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Question On Rewiring My Display Cases.

Discussion in 'Heating' started by Guitarkid905, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. Guitarkid905

    Guitarkid905 Member

    Hi I recently bought a home made 4 cage system from a guy to house my original snake and it came with 3 more snakes so now the setup is full. Each cage is a separate piece and they just sit on each other. He had led lighting hooked up to a dimmer switch on the side. It looked like he daisy chained them with wiring you would use for aux lights on an off-road car. So when they are stacked they connect to the cage below them and the bottom cage runs to the outlet. For the heating they are set up the exact same way were there is heat tape and each is hooked to the cage below it and the bottom is hooked into a zoo med thermostat. The heat tape is inside the cage and has tile siting over it to protect the snake from burns. I noticed with the lights that the bottom cage closest to the source of power is brightest and each cage above gets slightly dimmer. I figured its the way the electricity is dispersed so the top cage gets the least power draw. Since the heat is wired the same way I was nervous the same problem is occuring because the top cages feel warm to the touch but not as warm as I think it should be. The first thing I'm going to do is buy a temp gun to check. The second to top cage has a temp reader in it and it reads about 78.8 at night and 82 during the day which is the temp range I want but I don't trust the current set up to hold the proper temp in winter. I plan on getting a thermostat to replace the cheap one and first thought helix but now decided on either a herpstat 1 or 2. I'll be expanding alot in the future with breeding plans down the road so I'm leaning toward the 2. After I get a temp gun and the better thermostat were should I proceed from there? I thought about testing the pad connections to make sure there getting power or just putting new heat tape in. I think it might also be better to rewire them so they run to a fuse box maybe then to the outlet so they draw equal power? Any ideas or better wiring schemes? I can also post pictures or link a video if that would help! Thanks
     
  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I'm trying to follow what you're saying but having trouble.
    If it were me I would rip it all off and redo it. I'm sure you could reuse most of it anyway.
    It's the connections that would worry me the most and redoing it would be the best way to have peace of mind it's alright.
    Most people underestimate the danger that incorrect wiring can cause. Not saying that's you just saying.
    Plus it sounds like to me that it's not working properly anyway with the different temperatures.

    Also I would run a new line and dedicated quad receptacle from the breaker box solely for your setup.
    You're likely going to overload the breaker if it's running other receptacles in the house from the outlet you plan to use.
     
  3. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Actually, heat tape and some LED lights won't be drawing much current at all, but I would recommend doing several things. First, go through every connection there is on this setup very carefully. If there is any doubt at all, re-do it. Next, get a temp reading on all the hotspots to make sure there's not to much difference between the cages. A degree or two is fine. It also shouldn't be too hard to rewire all the lights to run parallel from the power source, there may be extra internal resistance from the connections inside the lights.
     
  4. Guitarkid905

    Guitarkid905 Member

    Thanks for the replies. I'll start with what you said. I'm gunna rip out the wiring just in case for peace of mind. Do you know if I can run the heat tape parallel as well so they hook up to one outlet on the herpstat? Online it says the tape uses about 12 watts per ft so I'd only draw 48 watts for the entire setup with the max for the herpstat being 500 watt I think. That should leave me with a lot of room to expand if I'm understanding it right
     
  5. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Ah, good point about the power consumption. I was thinking about all the heat lamps I use and basing it on that.
     
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I've never setup a multi-level setup with flexwatt.
    But wouldn't you need to control each level separately? As you only have one temp probe and the higher you go the warmer the enclosures will be from the heated ones below.
     
  7. Guitarkid905

    Guitarkid905 Member

    Yeah this is what I'm confused about, I would like to set all the cages to the same temp, about 83 during the day and 78-79 at night but I wasn't sure with just the one probe if they would vary a lot. This is my first time ever working with a true thermostat
     
  8. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    Not neccicarily, as flexwatt really doesnt project heat very far and has a very low wattage density.

    Anytime you are working with flexwatt your going to see some temp variations, its just not a perfectly consistent heating element. Personally I would take the flexwatt out and redo it. You really shouldn't have the flexwatt in the cage itself. I really dont think that is a good idea. Its a fire and a shock hazard for your animals.

    Ive seen some cool DIY flexwatt projects where each level is wired into a control box and the stat runs off that box, but I really dont have the experience to comment on how to do that, I just know that it can be done.

    You may or may not actually get any heat loss from the daisy chain set up. Youll just have to test it and see.
     
  9. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    Also since you asked about maintaining temps during winter flexwatt isnt great for that. Typically flexwatt can provide a good hotspot, but your ambient air temperature in the cage will be about the same as the room its in. So if the room gets cold during winter you may need to look at an additional heat source for the cages. My reptile collection has its own room so I can just use a space heater and heat the room.

    Im still learning a lot about flexwatt myself, just started using it recently.
     
  10. Guitarkid905

    Guitarkid905 Member

    So it's not safe to put the flexwatt in the cage sandwiched between the melamine and a tile? Sealed so no water leaked in?I would think having it on the outside under the wood would not suffice for heating the basking spot.
     
  11. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    That is a good question as the residential uses of flexwatt does have it installed as such.
    In floor heating of bathrooms is quite common up here.
    Check out the website and see what you can find.
     
  12. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Installed that way shouldn't be an issue, as Mike said this stuff is used for heating floors, that's what flexwatt was originally designed for. Like so many things used in reptile husbandry, we have simply repurposed it for our needs. You do need to make sure the connections are water tight in a setup like this. I would start by coating each connection in liquid electrical tape, then maybe aquarium grade silicone sealant. There will be some variance in temps, but as it's not more than a couple degrees it should be fine.
     
  13. Guitarkid905

    Guitarkid905 Member

    Thanks I'll do that then. I'll also tty to post a write up with pictures for others thinking of doing it this way
     
  14. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    I could have sworn I read about that being problematic, but I went back and couldnt find anything to that effect. Probably one of those things I heard once or twice and took it as the truth but never bothered to verify for myself.
     

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