Our Apex System is the best-value aquarium controller on the market
today. Dollar for dollar you will not find a higher-quality controller
that gives you more features, is easier to use, or has a larger and more
active user base than the Apex. If you haven't done so already, please read our Why Apex? page to get a high level view of why the Apex is so important to your aquarium.
The Apex runs at up to 10x the speed of other controllers in its
class due to its advance processor technology (most others use 8 or 16
bit microcontrollers). It also has enough memory on board to store
nearly a years worth of complete tank data in non-volatile RAM. Even
with a power outage, your tank history and all configurations are safe.
Hands down, the Apex has the most
feature-rich, field tested software of any controller on the market
today. It all starts with the on-board web server inside the Apex Base
Unit. This web server is part of the Apex's firmware and is truly the
secret sauce to it's success.
Built-in wizards allow even the most
technophobic person out there to be able to program the basics like
light timers and heater control in a matter of minutes. Then, as you
build up confidence and engage the awesome Apex user community, you will
be taking it to the next level in no time.
The Apex has a powerful yet easy to learn
programming language. This enables every user to get creative and come
up with new cool ways to use their Apex...from creating storms in their
tanks, to complex dosing of additives, to unique mixing of colors on
their DIY LED lights. The possibilities are pretty much only limited by
your imagination. And again, the Apex community is out there to help you
along as well.
The Apex has a full-featured graphing
engine built right in. As an example, you can very easily compare the
cycles of your outlets with temperature and pH, identify ongoing
patterns of trouble, and even discover ways to cut costs like being able
to visually see when two external devices (such as a heater and a
chiller) are on simultaneously when they really shouldn't be.
Let's Talk About A Little Thing Called Galvanic Isolation
This is a topic other controller companies like to avoid. Why? Because not all monitoring ports are created equal. Galvanic
Isolation is key to getting accurate readings on pH, Temp, ORP, and
Conductivity. Some controllers either do not do it well (they are still
figuring it out) or possibly not at all.
So what is Galvanic isolation? Well, the
tech-answer is that it's where two or more electric circuits must
communicate, but their grounds may be at different potentials. It is an
effective method of breaking ground loops by preventing unwanted current
from flowing between two units sharing a ground conductor.
Now of course that is all geek-speak to most of us so let's just put it this way: on a controller without
galvanic isolation, your readings of pH, Temperature, ReDox (ORP),
Conductivity/Salinity, etc. will be completely inaccurate. Of
course it costs us more to add this circuitry into the Apex, but what
good is a controller if it doesn't give you accurate readings?
LED Dimming and Tunze Pump Control
The Apex Base Unit comes standard with four channels of 0-10V
control. These outputs are controlled in the Apex software and are most
commonly used for LED dimming or Tunze speed control pumps. By using one
of our optionally available cables, you can connect any Apex Ready
0-10V device to these ports. This means you can do cool things like
have your LED lights ramp up and down to simulate sunrise and sunset!
They can also be used for various DIY purposes like controlling the
dimming level on Meanwell LED drivers. Should you need additional
channels of 0-10V control, no problem, simply purchase our VDM module
and get four more - and also get a connection for Apex Ready+ LEDs!
External 12V Power Capability - UPS Ready!
The Apex Base Unit comes with an external
12V power input. With an optionally available wall transformer and a
second Energy Bar, this enables you to configure your Apex for
power-outage mode. You just plug the 12V transformer into your Apex and
then into a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) along with your extra
Energy Bar. You then plug a powerhead and an air pump with stone into
this Energy Bar. If the power should ever go down, your Apex will sense
the problem, and will activate the powerhead and air stone potentially
saving the day for your fish and corals!
So Much More Than Just a Power Strip!
The Energy Bars available for our Apex
systems are much more than a glorified power strip. In fact, this
component of your aquarium controller equipment is far more important
than most people realize - and not all systems are created equal!
It is obvious that this component is key
to controlling things on your aquarium, but what is not so apparent is
how it is critical to preventing catastrophe in your aquarium. Here's
Let's Start with Construction
We have put a lot of thought into the
construction of our Energy Bars. Unlike our competitors and simple power
strips, our Energy Bars are made out of 16 gauge, powder-coated
aluminum. They are built to be bullet proof - almost literally!
Sure, like our competitors we could have
gone with a slick, inexpensive plastic enclosure, but that would not
provide you with the best protection against catastrophic failure. You
see, plastic timer powerstrips and power bars used by some of our
competitors can easily catch fire should saltwater enter them and cause a
short. With our solid metal Energy Bars, if such a short did occur, it
would be far less likely to spread to the tank or your home.
Each of the independently controlled
outlets on the Energy Bar are independently switched and easily carry
the current load specified on the label. In fact, we
intentional underrate our outlets just to provide that extra level of
security. So, depending on which Energy Bar you purchase, each outlet is
rated from 5A to 10A at 120V AC or 8A on our 240V European model.
Current Sensing Device
The Energy Bars continually send their
information on their present current drain to the Apex controller. This
is incredibly useful information for a number of reasons. First, it
enables you to recognize what the overall power consumption is on any
Energy Bar so that you can better distribute the load across your
multiple Energy Bars. Also by having this feature you can accurately
determine the power utilization of your tank to compare different
lights, pumps, skimmers, etc.
Soft-Start Extends the Life of Pumps
Imagine revving the engine in your car
and dropping the shifter from P to D. That is exactly what happens when
many controllers turn on the power to your pumps. Just like in a car,
this kind of instantaneous application of power to your return pump
after a feed cycle or to your power heads will certainly lead to early
failure. With the Energy Bar, power is slowly ramped on so that every
motor is safely brought up to speed without the damaging torque.
Power Failure Detection, Communication Error Protection and Pre-programmed Failsafe State
Each Energy Bar outlet can be configured
to be either in an off or on state if the power were to fail and then
come back on or if there was a communication failure with the Apex base
unit. This means that if, for instance, your heater was on when the
power went off, you could have it programmed to be off until control was
reestablished with the Apex base unit. Or, as another example, you
could program your main return pump to always be in the on position in
case of failure.
This feature is very important as many
other controllers on the market may leave the outlet in its last
position or possibly default all of the outlets to off or on. This is
even true if they simply lose communication with their base unit due to a
system failure, software bug, communication issue, lightning strike,
etc. Not good. Imagine if you were away from home and a storm took out
your Apex - the Energy Bar would just fall back to the Failsafe state
you had programmed for such an incident. No worries.
One additional advanced feature is that
when you use an additional Energy Bar on a UPS (uninterruptible power
supply) you can have key lifesaving devices (low power power heads and
bubblers) on there that will automatically go into their Failsafe State
once power failure is detected. This can keep your tank alive and
healthy for hours on a good UPS until the power comes back online. This
will run completely unattended and is ideal to give you peace of mind
when you are away from home whether out for the evening or on a two-week
It is easy to see the importance of this
one small feature that differentiates the Neptune Systems Energy Bars
from the rest and how once again Neptune Systems is looking out for
every possible way for you to avoid catastrophe in your aquarium.
Extra AquaBus Connections
Each Energy Bar has additional connectors
so that you can easily expand to other modules. This is very helpful
for those that want to use one Apex to control multiple aquariums. The
Energy Bar becomes an AquaBus "hub" at any location you choose -
allowing you to connect more modules in that area. This is called a "star topology" and is unique to the Apex. Many other controllers
require you to daisy chain together every module or they require you to
buy a separate "hub" to connect everything together.
The Apex Display module is a sleek and compact way for your to
interact with the Apex Base Unit and control nearly every aspect of your
Mechanical, not membrane keypad
Our Display Module uses high-quality,
mechanical buttons. So what you say? Well many devices out there make
use of what are called capacitive touch pads. This type of membrane
button is just fine for your toaster oven, but in a saltwater
environment it is highly susceptible to failure. So, even though the
cost to us was higher, we went with mechanical buttons for our Display
Module ensuring your product a much longer life.
Adjustable contrast, high-resolution,
backlit graphic display
While some may tout the importance of a
color display, we disagree. We believe the most important thing for our
customers is ease in readability and size of the display. What good is a
color display if it is barely larger than a postage stamp. That is why
we went with the backlit graphical display we did. It was the perfect
match of function and value for our customers.
Built-In Speaker Plays Multiple Alarm Tones
Inside the Apex Display Module is a tiny
speaker with a big heart. This speaker will play one of many alarm
sounds and tunes that are built into the Apex. These alarms are perfect
to alert you of a water leak, over temp, or whatever you condition you
desire to program into the Apex.
Multiple Display Module Capability
With the Apex Display Module you are not
limited to having just one control panel. With the Apex (as an option)
you can add one, two, even three control panels all to the same Apex.
And, these are not watered down, smaller versions of the main control
panel, all modules will have the same display and functionality.
The Apex System comes with two probes:
Long-life Temperature Probe
Neptune Systems manufactures our own
temperature probes in-house. Why? Because we saw the level of early
failures due to using off-the-shelf temperature probes like those used
in stand-alone digital thermometers as well as those used by other
aquarium controllers. These probes often fail because they were never
designed to be permanently submersed in saltwater. We custom build our
temperature probes using a proprietary method that encapsulates the
business end of the probe itself from the corrosive effects of long term
Standard Grade pH Probe
We tested many probes until we finally
selected an manufacturer that would provide long life as well as
consistent and accurate performance. We do not cut corners on the probes
we supply. They may cost a little more than the bargain-basement probes
you might see out on the open market, but there is a difference.
Other Probes Available
The Apex System can be fitted with two pH
probes or one pH Probe and one ORP (Redox) probe. Go to our probes page
to read more about what probes are available to add to your Apex Lite