What to use to keep water from freezing

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by kuther, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. kuther

    kuther Out Of The Brooder

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    Was wondering if anyone could tell me what to use to keep my chickens water from freezing this winter. We have used the heated dog bowl but it still gets dirty. Was wondering what to use for a five gallon bucket. Any help would be great. Thanks ahead of time.
     
  2. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What about a few fish tank heaters?
     
  3. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    I did some testing this last winter on a 5 gallon nipple waterer, although not efficient (because it tries to heat to about 74°F) the cheap 5-10 gallon aquarium heater kept it liquid, but you need to make sure it never runs dry or else the glass heater could crack or worse...

    Linked below is the exact heater I tested with, this one is nice because when suctioned cupped to the bottom of the bucket the rubber bumpers prevent it from direct contact with the bucket and thus prevent any potential melting... But, as I said you need to make sure it never runs dry, I used horizontal nipples that were about 2" above the bottom of the bucket thus there was always 2" of water even if the chickens emptied it...

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Tetra-Heater-5-15-Fish-Aquatic-Pets/10291808

    In my 55 gallon nipple waterer, I have a 250W titanium fish heater hooked up to an external thermostat that keeps the water at 40°F... And ideally you would do the same with any heater, that being just keep the water slightly above freezing as to not waste energy trying to keep it warm...

    And for the titanium heater, I cut two rings of 2" pvc and used three screws to make circular bumpers for it so it didn't touch the bottom of the barrel...
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2016
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    I use the metal heated base with galvanized three gallon waterer on top; two of them for my flock. I'm not willing to play with aquarium heaters, not intended for cold ambient temps. Glad it works for you, but I'm not trying it here. Mary
     
  5. kuther

    kuther Out Of The Brooder

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    What about a bird bath de icer. I'm using a five gallon bucket with nipplers on the bottom
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Never tried a deicer here. Anyone? Mary
     
  7. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    For one I just did a proof of concept for the common glass aquarium heater and it worked just fine and I see no reason beyond waste that it would cause an issue as long as it's submerged so it doesn't over heat, although if there is a power failure it could potentially break if it was a glass one, as for the one in my 55 gallon drum that is an entirely different story...

    So I'm not sure where you are going with "not intended for cold ambient temps" the 250W titanium heater (and almost all aquarium heaters) are simply resistive heating elements in a waterproof titanium shell, it really doesn't care what the ambient temp is, it simply turns on and off when heat is called, just like any resistive heating element... Being in a titanium shell, if it happened to freeze it's not going to break like a glass one, that was the reason I choose titanium over glass... The custom thermostat unit that I build to control it is quite happy in the ambient temps it's functioning at, and even well below, it I designed it to read to -50F even though it never gets that cold where I reside, normal winter temps are a cake walk for it... So my setup is in fact designed to operate in the cold ambient temps and hold the water at a moderate 40°F, it serves no other purpose or design as built... And there are plenty of over the counter thermostats designed to work in the cold, heck I use a 'cold weather' thermostat to run my furnace in the coop when I use it...

    One thing to note when designing heating devices is your focus is on degrees of rise required and volume (aka BTU) you need to heat, ambient temp is really irrelevant in the equation most of the time, as it takes the same amount of energy to take something from 70° to 90° as it does to take something from 20° to 40°... A BTU is the amount energy needed to raise one pound of water by one degree F, ambient temp is really irrelevant...

    As I clearly stated using a cheap glass aquarium thermostat is not ideal, but it will do the job if you take precautions...

    If you water bucket is plastic you might have to build a cage to prevent it from touching the bucket and melting it, you also might have issues as the temp drops as the deicers are just that, they are designed to keep a hole open and free of ice in and around the immediate vicinity of the heater, in many cases they are not designed to heat a volume of water above freezing... I know some people here have used them so it might be best to find them, I didn't even bother as I know full well that that ~50W bird bath heaters were not going to work for me to heat 55 gallons of water...
     
  8. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    This chart gives you an idea of how many watts you need per gallon based on your area to keep an 'open' type water dish free of ice... If you put it in a bucket or inside a shelter or insulate you of course could use less, this is why I'm able to use a 250W heater to keep 55 gallons of water fluid in zone 5/6, it's inside a barrel, inside my coop so it has insulation value and no evaporation cooling due to exposed surface like an open stock tank or bowl type waterer...

    Since you likely don't have 100s of gallons do a watts per gallon break down from the chart vs your gallon size...

    And remember this chart is 'worst case' extreme cold needs, for most of the winter you likely will never need the full potential of the heater...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  9. BruceAZ

    BruceAZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i heard of heated waterer


    something like this HERE ?
     
  10. kuther

    kuther Out Of The Brooder

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    I looked into the heater that plugs in but it seemed like it would be hard to clean. I did order a heater it is farm innovators 5gallon submerigble water bucket heater. I will be trying this this winter. Will let you know how it works. Thanks for your time
     

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