Viv setup - Heating Woes

Discussion in 'Herp Help' started by -Adam-, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    I'm running some tests and I'm having issues trying to get my viv up to the right heat level.

    From what I've read a 15w heat cord should be enough to warm my enclosure, however, I'm running a Reptile 1 2m 15w heat cord plus a 50w IR Bulb, and I can't get it beyond 26°c. (Aiming for 32°c as this will be for a Woma python).

    The cage I have is on loan from a friend as I'm getting a juvi. I plan on buying a 120x60x60 in prep for when it grows (as I hear they grow quick!) so this is the intermediate solution.

    Here's a pic of the cage (which is 60wx40wx50h). I haven't put in substrate yet - just trying to run tests to get an idea of heat and humidity correct first.

    Please excuse the layout. I haven't tied down the cabling yet - it's just hanging down. (One being the thermostat, and the other the heat chord) - at present, it's just about finding the right equipment for the job, and I'll worry about tidying it up next.

    Tech info:
    • Reptile one 50w IR Bulb (on left side)
    • Reptile one 15w 2m Heat Cord
    • Microclimate Ministat 300 (which never reaches cut off temp, so it's currently been on 24x7).
    • Ambient room temp between 13°-18° celcius.
    • Lower vent on the cooler side (right which can be seen in photo)
    • Higher vent on the hot side (which I have placed tape over on the outside in an attempt to reduce heat loss)
    • Full solid wood roof, back, sides and floor. Only the front is glass.


    upload_2019-9-29_8-26-41.png

    upload_2019-9-29_8-26-55.png
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
  2. Benno87

    Benno87 Not so new Member

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    What is the temperature directly under the light? As long as that’s 33-35 you’ll be fine. Best off getting yourself an infrared laser point n pull trigger style thermometers to measure direct surfaces and areas.
     
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  3. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    Thanks @Benno87

    Oh - so it's surface temperature, and not ambient air temperature that I should be looking at?

    Thank you.

    I have 2 IR thermometers. They seem to differ up to 2° between each other, however using both of these I'm getting:

    Wood floor on Hot Side: Between 23-25°
    Wood floor on Cold Side: Between 20-22°
    Top of the Hide: Between 30.0 and 31.5°
    Inside the hide: Between 27 and 28°

    I suppose I'm best to put some substrate over the heating cord and see what that ends up showing up as - but just so I understand correctly - the hot part is not air temperature, but surface temperature that I should be measuring and aiming for, and air temperature can be much lower? If so, that makes sense as to why heating cord / mat is so much more cost effective - less space for heat to travel to warm things up.

    And likewise - if that's the case, should my thermometer cord be attached / right next to the heat cord so that the heat cord doesn't go above 32°?

    Cheers

    Adam.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
  4. Benno87

    Benno87 Not so new Member

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    I’ve got basking ledges n hammocks under the lights in my vivs and as long as they are 33-35 deg on the ir gun I’m happy and the snakes seem happy enough although my jungle jag likes it a fair bit hotter and pretty much refuses to eat if he doesn’t have a basking spot of 36-38 which is where he spends 90% of the time. It’s a strange python that one lol. I do measure air temps in the colder parts of the enclosure too to make sure they aren’t getting too hot as the weather starts to warm up.
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Sep 29, 2019, Original Post Date: Sep 29, 2019 ---
    Not hard to install a basking hammock or ledge a bit closer to the light and pretty cheap too. I have 2 of the exact same viv but in black. And just got a couple of those hammocks for 15 bucks and dummy run them with tape until I had the perfect spot where a 50 watt globe gave a 33-34 deg hot spot on the hammock then just screwed them into the walls of the viv. I’ve only kept jungles though and they love climbing which is another reason for installing these. Woma care is prob a lot different and I’ve never kept one to be able to comment on it sorry.
     
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  5. Herptology

    Herptology Well-Known Member

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    Heat cord needs to be uhh.. setup properly

    (In a S pattern) that you can put under a tile, you won’t need both as long as basking spot is round 32-35 surface temps
     
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  6. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    Hi @Benno87

    Thanks very much for your feedback - it's really appreciated!

    Given that we're chasing surface and not ambient temperature, I'm going to try some tiles instead which I've added to the Viv.

    There's a bottom layer, then the heating cord, and then another layer of tiles on top. The top and bottom tiles are separated by some rubber spacers (not the self adhesive type) so that there isn't any pressure on the heating cord.

    They're pretty thick so I'm gathering it will take some time for the heat to go through and warm them up properly for me to test, but I gather that likewise once I've got the right temp, it should stay that way and not cool off quickly with simple things such as opening the cage, etc.

    I'm hoping the thickness becomes a positive meaning that the snake can't cool it down quickly as there's lots of energy stored in the tiles - but have no idea if them being thick could be a negative and not allow enough heat to pass through.


    This is the heat cord layout and thermostat on the bottom tiles.


    upload_2019-9-29_13-58-32.png


    Then I've put another set of tiles ontop 'sandwiching' the heat cable, which I've read on some forums to do. (They didn't mention spacers but I figure it's better than having the heat cable support the weight of the tiles - these are thick tiles)

    upload_2019-9-29_13-58-59.png



    upload_2019-9-29_13-38-55.png

    And lastly - some newspaper down as substrate to emulate what I'll have in the end.
    upload_2019-9-29_14-0-2.png

    There is some serious dropoff between the tiled and non-tiled area, so I'm toying with the idea of having apsen just in the right side to raise it up to the same level as the left side and give the snake some burrowing opportunity but am going to hold off putting that in until closer to implementation so I can still change things around if necessary easily enough.

    Due to the thickness of the tiles I think I'll have to leave it a while for the tiles to heat up and then do some heat tests.

    Does anything with the above look concerning, or would this be a standard/typical setup?

    (I did this before reading your second post @Benno87 so I may add a basking ledge in there at a later date, although this isn't my vivarium, it's a friends (or more accurately a friend of a friends)... so I'm reluctant to drill holes in it and will see if this meets the need for the time being).


    --- Automatic Post Merged, Sep 29, 2019, Original Post Date: Sep 29, 2019 ---
    Thanks @Herptology

    I wasn't aware how to use heat cord, and everything I've read so far didn't specify surface temperature. I've been used to dealing with ambient temp so it didn't even cross my mind, and thought the purpose of the cord was to heat the air - not a particular surface.

    I'm sorry if these are silly mistakes - I'm very new to this - have no shop in town that deals with reptiles and have no friends, etc which do either that I can turn to and ask - so this forum is pretty much my only avenue for two way communication to see if I'm doing things right or wrong.

    I guess I am the perfect example of why to do tests and get it right before buying the snake! :)

    As per the above photo's - is this a better setup, or am I still making rookie mistakes?

    Cheers

    Adam.
     
  7. Benno87

    Benno87 Not so new Member

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    Being a woma a basking ledge and light prob isn’t necessary and the floor heating will be spot on. May have to go with a bigger heat cord if your current one won’t reach desired temp
     
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  8. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    Sweet - excellent to know. I'll check this out in a few hours and if not - I'll look at buying a higher wattage heat cord. Thanks again for your help!
     
  9. Bl69aze

    Bl69aze Very Well-Known Member

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    that setup looks perfect!

    heat cord could be more compacted and more used of it! sort of an up down up down up down untill you run out of space :)
     
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  10. Melmy

    Melmy Not so new Member

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    Looking great! Trial and error is a great way to learn :)
    You can get your “s”’s of the heat cord tighter by using silver insulation tape to stick it down, testing to get the spacing right (I find about 2-2.5cm spacing works between my loops) then you can run a bead of silicon around the outside of your two tiles so that thesnake cant get near the tape or cord. The silicon can be sliced off with a Stanley knife if you want to switch out to another enclosure later (or if you have stuffed it up like I may have done before ;))
     
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  11. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I didn't want to use tape anywhere in the viv, but I guess if I put down some silicon as suggested the risk of the snake getting near the tape should be zero.

    I've just taken another reading and I'm around the 29° mark - can't seem to get higher, so I think I'll need a higher wattage cable regardless to reach those mid 30°'s I'm supposed to be getting to.

    Thanks again!
     
  12. Benno87

    Benno87 Not so new Member

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    Sealing it with silicone will stop heat escaping too so temp may even rise a bit I’d say.
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Sep 29, 2019, Original Post Date: Sep 29, 2019 ---
    It’s great you are doing the research, asking questions and setting up properly from the start. I made the mistake of not doing that to begin with and listening to a money hungry rep shop and ended up with a ptroblem feeder because I didn’t have the right type of tank or set up. Had to learn the hard way but all is sorted these days.
     
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  13. Melmy

    Melmy Not so new Member

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    You will be surprised the difference that having the cable evenly spaced and closer together can make
     
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  14. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    Thanks Melmy. I've given that a try as per the below, but this morning when I went to test the cage, it's showing an ambient temperature of 17.5°c and a surface temperature on the paper above the tiles of 28°c.

    Below is a photo of the layout of the heating cord using silver tape so I can get the loops closer together . (Although the end design is the same, another set of tiles on top and then some newspaper, with the reading on the newspaper).

    Interestingly enough, if I remove the newspaper and check the top tiles directly underneath, it jumps up to 36°c.

    Thus I'm not sure whether the issue has to do with the difference in insulation, or whether the Emmissivity of the IR between the two is different and the IR Thermometer is reading a different result. (From what I've gathered on line, both paper and ceramics have an emmissitivy of 0.95 so I can only gather that there is a significant temperate difference between paper and tiles, which has me wondering:

    If the snake was to stay on top of the paper, wouldn't it end up heating more as there is pressure there thus giving it closer to 36°c heat? If that's the case, should I be doing the reading on the tiles underneath, or the paper, or should I put a weight on the paper, then take it off for the reading?

    I haven't done as @Bl69aze has mentioned yet - which is to silicon around the tiles to trap the heat. (Sorry @Bl69aze) :) I thought of doing that next, however with a cage ambient air temperature of 17.5°c I think I'm going to need more heat - both for the tiles, and escaping through the cage, so I'm concerned that doing this may fix the tile issue, but create an even colder air temp, and maybe I should be letting some heat escape?

    At this stage I'm thinking my next step is to get a 25w heating cable and try with that. This should allow for a greater area of 'warm patch' on the tiles with more loops, as well as hopefully spread a bit more ambient temperature throughout the cage raising the cage level as well....

    Or am I completely going about this the wrong way and should be using a different approach for ambient air temperature?

    Once again - thanks to everyone for your help!


    upload_2019-9-30_8-1-36.png
     
  15. Herptology

    Herptology Well-Known Member

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    You want to use as much of the tile possible otherwise you end up with an uneven heat

    What you do is you go from one end then go 90° the other direction about 1-2cm apart (whatever you can do ) untill u have no tile left
     
  16. Wokka

    Wokka Well-Known Member APS Veteran

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    Adam, You will run a big chance of cooking your snake in a cage that small with all that heat, if the thermostat fails. You only need 15watt under a 400 x 400 tile. Coil the heat cord and put it under one half of the tile. That will allow reduced heat (gradient) on the unheated half of the tile. !5 watts should give you about 34C on the tile above the cord. if the ambient temperature outside the cage is about 20C. The tile will act as a heatbank. You can sandwich the cord between 2 tiles and seal with silicon .
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Sep 30, 2019, Original Post Date: Sep 30, 2019 ---
    That tape is also bad news. Use silicon to stick the cord to the tile. Sticky tape can stick to snakes and cause injury.
     
  17. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    Thanks for the post. I'm confused though with your post as to cooking the snake because even though the cage is small and I'm running 15w the ambient temperature in the cage was 17.5°c. this morning. (The ambient temperature outside was probably around 14°c at the time). The thermostat has been running 24/7 - so it hasn't been clicking in and out yet.

    I'm trying to figure out what I have wrong if in theory a snake in there should be cooked by now yet I'm not getting desired temperatures.

    I understand that putting the heat cord on one tile only (and only one part of it - and put the cord very close together) should increase the heat on the tile so I can reach the 32-35° desired temperature on the tile - but what about the rest of the cage? It's still way too cold - and that's not even with a frosty morning.

    (I'm supposed to have a lower temp on the cool side at 25° with 32-35° on the hot side - and yet I'm only hitting 17.5°. (It's 22° as I type this but only because the room temperature is at 21° since I've had a heater going on in the room for a while).

    I'm going to revisit the whole tape thing again and see if I can use cable ties instead to keep the cable close together. (As mentioned - this one isn't mine so I don't want to do any permanent silicon, etc to get it to stay if possible), although I guess they're not that expensive so I could always buy another replacement.

    But if 15w should do the whole cage (35° on the tile, and 25° on the cool - why am I struggling to reach good temperatures on the cold side? Are you sure that I don't need a higher wattage heat cable?
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Sep 30, 2019 ---
    Thanks. The heat cable length I have isn't long enough to achieve that - which is why I was going to go with the longer 25w jub, but after Wokka's post I'm more than a little confused now.
     
  18. Melmy

    Melmy Not so new Member

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    If you want to raise the ambient temp of the whole vív then you may need a higher wattage bulb for winter, but we are coming into summer. Are you planning on getting a new season hatchie? If so, by the time you get it, temps are going to be up a fair bit.
    I think what wokka is getting at is if you increase the ambient temps by another 10drgrees then that potentially increases your hot spot by that much too, and then as summer temps hit you have danger of overheating.
     
  19. -Adam-

    -Adam- Active Member

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    Thanks Melmy - but surely you guys don't change the heating cables during different seasons do you? Or do you?

    In the end I thought that I would only require heating cable (not a globe) and a single setup for a Woma - but I'm guessing a globe is still required for the ambient temp?

    If I need that much during winter to get temps up - I'm going to need it sooner or later anyway wouldn't I?

    Or am I completely missing something else here? (Which is probably the case - and i do apologise for the number of questions).
     
  20. Herptology

    Herptology Well-Known Member

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    I think you’re worrying about air temps too much :) the most important part is they always have a hot”spot” accessible to reach, whether this is 35° and everywhere else is 20° ambient temperature the snake will move back and forth to reach and maintain its desired temperatures :) here is a picture of one of my enclosures the left side is what I call a hotbox, underneath is a 50w heat cord that goes up and down about 5 times and the temperatures could EASILY reach 40-50, I have a thermostat set to 33° atm, and just how heat works ( it rises if you didn’t know) the whole left sides air is around 30, with the floor and roof being the hottest parts. The right side, I don’t touch, I let ambient temps
    Control that. A large % of the time he’s on the warmth, the rest he’s on a search for food or in his hide :)

    Don’t overthink it! I know temperatures are annoying
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Sep 30, 2019, Original Post Date: Sep 30, 2019 ---
    .

    0CED7426-54EB-4D59-AF43-CDDFB50E17E8.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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