Well, I’ve learnt a very important lesson this week.
Cheap is not always choice and check your voltage output….
About four weeks ago I bought two heat pads directly from China; I had done my research (or so I had thought) and had worked out that this was my cheapest option if I wanted a heat pad to help with my seed propagation.
I had looked at home built options ~ I really wanted to make a heat pad out of fairy lights like this..
Go here to find the instructions on how to make one. Personally I could not find incandescent fairy lights or to be precise, incandescent rope lights in NZ. We’re all about LED and solar here. I could’ve got some through Ebay but with the dollar conversion and postage it certainly wasn’t the cheap option that it obviously is if you’re handy and living in the US.
I looked at the possibility of using an electric blanket but turns out that’s just downright dangerous – really?! Yeah, electric blankets are not made to be on 24/7 and I can’t risk burning the house down!
Which left me with the only foreseeable option of getting an actual heat pad. In New Zealand they range in price from $39-$83. But I could get heat pads for $19 I discovered, direct from China. Too good to be true?
You betcha! I patiently waited three weeks for them to arrive (I bought two). I knew that I would probably need an international plug for them but was sure I had one already… It didn’t fit so bought two from the local hardware store ($18). Excitedly I sowed a bunch of seeds that would appreciate the heat; white sage, cumin, basils.. and set it all up with plastic over top to keep the heat in.
Must admit I went to bed that night a little apprehensive about leaving a heat source on whilst sleeping. But I reassured myself that at least I’ll be waking up every three hours to smell smoke thanks to my dear darling non-sleeping toddler!
On checking in the morning everything seemed lovely and warm, well warm actually… When I checked in the afternoon, holy crap the soil/seed raising mix was steaming, I whipped out my cheese makers thermometer and once it hit 40C I pulled the plug.
Anyone guessing what’s happening here? You’re either very clever or you’ve had it happen to you (I’m just trying to make myself feel better!)
Yeeep. I got a quick sharp lesson in voltage output. You see the mats were made for the American market which have a voltage output of 110-120v, we here in Aotearoa (and a lot of other countries) have a voltage output of 230v. I sheepishly admit it does mention using a “standard 120v ouput” on the mat. They got me on “standard”, my plugs are pretty standard! One of those moments..
It’s actually a miracle that it didn’t overheat and burn itself out within minutes of me plugging it in ~ or burn the house down!
If I want to get any use out of these “cheap” heat pads I need to get a 200v step down voltage converter, which range from $35 (super cheap therefore super dubious) to $299. Average price it seems is about $60. Which would bring my bargain heat pads to an approximate $120 (that’s including the international plugs that I wouldn’t need after all if I got a converter).
Lesson; I should’ve just got the heat pads from NZ, which proberbly would even come with guarantees. And of course I should’ve known better and checked (and known) about the voltage requirements.
Live and learn eh.
So it’s back to the ol’ hot water cupboard for me and my seeds.
Speaking actually of old and seeds, in one of my old propagation books (Published 1950) it talks of using a round patter to firm your seed raising medium in your trays. I’ve always just used the back of my hand. But when I was at the Otaki markets about a month back I happened upon one! Though turns out it’s actually an olde English potato masher… looks like a “patter” to me! Works a treat. Get seed sowing people, the moon is in the right place and Spring is round the corner!