Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Aqua & TMC Vecton & Advantage
(Further Information Added to this post, 12/6/14)
I’ve used many different ultraviolet Sterilizers over the years; some great, some ok, some were only clarifiers (although often sold as sterilizers), and some simply junk.
One model I used many of is the Coralife Turbo Twist compact UV Sterilizer. These worked for both clarification and more important TRUE UV sterilization reasonably well, although far from the best though when compared to other UV Sterilizers.
However, later I had would find the ballasts to fail and nearly a 100% rate with newer models. So although a popular UV Sterilizer, I cannot recommend it.
For a Compact UV, I’ve had better results from the SunSun & Via Aqua Terminator Compact UVs both in measured results and quality of build.
Also read my newer article where I call out some severe misinformation put forth by Reef Central:
Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central
NOW FOR MY REVIEW:
TMC VECTON & ADVANTAGE UVs:
This brings me to the TMC Line of UV Sterilizers; including the Pond Advantage and Vecton Aquarium.
Further Reading: TMC Premium Vecton and Advantage Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilizer, Clarifiers; Information
I’ve not had ANY better results with other UV Sterilizer as per TRUE UV Sterilization (level 1 & 2) as well as more basic clarification.
Also parts are readily available at fair prices unlike so many other UV Sterilizer where the ballast, quartz sleeve, or UV Replacement Bulb, Lamp can cost half or more of what a new TMC UV Sterilizer will cost.
UV Bulb Reference Guide Link: UV Bulbs, Bulb Guide
Another positive of the TMC Vecton and Advantage UVs is the construction of the unit as the Vecton and Advantage PRO Pond UVs are among the most solid UVs I have ever used. The construction also lends itself to easy repair when or if this becomes necessary.
Although the way the electrical ends connect to the lamp pins, does lend itself to easy disconnect, but this is a minor issue that only happens with rough handling and is easily corrected by simply pushing the connector back into the lamp pins.
I have had almost NO leaky UVs, especially in the area of the simple but well designed hose barb O-Rings, unlike many other units.
As well parts such as ballasts, quartz sleeves, O-Rings, and much more are readily available online or elsewhere at reasonable prices as I already noted; again unlike many even otherwise quality units where the cost of a ballast or quartz sleeve is nearly as much as a new UV Sterilizer!
Again, I am not knocking the effectiveness of many other UVs such as the Aqua Ultraviolet or Emperor UV, but when price of the Sterilizer unit and parts are factored in, the TMC has been a no-brainer for me when a customer asks me to install the best UV possible and still stay within an agreed upon budget.
There are other OK to good UVs such as the SunSun Terminator, Tetra and a few others, but these do NOT match the dwell time of the TMC Vecton or Advantage.
In fact I have changed out Tetra 18 Watt UVs running customer ponds that struggled to keep the pond clear and replaced this UV with a LOWER wattage TMC 15 Watt Pond Advantage and observed immediate results that we better the the Tetra UV.
The reason for the improvement in pond clarity was simple, the TMC Advantage and Vecton have the highest UVC dwell times of any UV Sterilizer, BAR NONE. Although some such as the Aqua Ultraviolet can equal the TMC Vecton and Advantage for dwell time.
Let me list the positives & negatives of the TMC Vecton and Pond Advantage True UV Sterilizers:
- Positive; The highest UVC Dwell time of ANY UV Sterilizer sold, allowing for much higher flow rates that the vast majority of UVs sold while still maintaining true level 1 or even 2 sterilization
- Positive; Readily available parts, at reasonable prices
- Positive; Uses highest UVC output low pressure mercury UV Bulbs/Lamps, unlike many of the Chinese brand UVs sold.
Further Reading: Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond
- Positive; Durable construction with VERY long life ballasts
- Negative; Lamp pin connections can come loose with rough handling
- Negative; Can be difficult to tell if on in a brightly lit room or in bright daylight for a pond application. Usually I either shield the light or more simply, remove a few screws and open the top to check for correct lamp function
- Positive; A true UV Sterilizer in a market that is more and more flooded with UV clarifiers masquerading as UV Sterilizers
The bottom line from my use of dozens (if not 100s) of UVs in aquariums and ponds, I have found no match for effectiveness, durability, and even value/reasonable price when one considers the quality of this top notch aquarium and pond UV Sterilizer.
Of course there are the many poor UVs too such as the over-rated Coralife Turbo Twist.
Worse yet, the Pure junk AquaTop and Jebo line of UVs just to name a few.
Many of these low end internal/submersible and Hang-On UV Filters have a very short life span, sometimes only 6 months from my experience.
As well even when working these UVs are only capable of Clarfication, NOT level one UVC sterilization! In other words these low end, low cost imports are NOT true UV Sterilizers.
Please reference this excellent review for more details about the hows and whys of TMCs UV Sterilizers:
TMC Vecton and Advantage UV Sterilizer Review
A good but over priced model is the Aqua line of pond and aquarium ultraviolet sterilizers.
These are well constructed, with good dwell time resulting in efficient sterilization and clarification.
One complaint I do have on some models is the wiper; these really do NOT do a good job at clearing calcium buildup, sometimes getting stuck too. As well since proper maintenance is every six months, despite some websites statements to the contrary, I would skip the wiper feature and simply properly clean the Quartz Sleeve ever six months. I would also suggest a back flush your UV monthly in pond applications.
The 2nd complaint I have is simply price for the UV and parts. The parts are often proprietary too forcing me or other users to pay crazy prices for parts that can often be found for much less with other UV Sterilizers that are not proprietary with their parts.
When you compare a 15 Watt Aqua at about $175 to a 15 Watt TMC Advantage or Vecton at $135 to $155 which with their longer UVC Bulbs and higher dwell time at the same flow rate; to me the better choice is the TMC UV Sterilizers.
Worse (in price, not effectiveness) is the Aqua 120 watt pond or aquarium system UV Sterilizer priced at $800+.
While certainly an effective UV, I’ve found the similar 110 Watt TMC PRO Pond Advantage just as effective at half the price ($400-$500).
The final issue I have is the claim by Aqua UV: “longest lamp life on the market”. This is a half truth from my knowledge and use of UVs. To make a longer life UV lamp/bulb results in less output of 254nm UVC irradiation during the life of the UV lamp.
Better is a high output Hot Cathode UV germicidal bulb that should be replaced every 6 months for aquariums or 6-12 months for ponds. You will maximize your effectiveness of your UV Sterilizer.