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Old 05-11-03, 06:40 PM   #1
BoidKeeper
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Wiring a Rheostat in 5 steps.

Warning!!! By following these steps you will void your warrenty for the heat pad. By modifying the pad it is no longer CSA approved which means that should it ever be the cause of a fire your insurance may not cover you because you have modified the equipment.

Step 1, equipment.
1. Exo-Terra 8watt heat wave heat pad.
2. Connectors.
3. Levitron 700w rotary dimmer.


Step 2, Remove insulation from leads.
Cut one lead where ever you want your dimmer to be on cord.
Strip about 1cm of insulation off both ends of the lead you just cut. Remove the insulation off the dimmers leads. There are three wires on the dimmer the green one is the ground. It is not needed for this. If you mount the dimmer in an electrical box you can ground it to the box.


Step 3, Conect the leads.
Twist the leads together in series and install the connector by twisting it on to the wires.
[IMG]

Step 4 Repeat step 3 for the other lead.

Step 5, label the dimmer and secure the leads.


All my heat pads are connected this way. By doing this I have a greater measure of control. Not only can I turn the heat pad down to the rquired basking temp for a particular animal but I can bump it up if I need to treat a sick animal.
Cheers,
Trevor

Last edited by BoidKeeper; 05-12-03 at 06:06 AM..
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Old 05-16-03, 07:57 PM   #2
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I did a post similar to this a while ago, as seen here http://ssnakess.com/forums/showthrea...&threadid=8858

The method we use doesn't involve cutting your heating pad's cord thus keeping the warrenty intact and making it so you don't have as much as a fire hazard. Instead we add a wall outlet and an electrical box to provide grounding and to make it look nicer.
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Old 05-19-03, 11:02 AM   #3
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thanks for the tutorials, both of them. if only someone could show me how to take a light (like the one in your enclosure) rip it down to the basics and reinstal it into the enclosure through an electrical box. the problem i am having is how do you find lights like that and can you wire the lights into an electrical box that has 1 light 2 outlets and 1 dimmer sorry for any repeated threads but i haven't found anything that clearly shows wiring the light into the enclosure thanks again for all the help i have been inspired to start working on my own next weekend i will post some pics once it is complete.
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Old 05-19-03, 09:24 PM   #4
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What kind of enclosure are you talking about?
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Old 05-20-03, 11:18 AM   #5
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Man he saived me at least $20 dollars
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Old 06-07-03, 09:02 AM   #6
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I did wired it u prety goo but i neverd used a uth Before is it suppose to get realy hot or just kindove. Because if i was a snake and that was my only heat sorce i would be kindove mad.
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Old 11-24-03, 09:34 PM   #7
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I do it pretty much the same but I install the dimmer switch on the wire of a Power Bar so that I can control the heat of 6 heat tape pads, on stacked enclosures....controling the power bar (most power bar have 6 plug in's)
The only problem I have is that I lose the individual enclosure control...but I feel, for me, it is better than buying a dimmer switch for each heat tape enclosure

Last edited by chas*e; 11-24-03 at 09:37 PM..
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Old 11-24-03, 11:55 PM   #8
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A couple notes from an old time electrical worker and herper.
1. If you go to the dollar store, for 1 buck you can get a short extension cord and you can put the dimmer in that cord, thus preserving the integrity of the more expensive heat pad.
2. The dimmer depicted, looks like the cheap single time constant 6 buck type...
Please be aware that cheap dimmers will not restart after a power outage if they are turned down to much under half way.. If you are using them turned down low, unplug them a few times,and plug them back in and see if they always come back on. Most of the less expensive ones, will not come back on, unless you first turn them up, then down.
This has caused more than few problems with many herpers, whom assume the heat will come back on after a power glitch.
Wiring a small 120volt neon type indicator, or a night light across the load(in parallel with the heater) will give you a visual feedback of the setting. The brillience of the light goes up and down with the setting. This also allows you to tell if the heater is on, from a distance. Radio Shack and most most electronic stores will sell you neon pilot lights. They must be the type with built in dropping resistor. They will labelled for 120volt use.

Buying more expensive 20 dollar plus dimmers which employ a dual time constant circuit, will avoid this problem of restarting after an outage.
It's often hard to tell, but look for wording like
"full range dimming"...Generally they are the type with slide controls, rather than knobs. These will restart after a power outage even if set very low.
There are "credenza" dimmers available at Home Depot for around 20 bucks which come pre-wired into a cord, so you can simply plug your hot rocks or heat pads into them directly without doing any wiring. I haven't checked to see if these have the restart problem when used at low settings, but they will avoid any wiring for those unqualified to be working with line.
Please be careful out there. Messing with line voltage isn't something everyone should be doing.
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Last edited by Stockwell; 11-25-03 at 12:00 AM..
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Old 11-25-03, 12:12 AM   #9
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ill wait a few years until my brain develops more to try this out...i bet this will help out alot of smart people though, good job
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Old 11-25-03, 06:29 AM   #10
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Great feed back Roy! I especially like the extension cord idea. The dimmer is the leviton 700w, which is the one I thought you had recomened once before. Must not be though because as you said it is the cheap one. I was thinking that for my new rack I wound wire the dimmer to an extension cord like you said and then plug the heat pads into a power bar and plug that into the extension cord. By doing so I can keep the whole rack at one temp with one control.
Any thoughts about that? I will be using the same heat pad as the one shown above.
Thanks,
Trevor
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Old 11-25-03, 11:59 AM   #11
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anybody have a picture of one of these "neon indicators"??? sounds like a nice idea.... Thanks.
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Old 11-25-03, 02:04 PM   #12
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Another problem with using household dimmer switched designed to be used on lights is resolution. That 700w dimmer switch was designed to operate say a 60-100W light bulb or multiple lights of the same wattage. Even on that much of a load you have to turn it up a ways before the lights ever come on right? So when you only plug a load of 8w (the amount of power your heat pad puts out) even the tiniest of adjustments of the dimmer will result in a much bigger change in temp than may be desired. We used dimmers for a long time before I realized this and have since switched to helix systems. The best bet if you HAVE to use dimmers is to find one that is the lowest wattage rating you can which will give more resolution when using it for herp heating.



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Old 11-26-03, 03:03 AM   #13
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Trev, there is nothing electrically wrong with using the cheaper dimmers. If you use them half way or higher that is fine.
I just try to get the message out there that cheaper dimmers will not turn back on after a power failure, if they are used below 40 percent
of the knob revolution.
Using slightly more expensive "full range" dimmers, will usually prevent this, as they have slightly different electronic firing circuits, which allow instant on and off control even when used right down near zero.
The cheaper type must be manually turned up, then turned back down to the correct setting. If the power is cut, and there is nobody to manually move the know up, to fire the circuit, and then back down...well, they just plain don't come back on, and this causes herpers lots of grief all the time.
Look for the 15 to 25 buck ones with slider controls instead of knobs.
Those wont leave your snakes cold after a little power blip.

In general you can't get away with using one dimmer on a tall rack.
Electrically it's fine! The problem is that the setting that makes the bottom trays the right temp, will cause the upper trays to be too hot.
This is because hot air rises and the heated shelves at the bottom will heat the shelves above thorugh basic convection(hot air rises).

I Usually recommend one dimmer for every two or three levels in a rack depending on the spacing..
For the correct temps, the dimmer will need to be set lower for the top trays, than the one that controls heat on the bottom
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Old 11-26-03, 05:46 AM   #14
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Thanks Roy. I have experienced the power outage thing before. But as you said it's in the lower range. Right now all my dimmers are pluged into a power bar which is pluged into a timer for cycling and so far so good. I do check closesly though.
Cheers,
Trevor
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