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$10 Salamander Air Conditioner

creatorlars

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Hi all. This is my first post. I've been a caudate enthusiast my whole life, but haven't been at a point to be serious about keeping them until recently.

We just got 2 captive bred S.s.salamandra juveniles at a local pet shop (apparently a local breeder, who I need to track down!) Luckily it's not Summer, which is very hot in Texas, but room temperature indoors is still close to 70-72 degrees so I wanted to find a chilling solution. I'd like to build a more permanent enclosure/chilling situation, but this did the job for now!

The cost was an old mini-cooler I had in the garage, a couple pieces of PVC, a tube of caulk, and a pair of mini PC fans I found at a surplus store -- they are powered by a misc 12VDC wallwart I had lying around. I'd seen some shots of setups like this on this forum, thanks for the help!

With the cooler full of ice-packs and the fans on, it takes 10 minutes for the internal temperature of the box to drop to about 58 degrees (15 degrees below room temperature.) This lasts for about 4-5 hours and then the ice packs begin to melt, but it takes a good 9-10 hours for the temperature to rise back up to room temperature. I imagine it would be more efficient with some insulation around the plastic bin, a bigger cooler, bigger fans, etc. but this is doing the job until I come up with something more permanent!
 

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michael

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Interesting. If you can keep the temperature steady this should work fine. If the temperature swings to much as the ice packs melt it could be hard on the salamanders. Cooling down is great. It is not so great if you have big temperature swings.
 

Kaysie

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If you had enough ice packs that you could rotate them regularly and not have big swings in temperature, which Michael mentioned, this would be an awesome DIY project for terrestrial keepers.
 

creatorlars

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Thanks for the feedback! My initial line of reasoning was that I'd put the icepacks in every evening so that the box would have a cooler night time temperature (dropping from 70 to 60) and then starting to rise slowly back up to 70 by morning, at which time I'd put the ice packs back in the freezer. But from what you guys are saying, it seems like I'm gonna be better off getting more ice packs and cycling them out 2-3 times instead of once throughout the day. The fact that the temperature bottoms out at 58-60 degrees (which is close to ideal, right?) seems good.

Lack of affordable chilling solutions have been holding me back from keeping fire salamanders for years! I'm going to buy some peltier elements and do some experimentation with those next. I'm an electronics designer, so I'd love to have an excuse to program some custom microcontroller hardware to regulate temperature gradients on a perfect clock.
 

Rhysmachine101

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This is fantastic! well done- and thanks for some inspiration!

Please let us know what you come up with- I think we are all very interested.

Especially let me know if you come up with a micro controller that regulates the climate in an enclosed space- I would love to have a chat with you about it, I'm studying to become an engineer myself so I find this sort of thing fascinating!

Also- about peltier modules- I have been experimenting with them myself recently and they don't come up roses so much.
They are on average only 10% efficient at the current level of the technology and as you can imagine, you can put a whole lot of power into them, but not get a whole lot of cooling power out of them.
I did some calcs' when I was thinking of using them- these aren't the exact figures- I'm going of my bad memory here- I found that if I gave them around 280 watts of power I got about 28watts of cooling power, right? well with this I found I could only cool a very small volume of water (approx 4 L or so) one whole degree, Celsius.
I found a chiller online that is expensive, oh was it expensive! that uses much less power( energy bill) and could cool my aquarium to whatever I set it at.
It was a bit depressing to find I couldn't do a better job DIY than the over priced off-the-shelf versions.

Of course you might have better luck with air-cooling.:happy: Please let me know if you do!

Anyway I thought I would give you a heads up on the peltier module thing.

Please keep in touch- you seem interesting!

Rhys.
 
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