Heater for DIY Simple Chicken Waterer?

Quercus bicolor
By Quercus bicolor on Sun, Dec 16, 2012 - 1:11pm

I'm getting tired of the chickens getting bedding in the waterer when they scratch around in the coop, plus my heated waterer for winter is a horrible design that risks spilling the entire contents if one isn't continually alert to not applying any twisting motion to the handle, so I'm going to set up the DIY Simple Chicken Waterer described by Jason W. a while back. 

I'm wondering if anyone has experience with heaters for this type of plastic bucket waterer as I'll need one to prevent freezing.  Here are a few I've found online:

a rather expensive, but seemingly well designed aluminum model.

another aluminum model - a bit cheaper.

similar to the one above, but teflon coated.

stainless element, galvanized body.

Our water is really hard.  It corroded a galvanized waterer in a few months in the winter when the heater was on.  So I switched to plastic.  And that was before I began adding vinegar to the water.  So I find myself wondering if our water will corrode aluminum.  It will certainly corrode the galvanized model listed last.  I'm also wondering about cleaning. 

Finally, do any of you have any less expensive and/or more effective options?

Thanks,

Steve

4 Comments

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 708
Pipe heat tape

Steve,

One option for the DIY waterer is to wrap pipe heat tape around the bucket?  I know that they have ones that have the build in thermostat set for 34 degrees and it might be enough to keep the water from freezing.  Heat tape might eliminate your corrosion issue.  Just a thought. 

Jason

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 216
Thanks Jason

That might work.  It wouldn't be efficient, though as much heat would be lost to the outside unless I put insulation on the outside of the bucket.  In either case, the heat tape or the insulation would need to be protected from those curious beaks.

I'm not sure aluminum would corrode in our water like the zinc coating did in the galvanized waterer.  Maybe I'll put something aluminum in a glass of water and let it sit for a few weeks.  The teflon coated one would be more resistant to corrosion as long as the teflon coating lasted.  I know there are health issues with teflon pans, but I bet this heater wouldn't get much over 100°F and if my memory serves me correctly, the majority of the problem comes from use in frying pans where the temperature gets to 300-350°F.

There's also the one with the stainless steel element, although I would have to rig something up to replace the galvanized stand to keep it off the bottom of the bucket (stainless steel wire?)

Steve

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 216
Aluminum corrosion test underway

There's a little piece of aluminum foil in a glass of water behind the woodstove where it will be about 100°F when the stove is hot.  The aluminum heating element would probably be 150° or so when it cycles on.   I'll report back in a week or two.

The old galvanized waterer had water from our outdoor spigots all summer and fall and maybe for some of the time in the winter when the heater was in use.  That water hasn't been through the softener and is very hard.  The combination of unsoftened water and a heater would be highly corrosive.  Water from indoors has been through the softener.  So maybe my test wasn't fair.  If I used the heater with only indoor softened water it might not corrode quickly. 

Anyway, this is all conjecture until my experiment is complete.

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 708
TekFoil / Reflectix

Steve - another idea to insulate the bucket for heat tape or the in-water type heater is to try tekfoil / reflectix.  It is basically bubble wrap covered on both sides with foil.  We used it to insulate the subfloor in an above garage apartment and it is very easy to work with and install. 

Could also be a easy way to insulate an entire chicken coop to help keep temps above freezing. Just another thought.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_409818-56291-ST16100_0__?productId=3775469&cm_mm...

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