DIY Incubator: How We Built a Self-Regulating Incubator For Under $100.
When my wife and I decided to start incubating our own chicken eggs, we quickly realized that buying a commercial incubator could be a costly investment. However, we were determined to give it a try and decided to build our own incubator using an old broken refrigerator. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.
In this article, I’ll share with you the steps we took to turn our old refrigerator into a self-regulating incubator that worked perfectly for hatching our chicken eggs. Hopefully, our experience can help you build your own incubator too, without breaking the bank.
Choosing the Right Refrigerator
The first step in building an incubator is to choose the right refrigerator. We went for an old refrigerator that had a broken compressor but the thermostat was still working. This is an important consideration, as you need to be able to regulate the temperature and humidity levels inside the incubator.
The ideal temperature for incubating chicken eggs is around 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to maintain this temperature consistently throughout the incubation period, which is typically 21 days. We found that the thermostat in our old refrigerator worked perfectly for regulating the temperature inside the incubator.
We also made sure to choose a refrigerator that had enough space to accommodate the number of eggs we wanted to hatch. We went for a refrigerator that had a capacity of around 50 eggs, which was perfect for our needs.
When building an incubator from an old refrigerator, you will need a few materials to get started. Here’s a list of the materials you’ll need:
- Old refrigerator: The first and most important item you’ll need is an old refrigerator. This will serve as the base for your incubator. You can often find old refrigerators for free or cheap on websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
- Heating element: You’ll need a heating element to maintain a consistent temperature inside the incubator. You can purchase heating elements specifically designed for incubators, or you can repurpose a heating element from another appliance, like a space heater or electric stove.
- Thermostat: A thermostat is essential for regulating the temperature inside the incubator. You can purchase thermostats designed specifically for incubators, or you can repurpose a thermostat from another appliance.
- Fan: A fan is necessary for circulating air inside the incubator. This helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the incubator and ensures that the developing embryos receive sufficient oxygen.
- Temperature gauge: You’ll need a thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the incubator. You can use a digital or analog thermometer, but make sure it’s accurate and easy to read.
- Humidity gauge: In addition to monitoring the temperature, you’ll also need to monitor the humidity inside the incubator. A humidity gauge will help you keep track of the humidity levels.
- Insulation: Insulation is important for maintaining a consistent temperature inside the incubator. You can use a variety of materials for insulation, such as fiberglass, foam board insulation, or even bubble wrap.
- Plexiglass or glass: You’ll need a transparent material to cover the front of the incubator. Plexiglass or glass are good options, as they’re both durable and easy to clean.
- Drill and saw: You’ll need a drill and saw to make holes and cut openings in the refrigerator for the heating element, fan, and thermostat.
- Wiring and connectors: You’ll need wiring and connectors to connect the heating element, thermostat, and fan to the power source.
|Old refrigerator||Base for incubator||1|
|Heating element||Maintain temperature||1|
|Computer fan||Circulate air||1|
|Light socket||Provide light||1|
|LED bulb||Provide light||1|
|Power cord||Power source||1|
|Electrical tape||Secure wiring||As needed|
|Screws and bolts||Secure components||As needed|
Building the Incubator
Once we had our refrigerator, we started building the incubator. The first step was to remove all the shelves and drawers from the refrigerator to create enough space for the eggs.
We then placed a heat lamp at the bottom of the refrigerator to provide warmth to the eggs. We used a 250-watt bulb, which provided just the right amount of heat for our incubator. We also installed a fan to circulate the air inside the refrigerator to ensure consistent temperature and humidity levels.
To regulate the humidity levels, we placed a small dish of water inside the incubator. We monitored the humidity levels using a hygrometer, which we placed inside the refrigerator.
It’s important to note that the humidity levels inside the incubator should be around 50-60% for the first 18 days of incubation. During the last three days, the humidity should be increased to around 70% to help the chicks break out of their shells.
Testing and Adjusting
After building the incubator, we ran several tests to make sure that the temperature and humidity levels were consistent. We used a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature and a hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels.
During the testing phase, we made several adjustments to ensure that the temperature and humidity levels were consistent throughout the incubator. For example, we moved the water dish around to find the ideal position that provided the right amount of humidity.
We also adjusted the position of the heat lamp to make sure that it was providing enough heat to all the eggs. It took us a few tries to get everything right, but once we did, the incubator worked like a charm.
Building our own incubator was one of the best decisions we ever made. It was an inexpensive and fun project that allowed us to hatch our own chicks at home.
If you’re thinking of building your own incubator, just make sure to choose the right refrigerator, install a heat lamp and fan, and monitor the temperature and humidity levels closely. With a little patience and experimentation, you too can build a self-regulating incubator that works perfectly for hatching your chicken eggs.