Our first incubator/hatcher was a fully automated desktop unit from Incubator Warehouse. We bought the one made of high density plastic over the other Styrofoam models because it would be easier to clean and disinfect properly after the hatch. Out of convenience, we set the incubator up in the basement where the temperature hovers at a constant 66ºF. The cooler atmosphere made it difficult for this small incubator to maintain the 99.5ºF temperature required for incubation. We wrapped the unit in towels to help keep the heating element from operating at 100% capacity.
We were pleased with the hatch rate for our first batch, but have not been very pleased with the smaller unit’s performance for several reasons. One of the difficulties we noticed is that it takes a significant amount of time to return to temperature after the unit was opened for candling or adding water, even with towels in place to trap in heat. Another problem is that the humidity gauge is relatively worthless. It never read accurately and there is no good place to set a wet bulb thermometer so that it remains wet. According to the gauge, we never achieved the proper lockdown humidity level despite placing wetted sponges directly under the fan.
Additionally, all of the eggs rested on their sides for the duration of the incubation and hatch. This may be a minor issue, but due to the disparity between the quail egg size, the large turning tray channel widths, and the short throw of the turning motor, I have serious questions about how well the eggs are actually being turned during incubation. Because of these concerns, and our desire to set multiple batches concurrently, we have since moved to a cabinet incubator and separate cabinet hatcher. They were expensive, but they address all of our concerns with the smaller incubator/hatcher while also automatically regulating humidity.