Brooder heat lamps
A Review of Brinsea's EcoGlow Brooder Lamps.
Did you know that baby chicks can easily become chilled and die?
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It's imperative to have a safe, reliable heat source in the brooder to keep chicks warm when they're little.
Their downy fluff is not enough to keep them warm. Without a mother hen, they need to have additional help until they grow feathers.
But traditional heat lamps can be dangerous.
In this article I look at why, and how to find a safe means of keeping chicks warm.
I use my ten years' experience with what I consider the best and safest brooder lamps on the market: Brinsea's EcoGlow 20 and the larger EcoGlow 50.
I'm reviewing them together because they're essentially the same. The EcoGlow 50 is just a larger unit.
To buy one of these brooder lamps, click on any of the pictures or the advert stripe.
Here's what I cover in this review. Click on any of these links to go to that section, or just scroll down and read the whole thing.
Why not use a traditional heat lamp?
This is a traditional heat lamp. Its main advantage is that it's very inexpensive. Its main disadvantage is that it's very dangerous.
And that's why I will never use or recommend this type of heat source for either a brooder box or a chicken coop.
I've seen too many examples of livestock - usually but not only chickens - killed by fires started by one of these. They come specifically recommended for brooders, but if the front of the lamp touches anything flammable - like a cardboard brooder or chick bedding for example - there is a huge risk that the heat will set it on fire.
Which is why I have always used the Brinsea brooder lamp.
How does the Brinsea brooder heat lamp work?
Unlike a traditional heat lamp, the Brinseas work on radiant heat. Whereas normal heating relies on a heat source warming the air, this works by an element warming only on contact.
So the black contact sheet on the underneath of the unit does not get
hot. When the chick's body is placed against it, it transmits direct
warmth from the element to the chick. There is no heat source to spark a
In that sense it's much more like the way a mother hen would transmit warmth, which is partly why I like it.
lot of reviews of this product don't understand this principle and
people get very worried that the unit itself does not get hot.
But - it doesn't need to.
The EcoGlow 20 brooder lamp : pros and cons.
- The major advantage of this brooder lamp is that it is completely safe. I can set it up and leave it in the brooder box without any anxiety about chicks getting burned or the brooder setting on fire.
EcoGlow 20 consists of one flat panel which is the heating element, and
two side panels with slots where the yellow panel fits. Because this
works on radiant heat it never gets hot to the touch, so children touching it by accident, for example, won't get burned.
- Please note: I've had my EcoGlow 20 for ten years. Since I bought it, Brinsea have changed the side panels for legs matching the EcoGlow 50 - which is an enormous improvement.
- The legs can be adjusted easily, so that the brooder lamp can be set very close to the ground when the chicks are newly-hatched, and raised as they get bigger.
- For bantams I simply make the legs on one end shorter than the other, creating a tiny space at one end and a bigger space at the other. This means that bantams and large breeds can use it at the same time.
- This unit uses much less electricity than a traditional heat lamp. Because I hatch different batches of eggs during the winter I had both of mine (the 20 and the 50) switched on for three months and didn't even notice a difference in my electricity bill!
- The average saving over a traditional heat lamp is estimated at around $11 - $15 per four week period.
- Brinsea say that up to twenty chicks can fit under this brooder lamp. I would say that's right for very new chicks only, and for about three weeks if they're large breed chicks.
- If they're going to need it for any longer than about three weeks - if you're hatching in the winter, for example - it won't be enough for more than about eight chicks at a time.
- For the lamp to work effectively the temperature of the
room it's in needs to be around 13ºC (55ºF). I've used it in a cooler
room during winter and I needed to supplement the room heat.
- As you can see from my pictures, the heat panel used to slot into two side panels. This was a really difficult set-up to manage because they never seemed to fit. So much so, in fact, that the tabs on the heat panel snapped off
and I needed to superglue them back on.
- Brinsea responded to this criticism and changed the method so that the EcoGlow 20 now has legs which simply screw into slots at each corner of the lamp. So much easier - and a great response by the company, who took the trouble to listen to customer feedback and respond with a design change.
The EcoGlow 50 brooder lamp : pros and cons.
- Large. Measures 22" (56 cm) long by 16" (41 cm) wide.
- The principle of this heat source is exactly the same as for the EcoGlow 20. The difference is simply the size. So the massive bonus of not having problems with heat and fires is the same.
- Very easy to put together. The legs screw into the base. Raising and lowering the platform is just a question of screwing the legs higher or lower and all four legs can be at different heights to accommodate large and small chicks at once. Simple and brilliant.
- Again, the issue of running cost is exactly the same. I ran this lamp and the EcoGlow 20 in my brooder for three months and didn't notice any difference at all in my electricity bill.
- Brinsea reckon this brooder lamp can fit up to 50 chicks and again I would say that's probably right until the chicks start to grow. I have used it for 18 large breed chicks at once and it was perfect.
- Like the EcoGlow 20, it's an expensive item. But then, you get what you pay for. The quality and reliability is, in my view, worth the cost.
Do the chicks like these brooder lamps?
They love both the small and the large units. I've never had any problems with the chicks taking to them straight away - they seem to find the radiant heat comforting.
My chicks disappear under these brooder lamps as soon as they come out of the incubator and on day 1, tend to spend a lot of time sleeping underneath them, occasionally peeking out at the world.
By day 2 they venture further out to get food and water,
scuttling back underneath if anything startles them.
By day 4, the more adventurous (this Wyandotte chick was always the adventurous one!) will be experimenting with using it as somewhere to take a break from everyone else ...
... and by the end of the
first week you'll find they'll all be using it to do acrobatics, as a launchpad for their first attempts at flying, and as a good place to start trying to jump out of the brooder.
It makes great entertainment - for them and for me!
As you can probably tell, I have had both these brooder lamps for several years and love them both. I did have a slight reservation about the EcoGlow 20 because of the issue with fitting the side panels, but Brinsea resolved that by changing the design.
They're both reliable, inexpensive to run and, most importantly of all, my chicks are kept warm and safe underneath them.
If I had to choose, I'd go for the EcoGlow 50, just because it provides plenty of space for quite a large group of chicks.
What do reviews say?
- More than 80% of reviews on these lamps are positive.
- Of the negative (2 star or less) a lot of comments are about the units not getting hot or not heating the air - but that's the whole point of the radiant heat! It only heats the chick and so is far less of a fire risk.
- Some people don't like the fact that the top of the unit gets dirty because the chicks sit on it. Well, that's the nature of chicks!
Yep - chicks make a mess! My EcoGlow 50 before cleaning it.
It's very easy to clean - I use a scraper and then sponge it down. Alternatively, use a non-slip covering such as we put into the incubator at
Cover the top of the brooder lamp to keep it clean.
- Overall, though, the reviews of both these heat lamps are excellent.
Which would be the best brooder lamp for you?
- If you intend to hatch no more than ten chicks at a time,
the Ecoglow 20 is ideal and will be fine until your chicks are not
needing extra heat any more.
- If you think you might want to hatch more than ten chicks, particularly if they're large (that is, not bantam) breeds, I'd suggest the larger EcoGlow 50.
Would I recommend them?
If you've ever read any of my other product reviews, you'll know I use a "golden egg" scoring system, where one egg means "don't waste your money" and five means "this product is a must-have".
For both the EcoGlow heat lamps, my award is...
A Fabulous Five Golden Eggs!
Ready to buy a Brinsea EcoGlow heat lamp?
The EcoGlow 20 - great for a smaller number of chicks.
The EcoGlow 50 - best solution for a larger hatch.
If you're thinking of incubating, hatching and raising chicks, you might find these pages helpful.