Lens Heaters for Landscape Astrophotography

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is in regards to lens heaters. Why do you need them? Which one? Which battery?

If you’re shooting when the dew point is going to be near or the same as the ambient temperature, then you should be using a lens heater. This will keep dew from forming on the front of your lens. I have battled with dew myself on a few occasions before I had a lens heater, and it can ruin your night because your images will all be soft/blurry from the dew on your lens!

I recommend electronic lens heaters that connect to a USB battery pack. You can use chemical hand warmer packets wrapped around the lens, but I find these to be unreliable because you don’t know when you’ll get a dud packet, or they won’t burn hot enough, or they’ll burn too hot and die too fast. Plus for the cost of a lens heater and battery or two you’ll easily save money in the long run over continually buying chemical hand warmers.

There are lots of companies now making lens heaters that connect to USB battery packs. The one pictured above by Protage is no longer available but a very similar one is available from Move Shoot Move. That one also comes with a temperature regulator (low, medium, high) so you can control how hot the heater will get. Higher temperature settings use more battery power and vice versa. How hot you need it will depend on the dew point where you’re shooting. I always carry two lens heaters when I’m out at night just in case one breaks.

There are many other lens heaters available on Amazon but I prefer the ones that are a bit skinnier that don’t cover so much of the lens barrel. For example, the CooWoo lens heater is wider than the Move Shoot Move one and will more likely get in the way of focus and/or zoom rings. You do not need a wider heater to keep the front of your lens dew free.

There are tons of USB battery packs available, but Anker is a reputable brand. I can say that with the Anker PowerCore 10000 battery pack, the Protage lens heaters last about 4-5 hours, but they don’t have any temperature control so they are at full blast all the time. So expect similar or better performance out of something like the Move Shoot Move heater that has a temperature control. I also always carry 2 batteries with me in case I’m out long enough to need to switch, or in case one breaks. You can also look for a higher capacity battery, Anker makes ones that are higher capacity and so they would last longer, but I prefer two smaller ones in case one fails. I use Anker because it is a good brand but there are many brands out there. Whatever you get you want at least a 10,000 mAh capacity (hence the name PowerCore 10000 name) otherwise you’ll be changing batteries every hour or two.

Whatever you use, make sure to keep an eye on your battery level and touch the lens heater every once in a while to make sure it’s hot and working. Also, I recommend putting some tape over the blue LED lights on the battery pack, they are BRIGHT, too bright when out in the dark. A few pieces of thin gaffer tape usually dims the lights enough to be tolerable yet still visible enough so you can see them.

This entry was posted in astrophotography, landscape astrophotography.

9 Comments

  1. Luka Esenko September 14, 2020 at 5:07 am #

    Thanks for this review. I have ordered the Coowoo warmer as it is available here in Europe.

  2. Lydia Nixon December 8, 2020 at 7:31 pm #

    Thanks for these recommendations! Is a warmer also recommended for the telescope itself? Looking for a good Christmas present for my husband, and I don’t want to ask him so it’ll be a surprise!

    • Adam Woodworth December 9, 2020 at 7:44 am #

      I think band wraparound heaters may have originally been invented for telescopes! The deep space astrophotography folks have been using them for a long time, but they often use Dew-Not or Kendrick brand heaters because they come in much larger sizes for big telescopes, and they can be attached to bigger power sources, but a “cheapo” one like the ones linked here will work fine with smaller telescopes. Whether you need one or not depends on where you use the telescope, and many telescopes have big hoods that will prevent some dew from forming.

  3. Steve January 1, 2021 at 7:43 pm #

    What do you do with your battery pack when it is plugged into your lens heater? Is it suspended from the lens heater, or is it attached to your tripod, or does it lay on the ground?

    • Adam Woodworth January 2, 2021 at 8:00 am #

      I use Velcro to attach the battery to my tripod. I do the same with my intervalometer. I have Velcro on every tripod leg so I can attach them easily regardless of how the head happens to be oriented.

  4. Peter Corbett June 16, 2021 at 5:23 am #

    Adam how long does it normally take to heat up the lens to stop moisture forming. I mean if you are out you don’t perhaps know if and when the climate turns. Do you keep them on always, just in case?

    • Adam Woodworth June 16, 2021 at 7:34 am #

      If you’re shooting in a humid area, put it on at the start of the night and leave it on. Even in the desert you might need it depending on where you are. Bring enough batteries to last as long as you’ll be out. If you don’t put it on at the start then you likely won’t know the lens has fogged up until it’s too late and it has already ruined some shots.

  5. Bob Watts February 17, 2022 at 9:29 am #

    Excellent advice, I knew nothing about these heaters. Terrific presentation last night. Thank you so much! Your book gift was very generous and very appreciated. I’ll look to do a post about it when I get a few examples. Cheers to you Adam! Bob Watts

    • Adam Woodworth February 17, 2022 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks Bob! So good to “see” you on the webinar last night! I hope you’re doing well and getting lots of photos!

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