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  1. #1
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    Homemade rack, Flexwatt, and Fire safety

    I have been searching all day and I really haven't found the answer I have been looking for so hopefully you guys can help me out. I want to make a rack for my BPs but I am worried about fire safety because of the whole pro exotics disaster. I heard that it was caused by another building catching fire and not the actual heating elements in pro exotics but either way I am still very paranoid.

    I am very good at wood working so I planned on doing that or possibly building it out of plastic or pre-made metal. Is the risk of fire due to faulty wiring or the actual flexwatt getting too hot? I know that sounds ridiculous since the flexwatt I am looking at is only 8watts i believe, but I am ignorant in how electrical fires start. Also I will most likely get 2 T stats to play it safe.

    Heres my main most concern: I do not want to burn my house down. Snakes can be replaced, but I don't want to risk my or my families life or property over some snakes. Am I just being way too paranoid or is it realistic to think that a house fire is plausible? I just want to get some answers before I start building and investing money.

    Also, I can keep the snakes in the basement where there are concrete floors and brick walls if that helps

    Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran The Serpent Merchant's Avatar
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    Flexwatt when regulated by a thermostat really doesn't get that hot. under average conditions the risk of fire is very very low. A fire can be started if the flexwatt short circuits and overheats. if your thermostat is working properly then it will kill the power and the only damage will be to the heat tape and that's all that will need to be replaced. The problem comes if the flexwatt shorts out and it either is not being regulated by a thermostat or the thermostat is not functioning correctly either. In this case there is nothing to kill the power so the flexwatt continues to overheat until you have a fire.

    Your main line of defend]se against fire will be your primary thermostat. I recommend that this is a proportional thermostat like a herpstat.

    An optional secondary thermostat is a great backup. I would suggest you get a on/off style for this. I prefer Rancos for this. The on/off thermostat will be set at the temperature that you want your flexwatt to be cut off at (so it needs to be set above normal operating temperatures). Your primary thermostat will actually be plugged into this backup thermostat, so if the flexwatt gets too hot the backup thermostat will kill power to your primary thermostat.

    A third line of defense is in what materials you use to build your rack. Animal Plastics uses a type of PVC plastic called Controlled density PVC. it is encridably fire resistant (I have fist had experience and will attest that it will not catch on fire even with a 150 watt heat lamp sitting directly on it for a few hours... That was really bad, but no fire )
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  4. #3
    BPnet Veteran RideRed12's Avatar
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    Re: Homemade rack, Flexwatt, and Fire safety

    I just made sure there were no bare wires, and everything was insulated with foil tape. I use a Hydro-Farm On-Off thermostat, I have two of them and they work great. One has been used for over a year and is still working great.

    Quote Originally Posted by TV311 View Post
    Heres my main most concern: I do not want to burn my house down. Snakes can be replaced, but I don't want to risk my or my families life or property over some snakes. Am I just being way too paranoid or is it realistic to think that a house fire is plausible? I just want to get some answers before I start building and investing money.
    This quote concerns me, not to be over-dramatic but I'm the opposite. My snakes are just like members of my family. I take care of them, I feed them, I spend time with them and I care about them. If you don't love your animals, then it must be about the money. To me, I would rather see my house burn down than my pets.

    There not just "some snakes". I think most people on here would agree.
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  6. #4
    BPnet Veteran Mike41793's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RideRed12 View Post

    This quote concerns me, not to be over-dramatic but I'm the opposite. My snakes are just like members of my family. I take care of them, I feed them, I spend time with them and I care about them. If you don't love your animals, then it must be about the money. To me, I would rather see my house burn down than my pets.

    There not just "some snakes". I think most people on here would agree.
    I agree houses are replaceable and snakes arent , but I can also see his point. If his house burns down he could risk hurting his family who are also irreplacable. If I HAD to choose between snakes or my family I would put family first. I dont think hes about making money, just concern for his family.
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  8. #5
    BPnet Senior Member Don's Avatar
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    I have the same concerns. I back up every proportional thermostat (VE 200, VE 300, Herpstat, Helix) with an on/off thermostat (VE100). Having a combination of a proportional thermostat and an on/off makes me feel much better. In addition, most of my racks are ARS, so the heating element is in insulation and wrapped in a metal casing.

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  10. #6
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    Re: Homemade rack, Flexwatt, and Fire safety

    Quote Originally Posted by RideRed12 View Post

    This quote concerns me, not to be over-dramatic but I'm the opposite. My snakes are just like members of my family. I take care of them, I feed them, I spend time with them and I care about them. If you don't love your animals, then it must be about the money. To me, I would rather see my house burn down than my pets.

    There not just "some snakes". I think most people on here would agree.
    “over some snakes” was referring to quantity not quality or my feelings towards my snakes. Of course I love my reptiles, I have been passionate about them ever since I have been keeping them since I was 4 years old, but there is no question I would choose the safety of my family and property over snakes. By that I mean I would not purchase anymore snakes if there is even a chance that it could be hazardous.

    I don't want this to be a thread that goes back and forth and strays from the original question, but you concluding that because I would choose my livelihood and family safety over my snakes means that I don't care for them or am "just in it for the money" is completely ridiculous. I shouldn't have to explain myself, but I will. I am a college student who lives at home during the summer months. It is not "my" house that is at risk, its my parents. It seems a bit selfish to put them at risk for something that I am doing, doesn't it? After I graduate and have my own home, of course I would be willing to take the risk because I enjoy the hobby that much. Notice the word "hobby" and not "business"? If, in the future, I am able to sell some of my snakes then that would be great, but I am fully prepared to take care of all the hatchlings. I am by no means in it for the money. I am in it because I am so passionate about reptiles and the amazing processes of seeing life created. I understand how my post might have rubbed you the wrong way and that was not the intent, but I take complete offense in being labeled as someone who doesn't love his reptiles and just uses them to make money.

    Maybe you have not had tragedies in your life, but in the past month I have witnessed both a brush fire that nearly destroying my parents home that I franticly had to help put out while the fire department was called and also had a family member who recently was killed. Those things left me with a lot of anxieties about being safe, so I want to take every precaution that I can. Hopefully I did not offend you again with this post, but I believe I have the right to explain my situation.

  11. #7
    BPnet Veteran RideRed12's Avatar
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    Re: Homemade rack, Flexwatt, and Fire safety

    Quote Originally Posted by TV311 View Post
    “over some snakes” was referring to quantity not quality or my feelings towards my snakes. Of course I love my reptiles, I have been passionate about them ever since I have been keeping them since I was 4 years old, but there is no question I would choose the safety of my family and property over snakes. By that I mean I would not purchase anymore snakes if there is even a chance that it could be hazardous.

    I don't want this to be a thread that goes back and forth and strays from the original question, but you concluding that because I would choose my livelihood and family safety over my snakes means that I don't care for them or am "just in it for the money" is completely ridiculous. I shouldn't have to explain myself, but I will. I am a college student who lives at home during the summer months. It is not "my" house that is at risk, its my parents. It seems a bit selfish to put them at risk for something that I am doing, doesn't it? After I graduate and have my own home, of course I would be willing to take the risk because I enjoy the hobby that much. Notice the word "hobby" and not "business"? If, in the future, I am able to sell some of my snakes then that would be great, but I am fully prepared to take care of all the hatchlings. I am by no means in it for the money. I am in it because I am so passionate about reptiles and the amazing processes of seeing life created. I understand how my post might have rubbed you the wrong way and that was not the intent, but I take complete offense in being labeled as someone who doesn't love his reptiles and just uses them to make money.

    Maybe you have not had tragedies in your life, but in the past month I have witnessed both a brush fire that nearly destroying my parents home that I franticly had to help put out while the fire department was called and also had a family member who recently was killed. Those things left me with a lot of anxieties about being safe, so I want to take every precaution that I can. Hopefully I did not offend you again with this post, but I believe I have the right to explain my situation.
    I'm glad you explained yourself, that's what I was hoping for. Because the two sentences "My snakes can be replaces, and my house cannot" and "There just some snakes" Make it seem as if it is just a business, not a hobby. I understand you worry about your family, and I know that it sits in the back of your mind. But please watch how you word some things, just like I should have.

    I apologize for assuming or criticizing, but I call it as I see it. Whether it is true or not. Now this doesn't need to be a big deal. Back to the original question.

    I think if you take the proper precautions and do your research, you will be fine. Make sure you have plenty of smoke detectors and you watch your wires. The double thermostat is a great idea. I would suggest it. Also, I would buy pre-wired heat tape just to be safe. I dont know all the facts on how to wire heat tape, but I believe if done incorrectly it could cause a fire. That was my main worry. Hope that helps!

    Sources: Had my own, home built racks for almost 6 months now and they are working fine.

    Also, to minimize the risk of fire. You may want to consider back heat. With belly heat on melamine, the tub will be rubbing the plastic away and exposing the flexwatt. Back heat is less efficient but in my opinion much safer.

    Animal plastics recesses it into the plastic and that is why theres is safer for belly heat.
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  13. #8
    BPnet Veteran FkNdRk's Avatar
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    Well, I built my rack out of melamine, which I hear is pretty fire resistant. Then I got my best friend, who has a masters in electrical engineering to do all my wiring (he does a pretty damn good job). No excess wires anywhere, all neat and safe. So yeah, do like me and make smart friends.
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  15. #9
    BPnet Senior Member kitedemon's Avatar
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    PVCx has very good fire resistance the fail safe thermostat is also a critical safety tool. GFI breakers are likely a good idea too. Thermal switches also can be used plus a smoke dector in the same area as the rack.

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  17. #10
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    This topic touches on what we've been up to for the past six months. The backup thermostat issue. The Herpstat 4 was the first to introduce a built in mechanical relay that can cut power to the four outputs if there is a failure in the solid state switches that handle the AC power. Its controlled by the user adjustable high temp setting and helps prevent a runaway due to thermostat failure from a voltage spike or short. This tech is now available as a standard in our Herpstat 1 and Herpstat 2 thermostats that will be release feb 3rd. It won't make up for a disloged probe but the new Herpstat 1/2 also have a timeout feature where if the temp goes below your low temp setting for more than 30 minutes it will also disable the output. Again, these options can be configured by the user. This helps cut the cost instead of buying a second thermostat and putting it inline. There will always be some sort of circumstance that can cause all your backup plans to fail but this is a start in the right direction.

    Dion Brewington
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