Using Waterbed Heater as seed starter

Discussion in 'Plant Propagation' started by Dana09, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. Dana09

    Dana09 Active Member

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    I have an old waterbed heater that is a flat pad style.
    Apparently they can be used for starting seeds, under raised flats above it.

    This one has no obvious temp control.

    Anyone know anything about this?

    D
     
  2. Charles Richard

    Charles Richard Active Member

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    Location:
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    Hello Dana,
    We have been using a hot bed heater for starting seeds for many years now and it works beautifully.
    I have no idea as to what electricity it uses, but it is not a noticeable amount.
    If you are interested in how we set it up, I can give you that information.
    Ours fits 5 seed flats (approx. 11" x 19").
    Started seeds and cuttings.
     
  3. Dana09

    Dana09 Active Member

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    Yes Charles Richard,
    Please do tell about your setup, as I was wondering how to get a larger area heated than the pad size.

    D
     
  4. Charles Richard

    Charles Richard Active Member

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    Location:
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    Hi Dana,
    I made a wooden rectangular box unit. The inside dimensions are large enough for me to put 5 flats into it. The wooden box (tray) is made with plywood and a 2"x4" on the outside (ends and sides) so that I had a ledge around the unit.
    Inside the plywood, I lined it with styrofoam (bottom and sides). I put a thin piece of plywood over the bottom styrofoam, then the heating pad over this. The copper wire and temp. gauge along the outside edge (1"-2") away from edge and not too close to the mat.
    Not good to have the mat directly over the foam.
    Then, I filled it with a couple inches of sand. I built a hoop house over the whole unit with black poly pipe (three hoops, and a peice going down the center at the top).
    I then covered it with plastic and used clips (made from pieces of black pipe with a slit up the side). The ends are permanent and the top I can role up if and when needed.
    I also cut two 4"x6" holes at the top and secured a flap of plastic at the top, so that I could open these instead of opening the whole lid up a times.
    You could probably make it a bit larger than I did and would be able to put more in it and there would still be enough heat produced to start things. I would make it a bit bigger if I was doing it again.
    I have ours a one end of the greenhouse on the side and I just love it.
    I have started all of my annuals and many perennials in it.
    I started my Eryngium seeds this past fall in it. All of my Brugmansia cuttings go in it once they produce lenticils and I pot up and stick them on top of the heat source.
    I mounted the thermostat on the one end. Usually at the lowest setting.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions. I may have left something out inadvirtantly.
    Just getting ready to get things going soon.
    Have a flat of Gloriosa lily seeds going in a flat at home now. Hoping that they do something.
    Enjoy.

    Sorry Dana,
    I lined the inside of the unit with plastic, then I filled I filled it with sand.
    Helps to proof read before sending reply!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2010
  5. Dana09

    Dana09 Active Member

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    OK,
    Thanks kindly Charles Richard,

    I see that it is the sand that conducts the heat over that large an area. I was wondering about that.

    My seed mats heat up only to 10 degrees warmer than the air temp and the water bed heater would heat to higher temps.
    Don't know if I'll have time to use it this year but good to know how and that it is worth keeping the unit for the future. I intend to use the water bag for water storage somehow, sometime down the road as after last year's longest dry spell ever....... I don't want to start to zeriscape everything!

    D
     
  6. chuckSha

    chuckSha New Member

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    Location:
    Critish Columbia Canada
    I have used an old waterbed heater for years now. I has a heat controller and I have found that it helps as different seed require different temps for optimum germanation.
    This method has been very successful for me.

    However, my old heater has stopped working. I am now looking for a replacement and am not having any success. Does anyone have any ideas where I can find one? I would appreciate any help.

    thanks
     
  7. Muscadines And More

    Muscadines And More New Member

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    Location:
    Dalton, GA., USA
    I recently purchased a used waterbed heater on EBay for $19.00 and watching another one priced at $15.00.

    Hans
     

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