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tank heaters and timers?

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  • tank heaters and timers?

    Last night we had a problem with fuses blowing from the tank heaters all coming on at the same time, and it got me thinking about ways to cycle them on and off so no more than x were ever on at the same time. We've solved the problem for the short term, but for the future -- has anybody ever used timers (are there heavy duty, grounded ones?) to cycle your stock tanks on and off over a 24-hour period? if there were 4 tanks, could you reasonably set up a schedule where two are on for six hours, then the next two cycle on for six hours, then the first two cycle back on, etc. Could do 4 hour cycles, I suppose, during the coldest weather, or longer in spring when the sun has more warmth to it during the day? Related question: has anyone ever had an electrician install timers directly at the circuit breaker (different barn) to control heated buckets, or fans in summer? Thoughts?

  • #2
    My friend had this problem and yes, she fixed it with timers. She has 3-4 heaters on them, all with 100' or more of extension cord.

    I'm doing the same thing but since I only have one extension cord I swap which heater is plugged in (three to swap). My timer goes on for an hour, off for three, on for one, etc. Works great and saves a bundle on the electric bill.

    I should add....our temps aren't too bad. Mid-teens to 30 right about now. My animals (horses, goats, sheep) don't mind breaking a thin sheet of ice to get a drink.
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    • #3
      I use a heavy-duty timer for my stock tank heater. Check to see if the timer you want to purchase will handle the load your heater puts on it (usually 1500 watts). Timers for hot tubs often have that rating.

      A side note, it was -27 C (-17 F) here this morning.
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      • Original Poster

        Thanks, draftdriver, that part about the 1500 watt load is one of the key pieces of information I needed! Now to go google it... looks like they're not real easy to find.


        • #5
          Unfortunately you have too many heaters running off of 1 load line, 1 breaker. Or the load line (power supply line) is under sized along with the breaker. Which you may all ready know. I have found 3 heaters on a 12-2 wire is about the max. All of the tank heaters we have used are 1500 watts. If you are running a 12-2 wire on a 15 amp breaker up grade to a 20 amp breaker. Or if you have several supply lines going into one line/breaker split one off on to its own breaker. Assuming you have room in your box. Or tap a low use line.
          This kind of timer may do the job at the heated tanks to vary when each is off and on. Not sure if it has multiple timer settings;


          • #6
            Originally posted by Murphy's Mom View Post
            My friend had this problem and yes, she fixed it with timers. She has 3-4 heaters on them, all with 100' or more of extension cord.

            I'm doing the same thing but since I only have one extension cord I swap which heater is plugged in (three to swap). My timer goes on for an hour, off for three, on for one, etc. Works great and saves a bundle on the electric bill.

            I should add....our temps aren't too bad. Mid-teens to 30 right about now. My animals (horses, goats, sheep) don't mind breaking a thin sheet of ice to get a drink.
            I would be careful using extension cords with tank heaters. They draw a lot of power, 1500 watts at fairly high amps. Even though modern tank heaters have internal thermostats that turn off when the water reaches around 40-45 degrees they can/will be on for a long time when it is very cold. They will also stay on if the water level drops below the thermostat. 100 feet is a long run for an extension that is drawing/running this much power through it. The size of the cord should be no smaller then 12 gauge and at 100 feet these are rated for a max of around 1800 watts. If you add just 25 feet more it will drop the rating below 1500 watts. The fire hazard is not as much in the wire but where it plugs into the outlet. And this would be of a concern if the power outlet is in the barn or house. The breaker may or may not trip. And I don’t believe GF breakers, outlets are designed for this. Also GF outlet at the tanks are a PIA. They are very sensitive to environmental changes and trip very easily. Also it is import to use “heavy duty” outlets, not the standard cheap ones most barn/houses are wired with. Pretty easy to tell if the cord is undersized the plugs will get hot due to a lot of power being drawn through an undersized wire and or outlet.


            • #7
              OP, to answer you second question if your fans, lights etc are on 1 supply line you can have one of these installed or one for each supply line;
              http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...&storeId=10051. It’s what we use when we have our mares “under lights” approaching the winter breeding season. I have found mechanical seem to last longer then digital in a barn environment. There are various kinds of digital also available. It all comes down to how your barn was wired. There maybe breakers with built in times but I bet they would be pretty expensive.


              • #8
                I have a couple tank floats and I have them on timers. Each one is a different time than the other. I clearly have 30-60 min difference between the two as to when they come on and turn off. BOTH ran on orange extension cords. I usually only have each tank float on a 2-3 hours. Usually in the morning when the temps are the lowest.

                Never had an issue and I do not have much power going to my barn. Which is why I have the floats on when I am not in or at the barn using the electricity.


                • #9
                  This looks like it might work.