TRIO HEATERS

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James Johnson
Posts: 109
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:30 am
Location: Arkansas/Western Grove

I have had several inquiries concerning heaters I use to heat TRIO Martin houses. In response to those inquiries I offer the following information. The heaters are a safe way to provide heat during cold weather and can be removed for cavity occupancy. Construction of the mounting base is inexpensive and the only tools required are a drill and screw driver. A terrarium heat element or regular light bulb can be screwed into the single light ceramic base. I prefer the terrarium heating element because it is less likely to break and does not emit light. The unit can be easily installed or completely removed in less than five minutes.

Photo #1 The male Martin in the middle of the lower porch is sitting by the electrical cord attached to the heater in the lower middle compartment. The male and female with him are nesting in the adjacent lower compartment. The female sitting on the upper porch is nesting in the upper middle compartment above the heater compartment. All the compartments have been converted to 12” deep cavities with full size removable nest boxes. The nest box is removed from the heater compartment.
Photo #2 The electric wire is secured to the house and pole with wire ties.
Photo #3 The heater base is installed on a round hole TRIO door. The heater element cannot be screwed into the base until the base/door is in place. Once installed the heating element is secure and does not touch any part of the compartment. The location of the base on the door is critical. The edge of a 4” base will be near the bottom of the door but cannot interfere with the door catch. The top edge of the base must be low enough for the door to slide onto the top rod.
Photo #4 A RH plug is installed on the RH TRIO door. A hole for the electric wire is drilled near the middle of the plug. A rubber grommet is installed in the hole to prevent wire damage. Holes for two small bolts are drilled on each side of the plug. The two bolts/nuts and larger nut spacers serve two purposes. They are used to secure the door plug and hold the heater/light fixture in place. Use the heater/light fixture to determine where to drill the holes.
Photo #5 The two bolts (small enough to fit the light fixture holes) are installed through the drilled holes and tightened by the nuts. The two large nuts shown in the photograph are spacers large enough to fit over the nuts and thick enough to provide distance between the base and the door to prevent contact between the electric wire and the door. Any type of spacer would serve well as long as it catches the edge of the door plug. The electrical connections in this photo are not covered but I plan to insolate the connections with a silicon sealer. Once the spacers are in place and a length of electrical wire is attached to the base, the wire is fed through the rubber grommet in the door and the light fixture base is secured by nuts on the small bolts. Do not over tighten. The ceramic light fixture base easily breaks. The door with the light fixture base is now ready to be placed in the TRIO compartment and the heating element screwed in.
Photo #6 The heating element is a Terrarium Heater commonly used for lizards etc. and is readily available at most pet stores. The one in this photo is a 60 watt but 100 watt elements are available. They are not cheap and if you find the cost preventative a regular light bulb may also be used.

Material List

RH TRIO door with RH plug 1
(A blank door could be used)
Rubber grommet 1
Single bulb ceramic light fixture 1
Small bolts 2
Nuts for bolts 4
Spacers (large nuts etc.) 2
Electrical wire appropriate length
Heating element or light bulb 1
Silicone small tube

I will be glad to provide any further needed information. There are also several knowledgeable and skilled FORUM innovators who can modify this and any other concept for any application.
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Matt F.
Posts: 3900
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Awesome work James!

Thanks for sharing it.

How much heat do those elements put out? More or less than a lightbulb?
James Johnson
Posts: 109
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:30 am
Location: Arkansas/Western Grove

Matt

I have not used a light bulb as a heater and have no heat comparison other than the heat elements get hot to the touch much like a light bulb. The ceramic heater does stay hot longer than a light bulb when it is turned off. The walls, floor and ceiling of the heated TRIO cavities get warm to the touch but I have never found an untouchable hot spot. I might also add that I use full size nest tray inserts made from thin wood that prevent direct contact between the Martins and the heated aluminum. I use a variable switch and usually turn the heaters on mid range when the temp is between 40-45 degrees and turn them on full below 40 degrees. I remove the heaters after the threat of cold weather and replace the nest tray inserts. Last years all the cavities were occupied shortly after the heaters were removed.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1794
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Thought this should be brought back to the forum since we have had nasty cold weather.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1794
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Here is a post showing a thread that can be adapted to use this trio heater idea with the enclosed feeder. Just add a central metal box with holes drilled to allow the heat to escape into the enclosed feeder. See pics on the thread " Will there be new interest in heating elements for martin houses.
Here is the feeding box that can also be fitted with a large pet (plastic floor heater). Lots of pics that hopefully went through. Please search for this thread "Dave Duit's robin & starling proof purple martin feeder" on the "Iowa Purple Martin Discussion",on page 3 in the forum at this url address below. The pics are huge, so you can see lots of detail. I use a 250 watt ceramic heater because it is a larger area and it work great.

http://iamartin.org/forum.html
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
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