Controllable, DC powered circulation pumps have been around for quite a while now and are often seen in either return pump or skimmer engine forms. Featuring separate wired controllers to adjust speed at the touch of a button there are a host of offerings of varying quality and cost. Pumps that can be adjusted remotely via bespoke WiFi interfaces are a rarer breed though, indeed EcoTech’s Vectra line has been the ‘go to’ option particularly for those who have bought into that suite of equipment so far. Coming from a company who are already highly-regarded for their reliable and efficient Syncra range, the Sicce Syncra SDC is a new arrival in this niche, so let’s see how it fares in the real world.
The SDC range features pumps optimised for both skimmers and return roles with ‘PSK’ added before the SDC denoting those units fitted with needle-wheel impellers. The 7.0 we review here is a return pump fitted with standard impeller and is versatile in that it can either be run either internally or externally, or as a dedicated closed-loop pump. In a return pump role, applicable modes are constant flow (which can be adjusted in multiple steps) and ‘pause’ mode which temporarily deactivates the pump for 10 minutes before automatically restarting. All very useful for everyday use! In closed loop mode, any 1 of 5 pre-set random or constant ‘creative’ modes can be used to create naturalistic currents, these being: lagoonal ripple, sharp break, reef crest, slow current and fast current. Furthermore, ‘Eco’ mode is a 7-hour cycle that allows for energy saving operation (a night mode for example). You are unlikely to want to use the more creative modes if using the pump as a return of course (in the usual ‘sump under tank’ configuration) as fluctuating flow rates are likely to affect your overflow balance.
The SDC is certainly presented beautifully and comes well-packaged with a range of accessories. Connectors include a range of threaded and smooth fittings of varying sizes allowing use of rigid or flexible pipe connections. In the hand the pump feels compact at 6.3×3.7×4.5” solid and excellent quality with no flimsy or ill-fitting casing parts. A quick tool-free tear down reinforces first impressions boding well for regular maintenance. In terms of performance on paper the 7.0 outputs from 3000 – 7000lph and has a head pressure of 2-5m respectively. It is less powerful on paper than an M1 but also less energy hungry consuming just 65watts at max power against the M1s stated 80watts. The unit is fitted with a single phase 2 pole IPX8 rated motor with built in thermal overload protection, ceramic shaft, detachable rubber feet to absorb vibrations and a 3m PVC cable (this cable inserts into a sturdy T connector which is fixed on the end of the control device, and the power brick connects to the other side, all via 3 pin connectors with screw up collars). The kettle-style power cable which plugs into the transformer is 1.2m long and ours came with a UK plug fitted. So far all good, and Sicce’s reputation for high quality and efficiency is well represented here. It’s a complete package and all you’ll need to install and get running.
In operation the first thing notable about the SDC was it’s power indeed we had to dial ours back significantly to get a manageable flow through the Red Sea REEFER 625 sump despite it being rated of suitable output at the high end of it’s range. Unfortunately, we don’t have a flow meter on hand to verify the max flow rate but I’d suggest it could well be rated conservatively and pushing slightly over 7000lph. In terms of noise level, it isn’t completely silent but we would say it is one of the quieter pumps we’ve used, especially considering the high performance evident in terms of water flow and head pressure.
Perhaps the key selling point of this pump is it’s remote controllability so lets take a look. Unlike some similar products, you won’t need a separate device to allow for Wi-Fi control, as the controller has it built-in. The controller itself is also very attractive with the glossy piano black finish and sleek feature dial something you are likely to want on display. It’s easy to use too with the smooth surface yielding to subtle button presses. The magnet mount is also well thought-out and the base-plate can be either screwed or stuck on. There’s also a locking function so your settings can be secured. The pump can of course be controlled directly though this interface but for remote control, you’ll need to grab the “ContrAll” IOS/Android app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. After registering an account and entering a few basic details the app allows you to control your pump from anywhere you can get onto a data network and in our experience, works as it should. You can also programme the pump from this interface. The app possibly isn’t quite as polished as we’d expect in terms of language translation and we did have a couple of niggles with logging-in and autorotation of the app. To be fair though these aren’t major issues and hopefully future updates will see these issues ironed-out. The unit is also capable of sending alert emails by the way. A demonstration video on exactly how to do this can be viewed on YouTube.
Retailing at just under £340 the SDC 7.0 is complimented by a larger model, the 9.0 which goes for around £380 and has an output range of 4000 – 900lph at 95 watts max. There’s also a smaller 6.0 available at £249. Take a look at the table opposite for a full run down of the stats for each model.