We come now to the point of controlling the heat. Thermostats and rheostats are both options when controlling any type of heat source. For those who are mechanically inclined, you can build your own rheostat set-up with just some wire and a lamp dimmer switch purchased at any home improvement or hardware store. It is then a matter of simply turning the knob to either increase or decrease the heat as needed. These controllers in my experience have a tendency to freeze/burn their internal contacts into a set position when being used at a stable temperature.
The other option is a thermostat which can be purchased either from Helix Controls or Big Apple Herpetological supply. Helix controls are just thermostats which keep the heating element at a constant temperature and turn off when that temperature is reached. As with all thermostats they have a probe which is placed underneath the basking area to monitor the temperature constantly.
The Big Apple brand of thermostat is one which uses a technology they call “pulse proportional.” This means the thermostat operates at a lower than normal setting through a pulsing signal and never actually shuts it off completely but dims it so to speak the heating element a longer lifespan. They also have a nighttime temperature drop system which allows the temperature to be automatically dropped to a preset level(s) automatically allowing the vivarium to experience a more natural fluctuation of temperature.
In my experience such thermostats are most applicable to commercial breeders and those that use heaters such as mercury vapor, metal halide, and radiant heat panels. These elements are capable of putting out a more intense heat than the normal incandescent style of heating elements.
After reading this article you should have a clear understanding of all the available elements used to heat reptile, amphibian, and insect pets. No matter what “style” of element you choose you must provide an external heat source for your pet so that they may thermoregulate as needed. When you’re done reading this I would also suggest that you read the article on reptile lighting as well as the two practices are synonymous with reptile health and neither can ever be ignored.