What is a Deep Heat Projector, how to use one correctly and how do these compare with other  lamp types

The Arcadia Reptile Deep Heat Projector® is an innovative new form of heating tech designed to provide energy from light to captive reptiles that has a higher level or % of bioavailability than other heat sources that emit no visible light.

Arcadia Reptile has worked for over 10 years on refining and improving heat projector tech and continues to do so. The range always had two prime uses, and these were laid out simply from the start. Firstly, as a brand we always strive to see ongoing increases in captive animal welfare. Therefore, we wanted to be able to provide a product that would more naturally energise an animal for those keepers that had chosen to use heating tech that emits no visible light. These heaters include Heat Mats, Ceramic heaters, Radiant heat panels and heated cables. All of these heaters only emit Infra-red-C which is not provided directly from the sun and is only available on earth via convection from the surfaces that the sun has already warmed. Therefore IR-C has the lowest % of bioavailability and penetrates the dermis to the shallowest level.

For these keepers, moving to DHP® will increase the quantity of energy able to push more deeply into the dermis for a species and is therefore an increase in bioavailability. Welfare increases as the animal is more naturally energised.

The other prime use for DHP was for it to be used as a ‘buddy’ alongside either a tungsten or halogen flood lamp, as example it is the pairing of a tungsten flood and DHP that is packed within ThermalZooPro. In this way we see the most notable increases in bioavailability and welfare standards. The tungsten or halogen flood lamp is bright, attractive to basking, quickly warming and IR-A rich. The DHP used alongside the tungsten or halogen to create a basking zone below the two lamps makes up for the missing IR-B, adds in more IR-A and fills the spectrum within Infra Red as closely to that of IR provided within terrestrial daylight. The two lamps work in unison to create a highly usable and deeply penetrating provision of heat, just like the sun.

The sun of course is perfectly full spectrum within our layer of the atmosphere from UV-B to IR-B as a single source. Please see ‘Fire, The Sun, its use and replication in reptile keeping’ for greater detail on this subject. As keepers we have to use an array of lamps adroitly in order to fill and mimic the terrestrial spectrum as closely as tech allows us to. This means that it is now typical for basking species to be provided with a Halogen Flood with DHP, ProT5 HO-T5 UV system and Genuine JungleDawn-LED Bar all working together to mimic sunlight. As stated above the halogen and DHP fill the IR-A and IR-B part of the spectrum, the ProT5 provides a targetable UVI and the LED Bar greatly increases lux (quantity of visible light) which inspires natural basking, is used as direct energy itself (all light is energy and all energy will/must be used/passed on) and allows the sustained growth of suitable plants and grasses.

The sun provides us with IR-A and IR-B directly, indeed a huge quantity of IR-A which pushes deeply into the skin and releases its energy for reptiles and amphibians to use. These wavelengths do not release much energy into air or water vapour in the air, it is IR-C that does this. IR-C is made available mostly through convection. What does this mean? Well, as the sun heats the terrain directly (photons are pushed into rock, the ground, water, plants, tree etc etc) this ‘terrain’ stores energy. This energy undergoes a shift upwards in wavelength into IR-C and is then readmitted into the air as IR-C which does warm the air and water vapour. Its is IR-C within the ‘earths budget’ that creates heated thermals and wind and is the ‘heat’ that we feel.

In this way, we have direct energy which is highly bioavailable being pushed down upon us from the sun, and we have radiated energy pushing back up as heated air from around us. These work hand in hand to create air temp and surface temp.

To obtain the very best results by using a genuine DHP the lamp should always be fitted over thick and ideally dark coloured rock. Dark slate seems to work best. In doing so we create a stable basking area for the animal to rest on, or within to receive highly bioavailable energy direct to the body, but we also create a heat store in the slate that is then readmitted into the enclosure to warm the air. In reality, the slate becomes a heat mat or CHE, just naturally. After time the slate will stabilise, and the animal can easily self-regulate between basking and resting within the correct air temp. This is all of course boosted in terms of % of bioavailability if the DHP is partnered with a tungsten or halogen flood lamp, especially in diurnal sun basking species.

Tungsten, Halogen and Deep Heat Projectors should be controlled with good quality dimming stats such as the HabiStat digistat. This will ensure that the lamp is only providing the amount of heat that is required at that time, will reduce energy spend and can lengthen the life of all lamp types. DHPs are very well insulated and reflected and if caged do not need to be used in reflector domes. For those used on top of mesh vivs they should be used with 5 ½” clamp lamps and safety mesh such as ClampLamp and ClampLamp-Graphite. This will greatly reduce the risk of keeper burn, accidental fires caused by lamps being knocked over and reduce lamp damage.

A ceramic heat lamp/emitter/CHE only produces IR-C and is very good at warming the air. Its energy is not as bioavailable as tungsten/halogen and DHP but they do have a use, especially for vivs kept in colder areas and for very large vivs that require even air temps alongside a basking spot. Heat mats/RHP and the worst option being heated cables should only really be used to warm the air alongside a heat source with a higher level of bioavailability such as tungsten floods, halogen floods and DHP. We would then use the CHE to create a background level of warm air and use the other lamps to create a basking zone that is useful to life.

Genuine Deep Heat Projectors are safe, effective, easy to use, have a longer life and represent an increase in the bioavailability of energy provision for those keepers that wish to use a heat source with no visible light. They are nearly twice as efficient watt for watt than CHE being so well insulated and reflected and they can be buddied up with Tungsten or Halogen floods to create the most advanced provision of energy that tech allows us to provide currently. They do however benefit from being sited over thick dark rock/slate which will in-turn create warm air. We do also need to measure our temps in a slightly different way. Dial and strip thermometers are only measuring heated air at the position where there are sited. This can differ greatly from the energy/heat that is available at basking. As such, we should use good non-contact thermometers to measure the rock itself and then use other thermometer types to watch what is happening to the air. This process is not instant either. It can take a week of use for a DHP to get to full temp and within this time it will also heat the rock and start cycles of heating and cooling daily.

For every positive step we take to improve our care we will be repaid with animals that look, feed, behave and breed more like the wild cousins. This should be the goal of all keepers, seeking to keep healthy animals that are fully and naturally energised and enriched.

The Arcadia Deep Heat Projector is available to buy today at Internet Reptile in both 50w and 80w versions.

John Courteney-Smith MRSB FLS

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