There’s nothing worse then visiting your coop in the winter only to find the chicken water frozen. Chickens need a constant supply of fresh and clean water to stay healthy. If you live in the northern climates in the winter, this means coming up with a system of dealing with frozen water and the easiest solution is to use one of the best chicken water heater options listed below..
We’ve been raising chickens and thawing water in the coop for well over a decade in New Hampshire and upstate New York.
In this post, we will share the top chicken water heater option with reviews and details to help to choose the best heater for your coop. Scroll down for more information on how to set up chicken water heaters and some other things you should know.
I’ve also written a more general article about how to keep chicken water from freezing – this looks at the whole picture of how to thaw or keep water from freezing in the coop. You can also find suggestions on the best chicken waterer or a complete list of chicken supplies for your coops on our site.
If you want a quick recommendation - this is the chicken water heater we use. We've tried several over the years and this heater consistently works best and has worked for years: Farm Innovators Chicken Water Heater Base.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Chicken Water Heater Options
When selecting the best chicken water heater, there are several important factors to consider. You will want to select a chicken water heater that will last for several years and works efficiently. Chickens tend to make a mess of their water so the water heater needs to be safe and deal with getting wet.
Here are some key considerations:
- Climate and Temperature: Consider the climate in your area and the lowest temperatures your chickens are likely to experience. Choose a water heater that can handle these temperatures to prevent freezing. If your water only freezes a few times of year, you may be best off working to insulate your coop or swapping two chicken waterers
- Type of Water Heater: There are different types of chicken water heaters, including heated waterers, heated base systems, and heated pads. Choose the type that best suits your coop and setup. We prefer separate heaters and waterers. This gives me more flexiblility if something breaks.
- Power Source: Chicken water heaters can be powered by electricity, propane, or solar energy. The power source you choose will depend on your location, access to electricity or gas, and your environmental preferences.
- Energy Efficiency: Look for an energy-efficient water heater to minimize your electricity or propane costs. Some models are designed to use less energy while still keeping the water at a suitable temperature.
- Safety Features: Ensure the water heater has safety features such as automatic shut-off in case of overheating or malfunction to prevent fires or other hazards.
- Capacity: Consider the number of chickens you have and their water consumption needs. Choose a water heater with an appropriate capacity to provide enough water for all your chickens.
- Installation: Some water heaters may require professional installation, while others are easy to set up yourself. Consider your DIY skills and the installation requirements of the chosen heater.
- Durability and Build Quality: Invest in a high-quality water heater that can withstand the rigors of outdoor use and the pecking and scratching of chickens. Stainless steel and heavy-duty plastic are common materials used in durable water heaters.
- Ease of Cleaning: Ensure that the water heater is easy to clean and maintain. You don’t want a heater that accumulates dirt and grime, as this can affect water quality. This is another reason we prefer a chicken waterer that is separate from the heater.
- Cost: Compare the initial cost of the water heater with the long-term operational costs. While a more expensive model may be more energy-efficient and durable, it’s essential to balance this with your budget. A warranty will also give you piece of mind.
- Compatibility: Make sure the water heater you choose is compatible with your existing waterers or watering system. Some heaters are designed to work with specific types of water containers.
- Reviews and Recommendations: Read reviews from other chicken keepers and seek recommendations from experienced poultry enthusiasts. They can provide valuable insights into the performance and reliability of different water heaters.
The Best Chicken Water Heater Options
The options below fot he best chicken water heater are based on our own experience or direct deefback from people who we know who’ve used these products. We recommend you read the most recent reviews as quality can change over time.
This is the chicken water heater that we are currently using in our coop. It has lasted for several years and does the job of keeping water from freezing in the winter in New Hampshire.
In our opition, this is the best chicken water heater.
This chicken water heater is built into the chicken waterer. This is a sturdy and highly rated option for the winter and since it holds 3 gallons, it is a great choice for a small to medium sized flock.
The only negative is that since it is built into the chicken waterer, if one compenent break you may need to replace the full waterer.
If you prefer a chicken drinker with a nipple – this is a great option. This can help avoid water spillage inside the coop. We used this briefly, but found that occasionally in the extreme cold, the water froze right at the nipple drinker. This is a good option if you are raising chickens with cold but not extreme winters.
This chicken water base is well designed with tabs to keep the waterer in place and avoid spillage. The sleek design is easy to clean and conserves energy.
This is a a slightly different option for keeping your water from freeing than the other options above. Instead of heating the water from the base, this goes into the water and heats the water from within. This is a good option if you have a large flock or a large chicken waterer.
Homemade Chicken Water Heater
Often the best chicken water heater is not to purchase a heater, but to make your own. This can be less expensive if you already have some supplies on hand. Most of the DIY chicken water heaters either sit on a container (concrete block or cookie tin) with some sort of heating system inside.
Use caution when choosing what to use as your heat source. Light bulbs can cause fires and should be avoided.
The best design I’ve seen for building your own chicken water heaters using heat tape (often designed to keep pipes from freezing). This can be wrapped around the outside of the chicken waterer or put inside something at the base.
From Scratch Homestead has a good tutorial.
Tips for Using a Chicken Water Heater in your Coop
Using one of the best chicken water heater options above will ensures that your water stays unfrozen, the heater works as long as possible, and you maintain a safe place for your chickens. Below are some general tips for using a chicken water heater.
- Choose the Right Heater: Select a heater that is specifically designed for use with poultry or livestock. These heaters are designed to be safe and efficient for use in a coop or outdoor chicken run.
- Position the Heater Properly: Place the water heater in a secure and stable position, ensuring it is off the ground and away from direct contact with straw, wood shavings, or other bedding materials that could pose a fire hazard.
- Keep Cords Out of Reach: Ensure that the electrical cord is out of reach of chickens to prevent them from pecking at it. Use cord covers or conduit to protect the cord.
- Use a GFCI Outlet: Plug the heater into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet to minimize the risk of electrical accidents due to moisture or malfunctions.
- Regularly Inspect the Heater: Check the water heater and cord for any signs of damage, wear, or fraying. Replace any damaged components promptly. Rodent damage or rubbing can both cause damage.
- Clean and Refill Regularly: Clean the waterer regularly to prevent algae and bacteria buildup. Ensure the waterer is refilled daily, as chickens require a consistent source of fresh, unfrozen water.
- Insulate the Waterer: Insulate the waterer with foam or insulation material to help maintain water temperature and prevent freezing. Ensure that the insulation does not obstruct the heating element. Make sure your chickens to not peck and eat the insulation.
- Use a Thermostatically Controlled Heater: Consider investing in a water heater with a built-in thermostat. These heaters can automatically turn on when the temperature drops below freezing and turn off when it warms up, saving energy.
- Protect Against Moisture: Ensure that the water heater is designed to be moisture-resistant, as coops can be humid environments. Moisture can damage electrical components and create safety hazards.
- Secure the Waterer: Make sure the waterer is securely fastened to prevent accidental tipping by chickens or other animals.
- Observe Chickens’ Behavior: Monitor your chickens to ensure they are comfortable and not showing signs of discomfort due to extreme cold or overheating.
- Have a Backup Plan: Always have a backup plan in case of power outages or equipment malfunctions, such as providing an alternative source of water or using heated waterers powered by alternative means (e.g., propane).
Looking for more resources on Raising Healthy Chickens?
We have lots of information on raising chickens including general care and suggestions for the best tools for your chicken coop. Below are a few articles to get your started: