Insulating stock tanks for winter
 
 

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Insulating stock tanks for winter

This is a discussion on Insulating stock tanks for winter within the Barn Maintenance forums, part of the Barns, Boarding, and Farms category
  • DIY insulating a water tank for livestock
  • Insulating horse water tubs

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    10-28-2012, 11:28 AM
  #1
Yearling
Insulating stock tanks for winter

Winter is now upon us as we are going into the third week of temperatures that haven't exceeded freezing. If we are lucky, we may see a half a dozen days that peak just above freezing between now and the middle of April.

I use two large stock tanks with plug in heaters to water my 4 horses for the winter. We fill them with a garden hose (which is kept indoors when not in use) about once every 3-4 days or so. Through the winter months, the heaters are on pretty much 24-7. They don't have a temperature control, but do have a built in thermostat to keep the water just above freezing.

So my question. Is it worthwhile making an insulated box to cover the tanks? Cost of materials runs about $75 + for each tank if I frame out a box, insulate it well, vapour barrier the inside and cover with plywood. I cannot tell for certain how much the water heaters add to my power bill in the winter because we use so much more power for everything (furnace fans, lights, etc) else as well.

I know I can calculate the cost of operation, but I have no way of knowing how much less the heaters will run if the tanks are insulated. It gets really cold here (-20 a -40 C) in the deep of winter. Last year we had very little snow, so no snow insulation for the tanks. The year before we had 3 feet of snow.

Does anyone have any insight, experience or suggestions?
     
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    10-28-2012, 11:39 AM
  #2
Yearling
If you're worried about electricity costs, some people ditch the water trough in the winter and use heated buckets. You need time though because you don't keep the buckets out 24/7 like the stock tank/water trough. The horses get used to being watered at certain times, drain the buckets and head off. Kind of like when you feed at set times each day, they know when the hay is coming.

You put the bucket out filled with water, plug it in and do your chores. If they drain it right away, refill. Once your chores are done and they've walked away from the bucket, unplug it, drain it and put it away until next time. This way electricity is only being used for the actual time the horse is drinking, not on 24/7.
     
    10-28-2012, 05:31 PM
  #3
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Gate Farm    
If you're worried about electricity costs, some people ditch the water trough in the winter and use heated buckets. You need time though because you don't keep the buckets out 24/7 like the stock tank/water trough. The horses get used to being watered at certain times, drain the buckets and head off. Kind of like when you feed at set times each day, they know when the hay is coming.

You put the bucket out filled with water, plug it in and do your chores. If they drain it right away, refill. Once your chores are done and they've walked away from the bucket, unplug it, drain it and put it away until next time. This way electricity is only being used for the actual time the horse is drinking, not on 24/7.
Hmmmm.... I'm not wild on limiting their opportunity to drink, although I know many horses can manage just fine. I have an older gelding who goes through quite a lot of water. I suspect he has the beginnings of age related Cushings, and so I am concerned about dehydration with him, as he urinates quite a lot. I know less water = less urine output, but I don't want to compromise his metabolic processes.

Im just wondering if insulating the tank is worthwhile from a power consumption perspective. It also seems to be a more environmentally conscientious thing to do as well.
     
    10-28-2012, 05:41 PM
  #4
Started
My dad made boxes to insulate our stock tanks and the cost was well under $75. He used styrofoam and old lumber. It definitely cut down on electricity use.
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    10-28-2012, 06:10 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Re heaters - I know if it's the 'floating' or 'submersible' kind, they used to use a lot of electricity. I'm sorry I'm not remembering numbers now but we looked into them (wattage and all that stuff) one time but decided against them because of electricial costs. Perhaps newer models are more efficient.

Re insulation - That will definitely help. That would be no different than if you had the elecritic (nice but expensive) self filling professional watering bowls as they are insulated for the same purpose. If you have a south facing location that's sheltered from the wind and gets sun, that will also be a help. I don't know that the vapour barrier will be particularly useful in your particular situation so you might be able to save a few pennies there. Rigid insulation with a good R rating plus the plywood would be good though. As the one poster mentioned, styrofoam would work and can probably be purchased considerably cheaper than insulation but at the trade off of lower R ratings (I suspect styrofoam's R rating would be something like 2 or 3 at best).

What I use in the winter are two round rubber flexible tubs that hold about 15 gallons each. We've got them in a fairly protected location out of the wind. We fill them up in the morning (and evening if the horses haven't started using the barn overnight). In weather like we have now, they last quite nicely - the horses will drink up most of the water and just leave a skiff on the bottom. On the bitterly cold days they will freeze faster. Because they are flexible it's easy to knock out the frozen water and replace with fresh. It's labour intensive I know but we've used it for years. Maybe one of these times we'll get a proper watering bowl - a girl can always hope.
     
    10-28-2012, 06:49 PM
  #6
Trained
I can't remember where I seen it at but I seen a way to insulate a tank by putting it in the ground rather than building a box for it. (Obviously you would have to do it before the ground froze).

We always had a creek/river so it have to get pretty cold to freeze the water or otherwise I would take the tractor and use the bucket to bust ice. But at my parents place for the pen next to the house I had a thermostat type power outlet for a tank heater(if I remember right). That way it didnt suck a bunch of electricity to keep the ice off.
     
    10-28-2012, 08:56 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Figuring out a way to insulate it will cost you once, but save you money every winter. You can put it below ground level, build an insulated box, buy a bigger water trough and put yours inside and fill the gap with insulation, then a partial lid.
     
    10-28-2012, 09:58 PM
  #8
Showing
We get many -25 temps so even with a floating warmer and lots of insulation the meter would spin at breakneck speed. A friend's bill jumped by $300. I spent $500 and had a line dug and buried and had a non freeze Nelson hydrant put in. The water in the head and pipe drains back down below frost level. I sold my tanks and relegated the plastic tubs to other things. I now use a toboggan that one tows behind a snowmachine. When the ice builds up a bit, it's a lot easier to slide a toboggan to an out of the way place and tip out the ice than man handle tubs. Our hydro is costly enough without the addition of heating a water tank. You don't need two large tanks for four horses. Until you get hard freezing try throwing a cup of salt in the tank periodically. It will help keep the ice from forming. If you want to give your horse a winter treat, let a few buckets of water freeze then pour dilute molasses in the center on the ice. They will lick it for hours.
     
    10-29-2012, 01:11 PM
  #9
Started
Absolutely insulate them. I built completely covered insulated wooden boxes for my tanks last winter and went from about $1/tank per day in additional power to operate the tank heaters to $0. Never even plugged in the tank heaters. Now I don't get that cold (nights can get below 0 C for short periods of time but the sun does come out during the day) I had a thin layer of ice in the morning on really cold nights.

Bury the bottom of the tank or place it on a platform (I used 2x4s on their side). Stuff the bottom with straw, newspaper, dirt... anything. The sides were all built out of 3" foam insulated OSB boards. Stuff foam peanuts or balled up newspaper (I put them in plastic bags) in the dead space in the corners between the tank and the cover. Cover the top!!! Nothing worse than seeing all your $$ rising off the tank every morning when you walk out to feed. Leave Just enough uncovered for the horses to drink out of. If the tank is outside, paint the cover black so it absorbs passive solar heating during the day.

You will pay for the cost of the materials within the first 2 months.
     
    10-30-2012, 08:07 AM
  #10
Yearling
Perhaps this DIY project would work for your needs:
Build a Solar Stock Tank
     

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