[Market-farming] Heat Mat

Toni tonitime at juno.com
Sun Dec 9 08:50:49 EST 2007

Similar to what Tim made, we've used several alternatives to commercial heat mats, after having a few of them not work two different years.  Those also are quite costly for what you get!
- i've made a box out of styrofoam ice chest, with a  light fixture put in thru the side at the bottom.  Different light bulbs give you different temps. and low wattage bulbs are right for germination temps.  Atop the box, i placed an old oven rack to put the flats on.

-a waterbed heater, with much larger surface area than the commercial mats.  As to the temperature probe - this i placed inside a sealed bad of moist potting medium aside from the surface of the mat. Over the heat mat itself, i used more oven racks placed on two 1x1 boards to lift it off the mat.  Advantages: larger surface and thermostatically controlled to vary temps.  Disadvantages: this could get too hot and melt plastic, if probe not placed where it regulates temps accurately.  I kept an instant-read kitchen thermometer in the moist potting medium to check regularly at the beginning.

- plain household/medical heating pads, wrapped in waterproof plastic.  Again, with 1" boards along sides, topped with more oven racks (there are MANY of these racks around in the world!).

Never again will i pay 30-70 dollars for commercial mats, tho i still have a few!
I only start 20-30 flats of plants each spring, without a greenhouse.
I have banks of common shop lights in my cold walk-up basement which is well windowed on the southeast.  The starts all come out healthy each spring.
Good luck!
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