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Waveline DC-5000 pump, unboxed & reviewed

By Leonard Ho - Posted May 30, 2012 12:00 PM
We unbox and review the new Waveline DC-5000 pump by H20 Systems. The DC-5000 is a speed-controllable direct current circulation pump rated for 5,000lph (1320gph) at only 40 watts. Does it live up to its billing?
Waveline DC-5000 pump, unboxed & reviewed

The Waveline DC-5000 pump and controller

Advanced Aquarist first reported on the new Waveline pumps in March, 2012 (read our report for more information about these pumps).  We have the first hands-on professional unboxing and review of the Waveline DC-5000, which is now available at many popular retailers.

The introduction of the Waveline pumps made a splash amongst aquarists because of its affordable direct current design.  Direct current pumps are becoming increasingly popular as aquarium circulation pumps, but most DC pumps come with a hefty price tag (upwards of $1,000 USD or more).  The Waveline DC-5000 is the most affordable high-flow (>1000gph) DC pump to date, but does its low price also come with compromised performance or parts?  Advanced Aquarist takes a closer look.

What's the deal with direct current pumps?

The vast majority of pumps available to hobbyist are alternating current pumps (the type of power that comes out of your wall outlet).  Direct current pumps have several key advantages over traditional AC pumps.  Most notably, direct current means users can control the rotational speed of the motor, thus electronically control flow rates.  Beyond controlling max flow rates, with the right equipment, users can theoretically program DC pumps for complex flow timings to create advanced flow patterns such as standing waves (as you would with high-end propeller pumps).  This will allow aquarists to create customizable closed loop circulation - a method that has grown out of favor following the advent of speed-controllable internal propeller pumps.  DC pumps are also more efficient than AC pumps and produce less heat per volume of flow.  And in theory, it is easier to rig battery backups to DC pumps (for example: the Tunze Silence 1073.05 pump).

Now that we've introduced you to the major advantages of DC pumps, let's take a look at H2O System's new Waveline DC-5000 pump.

Waveline DC-5000 Specifications:

  • 1320gph (5000lph) with six preset speeds
  • Submersible or in-line operation
  • 40 watts energy consumption (24V @ 2.5A)
  • 9.8ft (3m) max head
  • Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.1 x 5.0 inches (162 x 104 x 128mm)
  • MSRP: $239.99 USD



The Waveline DC-5000 is packaged in the retail box pictured below.  The pump and all its components are snugly contained within.




The box contains:

  • DC-5000 pump
  • 24V power supply (converts 100-240V 50/60Hz AC to DC)
  • Power cable
  • A six speed DC pump controller
  • Adapters for 3/4", 1", and 1 1/4" insert fittings (two of each for input and output) with a pair of lock-down nuts and rubber gaskets.
  • Owner's manual

We were pleasantly surprised to find the insert fitting adapters.  They simplify installation and will make retrofitting the pump to existing plumbing a much easier task.


A closer look at the Waveline components

H2O systems includes a small and simple DC Pump Controller.  This controller allows users to select between six preset speeds; The selected speed is indicated by six green LEDs.  The controller also features a feed button.  When pressed, the pump shuts down and automatically reactivates after 10 minutes.  Users may also press the feed button a second time to resume normal operation. Waveline pumps feature a true slow startup; Output begins at zero RPM and ramps up to full speed over approximately 10 seconds.



The pump and controller are connected via a waterproof 3-conductor union.  H2O Systems informs us they are developing a more advanced control module which can integrate with popular aquarium controllers to create complex wave programs.  The detachable controller will allow for a simple upgrade path, and the waterproof union is a much welcomed safety feature.


One look at the DC-5000's impeller immediately alleviates any fear that Waveline skimped on critical parts to achieve its low price.  The impeller magnet is clearly beefy, but the ceramic impeller shaft was particularly impressive and amongst the largest diameter shafts we have seen for a pump this size.  All friction points are ceramic to ceramic, including the bushings.  The DC-5000 impeller assembly is as robust as they come.

Also note the square cross section of the pump housing.  This allows users to rotate their pump's output orientation in 90 degree intervals, meaning users can output water vertically (up or down) as well as horizontally.


Here we see two DC-5000 pumps side by side.  The left pump features Waveline's needle-wheel impeller used in H2O Systems' RLSS protein skimmers.  The right pump features Waveline's standard circulation impeller.



The Waveline DC-5000 operated very closely to its marketed specifications.  We measured flow rate at close to 1,250 gallons per hour (+/- 3%) through 1" tubing at 0 feet of head using a GPI flow meter.  The pump drew 44 watts from the wall outlet at full speed.

The DC-5000 is an extremely quiet device.  The pump produced no distinguishable vibrations but did exhibit a slightly perceptible mid-frequency motor hum at full speed. While not virtually silent like Askoll-based pumps (Red Dragon, ATB Flow Star, et al.), the DC-5000 is still extremely quiet; For comparative purposes, the Waveline is quieter than the popular Eheim 1262 hobby pump and fanless Iwaki in-line pumps.

The Waveline DC-5000 is a well-engineered pump with an impressively affordable retail price.  More importantly, the DC-5000 performed as advertised: a high flow, high efficiency, quiet and cool running pump with a "down-to-earth" price tag.  If the pump proves as reliable as its build quality suggests, the Waveline DC-5000 may set a new benchmark for aquarium circulation pumps.

The manufacturer provided this product to Advanced Aquarist for review.  Under no circumstance does the manner in which Advanced Aquarist obtains products affect our review process and conclusions.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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