dimmer switch vs. hot water heater thermostat

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by ChickenWendy, May 15, 2008.

  1. ChickenWendy

    ChickenWendy Songster

    Dec 3, 2007
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Well i want to know if anyone has actually used the dimmer switch to regulate the heat source and had good results?
    I have been using a hot water heater thermostat as per the instructions on the homemade bator that Miss Prissy put out for the bread box and i have had eggs incubate in there and not die - but i cant start them in there because the temperatures fluctuate (in the water wiggler) on about a 5 degree swing constantly - and they never actually start. Well maybe i dont give them long enough time but i would think after 4-5 days they would start I have in the heatsinks. It's in a room that doesn't have windows or drafts or really temperature swings. I start the eggs in my hovabator 1588 and then after the first week i let them incubate in the breadbox. the reason that i am doing that is i have a staggered hatch. i have 4 eggs now - 1 duck & 3 mutt chickens that need a place to hatch starting friday. I have 10 cayuga eggs, 2 white silkie eggs, and 4 more mutt chicken eggs that are not nearly ready to hatch so i cant keep them in my hovabator. I really want the homemade incubator to work.
    any ideas would be great.
    actually i just disconnected my hot water heater thermostat yesterday and bought a lamp dimmer at home depot and am trying to get it regulated today. and i am almost there but i want a constant over night - but i am in trouble if i dont have it ready by tomorrow. so my question is what do i do??
    i cant really hatch those 4 eggs out in the hovabator while i'm incubation 16 other eggs that need turning right??
    would i be better off to hook the thermostat back up and just let the 5 degree fluctation go through the hatch? would they hatch??
    suggestions from all the pros???
  2. redneck

    redneck Songster

    May 25, 2007
    Try using a lower wattage bulb. Maybe the temp would rise slower and give the water heater thermostat time to catch up.
    I'm no expert but sometimes you might have to play with it to get it right.
  3. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Songster

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    I built a home made one using a dimmer cord. I had pretty good hatches. I liked it because it held temps great once you found the right spot. Then I marked it with a pencil. I never could get the hot water thermostat to work in the second one I had built. It had to big a swing in temps. I still use the little bator with the dimmer switch every now & then as a back up when needed. I used a 25w ceiling fan bulb in mine since it was such a small bator. It was big enough to hold a dozen eggs max.
  4. jimnjay

    jimnjay Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Bryant Alabama
    My experience is exactly like Poison Ivy's. I have also used a 15 watt candelabra bulb. The lower wattage bulb takes longer to heat the incubator but it is not as apt to overheat and give you spikes. Keep your little homemade bator in a place that is not in direct sun during the day. I keep mine in a closet and the house temp. is pretty steady during the entire day and night.
  5. Velociraptor

    Velociraptor In the Brooder

    Apr 25, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2008
  6. PaulLovesJamie

    PaulLovesJamie Chirping

    Sep 5, 2007
    Kutztown PA
    I put 2 bulbs in my homemade incubator. The first bulb is always on., and the second bulb is on a water heater thermostat. I figured that 2 bulbs would give me less fluctuation in the temp - it worked pretty good for me.

    My intent was to get the "always on" bulb to hold a temp in the 90s, and the bulb on the thermostat would simply regulate the temp within a smaller range.

    I dont recall the wattages on the 2 bulbs, I think the always-on is 60 and the thermostat bulb is 40. I did experiment a bit with it before incubating to find the right wattages and thermostat setting.

    FYI, my home-made incubator was self designed. Made 100% from "dumpster scraps" (plywood, styrofoam, lamps, etc) except for some screws and the water heater thermostat which I bought. Then I found the designs on this forum, and added a computer fan, I think its better now. (Thank you!) It is too big though, about 2' x 2' x 2', I could probably fit a couple hundred eggs in it, LOL!

    First hatch is due in 4 days, hopefully I wont need to be posting questions here!
  7. gckiddhouse

    gckiddhouse Songster

    Dec 9, 2008
    Desert Hills, AZ
    Thanks for starting this thread. I will be watching it as I am looking for the same information. I built an incubator with the water heater thermostat because that is what all the homemade incubators have. But my experience is like yours, big temp swings.
    I was on one thread where a woman said she doesn't worry so much about the air temp, but uses a water weasel with a temp probe inside to monitor what the inside-the-egg temp would be (theoretically). So I have a probe in a water weasel and the inside temp is much more stable than the air temp. Not sure what her hatch rate is like.
    On another thread a guy said he got it down to small temp swings, but then once he put the eggs in the temps went wild (like your experience). Said he got like 2 out of 14 chicks.
    On another thread, a lady is using the dimmer switch and she has a much more stable temp. Her hatch is due on Feb 26, and it is her first, so not sure what her hatch rate will be, but it sounds more promising than the water heater thermostat.

    Wish I could offer more experience myself, but this will be my first attempt. Hope to hear more from those who have experience!!
  8. gckiddhouse

    gckiddhouse Songster

    Dec 9, 2008
    Desert Hills, AZ
    LOL!! Just realized how old this thread is!! So what happened???
  9. CARS

    CARS Songster

    Quote:O.P.: Last post:
    03/23/2009 9:38 pm

    Either they made it worked and they don't need our help or they are gone [​IMG]
  10. Serrin

    Serrin Songster

    Before anyone continues on this avenue of pursuit, I'd like to call one little detail to the forefront.

    Folks, a dimmer switch is NOT a thermostat. Some may have found success in using a dimmer, but I would be terribly leery of trying such in my home.

    The reason is this: A dimmer switch is on all of the time where as a thermostat is a "momentary" switch. If you're using anything larger than say a 15 to 25 watt bulb, you run the very real risk of burning your house down with a "dimmer" switch!! [​IMG]

    Especially if your bulbs are too close to the side walls or top of the incubator. For the same reason we've always been told to keep lamps clear of any contact with draperies/flammable materials, so a dimmer should not be used to regulate the temperature of an incubator! That's just my humble opinion, but something certainly to think about....preferably before one burns down ones abode! [​IMG]

    Hmmmm....maybe that is what became of the O.P.? [​IMG]

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