How to Make a Refrigerator Incubator

Updated July 19, 2017

Whether you are raising reptiles or birds, your most important investment is an incubator. Professionally constructed incubators can be expensive and do not typically house many clutches. A unit built out of an old refrigerator or freezer, however, can be inexpensive and feature many times the capacity of a purchased incubator. The insulation in a refrigerator helps you maintain consistent temperatures and humidity for your eggs, and the shelves allow easy access to your clutches without having to stack boxes. The incubator can be set up in the largest compartment of the refrigerator, and other compartments can be set up separately or used for dry storage.

Remove any unnecessary parts from your refrigerator with bolt cutters, wire cutters, and screwdrivers. This will lessen the weight of your incubator in case you need to move it.

Drill a hole in the lower centre of the back of the main refrigerator compartment.

Thread the heat tape's cord through the hole with a coat hanger so that the plug is outside the refrigerator.

Tape the heat tape in place with aluminium tape; it should be secured against the back wall of the compartment, near the centre of the wall for even heat distribution.

Thread the probe for your thermostat through the hole and into the compartment.

Attach the thermostat probe close to the heat tape with aluminium tape.

Attach the probe of the thermometer to a side wall one-third of the way down the compartment and the body of the thermometer one-third of the way up the same side wall. This will allow you to monitor any temperature gradient from the top to the bottom of your incubator.

Drill a second hole in the back of the compartment and thread your fan's power cord through it.

Attach your fan to the interior of your incubator.The air circulation from the fan will reduce your chances of hot spots in your incubator that can literally cook your eggs.

Plug your thermostat and fan cords into the power strip and the power strip into a wall outlet.

Plug your heat tape into the thermostat and adjust until your thermometer reads the desired temperature.


Invest in a quality thermostat for your incubator. The heat tape cannot be operated safely without one, and the less your temperature varies, the more successful your clutches will be.


It is illegal and dangerous to vent Freon into the atmosphere. Make sure your refrigerator's coolant has been drained before you cut any lines for removal.

Things You'll Need

  • Refrigerator
  • Bolt cutters
  • Wire cutters
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Power drill
  • 4-foot section of Flex Watt-style heat tape
  • Aluminium tape
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Digital indoor-outdoor thermometer and hygrometer with probe
  • Thermostat with probe
  • Small fan with A/C adaptor and hardware
  • Power strip
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About the Author

Residing in northern Georgia, Anna Rose began writing in 1997 and was first published for a scholarship in the local Jackson EMC newsletter. Rose also holds a Master of Science in organizational leadership from Brenau University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from the University of Georgia.