By Jonathan Rheins
Practical Guide to Undertank Heat Pad Installation
Undertank heating pads (UTH) are one of the most efficient and reliable tools for providing heat to reptileand amphibian enclosures. Some varieties are self-adhesive, and bond directly to the glass terrarium bottom. Heating pads of this variety conduct heat directly to the enclosure floor and substrate.
When properly installed and used, an undertank heating pad can last the life of the terrarium. In this brief article, the steps for proper pad installation will be detailed. The terrarium in the accompanying photos is aCreative Habitat 5RT Glass Cage and the pad being installed is a Zoo Med Mini Reptitherm Heat Pad.
Once the size and type of pad have been selected, the terrarium can be prepared. It is typically much easier to effectively install a heating pad on an empty terrarium. Trying to orient the pad properly and ensure good contact is difficult without full access to the terrarium bottom.
The glass of the terrarium bottom should be thoroughly cleaned prior to installation. A good all-purpose glass cleaner will do, and a quick wipe with isopropyl alcohol will remove any traces of dirt, grease, or oils that could affect the pad’s adhesive over time.
Determine before you begin where you will locate the pad and in what orientation it will sit. Once the pad makes contact with the glass, it is quite difficult to remove, so be sure to have run a few “test fits” before going any further.
The adhesive on the pad itself is exposed by peeling off the back paper covering of the heating pad like a big sticker. Rest one short edge of the pad along the glass and then, using a rolling motion, gently “roll” the pad onto the glass. Just enough pressure should be used, and care must be taken to not overly bend or crease the pad itself.
Once in place, the pad can be firmly pressed down onto the glass, paying close attention to the corners and around the power cord. An added benefit of installing on an empty tank is the ability to peek through and see where the pad is or is not making good contact.
The last step is to install the included plastic “feet” to the bottom corners of the terrarium. These tiny bumpers attach permanently to the molding of the terrarium and effectively raise it up off the surface it is resting on by ¼” or so. This gap allows for easy exit of the power cord from beneath the terrarium, and also allows excess heat to escape, preventing malfunction or overheating.