Ceramic Heat Emitters vs. Heat Panels

Redstrike

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Hi all,

I've been actively pursuing reducing the amount of dust in my tortoises' enclosure (indoor closed chamber). Just wanted to say I noticed my old setup of 3 Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHE's) produced a lot of powdery, white dust on the sliding glass door as they ran. They are an excellent heat source but I always felt they were a fire hazard and didn't like how the ceramic coating around the heating elements broke down and put out a lot of [ceramic] dust.

I was reading Mike Pinglegton's Redfoot Manual and Vinke and Vetter's book about South American tortoises (I own 4 redfoots) and came across radiant heat panels from Pro Products. They aren't cheap but they are UL listed and have an amazing warranty (10-years). If you call and speak with their staff, they're very helpful. You can't just pick a size and order it, which is a bit frustrating, but getting the suppliers expert advice is also really helpful - so it's worth it in the end.

I know lots of people on here love CHE's - and I was one of them for a long time - but this heating panel is superior in its efficiency, warranty, reduced fire risk, and quality. No more ceramic dust for me! If anyone is interested in trying these panels out I included the website below.

Pro Products Heating panels:
 

Yvonne G

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Years ago I had the Pro Heat RHPs in my aviary. They didn't hold up well. What I now use in my tortoise enclosures is the RHPs from Vivarium Electronics. I find these to be a much better product.
 

Redstrike

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Years ago I had the Pro Heat RHPs in my aviary. They didn't hold up well. What I now use in my tortoise enclosures is the RHPs from Vivarium Electronics. I find these to be a much better product.
I'm intrigued...

The manufacturer boasts the below warranty and service life:
1651865719805.png

I certainly trust your experience. I'm curious how long ago you used these? I've had mine running for 2-years with no issues and the construction seems good?
 

Tom

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Hi all,

I've been actively pursuing reducing the amount of dust in my tortoises' enclosure (indoor closed chamber). Just wanted to say I noticed my old setup of 3 Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHE's) produced a lot of powdery, white dust on the sliding glass door as they ran. They are an excellent heat source but I always felt they were a fire hazard and didn't like how the ceramic coating around the heating elements broke down and put out a lot of [ceramic] dust.

I was reading Mike Pinglegton's Redfoot Manual and Vinke and Vetter's book about South American tortoises (I own 4 redfoots) and came across radiant heat panels from Pro Products. They aren't cheap but they are UL listed and have an amazing warranty (10-years). If you call and speak with their staff, they're very helpful. You can't just pick a size and order it, which is a bit frustrating, but getting the suppliers expert advice is also really helpful - so it's worth it in the end.

I know lots of people on here love CHE's - and I was one of them for a long time - but this heating panel is superior in its efficiency, warranty, reduced fire risk, and quality. No more ceramic dust for me! If anyone is interested in trying these panels out I included the website below.

Pro Products Heating panels:
I've been using CHEs since the early 90s. Still have some of those original PearlCo ones from England. I've never seen or heard of the powdery white dust you are referring to. Certainly never had anything like that in any of my enclosures. I don't think they break down and create dust, unless you are using some type that I'm not familiar with.

I started using RHPs about 8 years ago and I like them a lot better. They spread the heat out more and are much safer. I think they also reduce the likelihood of pyramiding since there is no desiccating "hot spot" directly under them. I also use the VE type that Yvonne mentioned. The only time I've had one fail is when an underground enclosure flooded and the thing was submerged. I think I could have dried it out and still used it, but I chose not to risk it and threw it away.
 

Redstrike

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I've been using CHEs since the early 90s. Still have some of those original PearlCo ones from England. I've never seen or heard of the powdery white dust you are referring to. Certainly never had anything like that in any of my enclosures. I don't think they break down and create dust, unless you are using some type that I'm not familiar with.

I started using RHPs about 8 years ago and I like them a lot better. They spread the heat out more and are much safer. I think they also reduce the likelihood of pyramiding since there is no desiccating "hot spot" directly under them. I also use the VE type that Yvonne mentioned. The only time I've had one fail is when an underground enclosure flooded and the thing was submerged. I think I could have dried it out and still used it, but I chose not to risk it and threw it away.

Yep, I'd be wary of anything submerged. It's not worth the fire risks.

I used to use the Zoo Med CHE's. I really did like them and they lasted at least 5-years at a time. I can't explain why but, yes, they used to leave a white powder everywhere. Since they were also white and the dust was a fine, powdery-white residue, I assumed it was some of the ceramic coating. I can't definitely say it was, but it makes sense. I honestly wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't for the sliding glass doors being covered on the upper right corner with it, This portion was closest to the CHE's.

I agree, the radiant heat panels are absolutely excellent for heat delivery and I've not seen any of that same dust since I switched.
 
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For Houston winters, should I use a Vivarium RHP or a Kane mat? Which wattage if the RHP? I have a small Burmese Brown Tort that lives outside with access to a "door" that leads into a small enclosure within my garage.
 

Tom

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For Houston winters, should I use a Vivarium RHP or a Kane mat? Which wattage if the RHP? I have a small Burmese Brown Tort that lives outside with access to a "door" that leads into a small enclosure within my garage.
Both. One or the other will not be enough, and depending on how cold it gets and how well insulted your night box is, both might not be enough. Only your thermometer can tell you. Luckily Burmese mountain tortoises can handle some cooler weather some of the time.

Here is how I use them:

Questions are welcome.
 
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Both. One or the other will not be enough, and depending on how cold it gets and how well insulted your night box is, both might not be enough. Only your thermometer can tell you. Luckily Burmese mountain tortoises can handle some cooler weather some of the time.

Here is how I use them:

Questions are welcome.
Tom, which wattage on the RHP?
 

Tom

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Tom, which wattage on the RHP?
Since it is controlled by the thermostat, you really can't go too big. I use the 21x12 inch 78 watt ones. Most of every year the 78 watt one should suit you, but on those rare nights in the low 20s, a bigger one might make you sleep better if it will fit on your lid.
 

Rocco's family

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Is it just me, or are these RHP's out of stock everywhere?? If anyone knows of someplace to order them please let me know!
 

Rocco's family

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They can be hard to find for some reason recently. See post number 8 above.
On the Kapidolo Farms website it looks like they have only the 40 watt, and those are out of stock- maybe supply problems? I will try @Markw84.

Rocco's house is on the way to being done- so far we have a Kane heat mat and a reptitherm habitat heater, but I feel like we will need a radiant heat panel as well because of the size of his night box (it's 4x6 and about 2 1/2 feet high in the front and maybe 3 1/2 in the back). We are in So. California so the weather will not be too cold from this point forward, but I'm thinking for next winter when it gets down to the low 40's or high 30's at night... What are your thoughts?
 

Tom

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On the Kapidolo Farms website it looks like they have only the 40 watt, and those are out of stock- maybe supply problems? I will try @Markw84.

Rocco's house is on the way to being done- so far we have a Kane heat mat and a reptitherm habitat heater, but I feel like we will need a radiant heat panel as well because of the size of his night box (it's 4x6 and about 2 1/2 feet high in the front and maybe 3 1/2 in the back). We are in So. California so the weather will not be too cold from this point forward, but I'm thinking for next winter when it gets down to the low 40's or high 30's at night... What are your thoughts?
I don't make them that tall inside, so I have no frame of reference to share. With two heat mats plus an overhead radiant heat panel, you will probably be okay as long as the box is sealed and well insulated.

At 42 inches tall in back, you could also easily mount a mini radiant oil heater up on a shelf and not lose any floor space.

In the end, only your thermometer can tell you if you have enough heat. What species and size is Rocco?
 

Rocco's family

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I don't make them that tall inside, so I have no frame of reference to share. With two heat mats plus an overhead radiant heat panel, you will probably be okay as long as the box is sealed and well insulated.

At 42 inches tall in back, you could also easily mount a mini radiant oil heater up on a shelf and not lose any floor space.

In the end, only your thermometer can tell you if you have enough heat. What species and size is Rocco?
He is a sulcata and he's about 40 pounds now.

I was concerned about the height : ( My dad and uncle are building it for me, and I gave them the dimensions, but they did it taller. I just didn't feel like I could tell them to redo it. They are still in the process of finishing it- I told them 1.5 inch insulation on walls, floor, and door (that hinges down like a drawbridge), and on the ceiling if possible. I will tell them again about how you seal yours. I will definitely look into the oil heater as well. I'm really concerned that he stay warm enough.
 

Tom

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He is a sulcata and he's about 40 pounds now.

I was concerned about the height : ( My dad and uncle are building it for me, and I gave them the dimensions, but they did it taller. I just didn't feel like I could tell them to redo it. They are still in the process of finishing it- I told them 1.5 inch insulation on walls, floor, and door (that hinges down like a drawbridge), and on the ceiling if possible. I will tell them again about how you seal yours. I will definitely look into the oil heater as well. I'm really concerned that he stay warm enough.
Sounds like you know what needs to be done. What part of SoCal are you in? Just the general area. The climate in Palm Springs is very different than Huntington Beach, for example.
 

Rocco's family

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Sounds like you know what needs to be done. What part of SoCal are you in? Just the general area. The climate in Palm Springs is very different than Huntington Beach, for example.
We are in Costa Mesa (right next to Huntington Beach)- so inland enough that we don't get the super heavy marine layer, but it still can be pretty damp sometimes. He has slept inside the house for as long as we've had him, but he is just getting too big!

Thank you for all your help on the forum- over the past months I've spent a lot of time looking at what you've shared and trying to learn how to best take care of a tort. I so appreciate you (and everyone) sharing their own experiences and what they've learned!
 
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GreatWest

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Tom and Rocco's mom (or dad?),

Thanks for this thread! So Shelly is a 40 lb sulcata female, who will live outside in Las Vegas NV. I have a 4'x6' x 3' tall in back 2' tall in front, timber with 1 1/2" foam lined walls & lined pitched tin roof "hide", in mind to build. How does this sound? 80 watt roof mounted RHP... I'm thinking. Thanks - Vince Shelly.jpg
 
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