Keeping your chickens happy and comfortable in the winter is an important part of raising backyard chickens, especially if you live where the winters are cold. We’ve been keeping backyard chickens for many years both in upstate New York and New Hampshire and have experienced our fair share of cold and windy winters.
In this post we’ll share the best chicken coop heater options for your coop as well as some way not to heat your coop. We’ll also give you some suggestions for what to consider and look for when choosing a chicken coop heater.
If you’re wondering if you need to invest in a chicken coop heater, start by reading Do Chickens Need Heat in the Winter? or if your main problem is keeping your chicken’s water from freezing, read: Best Chicken Water Heater Options.
Should you Heat Your Coop: Before we dig deeper into the best chicken coop heaters, it’s important to decide whether you need to heat your chicken coop. In most situations, you don’t need to heat your chicken coop. We like to have a coop heater for extreme temperatures, but don’t heat our coop everyday in the winter. Chickens naturally can survive most cold temperatures. Below we go into more details about when to heat your coop.
Also – adding heat to your coop can be dangerous. Safety is the top consideration when consider whether to heat you coop and how to heat your coop.
Quick Look at the Best Chicken Coop Heater Options
Below you can see a snapshot of the best chicken coop heater options.
Best Chicken Coop Heater: the winner for our top chicken coop heater is the one from Chickcozy. It is reliable, well priced and much safer than using a heat lamp. Read more below for details on the Chickcozy Coop Heater.
Do you Need to Heat your Chicken Coop?
In general you should not need to regularly heat your chicken coop in most climates. Most chicken breeds are well adapted to the cold. Before you add a heater to your chicken coop, you should take steps to keep your chickens warm by improving their coop and living conditions.
Here’s a list of alternative ways to keep your chickens warm during the winter without a heater:
- Proper Insulation: Ensure your coop is well-insulated to prevent drafts and retain heat.
- Adequate Ventilation: Maintain good airflow while preventing cold drafts by adjusting ventilation appropriately.
- Deep Bedding: Use deep bedding with materials like straw or wood shavings to provide insulation and warmth.
- Solar Gain: Position the coop to maximize exposure to the sun, utilizing passive solar heating.
- Cold-Weather Breeds: Consider keeping cold-hardy chicken breeds that are more adapted to winter conditions.
- Draft-Proofing: Seal any gaps or cracks in the coop to prevent cold air from entering.
- Roosting Bars: Provide wide, flat roosts for your chickens to huddle together and share body heat at night.
- Supplementary Lighting: Extend the day length with artificial lighting to encourage more activity and warmth.
- Warm Water: Offer lukewarm water to keep your chickens hydrated without a drop in body temperature.
- Nutritious Diet: Ensure your chickens are well-fed with a balanced diet, as digestion generates heat.
Despite this, having a safe chicken coop heater will help when the temperatures dramatically drop below normal temperatures. We keep a chicken coop heater in the coop and use it when their is a massive temperature drop for short periods of time.
We do not recommend using a heat lamp in your coop (although no judgement if you have!) We used one occasionally and while this is an inexpensive solution, it is not worth the safety risk. We’ve included a heat lamp in the options below because there are a few times when they can be helpful – such as warming a cold hen undersupervision.
What to Look for in a Chicken Coop Heater
When buying a chicken coop heater, it’s important to consider several factors to ensure you choose the right one for your specific needs. Consider the size of your coop, the number of hens, your electricity source and how often you will be heating your coop. Here’s a list of things to look for when purchasing a chicken coop heater:
- Type of Heater: Determine the type of heater you need, such as radiant heat, ceramic heat emitters, brooder lamps, or panel heaters, based on your coop’s size and design.
- Size and Coverage: Select a heater with the appropriate wattage or BTU output to effectively heat the size of your chicken coop. Ensure it can adequately cover the entire space.
- Safety Features: Look for safety features like overheat protection, tip-over switches, and safety certifications to prevent fires and accidents.
- Energy Efficiency: Opt for an energy-efficient heater to minimize electricity costs, especially if you plan to run it continuously during the cold season.
- Thermostat Control: A heater with a thermostat allows you to set and maintain the desired temperature in the coop, reducing the risk of overheating or underheating.
- Adjustable Heat Settings: Choose a heater with variable heat settings so you can adjust the temperature according to the weather and your chickens’ needs.
- Mounting Options: Check if the heater can be wall-mounted, hung from the ceiling, or placed on the floor, depending on your coop’s layout.
- Durability and Build Quality: Ensure the heater is constructed from durable and weather-resistant materials suitable for outdoor use.
- Ease of Installation: Look for heaters that are easy to install and come with clear instructions for hassle-free setup.
- Low Noise Level: Consider heaters that operate quietly to avoid stressing your chickens with excessive noise.
- Cleanliness and Maintenance: Choose a heater that is easy to clean and maintain to ensure the well-being of your chickens.
- Compatibility with Power Source: Determine whether the heater is compatible with your electrical system or if it requires a specific voltage or power source.
- Budget: Consider your budget and find a heater that meets your needs without breaking the bank.
- Brand Reputation: Research the reputation and customer reviews of the heater’s manufacturer to ensure product quality and reliability.
- Warranty: Check for a warranty that provides protection in case the heater malfunctions or encounters issues.
- Customer Support: Ensure the company offers good customer support in case you have questions or encounter problems with your heater.
By carefully considering these factors, you can select the most suitable chicken coop heater to maintain a comfortable and safe environment for your flock during the colder months.
Our Review of the Best Chicken Coop Heater
Top Choice – Panel Heaters
Our two top choices for teh best chicken coop heater are both panel heaters. This style heater is not just efficient but also incredibly safe. This low-output panel heater, meticulously crafted to maintain a cozy environment within your coop when faced with chilly weather conditions.
Unlike traditional heating methods that rely on warm air circulation, this heater provides radiant heat, ensuring your feathered companions remain comfortably warm without being subjected to excessive heat. It offers a secure alternative to the potential hazards associated with heat lamps.
With a mere 200 watts of power, this heater strikes an optimal balance between heat output and energy efficiency. To put it into context, conventional space heaters typically consume between 1500 to 2000 watts. Therefore, this 200-watt heater won’t turn your chicken dwelling into a sweltering furnace; instead, it will maintain a gentle and consistent temperature for your poultry during winter.
Ensuring your chickens remain accustomed to moderate temperatures, even when it’s freezing outside, is important. This heater is not meant to keep your coop hot, but rather offset temperature extremes. Thanks to its modest heat output, this heating element not only keeps your chickens cozy but also reduces your energy bills.
This heater is not only portable but also comes equipped with a thermostatic control LED, mitigating the risk of frostbite during cold spells. It safeguards your chickens from frostbite without subjecting them to excessive heat, maintaining a surface temperature that’s safe to the touch.
This heater also has built in safetly measures and when the panel tips over, the heat automatically shuts off. Since the surface temperature remains comfortably warm to the touch, within the range of 70-150°F, which instills confidence in its use.
You can conveniently regulate the heating plate either via the buttons on the panel itself or through the included remote control. This heat panel can be mounted directly on the wall or stand independently.
This is the heater we are using this winter in our chicken coop and feel confident in the safetly and effectiveness of this heating system.
The heating panel from Fuzzy Bird is another excellent coop heat similar to the Chick Cozy panel above. Like the other heater, this has built in safety precautions. The heater can be mounted on the wall or free standing and will not heat above 185 degrees F making it safe to the touch.
Another option for heating your coop is a ceramic bulb.
Heating your chicken coop with a ceramic bulb is a practical and efficient way to ensure the well-being of your feathered friends during cold seasons. The ceramic bulb, designed for this specific purpose or one that is meant for reptiles, emits a gentle and radiant heat that mimics the warmth of natural sunlight. Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, ceramic bulbs don’t emit light, making them ideal for overnight use without disturbing your chickens’ sleep patterns.
These bulbs are not only energy-efficient but also safer than a tradition bulb, as they don’t pose the same fire hazards associated with heat lamps. Their durability and consistent heat output make them a reliable choice for maintaining a cozy and frost-free environment in your chicken coop, promoting a comfortable and healthy habitat for your poultry.
There is a risk that a chicken could fly into one of these bulbs or since the bulb gets hot to the touch it can start a fire.
We do not recommmend using a heat lampn in your chicken coop. We’ve decided to include this on our list for several reasons. First – many people use these in their coop as they are effective at adding heat and inexpensive. We’ve even used a heat lamp a few times in our coop when we were first getting started.
The biggest concern with heat lamps as they pose a fire risk. Every year people burn down their coop or barn as a result of heat lamps. Since there are many other options available we recommend using a panel heater in your coop.
We also included this in the list as it is helpful to have on hand for a few situations. We’ve used a heat lamp to warm up a chicken that has gotten cold or wet after being left outside. We’ve also used them in our brooder although we now use a heating plate in our brooder as well. This is a helpful tool to have but should not be used to heat your coop.