space?", I do hope to get there, but currently the racks share a room with our gas furnace, which draws from the room not from outside. Therefore the door to the room has to remain open or at least cracked, which wouldn't work with heating the room. But that's off topic sorry]

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The other thing to think about, if it looks exactly the same, it is going to be made by the same manufacturer. And inheritably, carry the exact same flaws that caused Cory to drop them in the first place. But if you like them, go for it

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On 2/5/2024 at 8:18 AM, jwcarlson said:

What's the draw of using a heater like that when you already have an InkBird?  The appearance or footprint?  Something else?  Just curious.

It is easily tucked low behind a plant making it invisible when not running.  Being low in the tank, I can do a 50% water change without uncovering it too, so no fear of running dry.

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On 2/5/2024 at 7:53 AM, Pepere said:

It is easily tucked low behind a plant making it invisible when not running.  Being low in the tank, I can do a 50% water change without uncovering it too, so no fear of running dry.

That's the way I run all my regular heaters, too.  But occasionally, I do run them dry because I do a lot of 90-100% changes. Whoops.  

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On 2/5/2024 at 8:51 AM, Tony s said:

The other thing to think about, if it looks exactly the same, it is going to be made by the same manufacturer. And inheritably, carry the exact same flaws that caused Cory to drop them in the first place.

Yes, but reportedly failure rate was no better and no worse than any other heater the co op has sold…

 

If it is as good as any other heater out there, the ability to remain submerged when doing a 50% water change, be hidden from view and have an external temp controller still makes it a win to me.

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On 2/5/2024 at 9:10 AM, Tony s said:

Right. Cory just had to back up the failed units. Whole different situation

I am willing to absorb the cost of a 5% failure rate. Esp since other heaters seem to perform about the same.

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I was a little unlucky with my co op heaters, but I really liked them. I haven't decided what direction I want to go with my heaters moving forward, but I'm considering this one as well, even knowing the failure rate. 

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I'd caution people to assume they are the same. Easily could be different factories. They are at least using the old software on the chip. We made several updates to it since the first one that displayed EL. There's actually a lot of options when it comes to having a product made. Like used parts. You can save money if you used parts from recycled electronics. We would never do that, but you can see this a lot in the random Chinese brands. It's not meant to scare you, but also just keep in mind, just because it looks similar doesn't mean it is. You can see in the car industry, the same exact car using the same parts, put together in a different country has different issues.

My advice is approach any brand, whether it's eheim, tetra, chinese brand, Aquarium Co-Op Etc. How do the heaters do over 1-3 years, with 10 units. That's a baseline to start from.  However, I'd say there is just as much chance of the AQQA heater doing well as a sicce, eheim, etc.

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On 2/5/2024 at 2:05 PM, Cory said:

I'd caution people to assume they are the same. Easily could be different factories. They are at least using the old software on the chip. We made several updates to it since the first one that displayed EL. There's actually a lot of options when it comes to having a product made. Like used parts. You can save money if you used parts from recycled electronics. We would never do that, but you can see this a lot in the random Chinese brands. It's not meant to scare you, but also just keep in mind, just because it looks similar doesn't mean it is.

I agree fully.. which is why I would be happy to purchase from the co op at a 50% premium over the price I am paying..  I love the function and utility of the design…. I do miss the confidence I had in a co op branded unit.

 

One notable deviation from the Co Op version is that the cord only measures 7 feet.  This is not a problem for me as a practical measure but it does indicate they were looking for corners to cut…

 

personally with the state of heaters on the market I would never put any heater in a tank not controlled by an Inkbird controller.

 

I am curious though @Cory, what is the lowest failure rate you would think it would be feasible to build an aquarium heater that would retail for say $50.00?

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On 2/5/2024 at 12:03 PM, Pepere said:

I am curious though @Cory, what is the lowest failure rate you would think it would be feasible to build an aquarium heater that would retail for say $50.00?

I don't know, seems no manufacturers are really working on that. Amazon has hundreds of cheap heaters. When you're a heater manufacturer you want to sell to everyone. We were prioneering getting closer to a better heater and it was a battle as all their other customers want cheaper, so they spend their R&D time making it cheaper, not looking for better parts or more expensive designs.

Since I haven't seen it, i could only speculate, maybe the perfect heater can cost 3 dollars, or can't be done for $50. I don't really have the answer.

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At this point, it seems like there is really no way for a hobbyist to tell a good heater from a bad one (we simply don't have enough information).

We can stick with the name brands, but even they may be focusing more on cost rather than longevity and reliability.

I guess, without someone in our corner, the best we can do is make sure that we use a controller with each heater and replace those heaters fairly often.

 

 

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On 2/5/2024 at 1:05 PM, Cory said:

I'd caution people to assume they are the same. Easily could be different factories. They are at least using the old software on the chip. We made several updates to it since the first one that displayed EL. There's actually a lot of options when it comes to having a product made. Like used parts. You can save money if you used parts from recycled electronics. We would never do that, but you can see this a lot in the random Chinese brands. It's not meant to scare you, but also just keep in mind, just because it looks similar doesn't mean it is. You can see in the car industry, the same exact car using the same parts, put together in a different country has different issues.

My advice is approach any brand, whether it's eheim, tetra, chinese brand, Aquarium Co-Op Etc. How do the heaters do over 1-3 years, with 10 units. That's a baseline to start from.  However, I'd say there is just as much chance of the AQQA heater doing well as a sicce, eheim, etc.

Thank you for your insight. Very good points that I didn't consider!

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