Setting up a radiant heat panel in an enclosed chamber

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
Hi,

How would I go about setting up a radiant heat panel in an enclosed chamber?

I have a 2 1/2 year old male Russian tortoise.

This is my current set-up:
20210130_101702.jpg

Cage is 4x2x1.5, very similar to (if not actually the very same as) this one from AP Cages: https://apcages.com/collections/terrestrial-cages/products/t11-48l-x-24w-x-18h.

I need to add a basking light. Should have done this at the start, but I didn't, so I want to fix that now. To do that, I can either mount a second flush light socket in the cage, which maybe is preferable, but I'm nervous about messing that up somehow, or I can buy and insert a radiant heat panel and get rid of the ceramic heat emitter I'm currently using, and that way, the basking light could go into the existing socket, and I could connect the radiant heat panel to the thermostat that keeps temps fairly steady in there, roughly 92-98 on the warm side, 70-80 on the cool side, and humidity somewhere in between 40 and 70% (still getting familiar with that aspect). There is a 10.0 UVB strip that runs across the middle of the ceiling lengthwise that I replace every 6 months.

My question is, is a radiant heat panel a good approach? Is it or a CHE better? If I go with an RHP, where do I put it and how? People mention the ceiling, but because of the UVB light, I don't think I can without having to figure out somewhere else for the UVB light. Someone in another thread mentioned on the wall, but since I want a gradient, how exactly do I do that? And what size should I get?

Thanks in advance for any advice or tips you want to share!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
RHPs and CHEs are for maintaining ambient temps. Not for making gradients. Your basking light on a timer is for making a temperature gradient, which will not be easy in a closed chamber, but that's okay, as they do fine without it.

Looks like you need to do some rearranging of your ceiling. The basking lamp should be to one side, but not all the way over in the corner like that.

Put the RHP in the middle. Move the 10.0 bulb toward the front. The 10.0 bulb at that distance is delivering zero UV to your tortoise, and there is no need to replace the bulb every six months, as they keep producing their low levels of UV consistently for 2-3 years when used all day, so says my meter.
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
I never responded to your feedback. Thank you for the recommendations! I haven't acted on them yet but am going to.
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
Hi again! Thought of starting a new thread for more visibility, but it probably makes more sense to just keep going in this one...

So, I ordered a Vivarium Electronics 80 Watt Radiant Heat Panel this week to replace the CHE. I was going to get a ProHeat one since allegedly those are the best, but they're set back a bit production-wise right now it seems, and I'm antsy to improve something in Shelly's cage before theirs will be ready to ship.

The RHP should get here next week, and I'll probably be able to set it up next weekend. I'll try Tom's recommendation of moving the UV light further forward so that I can put the RHP on the ceiling in the center. I'm also going to get a basking light.

Here's where I'm now getting stuck, and maybe I'm just overthinking things, but I'd love more input from you all:

My cage is 18" tall, the CHE I've been using is 4" tall/long and hangs 4.5" down. The substrate's maybe 3ish" deep, which leaves ~ 10" of space between the fixture and substrate, and less between it and Shelly.
  1. Does that amount of distance matter?
    1. If so, does how tall/long the light is matter, then, when dealing with an 18" tall cage?
  2. What basking light should I get?
    1. I'm finding lots of basking lights are taller - longer, that is - than 4", usually more like 6" long.
      1. Zoo Med Repti Basking Lamps - 75 watt - are stated as being 4" long.
      2. Fluker's Basking Bulb - 60 watt or 75 watt - is 5.5" according to Amazon.
      3. Other?
  3. What wattage basking light should I get?
    1. 65/75 is what I figure, based on various discussions here.
  4. Incandescent vs not incandescent but which gives off UV?
    1. Since I already have the 10.0 UVB light in there, should I steer clear of any with UV?
    2. Incandescent lights are not available here in California, except for the specialty ones for reptiles, so while I get the impression an incandescent bulb is better, I'm having trouble finding one, especially one that is short.
  5. Should I get a rheostat and use that for the basking light to control the heat or wattage coming out of it?
    1. Thinking a rheostat or something to control the basking light would be useful if it's bigger and closer to him so that it then won't be as strong.
    2. If so, what's a good rheostat to get? Any affordable option, any pricey one?
  6. Should I separately control the RHP with the thermostat I currently have (JumpStart, basic but works)?
  7. Should I replace the thermostat I have with something fancier since I'm switching from a CHE to an RHP?
  8. Probe placement:
    1. I have the one connected to the CHE plugged into the thermostat, and on the far corner of the warm side, and two additional probes not connected to anything - just monitoring temps - one also on the far corner of the warm side, and the other on the far corner of the cool side.
    2. I'm guessing that's not the best positioning, right?
    3. Also, do people set theirs on the substrate, or hang them somehow? The cage is enclosed, so any dangling from a ceiling or wall would involve drilling a small hole, but I think I can manage that much at least, although probably not in the ceiling; that seems thicker.
  9. UV meters
    1. UV meters are still another thing I've seen Tom and others rave about on here, so at some point, I think I will do that, but I'm going to need - or at least I should try - to space out some of these expenses instead of getting everything all at once. ...This could be countered by "get everything now and be out some money but save it later by not needing to go to the vet as much", though.
Well, there's my wall of text that's been swimming in my head and had me scouring the Tortoise Forum and the internet at large and my one measly book for very specific answers to these questions, and finding some good info but nothing that has me feeling like I'm good to go and going to make the right choice on all of the above things.

Thanks if you read all of this, and for whatever feedback you want to give.
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
I found information regarding UV / UVA / UVB. Sounds like all lights have some amount of UVA but that's different from UVB so it's okay and makes my q#4 moot.

And for #s 1, 2, and 3, I decided to try a lower wattage and got some 50 and 60 watt bulbs: one ZooMed, one Fluker's, and one Exo Terra. I could also put less substrate on that side if I find it's too hot. And if that doesn't get hot enough at that distance and wattage, then I'll switch to 75.

Still interested in answers about rheostats, thermostats, and probe placements.

Thanks!
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Hi again! Thought of starting a new thread for more visibility, but it probably makes more sense to just keep going in this one...

So, I ordered a Vivarium Electronics 80 Watt Radiant Heat Panel this week to replace the CHE. I was going to get a ProHeat one since allegedly those are the best, but they're set back a bit production-wise right now it seems, and I'm antsy to improve something in Shelly's cage before theirs will be ready to ship.

The RHP should get here next week, and I'll probably be able to set it up next weekend. I'll try Tom's recommendation of moving the UV light further forward so that I can put the RHP on the ceiling in the center. I'm also going to get a basking light.

Here's where I'm now getting stuck, and maybe I'm just overthinking things, but I'd love more input from you all:

My cage is 18" tall, the CHE I've been using is 4" tall/long and hangs 4.5" down. The substrate's maybe 3ish" deep, which leaves ~ 10" of space between the fixture and substrate, and less between it and Shelly.
  1. Does that amount of distance matter?
    1. If so, does how tall/long the light is matter, then, when dealing with an 18" tall cage?
  2. What basking light should I get?
    1. I'm finding lots of basking lights are taller - longer, that is - than 4", usually more like 6" long.
      1. Zoo Med Repti Basking Lamps - 75 watt - are stated as being 4" long.
      2. Fluker's Basking Bulb - 60 watt or 75 watt - is 5.5" according to Amazon.
      3. Other?
  3. What wattage basking light should I get?
    1. 65/75 is what I figure, based on various discussions here.
  4. Incandescent vs not incandescent but which gives off UV?
    1. Since I already have the 10.0 UVB light in there, should I steer clear of any with UV?
    2. Incandescent lights are not available here in California, except for the specialty ones for reptiles, so while I get the impression an incandescent bulb is better, I'm having trouble finding one, especially one that is short.
  5. Should I get a rheostat and use that for the basking light to control the heat or wattage coming out of it?
    1. Thinking a rheostat or something to control the basking light would be useful if it's bigger and closer to him so that it then won't be as strong.
    2. If so, what's a good rheostat to get? Any affordable option, any pricey one?
  6. Should I separately control the RHP with the thermostat I currently have (JumpStart, basic but works)?
  7. Should I replace the thermostat I have with something fancier since I'm switching from a CHE to an RHP?
  8. Probe placement:
    1. I have the one connected to the CHE plugged into the thermostat, and on the far corner of the warm side, and two additional probes not connected to anything - just monitoring temps - one also on the far corner of the warm side, and the other on the far corner of the cool side.
    2. I'm guessing that's not the best positioning, right?
    3. Also, do people set theirs on the substrate, or hang them somehow? The cage is enclosed, so any dangling from a ceiling or wall would involve drilling a small hole, but I think I can manage that much at least, although probably not in the ceiling; that seems thicker.
  9. UV meters
    1. UV meters are still another thing I've seen Tom and others rave about on here, so at some point, I think I will do that, but I'm going to need - or at least I should try - to space out some of these expenses instead of getting everything all at once. ...This could be countered by "get everything now and be out some money but save it later by not needing to go to the vet as much", though.
Well, there's my wall of text that's been swimming in my head and had me scouring the Tortoise Forum and the internet at large and my one measly book for very specific answers to these questions, and finding some good info but nothing that has me feeling like I'm good to go and going to make the right choice on all of the above things.

Thanks if you read all of this, and for whatever feedback you want to give.

You are running into the problems that an enclosure that is not tall enough creates. I have found it very difficult to provide optimal conditions with an 18" height.

1. This is the biggest problem. Distance definitely matters! Heat, Light, UVB, are all forms of electromagnetic radiation. And strength/intensity is geometrically increased as distance decreases. So all can burn and damage if too intense. AND... as distance decreases, the difference of just a few inches can double intensity. So there is no margin for error.

2. In my opinion, incandescent is the only way to go for a basking light. With 18" I would use a rheostat and a 50-65 watt bulb. I would recommend an A19 type bulb, not a BR type bulb (Flood). The A19 is the old classic style light bulb and has no reflector. There are reptile brands on Amazon that are the A19. I would go with the one that is a clear-bluish bulb. The blue tinting of the glass is made to shift the color of light away from the 2500K of a standard incandescent more towards a daylight color. With an "A" bulb, the heat will not be focused as much downward and you will have a bit less of a hot spot to contend with. Get it as high as possible above tortoise shell level. At the close distances you are working with the shell will heat unevenly, and you are trying to mitigate this as much as possible.

3. Go with 50-65watts and adjust down with rheostat.

4. No incandescent is giving off UVB or UVA. Your UVB fluorescent 10.0 is providing that for you. The basking bulb is giving off a warmer light with heat. You are creating a basking zone with both heat and UVB. So be sure your basking bulb is mounted next to your fluorescent bulb.

5. Yes. With an 18" enclosure you will need that. Any rheostat will work. It is a very simply device so just get one that you find easy to control and adjust.

6. Your current thermostat will work just fine with the RHP. No need for a more expensive or proportional type thermostat in an enclosure. Plus, with the RHP you are getting the best solution for your 18" height as the RHP only operates at a peak of 110° while a CHE operates at a peak of 450-500°. So the RHP is the best way to eliminate hot spots with an enclosure less than 24" tall.

7. With an enclosure as small as yours, and the RHP, I would place the probe at the coolest part of the enclosure and then adjust the setting of the thermostat to your minimum desired temperature.

8, I would never recommend setting up and enclosure where you are providing artificial UVB without a Solarmeter 6.5. Especially where your distance is so restricted and distance will magnify slight changes. Without it, you are simply guessing at placement and height. A T8 10.0 does not put out that strong a UVB reading to begin with. BUt you need that with your limited height. However, in trying to get a UVI in the basking zone of 2.5-3.5, you probably will need the tube close enough to do that. However, when that close, being just 2" too close could cause the reading to go to 5.0 or more. Another inch and you are in danger of burning the tortoise's eyes. Also, by going by posted recommendations, you are never sure as the type of fixture, type of reflector, age of bulb, and even new bulbs will all differ when tested. Please get a meter!
 

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
Of the RHP's that I have used, ProProducts, sweeter heater, and Vivarium electronics, they all suggest that the thermostat probe be about six inches away from the front of the panel.

What I have done to bring heat to the whole enclosure with an RHP, is use a large dark 'black body' to re-radiate heat from the RHP. I have done this in many ways, including
1)having half the area of a ceiling mounted RHP with a slate tile directly underneath is 6-8 inches away, this can create a 'cave' if the tile is up on bricks or 2x4 or something like that. Put the probe on the underside of the slate tile, and adjust the thermostat for the ambient you want.
2)On a wall mount, lean a tile against the top edge of the RHP, and the other end up on a brick (no pinch point) and place the probe on the top of the tile, adjust the thermostat for your ambient.
3)n an alternate wall mount place cinder block about 6 to 8 inches away with the holes accessible to the tortoise, place the probe on top of the brick (closest to the RHP) and adjust the thermostat to you desired ambient.

Any of these combination can give you both a day time high and night time low by using a two temperature thermostat. Like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01486LZ50/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20 Then no heating light is required, just UV output and 'general' illumination.

I've been using BlueMax T5 HO tubes for several years now, they are not as energy efficient as LEDs, but can be used along side a UV tube in a two tube fixture. I think with a low ceiling LEDS might be too intense, I've noticed this with several species - I use alot of 18 inch tall vision cages, the tube lights spread the illumination out more. Here are the BlueMax tubes https://www.fullspectrumsolutions.c...finition-fluorescent-tube?variant=45464796238 for a nominal 4 foot fixture.
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
Alright. So:
  • I bought the Solarmeter Model 6.5R, just arrived today.
  • I bought a Vivarium Electronics 80 Watt Radiant Heat Panel, arrived yesterday.
  • I ordered 3 different basking bulbs (wattage 50 for one, 65 for another, last one I forget - maybe also 50) from Zoomed, Exo Terra, and Fluker's.
  • I'll be setting up (hopefully, and with my husband's help - neither of us are very handy so maybe together we'll be juuuuuuuuust handy enough) the RHP and taking out the CHE and putting the basking bulb in its place, and scooting the UVB light further forward on the ceiling so the RHP can be centered.
  • I haven't purchased other things yet, but this is a start, at least.
I took the UV meter for a spin just now and the numbers seem low, so now I'm worried all over again. But I'm glad people push on getting a UV meter. Now if it's not enough (and I think it might not be), at least I know, so I can fix it.

So according to a PDF I downloaded from the "Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 4 2016", Shelly being a Russian tortoise falls under Ferguson Zone 3, meaning the UVI should be somewhere in between 1.0 and 2.6? I'm having some trouble finding out what the UVI range should be for him, so if someone else has accurate info, I'd appreciate it. I'll also check more later when I'm not working (lunch hour ending like right now).

But photos for now: the one with Shelly is on the right side of his cage (where the CHE is and where the basking bulb will be after I fix things this weekend), and is higher than he is, so I don't think that's actually the amount of UV he's getting; it's less, I assume. The photo without Shelly is on the cool side of his cage (not quite at the farthest end, but closer to it) shows a lower reading of 0.8 UVI. So that sucks. Right? I have a T5 10.0 UVB bulb, 24", running across the top and center of the ceiling currently, and I purchased it in December or January, so it should still be good. Am I not doing the UV meter thing correctly? It seemed to fluctuate but I did just get it so I figure it's user error for now. Oh, also, fwiw, the humidity is usually higher than 50ish. Closer to 60 in the daytime and almost at 80 at night.

:( It's hard getting things just right. Thanks to everyone giving feedback, friendly, harsh, whatever. In addition to poking around the forums here and trying to learn from everyone's questions and not just mine, I also thought I'd check out some Facebook groups a few months ago. They seem to as a whole know a bit less what they're doing (says a person who also doesn't know what she's doing, apparently), and the ones who do know are a bit less blunt about it at times, so there are soooo many sad tortoises there. So occasionally (it's hard to read tone in text, on top of it all) I feel berated when I post in here, but it's cool. Being mild doesn't help our pets, so thanks for being you, everybody. :)

20210304_155203.jpg 20210304_155128.jpg
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Alright. So:
  • I bought the Solarmeter Model 6.5R, just arrived today.
  • I bought a Vivarium Electronics 80 Watt Radiant Heat Panel, arrived yesterday.
  • I ordered 3 different basking bulbs (wattage 50 for one, 65 for another, last one I forget - maybe also 50) from Zoomed, Exo Terra, and Fluker's.
  • I'll be setting up (hopefully, and with my husband's help - neither of us are very handy so maybe together we'll be juuuuuuuuust handy enough) the RHP and taking out the CHE and putting the basking bulb in its place, and scooting the UVB light further forward on the ceiling so the RHP can be centered.
  • I haven't purchased other things yet, but this is a start, at least.
I took the UV meter for a spin just now and the numbers seem low, so now I'm worried all over again. But I'm glad people push on getting a UV meter. Now if it's not enough (and I think it might not be), at least I know, so I can fix it.

So according to a PDF I downloaded from the "Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 4 2016", Shelly being a Russian tortoise falls under Ferguson Zone 3, meaning the UVI should be somewhere in between 1.0 and 2.6? I'm having some trouble finding out what the UVI range should be for him, so if someone else has accurate info, I'd appreciate it. I'll also check more later when I'm not working (lunch hour ending like right now).

But photos for now: the one with Shelly is on the right side of his cage (where the CHE is and where the basking bulb will be after I fix things this weekend), and is higher than he is, so I don't think that's actually the amount of UV he's getting; it's less, I assume. The photo without Shelly is on the cool side of his cage (not quite at the farthest end, but closer to it) shows a lower reading of 0.8 UVI. So that sucks. Right? I have a T5 10.0 UVB bulb, 24", running across the top and center of the ceiling currently, and I purchased it in December or January, so it should still be good. Am I not doing the UV meter thing correctly? It seemed to fluctuate but I did just get it so I figure it's user error for now. Oh, also, fwiw, the humidity is usually higher than 50ish. Closer to 60 in the daytime and almost at 80 at night.

:( It's hard getting things just right. Thanks to everyone giving feedback, friendly, harsh, whatever. In addition to poking around the forums here and trying to learn from everyone's questions and not just mine, I also thought I'd check out some Facebook groups a few months ago. They seem to as a whole know a bit less what they're doing (says a person who also doesn't know what she's doing, apparently), and the ones who do know are a bit less blunt about it at times, so there are soooo many sad tortoises there. So occasionally (it's hard to read tone in text, on top of it all) I feel berated when I post in here, but it's cool. Being mild doesn't help our pets, so thanks for being you, everybody. :)

View attachment 319993 View attachment 319994

Just a note ... Keep in mind that you want to check UVI levels at tortoise level. The little silver button on the top of the meter is the sensor. That needs to point directly at the UV source but also be at the level you want to check - tortoise level. With a reading of 1.0, if you got down at tortoise level it would be substantially less.
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
What UV light fixture are you using?

You know, I have no idea. It doesn't have a name on it, and when I bought the cage from the reptile shop, I asked if they could install a light fixture for a long UV light and another fixture for the CHE, so they did. The closest thing I could find to it is something like this fixture: https://elcolighting.com/products/slim-line-t5-fluorescent-undercabinet-and-cove-light or this one: https://www.homedepot.com/p/ViaVolt...-Fluorescent-Grow-Light-Fixture-V21/203124380 but here are pics of what I have in his cage right now:

20210304_184130.jpg 20210304_191326.jpg

(Sorry for the pics overload)

I thought you meant the light itself at first. I thought I was using a T5, but it turns out I'm using a Zoo Med T8 ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent Lamp, 24-in. According to this page (which I just skimmed, admittedly), https://www.reptilecentre.com/blog/2016/09/difference-t8-t5-reptile-uvb-tubes/, T5 gives out more UVB, like, it has a stronger UV index. I had no idea. Does that sound right? Is that maybe part of the problem, since I'm using a T8 bulb?


Of the RHP's that I have used, ProProducts, sweeter heater, and Vivarium electronics, they all suggest that the thermostat probe be about six inches away from the front of the panel.

What I have done to bring heat to the whole enclosure with an RHP, is use a large dark 'black body' to re-radiate heat from the RHP. I have done this in many ways, including
1)having half the area of a ceiling mounted RHP with a slate tile directly underneath is 6-8 inches away, this can create a 'cave' if the tile is up on bricks or 2x4 or something like that. Put the probe on the underside of the slate tile, and adjust the thermostat for the ambient you want.
2)On a wall mount, lean a tile against the top edge of the RHP, and the other end up on a brick (no pinch point) and place the probe on the top of the tile, adjust the thermostat for your ambient.
3)n an alternate wall mount place cinder block about 6 to 8 inches away with the holes accessible to the tortoise, place the probe on top of the brick (closest to the RHP) and adjust the thermostat to you desired ambient.

Any of these combination can give you both a day time high and night time low by using a two temperature thermostat. Like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01486LZ50/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20 Then no heating light is required, just UV output and 'general' illumination.

I've been using BlueMax T5 HO tubes for several years now, they are not as energy efficient as LEDs, but can be used along side a UV tube in a two tube fixture. I think with a low ceiling LEDS might be too intense, I've noticed this with several species - I use alot of 18 inch tall vision cages, the tube lights spread the illumination out more. Here are the BlueMax tubes https://www.fullspectrumsolutions.c...finition-fluorescent-tube?variant=45464796238 for a nominal 4 foot fixture.


Thank you for the tips on how to position the RHP and probes!!

I was looking at that InkBird thermostat the other day. It looks like it could do more. I'm not sure I follow what you're saying though... Just UV and regular light, no basking bulb at all? I don't think I can wrap my brain around that right now though.

For the BlueMax T5 HO tube you linked to, I saw they come in 24" versions too, but I'm unfamiliar with these. Do you by chance know which 24" long tube would be the right one? Though looking at your message more and the site, these aren't UVB bulbs, right?


Just a note ... Keep in mind that you want to check UVI levels at tortoise level. The little silver button on the top of the meter is the sensor. That needs to point directly at the UV source but also be at the level you want to check - tortoise level. With a reading of 1.0, if you got down at tortoise level it would be substantially less.

Thanks! Yeah, I figured that was it. :( Do you know...? So, the bulb is 24" long, the cage is 48" long, and I have his warm hide in the far right front corner, which does not sit under the UV bulb at all, but is not under it by maybe 3". Shelly sits on top of his warm hide a lot. Even though he isn't directly under the UV bulb, is he still getting UV from that position? Because that is higher, so when he's on that, then he's closer to the bulb.



Ha, thank you! Yeah, including the link is better. :)
 

TeamZissou

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Albuquerque, NM
You're right, T8 bulbs don't put out as much UV as T5, aka T5 "HO" or "high output." A fixture with a reflector beams the light downward helps a lot. This is most likely why the UVI is low at tortoise level.

The BlueMax tubes are not UV lights and are for ambient lighting. I would just use LED lights in place of the BlueMax fluorescent tubes. They have lots of different intensity levels of LEDs, just make sure to find 6500k color temperature.

You don't need to have the UV covering every inch of the enclosure. They need to be able to get in and out of the light as they desire.
 

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
You are correct the BlueMax does not give off UV, I am suggesting that in combination with a UV tube in a two tube fixture you will have a good quality light. I use LED's too, but it seems too much with a low ceiling, so with a short ceiling, 18", I am sticking with T5 HO tubes.
@Mons you have made a great thread here with well articulated conversation/questions. It's great!


You know, I have no idea. It doesn't have a name on it, and when I bought the cage from the reptile shop, I asked if they could install a light fixture for a long UV light and another fixture for the CHE, so they did. The closest thing I could find to it is something like this fixture: https://elcolighting.com/products/slim-line-t5-fluorescent-undercabinet-and-cove-light or this one: https://www.homedepot.com/p/ViaVolt...-Fluorescent-Grow-Light-Fixture-V21/203124380 but here are pics of what I have in his cage right now:

View attachment 319999 View attachment 320000


(Sorry for the pics overload)

I thought you meant the light itself at first. I thought I was using a T5, but it turns out I'm using a Zoo Med T8 ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent Lamp, 24-in. According to this page (which I just skimmed, admittedly), https://www.reptilecentre.com/blog/2016/09/difference-t8-t5-reptile-uvb-tubes/, T5 gives out more UVB, like, it has a stronger UV index. I had no idea. Does that sound right? Is that maybe part of the problem, since I'm using a T8 bulb?





Thank you for the tips on how to position the RHP and probes!!

I was looking at that InkBird thermostat the other day. It looks like it could do more. I'm not sure I follow what you're saying though... Just UV and regular light, no basking bulb at all? I don't think I can wrap my brain around that right now though.

For the BlueMax T5 HO tube you linked to, I saw they come in 24" versions too, but I'm unfamiliar with these. Do you by chance know which 24" long tube would be the right one? Though looking at your message more and the site, these aren't UVB bulbs, right?




Thanks! Yeah, I figured that was it. :( Do you know...? So, the bulb is 24" long, the cage is 48" long, and I have his warm hide in the far right front corner, which does not sit under the UV bulb at all, but is not under it by maybe 3". Shelly sits on top of his warm hide a lot. Even though he isn't directly under the UV bulb, is he still getting UV from that position? Because that is higher, so when he's on that, then he's closer to the bulb.




Ha, thank you! Yeah, including the link is better. :)
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
Hi folks, I have another question. We set up the radiant heat panel this evening. That was a doozy! Doing it with the cage right side up was really frustrating so we finally turned it upside down and that worked. Also, the screws the Vivarium Electronics RHP came with were too short, at least for our kind of cage, and it took us forever to realize that.

Now that it's back right side up, and restocked with new substrate and everything in place, I noticed the smell from the panel now and totally forgot about offgassing (outgassing?). Does anyone know if that is dangerous to our tortoises? I gave Shelly a marathon bath session while we worked on getting things set up in there and now I'm worried about putting him back in his home.
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
@Kapidolo Farms thank you! I hope this thread helps others. It's been very helpful to me.

Update:

We set up the 80 watt radiant heat panel, scooted the UVB forward, and put in a 50 watt ZooMed basking lamp today. ...Just noticed it's a spot bulb, which others have spoken against, so maybe I'll switch it out for the 60 watt Fluker's one later.

Until I get a stronger UVB (replacing the whole shebang sounds like a good plan for a future day), I've piled the substrate higher in the front.

I have a thermometer probe in the far right corner above the substrate to monitor the temperature under the basking bulb (going to get a rheostat soon to manage that better) now. The cool side probe is similarly positioned. The thermostat probe for the RHP is taped to the ceiling behind it but a little bit away from the wall, and hanging maybe 3,4 inches down from the ceiling. I'll need to review everyone's feedback again here later to see if that's in line enough with recommendations. I'm attaching a pic of how it looks in there now, along with an updated reading from the UV meter on the highest part of the substrate under the UVB light which looks a *little* better for the time being at least.

(Note: The dangling UVB cord in the back is now taped to the ceiling, so it isn't in the basking bulb's line of fire.)

I also kept Shelly resting on me for two hours with a warm water bottle beside me and him wrapped up in a towel to keep him warm while leaving the cage open to give the RHP at least a couple of hours to offgas/outgas hopefully safely and without Shelly breathing that in. Now he's back home but I'm keeping the doors open until I go to bed to air it out as much as I can tonight. Definitely should have read the instructions better first. Since I didn't find any horror stories about tortoises and offgassing, hopefully that is a decent indicator that this won't be terrible for Shelly.

Thank you all for all of your answers and guidance. I really appreciate it and suspect Shelly appreciates it too. :) IMG_20210306_231323_075.jpg 20210306_225023.jpg
 
Last edited:

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
I've used many many RHP's and don't recall the plastic odor you are describing. I'll pay better attention next time. You mention the heat lamp using a thermostat, the RHP too, yes?

Hi folks, I have another question. We set up the radiant heat panel this evening. That was a doozy! Doing it with the cage right side up was really frustrating so we finally turned it upside down and that worked. Also, the screws the Vivarium Electronics RHP came with were too short, at least for our kind of cage, and it took us forever to realize that.

Now that it's back right side up, and restocked with new substrate and everything in place, I noticed the smell from the panel now and totally forgot about offgassing (outgassing?). Does anyone know if that is dangerous to our tortoises? I gave Shelly a marathon bath session while we worked on getting things set up in there and now I'm worried about putting him back in his home.
 

Mons

Member
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco
I've used many many RHP's and don't recall the plastic odor you are describing. I'll pay better attention next time. You mention the heat lamp using a thermostat, the RHP too, yes?

After yesterday's home improvements, the RHP is connected to the thermostat and the basking bulb is plugged in to the outlet directly until the rheostat arrives in the mail.

A couple weeks ago, though, I had tried connecting the basking light I had on hand to the thermostat to control heat, but quickly switched that back to the CHE.
 
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