Ground the bucket deicer or crispy chicken for dinner?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by matimeo, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. matimeo

    matimeo Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    I bought this deicer and it arrived today, just in time for sub-freezing temperatures tonight.

    The instructions say it that in a plastic bucket it needs to be grounded to a rod that is at least five feet underground. I'm no electrician, so I need some advice (in fact, I'm afraid to change the outlets in my house for fear of being electrocuted). I have a five gallon bucket with poultry nipple on the bottom. I suppose grounding is in case their is an electricity leak with the unit so the chickens don't get 250W right in the beak. Is it really necessary? Especially if it is in an outlet that is grounded? I also plan on using a 100 foot extension cord (only way to get it out to the coop). Probably a no-no, but can I get away with it? I wanted to install the unit tonight, but I don't have stuff on hand to ground it.

    If it makes any difference, the extension cord is plugged into a grounded (three prong) outlet.

    Thanks in advance for any sage advice.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  2. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
  3. matimeo

    matimeo Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    Thanks! The link you provided indicates you can buy a portable GFI outlet, which I could use instead of grounding my whole watering setup. Or I could just install a GFI in my garage and run the cord from there.
  4. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I have a timer, a light, a fan and an AC unit all connected to my VERY long extension cord.

    It should work.
  5. RIBill

    RIBill Chirping

    Nov 7, 2010
    No-No number 1: Do not plug any electrical device into an outlet that isn't protected by GFI if it is any where near water. Best case scenario is that you will electrocute your chickens. You can come up with your own worst-case.

    No-No number 2: Using a higher wattage device with a long extension cord. Granted, 250 watts isn't that high and 100' isn't that far. Assuming you just have a standard orange or green outdoor cord, it will be 16 gauge. The wire in your house for a standard outlet will be 12 or 14 gauge. If you are lucky, the cord will be a fusable link and will burn out before your house or your coop burns up.

    No-No number 3: Not using a dedicated circuit to power an outside device. Depending on what else is connected to the circuit, you may find that the first time it kicks on, the breaker trips. Another worst-case scenario, a previous owner wanted to use a power tool that kept tripping the breaker, so he replaced a 15 A with a 20 A. Unsuspecting you is unaware and then burns the house down because the overloaded circuit doesn't trip.

    Is all hope lost? No, not really. As a minimum, I would replace the outlet with a GFI model. Figure out what breaker is servicing the outlet so you can figure out what else is drawing from it. A 20 A circuit would be best if you have outlets to choose from. When you replace the outlet with GFI, verify that the wire is labeled as 12 gauge at a minimum. Finally, if you have to use an extension cord, use a heavy gauge one. The thicker, the better. The cheap "yard" plugs aren't meant to be used for long periods of time at a continuous duty. You will want to provide it some kind of protection from UV. Finally, if the device can be thermostatically controlled so that it isn't on 24-7, that would help to keep the cord from melting. You can do a pretty simple test. Plug the device into the end of the cord in a test situation. After it has been on for 20 minutes or so, come back and touch the cord at either end. If you can feel it getting hot, that's a real serious concern.

    Doing this would probably make it relatively safe. That said, contacting the manufacturer would probably be the safest bet to make sure it's acceptable.

    Disclaimer: My advice is strictly informed non-professional. I know a lot about this stuff from a combination of reading and hands on experience, but again, it is strictly non-professional. I have wired and rewired lamps, outlets, fans, a furnace and part of a house. That said, if anyone takes my advice and death or property damage results, don't expect to hold me responsible. Feel free to be angry with me. [​IMG]
  6. matimeo

    matimeo Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    What I've done for now is run to the hardware store and buy an adapter that converts a regular outlet into a GFI outlet. Attached extension cord to it and ran to coop. Hopefully this will be an acceptable solution. The unit only comes on when the water approaches freezing, so it should only be working on the coldest nights here in NW Oregon. Tonight the low is supposed to be 22 and tomorrow night in the teens.
  7. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Songster

    May 31, 2009
    Last winter it got down to -4 degrees and I used a heated dog waterer on an extension cord all winter and it kept the water at about 42 degree nicely. It was attached to a grounded outlet. It worked much better than the other heated waterers that were good only to 15 degrees. I put the waterer outside the coop in the run; they don't drink at night anyway.

    Electrical things that require tweaking worry me.
  8. Karrie13

    Karrie13 Songster

    May 1, 2009
    Quote:This is what I am doing this winter for one of my pens and so far everything is working well. I also am connected into a GFI outlet and use an extension cord.

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