Heating Question

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
219
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
If I use a mini radiant oil heater, do I need any other heating devices in my DT's outdoor house?

It's been a couple months since I posted any threads, so I'll start with the basics.

Background: My Cholla, a Desert Tortoise, is 3 1/2 years old now, about 5 1/2 inches long, and weighs about 250 grams. For those of you who haven't been breathlessly awaiting the next installment of our tortoise house construction saga ;)believe it or not, I still haven't Cholla's heated outdoor house set up. In December my dear husband had a health crisis and a hospital stay, which put everything on hold for weeks. (Thanks be to God he's ok now:<3:) My son-in-law doesn't want to have anything to do with ordering the heating equipment, because he doesn't know anything about it and doesn't want to be responsible for any issues that might adversely affect Cholla's health and safety. (He'll be happy to install it, though



The questions: OK, so my husband wants me to go the least expensive route for heating Cholla's house. Thus my queries about the mini radiant oil heater.

1. Does the mini oil heater suffice to warm the 4x4 box, or does it need the "assistance" of another device, such as an RHP or Kane mat? (I don't see either pictured in Tom's photo, but I could well be missing something.)

2. The mini heater I found on line is 5" by 11.4 by 15.35. It's 700 watts. Is this ok for a 4x4 box?

3. It has a knob for "adjusting" the temperature, but I can't, nor can my husband, see how to connect it to a thermostat that we can read or control remotely, Nor does the knob display anything about temperature in terms of degrees. We'd have a digital thermometer in there, of course, but we can't be running outside every 15 minutes to open up Cholla's house to check to see whether the ambient temp is too high or too low. Those of you who have used these heaters--can you tell me how this ought to work?

Is it best just spend the big bucks on the RHP/Kane mat set up? If so, the RHP would be 120 watt as long as it's on a temperature controller and high enough above Cholla's shell, right? I believe y'all advised me to get a 21" RHP and an 18x28 Kane mat. Do I have this right? Again, the house is 4x4 and about 20 inches high inside.

Many thanks in advance to Tom, Blackdog, Mark2bears and anyone else who wants to weigh in . . . again.

I hope this is the last time I have to bug y'all about this stuff, but given my inexperience, I wouldn't bet on it.


:tort:
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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It's been a couple months since I posted any threads, so I'll start with the basics.

Background: My Cholla, a Desert Tortoise, is 3 1/2 years old now, about 5 1/2 inches long, and weighs about 250 grams. For those of you who haven't been breathlessly awaiting the next installment of our tortoise house construction saga ;)believe it or not, I still haven't Cholla's heated outdoor house set up. In December my dear husband had a health crisis and a hospital stay, which put everything on hold for weeks. (Thanks be to God he's ok now:<3:) My son-in-law doesn't want to have anything to do with ordering the heating equipment, because he doesn't know anything about it and doesn't want to be responsible for any issues that might adversely affect Cholla's health and safety. (He'll be happy to install it, though



The questions: OK, so my husband wants me to go the least expensive route for heating Cholla's house. Thus my queries about the mini radiant oil heater.

1. Does the mini oil heater suffice to warm the 4x4 box, or does it need the "assistance" of another device, such as an RHP or Kane mat? (I don't see either pictured in Tom's photo, but I could well be missing something.)

2. The mini heater I found on line is 5" by 11.4 by 15.35. It's 700 watts. Is this ok for a 4x4 box?

3. It has a knob for "adjusting" the temperature, but I can't, nor can my husband, see how to connect it to a thermostat that we can read or control remotely, Nor does the knob display anything about temperature in terms of degrees. We'd have a digital thermometer in there, of course, but we can't be running outside every 15 minutes to open up Cholla's house to check to see whether the ambient temp is too high or too low. Those of you who have used these heaters--can you tell me how this ought to work?

Is it best just spend the big bucks on the RHP/Kane mat set up? If so, the RHP would be 120 watt as long as it's on a temperature controller and high enough above Cholla's shell, right? I believe y'all advised me to get a 21" RHP and an 18x28 Kane mat. Do I have this right? Again, the house is 4x4 and about 20 inches high inside.

Many thanks in advance to Tom, Blackdog, Mark2bears and anyone else who wants to weigh in . . . again.

I hope this is the last time I have to bug y'all about this stuff, but given my inexperience, I wouldn't bet on it.


:tort:
Hello again! :)

I'm glad your husband is okay. Sending good thoughts your way for a full recovery.

Your questions:
1. I use the 700 watt mini radiant oil heaters for my 4x8 foot boxes. I've also used 400 watt minimill heaters in 4x4 boxes, but I've never run a 700 watt one in a 4x4 box. I think it will work just fine, but only your thermometer can answer that.

Here's the thing though: You have a temperate species. The ambient temp in your box never needs to be set higher than about 65 degrees. You aren't making a box for a sulcata or a leopard, so it shouldn't be 80 degrees all the time. You'll just be using that heater to keep the night time low from being too low.

You will need to also mount a basking lamp. This one will be set on a timer to come on in the morning and go off at night. You won't need this during hibernation, and you won't need it any tie its sunny and over about 70 degrees, because the tortoise can bask in the sun to warm up. Where this comes in handy is before hibernation in fall and after hibernation in spring when we have cold days but your tortoise isn't hibernating yet, or any more. You need a 65 watt flood bulb and we can't buy them in CA anymore. Someone out of state will have to order them and have them shipped to your address for delivery. Its ridiculous, but that is CA for ya'.

2. See the first paragraph in answer number 1.

3. Get a 1000 watt thermostat. Many types available. Should cost around $25-35. Plug the thermostat into your receptacle, or the extension cord, or the splitter since you'll be powering multiple things... That might sound confusing... Just plug it into a plug that is always "hot". Set the thermostat's dial or digital display (depending on which one you get) to the minimum temp you want your box to drop to. I suggest 65 for a DT. Then plug the heater into the thermostat. When the temp at the thermostat's probe drop below 65, it will send power to the heater. When the heater warms the air above 65, the thermostat will shut power to the heater off. Use a separate digital thermometer to check the temp and adjust the thermostat's setting as needed to get the temperature correctly set.

Mount the thermostat's probe relatively low down and away form any heat source. You want the coolest part of the box away from the heat to be above the set point (65).

The little dial on the heater is not accurate enough and will allow 15-20 degree temperature swings. This is way too much. Once plugged into the thermostat, turn that dial all the way up, and then back it off about 15-20%. This will act as a redundant safety should your thermostat ever fail and stick on, which does happen occasionally.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
219
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Thanks so much as always, Tom, for sharing your time and expertise.

I'll look for a 400 watt mini radiant oil heater instead of the 700 watt one, to be on the safe side. But how do I plug it into the thermostat?

And just so it's clear to my fuzzy brain, will that heater need to be supplemented by any other heat source (apart from the basking bulb)? e.g., and RHP (which I'm having trouble finidng on line).

Gracias muchas.
 
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