Can someone recommend a good radiant heat panel for tortoise box?

Nellie Rose

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I'm having trouble figuring out what radiant heat panel to get.
I live in Maryland and I'm trying to design an outdoor tortoise house for year round use. We have cold winters here so heat is a priority.
I'm looking for something to heat the main space (enclosure will be a covered greenhouse type enclosure), and a radiant heat panel to heat a 16×20×17 tortoise house.

Does anyone have any other ideas, or recommended certain brands?


Enclosure will be 24 inches high, 8 ft long and 4 ft wide. The tortoise box will be 16×20×17 inches.
I want to maintain an ambient temp between 70-75, with a hot spot of 90.
I'm looking into heat panels, chicken coop heaters, and other options.
Hopefully someone can chime in. It will be an upgrade over his current enclosure, pictured below. He only just moved outside and I'm pretty unhappy with the current enclosure.
20240527_083651.jpg20240527_083646.jpg
 

wellington

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The shed should be heated with an oil filled radiant heater. Then use flood bulb for basking and you can make a heated hide with a Kane or Stanfield pig blanket/heat panel placed on the side or ceiling of the hide.
A greenhouse like pictured will not stay warm enough in cold temps outside with just a heat panel.
 

Nellie Rose

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The shed should be heated with an oil filled radiant heater. Then use flood bulb for basking and you can make a heated hide with a Kane or Stanfield pig blanket/heat panel placed on the side or ceiling of the hide.
A greenhouse like pictured will not stay warm enough in cold temps outside with just a heat panel.
It will be rebuilt by then out of wood and corrugated plastic to hold heat better. I knew I would need at least 2 sources of heat, one for the main area and one for the box.

This sounds dumb but what is an oil filled radiant heater, and can you recommend a good brand? It will need to fit inside the 8×4×2 space.
I thought for the hot spot I might use a deep heat projector since they stay hotter than incandescent bulbs and last longer.
 

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wellington

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The heaters above come 1500 watt at the biggest that I know of. Then you can get smaller ones.
@Tom uses a smaller kind for a 4x8 foot night box.
 

Nellie Rose

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The heaters above come 1500 watt at the biggest that I know of. Then you can get smaller ones.
@Tom uses a smaller kind for a 4x8 foot night box.
Ok, it needs to fit inside something like this. Except it will have wooden walls and measure 4ft×8ft. At the tallest point it will be 24 inches above the substrate.
Screenshot_20240527_094613_Google.jpg

How would I set up the heater inside of the enclosure where it can't burn my tortoise?
 

Tom

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I'm having trouble figuring out what radiant heat panel to get.
I live in Maryland and I'm trying to design an outdoor tortoise house for year round use. We have cold winters here so heat is a priority.
I'm looking for something to heat the main space (enclosure will be a covered greenhouse type enclosure), and a radiant heat panel to heat a 16×20×17 tortoise house.

Does anyone have any other ideas, or recommended certain brands?


Enclosure will be 24 inches high, 8 ft long and 4 ft wide. The tortoise box will be 16×20×17 inches.
I want to maintain an ambient temp between 70-75, with a hot spot of 90.
I'm looking into heat panels, chicken coop heaters, and other options.
Hopefully someone can chime in. It will be an upgrade over his current enclosure, pictured below. He only just moved outside and I'm pretty unhappy with the current enclosure.
View attachment 371295View attachment 371296
What species is this for?

The only RHP that will fit in a box that small is a 12x12, and it isn't going to generate all that much heat. If you want daytime heat, a basking bulb is a better way to go in this situation.

A full size radiant oil heater is not going to fit in something 24 inches tall. You need a mini radiant oil heater. Something like this:
cv58nm6fvcmcxrhb64c36p3.jpg

I don't think any sort of outdoor enclosure like this is going to work "year round" in Maryland. If you have a temperate species, they should be brumated in winter. If you don't want to brumate, they need to be brought indoors and kept warm and brightly lit over winter. If you have a tropical species, an enclosure like this will simply not stay warm enough when its snowing outside. 70 at night is fine for temperate species, but much too cold for any tropical species.
 

Yvonne G

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Ok, it needs to fit inside something like this. Except it will have wooden walls and measure 4ft×8ft. At the tallest point it will be 24 inches above the substrate.
View attachment 371303

How would I set up the heater inside of the enclosure where it can't burn my tortoise?
You're not going to be able to keep that warm enough in the winter. For winter you need a box or shed, with actual wood or metal walls, insulated.
 

Nellie Rose

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What species is this for?
Hello. Hermanns Tortoise. I've had him 10 years, I got him when I was 10, and back then all of the care sheets said a 50 gallon tank was a fine home. Over time I upgraded him to a 7×3 enclosed pvc but I want to give him more space, and my home is maxed out. I literally don't have another inch.
The only RHP that will fit in a box that small is a 12x12, and it isn't going to generate all that much heat. If you want daytime heat, a basking bulb is a better way to go in this situation.

A full size radiant oil heater is not going to fit in something 24 inches tall. You need a mini radiant oil heater. Something like this:
View attachment 371333
I was thinking about using a deep heat projector for the hot spot because I find them more reliable than incandescent, but I'm still tossing around options.
He'll be living inside for the first few months of cold weather while I fine tune the enclosure, I have an outdoor camera and wifi/blutooth thermometers so I can monitor it. It'll track the highs and lows throughout the day.

What size would you recommend making the enclosure so everything fits?
I don't think any sort of outdoor enclosure like this is going to work "year round" in Maryland. If you have a temperate species, they should be brumated in winter. If you don't want to brumate, they need to be brought indoors and kept warm and brightly lit over winter. If you have a tropical species, an enclosure like this will simply not stay warm enough when its snowing outside. 70 at night is fine for temperate species, but much too cold for any tropical species.

So my idea was to build him a mini greenhouse, similar to the picture I attached but with corrugated plastic roof and insulated wood walls. Then he would also have a box inside to sleep in for when the nights get really cold, or I could bring him indoors at night.
I've heard of other people building enclosures like this in places with temperatures like MD and wanted to give it a shot.
Is there any kind of design or style you would recommend for the build? This is why I'm asking now, before I start.

You're not going to be able to keep that warm enough in the winter. For winter you need a box or shed, with actual wood or metal walls, insulated.
Yes its going to have insulated wooden walls, I just thought a corrugated plastic roof would help trap some warmth, like in a greenhouse. The picture was just an approximate example.
 

Tom

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Hello. Hermanns Tortoise. I've had him 10 years, I got him when I was 10, and back then all of the care sheets said a 50 gallon tank was a fine home. Over time I upgraded him to a 7×3 enclosed pvc but I want to give him more space, and my home is maxed out. I literally don't have another inch.

I was thinking about using a deep heat projector for the hot spot because I find them more reliable than incandescent, but I'm still tossing around options.
He'll be living inside for the first few months of cold weather while I fine tune the enclosure, I have an outdoor camera and wifi/blutooth thermometers so I can monitor it. It'll track the highs and lows throughout the day.

What size would you recommend making the enclosure so everything fits?


So my idea was to build him a mini greenhouse, similar to the picture I attached but with corrugated plastic roof and insulated wood walls. Then he would also have a box inside to sleep in for when the nights get really cold, or I could bring him indoors at night.
I've heard of other people building enclosures like this in places with temperatures like MD and wanted to give it a shot.
Is there any kind of design or style you would recommend for the build? This is why I'm asking now, before I start.


Yes its going to have insulated wooden walls, I just thought a corrugated plastic roof would help trap some warmth, like in a greenhouse. The picture was just an approximate example.
Here is what I would recommend:
1. A large outdoor enclosure for favorable weather. 10x10 or 20x20 feet if possible. Have a temperature controlled, insulated shelter out there for cold nights and days when the weather isn't quite "optimal" in spring and fall. This box will also keep him safe at night, every night, even in summer. If he doesn't go in on his own, put him in and latch the door closed. Open the door in the morning.
2. Brumate him over winter, so you don't have to worry about space in the frozen weather.
3. Use the indoor 3x7 for inclement weather or nights if you want to. Its always nice to have an indoor option. If the tortoise is roaming outside in a large enclosure most of the time, the 3x7 indoors is fine.

Alternatively, you can get a large shed, insulate it well, top to bottom, floor, ceiling, walls, everything..., make a wrap around enclosure up off the floor and run a couple of those full size radiant heaters we mentioned before. I run them on low only, which is 600 watts each, and I run each on its own thermostat. I set the thermostats a couple of degrees different so that the second one only kicks on if the other can't keep the temps up on its own. I do this in my 10x20 foot reptile room and it keeps 80 degrees on nights in the high 20s here outside. You would only need 65 degrees, and your heat lamps would kick on in the morning so the tortoise cold warm up.

When I say "wrap around enclosure", what I mean is a large, wide "shelf" with walls, wrapping around two or three walls, leaving a central area for you to walk around and service the enclosure. This would give the tortoise a "U" shaped enclosure to walk around in and add much square footage. Having the "shelf" with walls 3 feet off the ground would allow you to conveniently hide those oil heaters underneath the enclosure. Heat rises, so the tortoise's floor would never get too cold. You could still use that space underneath for storage as long as you give the heaters some space, and if you want to get really fancy, you could install shelves over head for more storage. Doesn't everyone need more storage space? :)

Several way to go here. I show the heated shelter in this thread:
 

Nellie Rose

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Here is what I would recommend:
1. A large outdoor enclosure for favorable weather. 10x10 or 20x20 feet if possible. Have a temperature controlled, insulated shelter out there for cold nights and days when the weather isn't quite "optimal" in spring and fall. This box will also keep him safe at night, every night, even in summer. If he doesn't go in on his own, put him in and latch the door closed. Open the door in the morning.
2. Brumate him over winter, so you don't have to worry about space in the frozen weather.
3. Use the indoor 3x7 for inclement weather or nights if you want to. Its always nice to have an indoor option. If the tortoise is roaming outside in a large enclosure most of the time, the 3x7 indoors is fine.

Alternatively, you can get a large shed, insulate it well, top to bottom, floor, ceiling, walls, everything..., make a wrap around enclosure up off the floor and run a couple of those full size radiant heaters we mentioned before. I run them on low only, which is 600 watts each, and I run each on its own thermostat. I set the thermostats a couple of degrees different so that the second one only kicks on if the other can't keep the temps up on its own. I do this in my 10x20 foot reptile room and it keeps 80 degrees on nights in the high 20s here outside. You would only need 65 degrees, and your heat lamps would kick on in the morning so the tortoise cold warm up.

When I say "wrap around enclosure", what I mean is a large, wide "shelf" with walls, wrapping around two or three walls, leaving a central area for you to walk around and service the enclosure. This would give the tortoise a "U" shaped enclosure to walk around in and add much square footage. Having the "shelf" with walls 3 feet off the ground would allow you to conveniently hide those oil heaters underneath the enclosure. Heat rises, so the tortoise's floor would never get too cold. You could still use that space underneath for storage as long as you give the heaters some space, and if you want to get really fancy, you could install shelves over head for more storage. Doesn't everyone need more storage space? :)

Several way to go here. I show the heated shelter in this thread:
I will check out that thread, lots of ideas.
My goal is to get the animals out of the house. My baby sulcata is living in the 7×3 currently, but I'm going to get a second one as backup. The heating in the house is crazy, we have to blast the AC to keep up. And eventually the baby sulcata will need to be outside full time, my plan was just to buy her a shed and insulate it though. I thought a smaller enclosure would work for little Hermann, he's only about 5 inches, but perhaps a bigger box or shed would work better and make it easier on me. I'll check out that thread and look at more plans in the meantime, I have all summer to make a plan and start building.
 

Nellie Rose

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Having the "shelf" with walls 3 feet off the ground would allow you to conveniently hide those oil heaters underneath the enclosure.

Would something like this work for the oil heater? Sorry, just want to make sure I am buying the right thing before I order. I figured I'd make the night box 24×24 and use an 18×18 heat panel to warm it.
 

Tom

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Would something like this work for the oil heater? Sorry, just want to make sure I am buying the right thing before I order. I figured I'd make the night box 24×24 and use an 18×18 heat panel to warm it.
That is the mini style. Those are good for heating a 4x8 foot outdoor night box for tropical species. Its way too large for a 24x24 inch box, and way too small for a whole shed.
 

Nellie Rose

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That is the mini style. Those are good for heating a 4x8 foot outdoor night box for tropical species. Its way too large for a 24x24 inch box, and way too small for a whole shed.
I would use it for the 4×8 shelter, and a small heat panel for the night box.
 

Tom

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I would use it for the 4×8 shelter, and a small heat panel for the night box.
It should work well for that. Use a reptile thermostat rated to handle at least 1000 watts. These are only about $20-30 on Amazon. Don't rely on the thermostat that is on the heater. You can use that one as a secondary safety in case the main unit fails. Set it high, so that it will kick the heater off if the purchased thermostat ever sticks "on" for any reason.
 

Nellie Rose

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It should work well for that. Use a reptile thermostat rated to handle at least 1000 watts. These are only about $20-30 on Amazon. Don't rely on the thermostat that is on the heater. You can use that one as a secondary safety in case the main unit fails. Set it high, so that it will kick the heater off if the purchased thermostat ever sticks "on" for any reason.

Gotcha, thank you. I feel so much more confident now. I think this is going to work out really well.
I decided to ditch the greenhouse idea and just do an insulated wooden roof with 2 doors. One wooden on top and one wire underneath for the summer days. Not sure how to build that yet but my brother is going to help me draw up plans. This way it will be completely enclosed during the winter and fully insulated.

For my sulcata, once she is big enough, I'll just buy her a 10×10 shed and heat that through the winter but we'll cross that bridge when we get there lol
 
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