I have an idea about using my air pump to make frozen water less of an issue this winter. Frozen water hasn't been a huge problem for me since the intense part of the season is usually pretty short here, but I do feel some time and energy is wasted on this, and this season I want to keep using my 5 gallon nipple system.
Here is my initial idea. I already have the waterer made, I would just be modifying it with the pump.
Depending on the temp outside, the frequency of the timer is adjusted. The air is blown into the end of the pvc and flows up to the bucket, stirring up the water and breaking the surface with bubbles.
Does anyone see any glaring inconsistencies here? Will this keep the water liquid?
The next evolution of this idea, if the water is still freezing, is to actually pipe the water from the end of the pvc up to the top of the bucket and have it pour in, creating more circulation.
My setup is a 5 gallon bucket with nipples mounted directly in the bottom of the bucket. Last winter I used one of them bucket heater submerged in the water. This kept the water warm and the nipples never froze. However, it was very energy intensive. Some things you could do to improve energy efficiency: insulate the bucket or find an insulated container on which the nipples could be mounted. I've considered modifying one of those five gallon igloo drinking water containers. Then rig up a bucket heater or other heater element inside the container that is actuated by a thermostat or thermocouple which is monitoring the temperature of the water. This system could also be used in the summer time in order to provide the birds with cool water.
Elliot Coleman uses a movable hoop house for his chickens. This would be one way to passively heat the chicken coop and water at the same time. Perhaps you would need very little electricity to run the system. Perhaps a well insulated container filled with room temperature or warmed water each morning or evening would contain enough energy to not freeze until you added more water.
I'm planning to build a nipple drinker system with one of these Igloo 5 gallon water containers. I like the idea of having the nipples recessed in the bottom by cutting away the insulation.
The heater is naturally the first thought people have I think. There is a huge thread about this very subject over at backyard chickens forum and a lot of people have tried to solve the frozen nipple issue.
Exactly How energy intensive was using the heater? My pump is 110 v ~ 60 htz, and 18 watts, and it never seems like it is getting hot or going to be a fire danger. One of the big turn offs for a heater is the possibility of fire due to lame electrical wiring in this house.
Adding heated water to an insulated system daily is always an option too, but I am looking to maintain the benefit that the 5 gallon system has to offer - mainly that it does not require daily tending.
Location: Upper Midwest - Third Coast - USDA Zone 6a/b
Ok. So to answer your original question. No. I do not think that would work but I would also love to be proven wrong I think that bubbling air through the water could keep it in a liquid state depending upon several factors such as ambient air temp, insulation on the system, frequency of air bubbling, etc. I think this only applies to the water in the tank and maybe in your piping. However, there is always a little water drop on the end of the nipple and a little bit of water around the seat of the nipple valve which I think would be the biggest concern here. If the ambient air temperature falls below freezing then the nipple will freeze. The water temperature in the nipple needs to be kept above freezing.
Another idea that I've never actually created would be to use the all metal nipples and attach a thin wire that could be used for resistive heating. The wire could be wrapped around the body of the nipple. A thermostat would be used to activate a switch and send current through the wire. This would heat up the body of the nipple and keep it from freezing.
This is getting pretty complicated just to keep the nipple system working.
What I think would be a far superior design is to only have a nipple drinker set up that works in above freezing temperatures but construct a coop such that it receives passive solar or other type of heating and keep the entire coop above freezing which would keep your nipple system working, eggs from freezing, and the hens would be happier.
Willing to find out what 'impossible' means.
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