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Drilling holes in Freezers and/or refrigerators?


Mokele
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Ok, as some of you know already, I grow carnivorous plants. One particular group I'm very keen on are the tropical pitcher plants, and I've had some success recently with lowland species, who are used to constantly warm temperatures. However, many of the most spectacular (and gigantic, by which I mean "can eat rodents and possibly small monkeys") species are from tropical mountains, where the temperature drops into the 60's and even 50's at night, accompanied by 100% humidity. Of course, because I lack anything resembling a sense of when to stop, I want these, and thus I need a terrarium for them.

 

I can't cool my apartment at night (partly because of my reptiles, partly because I hate the cold), so I need to cool their tank specifically. My plan has been to pump cold water or cold air from a refrigerator or freezer (though obviously not water in that case) into the tank, which will be insulated on many sides. However, fridges and freezers are expensive ($80+), and I don't want to mess one up only to find it doesn't work.

 

So what I want to ask is basically this: is there anything of importance in the door of a fridge or freezer, or is it just a big air-filled space for insulation?

 

If so, would it be possible to remove the door and replace it with a home-made one which fits, seals, and insulates, but with a pre-cut hole?

 

Obviously, there will be heat loss if I drill a hole in the fridge/freezer, but if the hole is connected to an air-filled tube, and the air isn't being pumped during daylight hours, will this be a significant source of heat loss?

 

Mokele

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Well most doors are basically insulators, but some may have functions integrated into it. Probably best to ask the respective manufacturers. There might be some problems, though. Are you planning to turn off the freezer during daytime? Unless very heavily insulated heat of course will disperse across your tubings and the freezer would have to work harder (and thus emit more heat) just to keep up. In the worst case the motor might overwork.

An alternative may be peltier element based coolant systems and circulate water through them. They tend to be quite expensive, though. Or what about a small air conditioner? Many of them allow an easy extension with tubings and they are meant to run constantly (as the cheap ones often do not struggle to keep a constant temp but rather a constant output).

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there`s no working parts in the sides or the door of most fridges, feel free to employ your tin opener and make a few holes with impunity :)

 

Or you can buy these small 12v fridges used in camping to keep the beer cold, they`re on a few cubic feet internal volume, but large enough to mount a PC fan on one side and ducting on the other, a little silicone sealant and your set to go :)

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Hey, another sick plant junkie! Sounds like a cool collection, I had no idea that there were such large carnovores, what genus?

 

I got my first amorphophallus last year, and it seems to me that a plant whose flower smells like a dead animal would be the perfect foil for a collection of carnivores. Whadd'ya think?

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Sounds like a cool collection, I had no idea that there were such large carnovores, what genus?

 

Nepenthes. Some of species can have pitchers that hold 4 L of fluid and are 20" tall.

 

I've considered other weird plants, but I seem to have a blood-red thumb: I can only raise carnivores. Everything else dies, even pothos.

 

Are you planning to turn off the freezer during daytime?

 

Nope, I'll keep it on, and in fact I'm planning of keeping lots of stuff in it that'll essentially 'soak up the cold' and raise the thermal inertia. Maybe use it to store the rats for my snakes and lizard. Or maybe just a lot of jugs of water. Basically anything that'll keep the temperature stable.

 

An alternative may be peltier element based coolant systems and circulate water through them. They tend to be quite expensive, though.

 

I've actually tried before, though not on this scale; cobra plants are a carnivore from oregon who live by cold mountain streams, thus need cold water over the roots. Sadly, the system didn't work well enough, and that combined with not insulating it well enough during last winter killed it.

 

I'm probably going to play with peltiers again, but not until I have a house, so I can shield the cobras from the worst of the afternoon sun.

 

Or what about a small air conditioner? Many of them allow an easy extension with tubings and they are meant to run constantly (as the cheap ones often do not struggle to keep a constant temp but rather a constant output).

 

That's actually an alternate plan, yes. I'm just more inclined towards a freezer or fridge because they can generate lower temperatures; it'd be a large tank to cool, and some of the species I want are 'ultra-highlands', which need nighttime temps in the low 50's.

 

But basically, now I know that fridges and freezers are a possibility, that gives me more options, whatever I finally decide to use.

 

Mokele

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If it's of any interest, I have a small beer fridge which I got from the bar where I work. I have no use for it. It's about the size of a large T.V set, plenty of room for a few plants;

it has a glass door already; and runs at about eight degrees Celcius

constantly,

It's designed for use in the U.K so runs on 240 volts at 15 amps, it will work in the U.S but may not be as effective.

 

You can have it for free if you're willing to pay the postage.

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Thanks muchly, but since I'm in the US, the shipping would probably be exorbitantly high, likely more than the price of the unit itself.

 

Plus, well, these particular plants would grow out of a small unit very quickly; One of mine has already trippled in size in only 4 months, and will likely need a full greenhouse within a year.

 

Thanks for the offer, though!

 

Mokele

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Hi.

A working old refrigerator with interior damages should be available free at any refrigerator repair shop.

 

A good way to use it would be inserting the refrigerator in a polyestirene wall dividing areas from your reptiles and your plants, the heat releasing condenser part to keep warmth in one side; and -door removed- the cooling side for the plants.

 

If its thermostat control is working, you are prerfectly set by just adding a fan to the evaporator cooling side... and defrosting periodically.

 

Miguel

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Nope, I'll keep it on, and in fact I'm planning of keeping lots of stuff in it that'll essentially 'soak up the cold' and raise the thermal inertia. Maybe use it to store the rats for my snakes and lizard. Or maybe just a lot of jugs of water. Basically anything that'll keep the temperature stable.

Kegerator!

 

Since you're already drilling holes in the door.

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Kegerator!

 

Sadly, I don't drink enough to make it worth it.

 

A working old refrigerator with interior damages should be available free at any refrigerator repair shop.

 

Ooooh, excellent idea!

 

A good way to use it would be inserting the refrigerator in a polyestirene wall dividing areas from your reptiles and your plants, the heat releasing condenser part to keep warmth in one side; and -door removed- the cooling side for the plants.

 

Unfortunately, it won't work with the layout of my current apartment, but that's definitely worth a shot when I move into somewhere that gives me a bit more freedom for such things.

 

Mokele

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Oooops. Sorry, goofed distracted following the refrigerator word stuck to the request.

 

Get a split airconditioner. Will work for distant rooms as the insulated hoses can be of a good lenght; both have already built-in fans for circulation, and provides both heating and cooling areas. Visit your AC shop for an unwanted one going to the dumpster.

 

Miguel

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do you have a salvage yard or anything near by? all you really need is the tubes, valve and compressor from an old fridge. if you can get the tubes out of a fridge without releasing the freon you're set. just place the cold tubes in the greenhouse/tank and the hot tubes on the outside.

 

another type of heat pump is a peltier plate. you can buy them for computers, some of them can extract about 70 watts of heat. (damn inefficient though)

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Well, my pets are a 9 foot columbian boa, a small rescued ball python, and a 4 foot blue tegu (carnivorous South American lizard, convergently evolved with monitors). I might be adopting a friend's leopard geckos soon, too. At lab, I've got about 30 corn snakes of various ages, 4 amazon tree boas, 7 anoles (4 green, 3 brown), 2 baby reticulated pythons, 1 jungle carpet python, 1 baby boa, and 2 paradise flying tree snakes.

 

Mokele

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another possibility came to me yesterday whilst in the car, I don`t know integrated these are or if they are stand alone modules with half a dozen bolts a couple of wires and a few ducts, but could you rip the air-con out of a car?

I`ve no idea how (im)practical this would be, but it might be worth going down to a scrap yard and having a look :)

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Get some peltier effect devices. Connected to 12 volts they will cool (or heat) depending on which direction you pass electrical current. You'll need a fan to blow the heat away from the other side of the peltier device. You can easily mount a couple in an insulated box and if you wanted to go real hi-tech you could organise a temperature controller using a simple 555 timer chip and a couple of MOSFET's.

 

Do you sell the plants? What is the value of such plants in the market place?

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I have a blue tongue skink, a bearded dragon and a pacman frog. I'd like to buy a carpet or ball python sometime soon though.

 

Very cool. Just be aware the balls are notoriously finicky eaters.

 

another possibility came to me yesterday whilst in the car, I don`t know integrated these are or if they are stand alone modules with half a dozen bolts a couple of wires and a few ducts, but could you rip the air-con out of a car?

I`ve no idea how (im)practical this would be, but it might be worth going down to a scrap yard and having a look :)

 

Tempting, but probably not worth the time and effort. Thanks for the idea, though.

 

Get some peltier effect devices. Connected to 12 volts they will cool (or heat) depending on which direction you pass electrical current. You'll need a fan to blow the heat away from the other side of the peltier device. You can easily mount a couple in an insulated box

 

I've actually toyed with Pelts for root-cooling a different plant, but I can't seem to find a power supply that gives high enough voltage *and* high enough amps. Also, we're talking about a tank maybe 2 x 3 x 4 feet, which would likely require a LOT of Pelts.

 

Do you sell the plants? What is the value of such plants in the market place?

 

Not yet, but one day, as my collection grows, I'll start selling off the offspring. Depending on the type of plant, cuttings can fetch between $30 to $170, but a lot of care and effort goes into getting those cuttings.

 

Mokele

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Nepenthes. Some of species can have pitchers that hold 4 L of fluid and are 20" tall.

 

I've considered other weird plants' date=' but I seem to have a blood-red thumb: I can only raise carnivores. Everything else dies, even pothos...[/quote']

Found pix online...very cool. I may have to try my hand at them, but it looks like I just got infected by the orchid-lover's disease.

 

So far amorphs seem pretty easy to me. Pups are pretty cheap, if you run across one give it a try, who knows?

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