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  1. #1
    Registered User FollowTheSun's Avatar
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    heat mats all failing

    I have three enclosures that require heat mats. In the last couple of months I've had to replace all three of them. One was an Exo-terra brand, one was an expensive Zoo Med brand, and one was a generic no-name brand. I'm wondering if this is typical for them to only last a 1- 1.5 years? I also wonder if they are breaking because we have them attached to temperature regulators, so maybe they turn on and off frequently, and this causes them to burn out faster?

    Any thoughts or suggestions for replacement products, or how to keep them lasting longer?
    Last edited by FollowTheSun; 04-14-2019 at 09:12 AM.
    Our familiy: Noodle the albino ratsnake; Spot the Banana BP, Lucy the massive pinstripe BP, Harold the panther chameleon, Poppy the hedgehog, Bob and Ross the beta fish, Maya the dog, Max and Momo the cats, Tauntaun the Light Brahma Chicken (lives at the high school barn), two teenagers, and a very nice partner, all well-loved and cared for.

  2. #2
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    I don't trust those companies for anything beyond a glass tank. Other people may have different experiences.
    I use Ultratherm mats from Reptile basics. Never had a problem.

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  4. #3
    Registered User FollowTheSun's Avatar
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    Re: heat mats all failing

    Quote Originally Posted by distaff View Post
    I don't trust those companies for anything beyond a glass tank. Other people may have different experiences.
    I use Ultratherm mats from Reptile basics. Never had a problem.
    Do you use thermostats with them? What brand?
    Our familiy: Noodle the albino ratsnake; Spot the Banana BP, Lucy the massive pinstripe BP, Harold the panther chameleon, Poppy the hedgehog, Bob and Ross the beta fish, Maya the dog, Max and Momo the cats, Tauntaun the Light Brahma Chicken (lives at the high school barn), two teenagers, and a very nice partner, all well-loved and cared for.

  5. #4
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    Mostly Vivarium Electronics and Herpstat. I prefer VE for the way they look, and I find them MUCH easier to set; I always have to get out the printed instructions with the Herpstat. Nevertheless, I did get one lemon VE early on (along with a bunch of branded VE digital thermometers that had faulty incomplete readouts from the get-go), and swore off that brand for a long time. I only tentatively tried again with VE recently. In case one goes wonky, I purchased the VE t-stat in the single port configuration (VE-200). That way, I've lost $100, rather than $200, and only one heater is down.

    I have a couple of cheap HydroFarms also, but they will be replaced in the next couple of months. They don't seem to harm the mats any. Not sure if the temp variation is really a problem for the snakes or not, I have them with one of the coulbrids.

    I've measured the temps the Ultratherm gets w/o a t-stat, and they get MUCH too hot (my temp gun recorded 110F+), despite what the packaging used(?) to state. In a pinch once, I did set the mat on a tile, and raised the enclosure well above it, but RISKY!!, esp. with a Sterilite tub that has a somewhat flexible bottom.
    Last edited by distaff; 04-14-2019 at 09:36 AM.

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  7. #5
    Registered User Lord Sorril's Avatar
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    Re: heat mats all failing

    Quote Originally Posted by FollowTheSun View Post
    Any thoughts or suggestions for replacement products, or how to keep them lasting longer?
    I've had a few commercial heating pads fail/melt due to lack of air exchange. If I'm using a display tank on a level table I have to stick an eraser under one edge of the tank to give the heating pad air flow. I don't know the physics of it: I just know it works.
    *.* TNTC

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  9. #6
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    I don't understand the physics of that either.

    Why do people insist the mat has to "breathe"? Air should be no different (just more efficient) of a heat sink than foam, tile, plastic, or glass. As long as the mat is regulated at a reptile suitable temp, why can't it be directly sandwiched between the tank/tub bottom, and the rigid foam board or tile underneath?

    I would rather not loose expensive heat to the rest of the room where it does no good.
    Last edited by distaff; 04-14-2019 at 09:46 AM.

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  11. #7
    BPnet Veteran tttaylorrr's Avatar
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    Re: heat mats all failing

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Sorril View Post
    I don't know the physics of it: I just know it works.

    Quote Originally Posted by distaff View Post
    I don't understand the physics of that either.

    Why do people insist the mat has to "breathe"?
    ELI5: when air gets hot, the molecules in it start moving and bouncing around super fast as they have lots of energy now and they try to move to somewhere cooler. as they're flying about, they're also more likely to run into each other, which creates even more heat and energy. if the molecules cannot "escape" like they want, they'll keep running into one another and the temperature can rise exponentially.

    that hot air HAS to be able to go somewhere, because physics.
    Last edited by tttaylorrr; 04-14-2019 at 10:25 AM.
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  13. #8
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    Re: heat mats all failing

    Quote Originally Posted by tttaylorrr View Post
    ELI5: when air gets hot, the molecules in it start moving and bouncing around super fast as they have lots of energy now and they try to move to somewhere cooler. as they're flying about, they're also more likely to run into each other, which creates even more heat and energy. if the molecules cannot "escape" like they want, they'll keep running into one another and the temperature can rise exponentially.

    that hot air HAS to be able to go somewhere, because physics.
    I don't see how that works. The molecules themselves can't create extra energy; the only energy the molecules have is the ambient temp in the room, and energy the heat mat itself puts out. The heat will dissipate to cooler areas, but it can't rise on it's own. 2ed Law, right? The heat is already the lowest form of energy, and that is all we started with, so we can't expect the space to convert into more heat.

    The hot air will only create increased air pressure in a contained space. This isn't a pressure cooker, I don't see it blowing anything up, so I still don't understand how a sandwiched space with essentially no air on either side will harm the mat.

    Someone please clarify, if I am mis-understanding this.
    Last edited by distaff; 04-14-2019 at 11:08 AM.

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  15. #9
    BPnet Veteran tttaylorrr's Avatar
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    Re: heat mats all failing

    Quote Originally Posted by distaff View Post
    I don't see how that works. The molecules themselves can't create extra energy; the only energy the molecules have is the energy the heat mat already put out. The heat will dissipate, but it can't rise. 2ed Law, right? The heat is already the lowest form of energy, and that is all we started with, so we can't expect the space to convert into more heat.

    Someone please clarify, if I am mis-understanding this.
    the molecules create more heat/energy when they bounce off one another. it's small, but remember that these molecules are "trapped" and cannot escape, so they just keep bouncing around and likely hitting other molecules.

    add a steady supply of energy (the heating element) the molecules will continue to bounce off one another, which increases the energy/heat of the molecules.

    there's a decent summary at the end of this page here:
    http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/c...rmal/heat.html

    im not a physicist but i work directly with them and have had this explained to me before and ive animated similar concepts. im also likely not explaining this 100% accurately.
    Last edited by tttaylorrr; 04-14-2019 at 11:12 AM.
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  17. #10
    BPnet Veteran tttaylorrr's Avatar
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    Re: heat mats all failing

    Quote Originally Posted by tttaylorrr View Post
    there's a decent summary at the end of this page here:
    http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/c...rmal/heat.html
    from that source:

    The more energy that goes into a system, the more active its molecules are. The faster molecules move, the more heat or thermal energy they create. So, the amount of heat a substance has is determined by how fast its molecules are moving, which in turn depends on how much energy is put into it.
    the trapping of the air creates a positive feedback loop that can create a lot of heat.

    (edit: i think that's what that's called...a feedback loop)
    Last edited by tttaylorrr; 04-14-2019 at 11:26 AM.
    4.4 ball python
    1.0 Albino 0.1 Coral Glow 0.1 Super Cinnamon paradox 1.0 Piebald 0.1 Pastel Enchi Leopard het Piebald 1.0 Coral Glow het Piebald

    1.0 corn snake
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    1.0 crested gecko
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    0.1 cat
    0.1 Maine Coon mix

    0.1 human ✌︎

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