I really don't know which forum to post this question in, but I need to start somewhere so here goes. Last year during that really cold weather in early December my chickens showed obvious signs of discomfort due to the low overnight temperatures. On three successive nights the temperature here in Kent dropped down to minus 8 deg C! A tad too low for chicken comfort. So what I'd like to do this year is put some sort of low grade black heater in or under their coop so that if the temp falls below say zero, they can get a bit of heating. Does anyone know what sort of heater might be suitable? I have a neighbour who is a qualified electrical engineer; he has offered to install the heater and its supply so I just need to know what to buy. It's only a small coop, 1 metre square x 0.5 metres high. It houses 4 chickens. The coop is located in my garden in a secure wire netted enclosure which is 10 metres from my house. A friend suggested I use self limiting heater tape like that used to keep pipes from freezing, another reckoned I ought to buy a tubular greenhouse heater and fix it beneath the floor of the coop. I reckon a heater with an output of 30 to 40W should suffice but it needs to have a low operating temperature. Anyone got any suggestions please?
Both ideas likely will work OK. Also using simple bulbs. In the past I have used a couple of bulbs in series so two 60W will use approx 30W or 15W each. Also means easy to alter either up or lower wattage of bulbs. I have the ideal here it's a sample for underfloor heating about 1' square. Was a demo in local tile shop.
Thank you very much for your kind reply ericmark. I like the idea of using the light bulbs. Do you think they'd work OK in low temperature outdoor, dry covered environment? I just wondered if the bulb might break if the outside of the bulb glass was at say 0 deg when it came on. I also like the idea of your underfloor heating sample. What sort of heating output does that one foot square sample have? I just wonder where I might be able to pick one of them up from. Kind regards to you.
I've just done this for a chap, 40w tubular heater, and an inline frost stat which is just like your general house CH stat but temp range is between 5 degrees and minus 10 that way you never need to remember to turn it on, or check weather etc. total supply price 40 quid!
The underfloor heating sample came from tops tiles. There are many under-floor and pipe lagging systems. Raychem do a type where the hotter it gets the higher the resistance becomes so it stays reasonably static as to temperature. Other cheaper versions have sections and one can cut to lenght at the reduction in size which shows where each section starts and finishes. Others come in fixed lengths. But in all cases they need some sort of heat sink to store the heat. For example a tiled floor or steel pipe. It does not heat the air directly.
Using a tubular heater has this heat sink already fitted around the element but be it a tubular heater or simple light bulb they are too hot for direct contact.
The light bulb has a disadvantage of producing light which may affect the birds but has the advantage of giving off radiated and well as convected heat. Although in theroy you should not run quartz lights at low power in practice they may suit. The main thing is a GU10 lamp has a built in shield around the quartz envelope so the problem of broken glass is very low.
I have a couple powered by a Lidi remote unit which allows me to set the light level. Although one should not dim them it does no seem to blow and is often left on for the cat at a low light and she curls up underneath it to sleep.
However the main thing is the cat can move if it gets too hot. But saying that I have needed to move her away from fire when her fur starts to smoulder. She is really daft.
I have used bulbs in the car on timer. Switched on at 5am so windscreen was clear of frost when I was due to leave for work. Saved sitting there waiting for car to warm up before I could drive off.
But you have to consider how the light will affect the birds?