Night Box - Electrical & Heating for Dummies!

FrankiesMom

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Tampa, FL
Hi Y'all!

We built a night box for an outdoor enclosure for our 2-1/2-year-old leopard tortoise, Frankie. He is 18" and 18.5 pounds.
Up until now, he has been living in an indoor enclosure built by Mark K Wilson LLC and has grown and thrived in there for almost 3 years!
Anyone looking for an indoor closed chamber enclosure should definitely consider ordering from [email protected]. You will not be disappointed.

Frankie's outdoor enclosure is full of grass/weeds (no pesticides/fertilizer), edible plants, a small (very) shallow pond that he can safely climb in and out of, and plenty of shade bushes.
I used Tom's instructions to build the insulated night box; however, I cannot find specific instructions on how to install the heating elements. Many of the posts no longer have photos available so I'm not sure if there were photos of the electrical out there.

I think we have all of the items needed:
18x28 Kane mat
80-watt radiant heat panel (still working on obtaining one of these)
1000-watt digital temperature controller
Outdoor extension cord (and an outdoor receptacle to plug it into)
Small shoebox sized Rubbermaid tote (to store electrical cords, etc to keep dry)

Questions (some of these questions may seem like no-brainers -- but electrical stuff makes me very nervous so I'm trying to ask all questions):

1) How do I attach the Rubbermaid container to the inside of the night box?
2) Do I cut holes in the side of the Rubbermaid container to pull cords through?
3) What exactly goes in the Rubbermaid container?
4) I think the Kane mat just sits on the floor on one side of the night box and the tortoise sits on it directly - is that correct?
5) How do I attach the 80-watt radiant heat panel and where - ceiling or wall? On same side of the box as the Kane mat?
6) Do I drill a hole in the night box for the extension cord or just drape it out the top panel?
7) Do I need the heat on in the summer when it's 70+ degrees at night? Should I just leave it on and it goes on/off when needed depending on the settings?
8) What should the settings be? (I actually have Tom's suggested settings but the thread I have is from several years ago and I'm not sure if the thoughts on this subject have changed.)
9) Should I put him in his night box when there is heavy rain/wind - we do get our fair share of hurricanes in Florida! Or will he go in on his own if he needs to? If it gets really bad outside, I suspect I will be bringing him indoors for my own sanity!
10) Any additional information is greatly appreciated.
11) Unrelated question: Do I still need to soak Frankie at his size/weight? If so, how often? Currently I do this 3x week.


Thank you in advance for your help.
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
4,860
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Hi Y'all!

We built a night box for an outdoor enclosure for our 2-1/2-year-old leopard tortoise, Frankie. He is 18" and 18.5 pounds.
Up until now, he has been living in an indoor enclosure built by Mark K Wilson LLC and has grown and thrived in there for almost 3 years!
Anyone looking for an indoor closed chamber enclosure should definitely consider ordering from [email protected]. You will not be disappointed.

Frankie's outdoor enclosure is full of grass/weeds (no pesticides/fertilizer), edible plants, a small (very) shallow pond that he can safely climb in and out of, and plenty of shade bushes.
I used Tom's instructions to build the insulated night box; however, I cannot find specific instructions on how to install the heating elements. Many of the posts no longer have photos available so I'm not sure if there were photos of the electrical out there.

I think we have all of the items needed:
18x28 Kane mat
80-watt radiant heat panel (still working on obtaining one of these)
1000-watt digital temperature controller
Outdoor extension cord (and an outdoor receptacle to plug it into)
Small shoebox sized Rubbermaid tote (to store electrical cords, etc to keep dry)

Questions (some of these questions may seem like no-brainers -- but electrical stuff makes me very nervous so I'm trying to ask all questions):

1) How do I attach the Rubbermaid container to the inside of the night box?
2) Do I cut holes in the side of the Rubbermaid container to pull cords through?
3) What exactly goes in the Rubbermaid container?
4) I think the Kane mat just sits on the floor on one side of the night box and the tortoise sits on it directly - is that correct?
5) How do I attach the 80-watt radiant heat panel and where - ceiling or wall? On same side of the box as the Kane mat?
6) Do I drill a hole in the night box for the extension cord or just drape it out the top panel?
7) Do I need the heat on in the summer when it's 70+ degrees at night? Should I just leave it on and it goes on/off when needed depending on the settings?
8) What should the settings be? (I actually have Tom's suggested settings but the thread I have is from several years ago and I'm not sure if the thoughts on this subject have changed.)
9) Should I put him in his night box when there is heavy rain/wind - we do get our fair share of hurricanes in Florida! Or will he go in on his own if he needs to? If it gets really bad outside, I suspect I will be bringing him indoors for my own sanity!
10) Any additional information is greatly appreciated.
11) Unrelated question: Do I still need to soak Frankie at his size/weight? If so, how often? Currently I do this 3x week.


Thank you in advance for your help.

1) How do I attach the Rubbermaid container to the inside of the night box?
I drill a small hole in the back and screw to the back wall of the night box. To drill through plastic it is easiest to use a bit that is for drilling acrylic or plastic. Rubbermaid container may not need this as they are a softer/more pliable plastic that usually drills easily if not forced. You also can use a soldering iron and burn a hole through without cracking the container.
2) Do I cut holes in the side of the Rubbermaid container to pull cords through?
Yes.
3) What exactly goes in the Rubbermaid container?
The thermostat. The Kane mat and the RHP will plug into that in the Rubbermaid container.
4) I think the Kane mat just sits on the floor on one side of the night box and the tortoise sits on it directly - is that correct?
Yes.
5) How do I attach the 80-watt radiant heat panel and where - ceiling or wall? On same side of the box as the Kane mat?
I screw the RHP into the ceiling in about the middle of the night box. The Kane mat more to one side.
6) Do I drill a hole in the night box for the extension cord or just drape it out the top panel?
I drill a hole in the back of the night box and then fill the hole around the wire with insulation.
7) Do I need the heat on in the summer when it's 70+ degrees at night? Should I just leave it on and it goes on/off when needed depending on the settings?
I just leave mine on, but have colder nights than you. You could just turn the setting on the thermostat down to 75° in your area in summer.
8) What should the settings be? (I actually have Tom's suggested settings but the thread I have is from several years ago and I'm not sure if the thoughts on this subject have changed.)
When daytime highs do not reach 80° I would set at 82°. Summer I would set at 75°
9) Should I put him in his night box when there is heavy rain/wind - we do get our fair share of hurricanes in Florida! Or will he go in on his own if he needs to? If it gets really bad outside, I suspect I will be bringing him indoors for my own sanity!
I "do the rounds" every night and be sure every tortoise is in their night box for predator protection as well as heat. I lock the door to keep them in. I open the door each morning. Regardless of weather.
10) Any additional information is greatly appreciated.
11) Unrelated question: Do I still need to soak Frankie at his size/weight? If so, how often? Currently I do this 3x week.
Have a water dish/pool large enough for self-soaking always available. Soaking is always of value, but not necessary at 3 years old. Once a week would be plenty. Less is OK. You are in S/central Florida.
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
14,154
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Here you go. Aaaagh, i was just getting ready to respond but see the other smart Mark beat me too it. Soooo, I’m done w/o studying for the exam. 🤣
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
14,154
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
One thing that I was going to add. Instead of the Rubbermaid container holding the plugs & thermostat, I chose to use one of these cheap HarborFreight “ammo boxes”. Easily holds the stuff, easy to cut a hole in for the plugs, easily attaches inside your night box.


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FrankiesMom

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Tampa, FL
1) How do I attach the Rubbermaid container to the inside of the night box?
I drill a small hole in the back and screw to the back wall of the night box. To drill through plastic it is easiest to use a bit that is for drilling acrylic or plastic. Rubbermaid container may not need this as they are a softer/more pliable plastic that usually drills easily if not forced. You also can use a soldering iron and burn a hole through without cracking the container.
2) Do I cut holes in the side of the Rubbermaid container to pull cords through?
Yes.
3) What exactly goes in the Rubbermaid container?
The thermostat. The Kane mat and the RHP will plug into that in the Rubbermaid container.
4) I think the Kane mat just sits on the floor on one side of the night box and the tortoise sits on it directly - is that correct?
Yes.
5) How do I attach the 80-watt radiant heat panel and where - ceiling or wall? On same side of the box as the Kane mat?
I screw the RHP into the ceiling in about the middle of the night box. The Kane mat more to one side.
6) Do I drill a hole in the night box for the extension cord or just drape it out the top panel?
I drill a hole in the back of the night box and then fill the hole around the wire with insulation.
7) Do I need the heat on in the summer when it's 70+ degrees at night? Should I just leave it on and it goes on/off when needed depending on the settings?
I just leave mine on, but have colder nights than you. You could just turn the setting on the thermostat down to 75° in your area in summer.
8) What should the settings be? (I actually have Tom's suggested settings but the thread I have is from several years ago and I'm not sure if the thoughts on this subject have changed.)
When daytime highs do not reach 80° I would set at 82°. Summer I would set at 75°
9) Should I put him in his night box when there is heavy rain/wind - we do get our fair share of hurricanes in Florida! Or will he go in on his own if he needs to? If it gets really bad outside, I suspect I will be bringing him indoors for my own sanity!
I "do the rounds" every night and be sure every tortoise is in their night box for predator protection as well as heat. I lock the door to keep them in. I open the door each morning. Regardless of weather.
10) Any additional information is greatly appreciated.
11) Unrelated question: Do I still need to soak Frankie at his size/weight? If so, how often? Currently I do this 3x week.
Have a water dish/pool large enough for self-soaking always available. Soaking is always of value, but not necessary at 3 years old. Once a week would be plenty. Less is OK. You are in S/central Florida.
Thank you for all of the info! I appreciate your quick responses...you have always been there when I needed you.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,969
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi Y'all!

We built a night box for an outdoor enclosure for our 2-1/2-year-old leopard tortoise, Frankie. He is 18" and 18.5 pounds.
Up until now, he has been living in an indoor enclosure built by Mark K Wilson LLC and has grown and thrived in there for almost 3 years!
Anyone looking for an indoor closed chamber enclosure should definitely consider ordering from [email protected]. You will not be disappointed.

Frankie's outdoor enclosure is full of grass/weeds (no pesticides/fertilizer), edible plants, a small (very) shallow pond that he can safely climb in and out of, and plenty of shade bushes.
I used Tom's instructions to build the insulated night box; however, I cannot find specific instructions on how to install the heating elements. Many of the posts no longer have photos available so I'm not sure if there were photos of the electrical out there.

I think we have all of the items needed:
18x28 Kane mat
80-watt radiant heat panel (still working on obtaining one of these)
1000-watt digital temperature controller
Outdoor extension cord (and an outdoor receptacle to plug it into)
Small shoebox sized Rubbermaid tote (to store electrical cords, etc to keep dry)

Questions (some of these questions may seem like no-brainers -- but electrical stuff makes me very nervous so I'm trying to ask all questions):

1) How do I attach the Rubbermaid container to the inside of the night box?
2) Do I cut holes in the side of the Rubbermaid container to pull cords through?
3) What exactly goes in the Rubbermaid container?
4) I think the Kane mat just sits on the floor on one side of the night box and the tortoise sits on it directly - is that correct?
5) How do I attach the 80-watt radiant heat panel and where - ceiling or wall? On same side of the box as the Kane mat?
6) Do I drill a hole in the night box for the extension cord or just drape it out the top panel?
7) Do I need the heat on in the summer when it's 70+ degrees at night? Should I just leave it on and it goes on/off when needed depending on the settings?
8) What should the settings be? (I actually have Tom's suggested settings but the thread I have is from several years ago and I'm not sure if the thoughts on this subject have changed.)
9) Should I put him in his night box when there is heavy rain/wind - we do get our fair share of hurricanes in Florida! Or will he go in on his own if he needs to? If it gets really bad outside, I suspect I will be bringing him indoors for my own sanity!
10) Any additional information is greatly appreciated.
11) Unrelated question: Do I still need to soak Frankie at his size/weight? If so, how often? Currently I do this 3x week.


Thank you in advance for your help.
Mark answered your questions wonderfully.

Here is the thread showing the pics of how to install the electric components into the night box. I drill a small channel at the top of one wall toward the back of the box and lay the incoming extension cord in that channel. I cover the cord with the weather stripping, and feed the cord into the plastic box that holds the thermostat. I tried to use @Maro2Bear 's suggestion of the ammo can and I think it would work well for some applications, but the box I was using it on also had a light timer, and I couldn't fit all the stuff in the ammo can. I had to use a larger plastic box for that build, but I saved the plastic ammo can for another build. A small plastic tool box from Home Depot allowed me to fit my thermostat, light timer, fan speed controller, and extra cords for that build.


The only things I do different than @Markw84 are:
A). I mount the RHP directly over the heat mat which is all the way over to one side. I do this so that the tortoise can be in the heat when it wants, but if can move off the mat and over to the other side of the box if it is warm enough already.
B). I set the thermostat to 75 in summer, 86 in winter, 80 in fall and spring when we have warm sunny days, but cold nights.

About your #7 question: In your climate with your super high humidity and rainy summers, I would leave the box set to 80 most of every year and never go below that. The electric heat will dry out the inside of the box a little, and the warmer temp will help stave off a RI, which can be an issue for leopards outdoors in humid climates. In your case, I would also not do anything to add humidity to the night box. You don't need it.
 

FrankiesMom

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Tampa, FL
Mark answered your questions wonderfully.

Here is the thread showing the pics of how to install the electric components into the night box. I drill a small channel at the top of one wall toward the back of the box and lay the incoming extension cord in that channel. I cover the cord with the weather stripping, and feed the cord into the plastic box that holds the thermostat. I tried to use @Maro2Bear 's suggestion of the ammo can and I think it would work well for some applications, but the box I was using it on also had a light timer, and I couldn't fit all the stuff in the ammo can. I had to use a larger plastic box for that build, but I saved the plastic ammo can for another build. A small plastic tool box from Home Depot allowed me to fit my thermostat, light timer, fan speed controller, and extra cords for that build.


The only things I do different than @Markw84 are:
A). I mount the RHP directly over the heat mat which is all the way over to one side. I do this so that the tortoise can be in the heat when it wants, but if can move off the mat and over to the other side of the box if it is warm enough already.
B). I set the thermostat to 75 in summer, 86 in winter, 80 in fall and spring when we have warm sunny days, but cold nights.

About your #7 question: In your climate with your super high humidity and rainy summers, I would leave the box set to 80 most of every year and never go below that. The electric heat will dry out the inside of the box a little, and the warmer temp will help stave off a RI, which can be an issue for leopards outdoors in humid climates. In your case, I would also not do anything to add humidity to the night box. You don't need it.
Thank you for the info! Very helpful group as usual. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled onto this forum before I even got Frankie 3+ years ago.
 
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