Birdbath Heater for Winter Watering - No Aluminum?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by HoopyFrood, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. HoopyFrood

    HoopyFrood Songster

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    I just came across what I thought sounded like a great idea for keeping a waterer from freezing in cold climates in unheated coops while using the kind of waterer I want to use: a hanging 5-gallon bucket with nipples in the bottom. The solution is placing a submersible birdbath heater in the bucket. They are more robust than aquarium heaters.

    I'd love to do this but in trying to find well-reputed bird bath heaters they seem to be either floating, plastic heaters (which is not ideal for a bottom-draining 5-gallon bucket) or made from aluminum. Aluminum is bad for chickens as it is for many animals. I wouldn't want to drink water warmed with an aluminum heater, so I'm not going to subject my chickens to that...

    Has anyone found a good submersible water heater that is not made from aluminum yet is still reasonably affordable? Thanks so much!
     

  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Free Ranging

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    To get a heater to work on a 5 gallon container and avoiding aluminum can be challenging. There are other options. Some you can make yourself as others have. You do need to convert to horizontal nipples.
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    [​IMG] Wishing you best.. [​IMG]
     
  3. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Free Ranging

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    The vertical bottom nipples tend to freeze up even with a heater inside the container. that is the reason why peeps opt for horizontal ones at least during winter.
     
  4. Janice123456

    Janice123456 In the Brooder

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    On amazon K and H ultimate 250 watt pail heater without floater.The past two years with my chickens in an unheated coop and I only have to change my water about my about every two weeks also keep a cover and it keeps the dirt from getting in.I live in Massachusetts and even on the coldest nights keeps water from freezing. Must use horizontal nipples on the side. They won't freeze. The bottom nipples leak and wet your chickens and coop. Wet chickens cause frozen crops and waddles. I've had none of this using side nipples.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  5. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

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    I am using this unit, except I found mine at the local feed store, which back in November was about 2X this price:

    https://www.amazon.com/Allied-Precision-300-200-Watt-Icer/dp/B0006HRQMC

    I placed it in a bucket with both horizontal nipples and a cup style waterer. The cups would freeze solid and stop working somewhere around 25F. The horizontal nipples were still working at -5F.

    The difference between a bird bath heater and an aquarium heater is the temps they are set to run. Bird bath heaters cut out at temps much above 40F. Aquarium heaters run much higher than that, so maintain as much as a 60 to 80 degree temp difference.
     
  6. HoopyFrood

    HoopyFrood Songster

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    My Coop
    Thank you everyone for the replies and advice! That is great stuff. I'll definitely use the horizontal nipples. I think the K&H is probably what I'll go for on my first try.

    Just for the record I got the idea from a short article Frank Hyman wrote for Hobby Farms/Chickens magazine:
    http://www.hobbyfarms.com/a-foolproof-way-to-keep-your-chicken-waterer-from-freezing/

    I e-mailed Frank if he had a suggestion for a non-aluminum heater and he quickly replied (what a nice guy!) that this is the one he is using:
    http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produ...d=PLA_G_6198&gclid=CI71-MT5kNICFcOCswodF7oMbQ

    50W is probably more what I need than 200+W, but given the price I think I'll give the K&H a try.

    Thank you all, good luck with your water this winter, too!
     
  7. chickiegirlsme

    chickiegirlsme In the Brooder

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    Hello, I switched to a two gallon plastic bucket with a gamma lid that has 4 horizontal nipples for watering my chickens. I've looked up the
    Allied Precision 300 200-Watt Bird Bath De-Icer
    with the idea of using it this winter. Has anyone had any experience with using this birdbath heater in a plastic bucket waterer? I guess I worry that the plastic in the bucket might be too thin to handle the heat from an immersion-type heater. Would I put a hole in my gamma lid and hang it in the water? Would I need to make sure the heater didn't touch the sides or bottom of the bucket? I'm upgrading from a cement block heater with a light bulb, and with this water heater, I wouldn't have to keep such a close eye on it to turn it on or off in the spring or fall since it has a built in thermostat. I also wouldn't have the unhappy surprise of a frozen water bucket when the bulb in the cement block had burnt out. Thanks.
     

  8. HoopyFrood

    HoopyFrood Songster

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    My Coop
    This thread has been quiet for a long time. I actually decided to go super-simple and just swap out buckets twice a day. It was a cheaper solution and greatly reduced the electric demand in the coop :)

    Since the submersible heater is just supposed to keep the water from freezing, I don't think it would get hot enough to do anything to the plastic, but that's just a guess! I could be wrong

    You certainly could rig up a system to hang the heater inside the bucket. An easier option might be to just set a thick plate or bowl on the bottom of the bucket and set the heater on that. Even less fancy: You could just use rocks! Wash some off then slowly bake them to sterilize them?

    We'll see if anyone else wants to chime in. Good luck!
     
  9. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

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    I used the API 300 heater all last winter in a 4 gallon food grade white plastic bucket. I drilled a hole in the lid just large enough to run the power cord plug through. That allowed me to retain the bucket lid to keep the birds out of the bucket. Worked well with the horizontal nipples.

    Submersed in the water, the water will keep the heater from getting hot enough to do anything to the plastic.

    If I lived in a really cold climate (-10F and colder winter temps for an extended period of time), I might consider placing the actual water bucket inside another bucket, then pour a layer of expanding foam insulation between the two. That would just be to slow down the rate of heat loss from the water bucket to cut down on the electricity used. Since the heater remains submersed in the water, it never touches in the insulation, so no fire hazard there. Also has two lids vs. one to help cut down on the heat loss. Nipples would still remain available to the birds.

    I think the reason the horizontal nipples don't freeze is because the valve part is inside the bucket in the unfrozen water.
     

  10. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Crowing

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    HoopyFrood likes this.

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