DIY waterer out of black barrel

preciouschick

Chirping
Aug 26, 2020
73
166
63
PA
I have clean 55 gallon black barrels. I want to make a waterer out of it for my run.. I figure the black would keep water warm if it's in a sunny area. Anyone ever do this? I am leery about a heater with a cord. My chickens test everything. They untie my shoes also. So I dont want them pecking at a cord.
I need ideas for the barrel and other ideas that people use. I live in Southern PA. Its gets cold enough to snow but no subzero temperatures.
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
492
895
166
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Better than nothing. Still, close to nothing.

The volume of water itself will do more (not enough) to deter freezing than the black barrel. In winter, the sun is too low in the sky, the hours of daylight too few, and the likelihood of an overcast day too high for that to be your sole solution - there just isn't enough surface area exposed to sunshine - and the sunshine itself at reduced intensity - to do more than delay the date at which it freezes.

The frost line in PA is 36 inches. Maybe if you buried a 55 gallon drum below that depth, and connected another above it, you could use the ground as thermal mass to prevent freezing - but you would still have to mechanically exchange "warm" water from the below ground reservoir with water approaching freezing in the below ground cistern. I wouldn't count on one way valves and thermodynamics to do it for you, the temp differential will be too small.
 

preciouschick

Chirping
Aug 26, 2020
73
166
63
PA
An interesting idea, but I doubt that it would stop your water from freezing in the winter.
I saw an episode of homestead rescue. Their DIY fix for keeping a greenhouse warm at night was a black 55 gal plastic drum inside the house, filled with water. The sun heats the drum (in the winter) and the heat is slowly released at night to keep the greenhouse warm. So I figured it might work for a waterer. I will try it and post my findings later.
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
May 3, 2009
107,871
263,395
1,907
New Jersey
In a greenhouse it seems feasible. Here in west central NJ our temperatures are not much different than yours, and I can't see it working outside.
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
492
895
166
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
^^^ that works because of the green house - they are using the water as thermal mass - but the green house itself prevents large scale heat transfer from air flow over the barrel, so its free to absorb radiant heat. and if I recall the right episode, the greenhouse was buried, too, with only one face exposed (south, of course).
 

neo71665

Songster
Mar 22, 2020
937
1,874
186
Arkansas
I've tried a black 5 gallon bucket before, it might have helped a bit but still froze in an arkansas mild winter.

Run the electrical cord in a piece of PVC at enough angle to keep the birds from roosting on it.
 

Galeann

Songster
Jul 2, 2018
146
345
149
Campbellsburg, Kentucky
I have clean 55 gallon black barrels. I want to make a waterer out of it for my run.. I figure the black would keep water warm if it's in a sunny area. Anyone ever do this? I am leery about a heater with a cord. My chickens test everything. They untie my shoes also. So I dont want them pecking at a cord.
I need ideas for the barrel and other ideas that people use. I live in Southern PA. Its gets cold enough to snow but no subzero temperatures.
I very much would enjoy watching a video of your chickens untying your shoes.
 

One Lucky Momma

Chicken Kisser
Premium Feather Member
Apr 25, 2020
437
1,311
196
Madison Co, NC
We catch rainwater into black barrels to supply the barn, some 55gal and one 500. All are oriented for best solar exposure and the 500 is half buried into a slope.

Like in many places, it doesn’t get as cold here as it used to, but we occasionally will have runs of several days below freezing. We have never had an issue with the barrels or their faucets freezing, but the trouble came when we attempted to run supply lines from a barrel into the run. Worked fine as long as the water keeps moving, but that’s not feasible.

We may try again with insulated lines, but for our small flock, and with my frequent visits during the day, it’s not a big deal to take water.

Back to your original idea, the barrels work great for us and you’d be so smart to collect rainwater. It’s worth the trouble to have during the months when freezing isn’t a problem, you might just have to make some other arrangements for winter.
 

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