Originally Posted by kristalb
Really interesting. I'm new to this site, so not great with it yet. But per above comment would love a little more detail about how you made it work!
@kristalb, I had horrible luck last winter with water in my coop. I did manage to make it work, but I'm sure I spent more on electricity than I should of and it didn't prevent frostbite from getting a few combs and at least 1 toe. So, I totally remade my solution over the summer. I have already had a few nights where water has frozen outside, but the water in my runs has not. Its going to get a lot colder and it remains to be seen if my new solution will work completely. Anyway, here is what I have done.
My runs/coop are attached to the side of my house (42' x 10', split into 2 runs, plus an 8' x 10' nesting room). The runs are on the south side of my house, and I am surrounded by very tall trees in a forest. So, I don't get direct winds into the runs. The south wall of the runs are wire mesh, and both ends are plywood.
In the wall that separates my runs, I used 2 pieces of eaves trough. They are attached to the house wall at one end, and a box has been built under them to support them. The box goes to the ground and is open below (meaning no floor). I've used no insulation around the troughs, although they do have a hood over them to stop stuff from getting into the troughs.
So, inside the house in my basement (I have a raised bungalow) is the water line to the troughs. There is a bucket, and a toilet float valve (the kind without the arm and ball). Water flows into the bucket, and the valve's height was determined by figuring out when the troughs were full. In this way, the valve mechanism is in my unheated basement (which never gets any colder than 55F). I put a piece of 3" dia. ABS through the wall into the box under the troughs. The water line goes through this and into the troughs (from below). So, as the water level drops in the troughs so does the level in the indoor bucket, so the valve opens and more water is allowed into the troughs.
So here's the heating...I put a bathroom fan in a box attached to the piece of 3" ABS tubing. Its plug is put through the pipe into the run, and then plugged into an outdoor Thermocube which turns on at 35F and off at 45F. So when it gets cold, basement air is blown into the box under the troughs, thereby heating them. Each trough is ~5' long, so I am blowing into an area of ~3 cubic ft. Not a lot.
I'm pretty confident this will work, but of course its only useful if you have your coop/run attached to your house. Heat loss via a 3" pipe laid to a remote building would probably prevent it from working that way, and any other solution would require some other heat source. Mind you, you could probably build a safe box for an IR lamp that is activated by Thermocube to replicate the basement warm air, but you'd need to do something to prevent the water from freezing in the pipe from your water source.
Anyway, hope that helps.
Edited by NTBugtraq - 10/28/15 at 6:34pm