Building your own incubator can be an exciting way to make a custom more affordable effective egg incubator. The components you use in an incubator can vary depending on the amount of money you plan on spending and your desired outcomes. While there are many components that need to be considered when building your own incubator this article is going to focus one important component the thermostat.
The first step to picking a thermostat is to understand what the main types of thermostats are and how the operate. There are four common types of thermostats: mechanical, electronic, digital electronic, and proportional.
Mechanical thermostats are the most basic and generally the least expensive on/off thermostat. An on/off thermostat is a thermostat that either turns the power completely on or off. Mechanical thermostats generally work by using a material that responds to heat to make an electrical connection turning on or off the heater. This type of thermostat is generally very reliable and if the incubator is set up correctly the can produce great results. A potential drawback is that mechanical thermostats have to manually set through trial and error and do not self-adjust if conditions outside the incubator change. Some examples of a mechanical thermostat are the wafer style thermostat and the bi-metal thermostat.
An electronic thermostat is also less expensive on/off thermostat and is very similar to a mechanical thermostat. The main difference is an electronic thermostat uses a processor to sense the temperature and to switch the heater on and off. This type of thermostat still has to be manually adjusted through trial and error and also does not self-adjust when conditions outside the incubator change. This type of thermostat can also be very accurate if set up correctly.
Digital electronic thermostats are generally a more expensive on/off thermostat than both the mechanical and electronic thermostat. This is because this type of thermostat uses a CPU to sense the temperature and switch the heater on and off. They also have a digital display that makes it easy to read and set the temperature of the thermostat. Often this type of thermostat comes preset and is fully adjustable to a desired temperature. Once the desired target temperature is set the thermostat automatically maintains that temperature without any further adjustments and as long as the setup of the incubator is good it can adjust for changes on the outside of the incubator. These thermostats work well with the majority of incubators.
Proportional thermostats are generally the most expensive type of thermostat that is available for incubation. A proportional thermostat works differently than an on/off thermostat. Instead of simply turning the power to the heating element on or off it actually varies the amount of power to the element. It does this by using a CPU with a specially designed program to gradually cut the power to the heater the temperature inside the incubator reaches the set point. This type of thermostat generally produces the tightest temperature range inside the incubator compared to the other types of thermostats because reacts more quickly and has less of a temperature overshoot. Proportional thermostats also have a digital display and are programmable.
Once you have chosen the right thermostat for your project and budget the next step is to choose a heating element that will produce the best results and work well with the type of thermostat you selected. Part two of this series will cover the different factors to consider when selecting a heating element.