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 FlexWatt/Big Apple Pet supplies

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TheKevil
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Number of posts : 335
Age : 33
Location : San Antonio, Tx
Registration date : 2010-11-05

PostSubject: FlexWatt/Big Apple Pet supplies   6/20/2013, 3:32 pm

Hey guys! I just started using Flex Watt heat tape on my enclosures and I like it for the most part. Here is my broken down review of some of the perks and problems.

Installation:
Installation is relatively easy if you know what you are doing with electronics. Honestly, this is the worst part of dealing with the stuff. FlexWatt comes with just the tape and you have to install the cables onto the tape yourself. There are many different ways of doing this, some easy and some hard. Suppliers will also sell clips and cables with teeth on them that penetrate the tape and allow for a decent connection. I found, though, that they don't seem to work as well as a different, more complicated method. Personally, I found that stripping the plastic off of the tape in a small section over the metal contacts in the tape, poking a small hole and running your cables through the whole and soldering them in place got better heat output and more reliability. This is complicated and takes some tools. Once you get your connections done, however, you just insulate the metal areas where you could possibly get shocked or cause a fire with electrical or rubber tape and tape it to the back of your enclosure with foil insulation tape or duct tape, plug it in and you're golden. Be careful, though, as higher wattage on the tape will result in higher temperatures. If you find that the temperatures end up too much for your scorps to take, I would recommend installing a dimmer switch (complicated and requires more soldering) or plugging your heat tape into a thermostat to regulate the temps. Also, make sure that you install the tape right at the top level of the substrate or no more than an inch below it (if you have deep substrate). Scorpions mostly burrow to get out of the heat, so if your tape is way below that line and your substrate is getting heated, you will stress out and bake them.

Results:
The results were great. I am using flex watt on all of my setups, currently. On my desert setups, I have two pieces of 3" width tape. It's hottest, of course, where the tape is attached, and allows an awesome gradient with lower temperatures towards the front. I am getting back temps of around 95F, going down to around 82 in the front, cool side. Now, i would recommend giving the enclosures a day or two to warm up before placing your scorps in them, as the temperature will need to build up to get this kind of gradient. For my lower temperature setups, I use one piece of the tape and get a good hot side of about 85 with a cool side of about 80 or a little under. My apartment, though, is kept at around 75F anyway, So I really just needed a slight push to get the hot side where it needs to be.

Acquiring Flex Watt:
This is the annoying part, other than installation. There are a few vendors out there for this stuff. The main one I found was Big Apple Pet Supply from New York City. Their website is ok, but they don't mention that you are buying the tape by the foot and must adjust your quantity for however many feet you need. Instead, they have a picture of a whole roll, so it seems like you're getting the whole thing for a little under $4USD. I made this mistake the first time and only got one foot when my order came in. Big Apple also sells the stuff on Amazon and the same problem happens there. Make sure that you adjust your quantity for however many feet you need. You can find tape in 3" and 11" widths. I would recommend buying the 3" as most common enclosures are going to be around 12" tall and the 11" would surely bake your substrate. The end cost isn't as much as buying a bunch of high wattage heat mats and taping them to the back of your enclosures, but it's still not really cheap. Luckily I had $100 in Amazon gift cards that I used to get mine and a very generous snake breeder for a close friend that had some extra that he gave me. In the long run, the heat tape is supposed to be very reliable and long lasting, so I can see the cost being justified in the fact that you won't be having to replace heat bulbs constantly or have to buy fixtures for the bulbs.

Conclusion:
Flex Watt heat tape is a good, effective means of heating, but installation can be a bear. It adds a great heat gradient to your enclosure and proves to be superior to overhead lighting and heat lamps, which can be annoying to have to move around, figure out proper wattages for and get expensive to replace after a while. It also keeps light out of the enclosure so the scorpions feel less stressed and come out of their burrows more. I would highly recommend these for anyone in the trade that has a little bit of electrical knowledge. Even if you don't, there are plenty of tutorials online on how to properly hook up the heat tape and install it.
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TheKevil
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Number of posts : 335
Age : 33
Location : San Antonio, Tx
Registration date : 2010-11-05

PostSubject: Re: FlexWatt/Big Apple Pet supplies   6/24/2013, 4:12 pm

Forgot to add one, super important thing in here:

Dangers:
FlexWatt, if improperly installed and constructed, can cause severe damage to yourself or your property and can cause a fire. Be extremely careful when using this product or consult an electrician for construction/installation if you are unsure on how to do it.
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