5 Stars By J. DERAMO on 2009-04-19
Insulate under the mat!
We are home gardeners and have tried many ways to provide bottom-heat for vegetable seed germination -- atop my always-on docked laptop was the most effective but the space was tiny. We bought a 20" x 20" heat mat and now have the right tool for the job. We set it up on a card table and found that it was not providing sufficient heat to the soil in the trays above. After an overnight on the mat, the soil surface was less than 10 degrees above ambient temperature. The room where the seeds are was 60 degrees overnight, and the soil surface in the trays was 68 degrees -- certainly not good enough for eggplant germination. I used an infrared thermometer (Raytek Minitemp MT6 here on AlumiGogo) to check all temps. The exposed mat surface (no tray on top) was 82 degrees. I felt the surface on the underside of the card able and it was definitely warm, indicating heat loss downward. I wanted all of the heat to go up into the soil, so I cut a piece of rigid-foam insulation just slightly larger than the heat mat (22" x 22") and put it under the mat. Within 15 minutes the exposed surface of the mat was at 97 degrees and when I moved a tray to measure the temp of the mat beneath a tray, it was at 115 degrees. 2 hours later, the soil surface temperature was at 85 degrees. I am now confident the soil will get enough heat for proper germination, and I will begin using the heat mat thermostat to regulate soil temps based on the particular seeds we're starting (search the Web for "vegetable seed germination temperatures" to find one of the many reference charts available). We can also regulate temperature by covering or uncovering the trays to change the rate of evaporative cooling. We are well aware that covered soil is more prone to damping off/seedling death, which we now control with a spray of strong-brewed chamomile tea.
5 Stars By cryptix on 2012-12-25
Excellent for Brewing Kombucha
I love this heat mat. I use it for 7 day periods with it on 24/7 (no thermostat) placed underneath the gallon glass jar in which the kombucha I brew resides. It brews much faster in higher temperatures, and this heat mat provides 10 degree increase without ever getting dangerously hot.
1 Stars By Chris Kafer on 2016-03-04
Not useful for starting peppers and other plants that benefit from ...
Bought the 48" version two years ago with Hydrofarm thermostat. I use it only for a month at a time to start seedlings. Barely gets warm and wont keep the soil above 68 deg F now! Not useful for starting peppers and other plants that benefit from warm soil.
Update 1: mat has completely failed. I've basically used it twice since I bought it, stored flat. Made for some very expensive tomato plants. Junk.
Update 2: Their customer service wrote back refusing to replace the mat since it was >1 yr old. Interestingly, she tacitly admitted that the version I have was unreliable has been improved and the new model now has a low return rate.
5 Stars By Dawn Fremo on 2015-11-29
Works Great for Brewing Kombucha
I've recently started brewing my own kombucha. We turn our heat off when we go to work, so the temperature in the house goes down to sixty-something during the day...too cold for producing a batch of kombucha in a week, which I consider ideal. I looked at various products for raising the temperature of the fermenting liquid in my crock. The heat wraps that I considered were priced at $45 and above, so I decided to give this seedling mat a try, at less than half the cost. I'm delighted with the results! I've made several batches of delicious kombucha. I bought a stick-on thermometer for my crock, so I know for certain that my brew is between 70 to 80 degrees at all times, the ideal brewing temperature. An additional bonus is that, after I put the finished kombucha in bottles with a little organic fruit juice in the bottom to do a second ferment, there's enough room on the mat to accommodate six 16-ounce bottles. The heat speeds up the second ferment, so in two days I have a six delicious, fizzy bottles of slightly fruity kombucha. I highly recommend this product to anyone who brews kombucha in a cold climate.
5 Stars By McGregorMX on 2015-05-12
It's not powerful enough to fight the heat draw of something like a countertop
I had a zucchini plant germinate withing 24 hours with this thing. By the end of the week, it was nearly 4" tall. Other plants germinated about 50% faster than normal as well! Well worth it, and a must if you are wanting to create a heat controlled greenhouse effect for your starter seeds. It does NOT include a thermostat, although without one it sits at about 78 degrees, so there isn't really a need for one either. Make sure you keep it on top of a piece of cardboard, or Styrofoam so what ever surface you are using doesn't leech the heat away from it. It's not powerful enough to fight the heat draw of something like a countertop, or concrete.
5 Stars By bmclaff on 2016-05-13
Saved my Kombucha brew!
This little mat is a Kombucha brewers must if you are having trouble keeping your brew warm! I live in a garden level apartment in Denver, Colorado, so it stays quite cool, especially in the Winter. At room temp my Kombucha was sitting at 62 degrees (ideally you want your brew to stay between 75-85 degrees). Once I received the mat, I wrapped it around my 1 gallon glass jar (see picture), secured it with electrical tape, and waited on pins and needles to see if it would do the trick. It sure as heck did! It actually kept it too warm...93 degrees. So I simply propped it up with a roll of electrical tape so that the mat only covers about 3/4 of the bottle, and now my brews stay consistently right around 82 degrees. Thank you Hydrofarm...you made this Kombucha brewer one happy camper!
5 Stars By wefishallday on 2014-03-29
GREAT FOR KOMBUCHA MAKING TOO
Love it! Most people probably use this for seedlings -- I have no need for that anymore.
But it's the PERFECT temp for fermenting my Kombucha that I make at home in Glass jars.
It's about 10 degrees above room temp -- and the yeasties love that.
The results is Kombucha that ferments fully within 6 - 7 days without being bitter from overfermentation & production of too much acid.
4 Stars By FJ on 2015-02-27
Use high quality seeds and supplemental lights for optimal success!
I bought this seed starter since I have a hard time starting seeds. I use sterile Jiffy pods and high quality nursery bought seeds and yet, I have a lower germination rate vs. my mother in law who just uses a lamp. One thing I want to remark is that you should still have some sort of additional light source if you're using this mat unless you're able to place your seeds in day long direct sunlight (indoors). It has slightly increased the rate of my germination but not enough that I would rave about this mat. It provides about 10 degrees higher than room temperature with a reflective thermal padding underneath. I have found that using premium seeds are really important with this mat because as this seed germinates, the warm moist environment is a good breeding ground for fungus and bacterial cultures. So if your seedlings are strong, it will overcome and outcompete everything else and thrive. If it hesitates, then there's a good chance the fungus/bacterial will overtake the seeds. Just my two cents. Its worth a shot as many people have had excellent success with this product, but for me, its just a small improvement over my current setup.
5 Stars By Just Nate on 2012-03-17
Great, but to germinate, you must insulate...or risk being irate.
Not sure exactly why people say it's great, and then rate it 4 stars without any reason for the knockdown???
The mat is great and does exactly what it's supposed to...creates a nice warm pad for beneath some windowsill starter "greenhouse" kits. It raises the temperature of the soil, and makes the environment within the planter even more warm and humid.
For the record, I bought both the"Jiffy 5710 12-Pellet Indoor Plant Start Greenhouse" and the "Hydrofarm JS12GH Jumpstart 12-Pellet Indoor Seed Start Greenhouse" (Sorry, AlumiGogo wont' let me link them at the moment) and you can fit TWO of either of these on the mat...which made it a great investment. 24 plants are getting the heat. (For the record, I liked the Hydrofarm greenhouse better due to a nicer plactic lid).
BUT, the first few days I noticed that all the heat was probably going into my cold cold windowsill. SO, I picked up some cork trivets for cheap (either on AlumiGogo or your favorite Bed and Bath type store), placed them on the windowsill, heating mat on top, and the planters on top of that. Next day the difference was very evident. Extremely foggy planters and the bottom was very warm. I think the plants are VERY appreciative. Make sure you insulate the mat or risk losing all your heat into whatever you have it placed on.
Going to pick up another one or two of these. I don't have room for the 25 planter starter greenhouses, but I can fit 2x12 in two different windowsills just fine.
5 Stars By My favorite word is Hmmmmmm on 2015-02-22
Works just fine.
Works just fine. I bought both this and a Milliard seedling heat pad in 12-2013 to compare the two. I can't tell any difference in the heat output or the durability. I've found other uses for these, too. They're great to incubate yogurt. I just wrap one of these around the jars and leave them alone a few hours. I also used them in winter under my four kombucha jars. Since I downsized my kombucha production to two jars, one of the mats is available, and at this minute I am sitting on it, just for comfort in a chilly house. I have a heating pad, but it gets too warm. These things are great! The other brand is packaged in its own box and arrives flat rather than rolled up with a rubber band around it, like this one.