What is the difference between forced/circulated-air incubator and still-air incubator, and what are the pros and cons of each?
There are 2 main types of incubator — forced/circulated-air and still-air. The difference is simply a fan. Forced/circulated-air incubators have a built-in fan to circulate the air in order to keep equal temperatures all around inside the incubator. The temperature can be measured anywhere within the airflow. Forced/circulated-air incubators are widely used in commercial hatcheries.
Forced/circulated-air (Intermediate) Brinsea® Maxi II Advance Automatic Incubator
- Alarm system helps keep you on the correct schedule.
- Contains a small automatic fan to control and keep air temperature even.
- Automatic egg turner included.
- Clear dome makes the viewing experience more enjoyable.
- Count down to hatch day and auto-turn stop.
- Plastic frame for easy cleaning.
- Central water reservoir is not big enough — can dry out and humidity will drop.
Still-air incubators have no fan to circulate the air, just a heating element in the space (often within the lid of the incubator) above the eggs, which warms the eggs from above. Humidity is often provided by evaporation from a water pan in the bottom/middle of the incubator. Still-air incubators are often pretty simple in design. Eggs are not stacked in still-air incubators, so there is only a single layer of eggs. Besides the heating element, generally attached to the lid are the thermostat, a digital control panel to monitor temperature and humidity, and other functional features.
Still-Air (Basic) HBlife 9-12 Digital Fully Automatic Incubator
- Affordable and robust entry level incubator — ideal for small hatch sizes and first timers.
- Automatic egg turner included.
- Easy to control temperature gauge with digital display.
- Small, doesn’t take up any space.
- Built-in thermometer only measures in Celsius.
- Lack of windows makes viewing the process impossible.
- Can be hard to clean around the electronic bits.
Here are the pros and cons between forced/circulated-air incubator and still-air incubator:
|FORCED/circulated-AIR INCUBATOR||STILL-AIR INCUBATOR|
|High hatchability rate.||Easy to use. Ideal for first timers.|
|Provide excellent temperature uniformity.||Most still-air are less expensive than forced/circulated-air.|
|Most forced/circulated-air will last for years.||Does not take up much room.|
|Depends on the size of the incubator, you can stack multiple trays of eggs in one incubator as opposed to the still-air incubator where you can only have one layer of eggs.||Good for hatching small to medium number of chicks.|
|Fairly easy to clean.||Does not use much electricity.|
|Almost a turnkey system.|
|Can take up a lot of room, depending on the size, of course.||Hatchability can be low.|
|Can be expensive to buy.||Temperature and humidity can be hard to regulate. It requires precision to set this kind of incubator.|
|Some models, you have to turn eggs by hand.|
|There may be pockets of uneven temperature in the incubator.|
|Can have high number of deformities in chicks.|
|Can be hard to clean.|
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