The Solar Hot Box – Melting Waterers Efficiently


November 21, 2012 by Mike Oscar Hotel

We’ve had some cooler weather.  I won’t call it cold, given my heritage, but our nights have now dipped into the 20’s.  With that, we’ve run into the problem of the waterers freezing.

There are fancy heated water bottles out there, but wiring up electricity to a certain spot is beyond my expertise and, frankly, I don’t want to afford them.

I like regular water bottles because the animals can’t spoil them by getting a poo, pee, dirt, hair, food, etc. in them.  That being said, the best solution that I’ve found for frozen water is a crock.  Fill the crock up, it freezes, tap it out, add more.  But all of the above list will happen in the crock.

I get a lot of wooden boxes at the dump where I work.  I almost always grab them, because I almost always have a use for them.  If I don’t, I’ll think of one.  Remember the spice rack?

So I had an idea with this box.

I painted it black.



Used a little greenhouse material for the door.

And mounted it on the fence.

I didn’t take a picture, but I added some metal flashing from duct work inside.  Added some gain, I think.  I put two screws on the side and made a latch to keep the door closed tightly.  I get about 10-15 extra degrees out of the box when the sun is shining.  So far, so good.  I think I’l make some insulating tweaks and report back later.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike Oscar Hotel


7 thoughts on “The Solar Hot Box – Melting Waterers Efficiently

  1. Dulcimer says:

    Good idea! How many rabbits and chickens are you raising at the moment? We are really looking forward to getting chickens (I grew up with them) but would you believe that we are not allowed to have them in our neighborhood? We moved to the suburbs after being in the city for four years. In the city, we could have had up to four hens (and we didn’t even really have a yard, whereas we have 1/3 an acre here)!

    • Welllll…. that’s complicated. Technically, we have 25 rabbits. Sounds big, right? 19 of those are young meat rabbits that we’ll harvest soon. We have six main rabbits, 4 meats and 2 angoras. We’re at six chickens, but two of them will be going to the stew pot on slaughter day. One is a (HUGE) dark brahma rooster (accidental) and an Americauna that only lays six months out of the year. You can do it on 1/3 acre. We’re on a half and utilize lots of it and are working on utilizing more.

      Most chicken laws were made half way through the 20th century to keep stinky chicken farmers out of city limits. There has been a lot of work in the greater Denver area by James Bertini from Denver Urban Homesteading to get that changed. James was a full-time lawyer and knows his stuff. He may be a good resource or be able to point you in a direction to find people that know the laws in your area. Here’s a video I did about his operation last summer.

      Keep us posted on your progress. Also, when you post, if you have a blog or website, be sure to put it in your comment. I’d love our readers to be shared!

      • Dulcimer says:

        What a great-sounding group of livestock you have there. We bought a locally-raised rabbit recently and fricasseed it. It was amazing (although, of course, my husband’s cooking skills didn’t hurt, either).

        I really enjoyed your video on James Bertini — good stuff! Thanks for sharing that. Unfortunately, we are up against a deed restriction instead of an actual law. Specifically, our deed forbids us to have livestock. It’s our own stupid fault for buying a house in a development, but still . . . in Pittsburgh, where we used to live, we could have had quite a productive little flock!

        Best wishes to you!

  2. Interesting idea. How cold will it ultimately get where you live?

    • Colorado has more sunny days per year than Florida. That being said, I’ve seen it -15 below here. Doesn’t happen often. Even after a big storm, the snow starts to melt when the sun is out…..even if it’s only 20 degrees.

  3. Walksfar says:

    Thanks New at rabbits .live on a 8 acres in Tn, and loving it. working to get off the grid.building a greenhouse next spring (aquaponics)..wish me luck!!!!

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