Automatic timer/dimmer???

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Hodawg, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Hodawg

    Hodawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Howdy gang,

    Even though our 8 week old PBR's are not anywhere near egg-laying age yet, and will be well into that age by time the longer summer days kick in, I'm thinking forward to late next fall when the days get considerably shorter. I know that in order to keep their egg production up to par, I'll have to provide extra lighting in the coop to simulate the 14-15 hour recommendations. So here's my question.....

    Is it a good idea, if providing artificial light, to just suddenly turn it off? Or would it be better to slowly decease the wattage, dimming the light little by little? It seems to me, from a newbie's standpoint, that a gradually decreasing amount of light would more mimic actual sundown.

    If dimming slowly is the best idea (not saying that it is, just wondering) does anyone know of an automatic or programmable dimmer that could be plugged into the coop's extension cord so that I wouldn't have to sit outside and gradually turn down the dimmer manually? Thanks folks, I'm sure that somebody here has encountered this issue before I thought of it.

    Beers y'all,
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I allow natural dusk and sunset to mimic itself. I only provide supplemental lighting in the pre-dawn hours. This solves the problem.
    I am up by 5:30 and in the barn at 6 am during chores anyhow, and I need the light to be able to see. So, they get a few additional hours of supplemental light, but nowhere near 15 hours worth. Our laying is running 80-85% of the flock.

    The thing is that first year pullets lay very well their first winter. The age of your flock is a bit out of sync from spring chicks. It may well be that because of their age, hatched in mid-late November, I assume, that they may very well decide to moult next November or December and the lighting wouldn't be of a huge benefit. If they do choose to moult next year, I'd allow them the 6 weeks or so of rest and renewal.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
  3. Pico de Gallo

    Pico de Gallo Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 18, 2012
    ABQ, NM
    Something like this?

    I've tried used this setup for chameleons and it worked OK about half the time, but ultimately the loud buzzing and flickering led me to believe fluorescent + dimmer = 'no good'. My expensive full spectrum bulbs died after 3-4 months, and I stopped using it.

    I've also searched for cheap, easy ways for a non-electrical engineer such as myself to build a 12v DC to LED version to go w my solar setup. No luck. Ultimately, it prolly makes no difference: I figure waking up is essentially an on/off function, so if the abrupt illumination triggers the desired response, why fret over recreating nature?
  4. ralleia

    ralleia Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2011
    Omaha, NE
    The way suggesting in the Encyclopedia of Country Living, which I think is the simplest and best way, is to time your additional light to come on EARLY in the a.m.

    For us, we have the timer kick the incandescent light (we generally use a 60 to 75 watter) on at 4 a.m., and turn off at 10 a.m.

    That way, the chickens will be getting at least 14 to 15 hours of light, and the sun going down will naturally tell them when to get ready to roost.

    Simplest is generally best and is certainly the most resistant to things going wrong! The incandescent also provides a little additional warmth at the coldest time of night.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  5. The Lazy L

    The Lazy L Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2011
    Quote: We are thinking alike.

    Here is what I'm planning on doing (dimming part is towards the end of the video):
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  6. Pico de Gallo

    Pico de Gallo Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 18, 2012
    ABQ, NM

    Not to mention fluorescent performance drops off significantly in cold temps. Personally I'm really happy using LEDs (extremely low draw, practically immortal, cheap) but then my climate's such that supplemental heat is unnecessary.

    What if you got 2-3 LED candles w timers ($10ea?) and set them to turn on at 10 min intervals: 4am, 4:10, then 4:20am?
  7. Hodawg

    Hodawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow! These are all great replies, folks! Sometimes I feel like I must have left my brain in the truck overnight. Why didn't I think of adding the additional daylight in the morning and letting the natural nightfall occur at its own pace? I was thinking of adding the additional lighting at the end of the day, and decreasing it gradually. It makes way more sense to add the additional winter time lighting in the morning (I'll be up at that time anyway), and letting the natural sunset run its course. Thanks for the tips, y'all.

    Lazy L,
    I like your ideas with the X10 modules but I haven't had a chance to watch the whole video yet. That's my plan for tonight.

    Beers y'all,
  8. miss_ellie

    miss_ellie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2011
    Manitowoc, WI
    I have one question about the supplemental light. I have 4 chickens and my coop was purchased from a farm supply store - roost area on top with two runs attached. Will the chickens want to get out of the roost area as soon as the light goes on? I live in Wisconsin and in the winter it is dark by 5. So the light would need to come on at three to give them 14 hours of daylight.
  9. fatcatx

    fatcatx Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am resurrecting this thread on the off chance some wise/kind company has made a dimmer timer. I've been hunting and can't find one. There really is a need for us backyard city keepers. I can't have my chickens squawking and laying eggs at 4:00 in the morning. The neighbors would lose their minds.

    Abruptly turning out the lights in the PM leaves some chickens off the roost and they inevitably try to crawl in a nest box or roost along some edge that causes foot problems.

    Has anyone found a dimmer timer yet?
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    @RonP had something rigged up.

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