Designing your Birdroom

The purpose of these notes is to help the Bird keeper to plan the installation of Lighting & Heating in your Birdroom to gain the maximum satisfaction from your hobby and demystify the bewildering jargon that goes with our modern life.

Getting started – The Building

Many Bird keepers set up their Birdrooms in Garages, Roof lofts, Basements and spare rooms but the majority create a Birdroom in the Garden.

The first question is do you need planning permission for what you intend to do.?

If you follow these simple rules the usual answer is NO

  1. You should not fill more than 50% of your rear garden, this includes all other sheds.
  2. Your building must not exceed a maximum to eaves 2.5 meters with an overall height under 4 meters for a pitched roof or 3 meters if the roof is flat.
  3. If your Birdroom is within 2 m of your boundary it must not exceed 2.5M total height.

Go to www.Planningportal.gov.uk to see all the details or if you are still not sure ring your local planning office for help.

Consider a few practicalities when deciding on the size of your Birdroom – Leave space for show cages, carrying boxes, food storage etc also if you intend breeding your birds your capacity should allow for housing the youngsters and most important leave yourself enough room to be able to clean the birds and move about !

Power to your Birdroom

The next step is getting the electricity from your house to the Birdroom – this must be carried out by a Qualified Electrician (UK law) who must be P registered, they will advise the best method but depending on the distance to your Birdroom this will probably be either a CATENARY WIRE (this is a support system for overhead cable) or underground in SWA (steel wire armoured cable). This must be at least 500mm deep (20”) If you are able and willing it will be a lot cheaper to dig this yourself. Electricians like running cable but don’t usually like digging!

Whatever method used the Electrician will connect into a small box called a Consumer Unit; this will contain a switch to isolate your installation and suitable circuit breakers which will trip if you have a fault.

The next step is to decide how many sockets and switches you will need. Here are a few possibilities:

Lighting & Power Sockets

Even if you are planning to install an Automatic Dimmer have a separate light circuit for emergencies or for a Night light etc

You will then need sockets or spurs perhaps for other things...an Automatic Lighting Dimmer, Heaters, Dust Fan Filters, Extractor Fan, Radio, Kettle, Hospital Cage, CCTV, Intruder Alarm, Vacuum, Winnower, and Phone Charger! ... not all will need a dedicated socket but always have double sockets installed. If you decide you want an Automatic Lighting Dimmer make sure the Electrician installs suitable wiring for the Controller you decide to use. See Lighting section for wiring diagrams.

When you have decided what electrical devices you want where choose if you want the wires run surface or concealed.

Concealed wiring means two visits from your electrician. First during the construction of your Birdroom to run all the wiring – known as the First Fix. Second visit after you have insulated and board out your room to finished stage when the electrician will Second Fix and fit all the sockets and light fittings.

If you decide on Surface wiring – only one visit should be needed, all the wiring is run covered in protective plastic trunking on the surface of the Birdroom walls.

Never run cables unprotected especially if you are keeping Parrots!

**So let’s decide now what equipment you will need to install?

Heating

Not everyone believes that you need heat in your Birdroom, and if you have dry well insulated draught proof housing most birds will survive ! .... but we are not trying to test their endurance, and how long will you linger with them if it is freezing ! Small Finches especially Gouldians need a minimum of 10˚C (50˚F) and of course Nectar eaters (Lories etc) feeds must not be allowed to freeze. Low level heating will reduce the energy consumption and stress on the birds but keep it low to avoid a soft moult.

Whats the best form of heating ?

First decide if you want to heat the entire room or a selected part. Tubular heaters are favourite as they provide gentle heat over a long run. The do not generate draught or blow dust around like a fan heater. They must be mounted horizontally so check that you have a suitable space. Remember heat rises so mount them low if you have banks of cages or just below perching height if you have your birds in open flights.

Do they need covers ?

We don’t think so, you can touch them without burning your hand, remember a birds body temperature is 3ºC higher than ours and birds are not stupid, but they should be discouraged from perching up to roost directly on them. If you want to cover them use a length of aviary mesh.

What heater size do I need ?

This is almost impossible to answer, it depends on how well insulated, what aspect, what the outside temperature drops too, where you live etc. The best plan is to buy the highest wattage you can - A Fit in - B Afford. As a very rough guide multiply length x breadth in feet and multiply x 5 = watts required. So a 10 foot x 8 foot room would be 10 x 8 = 80 x 5 = 400 watts so you would choose either 2 x TH190 which have built in thermostats or 2 x TRH5 which need and external Thermostat fitting for automatic heating. Either of these options should keep the temperature above freezing even on the coldest day. The TH range has a thermostat built into the heater with a more or less power setting rather than indicating degrees of heat and remember the thermostat is only a temperature controlled switch so it responds to the heat around that switch not necessarily the temperature across the room where your birds may be. It’s ideal, if you only want to ensure localised selected parts of the room are heated. If you want the whole of the room to be at a constant minimum heat level it’s better to use the TRH range of Room Heaters and control them with a separate thermostat placed away from the heaters in a position relevant to your birds this will then operate the heaters so the room is at a temperature set in degrees. We supply either a wire yourself thermostat (HTF) or we have a plug and go version (HTP). The unit of power is the watt and you are charged in Kilowatt hours (KwH), in the examples we have used 14p per KwH that’s the UK average. So every 1000 watts supplied for 1 hour costs you 14p. Remember if your heater is controlled by a thermostat it will only use power when the temperature falls below you setting.

The hourly cost would be :

TH55 – 55watt 1p, TH120 -120watt 1.7p , TH190 – 190watt 2.7p

TRH1 45watt 0.7p,TRH2 80watt 1.2p ,TRH4 180watt 2.6p, TRH5 225watt 3.2p

Localised heat can be provided with our Heated Platform (HP).

This can give a warm resting place or positioned under a nesting box can provide suitable heat for winter Breeders. It is low voltage and has adjustable heat output.

Lighting

Your Birdroom will almost certainly require some form of lighting – lets look at the various options and explain the technical terms to enable you to make the right decisions.

Ideally your lighting should be controlled by a dimmer, this would automatically bring the lights up over 30 seconds, to avoid startling your birds and fade down over 30 minutes, to give them time to have a last feed and get to their roosting positions. If you just switch off the lights the birds would not be able to return to their nest or may be in flight.

It also allows you to control the ‘daylight’ period. In the winter the natural daylight period may be too short for feeding etc and may inhibit breeding until the longer summer days.

Many breeders are wanting their birds to breed earlier than they would naturally to achieve this you can increase the daylight period by 15 minutes per week until they have 14 hours of ‘daylight’ and this should restart the breeding cycle.

Two other important musts are

  1. The lighting must be above the eye line of your birds, if you have tried to drive west as the sun sets you will know why!

  2. Provide shade ! Most birds in the wild live most of their day in trees or hedges or in tropical species in rainforest canopy where it can be very dark. Observing our own birds we have found they like to regulate their own exposure to sunlight so give them the choice.

So what type of Lamps do we need ?

When the only electric light source available were incandescent filament bulbs they were rated in watts.

The watt (W) is a unit of power used by the lamp, not how much light it produces. With the advent of Halogen, Fluorescent and LED lamps the term Lumen (Lm) is used to describe the quantity of light emitted so you can compare how much light is given out in Lumens(Lm) and how much it is going to cost to run in watts (w) . An average cost would be14p per Kilo watt hour (KWH) thats 1000 watts for 1 hour.

So lets look at the choices.

Bulbs ( Birdroom Daylight & Halogen ranges)

If you have a small area to light or small compartments, these are ideal. The ones we stock are completely dimmable from 0-100%. Do not be fooled by the word ‘dimmable’ it often means capable of dimming only a small amount.

Always fit at least two bulbs – even in the smallest Birdroom. You can be certain that a bulb will blow at somepoint if its the only one installed ! !

All our bulbs have BC (B22) Bayonet caps like the type you probably have in your home. If you are buying from a store check the packets very carefully. The main types are as shown but there are similar types which have smaller bases.

LED Lights have also been made to look very similar to standard bulbs but our dimmers will not work with LEDs.

blue FILAMENT halogen HALOGEN seethro PYGMY

es SCREW FITTING ES (E27) bc BC BAYONET CAP FITTING (B22)

The original filament bulbs have been phased out so we offer some alternatives.

  1. The Daylight Simulation
  2. The Energy saving Halogen
  3. Pygmy bulb

Running costs

Daylight / Cost per Hour / Light output in (Lm) Lumens

60 watt 0.8 pence per Hour Lm output 370

100 watt 1.4 penceper hour Lm output 750

Halogen

42 watt 0.6 pence per Hour Lm output 630

70 watt 1.0 pence per hour Lm output 1180

Pygmy

105 watt 0.2 pence pence per hour

Daylight is a confusing term – true daylight has an ultra violet (UV) content, which these bulbs do not UV can only be practically achieved by special fluorescents as discussed later.

Choice of Dimmers

Bulbs only

MANULUX – The simplest dimmer which works like a light switch

Switch on to brighten over 30 seconds Switch off to fade out over the next 30 minutes Useful if you are always at home

OR

BULBLUX – Brightens and fades as above but is controlled by a built-in Digital Time Clock.

Easy to set to come on once or twice a day, repeats every day and remembers your settings even if the mains fails. bulblayout

Fluorescent or Mains LED Tubes

For larger Birdrooms the use of Fluorescent or LED tubes could be more cost effective and have beneficial properties that bulbs cannot provide. Standard tubes and fittings will not dim satisfactorily, so the FLULUX dimmer uses bulbs to brighten and dim and automatically switches the Fluorescents/LEDs to provide main lighting in between the brighten and fade sequences. The wiring circuit is show below :

Fluluxlayout

Fluorescent Lighting

The Fittings are as important as the tubes.

Standard Batten fittings have a magnetic ballast and a starter in the side and pulse at 100 cycles per second, they also generate an electrical surge on switch on/off.

The fittings we stock are High Frequency Electronic type, they do not flicker, switch on/off instantly and use less power.

The tubes have various features which you should consider.

COLOUR

The colour appearance of the light emitted is measured in Kelvin, the lower the Kelvin figure the softer more yellow the colour will be. The tubes we sell are 6500 Kelvin, which is considered to be as bright as natural daylight.

Colour rendering Index (CRI) or (Ra)

This is the percentage that the colour of an illuminated object is to how it would appear in natural light. Our Fluorescent tubes are 90% +, giving the colours of your birds to be as near to natural as possible.

Full Spectrum Lighting

This term usually indicates the tubes emit Ultra violet light (UV) which our Birdroom Daylight tubes do include. It is imperceptible to us but can be seen by birds and is very important to them.

UVa enables your Birds to see colours we can’t and improves feeding, breeding and general wellbeing. UVb assists the production of Vitamin D3 which enables the absorption of calcium so is important in egg laying, good bone formation and feather production.

It is important to remember that to be effective the Full Spectrum tube must be within 1 metre of the bird, but also that birds in the wild normally live in some sort of cover from the sun, so arrange the lighting so they can choose between light and shaded areas.

Tubes diameters are measured in 1/8’’ of an inch so ours are T8 ie 8x1/8 = 1’’. There are also T5 & T4.

Running cost data is :

Length / Watts / Output in Lumen LM / Running cost per hour

2 Foot 18watts 1000 Lm 0.25 pence per hour

4 Foot 36watts 2300 Lm 0.39 pence per hour

5 Foot 58watts 3700 Lm 0.80 pence per hour

The tubes are Tri-phosphor with a life of 20,000 hours but the effective UV content is lost after 18 months if used 12 hours per day.

LED Tubes

Can be used instead of Fluorescent tubes on our FLULUX dimmer- they are cheaper to run but do not have any UV content and LED’s have a lower colour rendering index (CRI) at 80%.

They can be used with a dedicated fitting or you can use an existing Fluorescent Switch start magnetic Ballast fitting by simply changing the starter to the one supplied with our LED tubes. They are dimensionally identical to fluorescent tubes.

Length / Watts / Lumen Lm / Running cost per hour

4 Foot 18 watts 2350 Lm lumen output 0.25 pence per hour

5 Foot 24 watts 3350 Lm Lumen output 0.29 pence per hour

Ventilation

An important feature of the Birdroom is to provide fresh air and prevent mould build-up. In hot weather an Extractor Fan may help, but remember to provide a vent to allow draught free air to flow through.

For other times we have produced a Birdroom Dust Fan Filter which if fitted centrally to the ceiling will draw air up and through the reusable filter, circulating the air through the 4 side vents. It is a solution for removing the bloom and dust present in Birdrooms which can be harmful to you and your birds.

The unit will cover an area of approximately 10 foot radius and running costs are approximately 0.6 pence per hour.

Well, all you have to do now is select your housing and buy your birds !

Happy & Successful Birdkeeping !

Please note:

These notes are based on 60 year of personal experience in keeping a variety of birds from Finches, Parrots and even Birds of Prey.

We realise that there are many ways of doing any job and provide these notes to aid selection for your new project. They give you a set of electrical options to consider so you can apply the ones that best fit your purpose.

Always remember to take qualified electrical advice if you are unsure.

The information provided is based on our considered opinion and as such carries no guarantee of success or suitability.

Alan Fletcher

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