This article is to enlighten us on the accidents that could happen when one decides to incubate eggs by using an electric powered incubator either home-made or manufactured. Firstly, I would like to share an incident that truly happened: “I made for myself an egg incubator that could handle 200 eggs. I had three successful hatches already in four months. I usually hatch quail and chicken eggs, and I plan to hatch goose eggs in future. During my forth incubation process, I experienced a dangerous incident and I want to thank God for saving me.I woke up one night 2:00am, and my incubator was on fire. The flames extended to my roof; my house was actually burning. I was able to put the fire off by using a portable fire extinguisher after islolating the power. Below are some pictures to show what happened”.I set my incubator temperatures at 37.0 to 38 degrees Celsius for the chicken and quail eggs, but the main cause of this fire was that MY TEMPERATURE SENSOR WAS WRONGLY POSITIONED. I mistakenly left my temperature sensor outside the Incubator whilst it was ON.”
Note that this could happen to any incubator. I hope this write up alerts you and informs you of some safety tips that help to prevent such damage. Here are possible causes of such fire explained:
- Wrong placement of the temperature sensor:
The temperature sensor of your thermostat is supposed to be around your eggs inside the incubator. Fasten the sensor well so that it does not fall to a wrong position. The sensor helps the thermostat to determine when to stop/start the air heater, so if the sensor is faulty or if it is placed in the wrong position (an example is outside the incubator), this wrong position might keep your heater ON for a long time and this can easily cause fire/ overheating.
- Using a wrong air heater:
Your incubator heater should be able to heat up your incubator to the required temperature slowly.For instance, it should take about 2 to 4 minutes to get your incubator to the required temperature, and of course your incubator should be well insulated to save energy. 500watts heater is okay for a 200 egg capacity incubator. If you use extremely higher wattage your incubator can easily overheat or burn.
- Fan placement:
Air circulation is very important. Your fan should be positioned in such a way that it is able to blow air over the heater, or away from the heater. If your fan stops working or if it is not able to blow air from the heater to the eggs, too much heat would accumulate around the heater and this is dangerous as it can cause fire.
- Loose wiring:
Loose wire contacts can cause arcs/ sparks. Make sure your wire contacts are well secured and insulated.
Here are some more safety tips to consider when making or using incubators.
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After the fire was put out
- Keep flammable materials away from the incubator machine. Example is gas cylinder for cooking.
- Install an overheating protection system for your incubator. Preferrably a small fan and a siren for alarm. This small fan is supposed to blow excess heat out of the incubator. The STC1000 thermostat has such a function.
- Make sure your sensors and fans are correctly positioned.
- Seek the assistance of an electrical technician when wiring for the first time especially.
- Use the right humidifier. It is dangerous to use the usual domestic water heaters as humidifiers.