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Flexwatt for a Rack - Wiring Newb.

Discussion in 'Electricity/Wiring' started by Dragoness, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I have flexwatt for my rack, and though I understand how to attach the wiring, and how to install it in my other cages, I am a bit confuzzled as to how to install each mat on the shelves of the rack.

    The directions it came with say to route the wood for the rack, to make a tray the heat mat sits in, and then cover it with a piece of glass, stone, tile, etc.

    I constructed my rack out of melamine, so to route it, I would have to take it all apart, and try to route each shelf with my dremel (TON of work) I was under the impression I could just tape it down with foil tape...

    Obviously, I don't want to create a fire hazard. How best to ventilate it so the heat doesn't get trapped and start causing problems? Since this rack is in a pre-heated herp room, I only need minimal heat to create heat gradients in each bin on the rack....

    The mats will be attached to a dimmer so I can adjust the wattage (and thus heat) output.
     
  2. jeepguy

    jeepguy Elite Member

    Don't sweat it they are just covering themselves. Put your probe directly on the mat and you will not have a problem. I also rum mine with a surge protector.
     
  3. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I think I even have a few spare surge protectors.

    Umm, do they make thermostats I can wire directly into the system? or only the plug in variety?

    Kinda makes me wonder, if I have a thermostat, what is the point of the dimmer switch to adjust temps?

    Like I said - wiring newb, and confuzzled. Thanks for the help so far.
     
  4. jeepguy

    jeepguy Elite Member

    You don't need the dimmer switch if it is on a thermostat. And yes you can hard wire your mats to a stat.
     
  5. MoogleBass

    MoogleBass Kittes are so nice! Premium Member

    Just foil tape the edges down and rub it smooth with an old credit card or library card. Also putting glass on top of it is a bad idea....i did that and the glass when boom and pop and split. Yay for annealed glass..
     
  6. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    This should be fun. I won't have time to tackle this project until Thursday, or Sunday. Hopefully, I can figure out what I'm doing by then.

    I have everything I need, barring the thermostat.
    Heat tape
    Foil Tape
    Electrical Tape
    Silicone
    Clips
    Insulators
    Cord
    Dimmer Switch


    Do you recommend a specific brand/model of thermostat for this type of application?
     
  7. jeepguy

    jeepguy Elite Member

    For hard wiring Ranco is very good and i use some of them. I also use the proportional Herpstats. i really depends on what you are looking for it to do. Simple on/off hit up a shop and get a zoomed.
     
  8. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Pretty much the basics. Since the room is already heated, there will probably be little need for a stat, but better safe than sorry.

    I didn't know you could wire the zoomeds. (Repti-Temps)
     
  9. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Does a thermostat hardwire the same way a dimmer does?

    I'm totally clueless when is comes to electrical stuff. The limit of my knowledge is not to stick screwdrivers in electrical outlets, so this is rocket science for me.

    I have one of the mats (a single) wired up, and plugged in. waiting to see if it will get warm (works!) or if I should just hire someone else to do this for me (Doesn't work!).
     
  10. jeepguy

    jeepguy Elite Member

    SO what happened? You can't hard wire a Zoo Med easily, but it is an inexpensive stat that may suit your needs. Buy the bug plugs and just plug the mat in.
     
  11. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

  12. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I may just wire the mats and plug them in.

    The single mat I made seems to work fine, got warm, but not too warm (more of a just right.). Going to run it again today and check it with my temp gun after a few hours. It was getting late last night, so I couldn't let it run too long.

    Thanks for the extra links, Rich. I read the other parts about wiring - they sent the same basic tutorial in the box with the heat tape and clips I ordered. Have not seen the other two yet though.
     
  13. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    The Helix and Spyder stats look nice, but I think I'm getting in over my head with those. I'll save those for later, when I have an electrician handy, and stick with the zoo-med I can plug in for now.
     
  14. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Also - what is the difference between a thermostat and a rheostat? In my search for a decent method of temperature control of my FlexWatt, I have come across both, and not sure what the difference between the two is, or which would be more applicable to my project.

    I am making the tape for a rack that has 6 bins. Each Bin will have a 12x12 strip of flexwatt on it.

    How do I calculate the wattage to make sure it is compatible with whichever control device I use?
     
  15. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    A rheostat is essentially just a dimmer switch. You need to manually change it in most cases until you get the desired temperatures.
    A thermostat allows you to set the desired temperature and the unit then controls the element. If the temperature drops the thermostat will send power to the unti until it reaches the desired temperature and it will then turn itself off.

    The Helix and Spyder are thermostats. You plug your device(s) in and you set the desired temperature. They handle everything from there.
     
  16. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    The zoo-med thermostats/rheostats don't seem like they allow you to enter a specific temperature range. You just use a dial, and turn it accordingly, apparently, it takes some guesswork, and trial and error before you get the right temps.

    The Helix thermostat looks the most promising for me (or at least, the easiest for me to understand).
     
  17. MoogleBass

    MoogleBass Kittes are so nice! Premium Member

    Helix works great. Spyders do too. I have an old Helix that I got from CL(thanks Liz). Its the old blue box made in a basement one, but it works great. Id rather spend the money on those 2 than a ranco. Ranco is off and on, Helix and spyder keep power on the element and keep it at the right temp.
     
  18. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    so is a proportional thermostat the same as a rheostat then?
     
  19. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Not at all. A thermostat allows you to set a temperature, a rheostat is just like a dimmer switch. The Helix and Spyders let you set the temp and walk away. They are both proportional thermostats.
     
  20. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    The inexpensive ZooMed Repti-Thermostat thingy does not allow you to enter a specific temperature - merely turn a dial, and find out by guesswork, and trial an error, which setting you need. The dimmer switch does about the same does it not? Only without the shutoff. Because my rack is in a room with consistent temps and is slightly warmer than the rest of the house, I'm hoping the dimmer will be all I need. I have several weeks to test this and get it figured out (and by a Helix if the dimmer doesn't cut it.) I'm not planning on any new acquisitions this year. (Mid-January at the very earliest, but I'm reluctant to get new critters just before a long-distance move.)

    I have my "test drive" mat running, with the dimmer - Temp gun only gets a surface reading of 103ºF on the highest setting (It's being tested on the kitchen table, not in the heated herp room). Turning it down a little gets me an average of 95-97ºF. I can easily mark it on the dial, once I have it running in the herp room.
     

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