Thanks Bluetongue1, this info helped me out a lot. Since I don't have a thermostat my mats are as warm as they can get however all my enclosures have a reasonable amount of ventilation so I don't have to worry about my enclosure getting to warm.CF Constrictor for the feedback. Your feedback is very much appreciated, thanks. After all, communication is the name of the game.
@Josiah Rossic. Just to round off your understanding of heat, there is one more important property that you need to know about. While it seems obvious, knowing the mechanics of it allows one to apply it much more widely: Heat will tend to move from warmer to cooler matter (obviously until all the matter is at the same temperature). At the temperatures we normally experience day to day, this transfer of that heat involves infra-red radiation being given off and /or conduction. If convection is involved, it only serves to more quickly distribute the heat. This explains the following…
· An object that is warmer than its surroundings gives off IR radiation. For example, IR cameras that allow police to follow suspects in the dark.
· Why reptiles lose heat in cooler conditions and can gain heat by lying on or near to something warmer than them.
· A non-moving reptile will sooner or later attain the same temperature as the air and substrate surrounding it. So positioning of hides should allow for this.
· Cooler air in contact with a warm surface, or other heat source, takes in heat. As the air heats up it expands and becomes lighter, so it floats above the cooler, dense surrounding air, which moves in to take its place (= convection current).
· In a sealed container with a convection current operating, the current will only continue until all the air in the container is the same temperature as the heat source itself.
· Add appropriately positioned ventilation to the above container, which lets warmed air out and cooler air in, and you can create a temperature gradient in the container. Note that in so doing the air above the heat source will never reaches the same temperature as the heat source itself.
· Many wavelengths of IR can pass freely through various types of glass, so all-glass enclosures are prone to losing heat.
· Enclosures with wire mesh tops are prone to losing heat rapidly through the unrestricted convection these allow.
I haven’t mentioned how to go about heating an enclosure. There is more way to skin a cat (I like that expression for some reason…) and opinions will differ. But at least now you should now know the elements that need to be taken into account and why – ventilation (size and positioning), air temperature surrounding the enclosure, potential sources of heat loss from the enclosure (including things like gaps between sliding glass doors), heat source (type, positioning, wattage) and the need for a thermostat or not. It does tend to be trial and error at first until you gain sufficient experience to know what is likely to do what you want it to do before even trying it.
Once again this really gave me the answers I was looking for. Thanks mate.