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Heat cable for terrarium

T

T-n-T

Jan 1, 1970
0
I was wondering if anyone could help me with a design of a heat cable
for my new terrarium. I have on fairly expensive cable and would like
to duplicate it. It has a 110v plug at one end and is about 8 feet
long. The end has a small knob which I assume is a resistor of some
sort. The actual heating part of the cable is about four feet long, the
rest is just to get to the outlet. Oh yeah it is 15 watts. I think for
someone who knows how this works should be a no brainer. I recently saw
an article somewhere that suggested using a toaster or aquarium heater
element, halved , coiled around a small wire and threaded into a
silicone tube. Any advice would be excellent, thank you.

BTW, i have seen some online for planted aquariums that use a long
length of wire, which is exactly what I need but seems to be really
long.
http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Tech/
 
P

PeterD

Jan 1, 1970
0
I was wondering if anyone could help me with a design of a heat cable
for my new terrarium. I have on fairly expensive cable and would like
to duplicate it. It has a 110v plug at one end and is about 8 feet
long. The end has a small knob which I assume is a resistor of some
sort. The actual heating part of the cable is about four feet long, the
rest is just to get to the outlet. Oh yeah it is 15 watts. I think for
someone who knows how this works should be a no brainer. I recently saw
an article somewhere that suggested using a toaster or aquarium heater
element, halved , coiled around a small wire and threaded into a
silicone tube. Any advice would be excellent, thank you.

BTW, i have seen some online for planted aquariums that use a long
length of wire, which is exactly what I need but seems to be really
long.
http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Tech/

Do recognize that putting line voltage into an environment that is wet
(your's may be very dry, I don' t know) is risky...

A simple heater might be easily made from a wall wart that gives 12 to
14 volts AC at about 1.2 (or more) amps. Use a 15 watt resistor (maybe
Radio Shack) that is about 10 to 14 ohms in resistance. An AC wall
wart will work well in this application. That will limit voltages in
the terranium to a safe value (don't want your livestock chewing on
the cables, right?) An improvement woudl be to clamp the resistor to
an aluminum plate (say 4 x 4 inches or 100 mm square) that is perhaps
an 1/8" thick. That will help spread the heat out and limit hot
spotting some.
 
J

JeffM

Jan 1, 1970
0
T-n-T said:
I was wondering if anyone could help me
with a design of a heat cable for my new terrarium.
I have on fairly expensive cable and would like to duplicate it.
Have you investigated simply purchasing another?
It has a 110v plug at one end and is about 8 feet long.
The end has a small knob which I assume is a resistor of some sort.
Perhaps a
http://groups.google.com/groups/search?q=phase-controller+heater
The actual heating part of the cable is about four feet long,
the rest is just to get to the outlet.
Does it look like it has a sensor?
BTW, i have seen some online for planted aquariums
Google has many facets:
http://froogle.google.com/froogle?s...re-controller+-intitle:knob+-intitle:aquarium
http://froogle.google.com/froogle?s...ntitle:temperature-controller+intitle:Reptile
 
T

T-n-T

Jan 1, 1970
0
Thinking more about it now I do want to err on the side of not killing
my terrarium inhabitants. So a wall wort transformer is the way to go.
the purpose of using wire and a resistor is so the wire can be sealed
in silicone tubing for fish tanks and siliconed on the ends., it just
seems easier to seal up. what theory do I need to apply to heat up say
4 feet of wire not just the resistor?
 
D

default

Jan 1, 1970
0
Thinking more about it now I do want to err on the side of not killing
my terrarium inhabitants. So a wall wort transformer is the way to go.
the purpose of using wire and a resistor is so the wire can be sealed
in silicone tubing for fish tanks and siliconed on the ends., it just
seems easier to seal up. what theory do I need to apply to heat up say
4 feet of wire not just the resistor?

You'd need some 2.4 ohms per foot resistance wire, and a 12 volt 1.5
amp transformer.

Nichrome wire is normally used, but stainless steel or phosphor-bronze
will also work if you can find it in the right size range. You could
coil the wire around a piece of tubing or some other substrate to get
by with different ohms/foot wire - you need 9.6 ohms, or close, to get
15 watts with 12 volts input.
 
D

default

Jan 1, 1970
0
Someone on sci;.electronics.misc is offering some free SS wire for you
 
P

PeterD

Jan 1, 1970
0
Thinking more about it now I do want to err on the side of not killing
my terrarium inhabitants. So a wall wort transformer is the way to go.
the purpose of using wire and a resistor is so the wire can be sealed
in silicone tubing for fish tanks and siliconed on the ends., it just
seems easier to seal up. what theory do I need to apply to heat up say
4 feet of wire not just the resistor?

Four feet of wire with a resistance... <g> OK, try this for size:

Go to a hardware store and get an eight foot gutter/roof eave heater.
Get the fixed length kind (the really cheap ones), that has just
simple resistance wire that forms a total loop length of about 16 feet
(don't get the kind that can be cut to length, it works on a different
principal!)

Now, we have 16 feet at 120 volts, so if we use only 12 volts (a good
safe voltage) we need a tenth of the length, or about 1.6 feet. If 1.6
feet is not sufficiently long, use two 1.6 foot lengths wired in
parallel.

Personally, I have no confidence you had make such a setup water
tight. I'd make sure the connections are outside the water if at all
possible. Also make sure that any silicone you use is rated for high
temperatures, and allow the silicone to cure for at least a week to
prevent out-gassing (the stuff gives off some nasty gases while
curing!)
 
T

T-n-T

Jan 1, 1970
0
PeterD said:
Four feet of wire with a resistance... <g> OK, try this for size:

Go to a hardware store and get an eight foot gutter/roof eave heater.
Get the fixed length kind (the really cheap ones), that has just
simple resistance wire that forms a total loop length of about 16 feet
(don't get the kind that can be cut to length, it works on a different
principal!)

Now, we have 16 feet at 120 volts, so if we use only 12 volts (a good
safe voltage) we need a tenth of the length, or about 1.6 feet. If 1.6
feet is not sufficiently long, use two 1.6 foot lengths wired in
parallel.

Personally, I have no confidence you had make such a setup water
tight. I'd make sure the connections are outside the water if at all
possible. Also make sure that any silicone you use is rated for high
temperatures, and allow the silicone to cure for at least a week to
prevent out-gassing (the stuff gives off some nasty gases while
curing!)

I am with you, fortunately this cable is not going in the water, the
link I provided on my post though, they do submerge it. If I needed it
to go under water I would just buck up and buy one. This just sits
atop or just under the soil. And my inhabitants, frogs and hermit crabs
probably wont chew it, but I am going with a lower voltage like 12V.

Maybe you can answer another related question, sometimes I ask a
question that is clear to me, but gibberish to others... i looked for
roof heaters here(Washington State) and the hardware store told me they
didn't sell them here.

Ok a 12 volt 1.2 amp wall transformer for example. What is the formula
to determine the amount of resistance I need to not burn up the
transformer? Because I did hook a transformer up to some resistive wire
and toasted a few transformers.

BTW, thank all of you for your help.
 
J

John Popelish

Jan 1, 1970
0
T-n-T said:
Ok a 12 volt 1.2 amp wall transformer for example. What is the formula
to determine the amount of resistance I need to not burn up the
transformer? Because I did hook a transformer up to some resistive wire
and toasted a few transformers.

BTW, thank all of you for your help.

Ohms is a word that means volts per ampere. You have 12
volts and want the current to be 1.2 amps (or less). So
that resistance must be 12 volts per 1.2 ampere

12/1.2 = 10 ohms or higher.
 
P

PeterD

Jan 1, 1970
0
I am with you, fortunately this cable is not going in the water, the
link I provided on my post though, they do submerge it. If I needed it
to go under water I would just buck up and buy one. This just sits
atop or just under the soil. And my inhabitants, frogs and hermit crabs
probably wont chew it, but I am going with a lower voltage like 12V.

Maybe you can answer another related question, sometimes I ask a
question that is clear to me, but gibberish to others... i looked for
roof heaters here(Washington State) and the hardware store told me they
didn't sell them here.

Ok a 12 volt 1.2 amp wall transformer for example. What is the formula
to determine the amount of resistance I need to not burn up the
transformer? Because I did hook a transformer up to some resistive wire
and toasted a few transformers.

BTW, thank all of you for your help.

Called OHM's law... <g>

Try http://www.the12volt.com/ohm/ohmslaw.asp as an example, or just
Google 'ohms law' (no quotes) and you'll get several sites.

Quickly:

1 volt, 1 ohm, 1 amp, 1 watt

so

12 volts, 12 ohms, 1 amp, 12 watts

(divide voltage in volts by resistance in ohms)

To compute the other way (say you want 15 watts at 12 volts):

(volts * volts) / watts

that's volts squared divided by watts, or

(12 * 12) / 15

which is

(144) / 15 = 9.6

which is 9.6 ohms!

How much current?

Well there are several ways to compute it, but the easiest is just
watts / volts, or

15 / 12 = 1.25 amps

I'd use a trasformer rated at about 2 amps myself.

All the above are simple DC computations. They work well if the load
is purely resistive, and the frequency is low enough (which AC line
frequency is).

BTW, 15 watts, if misused (concentrated in too small an area) will
absolutely present a fire hazard... My pencil soldering iron is about
12 watts, and it gets hot enough to melt solder... Use caution, and
spread the heat out over as large an area as possible.
 
T

T-n-T

Jan 1, 1970
0
Okay so I now know how to come up with the length of wire and
transformer. If I wanted to use a long wire and coil it, do the coils
absolutely have to not touch? What if they do? I believe a smaller wire
that is longer and coiled will give me a more pliable cable.

lildog
 
T

T-n-T

Jan 1, 1970
0
T-n-T said:
Okay so I now know how to come up with the length of wire and
transformer. If I wanted to use a long wire and coil it, do the coils
absolutely have to not touch? What if they do? I believe a smaller wire
that is longer and coiled will give me a more pliable cable.

lildog


Ok, i don't know if this falls within the realm of electronics but you
guys may be able to point me in the right direction. Is there a formula
to determine the amount of heat coming off of on eof these cables?
 
R

Rich Grise

Jan 1, 1970
0
Okay so I now know how to come up with the length of wire and
transformer. If I wanted to use a long wire and coil it, do the coils
absolutely have to not touch? What if they do? I believe a smaller wire
that is longer and coiled will give me a more pliable cable.


How about an ordinary electric heating pad from the pharmacy? They have
a controller, just like an electric blanket, but they're only about 1 X
2 feet. Something like that should go for less than $20.00, I'd think -
they must be inexpensive, because I bought one once. ;-)

Good Luck!
Rich
 
P

PeterD

Jan 1, 1970
0
Ok, i don't know if this falls within the realm of electronics but you
guys may be able to point me in the right direction. Is there a formula
to determine the amount of heat coming off of on eof these cables?

What unit of measure do you think you'd like to see? If I say 15
Joules will that make sense? If I say 15 watts then how about that?
Or, are you interested in temperature rise? Or BTUs? Or Calories?

<bg>

There are so many ways of saying that!
 
P

PeterD

Jan 1, 1970
0
What unit of measure do you think you'd like to see? If I say 15
Joules will that make sense? If I say 15 watts then how about that?
Or, are you interested in temperature rise? Or BTUs? Or Calories?

<bg>

There are so many ways of saying that!

And, if you are interested in BTU/Hour, 15 watts will give
approximately 51.1 BTU/Hour of heat. A lot depends on ambient
temperature where your tank is located (cool or hot?) and size and
material of construction.

I think you'd be best off using a thermostat to regulate temperature
myself.
 
T

T-n-T

Jan 1, 1970
0
PeterD said:
What unit of measure do you think you'd like to see? If I say 15
Joules will that make sense? If I say 15 watts then how about that?
Or, are you interested in temperature rise? Or BTUs? Or Calories?

<bg>

There are so many ways of saying that!

Errrr... I guess I would like to be able to calculate how hot in
degrees F a length of said wire will get given voltage of X at Y amps.
OR the number of degrees F the wire will get above it's non-charged
state.

Also if I wanted to coil a long wire to effectively make it shorter do
the coil need to not touch or is that okay? And if they do what would
be the effect?

Once again, thank you guys for your patient help. I know this is a
simple question I have probably not made so clear.
 
P

PeterD

Jan 1, 1970
0
Errrr... I guess I would like to be able to calculate how hot in
degrees F a length of said wire will get given voltage of X at Y amps.
OR the number of degrees F the wire will get above it's non-charged
state.

Humm, that's not likely to happen. Too many variables such as
insulation, insulation diameter, etc. You could get an approximation
but it would be free air values, and not somethign that you will see
in a real application.
Also if I wanted to coil a long wire to effectively make it shorter do
the coil need to not touch or is that okay? And if they do what would
be the effect?

If you coil, the coils MUST NOT TOUCH. That assumes bare wire, of
course. If the wire is insulated, and if the insulation is rated for
the temperature that will be found at contact points, then the
*insulation* could touch--but never the bare wires.

Also, if you are running this as a coil, I'd recommend a couple of
turns in one direction and then a couple in the other direction to
minimize magnetic effects and inductance.
Once again, thank you guys for your patient help. I know this is a
simple question I have probably not made so clear.

You're not doing that badly now...

Check:

http://www.aeroconsystems.com/electronics/nichrome.htm

Look at their 26 gauge nichrome wire. It is 2.6 ohms a foot, so for
your 14 ohms, you'd use about 5 feet of wire. Their prices are Ok and
they are able to deal in smaller quantities too.

Note: this is bare wire, so you will have to make sure it doesn't
short anywhere.
 
T

T-n-T

Jan 1, 1970
0
PeterD said:
Humm, that's not likely to happen. Too many variables such as
insulation, insulation diameter, etc. You could get an approximation
but it would be free air values, and not somethign that you will see
in a real application.


If you coil, the coils MUST NOT TOUCH. That assumes bare wire, of
course. If the wire is insulated, and if the insulation is rated for
the temperature that will be found at contact points, then the
*insulation* could touch--but never the bare wires.

Also, if you are running this as a coil, I'd recommend a couple of
turns in one direction and then a couple in the other direction to
minimize magnetic effects and inductance.


You're not doing that badly now...

Check:

http://www.aeroconsystems.com/electronics/nichrome.htm

Look at their 26 gauge nichrome wire. It is 2.6 ohms a foot, so for
your 14 ohms, you'd use about 5 feet of wire. Their prices are Ok and
they are able to deal in smaller quantities too.

Note: this is bare wire, so you will have to make sure it doesn't
short anywhere.


The weekend is quickly coming up and I am going to try this all out,
will let you know. Will probably have more questions. Thanks again

lildog
 
D

Dan Taylor

Jan 1, 1970
0
FYI

If the heat tape you describe is like all the rest of standard heat tapes,
the knob on the end is not a resistor. It is simply a plastic cap filled
with silicone to keep out moisture and to prevent grounding of the two
conductive wires. Most commercial heat tapes use about 3 watts per linear
foot. The material between the two conductive wires is a resistive material
which heats up as current passes between the hot and neutral. If a heat tape
is cut too long, the resistance becomes too great for the current to
overcome it and the heat tape won't heat. The better tape kits have either a
little glass fuse in the plug or it will have a reset button.

Good Luck

Dan
 
H

Highland Ham

Jan 1, 1970
0
Do recognize that putting line voltage into an environment that is wet
(your's may be very dry, I don' t know) is risky...

A simple heater might be easily made from a wall wart that gives 12 to
14 volts AC at about 1.2 (or more) amps. Use a 15 watt resistor (maybe
Radio Shack) that is about 10 to 14 ohms in resistance. An AC wall
wart will work well in this application. That will limit voltages in
the terranium to a safe value (don't want your livestock chewing on
the cables, right?) An improvement woudl be to clamp the resistor to
an aluminum plate (say 4 x 4 inches or 100 mm square) that is perhaps
an 1/8" thick. That will help spread the heat out and limit hot
spotting some.
======================================
You might consider using heating tape which produces heat in the order
of 15 - 20 Watts per metre . It is used to keep water pipes frost free.
For a short length as probably required for your terrarium you need a
transformer with voltage outputs in the 5 -24 V range , with a number of
voltage taps. This heating tape is insulated and can be found at
industrial electrical components suppliers.
For safety reasons do not apply voltages above 24 V and make sure that
metal parts of the terrarium are always earthed whatever the heater
voltage.

Frank
 
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