Heated Worm Inn

hellbender(6)January 8, 2013

After my success at providing temperature control for my one-month old OSCR Jr bin, I took on the task of doing likewise for my new Worm Inn.

I had already constructed a support structure out of wood for the Inn. This was pretty easy. It required a couple of wood studs and two 8' furring strips. Everything was put together with wood screws with some quarter-inch screw hooks to hang the Inn from.

I attached a 50 watt reptile heating cable to the interior of the support by hanging it from cable clips and looping it around. 3/4 inch insulation board will help retain the heat. The heater cord is thermostatically controlled. The front insulation board is shown removed. It is in two pieces to facilitate retrieval of leachate and compost harvesting. The worms will be here in a couple of days. I may have to wait a while to evaluate the heating system since we are experiencing very mild weather for the next few days.

HB

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mendopete

Sweet set-up for the lucky new worms! That will keep 'em nice and warm, without using much energy. I also like the sturdy wood construction better than the flimsy PVC stands I often see.

I have not used a worm-inn, but often thought just a thick old blanket wrapped around it would slow evaporation and help retain heat. Because of air-flow from all directions, it seems like bag systems would be very susceptible to cold temps.

You may find the cables across the front interfere with using the "udder" and harvesting. Maybe if you just cabled 3 walls and left the front un-cabled?

Nice build and idea. Thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 2:24PM
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hellbender(6)

mendopete writes:

"I also like the sturdy wood construction better than the flimsy PVC stands I often see. "

Yes the wood stand is very sturdy and ought to be able to withstand the weight of a full Worm Inn.

" Because of air-flow from all directions, it seems like bag systems would be very susceptible to cold temps. You may find the cables across the front interfere with using the "udder" and harvesting. Maybe if you just cabled 3 walls and left the front un-cabled? "

Actually, the first attempt to use this heating scheme was a total failure. I thought by heating the air in the entire stand that plenty of heat would find its way into the Worm Inn. Wrong. The Worm In is not as permeable to air flow as I thought. Instead the heated air would run up the sides of the stand and out the very top of the Worm Inn leaving the bedding unheated. I experimented with thermostat probe locations which revealed that plenty of heating was taking place . . . . just not where I wanted it to.

A couple of design modifications solved the problem handily:

1. I moved the heat cable to cover the bottom (floor) of the stand (except where the leachate bucket sits).
2. I installed an insulation board baffle about half-way up the stand to prevent the device from "short-circuiting". The baffle has a hole in the center which allows the bottom half of the Worm Inn to extend through . . . . in this way the heat must enter the Worm Inn to escape. This works much better with the temperature now cycling normally.

Regards,
HB

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:58AM
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mendopete

It will get better with more mass in the bag to act as a heat-sink. Jugs of water in the bottom area would help hold heat.

Maybe you could try spraying expandable foam around the top.

I don't know how hot the cable gets, but could you wrap it around the bag on the fabric? Sort of like putting lights on the christmas tree. I am not familiar with reptile heat cables. Caution, do no start a fire!!

Good luck HB. I am sure you will figure it out!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 7:38PM
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11otis

""I don't know how hot the cable gets, but could you wrap it around the bag on the fabric?""
That's a good idea. The reptile heat cable is supposed to be water "resistant". So it's not waterproof. I guess as long as it doesn't run through standing water, it shouldn't short the power. Any electrician among us worm farmers care to comment?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 11:19PM
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thedogsLL(6B)

I'm not an electrician but my husband is and I helped him study through 4 years of school. I just didn't get certified. So is "almost an electrician" good enough?

""The reptile heat cable is supposed to be water "resistant". So it's not waterproof. I guess as long as it doesn't run through standing water, it shouldn't short the power.""

I know nothing about Worm Inns, but I've had fish aquariums for a lot of years, so I know water and electricity. I've also had a couple of snakes, and the heat rocks and lamps all get really damp, to the point of occasional dripping and they were fine. Reptile heat cables are water resistant in that they are made to heat in very humid conditions. If the outside of the bag only gets damp, it should be fine, as long as no bare wires are exposed, and the bag material never dries out. So check the cable condition on a regular basis, like I would the heaters for my fish.

Disclaimer: Read the fine print on the package to see if there are any exceptions.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 5:57PM
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equinoxequinox

GFI Ground Fault Interrupter

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 1:00AM
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thedogsLL(6B)

Yes, and there is also the assumption that you are aware that equipment for tropical reptiles is different from that for desert dwelling creatures. If you see sand dunes and camels on the package, it isn't meant to be even damp.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 8:13AM
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Shaul(Israel)

My two bins sit on a pallet with rope light underneath. When this picture was taken, the outside temperature was close to freezing while the inside was 75 F. With a dimmer switch I can adjust the temps to where I want it. If you're worried about moisture, you can drill two holes in the outside and have the two ends of the rope light coming in and out through them (with the electrical connections on the outside).
Make sure to get the rope with the little bulbs inside (and not LED's). Mine is rated at 16W/Meter. I have 5 meters = 80W.

Shaul

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 2:02AM
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gerris2

Cool setup, Shaul.

HB, can the reptile heater cable be regulated to specific temperatures?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 9:43AM
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hellbender(6)

gerris2 writes:

"HB, can the reptile heater cable be regulated to specific temperatures?"

The reptile heater has no thermostat so I use a separate device to regulate the temperature. See the included link. It works great.

HB

Here is a link that might be useful: Digital Thermostat

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 6:15PM
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