BlackBox NEW Fail-Safe Rack Features
Check out this video Green Room Pythons made showing all the latest rack features. We will go through them step by step below but in case you don't like watching videos.
Acrylic Door Lockers
These are not exactly new, but we have not officially announced them. If you have unwieldy animals or toddlers with roaming hands, these door lockers are for you.
NEW - Back Access Panels
We have added back access panels so you can easily install your thermostat probe on any shelf you like (we recommend the middle-one as a good place to start). We've always provided a hole in the back panel for each shelf to allow you to run the temperature probe into the rack, but due to the length of the XRV-70 tub/rack, properly installing the thermostat probe has been difficult to say the least. You either needed really long arms, or you had to remove the back-panel from the rack. Neither option/requirement is really ideal so we adjusted.
NEW - Integrated thermostat probe installation location and strain relief
One of the questions we get asked most often is where should I put the thermostat probe? In the past we would say "put it as close to the tub as you can get it, and tape it directly to the heat tape using HVAC foil tape. Putting the thermostat probe in the middle shelf of the rack is sort of like controlling the average temperature in the rack. Every shelf will be about the same temperature within a couple degrees, with the ones lower being a little colder and the ones higher being a little warmer (heat rises after all). There are some environmental factors which play into this, but for most folks this advice works pretty well.
While accurate, these instructions don't convey the importance that probe placement has in keeping temperatures where you need them to be and when combined with the difficulty described in #1, we feel this has resulted in improper thermostat probe installation in almost every case that we helped a customer with. Without proper probe placement as well as sufficient amount and application of HVAC tape (or even worse, using something other than HVAC foil tape) we found that thermostat probes could come off the heat tape through normal cycling of the heat tape, or be pulled loose when moving the rack around.
We've solved (we hope) all of this by cutting specific mounting locations into each shelf for placing the thermostat probe, as well as cutting a strain relief channel for the probe cord to be placed in. This should prevent or at least make it VERY difficult to pull the thermostat probe out of the rack accidentally, and it will standardize the probe placement location for our racks going forward.
NEW - Fail-Safe Thermal Regulation
Our biggest complaint with racks is the roundabout way that temperature control is currently done; It's counter intuitive. The thermostat is there to ensure that the heat tape doesn't overheat -- that is its primary purpose/goal. Keeping the temperature internal to the tub at a particular set point is a secondary concern, and usually requires that you manually adjust your thermostat higher or lower to get the tub internal temperature to where you want it. Once you understand fundamentally how this all works, it makes sense and maintaining your temperatures properly becomes easy to do; however getting this understanding to begin with as a new (or not so new) keeper can be a challenge.
Items #1 and #2 can be very problematic since the only thermoregulation in the rack is provided by the thermostat. If the probe is not placed correctly or if it comes loose then the heat tape can easily overheat and fail catastrophically. If this happens, the BEST that you can hope for is just inconsistent temperatures in your rack. The worst that can happen is a catastrophic failure of the heat tape which can be very detrimental for your animals. We've all seen the pictures online of racks with completely burned up heat tape and melted tubs. In almost every case that we've seen from our own customers or from watching online forums with other racks from other manufacturers, the root cause of this is the thermostat probe not being secured to the heat tape or having it come loose. Very rarely this is also caused by thermostat failure.
Most thermostats commonly used in the hobby are relay-driven on/off type thermostats. There are manufacturers which provide dimming/pwm thermostats, and some which also have a safety cut-off built in as well; however the lion's share of thermostats in use are based on simple relays, and unfortunately relays have a nasty tendency to fail-on when they fail. Essentially the little contacts internally spark/arc when opening and closing, and after so many on/off cycles those arcs can cause the contacts to weld themselves together causing the relay to stay on, even when the thermostat is telling it to turn off. This is rare, but it does happen.
We believe that our solutions to items #1 and #2 above will fix almost all of the common causes of heat tape overheating. However, we wanted to make sure that our racks would have an additional layer of safety. We've added a fail-safe thermal regulator to the rack which will prevent the heat tape from overheating. This is intended to be a fail-safe, not a primary means of temperature control; you still need to regulate the rack's temperature with a thermostat and you still need to ensure that the thermostat is in proper working order/monitored. This fail-safe regulator will prevent the heat tape from rising above approximately 140f.
140f is warm enough that folks in cold climates (think basements in the winter in New England) will be able to easily maintain their target temperatures, but not overly hot so that in the case of a thermostat failure the animal will still be able to move to the cold/front of the tub to be able to get away from the heat.
Again, this is intended to be a fail-safe measure; Most thermostats support High-Temp (and low-temp) alarms, and we highly recommend they be employed along with regular validation or supplementary monitoring of tub temperatures to help prevent issues.
High-temp and Low-Temp alarms will tell you when things are going awry, and with this fail-safe measure you should have enough time to rectify whatever issue is happening.
NEW - C14 Standard Cords
Many of our customers have asked for different lengths for the cord that we wire to the heat tape. Until now, this has been somewhat problematic. Since we purchase cords in bulk, having many different sizes was not really feasible for us; and since the standard wiring practice for heat-tape is to connect the cord directly to the heat tape, the ability for customers to change the cord after they get the enclosure was not possible.
To fix this we're going to be installing standard C14 cord sockets (same/similar to what you'd see in a tower computer or some TV's) and shipping with a standard 6ft cord. If you need a longer one for whatever reason it's easier for me to carry a couple sizes and it's easy if needing to replace it after-market too.