Solutions for keeping the Glowforge warm in winter/at night?

Hi everyone! I am hoping for a bit of advice and seeing what others did in a similar situation. We just got our Glowforge Pro and I was reading about the operating environment. I have also been reading on the community forums here. Obviously, winter is coming (or for some people, it is already here) and I wanted to know what you all do to keep your Glowforge above the 40 F/ 5C at night/ in storage?

Just so you know our conditions, we will be in an older building that has concrete floors and brick walls, tall ceiling etc. It is an open workshop space with no heating. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what we are working with!

We had a couple of ideas like an insulated box to cover the machine, blast gates where the pipe starts and ends to prevent the cold (we have a filter unit so it won’t be vented to the outside). Any suggestions on what you have been doing during the winter or what has worked? Any advice or tips will be super helpful :slight_smile: Thank you in advance :grinning:

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Where there is reasonable cycling mass can really help. Just big heavy containers of water will absorb and release heat in amazing amounts and near freezing temps absorb still more as the transition from ice to water takes more calories per gram than any other substance, I have the problem in reverse as extended periods with out power(like after a hurricane) can really mess up a freezer full of food so I routinely keep excess space in the freezer filled with such heavy jugs. They will not take many cycles with out breaking, but they will easily take one. A couple inches of foam box that includes such water and perhaps a small heating element as would be used for a car engine under those water jugs would keep the Glowforge warm enough to operate even with power failures.

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For night time or short term storage, you can put a reptile heating pad inside the GF and it will keep the temp up inside the machine. You can get them from Amazon.

You’d probably be okay leaving it at 40F but sub-freezing might be an issue depending on the cooling fluid GF uses. They do travel the country in bitterly cold trucks so it may be a glycol base but I don’t believe they’ve ever confirmed that.

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The shipping box and foam probably help a lot in this, but then again the shipping box with the inside nested in the outside and the foam makes good use of the box till needed for shipping. :grin:

I would also plan for power failure in the case of a blizzard.

You should love your Glowforge enough to hug it and it will be warmed by your body heat… :grinning:

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@rbtdanforth thank you for this! I will look into this further. I am not sure how this would work for our space as we plan on using it for the entire cold period. We are in the UK so don’t tend to have extreme weather (at most we have some snow) and power outages is something I have never really experienced here luckily :yum:

@jamesdhatch thank you for this suggestion! is it safe to run this heating pad all night? are there any risks of fire, I’m assuming as it is for reptiles, this is probably very unlikely! :slight_smile: also, do you know if it is better to have the heating pad under or inside the machine? our temperatures don’t tend to drop to more than -10 C/ 14 F in winter, but this is clearly too cold for the Glowforge! :cold_face:

@henryhbk hahaha :joy: this is very true! I will just sleep in my workshop just to show my love! :blush::heart_eyes:

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Don’t know if you have access to a portable oil heater, but this one works extremely well. We plug a couple of them in and heat the cats’ room all winter. Very safe, we never turn it off, and it lasts a decade or so.

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I have a thin film heating pad that I just tossed inside the GF. Since the space is contained it warmed up inside. I don’t think it would be nearly as effective under the GF exposed directly to the convective air currents in the room.

This is the one I have but it’s now listed as unavailable. Lots of other alternative ones though - the specific one isn’t that important.

There was a bit of discussion about these on the forum a couple of years ago by those of us with colder than normal room temp locations (mine is in a relatively unheated basement). Searching the forum for reptile mat or similar would probably unearth other examples to look for.

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Reptile heating pads are designed for continuous use, however, at least one made in the early 1990s failed. Luckily, unlike Gimp, your glowforge would probably survive.

However, you are in the UK and are disappointing my stereotype of it. Instead of a reptile heating pad look into a heating mat for starting seedlings. They are larger and are meant to go under trays of seeds. I find it hard to believe the whole UK gardening thing is a complete myth so presumably these are readily available there. Combine it with a blanket thrown over the top of the glowforge and it’ll feel almost as loved as if you hugged it all night.

I would wager that if you brought this idea to a gardening shop they’d be able to make an even better recommendation as to brand, safety with the blanket, etc…

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Obviously you’d want to order from the UK site, but this is the kind of thing being suggested:

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Note that there are four feet/points on the bottom of the glowforge. If you place a mat under it I would avoid placing it under these feet. The glowforge likes a nice hard surface to rest on - helps the calibration.

Another option, is they make an electrical heating mesh for placing under tile. If you want to go whole hog and make a table with tiled top for your glowforge, it would look great with that brick.

I wonder if you can rig the honeycomb to be heated. Just apply heat to the side, it should act as a giant heatsink, right? Hmmmm… :thinking:

Why not just stick it on top of the honeycomb and shut the lid? Add some weatherstripping if the cord is too thick.

I guess I didn’t make it obvious when I posted earlier - the one I shared is 10x20", just the size to put inside on the bed.

You could, depends on several factors as to its effectiveness.

  • That is a large masonry building with no windows in the two pics provided. Does it benefit at all from solar gain in the winter? How cloudy is it there? If so, is it in Plymouth or Edinburgh (more daylight in Plymouth during the winter.) I don’t know what the insulation factor of the glowforge plastic and glass is. My guess is it will lose a fair bit of heat to a large, cold building.

  • I remember at least one person posting they received a cold warning and the glowforge wouldn’t operate. Do you want to keep it warm or do you also want to operate it? The warmer it is (not too warm) when it starts the longer it will run. A heating pad underneath will help during operation.

  • Will the other machines in that building make it warm in the winter from their waste heat? IIRC the minimum operating temperature is greater than the minimum storage temperature.

The more important question, the one I can’t wrap my head around is why @Jules has a heated cat room in Houston. I don’t know a lot about cats, but I never would have guessed they enjoyed saunas. :cat::fire: :cloud:

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She uses heated cats to warm the room? Kinda like fireplace dogs?
oh not the term she used :flushed:

A plank of wood over a couple of 55 gal barrels filled with water and perhaps something to heat the water to 80F or so max

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Hey, we get a couple of months of winter down here. (It can drop down to almost 40°. They suffer so. ) :smile:

They are literally the most spoiled cats on the planet. They have their own large heated and air-conditioned room, multi-level sleeping quarters with food and maid service, with a small (dual-lane) screened run that connects to their completely screened multi-level outdoor play area so they can go out at night and taunt other cats without fear of retribution.

Rough life.

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Do you have more oil heaters in the screened room to ensure they can enjoy the outdoors during the worst of winter? Watching GoT, I’m sure? 4k LCD?

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No, no…we don’t want to expose them to the violence.
(Might give them ideas.)

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If you’re in an unheated space you expect to see drop below 40ºC at night, what do you expect the temperatures to be during the day? The operating temperature range is a lot tighter and higher than the non-op. However you plan to keep the ambient temp warm enough for operation during the day, leave that running at night but turned down to a lower level.

If the problem is just that it’s unheated at night, I would get a plastic tarp and an oil-filled electric space heater (the kind that look like an old-style radiator, and have no exposed heating elements to set things on fire). I would put the tarp over the GF and put the heater under the tarp. Absent any breeze to stir the air, heat loss through the tarp would be minimal. I would bet even a 1KW heater could keep the space under the tarp toasty warm with an ambient below 40, no problem.

If it’s unheated during the day as well as night, I would fabricate a shroud that covered the space heater (the cardboard box it came in would work great), and have a duct running from that shroud (at the top of the box) to the air inlet on the bottom/right of the GF, with an in-line fan in the duct. At night, run the fan to draw air past the radiator and push in to the GF to keep it warm. During the day, when the GF runs it’ll suck air past the radiator when operating and hopefully be above the minimum when it gets to the inlet.

I have a house in north central Florida and it sometimes gets below freezing. A lot of the plants won’t tolerate the cold. All it takes to keep them happy is a sheet or tarp thrown over the plant with a 40W lightbulb on the ground under the tarp.

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