[Resolved!] Heating Stacked PVC Ball Python Enclosures - Radiant Heat Panels?

Hey guys!

[See the bottom of the thread (replies 25 - 27) for the resolution, as well as some general information about radiant heating panels.]

I just moved my two adult ball pythons (housed separately) from their glass aquariums and stacked 2 PVC enclosures with glass front doors and a screen top. They’re both 4’ x 2’ x 2’, and the male’s is on top of the female’s with about 1’ of space between them. And now I can’t for the life of me get their temperatures regulated. The female’s CHE is heating the male’s enclosure WAY better than it’s heating hers. :confused:

I’ve been looking up alternatives and radiant heat panels look like a popular answer. But I don’t know anything about them, I’d never even heard of them until yesterday, and research isn’t really clearing anything up. And I just have so many questions, I’m wondering if anyone’s willing to give me the cliff notes on them. I get so anxious and paranoid where heat sources are concerned (no bad experiences yet, but I’ve heard horror stories).

I just don’t see how it could be safe to leave in with the animal, where they can touch it. Is it truly safe, it really doesn’t get crazy hot? Are they mounted inside the enclosure, or would it sit on the screen top? Does it project the heat in a particular direction, or 360°? (Basically, is the heat going to go down into her enclosure or is it going to keep heating the top one like the CHE is now)? What size panel would be needed to heat a 4x2x2? Do people typically have to use one on each side to control the gradient?

Do you think radiant heat panels are a good solution for this problem? Is there something better?

Any input at all would be massively appreciated. I don’t have any extra money to be trying multiple solutions (though I’ll put whatever money I need to into something I know will work, they’ll get what they need) and I just get so worried where their health and safety are involved.

Thanks in advance. Sorry about the novel. And the 3rd degree. I’ll throw in a picture of Bug showing off for the camera.


@randall_turner_jr is pretty good with enclosure setups, let’s see if we can summon him.


I’m curious myself about the best solution for this, as I’ll likely need to stack my blood python and boa’s enclosures once my boa is ready for her adult encounter.

I am wondering if using a deep heat projector instead of a CHE (especially on the bottom enclosure) might work better, since the heat from a DHP seems to be directed downwards more than a CHE. :person_shrugging: But as I’ve never stacked enclosures myself, that’s just a theory. I’ll be interested in what others have to say.


If I find a solution, on my own or somewhere else then, I’ll make sure to post an update. This is a problem I’m about to be really familiar with, I have 6 other reptiles (well 2 are inverts) and plans for another one, and I’m in an apartment so. :joy: There will be more than one stack of reptiles in this place.


I do not have this setup and this is just from what I see in yours. The bottom hest source is enclosed and this will heat up the top enclosure base. I would suggest getting a heat source you can put under the bottom enclosure. This will keep the heat from effecting the top one. No matter what you do, the base of the top one will get some heat from the bottom enclosure. You could try putting an spacer between both units so it creates an air gap so the heat won’t transfer up as much. This could be a piece of plywood about mid way inside the enclosed area between the enclosures.


That’s my figuring too, but the only way I can think of to heat the bottom one from underneath is a heat mat. And, as with a lot of other husbandry aspects, I’ve seen people on BOTH sides of the issue feeling VERY strongly about whether or not it’s even safe to use a mat with a PVC enclosure.

But as I’m not even comfortable using them with glass tanks, I’m going to hard pass on a heat mat. In my mind, risk outweighs reward.

I don’t know anything at all about heat tape, other than it sounds exactly like a heat mat but in tape form.

And I think it would be a major fire hazard to stick, like, a little personal/small room heater under there. (Not to mention it would be harder to regulate that temperature probably.) Or to lay a CHE fixture upside down and point it at the bottom of the enclosure.

Underneath heating was my immediate thought. But those are physically the only methods I can think of to do it, unless I’m majorly missing something.

I mean I guess I could always get another snake and stack it underneath her, and let that one’s heat fixture warm her up. :joy:

Heat mats and tape or roap are all the same, just different shapes.
These would be placed on the outside of the enclosure, not in with the snake. You will find horror stories about them but you can also find them about everything. As long as they are regulated in a thermostat, you will be ok. I would never use any heat source without a thermostat of some sort. (by the way, heat panels that are used in racks, are ready no different the a heat pad. Just built stronger. All are safe to use if regulated)
The other option I can think of is to use an open stand between them, this way the heat will not get trapped.

Stacking another one will get you more snakes :rofl:. But you might also have the same problem.


Imho uth are the best way to go…… :blush:


Well, the biggest concerns I’ve found about heat mats for pvc enclosures specifically is that the pvc insulates very well, so the mat has to get significantly hotter for enough heat to transfer through as opposed to when it’s used with glass, which increases risk of fire. Plus the fact that I see about as many horror stories about heat mats alone as I do about pretty much any other heat source I’ve read about, combined (minus the obviously unsafe ones like red bulbs etc).

Maybe the internet in my part of the world is biased, and anything can malfunction of course, but based solely on what I’ve seen through research, the odds of these malfunctioning in a lethal way seems decently higher than with other methods. The fact that most people here are recommending them does indeed hold weight with me. I know that they work 1000% as intended and safely for MOST of the people that use them, and I’m filing these recommendations away for future consideration, but I’m nervous about them. So if literally nothing else works, I’d be willing to try heat mats. But I’m going to need 3-4 other methods to fail first.

I’ve got a list of exact questions about these things that I want answered, but it looks like the heat panels mostly project heat into objects. So it beams the infrared downward, heats up a rock or a brick or whatever’s underneath, and then that item gives off heat and raise ambient temperatures. So I’m thinking way less heat will get high enough up to majorly jack the temperature up on the upper enclosure. I don’t mind if the majority of that one’s heat comes from the enclosure underneath, I just need for the lower enclosure to actually be warm enough haha.

I’ll spend a few hours on it at work, today’s actually slow enough, and I’ll let the people who are watching this thread for answers know what I find. :slight_smile:

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My Boaphile enclosures had the custom made heat tape/mats underneath and with the thermostat set at 85 degrees they were perfectly stackable and perfect for my boas……


In addition I think people over think these enclosure projects. However enclosures that are pre constructed with everything included, lights, heat etc, are pricey but worth it. You just plug in the thermostat and heat mat and you are done. I have the experience with them and my house has never caught on fire…

My 2 boas were so comfortable in one of the enclosures that they decided to breed and produce 11 beautiful babies. Of course I had them together not thinking. And btw breeders use the same method of uth as these Boaphiles. As a matter of fact the breeder of my boas used them……

You just have to have the money…… Worth it! YUP!


I feel this. I have to keep all my snakes and inverts in my bedroom (live in a 2-bedroom condo with a roommate in the other bedroom), which isn’t huge, so I have to find relatively space-efficient solutions. I realise I could use tubs or racks to save space, but I just enjoy my snakes so much more when they’re in enclosures that allow me to easily observe them doing all their cute little snake things. I use tubs when they’re babies, but I much prefer the nice PVC enclosures for their permanent homes, even if they take up more space.


I use heat mats, but my home/bedroom tend to be on the cooler side, especially at night (and in the winter). So heat mats on their own don’t get ambient temperatures high enough. As a result, I also use overhead heating for both my adult enclosures in my bedroom (CHE for the sand boa and DHP for the blood python). I actually purchased a RHP a while back from a friend who bought one and never used it. I had no immediate use for it, but it was too good a deal to pass up and I figured I’d find a use for it sooner or later. I was thinking I’d use that for my BI girl once she’s ready to move into her adult enclosure. I’ll likely stack the blood python on top of the BI, since the BI enclosure is going to be longer. I’m hopeful the RHP will work with that configuration.

@chiryn, I’ll be very interested to know how things work out if you end up trying a RHP on your bottom enclosure. I do feel like it would work better than a CHE. CHEs don’t really seem to direct heat downwards, which I suspect is part of why your current setup isn’t working all that well.


The Boaphile type enclosures offer all the viewing advantages as well…… :blush:

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I didn’t even know that such a thing existed. I definitely won’t have the money for it any time soon (like “not even going to bother looking up the price because there’s not even a point in knowing yet” any time soon XD). But once I move into a house or more permanent residence, I’ll definitely look into it, thanks!!

I’m not knocking heat mats, or implying that they’re bad or that the people who use them are irresponsible/don’t care about their animal. I’m just saying that they’re not for me, until things that I personally think seem safer have either not worked or have been proven to be less safe/effective than the mats are.

I’m not firm or unchanging about most husbandry related things, I can only think of 1 other thing that I’m not willing to change my mind on, this hobby is very flexible and there’s tons of correct ways to do the same thing, but this is one of the very few. I’m trying other things first. And if they don’t work, yes, I’ll do some research and decide whether I’m going with a heat mat or heat tape.


Oh yes! And the people here who have so much experience can definitely give you ideas to achieve your needs!

Enclosures like the Boaphiles are certainly not cheap and down the road you could have that option! But ya gotta do what ya gotta do in the meantime.

So I wish you great success! :pray::pray::heart::heart::heart:Btw I use tubs too and there is a TON of controversy over that! Trust me! :joy::joy::joy:


I think that’s exactly why I’m having the issue’s I’m having. Heat rises, and with the CHE the heat is originating directly underneath the top enclosure. I was hoping it would direct the heat better than it is since it’s in a dome, I guess I never realized how inefficient these things are when they’re outside the enclosure. With the RHP it looks like the heat will be originating from the floor of the lower enclosure.

So odds are phenomenal that if I do the RHP on the bottom, the top enclosure’s temp will drop enough that I’ll have to replace that CHE as well. Or just downsize the CHE on the bottom enclosure, hook it up to the top one’s thermostat, and let it do it’s thing. :joy:

Kidding of course, I’ll get him his own heat kit.


:heart::heart::heart::heart:. What we won’t do for our noodles!!! :+1::+1::+1::+1::+1:

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I love how warm and wholesome the reptile/exotics community is! Every group has its bad eggs, but I don’t tend to notice many in this one, even outside this site. Even when there’s controversy, a lot of people still realize that every animal and setup is going to have different needs. I love it. Thanks for the good information and points to think about further.


And remember that the people here are passionate about their reptiles, including me :joy:, so you will get a lot of earnest sincere and maybe a little too much earnest advice but we not only care about the animals we about YOU as well!!! :heart::pray: