Yet another Coop Heating Question (coop attached to house)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by stratoskier, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. stratoskier

    stratoskier New Egg

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    Sep 22, 2008
    Hi Everyone,

    Great site! We referenced this site often while selecting our chicks and designing our coop. We now have 8 healthy birds, all laying and all seemingly happy. But...

    I'm very worried about our winter heat source. Our coop consists of 3 adjoining sections: the first is fully enclosed, the next part is outside but covered, and the third is a big fenced run with a net roof. The problem is that the enclosed section is attached directly to the house. That is, it shares two walls with the house. We did it this way mainly because we have a huge predator problem here, including foxes (see them all the time), black bear (common in the yard every fall), and even mountain lion (had one in the yard last week). So having the coop built onto the house affords some extra predator safety by discouraging predators and allowing a quick response if something should try and break in.

    However, this arrangement means that we need to be super safe with regards to the heating system. There would be no such thing as a "barn fire" since any fire would likely consume the entire structure. Obviously, with 3 kids, I want to get this right, but I think that our current system is not entirely safe and would like your opinions.

    The enclosed part of the coop is very tight and well insulated, but we're in Montana and things can get very cold here. A week or more of 10-below, with intermittent 30-below is not uncommon. For now, I have a 250W red-faced "Infrared Heat Lamp" hanging by a dual chain from the ceiling of the coop, and suspended about 3-feet off of the floor. Even in the relatively warm fall, the birds (especially our 2 bantam silkies) like to hang out below it. In retrospect, my mistake #1 was having the power receptacle situated at the usual 16" off the floor -- I just read a forum post in which someone suggested having the outlet much higher or even on the ceiling. I'll have an electrician fix that issue.

    The 250 watt bulb makes me VERY nervous, no matter how well it is hung. I'm wondering about putting a regular thermostatically controlled, oil filled heater in there, probably positioned securely on an elevated platform and enclosed by wire to keep the birds from roosting on or near it. I'm referring to those finned, radiator looking deals that have become common in the last few years. That is the only kind of space heater I can think of that might be relatively safe, as no part of them ever gets very hot.

    I would REALLY appreciate any other ideas on how to heat this coop. I'm pretty sure I don't want to go through a whole winter worrying about a house fire, but I also don't want to compromise the health of the birds.

    Cheers to all,
    Bert
     
  2. Chicabee19

    Chicabee19 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    n/a
    If you could make a wire cage of some sort to go around the light, that would keep anything from coming close to the bulb.

    If you hung the light 6 feet off the ground, would it provide enough warmth for the whole coop, or is the deal that it provides warmth to the birds themselves by being lower?

    got any pics????
     
  3. stratoskier

    stratoskier New Egg

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    Sep 22, 2008
    Here a couple of pics:

    First, here's a full shot from the outside, showing a little of all 3 sections. Inside the tall door to the middle part, you can see a little of the blue door that leads into the enclosed section. Note how those 2 sections (enclosed and roofed) are adjoined directly to the house. On the left is the outside run, with a little "chicken chute" (barely visible behind the gutter) that leads from the covered section into the outside run.

    [​IMG]

    And here's a pic of just the inside. In the background, you can see one of the cool things about our coop. That's a shower visible through the window! Because the coop is next to the downstairs bath, and the shower has that big window in it, we can watch the chickens while showering, or spy on them anytime. Kind of a fun feature:

    [​IMG]

    Bert
     
  4. Chicabee19

    Chicabee19 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    n/a
    That's a pretty cool setup! Very protected. I LOVE how you can look out your window right into the coop!

    It looks like you already have a wire holder on the light.

    What about the setup makes you worry about fire? It looks pretty good to me - maybe raise the light up a foot?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Nov 18, 2007
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    My Coop
    I agree with the previous post. I think you have it perfect.
     
  6. Chicabee19

    Chicabee19 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    n/a
    I was also thinking -- you could open that window and use house heat.
     
  7. stratoskier

    stratoskier New Egg

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    Sep 22, 2008
    Well OK, maybe I'm worrying too much. Perhaps I just got nervous after reading various old posts about fires and the danger of heat lamps in general. The coop gets pretty dusty, so I wondered about risks from spontaneous combustion of dust or something like that. If no one chimes in with something else, maybe I'll just raise the light another foot or so and relax.

    By the way, here's one more pic showing the passage from the middle part of the coop into the enclosed area.

    [​IMG]

    And here's one of the chute that connects the middle section to the outer run. The reason for the chute is that both the kids and the dogs needed someway to get through there without having to go all the way around the run, which is about 80' long.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

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    Mar 3, 2008
    Suggestion for the light - leave the cross-bars on it, but make a cover out of 1/2" hardware cloth. Last winter here, the girls love to huddle under that lamp, but some got so close they melted their feathers. Talk about stinky! We put a cover on it, and now that can't get close enough to burn themselves.


    I must say, that is a pretty nifty setup you have there. [​IMG]
     
  9. stratoskier

    stratoskier New Egg

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    Sep 22, 2008
    Gotcha -- hardware cloth over the cross bars, and raise the light a foot or so as per Chicabee's suggestion.

    Chickabee, the window doesn't open -- it's solid thermal pane. I hope we never bust that window while mucking out the coop, because I'd pretty much have to dismantle the whole coop in order to replace it! That's one disadvantage of this arrangment. It is pretty funny to watch the birds gather up to watch us shower, though.

    Bert
     
  10. Chicabee19

    Chicabee19 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    n/a
    It is pretty funny to watch the birds gather up to watch us shower, though.

    awwwww.... the family that showers together stays together... wait, now how did that go?? [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008

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