Best place for thermostat probe?

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nimby
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Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby nimby » Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:19 pm

Hi! I am setting up my first reptile tank in preperation for getting a Northern BTS in hopefully a week!

I got a thermostat to help ensure day/night temps fall in the right range. My thermostat came with a prong, which reads the temperature. It's a little metal tip on a wire.

I'm going to be using a halogen light and ceramic heat emitter for my heating sources (CHE only for maintaining night temps as needed). My cage is just about 18" tall. Both heat sources will be on top of the metal screen of the cage. Therefore, I'm a bit torn on where my prong should go.

If I put it too high in the cage, I'm worried I won't get an accurate reading of the ground temps where the skink will be crawling around and doing his thing (he has been sexed!). However, I'm worried about putting it close to the ground in case the skink messes with it.

Any advice? What have other people done in this situation?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby splashy07 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:36 pm

You may tape it to the bottom of the cage where a reading is desired.
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby mb606587 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:41 pm

I've never used a thermostat for an overhead heat lamp. Once you determine the proper wattage for your enclosure, they are fairly reliable in that they won't overheat to extreme levels like I've seen under tank heaters do. I use thermostats for my enclosures that are heated underneath with heat tape. If you insist on using one though, then you really have no choice but to place the probe directly on the basking surface. If I was to do this, I'd use a piece of thin plywood as a basking slate, run the cord and prong overtop and secure it to the wood with staples, then tape over anything exposed. You shouldn't need to run one for an overnight CHE either. The CHE should only be used to raise overnight temperatures if they drop dangerously low. My current overnight temperatures in the dead of winter are 64-68 degrees and my skinks do just fine.
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby splashy07 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:56 pm

I don't use for heat lamps either. I'll just adjust wattage and check with temp gun. Nor do I use overnight heat, same as mb with nighttime temps. Fluctuation in temperatures is natural and unless your ambient households are below 60 (which most aren't!) you shouldn't have a problem. Mine have weathered some winter power outages in the northeast and no worse for the wear, these things happen in the wild as well. A friend of mine who is a breeder by trade cools his down to the 50's in winter. He's had some of the largest litters I've heard of!
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby nimby » Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:39 pm

Thanks so much, splashy and mb! I am definitely a little paranoid by nature, so I was taking as many precautions as possible to make sure the tank was okay while we were out of the house. But it sounds like I'm not going to be able to get an accurate temperature reading anyway, so I might a well return the thermostat. But your responses help me feel better about not needing one!

I know a CHE isn't necessary in most cases, but our apartment can get pretty drafty and cold. The set up is hovering around 62-66 in the evening without any light or heat, but we haven't had a bitter cold day since I've set it up. However, his current owner keeps the night temps around 70 (I think) so I'm thinking of using a CHE to make it 70 at least for a while during his adjustment period. So much is changing for the little sausage I want to keep everything I can as familiar as possible! Additionally, my partner and I like to keep the place cool in general, so I want to know that if we need a cold night we'll still have a way to keep our skink warm.

Side question if that's okay - do either of you use day/night timers? And do you need to adjust bulb wattages depending on the season - for example, using a lower wattage in the summer?
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby mb606587 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:26 pm

Yes, I do use day/night timers. Highly recommend them. You can pick them up much cheaper at the hardware store as opposed to the pet store. And depending on your ambient temperatures, yes you may need to adjust the wattage of the bulb, especially if your skink isn't in an air conditioned room. I tend not to as the slight drop off in ambient temperatures (about 10-12 degrees F. in my case) helps to trigger the breeding behaviors as the seasons change. But if you have no plans to breed and aim to keep the temperatures consistent year round, or if your skink is in an especially hot room in the dog days of summer, then yes nothing wrong with adjusting wattage to match the season.
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby splashy07 » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:12 am

I use timers also. Last year I replaced all mine with the dual outlet type. Bought online in bulk (I have a lot of cages) much cheaper than anything marketed for pet trade, just simple on/off household lamp timers. I do not use AC so it gets pretty hot in my place in summer, at which time I switch over to 7 watt LEDs. Mine are the dial type not digital. I've been using this type or similar forever and they have served me well. (If I had to turn on and off all those lights every day I'd surely go out of my mind!)
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby alichamp » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:28 pm

I also use day/night timers and I tend to change bulb wattage as needed with the seasons. I live in an area where we do get variable temps with seasons and have difference between night/day temps.

The day/night timers are handy and remember you can change the times whenever you want. For example you could set the day/basking and UV light set for day (say 9-5 and 8-4 in summer, 9-7 and 10-4 in winter) and the night heat set for night- if you tend to have the day heat on a bit longer you could even just set for the coolest party of the night (say midnight to 5am).

On the flipside you can use it to your advantage in summer too. We've had very strange summer here in Aus (I'm sure you've heard!) and a few separate weeks of heatwaves where it's been above 40 degrees Celsius several days in a row and very hot nights. I still feed if it's due but I'm worried about these temps so I set the timers for the heat just to give a few hours of heat in the mornings (say 8-10am for lizard and 5-9am for snake) to make sure they don't drop too low (air conditioning is a problem too!) but won't overheat during the day. This has worked very well as I've been away on holiday and been out at work all day in those heatwave conditions and animals are fine (very sadly I know of others that died during those weeks :( ).

Anyway point is timers are very handy and flexible!
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby nimby » Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:07 pm

Thanks all again for the great advice! I will probably pick up a generic day/night timer. It was built into the thermostat I bought, but since I'm returning it, I'll get a cheaper timer and save some money.

Mb, you mentioned using LEDs. How effective are they as heat sources? Every time I read about the different kind of bulb and lighting options, they don't really mention LEDs, so I've only limited info about them. But if I can make them work, I would love to use them!

Ali, I'm so sorry to hear about all the troubles going on in Australia this year. But those are great examples of how the timers can be really beneficial for making a dynamic environment for your skink!
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby kingofnobbys » Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:18 pm

alichamp wrote:I also use day/night timers and I tend to change bulb wattage as needed with the seasons. I live in an area where we do get variable temps with seasons and have difference between night/day temps.

The day/night timers are handy and remember you can change the times whenever you want. For example you could set the day/basking and UV light set for day (say 9-5 and 8-4 in summer, 9-7 and 10-4 in winter) and the night heat set for night- if you tend to have the day heat on a bit longer you could even just set for the coolest party of the night (say midnight to 5am).

On the flipside you can use it to your advantage in summer too. We've had very strange summer here in Aus (I'm sure you've heard!) and a few separate weeks of heatwaves where it's been above 40 degrees Celsius several days in a row and very hot nights. I still feed if it's due but I'm worried about these temps so I set the timers for the heat just to give a few hours of heat in the mornings (say 8-10am for lizard and 5-9am for snake) to make sure they don't drop too low (air conditioning is a problem too!) but won't overheat during the day. This has worked very well as I've been away on holiday and been out at work all day in those heatwave conditions and animals are fine (very sadly I know of others that died during those weeks :( ).

Anyway point is timers are very handy and flexible!


I run a timer too , one timer for all my dragon and skink tanks connected to two power boards , one has the basking globes on it, other the UVs. Pretty simple , I set the lights to come on 6am in summer and go off 9:30pm, in winter I set the on time to 7:30am.
The only restriction would be the amperage capacity of the double adapter and the timer and the powerboards ( espec for the basking globes ) . My wall socket is rated 20A.

My home is airconditioned 24/7 in summer ( set to stay at 26 degC ) and in winter it runs rev cycle ( again set to stay no cooler than 24 degC ).

Some people I know of who don't have a/c , simply turn off the basking globe entirely in heatwaves , so that they are just running their UV tube or compact globe. If it doesn't get as hot as expected , a day of cooler tank temperatures wont harm a skink or dragon. Couldn't be simpler, if it's likely to he extremely hot, pull the plug for the basking globe .

One lady has her basking globes ( phillips par38s ) on a simple switching thermostat set to turn off if the temperature in her "guard tank" exceeds 38 degC in the warm zone. Works OK for her.

Regards use of a thermostat , I am of the camp that thinks the best location for the probe is in the WARM ZONE in a direct line of sight to the basking globe and dangling away from the wall of the tank (This gives the air temperature and radiant heat flux ).
Some people put their probe on the basking spot and are measuring the temperature of the heated surface and the radiant heat flux from the basking globe.
That said, I simply run the basking globe on a timer , once I've established the warm zone and basking spot temperatures for the globe's wattage and positioning ( by trial and error ) , I don't muck about after that ( since my home stays about the same temperature c/- of my aircon ).
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby nimby » Thu Feb 20, 2020 10:15 pm

Thanks for the info, King! Does your skink mess with the temperature probe you have on the ground of the tank? And do you use anything to monitor the cooler end?

I am thinking about using my CHE as a 24hr heat source to suppliment my basking light that doesn't really warm the opposite end of the tank, but I'm struggling with how to make it work. I'd want it to turn off/on as needed for the cool end to keep it around 75-80 on the cool end during the day, but let it drop to 70ish at night.
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby kingofnobbys » Thu Feb 20, 2020 11:04 pm

nimby wrote:Thanks for the info, King! Does your skink mess with the temperature probe you have on the ground of the tank? And do you use anything to monitor the cooler end?

I am thinking about using my CHE as a 24hr heat source to suppliment my basking light that doesn't really warm the opposite end of the tank, but I'm struggling with how to make it work. I'd want it to turn off/on as needed for the cool end to keep it around 75-80 on the cool end during the day, but let it drop to 70ish at night.


No none of my gang ever mess with the thermometer probes.

Only thermostat probes I personally use are fastened to the middle of the top of my heated tiles ( film heatpad sandwiched between two ceramic tiles in each tank under a hubbahut style hide that doubles as an alternative basking spot ). I use cloth tape the hold the thermostat probes in position in these cases.

I have multiple thermometer probes in each tank , all measuring air temperature + radiant heat flux in warm zone, near basking spot and in cool zone.

I think a thermostat probe dangling from the lid in the cool zone under the CHE (more or less) will work OK for what you want to do. I'd be inclined to use a dimming style thermostat for the CHE as I think frequent on/off cycles will kill it .
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby nimby » Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:09 pm

I would definitely prefer to do that if it will keep the bulb alive longer! Do you have any suggestion of brand/type for a dimmer thermostat?
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Re: Best place for thermostat probe?

Postby kingofnobbys » Sat Feb 22, 2020 2:40 am

nimby wrote:I would definitely prefer to do that if it will keep the bulb alive longer! Do you have any suggestion of brand/type for a dimmer thermostat?


I don't use them. My approach is generally KISS, so I just used an open loop system that involves an inline dimming rheostat that I set by trial and error and then forget ( no kids in the house to fiddle with these ).

Maybe others here can help out based what works well for them. I hear good stuff about MICROCLIMATE brand and Habistat brand thermostats.

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