Incubators - thermal mass idea

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by jamesbwood, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. jamesbwood

    jamesbwood Songster

    I'm new to chickens and have a LG incubator ordered. And now, after the fact, I'm reading about the many challenges and modifications with these incubators and incubators in general. Franky, I and am a little worried.

    A lot of the discussions have to do with keeping the temperature constant. Clearly good insulation, a fan and a good thermostat are critical. But what about the idea of including a thermal mass to dampen down any temperature swings? If you made your own incubator and it was deep enough, you could put a few 2 liter bottles of water in the bottom. As water takes a long time to heat or cool, wouldn't this thermal mass take the edge off the duty cycles of the thermostat and heater?

    This idea would cause the incubator to take a long time to heat up to temperature but that negative could be avoided by simply starting with 99.5 F hot water in the bottles. Any thoughts? Am I over thinking this?


  2. MI chickens

    MI chickens In the Brooder

    Apr 21, 2011
    Zeeland, Michigan
    I've wondered the same thing myself. I've added a piece of 1 1/2"x6"x6" cast iron to the bottom of my homemade incubator. I'm not sure it does any good, but I have it there anyway :).
  3. DirtCreature

    DirtCreature Songster

    Aug 8, 2011
    Olympia, Washington
    i think its a really good idea actually. makes sense to me.

    this is why i love this site. someone figures something out and people start doing it, and then before you know it, there is a more efficient way to incubate.

    I think i have heard of someone doing this before. you could type key words into the search at the top of any page here and it should pull up all relevant previous threads for that subject if that helps.
  4. mayberrygirl

    mayberrygirl Songster

    Mar 4, 2010
    Mount Airy, NC
    It is called a heat sink. Many ppl use them, in the form of tiles, bottles of water or baby food jars of water. It does even out temps.

  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Thermal mass will help stabilize the temperature. An incubator filled with eggs is more stable in temperature than one partially filled. Many people have posted they have stabilized temperatures by adding water containers. To me another potential advantage is if you lose power, the stored heat in the thermal mass will help keep your temperatures up longer. I think it is a good thing.

    But remember that air and water heat up and cool off at different rates, just like the core of your eggs and air do. Your thermostat will be in air and will be triggered by air temperatures. Thermal mass can and will help, but positioning your thermostat near your heater may do more to help stabilize the core temperature of your eggs because it will trigger more cycles of the heater, thus keeping the entire incubator at a more stable temperature once the egg core temperature stablilizes. You are not nearly as worried about air temperatures as you are the core temperature of the eggs.

    Are you overthinking it? Probably to a certain extent. I often do. But controlled stable temperatures are a good thing. Sometimes these little tweaks make a noticeable difference.
  6. jamesbwood

    jamesbwood Songster

    Here is what I mean by Thermal Mass:

    Iron is actually one of the best materials to use. Water is even better and is readily available and inexpensive. I was thinking of using sealed 2 liter soda bottles but of course you could use open containers and raise the humidity as well.

    Sounds like this is a good idea and worth trying. Other eggs would also act like thermal masses and which would, if the theory is correct, account for a full incubator being more stable. Thanks for all the feedback so far.

  7. Baralak

    Baralak Songster

    :pThermal mass in this example will keep stability. But that is not then problem with the LG. the problem is that a gnat can pass gas close to the knob and you wake up the next morning at a temp of 109.. I've used several sitting right next to each other and temp swings are wild on some perfect on others.. They are cheaply made and NO quality control.

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