Many fungi will only grow and fruit in specific temperature ranges—which are not always the same temperatures as mushroom-cultivator’s homes. There are a variety of solutions to the problem, including building temperature-controlled incubation chambers and fruiting chambers or balancing a grow kit above a heated bath (there are heaters sold for fish tanks that work well for this). But heating pads are a simple solution and usually easy to buy[i].
The trick is to pick the right heating pad and to set it up correctly[ii].
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Why Use A Heating Mat for Mushrooms?
Honestly, many mushroom growers say you should not use a heating mat. Set up incorrectly, they can damage the mycelium and even cause fires. However, many growers do get good results with heating mats—and heating mats are easier to set up than heated incubation chambers. You may even be able to use the heating mats for other things, whereas there’s not much else you can do with an incubation box.
How to Choose a Heating Mat for Mushrooms
Do not get the kind of heating mat used for sore muscles and so forth. Those are not designed to be left on for extended periods unattended, and can start fires. Use a mat designed for growing mushrooms or for starting seeds. And, ideally, choose one with multiple settings so that you can choose how hot it should be—remember that too much heat will kill your mycelium.
Successful set-ups involve more than a heating mat , too. For most styles, you’ll need some kind of rack that allows airflow both beneath and above the mat. A ceramic tile can also help distribute heat, since heating mats often have hot spots that are much warmer than the rest of the mat. Figure out how to make the right consistent temperature range for your substrate BEFORE actually trying the set-up with real mycelium. It might take several tries, and you don’t want to kill anything while you’re figuring it out.
Best Heating Mats for Mushrooms
Here is a sampling of heating mats appropriate for use with mushrooms. These are in the order of Best to Worst.
This heating mat actually is sold for mushroom cultivation. Liquid graphite construction, rather than embedded wires, means there are no hot-spots. The heat is adjustable. The flat, non-bulky pad is large enough to warm several different grow bags or kits at the same time. The price is quite reasonable. So much for the pros.
There aren’t many cons. The only one that stands out is that the dial that adjusts the heat has no numbers. There is no way to tell what temperature you are setting the heating pad for without going through a period of trial and error. It might make sense to mark your own numbers on the dial for your own convenience but not really a necessity.
- Full of power with 200 watts of thermal heating
- Size 21″ X 11″ (L X W) that is 53CM x 28CM
- No hot spots
- Adjustable heat settings from 70-86 degrees
This mat is not made for mushroom-growing particularly; it’s primarily intended for seed germination. It does work for mushrooms, but requires some adjustment because its temperature range is a little higher than what is optimal for mushrooms—that requires some adjustments to your set-up. The style also can produce hot-spots, and the control device is not labeled. But the quality of the product is generally high, safety is a big part of the design, and the price is very good.
So the major pros are that you get a high-quality product for great value. The major con is that it’s a product night quite designed for this application, so you have to make some adjustments.
Please note there are a variety of different sizes that AC Infinity has so you might want to measure your space prior to buying.
The name is a bit misleading as the mat is not waterproof but simply water-resistant. Again, this product is designed for seedlings, not mushrooms, but it can be set to the temperatures many mushrooms like, so there is no difficulty there—and the price is excellent. Unfortunately, the thermostat or controller is sold separately, and there is no way to control the temperature without it. The mat just gets hotter and hotter.
So the pros are that this is a very affordable product that requires only a few adaptations for use with mushrooms. The major con is that this mat is really only half the product—the other half is the controller, which must be purchased separately.
[i] (2018). Updated! Instructions for Thermo Heating Mats!
[ii] El Manolo (2012). Using a Heat Mat for Fruiting?