PRODUCT REVIEW - SpectraPure Liter Meter
(Written for the November issue of Marine Fish Monthly in 1997)
As promised last month, this column would review a soon to be released product called "The Liter Meter Precision Dosing System." Almost all hobbyists are aware of the quality products produced by SpectraPure, Inc. When it comes to hobby related RO and DI units, the SpectraPure name shines like a star in the heavens. But they also transcend the hobby-related products and produce home and commercial water conditioning equipment. In fact, they have just put together a catalog of all their products. You can contact them for a copy, whether interested in hobby-related products or water conditioning equipment for your home or business. I may sound a little upbeat about this company, but I have seen them grow from a tiny one man business to their present status of a leader in the field of water conditioning equipment. They have always had "quality" equipment along with excellent customer service.
With that said, I was overjoyed to see my favorite UPS driver standing at my door with a package from SpectraPure. The driver has told me I am his best customer! Anyway, when I unpacked the unit there was also a new catalog and a note that said try it and call us. Well, that was easier said than accomplished because there were no written instructions. This unit was a pre-production model with very brief and unclear setup instructions written on its label. I decided it was best to first call with a list of questions before trying to set it up. I had just completed my list, and I mean just (by 10 seconds), when the phone rang. It was the president of SpectraPure, Charles Mitsis. I said to Charles: we must be on the same wavelength! After thanking Charles, I received answers to my questions and discussed the current status of the unit. I was then ready for setup.
The Liter Meter Doser is a book-shaped unit and has a footprint that measures 2.3 x 7.5 inches. It stands 4.25 inches high. The turret-shaped pump head is an additional 1.0 inch high x 2 inches wide and is located on the top left side of the unit. This doser is exceptionally powerful and can easily pump water 16 feet high. Yes, I said 16 "feet" high. In fact, it will deliver water even higher than that. You could fill a tub of water in your basement and deliver it to an aquarium one or two floors higher. Not only get it there, but precisely deliver any amount up to about 25 gallons per day.
On the front side of the unit there are two windows containing thumbwheels that can be set to regulate the delivered amount of water. The left window titled "CALIBRATION" does what it sounds like, it calibrates the pump. The right window titled "DAILY TOTAL" is used for setting the maximum amount of water the pump will be allowed to delivered per day. The Liter Meter is also pH safe and the prototype has already been operating for a year with Kalkwasser. Even though operating in a harsh chemical environment such as a Kalkwasser solution, the pump has never required cleaning! The pump consumes less than 6 Watts and is powered by a 12VDC transformer. The internal electronics are set to turn the pump on every 576 seconds, which equates to 150 times a day.
Since my aquarium requirement is about one gallon per day, I set the maximum allowable water for one day at 03.78 liters per day after I determined and set the "CALIBRATION" thumbwheels.
Because we all live at different elevations and the suction and delivery height differs on how each unit is setup, the Liter Meter is designed to take all these differing situations into consideration! Therefore, to set the "CALIBRATION" thumbwheels you must turn on the pump and measure in minutes and seconds how long it takes to fill a kitchen measuring cup to 500 milliliters. Then convert this time frame to decimal minutes. If it took 2:40 (two minutes and forty seconds) to acquire the 500 milliliters, this equates to 2+40/60 or 2.67 minutes. (Example - If your goal was to add one gallon of water to your aquarium per day and your decimal minutes just happened to be 2.67 as noted above, you would set your CALIBRATION switches to read 187 (500/2.67) milliliters per minute. You would then set DAILY TOTAL thumbwheels to read 03.78 (1 U.S. Gallon = 3.785 Liters). Then place the toggle switch in the RUN position and the pump will run just long enough 150 times a day to deliver a daily total of one gallon. This would equate to about 25 milliliters per pump operation.) If you were to set the amount needed so low that the pump could not deliver a measurable amount during one of its cycles, it would simply add it to the next cycle, or so on until it could deliver that measurable, yet minute amount of water. Also, once the CALIBRATION thumbwheels are set, you can change the DAILY TOTAL thumbwheels as often as necessary without recalibrating the CALIBRATION thumbwheels. That is of course, if you do not radically change elevation and/or orientation of the Liter Meter.
There are two LED lights, green and amber on the front panel. The Green LED indicates power is being sent to the pump. The Amber LED indicates several functions. After putting the toggle switch in the run position, the light will briefly flutter indicating the internal computer is performing diagnostics and reading the thumbwheel settings before actual pump operation. It will, after the initial flutter, blink at a one second interval indicating proper pump operation. Should the light become almost steady, this indicates an over-demand condition. The pump is very quiet when operating and there is minimum vibration.
The direction the water comes into and leaves the pump turret can be changed by 90 degrees. First, release the two clips that hold its body into the units housing. Then simply rotate the pump body as needed and snap the clips back into place. If ever necessary, the entire pump body can be removed for service by removing four screws.
There is also a jack on the left side of the unit for an optional float switch. If you were to go away on a long vacation and not be sure of exactly how much water may evaporate over that entire time frame, the optional float switch would allow additional, yet small and evenly spaced mini-doses of water, to keep pace with evaporation as needed.
The Liter Meter is an extremely smart device and will be on the market by the time you read this column. Retail price will be about $295.00. As for written instructions, I have just commented on the first draft and they will be ready for introduction with the unit.
SpectraPure is known world-wide for fair-priced quality water purification equipment, and the Liter Meter should fit right in with the rest of their fine products. Product warranty is one year, including all parts and labor. I would appreciate "your" feedback on this product.