I see this come up a lot. Which is better to use to help regulate and maintain the proper temperature within a cage? Which should you purchase to go along with your lamp or UTH?
Once you know the difference between these three things and what each one does, the answer is shockingly simple.
Why thermostats and not rheostats and timers? Well, let’s break it down.
Unlike thermostats, neither rheostats nor timers do anything to monitor the actual temperature within an animals enclosure.
Timers, as the name implies, do little other than flip switches at the time you set them to. These are really useful if you’re trying to maintain a 12 hour day/night cycle, but that’s about it. They don’t measure temperature, which won’t help you make sure your temps are where they should be!
As for rheostats, what they do is maintain a certain electrical current. If you want your lamp to be more dim (less hot), you can hook it up to one of these babies and turn down the wattage that the lamp gets.
I want to take a minute to explain why you shouldn’t get a rheostat to help maintain proper temperatures, as I constantly see people recommending rheostats, much to my chagrin. It’s because rheostats don’t monitor temperatures at all! And what use is that?!
So let’s say you’re setting everything up, and you’re trying to get the cage to the right temperature. So you get your handy-dandy temperature gun/probe and you measure the temp. Only you find out that it’s far too hot! So you turn down the rheostat, which turns down the temperature of the UTH where you need it to be. Great!
Except for, what happens if the house/your room gets hotter or cooler depending on the season? A rheostat don’t give a damn! It’s gonna keep going at the current you set it to, lest that means your reptile baby burns or freezes! You’d have to be fiddling with it constantly to make sure things were at the right temp!.
A thermometer, however, runs the same way it does in your house. There’s a probe in the cage that measures the temperature, and you can set it to whatever temperature you need it to be!
And the best part is that thermostats are more or less self-regulating. If things start to cool down, it’ll flip your lamp back on to warm things up! If things get too hot, it’ll flip your UTH off to cool things down. See what I mean by it being similar to the one in your house?
I do say more or less, however, because regardless of your mechanism, you should always do regular checks to make sure everything is functioning properly.
And this has been a casual and brief PSA!