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Discussion Starter #1
I'm trying to figure out the cheapest way to heat a plastic 55 gallon barrel of water, laying on it's side. So far, I've come up with...

Cut a hole in the side of the barrel and put a regular tank heater in there. I don't really want to cut the barrel

Try a heat lamp under the barrel. I don't know if that will work.

Try a submersible aquarium heater stunk through the hole in the barrel. Aquarium heaters are designed to keep fish tanks at 78 degrees, so I'm figuring that one should keep a barrel in a barn at 40 degrees?? Anyone tried that? Anyone know more about aquarium heaters than me?

Any other ideas?

Thanks
Jena
 

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agmantoo
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Make a box that is a cradle for holding the barrel on its side. Insulate the "box" bottom and sides, then fill with sand and impregnate in the sand a heat tape. The wattage of the heat tape will have to be determined. However if you get a large wattage heat tape with a thermostat you can mount the thermostat on the side of the barrel and regulate the temperature to suit. Using this technique you will have eliminated the chance of making the water a shock hazard.
 
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How about placing a heating pad underneath the barrel? I don't know how warm that would keep it but it might heat up good. I know on my heating pad it has 3 different settings and I can't take the highest setting very long at all. Too darn hot!
 

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You can buy a barrel heater that is designed for this. It wraps around the barrel like a belt. We use them at work. I can't remember the name of the company but I'm sure that you could find it on Google.com.
 

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jena - it would be a great help to the conjuring process to know the purpose of heating this barrel - to figure the how, we need to consider all the issues - how hot does it need to be, is recovery time an issue, is heat needed year-round, is barrel refilled routinely or is water trapped - etc, etc

i once used water in plastic barrels to keep a plant starter bed warm over the winter - relied solely on solar heat and it worked fairly well - barrel rested on the ground vertically and the barrel and bed was covered in clear plastic - don't know if this idea would fit your application, but, then, i have no idea what your application is

only problem i've had with plastic barrels is water taste - my barrels were made to transport hot peppers and now, even after at least five years of use, the water still smells of peppers
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm sorry for neglecting to mention what I'm trying to do...

I'm trying to winterize my automatic chicken watering system.

I like the water bed heater idea. I think I even have one in the garage somewhere...

The barrel heaters are very expensive.

Thanks
Jena
 

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remember reading awhile back about a guy who kept his stock waterer thawed by burying a coil of tubing several feet below frost level in order to take advantage of ground heat and then circulating it somehow - if my constipated memory gives me a break i'll get back with more details
 

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agmantoo
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For general info is the only reason I am submitting this.....I visited a friend that has rabbits and I noticed he had nipple waters connected to PVC hard piping and I ask how he avoided freezing. I was surprised to see his setup. He has a toilet water closet with an insulated supply line feeding the tank. From the tank he has a heat tape INSIDE the water closet and inside the pvc submersed in the water. He has a thermostat on the water closet exterior for the heat tape and that controls the temp of the water. He stated he has used this technique for years and he told me that he has not had a problem.
 

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Just want to correct a misconception here. Aquarium heaters are NOT designed to 'KEEP" water at any temperature! All they do is to keep the water temperature from dropping too fast and thus lower the resistance of the fish to disease. They break easily too. They should be used with constant supervision and caution. LQ
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Little Quacker in OR said:
Just want to correct a misconception here. Aquarium heaters are NOT designed to 'KEEP" water at any temperature! All they do is to keep the water temperature from dropping too fast and thus lower the resistance of the fish to disease. They break easily too. They should be used with constant supervision and caution. LQ
Thanks. I didn't think it was a good idea (that's why I asked). I know nothing about aquarium heaters.

Jena
 

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Jena, I think the folks at 'Allied Precision' make a stock tank de-icer which fits in place of the drain plug on Rubbermaid stock tanks. Should fit a barrel bung altho' the threads I've seen on plastic barrel bungs are unusual. The Allied Precision de-icers are thermostatically controlled and perhaps you could add an insulating blanket around the barrel to further reduce heat loss and energy cost.
Another thought...same folks make a 'bird bath de-icer', might fit thru the larger hole???
I sound like a walking, talking advert for Allied Precision. Sorry...

Please let us know how you solve this, what works, what doesn't. Probably one third of my winter chore time is spent 'playing' with frozen water pails, troughs, hoses and my mud room always has pails of ice melting beside the hot air register. <smile>
 
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