I MUST keep costs down on my incubator build. Please help w ideas


9 Years
Jan 16, 2011
SE, Louisiana
I must keep component costs down however, I cannot ruin the expensive eggs I'm gonna be buying.

Which thermostat will control the temperature within the narrowest differential from the set-point? The water-heater version can be bought at Home Depot for $10.00. The wafer type is $20.00 all over the internet. If the wafer will keep tighter tolerances and last longer, I'd buy it. But, if the water heater version is just as dependable....

My cabinet-style incubator will, hopefully, hold 50-100 eggs. I guess light bulbs are a dependable enough, cheap heat source? Is there is a better element type that I could salvage from a thrift store appliance?

My plan, for now, is to use a container of water, maybe sponges and stuff for humidity. Later, I'd like to add a fogger and humidistat.

If anyone has some ideas to help me save money and time please...
How about $20 maybe a little more. How many of what kind of eggs? Pm me and I'll give you instructions on how to make one that is more accurate and easier to control than store bought incubators;)
I have always liked the idea of using an upright freezer. there is unobstructedspace there and it is so well insulated, that temperature control should be no problem.. You can pick up old freezers for little or no cost..

I would go with a wafer thermostat. even a solid state thermostat.. and heating coils are cheaper in the long run than replacing light bulbs over the years.. and the heating elements do not burn out as a rule.. I have one that is over 55 years old ..
my "youngest" T-stat is 8 years old..

you can build a 5 gallon reservoir type humidity pail & pan for under $10,oo.. the floats can be purchased for under $8.oo..
Forget water heater thermostat, too many potential problems.

Here is a fool proof excellent thermostat: ReptiTemp 500R (about 25 bucks) I have 2 and they are awsome.

No matter what you do I would NOT hatch expensive eggs in new homemade bator, (as a trial run) especially if this is your first one.

Just a personal opinion, you do what you want to do, it is your money on the line.
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No matter what type of incubator you use you need to test it out first. I have a homemade incubator that has a hotwater heater thermostat and it works great. Yes it does fluctuate slightly in temp but not enough to effect it and the humidity is great. I just hatched several chicks. Every egg that showed signs of development hatched and I hand turned them. I am also using a borrowed incubator that has the wafer thermostat with an electric turner. The thermostat barely fluctuates at all but the humidity is crazy. I have five little bantam eggs in there right now, one looks like it quite and 6 others showed no development. So I really think it's a matter of what you want to do.
All the thermostats you see on here do work an can keep perfect temp. What you are getting if you buy or build better thermostats is easy of setup.

Old side by side fridges or stand up freezers make good incubators.

Cheep heat is a hair dryer.... Just wire your thermostat to power a plug. Then plug a hair dryer in to it. Simple, cheep an easy to replace. A little loud though.
Forget the lightbulbs. Unless you have a old light laying around, you will spend more for the bulb and the socket than the $6.75 heat strip at Cutler supply. While there also buy the $20 wafer thermostat. A hot water heater one will cost 8 bucks, Why risk eggs trying to save $12. A humidity tray can be bought at Dollartree for $1, a 2 gal water bottle at Wally world for about $3, some plastic tube and a $15 Float at Cutler Supply and you have a complete humidity system. Lets see, $6.75+$20+$1+$3+15=$45.75, now all you need is a fan, Surplus Center.com About $15, and a little wood, (one sheet of cabinet grade 3/4in hardwood plywood is $44 and more than enought to make a 3 tray incubator) some paint and glue, BAM!!! you now have a cabinet incubator for less than a $100 bucks. Get a little metal and buy the auto turning system from one of the suppliers and for around $200 you can have a multi tray incubator with automatic turning. It will work just as good as a store bought incubator and is less than half the price. Some Assembly is required.
I use 2 paint roller trays under my wire floor in the bator - but mine is long & low. It will hold 50 to 75 eggs safely & I can jam a few more in there if need be.

The paint trays allow for more surface area when you add more water. This will allow you to control the H & raise or lower it based on how much water you put in.

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