My wife used both heat element and light bulb heated chickenwatering devices in Canada. She says they all do a fairly good job.
She had a full complement of chickens, peacocks, 4 pheasant species and lots of other exotic fowl. She also had rabbits, Emu and horses. She used electric heaters for those.
According to her, most brands are at least similar in longevity and work about the same regardless of brand.
I had a friend in N. California that kept chickens in the high altitudes of the Sierra Nevada mountains who used electric heating elements that were submersible (similar to those made for heating tea or coffeewater).
He never had any problems with frozen water that I am aware of using those. But he also had the wire encased in metal conduit as a pecking protection and he had pyrometers attached too.
Since we don't have our chickens yet on Buzzard's Roost, but do have hogs, we currently are using insulated watering troughs for winter water for the hogs.
Our temps do get down to below freezing occasionally so there is a need but not quite as necessary as if we were North.
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I use a heat lamp bulb inside 2 cinder blocks. Lay the blocks on their side. Place bulb in one of the holes. I used some sheet tin bar signs bent to go around the outside to cover the holes. Those are held in place with tent stakes drove half way down. Vuala! You got drinkable water in zero degree weather. I set a 1 or 3 gallon waterer on it and have no problem. If they have the room, the girls will take turns standing on the edge to warm their feet on especially cold days.
I used them on my sheep waters and they are okay, but made our power bill soar. A better way is to buy a plastic culvert 15 inches in diameter, and cut in half. The cost is only $159 bucks for a 20 foot section so the cost is pretty cheap since you get two applications from them, but alternatively, you may be also able to score a steel used culvert off your town (I got quite a few this way). Anyway, cut either type in half and bury it vertically into the ground. Then put your water on top of that. Insulate around the waterer and the heat coming up from the ground 10 feet below at 57 degrees is enough to keep your water from freezing. It is geothermal in its most basic form and I live in Maine too!
For our chicken coop we can heat it in one of two ways. We keep our birds inside in the winter and warm. You get far more eggs that way. Anyway, ours is insulated, not great, but insulated. Just from the chickens being in there alone, for the most part it stays warm. Today it hoovered at 40 degrees and was 11 degrees outside. Just enough to keep the water from freezing. If it gets down to zero, the water will freeze so we just add two sheep (sheep prefer to be in pairs). Their body heat makes the coop warm enough so the water does not freeze.
To stop having to add sheep when it got cold out, we added another form of geothermal heat to our coop. We bought 100 feet of that cheap flexible plastic drain tile that comes in a roll. Starting at the coop, we buried it 4 feet deep in a big loop then came back into the coop. Installing a blower on it like for the forced draft of an old furnace, it is just enough to force air inside the coop to flow through that pipe, get heated to 57 degrees (ground temperature) and return keeping the chicken coop cool, but above freezing. It does consume electricity, but not nearly as much as when we ran electric heaters to get the place above freezing (or electrically heated waterers).
A sincere thank you to all of Permies Forums for making Christmas special to Katie and I, and our four daughters. Thank you!
I've had chickens here in Alaska for several years now. 8X8 insulated, but unheated coop. I typically Have 18-24 chickens at a time. I bought a 3+-gallon heated waterer at the local mill and feed. Temps here in my area can and do often get down to the -20*F range and colder at times. Water has never frozen and the coop is usually 10-20* warmer inside than the outside temperature. I keep the window cracked open (its placed high on the wall) and the birds have freedom to either stay inside or go outside as they please through a 12X16 door that opens to the run. The run is fenced and covered to keep predators (eagles and great northern owls mostly) away from my chickens. Chickens are quite hardy as long as they are in a draft free area.
I have tried a lot of them and I have this one now:http://www.hayneedle.com/product/kh-manufacturing-thermo-poultry-heated-waterer.cfm?ltype=child&tid=KHMA032-1 I bought mine from Tractor Supply. I absolutely love it. You don't spill water anywhere, it's easy to carry when it's full, it's easy to clean. I put mine on a 12"x12" chimney block so it's raised up enough that the chickens don't kick stuff into it all the time. It's just vastly better than any one I have used before. Until I get my geo-air coop built, this is the only kind I'll use.
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do."
I just use the heated pet bowl also. I put my up on a three legged stool so it stays much cleaner. I have two structures. One is my coop, 4 by 6 that has no feeder or water and a 8 by 16 greenhouse that I put their feed and water in. With their water in the greenhouse it is out of the wind and keeps the coop drier. Pet bowls use very little juice but don't hold much either.
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