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Unsure of What Direction to Go with Heating My Tanks.

Discussion in 'Heating' started by Blkcurrantwine, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. Blkcurrantwine

    Blkcurrantwine New Member

    Hey everyone, first post. I am trying to upgrade my tanks/heating system but now that I am researching into all the different ways to heat I am getting a little lost.

    I have two ball pythons (currently) they are just hobby pets I don't have any intention of breeding or growing my collection past two or three more snakes.
    I am currently using regular glass terrariums

    Pretty much the only thing I have been able to figure out for certain is that I need to invest in a thermostat. can I buy one to regulate a few tanks? or do I need one for each tank? (assuming the snakes all need the same temps)

    so I am not sure if I should use a few strips of heat tape
    or just a couple under the tank heaters?

    and then I saw the ceramic heat emitters and thought they would be a little more effective than heat lamps..

    idk I am just a little lost because of all the options and combinations.. mostly I want to buy something now that is easy to grow later does that make sense?
    I don't just want to buy another "zoo med" under the tank pad you know what I mean?

    what would help me is mostly just you guys telling me what you have for your set ups.. maybe some pictures? I am a visual person and am having a hard time "seeing" how it all fits together.

    Thank you so much in advance for your help.
     
  2. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    Ill take a stab at giving you some pros and cons of the items you mentioned, as well as some general information.

    An important principle in setting a snake up with any heating is whats the minimum wattage I need to get the heat I need? Thermostats fail, uths and flexwatt can and will short out, ect. In the event of a failure less wattage means you are less likely to burn, overheat, and even kill an animal. Failures like that DO happen.

    Thermostats:

    First of all, PLEASE use a thermostat. It is probably the most important piece of equipment you will ever buy for your animals. I recommend thermostats for any of the heating products we are discussing.

    These vary quite a bit in price and function, from simple and affordable (25ish dollars) to very complicated, fancy, and several hundred dollars. The best budget friendly thermostat on the market is the Hydrofarm brand thermostat. Its actually designed for heated seedling mats, but works just fine for reptiles. You can find them on amazon for about 25 bucks. Its a simple on off unit. Set your desired temperature and it turns the heater on and off to keep it plus or minus 2 degrees from you setpoint, for example 88-92 degrees if its set at 90. The biggest issue with any cheap thermostat is that they have no safety features. The relay on ANY thermostat will fail eventually, and cheap thermostats usually fail in the ON position, running your heater wide open until you realize the problem. This can cause burns, overheating, and potentially death if your heater can go that high (again, minimum neccicary wattage is important).

    The best reptile specific thermostat on the market is hands down the herpstat line by spyder robotics. These will run from 100-350 dollars depending on the unit. I personally use several herpstat 1s and love them. These function differently, they track the temperature to .1 degree and adjust the output of the heater to keep it at the setpoont, and they are VERY accurate. Being a better quality product a failure is less likely, but if they do fail its in the OFF position, which is much safer. They also have a variety of other safety features, including audible alarms that can alert you of an issue, and many of these features can be adjusted by the user. To put it simply, they are AWESOME. The higher models also have multiple outputs, so you can run 2 or more heat souces independently from the same unit, but they get pricey.

    Yes, you can run multiple tanks off of one stat. With a herpstat 2 or higher model you have multiple outputs, so everything is monitored and controlled independently. If you can afford it is definitely the way to go. You can, but it is a potentially risky situation, run multiple heat sources off one stat output. You plug the multiple cords into a power strip or splitter and plug the strip into the stat. You should only try this if the heaters are identical. Same type of heater, same wattage, same size, and same size tank. It is still a very risky thing to do, as an individual failure will now affect both your animals. I would NEVER do this with a cheap stat like a hydrofarm. Cheap stats are cheap, so just buy two Frankly I probably wouldnt do it with a single output herpstat either, but some people do without issue.

    Lets talk about heating equipment.

    Ceramic heat emmitters are very nice, especially for tank set ups. They work much like a heat bulb, but produce no visible light. They also last forever (I have several going on 2 years of continuous use) and produce more heat for the wattage then any lightbulb. They are a vastly superior option from any lightbulb for a snake. They not only provide your basking spot, but will usually increase the cool side temperature of the tank as well. This is nice for ball pythons, as they really dont do as well if their cool side drops below the upper 70s. The biggest issue is that they will suck out a lot of moisture from the cage. A tank with a screen lid is a bear to keep humidity up in the first place, a CHE will make it even worse. Ball pythons really need humidity in the 50-70% range to thrive, and CHEs will make that harder to get to.

    Under tank heaters are probably my least favorite product we will talk about. They are made to get really, really hot. Way hotter then your snake needs. Hot enough to seriously burn an animal. Ive taken an infrared temp gun to a brand new UTH before and saw temperatures in excess of 160 within minutes of being turned on. This does not jive with our principle of minimum neccicary wattage. If you use one you are banking on the thermostat to keep the temp in check. That is a risky proposition. They also will only provide a basking site. They will not raise the ambient air temperature in the cage much. If you keep your house cool any time during the year this is problematic. The big (well, only) advantage is that they will not suck out humidity like a CHE will, which means less work for you on humidity.

    Flexwatt works much like a UTH, however it operates at significantly lower wattage densities so it can't get nearly as hot when run wide open. This is a good thing! Aside from that the pros and cons are the same as the UTH. basking spot only, but less humdity destroying. Flexwatt is usually sold unassembled, you have to wire it yourself but its not hard. Also if you order from reptilebasics.com they will wire it for you free of charge, just tell them what you need (btw that website is awesome for any and all things snake related and they are great on the phone to answer any questions you may have. I dont have a clue how much money Ive spent with them but its a lot LOL). Id go the flexwatt route over a UTH any day.

    I hope that was helpful, let me know if you have any more questions
     
  3. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    Also on a somewhat related note: If you are buying snake supplies from a petsore you are paying too much and usually getting inferior products and bad information. Between amazon, reptile basics, and some manufacturers website you can get the best products on the market for much less then pet store retail. You can even buy frozen rodents in bulk online, or even better you might be able to find a local rodent breeder who will happily sell to you much cheaper then petstore prices.
     
  4. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    And just so you have more than one person telling you, I pretty much second everything CryHavoc17 said. And the Herpstats with multiple outputs really aren't that expensive compared to having the same number of single output units. Think of a thermostat as an investment item. They cost a lot up front, just like the CHE's, but you'll have them practically forever.
     

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