Styrofoam bodied incubators need constant monitoring?


11 Years
Jun 7, 2008
Scappoose Oregon
Two websites that sell all kinds of incubators say that styrofoam bators can be so unreliable that you should only use them if you can monitor them 24/7 for the full 21 days. We work full time so that's just not feasible. Are they really that bad or are the websites just trying to scare us into buying the way more expensive units?

If they do need that kind of monitoring it'll be years before we could drop $400 for a pro unit. I'll have to build one or give up the dream of incubating our own.


Dances with Chickens
10 Years
Feb 24, 2009
Strasburg Ohio
Styrofoam incys are just fine if you go with an electronic thermostat. I have a Hova Bator 1588 with an electronic thermostat and an auto turner. The only thing I do is check it once a day to see if I need to add water. I always use distilled water, by the way.


10 Years
Jan 16, 2010
Not so !!. Its verry reliable and stable holds humidity weell and can be easily adjusted. If you have a viewing window and are loosing humidity a towel over it can do the trick and trais temps to. easy to use and you know it best cause u made it. i recommend a thermostat or dimmer switch too.

My experience was good with it i got a 2 out of 6 hatch. But i think i had such a low rate was because of the thermometer i used a digital baby thermometer and want ready correctly plus you had to open the incubator to turn t he thermometer on to check the temps.


CA Royal Blues
13 Years
Mar 23, 2008
Oakland, CA
I check mine every few hours soley out of habit/paranoia.
I've done 6 hatches this year with about a 80% success rate overall. I have a Hovabator Genesis 1588, with an auto turner. I'm very happy with it. I do agree with checking it at least once daily to ensure that humidity levels are where they should be. Otherwise it's pretty carefree.


11 Years
Jun 7, 2008
Scappoose Oregon
I have bathroom in the core of my house with no windows and limitted usage so temps don't change much in there. I was figuring on putting it in there with threatening notes on it not to touch for the rare occasions when we have company over. If nessacary I could set it in the tub on a box to keep it out of sight.
It's also our darkest room where we candle eggs so convenient for that.

My plan is to set up the bator and let it run for at least 3 or 4 days so I can be sure it's holding steady temp and humidity with just some infertile eggs in it. When I'm sure it's doing good, put in the hatching eggs on a Friday afternoon so I'll have all evening to make sure nothing flucuates then all weekend to watch it. After the first 3 days it shouldn't need more than mornign and evening monitoring until the eggs are far enough along to candle. Right?

Better to be over prepared then stuck with a batch of dead eggs from a dumb mistake.


11 Years
12 Years
Jan 25, 2008
The Wilds of Western PA
I have a plain old Little Giant styrofoam incubator with an autoturner that is currently on day 19 of my 27th hatch from that incubator. I love my LG. Bought it at Tractor Supply.

I watch mine obsessively because I'm a little OCD, LOL, but generally, I've had very few problems. We keep the incubator on the bedroom dresser, mostly to keep it from the kiddos, but also because the bedroom is an interior room with very little temperature fluctuation. My LG is a nightmare on the kitchen counter. If you place it in a place where the temperature varies wildly, the temperatures inside the 'bator will vary wildly.

My Brower Top Hatch is plastic, and is rock stable on temps, no matter where it's placed. I got my Brower online for $180.00. A good incubator for a decently small investment. The Brower is a definite set it and forget it incubator. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Brower. You don't need to spend $400 for a good incubator.

If you don't have the extra cash, and most of us don't these days, go ahead and grab yourself a styrofoam incubator. Just test it for a few days where you intend to use it, and watch the temperature.

I think I got my whole set-up for about $80 at Tractor Supply. $40 for the 'bator and $40 for the turner, and yes, invest in the turner.

Good Luck-


9 Years
Mar 7, 2010
I have an LG still air with auto turner. The temps have held steady but it is hard to make really small changes so I am often a little too low or just a hair to high, but once you get it right, doesn't change much. I actually went out of town for a week with this hatch and had a friend check it once a day to add water when necessary to check temps. I do have my home thermostat set at a steady temperature (so my family is hot when we're home and we are wasting the A/C when we're not, but it's only 3 weeks right?).

That being said this is my first hatch, and I don't actually have any chicks yet, but I do hear peeping so I know I didn't kill them all. I would say if you are going to do this only occasionally, a styrofoam, economical incubator makes sense. If you are going to do this a lot, it might make you crazy so may be worth increasing your budget a little.


Longfeather Lane
11 Years
Jun 10, 2010
I read those reviews, and I work full time, but I decided to go with a styrofoam one anyway. It was terrible to adjust the temp through the first hatch- temps up, down, all around. I was checking it before I left for work, as soon as I got home and at least 5 times before bed trying to get it to stabilize.

Turns out, it was user error nearly 100%. I moved the location of the incubator to an enclosed space that was more temperature controlled and it has held perfect temp since Day 1 of my second hatch, which is currently ongoing.

So if you want a styrofoam bator, make sure you have a place to put it that is not in direct sunlight, gets no drafts, and does not otherwise change temps throughout the day. Get it up to temp and holding steady before putting in eggs (you'll have to do minor adjustments in the first couple days, the eggs change the temp- starting on a weekend is best). You'll be FINE to leave it there and alone for work.

EDIT: I have to agree with the above: Invest in an auto turner. If you think oh, I can turn the eggs 3+ times a day like needed but I did this for about a day before I decided I would never do that again. You wildly flux the temp in the bator opening it to turn the eggs, the eggs are hard to keep stable on the grates, you never turn them as 100% accurately as a turner, and the turner will turn them more times than you will probably have patience for. It lets you leave the top closed for longer periods of time, maintaining humidity as well. Soooooo worth buying.
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10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
Charlotte, NC Area
My hovabator holds temps GREAT regardless of fluctuations in the surrounding temps. I turn it on, get it stabilized, then forget it for the rest of the period until lockdown. My LG requires more attention, but I've learned that I can put a folded towel over one half of the lid, and that goes a LONG way toward stabilizing temps. They're now both pretty much "set-and-forget" incubators.

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