I use the premier 1 heat plates while they are inside. My understanding is they will keep your chicks 20 degrees above the ambient temperature. I could be wrong, but that's my understanding. I agree about the "piling up" to keep warm. What I did with the 30 chicks that are in an outside brooder that I didn't take a picture of, was:
Not try to heat a really large space and kept the space draft free as possible
I put a 250 watt heat lamp in the brooder AND a premier 1 heat plate. They had a choice.
Have a few unheated areas available
Have a heated water container
Using the see through plastic, I could keep an eye on how they were dispersed in the brooder. They only piled up when they saw me and got scared. Last winter, I brooded in the house for about 3 months during multiple hatches. The dust is incredible! The 30 outside have now graduated to having a full run which is plastic wrapped. They are doing fine and I let them out to free range in the daytime. They are 5 weeks old now. I didn't lose any in the transition.
SFH, Isabelle leghorns and lovely Silverudd Blue (formerly called Blue Isbar)
-Silver Ameraucana, Queen Silvia and East Frisian Gull. Eggs fall 2016.
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VA Poultry Approval #213