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Hello everyone,

I wanted to share this information with as many people as possible as I feel it is crucial to get the word out about certain heat panels which have started fires in the past, and could potentially kill your snakes, destroy your home, or even kill you or your family in certain situations.

I recently purchased 2 heat panels from Reptile Basics. An 80W panel which I thought would be enough for my 70"X24"X15" cage with a fairly stable room temp of 75F. However after running the panel for a week or so I noticed that it was using A LOT of power to keep the temps up. It also would shut itself off when being supplied 100% power after only a few minutes.

I then bought a 120W panel. When I removed the 80W I noticed the plastic had "warped" from the heat. The 120W panel did not make much of a difference. The same exact thing happened with the warping, and also shutting off due to high temps. I contacted reptile basics and provided pictures of my setup/installation and they confirmed everything was correct.

After requesting a refund of the panels, reptile basics has refused and stated that "I am the only one having issues." I did some digging around online and found out this is not the case at all. They use the same heating element that has caused many other heating panels to catch fire over the years. Hence why they need the thermal fuse to keep them from overheating. However, this fuse does not make them safe either, hence why they cannot get UL/CL listed.

Here is an email from Bob over at Pro Products concerning the various heat panels made by Reptile Basics and other companies:
ProProducts said:
Marc,
These panels are not ours; rather it is the same panel that is sold by many other vendors under several different names, including Bean Farm, Helix, Avetec and others. They do out-gass strongly due to the fiberglass, plastic and epoxies used to make them and as with many products sold in our industry, there are no and never will be any actual clinical studies performed to see if the product may be detrimental to a reptile in a confined space, so our animals end up being guinea pigs. These panels are not properly designed and defy standard practices regarding how a proper radiant panel should be constructed.


The biggest concern with these panels and the heating element is that they are not UL or CE listed and the heating element used inside has a long track record of failing, shorting out and it can catch on fire. The shell can then be easily ignited. The element manufacture, Flexel, has had several law suits regarding this and the original US distributor (Aztech International) had to file for bankruptcy many years ago due to these problems. These panels, due to their materials and construction, would never be approved by any third party safety organization because of the risks they pose.


We routinely get calls from people who have problems with these panels and are aware of several cases where they actually have started a fire.


I am not trying to scare you or "bad mouth" the product, but it is not fair that products like these are sold in our or any industry and passed off as a safe product. Look around your house and try to find any electrical appliance that isn't UL and/or CE listed.
These are absolute facts that can't be disputed by anyone selling them. No matter what anyone says to the contrary, these facts are real and the potential risks are real. Not every panel may have a problem and it usually takes a while before the element starts to degrade, but these panels are ticking time bombs and do put your animals and your home at risk.


A picture of the heating element is attached (and info on the risks of some plastics, including ABS), so you can see that they attach the buss bar to the element using a sewing machine. This should cause concern for any intelligent person. This does not create a good electrical bond and creates variable resistance across the surface. This higher resistance creates heat, which then creates higher resistance, which creates more heat... and so forth. Eventually the bond fails which then causes a short, which can result in anything from the panel to stop working to a worst case scenario, causing a fire.

RBI (Reptile Basics) panels (also not UL or CE listed) use this same element and advertise that they use a thermo fuse for safety. First, if the panel was properly designed, it wouldn't need a safety fuse and secondly, even a fuse will not stop the element from degrading as described above. The fuse is required due to the poor panel design. By installing a heating element inside of an insulating plastic shell, it holds the heat in and will not release it efficiently. This results in much higher parasitic heat losses and higher internal temperatures. They had to add the fuse to allow the panel to fail when it gets too hot. If the panel were properly designed, it would never be able to reach a potentially dangerous internal temperature to start with.


Our Pro Heat radiant panels are the only panels sold that are UL, ULC and CE listed, ASTM E84<25 rated and we guarantee in writing that they can never cause a fire, burn or damage any surface they are mounted against and will not injure an animal. They are made of totally non-toxic materials and will never pose any health risk to you or your animals. They also outperform and outlast any other radiant panel sold. We only sell our panels directly through our facility, so they are not available through any retail vendor (with the exception of a couple of cage manufactures we work directly with), so if anyone is stating they have our panels, they are lying.
I am not trying to sound like an ad, but it isn't fair that anyone should be allowed to spend their hard earned money to buy a sub-standard product, especially if it has the potential for such devastating results. If we become better educated about such unsafe or poorly made products and demand that manufactures step up to the plate and eliminate these risks, we all will ultimately benefit.
Please let me know if you have any questions. If you would like to discuss this in greater detail, please feel free to call.
I hope this information helps to keep others from wasting hundreds of dollars on inferior and unsafe heat panels as I have.

The 120W panel from reptile basics is $109.
The panel that Pro Products recommended from my exact setup + temps was only $135 with shipping. And it only uses 88W of electricity.

The only reason I went with Reptile Basics over Pro Products was I expected the price to be around $300 for one of their panels, and many people have not had an issue with their panels (yet.)
 

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Cheers thanks. I brought a electrical radiator from currys recently warm up the reptile room iver the winter months. Cost 50 poundish and has 3 power inputs and a thermostat and timer build in. Works well and i havent had a problem with it in the last 3-4 weeks. Only cost around 20 pound a month to run. You cant put in a viv but good for heating a whole room.
 
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