Best outdoor heater?

Discussion in 'Heaters' started by Scoutsfish, Jul 12, 2015.

  1. Scoutsfish

    ScoutsfishWell Known MemberMember

    I am in search of a few heaters that I can use outdoors this winter to keep the water from freezing. It isn't for fish however. Earlier this summer I made some diy automatic water systems for my bunnies and chickens/ducks/goats. I have two 5g buckets and a 55g blue water drum. I'm thinking of using the walmart fully submersible heater for 5-10g tanks for the two 5g buckets as I already have one and they are cheap. Does it sound okay? I also need a fully submersible heater for 55g. Does this one look okay? I've been reading up on some and someone used one of these for the past few years. Also what size? 200watt, 300 or 400? I am thinking the 200 or 300 watt but they are out of the 300 and te 400 is cheaper...

    Anyone have any other suggestions for heaters? Again it's not for fish so it doesn't have to be a steady temp really, just to keep it from freezing. Also, I don't want a deicer or something like that, and whatever it is has to fit through a 2inch hole for the 55g water drum:) any ideas? Thank you!!!:)
  2. Jsigmo

    JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    I think someone does make freeze preventing heaters that will fit through a drum bung, and is submersible. They sell the floating deicers for stock tanks at the local "cowboy K-Mart" as we call it, but that's not what you want.

    I'll bet you don't want to spend an arm and a leg, either. You can buy immersion drum heaters meant to fit in through a bung, but some of them are extremely expensive!

    And to make things a bit more complex, the plastic drum won't like having a really hot heater lay up against it. Polyethylene melts at a fairly low temperature. So you'd want to suspend the heater such that it cannot touch the sides or bottom.

    I do think that the cheapest thing you'll find will be a submersible aquarium heater. But whether or not it'd be safe is something that will depend on how things are set up. You want to make sure you don't create a shock hazard.

    As to the required wattage, this will depend on a number of factors.

    What is the coldest outdoor temperature your area will experience?

    What is the highest wind speed you'll have at your location?

    Will the drum be in any kind of shelter?

    Can you insulate the outside of the drum somehow?

    I like the looks of the heater you linked to, and getting the highest wattage possible might be the way to go, but one problem will be that you probably cannot adjust the thermostat down to a low enough temperature. You really don't want to heat the whole drum of water up to aquarium-range temperatures in the dead of winter. It might really take quite a bit of electricity. Ideally, you could keep the water at, say, 45 degrees F.

    Another consideration is any piping, valves, etc., that you have in the system. Those will all need to be heat-traced or something like that to keep them from freezing and breaking.

    It sounds like a worthy project, though. It just might take a bit of tinkering to get it all to be safe and reliable.
  3. OP

    ScoutsfishWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you for the help!!! The temperature here varies.. For instance, it snowed once last winter and was gone within a day, but the year before it got down to a little below 0. The barrel doesn't have any protection, and neither do the buckets.

    Do the submersible heaters sound okay for the 5g buckets? Maybe put a plate at the bottom and suction them to the plate? Then cover the plug/outlet so they can't get wet.

    For the barrel, I have the plug sealed right over one of the two holes at the top, and over the other I have a vent thing to keep air out except for when it needs to be let in when the animals drink the water down. It's supposed to keep the water fresh. But because of that I'm not to sure how to get a heater in/have a hole for the plug unless I take off the little plug.

    I definitely don't want to melt the barrel, I'm starting to think one of those heated blankets from Home Depot/lowes would be best...

    As for the 'pipes' I used clear plastic tubing which is flexible so it shouldn't crack.. Il attach a picture:)


    Do you think it would crack? The little white cups are thin plastic but I am hoping to heat the water enough so those don't freeze..
  4. Dadio

    DadioWell Known MemberMember

    Up here it gets a lot colder with long winters. Pond heaters/de-icers work very good to keep ponds open and flowing if so required. Problem I see with your setup is in order to keep line freeze alone it would need a constant flow if you had prolonged periods of freezing weather. I do though greatly admire your forward-thinking and design. The line also should be a anti-uv line as it will crack and or degrade in time if not protected against uv damage. Ground line irrigation line imo would work better, but once again in order to keep line freeze out it needs to have a good flow. A flowing trough system with a circulation pump would work better I believe. Using a section of eves-trough in the same manner as you setup the line cup system with each end capped off and a push/pull system combining an inline pump would give them a rotation of constant fresh water. You could even make a diy filter thereby filtering their water from anything that drops in. The drum your using a 250 watt pond heater with thermal shutoff would work in your area, but you could go as high as a 1500w unit. It would heat the water much faster if so required. These won't over heat the water either as they are designed to keep water thawed only. Pond heaters have both floating and submersible guards so I don't see it melting the barrel. Bird water heaters could be used as well.
  5. OP

    ScoutsfishWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you for your input!:) I'm slightly confused as to what you are saying... Flowing trough as in a bigger bowl/bucket/trough with an air pump or something of that sort? I do also have a auto fill float valve that's regularly used on toilets attached, but I'm missing one part to get it up and running. I'm planning on attaching that to a bucket or something for the two ducks.

    My hopes with this system is so that I won't have to dump clean and refill their water every day, and instead only every few days or even once a week. It's been working great with the bunnies and I only have to clean their bucket once a week or so. Still working on how to prevent algae growth in them... The bunnies have white 5g buckets sitting on top of their cages with the tubing running down to each cage/pen. I put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the water for them as well. But by the end of the week the bottom of the bucket is gross.. Anyway..

    Another option I could do for the winter is to use this only when it's not freezing out, then if it's going to freeze, unhook the line and cups and shut off the valve. Then just use regular water buckets and a heated blanket thing over the barrel to keep it from freezing? That way I could still use the water inside the barrel to fill up their regular water barrels without risking the little white cups and tubing/line freezing...

    The heaters you mentioned sound like they would work well, but I'm still not sure how I would be able to make it work since the top two holes remain sealed unless I'm refilling which prevents the water from going bad as the vent I have on one side only let's air in as needed for the cups to work.. Idk I wish I had a picture of the vent/top but I don't and I'm out of town so my explanation will have to work haha
  6. Dadio

    DadioWell Known MemberMember

    Ok, so what I was trying to say was to keep a circulating flow of water which is constant.

    Couple of ways this can be done.

    4" pvc pipe cut in half length wise. This gives you the trough. The end caps can be flush or an elbow then connecting to output on one end and input on the other. Now we need a way to keep water flowing all the time. So, the length of trough is installed not level, but with a 5 degree offset so the water enters from one end flows to the other end picked up by an inline pump or other pump.

    This eliminates cups and a good deal of hose. Algae is forming because the water is stagnet so circulation will greatly help. You can also add added filtration such as carbon or other to keep the water crystal clean.

    So, the blue barrel if it was me I'd cut the top off but keep it as a cover that would allow both the use of a filtration pump and water warmer as mentioned.

    Hope this gives a clearer picture.
  7. OP

    ScoutsfishWell Known MemberMember

    I may have to see if I can add an air pump or filter to the 5g buckets. One of them is close to a plug so I probably can, but the other one is not really in a convenient spot for a plug... Would taking off the lid to the buckets help so the wind can hopefully keep it from becoming too stagnant? They both have a quarter sized hole drilled at the top to let air in..

    I like your trough idea!! It makes a lot more sense now haha I would do it for sure... But I feel like the ducks would just get all the water in the trough muddy, which would then flow back and get all the other water dirty as well.. Sigh. If the ducks weren't handicapped id try to find them another home, but they shall stay. One is blind completely on one side and partially on the other from a mink attack years ago, and the other is partially lame for unknown reasons. He's had a gimp leg since he was little, not broken or anything, who knows. They both still get around for food and water and spend 90% of their time roaming and eating bugs and grass through the yard.

    But with the trough, it would work for the other animals but it defeats the purpose of hopefully giving them fresh water without much mud... Good idea though for sure! I will have to use it in the future. I may just have to shut off the system in the winter... We will see I guess.