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I'm not sure if I'm thinking along the same lines as you or not. What exactly do you mean when you say "heater soil cords"?
I've done a DYI version of heating soil with rope lights. Sounds strange, but it worked great. Almost did an article on it for DG once. Anyway, here's how I did it. I had found a site about it someplace and then adapted it to fit my needs.
I used rubbermaid type containers. Bigger than food storage, but not tote size. Probably about the size of a cat's litter box. I actually used two of these containers per set up. The bottom one held the rope lights, which I held in place with some clamps and glue. If you get the right kind of rope lights you can cut them to length without any problems...so they produce the exact amount of heat you want. There is a chart somewhere online that states how much heat they generate per inch (or foot, whatever). Then I covered the rope lights with SCOOPABLE kitty litter. It's very much like sand if you've never used it. Sand would work probably better. If you have cats watch out!
The second container simply sits on top of the sand or kitty litter. You can put soil in it if you like, but I chose to just put my seed trays in it. It was very easy to water them and care for them this way.
I used a digital thermometer to check the temp of the sand/kitty litter periodically. It was always dead on with no problems.
This is a much, much cheaper way of heating soil than buying heat mats, etc. I also think this is much safer than some of the things I've seen people come up with...although I am not this has NO risks. I'm sure there are some. There's always SOME risk when you DIY with electricity, especially if you add water anywhere near that. I never had any problems with it, no concerns whatsoever and mine ran for months and I never unplugged it or even thought about it.
Good luck with yours. If there's anything I can do to help anyone with this set up please feel free to dmail me anytime!
Very nice. Yepper, that's just what I did with the rope lights. How are you taking the soil's temp? Are you using a digital thermometer? I suppose you could get one of those thermometers that's used for an aquarium and stick it to the side of the container. That may work really well, and I think they are usually pretty cheap at Wal-Mart.
What type of grow light are you using? I always used fluorescent shop lights and they work great. Lots of folks on here use them. They plug right into a wall outlet and can be hung so you can raise and lower them as the plants grow. Plus they are usually really cheap.
my grow light. It is a reflective grow light with bulb though I have used the fluorescent shop lights and like those as well. I haven't checked the temp on the soil yet. I was going to get a medicine thermometer and see if it works. Must be fine I already have some babies coming up.
What are rope lights and where do you buy them? Ive been using a heating pad wrapped in thick towels. I have since read that to be very dangerous because they are not meant to be in use for such a long period, 24-7. Also, I have no idea what temp this generates. Thanks for all the ideas on this forum. I like the rope lights and kitty litter idea very much. I use the shop light as a grow light.
Well you guys will use anything. That is great. I think rope lights are the one that hang under cabinets. Someone has to set us straight on that. I remember buying a underground warming cords and found one in the bottom gardening drawer. I tried the first one outside and that did not work. Duh...I have several new seed heating mats. One was a gift from a DG member that did not use it. It was a double mat. I will try the cord and the mats and see what works best. Only because that is what I have. The rope lights are much cheaper and probably give out a slow warmth. I just need to know where to get them because they would be great on my cuttings.
I don't know if people are actually burying the rope lights or using them like a heat mat under starter pots and such. I'd be a little nervous burying them - I suppose if they're rated for out door use they can get wet without an issue, but I don't know how long they'd last underground - ?
Does anyone have any experience burying the light ropes?
I've done this. The rope lights I used were Christmas rope lights. http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=christmas%20rope%20lights&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi if that link doesn't work just do a google search for Christmas rope lights. somewhere on the web (and I don't have time to find it right now, but I'll be back) there is a site that tells how much heat these rope lights give off per foot (or meter). It's not enough to burn your house down, but it IS enough to heat up for germination. If you get the right type of rope light you can cut them to the length you want. This type is sold on eBay and that's where I got mine.
I used 2 rubbermaid (type) containers about cat litter box size. The bottom one I attached my length of rope light to after I cut it to the length I wanted. I attached it with "c" clamps and screws to hold in place. I filled the screw holes with silicone. I don't think all that's necessary. It could just lay there. YOu want it spread out across the entire bottom, not just coiled in the center or the heat won't be evenly distributed.
then I covered it with the scoopable kitty litter because sand was not available to me at that time. By scoopable I mean the closest to sand like that I could find. No chunky stuff. I covered it to almost the top of the container. Probably an 8" deep container.
Then I sat the other container on top of the kitty litter. In THIS container is where I put my plants. Plants were in pots or flats. Pots and flats were taken out to be watered. ***BAD*** idea to mix electricity and water. I do admit that after I got comfortable with the set up and got lazy I just removed the top container and watered into it. When the water was dried up I just put the container back.
I checked the temp of my kitty litter daily with a digital thermometer.
I used this system for months and I never had any problems with it. Of course, I'm sure there could be problems. There could be problems with anything...that's how it goes when you're trying to do it on the cheap and diy. But, if you're interested, that is how it's done. When I have time I'll find the site that says how much heat the rope lights put off.
There is a site out there with step by step diy instructions on this. My set up is a bit different than theirs, but basically the same. I'll see if I can find that site later too.
[quote="steadycam3"]Lowes carries the rope lights all year long. I found that new ones have been introduced that use LED's and they dont generate the heat like the old ones do.Cam[/quote]
Will the LED type rope lights produce heat at all? Does anyone know if the non-LED style rope lights are still sold or not? I'm told by local Walmart that they're in the process of resetting departments for spring and rope lights will be in garden department in next couple of weeks but I don't know if those will be the LED type or not. And I need them like yesterday. LOL.
I was able to get the non-LED ones at Lowes but you need to read the label and make sure you are getting the older type. I suppose at some point the non-LED's will not be available. They will probably stop making them.