Actually the Brinsea Eco Glow and the heating pad both use far less than a heat lamp. <shudder> I just prefer the heating pad because it's softer, more like Mama Hen, and that's what I'm trying to replicate. I can put a towel on top of it, drape part of the towel down over the front so they have to hunker down a little bit to get under it, just like Mama Hen,and I've raised chicks outdoors in temps in the teens and twenties. It's dark under there, and that equals security to them. The cave shape holds the heat in, so they do great even after a power outage, like my week olds did last year.
But there are people who prefer either the Brinsea or @aart's Pseudo Heat Plate (and I'm ashamed of myself but I mess up the name of that every single time!) and that's just great!! To me what the alternative heat source is is far less important than getting those dangerous lamps out of our homes, coops, garages and sheds! They don't have to fall into the bedding to cause a problem - down, dust and dander can gather on them and cause a fire! Older, almost feathered out chicks have been known to fly into them and their feathers go up like POOF! Water splashes on the bulb and they can explode - and they can do that anyway even with NO water splashed on them. They can offgas Teflon if they are coated bulbs. They don't just warm the chicks - they heat everything around them - the walls, the floors, the brooders, the feeders, the waterers (and the water), the air, curtains.....if it's in the area, it's getting warm! But feed stores don't sell heating pads or Brinsea's or any other alternative - they sell chicks and heat lamps, with little cardboard brooder kits. GRRRRRR
I'm glad that your chicks were okay, but I'm sure sorry you had such a difficult mess to clean up! We read too many of these stories every spring, and then again in winter when folks heat their coops with them!
Edited by Blooie - 4/4/16 at 8:31pm
Edited to add: If you are in Florida with highs in the 80s during the day, it probably isn't getting that cold at night. 60s? Maybe 50s? They should be fine with those temps as long as they are out of the wind and dry but if it makes you feel better you could put an incandescent light in there for a day or two. They'll huddle - they not only don't have their "night light" but they don't like any changes in their environment so they huddle both for security and to get a little warmer. My chicks are totally off heat and integrated with the adults in the flock by 4 weeks, and they have their couple of days of hanging tight too! If you toss something strange in a coop with the adults, what do they do? They run to one side, stand together in a band, and stare at it. Chicks are no different!