Rattlesnake Ridge

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Water Chiller




Summertime temperatures can reach 115F here, which is just too hot for llamas.  Consequently, we have to take extra measures to ensure their well being.  Many of the llamas will wade into our pond, though the pond water can get rather warm by late summer.

We also keep sprinklers running, which some of the llamas prefer to stand over.  Fans and misters also run in some of the shelters.


It's especially important for the llamas to have plenty of clean drinking water available during the summer heat.  We have one girl, Dazy, with such severely damaged kidneys that slight dehydration could be fatal.  Unfortunately, 115F water is not as appealing on a hot day, nor does it stay clean very long.  Such warm stagnant water tends to suffer rapid bio growth.  Our solution?  Chill the water!

I obtained a pallet of excess hardware (a casual glance would perceive as junk) at a local auction for the princely sum of $5.  Among the items were two old water coolers (drinking fountains).  This is what they looked like.

I modified the floor-standing cooler to be more compact, and modified the one-pass water path into a closed loop recirculating chiller system.  The water tank, which contains the refrigeration coils, was disconnected from the existing plumbing and 1/2" tubing hose barbs installed.  Tygon tubing connects all the components.

An Eheim water pump (often used for aquariums) is placed in line, along with a length of PVC pipe.  Eheim pumps are noted for their reliability and quiet operation, and work submerged or in air.  The bottom end of the PVC pipe is capped and glued and the top end capped but not glued.  This is the reservoir, filling point, and air/water separator.  Hose barbs are installed on the side near the bottom and midpoint.  Water circulates to the midpoint and exits at the bottom.  Air bubbles float to the top.

At the business end of the loop, the hose connects to a spool of 1/2" copper tubing pulled into a spiral coil with hose barbs installed at each end.  Slip on pipe insulation covers most of the Tygon tubing.  The copper coil sits in the water tub to cool the water and is easily cleaned if needed.  An auto fill valve keeps the water tub full.  The chiller system is filled with distilled water and non-toxic antifreeze.  The system is mounted inside one of the shady llama shelters.

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Last modified: 15 May 2012