Review: Sweeter Heater Coop Heater by Infratherm
I recently purchased this product from Infratherm, Inc and I would like to post my review of the product.
**This blogger knows the arguments regarding heating a chicken coop and this blog post is not meant to add fuel to the debate**
I have been using a small, Stanley forced-air space heater outside the coop on cold nights and I love it because I can control the temperature in the coop simply by the distance I move it from the coop door. The problem I’ve been concerned with is what to do if power ever goes out during the coldest part of winter, which can easily get 10′s of degrees below zero (F). The Stanley heater uses 750 watts and I currently have no back up generator that can be used to maintain that wattage to this building during an outage. I purchased 2 microwaveable discs to keep the water from freezing in such a case, but have yet to use them.
I blogged earlier that this building does not have it’s own power line – that is true. I purchased several outdoor, freeze resistant extension cords and I brought power into the building from the barn about 30 ft away. A local electrician wanted to charge me $1000.00 for putting in a 30 ft long underground (9″ deep) wire, 1 outlet, 1 switch, and 1 light. For now, the extension cord will do. I also only use LED lights (very safe lighting AND with high lumen), which use only about 4 watts each and I have 5 of those. The rafters are really low (65″) and I have placed everything above the rafters — (guess who was jumping rafters this morning? – OMG…what the hell is wrong with these chickens!) — with a couple of power strips to keep things tidy, lit, safe (maybe not safe since a stored green metal post came crashing down when Pepita jumped on it) and relatively warm. Hmmm…maybe not even that tidy.
Here are the rafters that the trapeze artists were jumping on this morning (Pepita and Ruby to be precise – Helen of Troy Boy would have nothing to do with these shenanigans and the other two were laying eggs.)
But anyway – if power goes out… I was searching for a safe, low watt heat source — something supplemental to handle the worst possible scenario. I found the SweeterHeater (150 watts) quite by accident on twitter during a thread regarding coop heaters. You will not find it by Googling anything but the name Sweeter Heater or Infratherm. At least I didn’t during my extended searches for a low watt coop heater.
After speaking with the co-owner (the wife) and with much hemming and hawing (the product is relatively expensive – my cost was $120.00 for the largest size (40″ long x 16 “wide) + $20.00 shipping), I finally decided to place the order. One other reason I decided to make the purchase was that the company is located in my state, so if things went horribly awry, I could always take a little day trip. I’m not sure I would have taken the chance on the purchase otherwise. You can find a similar product on Amazon for as low as $50.00, but I have no idea how well it works. I found it after my purchase. If I had to do it all over again, I would have tried the Amazon route first.
I expected to receive the Sweeter Heater within days and it did indeed arrive in two days. The first thing I noticed was the shoddy packaging. They just put the Sweeter Heater in a mailing box, without even a little balled up newspaper to protect it. The word Fragile written in large letters on the outside of the box did not help to keep the product safe from damage and my product was cracked on one corner.
The Sweeter Heater is incredibly light (plastic molded housing) and feels very unsubstantial. My first thought was to return it without even trying it out. But what I did first was call them back and let them know it got damaged in transit. From the discussion, it seemed as if this did occur at times. I suggested that they protect the product with better packaging. For some reason, it didn’t seem that my suggestion was gaining much of a foothold. I wondered why. Even a bit of newspaper would help. In any case, the company was willing to replace it or return for a full refund — I guess she heard the disappointment in my voice. Because they were accommodating, I decided to try and install it first and see if it was worth replacing or returning.
The Sweeter Heater comes with 2 flimsy chains of about 15 inches long each and 3 flimsy, small S hooks. The S hooks connect to the chain on one side and tightly fit into the molded plastic eyeholes on the other (each eyehole is located in the middle of each short side of the heater.) It’s a rather flimsy design. The chains come together in a V and are held together by the third S hook. After that, you are on your own to try and figure out how to install it. There are other approaches to installing the SweeterHeater (drilled to the wall or ceiling of a coop), but I purposely purchased the one that hangs.
After some fiddling with it, I jimmy rigged it somewhat along the narrow corridor/pathway near one of the doorways (the chickens are always hanging out there) and hung it from the rafters with bungee cords to the height of the roosters.
Any higher up and there would be virtually no heat felt. Even at rooster height, I didn’t feel much heat at all. For a few days, the chickens did not walk comfortably under the heater, let alone sit under it.
After much consideration, I decided to keep the broken heater for a discount (the shipping cost.) After all, I finally “installed” it and this is obviously a small company who, in my view, do not seem like they have a comfortable margin – if any margin, at all. Why not package it properly?
In a nutshell:
The Sweeter Heater is a low watt (150 watts) radiant flat panel heat source that provides supplemental heating. The best use by far seems to be for chicks and/or infant animals. All other purported uses are a big stretch in terms of sufficient heat output and functionality. I kept the Sweeter Heater because if there is a power outage when temperatures are well below freezing, I will probably hook it to the ceiling in the coop. This may well be the best approach for adult chickens, if and only if, the ceiling height is near (no more than 6-8 inches) to the top of the head of the chickens when they roost.
A similar product can be purchased at Amazon at fractions of the cost.