Thermostats are an essential piece of equipment for ANY reptile enclosure that uses a heat source. Their function is to stop the heat source from becoming too hot which can cause illness, burns or even brain damage to the animal.
There are several different types of thermostat on the market, and each type has its own uses. Use of the wrong type can result in damaged equipment, stressed animals, and in the worst case scenario - fires.
When choosing a thermostat always use the correct type for your heating setup. Also check you have a thermostat of the correct power rating to prevent any electrical overloads.
The 3 main types of thermostat are: On/Off thermostats (Mat-stats)
These are usually the cheapest of the different types. They work by cutting out at the temperature you set on the dial, then as the temperature drops they switch power back on to your heat mat. As the temperature rises back to the set level the power will cut out again.Use for:
Heat matsDo not use for:
Cheap and available in wattages as low as 100w for use with heat matsCons:
Temperature fluctuations as the heater is turned on and off. Can't be used with lights - these will cause the bulb to switch on and off constantly causing stress to your reptile. If used with Ceramic heaters the constant switching considerably shortens the ceramics lifespan. Pulse thermostats
Pulse thermostats give constant power to your heater until the desired temperature is reached. It then sends out a pulse to keep the temperature constant. If the temperature is exceeded (eg. on a hot day) the power is cut until it falls to the set temperature when the pulse resumes to keep the temperature constant again.Use for:
Heat mats and Ceramic HeatersDo not use for:
A constant temperature is maintained, essential for some species. The pulse prolongs the life of ceramic heaters. Available in larger power ratings for use with bigger heaters.Cons:
Can't be used with lights - the pulsed power supply will cause the lamp to flicker, again causing stress. Dimmer thermostats
Dimmer thermostats work on a variable power supply. As the required temperature is reached the thermostat reduces power to the heat lamp causing it to gradually get dimmer. If more heat is required, the thermostat increases power which brightens the lamp.
This is the only type of thermostat that can be used with heat lamps.Use with:
Heat lamps, Ceramic heatersDo not use with:
Can be used with lights. Gives a constant light level. Can be used with ceramic heatersCons:
Requires a minimum load for the power to switch on making them unsuitable for heat mats.
Other types of thermostat: Cooling thermostat
Cooling thermostats work in the opposite way to a traditional thermostat. If the temperature gets too high, power is switched on instead of off. These are connected to fans or even refridgeration units to lower the temperature. Day/night thermostats
The day/night function can be incorporated into any type of thermostat. It uses a light detector to switch between two different temperature settings, so you can set a lower temperature for night time.