Installing The Incukit Mini for Desktop Incubators
This post shares the step by step process I used to convert a still air desktop incubator with a wafer thermostat to a forced air incubator with an automatic digital thermostat. The kit i used, the Incukit Mini, can also be used to turn a styrofoam cooler or other container into a homemade incubator.
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Upgrading Old Incubators to Keep a Stable Temperature
I have two desktop incubators and both of them have manual thermostats. These incubators work great if your room temperature is fairly stable and they are used successfully by many poultry enthusiasts. However, if your room temps rise and fall a great deal you will have trouble maintaining the proper temperature for the developing embryos.
We heat our house with a wood stove in the winter which causes some drastic changes in temperature, so I wanted to upgrade to automatic thermostat incubators that keep a constant temperature throughout the hatch. But I really didn’t want to shell out the big bucks for my ‘dream incubator.’
I found a kit on Incubator Warehouse, called the Incukit Mini for desktop incubators. This kit contains a heater/fan combo with a proportional thermostat that keeps a constant termperature. I liked the idea of upgrading my old incubators instead of starting from scratch. You can also use this kit to create an incubator from a styrofoam cooler or other insulated container. (Make sure that the container isn’t too large for the heater to keep at the proper temps or it will have to work too hard. A small cooler should be fine.)
Here’s the problem…I’m not a particularly handy person. I try to do home and barn projects, but they usually involve a lot of duct tape and end up looking pretty classy. So I’ve been putting off this project for about 2 months. I’m here to tell you that I was able to install the Incukit Mini without a hassle, and my electronics engineering hubby only had to help with adjusting the settings a little. Yes…I rock! Of course, I did use duct tape in strategic areas and yes, it came out looking pretty classy. 🙂
The Installation Process – Retrofitting an Old Incubator
Since I’m upgrading an old incubator, I had to remove the old thermostat and heating element before I could install the Incukit. The bolts came out easily and the deconstruction was painless. I was ready to install the new unit.
I cut out the hole for the Incukit Mini digital display and controls to show through the top of my incubator. I used a handy steak knife for the ‘delicate’ procedure, following the template included on the back of the instruction sheet.
I should note here that I wasn’t able to cut the hole in the center of the top, unfortunately. Due to the shape of the incubator lid, the heater and fan kit would’ve hung down very close to the hatching surface. I’m not particularly happy with the placement of the Incukit off to one side of the incubator because I was concerned it would cause uneven temperatures. However, I had already disassembled the old incubator and figured I would give it a go. If you are considering upgrading an existing incubator, check to see if you’ll be able to fit the Incukit in the center before you start.
I also wasn’t happy with the little bits of styrofoam rubbing off the sides of the new hole . So I used the handyman’s secret weapon, duct tape, to cover the rough edges and prevent the styrofoam from breaking off.
I checked to make sure that the digital display fit properly through the new hole and marked the holes for the bolts to fasten the kit to the inside of the incubator top. Two small black tubes were included to poke through the styrofoam for the bolts to fit through so the styrofoam wouldn’t fall apart. I put another little square of duct tape over each hole in the styrofoam, then made holes for the bolts.
When I thought I was nearing the finish line, I hit a snag. The bolts included weren’t long enough to secure the Incukit to the bottom of a styrofoam lid that is about 1″ thick. Drat! A search mission through all of our odds and ends of screws, bolts, and other fasterners saved from previous deconstruction projects yielded no winners and I had to run to the hardware store for the proper size (#10, 2″ bolts did the trick).
I covered all of the miscellaneous holes in the styrofoam with duct tape to reduce heat loss (I’m wondering if the handyman’s other secret weapon, spray foam inuslation, might come in handy here?), plugged the AC adapter (threaded through an existing vent hole) into the Incukit Mini, plugged in the power supply, and waited for the temperature to stabilize.
After several hours the temperature was still not reaching 99.5 F, the proper temperature for incubating chicken eggs. I contacted Incubator Warehouse and explained the problem. They wrote back quickly and told me to change the OSP slope setting from 0.25 to 0.10 and I made the change and waited to see if this did the trick.
I left the incubator overnight to see if the temperature was correct and found that it was still reading 98.9, give or take a little. I put a digital thermometer in the incubator, close to the Incukit heater. The reading reached 99.7 and held pretty steady. The Incukit sensor was taped in place at the opposite end of the incubator, hence the difference in temperature readings. Again, I’m not happy having the new Incukit installed off to one side of the incubator. I originally thought that the circulating fan would even out the temperature inside the incubator, but it doesn’t seem to be. To accomodate the temp differences, I put all of my eggs on the side of the incubator closest to the Incukit heater.
I let the incubator run over night and added 32 eggs from my chicken flock this morning. In 21 days I will have a better idea if the installation of an Incukit will make my incubator more reliable and increase my hatch rates. I still have one more incubator to upgrade with the other Incukit Mini I ordered and I can see that the shape of the incubator lid will accomodate the unit in the center instead of off to one side. So I’m sure that the set up will be much better for this project. If my first incubator conversion project doesn’t work as well as I’d like, I will go ahead and search for a small cooler that will allow me to take the Incukit Mini out of this incubator to set up a new one. Then I will re-install the old heating unit and either keep the old incubator for a back up or maybe I’ll sell it on Craigslist.
Have you ever used an incubator with a proportional (automatic) thermostat? Or are you interested in upgrading an incubator with a manual thermostat? I’d like to know if this article has been helpful…please leave a comment to let me know!
Here is a video from youtube that might be helpful if you decide to tackle this project…
Update: I retrofitted two incubators this way and have gotten a lot of use from them. The temperature remains much more stable than with the wafer type thermostat and I am very happy with them. I use the two incubators to hatch chicks, ducklings, and turkey poults for my homestead.
Note: I did not receive any compensation from Incubator Warehouse to review this product. I purchased two Incukit Minis to upgrade my incubators and share the process and information with others. The following links to the Incukit Mini and other products that might interest you are affiliate links. You will not pay any extra for these if you purchase these products through the links I share, but I will make a small commission…Thank you for supporting The Self Sufficient HomeAcre!