The Zoo Med ReptiTemp® 500R Thermostat/Remote Sensor is an economical way to make sure your box turtle’s habitat stays at the right temperature. It can be mounted on the habitat, out of the way. And the 6-foot cord on the remote sensor probe is long enough that you can monitor the temperature in any part of the habitat, no matter where you mounted the control unit.
You can also plug it into a timer so that you can let the temperature drop automatically at night (no remembering to unplug or reset your heat device!).
It comes with a one-year warranty for peace of mind.
Keep reading for more about the ReptiTemp Thermostat:
Temperature Range it Can Control
This thermometer can sense and maintain temperatures from about 70° F to 110° F (21° C to 43° C). Since box turtles are generally happy with temperatures between about 70° and 80° F, with a basking area around 85° F, this range is acceptable.
Do keep in mind that with this kind of thermostat, “maintain” means keeping temperatures within a range around your set temperature, not right at your set temperature. Box turtles can tolerate temperature variation just fine, so you don’t need to worry about that.
The variation does seem to be very small, so it’s probably suitable for other reptiles you may own too, even those that need tight temperature control. But then again, you may not want to risk it.
How The ReptiTemp 500R Thermostat Works
This device senses the temperature in your boxie’s habitat and turns on or off to keep that temperature as close as possible to the temperature you set.
It will turn on when it senses the temperature has dropped too far below your set temperature. It stays on until the temperature has risen to or slightly above your set temperature. At this point it turns off and the cycles starts over. The indicator light tells you if it’s on or off.
Several reviewers have said their units maintained the temperature within 1 degree of the temperature set. This is very good for an on/off type of thermostat. The temperature swings with these can sometimes be as high as 5 degrees. (A few people apparently did see these larger temperature swings).
It’s important to realize that this on/off cycle will cause light-emitting heat lamps to also turn on and off as the temperature cycles. If you find this irritating, you may want to use a different kind of controller or use non-light emitting heaters, like a ceramic heat lamp.
Setting the Temperature
Getting the temperature set is a little annoying with this model, because the dial does not show what temperature you are setting it to, so you basically have to guess. And it does not display the temperature in your habitat, either, so you need to use a second thermometer placed right next to the probe to make sure you get it right. It can take some time (generally from about 30 minutes to an hour) to get the temperature where you want it.
You’ll also want to keep a thermometer in the habitat all the time to keep monitoring the temperature and make sure the thermostat keeps working.
But once you have it set, it seems to work well. And it has a protective cover over the dial, so you won’t accidentally change the setting and have to do it all over again. Some reviewers did have trouble with the cover not fitting over the cords for their heat source (the slots cut to accommodate the cords are too small). If you put the controller in a spot where you’re not likely to bump it, then this shouldn’t be a major issue. If you are likely to bump it, then you might want a different controller.
You can plug two heat sources into this device, but make sure the total wattage is not more than 500.
You can also plug it into a timer so that it doesn’t run at night, allowing your boxie’s habitat to cool off at night, like in nature. Depending on your room temperature, you may or may not need a secondary heat source to keep the temperature from dropping too much.
Keep in mind that thermostats can’t make your heat source put out more heat than it would when plugged directly into the wall. So if your habitat is not getting warm enough, your heat source may not be strong enough. You’ll either need to use one with a higher wattage or try adding a second one (just make sure the combined wattage is not more than 500).
Precautions for Using the ReptiTemp 500R Thermometer
Before buying any kind of thermostat, it’s a good idea to make sure you know how the manufacturer intended it to be used. If you use it in other ways, it may break and could even be dangerous.
So, according to Zoo Med, these are some important things to know about how to use this thermostat:
- Plug your heater(s) into the thermostat before plugging the thermostat into the wall
- Don’t use it in water (this is aimed at people with aquatic turtles, but it’s still important to know). The probe is water resistant, but Zoo Med can’t guarantee it’s safe to use in water.
- Don’t use it with fluorescent or mercury vapor bulbs (ReptiSun®, AvianSun™ or PowerSun™ UV bulbs, for example).
- It’s not designed to control heated rocks.
- Only mount it outside the habitat, not inside.
- Make sure you don’t plug in heater with a combined total of more than 500 watts.
Click here to read Zoo Med’s pamphlet (PDF) with more detailed instructions and precautions.
Pros and Cons of This Thermostat
Most people love this thermostat, even if they wish it was easier to set the temperature. But for others, the lack of temperature display was a deal-breaker. You’ll have to make that decision for yourself:
- It keeps temperatures in a narrow range (generally about 1 degree, although some users see wider ranges)
- The velcro attachment makes it easy to remove and replace during cleaning or to reset it.
- Can be tedious to set the temperature with the high/low dial
- You need a separate thermometer to monitor the actual temperature
- The on/off functioning can make it unsuitable to use with light-emitting bulbs (they’ll turn on and off, too)
Basically, it does what it’s supposed to without any bells or whistles. If you’re low on patience, it may not be for you (remember, set-up is tedious). But if you just want a reliable, economy thermostat that works once you have it set, this fits the bill.
Check ReptiTemp 500R Prices and Availability
Here are some online stores that sell the ReptiTemp 500R Thermostat. Prices and sales change often, but this is what we found as of this writing:
- It was on sale at Entirely Pets, making this price the lowest of the three.
- Amazon’s price was 53% off the list price (and too low for free shipping).
- PetSmart had the highest price, but the item was eligible for free 2-day shipping for ShopRunner members.