Anyone tried Electric Radiant in floor heat in coop ???

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Cluckthorne, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Cluckthorne

    Cluckthorne Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 18, 2009
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hi All,

    I'm just finishing up my coop as winter is setting in here in Minnesota and am to the point where I need to decide which heat source to use. It will either be the 24" square flat panel eco heater that a few of you are using, or an in floor electric radiant heat system.

    My coop is 3' wide x 5.5' long x 4' tall (interior space), fully insulated, and built with standard 2x4 framing, and it's built inside the back of my garage.

    The eco heater would be easier to install, but if the radiant in floor heat would heat that space I could use sand in the coop instead of wood chips which seems like it would be much easier to maintain.

    Does anyone have any experience with a radiant floor system? Would it heat up a few inches of sand and in turn heat the coop? Also, can I hook one of these up to a baseboard heater 120v thermostat (I know they make special t-stats for these with timers and floor temp probes but i just need regular t-stat function)

    It gets really cold here (-20 easily) so I think the sand would be too cold unless it was actually heated, but I want the coop to stay warm enough to keep my girls warm and safe and the eggs from freezing.

  2. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    It gets plenty cold here too. I would think your money might be better spent running electric through conduit to the coop so you can plug in a heated water supply base. You could also put In an outlet for light and possibly one for one of those ceramic heaters. Since your coop is insulated you could probably leave it at that.

    If radiant in the floor heat can heat a house then it can do the same for the coop. Do it and let us know how it turns out.

    Edited to add: I would think a deep layer of shavings would be a better litter for the girls. After all, they can snuggle down in them if it gets too cold. It is hard to do that with sand.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  3. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    If you do radiant heat, you will need to insulate beneath the floor big-time to prevent losses that direction. It will depend on the reliability of your power supply there too. A back up could be a kerosene heater, but would have to be set on bricks or cinder blocks well away from litter for safety's sake. Vents can be shut up tight all night PROVIDED that coop is really dry and low humidity. Helps if it is tall enough for that, and built off the ground. But then, floor insulation beneath deck is mandatory.

    I know a couple in upper peninsula of Michigan that have a dirt floor coop and they keep it a foot deep in litter all winter. No heat that I am aware of. I suppose chooks can bed down in the litter if it gets too cold. They can freeze toes on roosts. Best cold winter roosts are wide ones that their toes cannot curl over. That way when they sit down, their feet are covered. Comb and wattle frostbite can happen in really cold weather too.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The thing about radiant floor heating (and your bedding materials) is that if much heat is escaping through the bedding, then you are effectively heating the whole coop, which gets to be a very expensive proposition and in most cases is truly not needed. If you use sand, it will lose its heat to the air fairly directly, thus you will have a cooler floor and be wasting electricity on heating the air. If OTOH you use shavings, they have more insulating value, so in principle birds could nestle down in the shavings to be close to the warm in-floor heating without excessive loss to the coop air. I say 'in principle' because although most chickens do seem to be smart enough to snuggle down into a deep layer of bedding (supposing it is available!) in cold weather, there are no guarantees on individual chicken behavior nor at what temperature they will do it.

    In a very small coop -- I would say yours is "fairly small", so this has SOME relevance to you -- there might be some value to something the chickens can snuggle up against, but I do not think that I have an intelligent opinion as to whether a (very small!) radiant floor heating loop is the way to go or whether there are better mechanisms, e.g. a warming pad or a panel-type heater. The latter two would be much simpler to install and adjust and rejigger as circumstances warrant, and probably cheaper too unless you have 'inside sources'.

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. Cluckthorne

    Cluckthorne Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 18, 2009
    Minneapolis, MN
    The coop is fully insulated on all sides including floor, doors and windows and sits 12" off the concrete slab. The idea with the radiant floor heat was that I thought it would heat up the sand sitting on top of it and in turn warm the air (plus dry out the poops!). The 2x4 roost is 24" off the floor and I figured they'd either sleep up there or in one of the nest boxes. I think it would work, I just feel like it's a little late in the season to experiment with now. I think I'll go with the 2'x2' eco panel heater on the wall this season until I can find someone with more information on the in floor heat. I'll post some pics of my coop as soon as I get the inside paint done this week so everyone can get a better feel for what I'm dealing with.

    Thanks everyone!
  6. Klorinth

    Klorinth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2008
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    This is why a couple of us were talking about a heated perch. I'll quote some of that discussion here:

    I was thinking somethng like 3 or 4 inches wide with heat tape inside once the concrete warms up it retains heat pretty good,we also have a concrete mix thats half the weight of regular concrete and are able to cut it with a hand saw.I have made a bench using electric mat for bathrooms and it works great,down side is electric mats are big $$$.

    Felix I love the way you think!!!! Exactly the kind of thing I would try. I'm glad I'm not the only person on here that is willing to do things like that.

    How short a heating tape can you get? And will the concrete pull enough of the heat from the cord to keep it from burning out or becoming a fire hazard? Now, I would be encasing every inch of it to ensure that no part of the cord could come in contact with the coop itself... Any other precautions you can think of?

    Rebar or wire mesh? Or just go with straight concrete? I would think that given a few feet of length some kind of reinforcing would be needed. I guess to conserve weight you could go with a peice of wood, but then fire is again a risk.

    the heat tape I've seen 4ft,6ft,u dont want to use wood in middle it sucks moisture from concrete and get cracks,use shelf bracket about foot long that gives u a way to mont also,u wanna use a water borne penitrating sealer so that u can disinfect not use solvent based sealer it will harm birds.

    I've been gassed by the solvent based stuff a couple of times. No risk of me using it in a coop. Brackets are a good idea. Good weight distribution.

    I'm curious as to how you would shape it. Formed like a countertop? I know how to do that. It's the round ones that I need to think about. Bigger than 6" is easy. It's the 3-4" that I'm not sure of...a worthy challenge is always fun.

    for the 3inch wide by 1 1/2 inches thick.use 2x4 laid flat to make form what ever length u want,line with burlap,pour concrete half full,put in heat cable u can attatch to stucco wire to keep in place,then fill to top.The burlap will give u texture and soft edges.For round use something like poster tubes.But if a person is going to heat it,keep it flat wider surface for chickens to absorb heat.

    I like this idea if you have electricity in the coop. Put one of these heated perches in your coop with an insulated hover over the perch and you will have a very comfy spot.​
  7. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    My first thought upon reading this idea is that the in-floor heating would be heating up a bunch of poo, and I'm not sure that is a good thing to do. It seems to me that it could raise the level of ammonia fumes (and perhaps volatile oils in shavings?) in your coop, and if your ventilation is not adequate, create a problem for your chickens. If you ventilate to take off the fumes, you are letting in more cold. To my mind, a ceramic heating bulb, up near the roosts, would be safer. (If extra heat is needed)
  8. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    First, Cluckthorn, [​IMG] from the Cities!

    I have a friend with that radiant heat in his kitchen -- it's quite the bomb. I'm not sure what your electricity bill would look like.... wondering.... but I'm intrigued. If you decide to go for it, please keep me in touch. I'm always looking for bigger/better ways to heat the coop.

    My opinion is that shavings are better inside the coop than sand. But to each his own.

    PM me anytime and we can compare notes!
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I don't think you *want* to be drying out poops, if you can avoid it. Dry them out and where does the moisture go? Into the coop air, maximizing your humidity and requiring you to have even MORE ventilation open. Ammonia fumes too. You are better off keeping poos frozen til you can remove them. Frozen, they emit relatively little of anything and are nearly harmless from an air quality standpoint.

    As a side note, I think it would be an exceptionally unwise idea to be running heat cables through concrete unless you can get the mfr to specifically tell you it should be harmless. Concrete may not burn readily but the exposed ends of the cable, where it is plugged in, can most certainly start a fire, as heat cables often do when used in ways not exactly in accordance with what they're designed for.


  10. chauqg

    chauqg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2009
    Heat is not necessary.... Draft free is most important! I have heater under 5 gal of water. 100 watt bulb keeps water 40-50 degrees. Coop is 10 x 10 open vents front and back, with 4x5 ft window partillly open all winter. It has been below 5 here in Pennsylvania. The birds dont seem to even notice... Someone said, "cold is only an inconvenience to chickens." They are right! Fight against drafts, wet bedding, ammonia.

    Heat is really not an issue. Dont humanize your flock... When left to their own devices they can survive winter without boots and tousle caps; since we undertake to provide shelter for our flocks, we should consider making that shelter more like their natural choices: Dry, leeward side of the mountain. Don't try to make their home as we would need ours with: heat, insulation, lighting etc.

    Keep bedding dry and keep coop well ventilated. I've gone out to check on the birds when temp was 5 below, some were sleeping on the roost 12" from the wall and facing the open window. You don't need heat if you have winter hardy birds and you keep them out of drafts and keep the bedding dry and not smelling like ammonia.

    Ventilate! Ventilate! Ventilate! Ventilate! Ventilate! Ventilate!
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010

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