Unless you’ve been living under a large piece of live rock, you will have noticed the rise of DC pumps in our hobby. They have been the new staple for sump returns, closed loops, and skimmers. On deck here is the BLDC5, the smallest model offered by Deepwater Aquatics.
Deepwater is clearly aware that they aren’t the only DC pump on the block, so they have made some refinements to set their pump apart at their price point. Notably, the controller has an aluminum housing with heatsink. Read any reef forum, and you’ll find a lot of folks having to replace controllers on other DC pumps.
One of the potential issues is overheating so Deepwater’s efforts to dissipate heat on the controller should improve the reliability. The pump is driven by a sine wave that ensures quiet operation at any speed. Vibration absorbing feet offer more sound reduction, and titanium screws ensure there’s no rust issues.
First impressions of the pump are solid, the fit and finish is good and disassembling for maintenance was a breeze with an allen wrench. It’s nice to see the titanium bolts screw into a titanium nut, rather than the plastic housing which can strip out over time.
The O-ring forms a tight seal with the pump head so there should be no issue running this pump externally there. The impeller feels pretty sturdy, and the closed impeller design appears to be more resistant to getting jammed.
The build quality on the controller is really nice for this price point. The available buttons aren’t different from other DC pumps. But the aluminum construction makes the controller feel more robust than other DC offerings. As mentioned earlier, heat dissipation was a motivation here. The mounting holes are nice to have, rather than relying on some velcro to keep it in place.
The major gripe is the inlet and outlet plumbing. The BLDC pumps feature BSP (British Standard Pipe) threads instead of the US standard NPT (National Pipe Taper). Good luck finding fittings at your local hardware store that will fit. You can easily order the adapter fittings needed online, but I would have liked to see the fittings included(or the pump housing modified to NPT). This particular gripe is true for most of the DC pumps out there, so we can’t fault Deepwater alone here.
Beyond the unique features of the BLDC pump, It also offers the common DC features you can’t get out of an AC pump. Dry run protection, Internal memory to restore settings after power outage, 30 minute feed button, which is also great for water changes and other maintenance.
Getting 1400 gph at 30-watts on the BLDC5 is fantastic. Try that with an AC pump! And consider the ability to control the flow with the touch of a button rather than a valve on the output. Restricting the output of an AC pump with a valve usually increases electrical consumption and adds more heat to the tank. This is where a DC pump excels.
Initial impressions are that the Deepwater BLDC pumps are a great deal. The price and quality are solid. It’s also nice to see a significant variety in sizes offered without a significant difference in price. We plan to put this pump through its paces on our new reef build. So, expect a full review in the near future!