VIVOSUN Heat Mat Buying Guide 2023

0
888

Heat mats have been a powerful tool for growers of all experience levels for a long time. If you are here, you are probably considering whether it is worth purchasing your own heat mat but you’re not sure why you would need one at all. Luckily, we have you covered.

In this article we break down what a heat mat is, why it is a useful tool for growing plants, and some of the key considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when searching for the right heat mat for your grow space. Remember, while a heat mat is only an accessory, it becomes extremely useful for any grow, especially for seedlings and germination. Let’s take a look together and break down all the useful information!

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a heat mat?
  2. Heat mats for reptiles
  3. Why heat mats are useful for plants
  4. What are the factors you should consider when searching for a good heat mat?
    1. Size
    2. Type
    3. Material
    4. Power
    5. Waterproofing
    6. Controllers
    7. Additional features

What is a heat mat?

A heat mat is a simple product that produces heat over a certain area to keep a surface warm. Heat mats are most often made of polyurethane and use a conductive wire that is wound inside of the plastic casing back and forth so that it covers most of the space inside the mat. This winding pattern is crucial for a good heat mat because it creates even heat dissipation with fewer “cold spots” (more on that later). The wiring inside safely emits heat until it reaches the required temperature that is either set by a controller or is built in as the automatic safety cut off. This heat that is emitted is great for keeping areas warm and you might have seen them used in reptile terrariums or for seedlings. For our purpose, we’ll be talking about how these heat mats help seedling growth, which is supported by a standard temperature that protects delicate roots, but we will take one moment to cover why heat mats are really important for reptiles as well.

Heat mats for reptiles

For reptiles, heat mats are a must. In the wild, reptiles live in some of the warmest places on the planet – deserts, jungles, forests are where they thrive in hot and either dry or humid environments. The heat is the key, here. When we keep a reptile, we need to replicate these same conditions the best we can and we do so through heating lamps and a heat mat. These heat mats provide warmth that help snakes, lizards, and other reptiles stay active and healthy. Heat helps blood and the endocrine systems circulate, helps with digestion, and generally keeps them alive.

Heat mats are very safe for reptiles but you need to ensure that you use them properly. First, ensure that the heat mat is not directly touching a surface that your reptile will also touch – for example, always use a substrate between the heat pad, surface of the terrarium, and where the reptile will live. We recommend that owners place the heat pad on a wall of the terrarium to ensure your reptile does not touch the pad directly – doing so will burn their skin and can kill them. Never place the pad inside the terrarium as your pet will not be able to resist sitting directly on it and this will hurt them over time.

Why are heat mats useful for plants

Heat mats are particularly useful to plants – specifically, during propagation. During the early stages of life, seedlings are fragile and this is especially true for cannabis plants. When you raise the grow medium’s temperature to between 75 – 85°F, you encourage germination in many kinds of plants, whether these be basil, tomatoes, or other fruiting and flowering plants. This is of course because we are attempting to mimic the ideal growing conditions for our plants and plants propagate during spring and summer when temperatures are higher. Seeds that get a late start in summer and are deposited into warm soil propagate quickly because they know that the season is shorter. We can use that reaction to trigger quicker germination by heating the soil to a temperature that soil would reach during a summer afternoon.

Heat mats are also great from raising temperatures during winter. If you’re growing in a drafty space or a space that isn’t well insulated during winter, a heat mat can help add a little extra warmth for your plants. Of course, it won’t be the entire solution – you’ll need to insulate the space and maybe add a space heater – but it will help ensure that roots aren’t exposed to too much cold!

That all said, there are a couple of important factors that need to be considered when using a heat mat for propagation or other uses. First, ensure that not a lot of weight is placed directly on top of the mat. Doing so will crush the internal wiring. If you have a large pot, we recommend wrapping a heat mat around it instead of placing it on top (another reason we recommend flexible mats). As well, a good heat mat will be water resistant or waterproof, but this doesn’t mean you should leave water on your mat for long – wipe it down as soon as you notice that there is some water there because the water will, over time, damage the mat regardless of waterproofing and it is better to be safe than sorry. Finally, make sure your heat mat doesn’t get punctured by anything sharp so keep scissors, trimmers, thorns, sticks, and sharp branches away from the mat. A punctured mat should be disposed of immediately as it may be a fire hazard.

What are the factors you should consider when searching for a heat mat?

Heat mats come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and even come with a number of great, useful features. In this section, we’ll break down all the crucial details you’ll need to know in order to decide if a particular mat is right for you.

One thing to note is that there is a difference between a “heat mat” and a “heat pad.” Heat mats are often waterproof and are suitable for both reptiles and plants, heat pads may not be waterproof so it’s important that you avoid pads and go for the mats. Let’s look at more details below.

Size

Size refers to the dimensions of the mat – the length and width and height. The size should comfortably cover the base of your propagation tray. It is better to have a little extra material on the sides of the tray because most heat mats contain a slight flaw: in order to seal the mats properly, manufacturers combine two polyurethane sheets by sealing around the edges, containing the wires inside like a sandwich with the bread perfectly sealed on all sides. The issue is that the wires usually get pushed aside or need to be pushed aside a bit in order to seal the mat properly, so don’t expect the sides of the mat to have an even heat that you’d have in the center. Most heat mats come in a rectangular shape and provide great coverage area even though the edges may not be as efficient.

Type

We break down seedling mats into a couple of different categories: flat or rigid mats and flexible mats. Flat or rigid mats are made with a durable, heavier material that makes them a little more puncture-proof but is more difficult to fit into the right space. A flexible mat can be wrapped around a container or be placed flat, but they are often packaged rolled up, so you’ll need to spend some time flattening them out. A single mat won’t be very expensive, and you should be able to get the coverage you need and expanding is easy to do and you can combine them together by linking them through a controller, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Material

Heat mats these days are made of various plastics, whether PVC, polyurethane, or other material. Plastic is a great material to make a heat mat out of because plastic is flexible, reacts to heat well without degrading, is waterproof, and resists corrosion. Multiple layers of this plastic make up the housing for the wiring inside that is both insulated and protected by it. Heat mats have improved in quality and price over the past twenty years and this can really be seen by the performance that you find in the modern day product.

Power

For our purposes, we are referring to power as wattage and heat output. Most heat mats range between 20 – 40W of power and produce a fair amount of heat. Most of the time, you’re not going to want too high of heat, it’s better to keep temperatures at a level that is warm, but not scalding. For our VIVOSUN Heat Mats, we set a range between 68-86°F because we find that the majority of plants and animals are comfortable and healthy in this temperature range. Of course, some animals might prefer it a bit hotter, but in those cases a heat mat should be used as a supplementary heat source rather than the primary heat source.

Waterproofing

A waterproof heat mat may not be necessary for reptiles, but it is crucial for plants because you’ll be watering your plants or using high humidity to propagate seedlings. With heat mats, waterproofing is the norm and it should be a determining factor to whether a specific heat mat should be included in your grow. Most of the time, growers use heat mats beneath a propagation tray. These trays are usually made of a light plastic material that holds soil and seedlings and a plastic top that helps control humidity. These are great to partner with a heat mat because you can control humidity, watering, and temperature simultaneously.

Controllers

Controllers are a crucial component to a heat mat. While they are not included and are technically not necessary, a controller makes adjusting for proper temperature way easier. When you use a heat mat without a controller you rely on the high end of the heat mat’s temperature range – in our case that is 86°F. This is OK, most plants will be happy with this temperature, but if you don’t have a controller your heat mat will attempt to maintain this high temperature and this, over time, might cause problems for your plants. This is why we recommend a controller. A controller helps maintain that constant temperature without going too high so you can find the right level for your plant and keep your seedlings healthy as they begin to grow.

Additional features

Additional features you’ll want to look for with a heat are pretty simple yet they can make a big difference when growing your plants.

You’ll want a decent length of cable because most of the time we need to organize or electronics in a special way to be able to fit things like high-powered lights or fans or other equipment without overloading our outlet.

Every good heat mat should also include an automatic shut off to protect it from overheating and damaging the casing or even hurting your plants or pets. Automatic shut off should also be able to control the heat mat when temperature gets too high.

Speaking to that feature, your controller should also include a thermometer that you can insert into the soil or medium. This thermometer will be connected to the controller and will tell it when to stop heating, so be sure to place the thermometer exactly where you want the heat to reach.

Conclusions

Choosing a good heat mat is easier than it seems, but there are some crucial ideas to keep in mind as you make your selection! We hope our guide helps direct you to the perfect heat mat for your babies, whether they are animals or plants. You’ll find that a heat mat is an excellent way to improve the health of any pet you care about.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

And be sure to check out our other blog posts for useful tips on becoming a great grower!

Subscribe to VIVOSUN newsletter for growing tips, grower stories, special offers and get 12% off your first order!

We love the new VIVOSUN Smart Grow System and we are certain that you too will love it once you try it.

And join our Facebook farmer’s community for even more exclusive contests and prizes!

Download VIVOSUN App and explore more!

VIVOSUN App

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here