Heating off-grid chicken coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by quinault, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. quinault

    quinault Out Of The Brooder

    We live off grid in Montana about 12 miles from any electricity. Last week it was -30 here for several days in a row. We lost one chicken and one duck, the other 50 odd poultry are fine. Our coop is well insulated and draft free. But- I think -30 is a little much for them. I would like to find a way to supplement a little heat when it gets that low. Also, it would be nice to not have their water freeze solid in 10 minutes:)
    Anyone use a propane heater? Do any of them come with a thermostat? Safety issues? It would have to be hung from ceiling, wouldnt that defeat the purpose since heat rises? Advice please!
  2. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

  3. Cornychick

    Cornychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2009
    Sebastian County, AR
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I would steer clear of propane. Three reasons, in no particular order: 1) they produce a fair bit of water vapor, and the last thing you need is to further humidify your coop. 2) They produce a significant amount of carbon monoxide, and people fairly regularly kill themselves by accidentally underestimating the amoutn of fresh-air ventilation that is required or by having it unexpectedly blocked e.g. by drifting snow. And 3) an open source of ignition in coop full of dust and bedding is kind of a big kick-me sign.

    I would suggest that your best route would be to add more insulation -- really, put in as much as you possibly can, including the ceiling, and shovel snow up against the outsides of the coop (assuming the wall structure can take it), snow is a great insulator and free -- and look into some sort of passive solar design (or possibly fan-assisted 'not quite passive' solar, with a small solar panel running the fan) in conjunction with running the heat across some form of thermal mass so that the heat will linger into the nighttime.

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. lighthawk

    lighthawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 4, 2009
    Gobles MI
    Here is a link at least the web address of the sloar heater Pat made reference to... I'm not sure it will work as a link but you could copy and paste it into your address bar. I fully intend to incorporate this into the coop I am planning. Good luck, stay warm

  6. sandiatonimarie

    sandiatonimarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 30, 2009
    Hi there,

    You didn't say how many feet above sea level you are in Montana but I have seen where some manufacturers do put a warning in their product advertising - do not use above 7,000 feet elevation. I am assuming that is because some heaters have low air sensors and shut-offs to keep people and animals from suffocating from carbon monoxide (?) and the sensors may not work as well at higher altitudes. [​IMG] On the other hand, I am at 7,000 feet elevation and use propane to heat water and cook with and have no problems. But a propane heater running several hours in a small space like a tent or a chicken coop is a different story.

    At any rate, read ALL the labels and literature on those heaters very carefully and stay safe!
  7. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    South Alabama
    As for using propane in a chicken coop...the big growers down here use propane pretty much exclusively to heat their houses. Electricity is prohitive because of cost. In other areas of the country natural gas might be used but I don't know this. Propane is one of the major expenses for commercial chicken growers. They are even required to burn propane in the summer when they receive young birds as the birds are still in the brooder stage. I feel pretty confident that this must be the least expensive and most efficient approach at heating being as this is their livelyhood. As Pat mentioned, a dampness issue may have to be dealt with...proper ventilation is a must (see Pat's webpage [​IMG] ).

  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:A thing to remember is that commercial chicken houses are ventilated pretty well, and air quality is monitored constantly and ventilation adjusted accordingly. This is not the case in a backyard coop (or even a house). BIG difference. Yes, propane is cheap (relatively speaking), but I question whether its safety level, in an unmonitored backyard coop, is acceptable.


  9. Chickie'sMoma

    Chickie'sMoma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2009
    Rochester, NH
    i tried to interest my dh into building a solar heater using the cans. so far all the parts are still sitting in my garage along with my chickens in their 'winter' coop to stay warm and easier for me to change out their water.
  10. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

    Sep 1, 2009
    Hastings, MN
    Here's how to make the pop-can heater. It's a 10 min video in which Rich Allen gives quite detailed instructions.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by