DIY Cheep/safe Heated Water Dish for Pets

So you're keeping a dog/rabbit/cat/... outside and their water keeps freezing in the winter. Now normally you'd bring them inside or buy a heated water dish, but this animal is probably smelly, you don't have the room, and you can't afford to pay $40 for a single heated water dish. Well have no fear, because you can buy all the suppliers to make about 3 heated water dishes for about $40.

Supplies List:

1. Stainless steel dog dish ($0.75 at the dollar store)

2. Tupperware ($0.75 at the dollar store)

a. the dog dish fits partially inside it, but has a gap at the bottom for the heater

b. is able to keep your pet from messing around with the heating element

3. A 200 Ohm 100 Watt Resistor ($10 on ebay)

4. A Thermal shutoff safety thermostat with the correct temperature range ($3.80 from Radio Shack)

a. Temperature open/off: 59°F or 15°C (below room temp which is 60-80°F, thus to cold to burn anything including your plastic Tupperware dish)

b. Temperature close/on: 41°F or 5°C (above freezing so the water/drink is always liquid)

Possible alternative: Refrigerator Defroster Thermostat like DT60 ($2.98 to $3.10 from Ebay2)

5. Old power cables (Free, Recycled from old radios and such)

6. Thermal glue (Free, Left over from another project)

7. Cable protector (Free, recycled aluminum cans and/or sheet metal)

a. To keep the animal from chewing on the wires

b. be sure the gaps are extremely small or over lap is large, see following steps

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Step 1: Thermal Glueing

Take the resistor and the thermal shutoff switch and thermal glue/paste (or weld if you're careful) them to the bottom of the stainless steel bowl. Be careful that the Tupperware still fits over the bottom of it such that there is space for the wires and so that it is protected from tampering. Note: do not attempt to solder the components to the bottom of the bowl, because solder does not stick to stainless steel.

Step 2: Securing the Components

Use hot glue or an industrial adhesive (don't drill holes in the bowl) to adhere the components to the bowl. The reason for doing this is that you should not trust the thermal glue/paste to be strong enough to hole the components down. If you picked welding in step one, then congratulations you may skip this step.

Step 3: 1st Connection

Solder a wire (I used 12 AWG) between the two components. Wiring them in series like this will allow the heater to be turned on and off by the thermal safety switch.

Step 4: The Case

Melt a hole in the plastic case using a soldering iron or another tool (drilling the hole may cause the plastic to shatter). Make sure the hole is larger than the wire and leave a gap/extra-space for for the sheathing/wire protector. Run the wires through the hole so that the are on the inside of the Tupperware.

Step 5: 2nd and 3rd Connections

Note: Make sure the wires are still coming through the Tupperware, because you'll have to de-solder the components if you goof this up.

Solder the power wires to the unconnected ends of the resistor and thermal protection components.

Step 6: Wire Protection and Sealing

Wrap the aluminum/sheet metal around the wires so that the animal cannot chew through them. Make sure the metal is not touching the solder joints or copper wires at any point. zip tie the metal in place so that it does not move. Pull the wire through the tupper ware while seating the tupper ware on the metal bowl. Seal the tupper ware entrance area with adhesive so that no water can get into the component area.

Also seal the area between the Tupperware and metal dog dish.

Step 7: Success

Now you have 3 water dishes for the cost of buying one, way to go!!!!

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    10 Discussions


    10 months ago

    Enough with the JB Weld talk.
    Goop adhesive is superior to JB Weld in every way. Stronger, more tack, one-part/no mixing, adheres to anything.
    Harder than Liquid Nails.
    After extensive testing, my assembly facility replaced our LocTite 660 and 662 with Marine Goop, and we also now Marine- Goop on all assembly that previously involved JB Weld type 2 part epoxies.
    I ignored the stuff my whole life, only to find it is the ultimate adhesive/retaining compound.


    4 years ago

    People solder stainless in the beer brewing hobby all the time. Works just fine if you use the correct materials and methods.

    6 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Soldering aluminum to steel would be vary annoying.

    Tig brazing might work.

    JB weld is the easiest and there's no reason not to use it.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I agree epoxy is easiest I was replying to the you can't solder stainless comment. High acidic flux, tin both parts, then silver solder. A torch is required for tinning the SS but after that you can use a soldering iron. I would be worried about the heat destroying the electronics if brazing. Personally I stay away from trying to weld ferrous and nonferrous metals.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Well the resistor would be fine with the heat.

    As for welding, there's no way to weld aluminum to steel, brazing is basically soldering, and ya, if you tined both it would probably go well, just make sure you etch the aluminum first using sodium hydroxide to get the oxide layer off, otherwise it'll pop off as soon as it cools, or is stressed.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    People claim this works, but I've tired it many times and it's never worked for me. Sometimes sandpapering the steel works, but it's still a very weak bond.

    Don't try to solder to stainless steel, it doesn't work because no inter-metallic bond layer(s) will form. People in the brewing business solder to copper (use lead free solder to avoid poisoning yourself), but they have to weld steel (which is completely different).


    4 years ago

    Would this work if I were to use two 5 gallon buckets in stead of the dog dish and tupperware? I need to keep goats water thawed.

    1 reply