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. You can use chemical handwarmer 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.

The Protage lens heater is the one I have, because it was the first one I remember seeing that was USB based. I have a bunch of them. I always carry two with me so I have a spare in case one breaks, because after all they are essentially wires that you wrap around your lens and eventually they could break. I have a bunch of extras to loan to workshop clients.

However the CooWoo lens heater looks interesting, I don’t own one because it came out after I bought mine, but it comes with a temperature regulator. The nice thing about that is you can choose Low, Medium, or High based on your needs. The lower the setting the longer the battery will last. It’s actually slightly cheaper than the Protage so I would give it a whirl, it has good reviews.

I can say that with the Anker PowerCore 10000 battery pack, the Protage lens heaters last about 4-5 hours, and they don’t have any temperature control, so they are at full blast all the time. I also always carry 2 batteries with me in case I’m out long enough to need to switch, or in case one breaks. Right now the Anker batteries I link to below are very cheap, so maybe they are being replaced by another model or something, but they are great batteries. You can also look for a higher capacity battery, Anker makes ones that are higher capacity and so they would last longer. 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.

Amazon Links below. These are Amazon affiliate links, if you use them I get a tiny kickback to keep this website running, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

Protage Lens Heater

CooWoo Lens Heater with Temperature Regulator

Anker PowerCore 10000 USB Battery Pack

This entry was posted in astrophotography, landscape astrophotography.

7 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.

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