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Hydro Farm Jump-Start thermostat, neg. review

Discussion in 'Tortoise Product Reviews' started by Loohan, Jan 27, 2017.

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  1. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    I bought one of these:
    Hydrofarm Digital Temperature Controller for Heat Mat
    SKU# MTPRTC

    a year ago. This is the Jump-Start model. It arrived non-functioning, so i returned it for a refund.
    Then on 9/30/16 i bought another from a different source, having forgotten that it was the same model and brand i had ordered before. The second unit worked fine for 3 months and then died.
    I contacted the company Hydro Galaxy, from whom i had ordered this 2nd one directly. They were very rude, giving me incomplete instructions on how to apply for a refund on their website software. I emailed them twice that the software did not work, to which i only received the same bad instructions repeated to me.
    But i figured out the missing step and filled out the RMA request and submitted it. I got no acknowledgement that anything had been received. I emailed them about this, which was ignored. A few days later, i tried again, and the same thing happened. I can't get an RMA and they won't reply to my emails anymore.
    Since it is over 60 days there is no recourse through my credit card bank.
    Hydro Farm sells junk and ripped me off $31.95 which i am highly unlikely ever to see again.

    --------
    Just as an aside, it is odd that of the 4 reptile thermostats i have bought online, 2 arrived dead and one died in 3 months. My next order will be for a Ranco, as they have a good reputation.
    I have posted a negative review of Big Apple thermostats also. The one i originally bought a year ago (to replace the DOA Jump-Start) is still working fine, but the second one arrived dead and that vendor would not pay for return shipping.

    My conclusion is that there are rotten vendors selling shoddy products, so stick to quality brands.
  2. Carol S

    Carol S Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I have the Hydrofarm brand. It is 4 years old and still works great.
    cmac3 likes this.
  3. Yelloweyed

    Yelloweyed Well-Known Member

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    I have three of the Hydrofarm brand thermostats and after several years of use, two work fine but one died just after the warranty expired. I purchased all through Amazon but through different vendors. Perhaps some are not authentic products?
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I have a mix of Hydrofarm and Zilla 1000 watt thermostats in use. I've got over a dozen of them running all the time. I've only had two go bad. One flooded and was submerged for days. The other stuck on and was promptly trashed. Both of these were Zilla models that had been in use for 5-6 years. I've been using the Hydrofarms for about a year or two and no problems yet with 4 units.

    Sorry to hear you are having this trouble.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  5. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking maybe they changed some inner parts or something recently. But Tom's post sounds like his recent ones work too.

    In any case, having some bad products is one thing, and refusing to honor the warranty is another.
    keepergale likes this.
  6. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Agreed. Bad customer service is a deal breaker for me.

    I have two Ranco thermostats. I think you will be quite pleased and satisfied with those.
    Alexio and keepergale like this.
  7. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, i already ordered one Ranco this morning. And they are not frightfully expensive compared to the Big Apple units.
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I got two Ranco units and one from another maker that I can't remember offhand… from http://www.reptilebasics.com They were on sale for $79, if I recall correctly. They were already built and ready to go with a long cord.

    I've got no problems to report and Rpetile Basics has offered me nothing but excellent customer service and honesty.
  9. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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  10. Alexio

    Alexio Active Member

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    Im using the same one i believe but i bought it pre-wired which you can do by the manufacture (costs around 80$). I will swear by the one i have, it is rated up to 1500 watts and i am using it for an oil filled heater for my "africa room" . Where i am currently keeping 10 tropical snakes and one leopard tortoise in. Holds the temps in the room consistently within 1 degree.

    I believe this is the exact one i use
    http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc111000000-digital-temperature-controller-prewired-p-87.html
  11. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, seems like an awful markup just to solder on a couple leads... Hopefully wiring is a simple procedure involving only basic skills...:oops:
  12. Alexio

    Alexio Active Member

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    To be honest it really is. I believe the unwired ones come with a diagram that shows you how to do it. And i dont think you need to solder it anyway. But you also would have to purchase the 16 gage cord and any other tools you may not have handy to wire or solder. I personally don't have any electrical wiring fears, but i knew that no less than 10 animals would be dependent on it so i figured id air on the side of caution.
  13. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
  14. JustinGrattan

    JustinGrattan New Member

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    Thanks for all the heavy lifting! I know what I'm going to purchase now, the vivarium thermostat.
  15. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    I did have a slightly odd experience with Ranco, too. I bought a 2nd unit and on this one the probe would send back way too high readings in proportion to how moist it got.
    I emailed support and they said some older models did that but the new kind like i got shouldn't. He said he would get a new unit in the mail right away. However, this was just talk, as nothing ever was sent.
    I covered the probe with some waterproof tape, which seems to have fixed the problem.
    Not a big deal, but their unwillingness to take responsibility, and their willingness to lie, soured me a bit.
    JustinGrattan likes this.
  16. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    Actually I am severely bummed about Ranco.
    The 1st one worked fine for a while. I ordered the 2nd, and it arrived with a defective probe. I talked to Robert Shaw and he said he'd send out a new one. I wasn't sure if he meant new probe or whole unit, but nothing ever arrived. I put some waterproof tape on the probe and it then worked fine. I only used it for a couple months for starting garden vegetables this spring, then set it aside.
    I also set aside the 1st unit when the weather got warm enough for my boxies' totes to stay at least 72 overnight.

    So both units sat for several months. Then when things cooled down several weeks ago, i tried using the 1st unit. It worked somewhat at first, but would not turn back on by itself after turning off or having a power interruption. I would have to manually fidget around with the controls a bit to get it running.
    After a couple weeks of this, it would no longer turn on at all, just give me an E1 (error) message.

    OK, so i still had my almost-new 2nd unit. I got it and it too had failed and only gave an E1 message! Both units had gone bad just from sitting through the summer!

    I finally got a hold of Robert Shaw again and he said they were no longer under warranty (actually i think the 2nd one is but i can't find a receipt) but he would send me a couple more.
    Weeks went by, nothing.
    I called him again, he acted surprised that i had not rec'd anything, got my shipping address again, said he would send 2 more out. That was 2-3 weeks ago and still nothing. No shipping notifications ever, either.

    I am out about $100 for these 2 units.
  17. Kapidolo Farms

    Kapidolo Farms Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I believe all of these $20 to $50 heat regulators are made in China through an AliBaba manufacturer contract. Most are no doubt okay, but most only means 51% ?

    I've used many of them and found them to be okay, all need to be monitored for operation. I've not had one heat too much, I have had a few that stop heating. But you should check all these 'automatic' things regularly. Light Timers, incubators, thermostats, CHE's all this stuff is a good convenience, but all needs to be check often.
    Minority2 likes this.
  18. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    The Ranco ones say Assembled in Mexico. Of course the components probably come from the usual place.

    Yeah i do check their habitats several times a week with a thermometer gun. That's the only automatic stuff i use.
    I've even gotten paranoid of brumating 'em in the fridge. I work part-time at a bakery,and earlier this year they had a COMMERCIAL GRADE fridge fail and FREEZE all the contents, much of which had to be discarded. (And anything commercial grade is usually much better. E.g. corporate uniforms never wear out hardly while the stuff in stores is designed have a short life.)
    The fridge was only a few years old.
    Kapidolo Farms likes this.
  19. Loohan

    Loohan Well-Known Member

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    Well, on a hunch i tried my 2 Ranco thermostats again. I could not get either to work last fall, only give error messages. They seem OK now and i have been using one for 3-4 days with no problems.
    However, i have no idea why they stopped working last fall. I tried different outlets at the time to no avail. And the cheap replacement worked fine.
    I don't know whether they will goof up again, and monitor the situation closely.
    Also the fact remains that i was lied to and received no support.
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