Another Effective Night Box

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,484
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I've been meaning to do this thread for a while now. I've shown how I build, heat, and use my larger 4x8' boxes, but that is just too big for a single sulcata or a few leopards. Those can be seen here: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-66867.html
This version is only 4x4', and its much more suitable for smaller applications. The main thing I want to show is how I'm heating it. This box houses my female South African Leopards. The lid is hinged and lays back against the wall for ease of cleaning and maintenance. There is 1.5" rigid foam insulation sandwiched between the outer and inner plywood layers. The walls are all sealed with plain silicone caulking to prevent any cold drafts. I prime and paint the outside, but I leave the inside totally untreated. I've been using these boxes for many years with no problems. I use plywood and not particle board or OSB, because it lasts longer and it won't disintegrate if it gets wet. Typically I put pressure treated skids on the bottoms of these to keep them off the ground for when it rains, but it stays pretty dry in this spot and I think the bottom flat on the ground will offer better insulation on a below freezing night.

Pics:
Here is the box on the outside. Notice the "drawbridge" style folding door. I close them up every night to keep them safe and warmer. There are vinyl flaps to keep the warm air in on cooler days when the door is open. If this box looks a little "worn" its because it used to be buried. Its a refurbished and recycled box. :)
2lidi6s.jpg



Here it is with the top open. You can see the radiant heat panel and my plastic shoe box that contains all my wires and electrical equipment.
dnlxtx.jpg


Here you can see the RHP, the shoe box with my thermostat (See the probe hanging out?), my electric meter, and all the extra wire. Keeps it all contained nice and neat and out of tortoise reach. You can also see the Kane heat mat and how much floor space it takes up. The RHP is directly over the heat mat, and both are on the same thermostat. The tortoises can simply move over to the other side if they wish to get away from the heating elements, yet they will still be in their warm box.
4tnf5d.jpg


In this pic you can see how I've built a little frame to lower the RHP. RHPs are not effective if they are too far away. They will not work well if mounted on the ceiling of a 4' tall box. The total height inside this box is about 21". The tortoises are only about 5-6" tall, so I've lowered the RHP about 6". In the future, as these girls get bigger, I may raise it up a bit, but the beauty of the RHP is that it gives off uniform warming heat over a large area, with no carapace damaging "hot spots" like you would encounter with a regular incandescent bulb or a CHE. You can literally lay your hand upon it while its on and it will not burn you. Can't do that with a CHE. You can also see the weather stripping in this pic.
rssfnt.jpg


I took it out for the pictures, but I also usually have a five gallon bucket of water in the box to add some humidity. Its very dry here in my climate and this helps to maintain some humidity in the warm box. This wouldn't be necessary in some areas. I tend to set my thermostats at 80-85 in winter when the days won't be getting all that warm, and I set them for 70-75 in the summer when every day will be sunny and 90-100 degrees.


I hope this thread inspires people to design and build their own boxes. These boxes work MUCH better than anything that you can buy and they are very energy efficient too.

Here is a link to where to get the Radiant Heat Panels: http://www.reptilebasics.com/rbi-radiant-heat-panels
I've been dealing with Bobby for a few years now, and he's been very honest about the strengths and weaknesses of his products. Years ago, he told me he didn't know how well these would work for what I wanted to do with them. He was happy to hear my positive feedback. These are designed for large indoor constrictor cages. They do not generate a tremendous amount of heat. In an under-insulated or drafty box, I don't think they would be effective, but neither would most any other heating element. For me, they work fantastic. I like them much better than any kind of bulb that only warms one spot. I have one of these over a large male sulcata, and it keeps his whole body warm instead of just one spot on the top of his carapace.

The Kane heat mats can be purchased from Tyler here: http://www.tortoisesupply.com/kane-heat-mats/
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
40,481
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Great thread Tom. Will help a lot of members. Love that you showed every thing and their placement. Thanks for another great, helpful thread.
I use the same two heating elements as my basking spot. I have them mounted on the sides with a flourescent UVB above. Works pretty good. Seeing though I am in freezing Chicago, I have a regular light bulb hanging too for added heat. This is all inside my insulated heated shed.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,484
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Its not hard to build and it works so much better than a Dogloo or rubbermade shed.
 

mcory

Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2013
Messages
103
Where can you get that heating element on top? That's awesome!! Can you come help me build one?!:) haha
 

Elohi

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2013
Messages
5,863
Location (City and/or State)
Texas
Subscribing to this thread so I can return to it when it comes time to build a box.

Oh and I opened this thread last night and fell asleep reading it [FLUSHED FACE]. I kept trying to force my eyes open to read it but my exhaustion won lol. So I had to return today to read it haha.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,484
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
mcory said:
Where can you get that heating element on top? That's awesome!! Can you come help me build one?!:) haha

There is a link for you to click at the bottom of the first post in this thread.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,484
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
That's exactly what it is. The link will take you right to it.
 

kathyth

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2012
Messages
3,157
Location (City and/or State)
Beaumont, CA.
Thanks for posting these great idea's Tom!
Another thread to save for future reference.
😊
 

mike taylor

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2012
Messages
13,416
Tom , can you post pictures of the controls you use and the inside of the shoe box ? I just like seeing how people wire stuff . I'm a motor control electrician from 7:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday .:D
 

goReptiles

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
703
Do you prefer the panel to the heater? Do you use the Kane mats in all your boxes.

How do you run the wires to the box? My boyfriend is an electrician, but usually when he gets home that's the last thing he wants to do. I would need a plan, so he can tell me how it won't work then wait weeks for him to design something and get materials. :) Plus anything electrical makes me nervous. When I have to change up my heat lamps or whatever, I do it on weekends so I'm comfortable during the week when I'm at work. Fires from malfunctioning equipment scares me (along with mold).
 

mctlong

Well-Known Member
Moderator
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
2,658
Location (City and/or State)
SF Valley, SoCal
Love it! Those are some very lucky leopards!

Do you add any substrate?
 

Team Gomberg

IXOYE
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
7,678
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Oregon
Thanks for sharing these. What size doorway did you use?

I just realized the size difference between the 2 girls. One looks half the size. Is it a deceiving photo or are they that different?
 

bouaboua

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
11,813
Location (City and/or State)
San Jose CA
Thank you for sharing this. More improvement ideas for mine now.

Thanks.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,484
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
mike taylor said:
Tom , can you post pictures of the controls you use and the inside of the shoe box ? I just like seeing how people wire stuff . I'm a motor control electrician from 7:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday .:D

Oh it's not pretty. I had a GFI circuit installed right above the box and I just run a short 12 gauge extension cord with a drip loop into the side of the box under the lid. Then I make holes with a 2" hole saw and stick all the cords in there any which way they'll fit. I just use one of those regular $25-30 reptile thermostats and an EZ Watt electricity meter.

I'll get you a pic, but it will be a few days at least.


goReptiles said:
Do you prefer the panel to the heater? Do you use the Kane mats in all your boxes.

How do you run the wires to the box? My boyfriend is an electrician, but usually when he gets home that's the last thing he wants to do. I would need a plan, so he can tell me how it won't work then wait weeks for him to design something and get materials. :) Plus anything electrical makes me nervous. When I have to change up my heat lamps or whatever, I do it on weekends so I'm comfortable during the week when I'm at work. Fires from malfunctioning equipment scares me (along with mold).

1. In smaller applications, I generally prefer the heat mat/RHP combo because it doesn't take up any floor space.
2. I only use Kane heat mats in some of the boxes. I don't use them in my boxes with the radiant oil heaters.
3. There is a GFI circuit near the box and I use a heavy gauge short extension cord to get power to the box.
4. Your boyfriend will know just how to safely do all of this, but I can't help you with motivating him. Sorry. :)


mctlong said:
Love it! Those are some very lucky leopards!

Do you add any substrate?

I put just a little bit of dirt in there to help absorb and "messes", but that's about it. In my other boxes I use grass hay for substrate, but I don't like to use any substrate at all with the heat mats.

There is LOTS of "substrate" right outside the door though. :D


Team Gomberg said:
Thanks for sharing these. What size doorway did you use?

I just realized the size difference between the 2 girls. One looks half the size. Is it a deceiving photo or are they that different?

I don't remember exactly, but I think it was 16" wide and 12" tall.

Yes they are very different in size. They are about a year apart in age.
 

goReptiles

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
703
goReptiles said:
Do you prefer the panel to the heater? Do you use the Kane mats in all your boxes.

How do you run the wires to the box? My boyfriend is an electrician, but usually when he gets home that's the last thing he wants to do. I would need a plan, so he can tell me how it won't work then wait weeks for him to design something and get materials. :) Plus anything electrical makes me nervous. When I have to change up my heat lamps or whatever, I do it on weekends so I'm comfortable during the week when I'm at work. Fires from malfunctioning equipment scares me (along with mold).

1. In smaller applications, I generally prefer the heat mat/RHP combo because it doesn't take up any floor space.
2. I only use Kane heat mats in some of the boxes. I don't use them in my boxes with the radiant oil heaters.
3. There is a GFI circuit near the box and I use a heavy gauge short extension cord to get power to the box.
4. Your boyfriend will know just how to safely do all of this, but I can't help you with motivating him. Sorry. :)[/quote]

Do you prefer or see any big differences using the mat versus the oil heater?

Yea motivating him can be tough. He likes to relax on weekends. Ha. We dont have a gfi in the backyard so he'd have to put one out there. We need one back there either way




[/qu
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,484
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I don't see much difference. Either system maintains my temps, and neither system dries out their carapaces like overhead bulbs can.

One thing that Bobby from Reptile Basics noted was that he thinks the insulation and double walled plywood (not particle board, in other words), is key for this system to work as intended. Without a properly sealed and insulated box, I don't think either of my preferred systems will work well. I think that is a very useful insight, and I should emphasize it more. I don't think this would work well in a dogloo or uninsulated shed, but then I don't think anything else will work well for that either. I have found that using more heat and electricity in uninsulated boxes just causes more desiccation and it still can't keep up with cold outside temps one those below freezing nights.
 

Team Gomberg

IXOYE
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
7,678
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Oregon
Tom, you are right that a properly insulated box is the key.
My heat source doesn't turn on often, at all. But the temp in the box is always right where I want it.

My first electric bill after setting up the insulated heated night box (with mini oil filled radiator on thermostat for 80F) was actually LE$$ than it was the month prior- when I didn't have it set up!! Lol
 
Top