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Interior Heating Element Enclosure

How To Build An Interior Heating Element Enclosure

This article explains how you can build a cylinder enclosure that can house your heating elements for your reptiles. This design is for use within the enclosure and will help prevent accidental burns to your reptile as a result of contact with the heating element.

Supplies

1 6" pan for under an electric stove element
1 Ceramic electrical light fixture
1 Electric box (small - so the light fixture still fits close)
1 Extension Cord
2 Wood Screws

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

Using the electric stove catch pan for attaching the Heat Emitter to the underneath side of the lid - align the fixture with the electrical box connected to the inside of the stove pan and mark the holes that you need to secure the electrical box through the stove pan to the top of the tank. Drill two holes through the pan:

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

Wiring the ceramic light socket: Cut off the the end of the extension cord (the side where things get plugged into it), strip the ends so you have enough exposed wire to wrap around the connectors on the ceramic fixture (Follow directions on the ceramic fixture). In order to get enough 'give' to allow for connecting the wires you will need to split the extension cord (see picture below) in half for about 8" - leaving the wires covered.

Interior Heating Element Enclosure

Adding the electrical box: The box will actually slide onto the fixture in pre-drilled slots. This is a good picture of the size of the completed fixture.

Rainforest Effect

Finished light socket that will be attached to the underneath side of the lid on the tank: The extension cord runs through the hole on the side of the stove pan, into the electrical box and attaches to the fixture. This allows the stove pan to be secured directly to the top of the enclosure.

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The tricky part was trying to separate the electrical box and the fixture enough (but not too much) to allow me to attach the screws through the electrical box and the stove pan - securing the stove pan to the top. Especially since I was doing this on an already completed tank so I was laying on my back trying to get it to attach.

Okay, now onto the cage!

Supplies

Hardware Cloth
Aviation Snips
Duct Tape
Picture Hanging Wire (or equivalent gauge wire)
4 Sheet Metal Bolts (#6, 1 1/2")

Measure the diameter just inside the edge of the stove pan (at the first lip). And measure the length from that lip to the bottom of the heat emitter (when it is put together) and add 2". For mine, it was a diameter of 6" and 6 1/2" long.

I cut a long piece of hardware cloth at 6 1/2" and rolled it until it fit just inside the lip of the stove pan and overlapped itself at least twice.

Once I got the diameter correct, and the cage fit properly, I duct taped it to hold it secure. Then I ran a long piece of picture hanging wire over and under - 'sewing' it together. Pull tight on every pass of the wire to keep the hardware cloth in the proper shape and size.

'Sewing' the cage together:

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Finished cage cylinder:

Interior Heating Element Enclosure

To cover the bottom of the cage: Using the finished cage cylinder as a guide, cut a circular piece of hardware cloth that is approximately 2" wider than the opening:

Rainforest Enclosure

Cut wedges into the outer edge of the newly cut piece, being careful not to extend the cuts into the circle that measures the diameter of the cage:

Interior Heating Element Enclosure

Bend the edges toward the middle, creating a circle that will fit within the completed cage:

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Carefully wedge the lid piece into one end of the cage (preferably the end with the smoothest edges - as this will be the bottom of the cage that sits in the tank):

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

Make sure the outside is flush with the edge of the cage, so it forms a flat bottom:

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

Start sewing the lid like you sewed the cage - wrapping the picture hanging wire tightly:

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The finished Cylinder Bottom.

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

From the inside - I pressed the excess pieces of hardware cloth as flat as I could inside the cage, so that they didn't come in contact with the heat emitter:

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

To attach the cage to the Heat Emitter Fixture:

Drill 4 small holes in the edge of the stove pan - they need to be thick enough to allow the sheet metal bolts to screw into the fixture easily, but not fall back out. These bolts will form the mechanism that holds the cage on and allows for you to remove it when you need to replace the heat emitter 'bulb'.

The cage will fit into the inside lip of the stove pan and the 4 sheet metal bolts will screw in from the outside of the stove pan and through the holes of the cage. Look close at the picture below and you can see what I did (it might make more sense to see it rather than explain it):

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

And the final product installed:

Rainforest Effect - Vivarium

Attribution

Author: Stephanie Schwartz
Images - © Stephanie Schwartz