iSTAT Compact Reptile Thermostat | Product Review

iSTAT Compact | Product Review

Authored by Pete Hawkins: Chameleon Network / Bearded Dragons Network / Snake Network / Lizard Network / Amphibian Network

*Please note. This is a review for the iSTAT Compact, only. It is in no way a representation of any other product they make. I have NOT tested any other product. So I can not comment on such*

The iSTAT compact is, as the name states, a very compact little unit of functionality. Measuring at only 10cm x 5cm, it can honestly fit anywhere on, or even out the way of your vivaria.
RRP  of this unit is £49 and is now available in several colours.

All on a basic digital display, which you can change settings via the single dial/knob attached. Holding it in brings up options to change function and set desired temps by turning the dial. All set by a simple push or two.


iSTAT on arrival

iSTAT on arrival

The iSTAT compact has four(4) functions. All working individually. You cannot use 2 or 3 functions at the same time.
“But what does it do?”

  • Thermostat – It can be a on/off thermostat which is ideal for reptile heat mats
  • Pulse Stat – Like an on/off, but pulses power to maintain the set heat. As opposed to turning on and off like the above. (My choice for Heat-mats, and Ceramic Bulbs, and other non-light emitting sources) Read more about why you shouldn’t use colored heat elements in Colored Lights and other Myths.
  • Dimming stat – This is what you’d use for the basking bulbs within our vivaria. Once temperature is reached, the bulb dims. Thus reducing power, in turn, heat, within the viv/tank. It will then brighten once safe to do so. Thus, increasing the ambient temperature.
  • Humidity – Ideal for rain and misting systems. It will trigger the spray once a humidity low is reached. Thus boosting the viv humidity.

Testing and Test Conditions

With the difference only being a couple of degrees up or down between the 2 readouts.

On testing this product. I kept regular temps/humidity readings when possible. Using my preferred temperature recording method in my Vivaria. A digital probe thermometer. With the probe place directly next to the iSTAT probe.
  • On/Off function

I ran this test for 2 weeks. I used it on my Corn Snake Ceramic bulb for one week. Then the 2nd week, I ran it through a heat-mat in a Roach colony.
The temperature displayed on the unit, in comparison to the digital thermometer I use in my set-ups was fairly accurate. With the difference only being a couple of degrees up or down between the 2 readouts.

  • Pulse Stat

This is my preferred method of using a thermostat for a heat-mat or ceramic bulb. Far more efficient in terms of better life of the stated product and, most importantly, accuracy.
Again, this was ran over 2 weeks. Used only a Ceramic Bulb in my Royal/Ball python viv.
This was shown in the 2 readouts (iSTAT screen and Digital thermometer). With both either displaying the same, or, only a degree out either way.

  • Humidity Control

I used this function on my one of my Chameleon misting systems. Having never really needed such a function before, I was intrigued.
I normally have the misting systems go off 2 or 3x daily, depending on the Chameleon species in question.
For this occasion, I used it one of my Veiled/Yemen Chameleon set-ups. So, only a couple of sprays daily.
I had a few initial setup issues here. It seemed to mess with my timer setting a tad. But, I ironed out this issue, and had it running okay.
For 2 week, the system was spraying when it reached a 20% low. It worked as needed. No real issues at all.

  • Dimming Stat

This function does not function as I wanted. Or, as needed. And I had nothing but issues.

This for me, is the most common use of the thermostat  in Reptile keeping. With a very large majority of our Reptiles needing to bask to maintain thermoregulation.

So here I used this again, intended for 2 weeks. One week with one of my Bearded Dragons. The second, with a Veiled/Yemen Chameleon.

iSTAT2This function didn’t function as I wanted or, as needed. I had numerous issues as follows.
The common Dimming thermostats all dim the bulb in a gentle, subtle way, over an extended period of time.
This, is very different indeed (as was stated by the iStat Company Owner), it dims in shortened dropping harsh increments. Very close to an  on/off function. No subtleness to it at all. For me, this is not how to dim a bulb. For the sake, and sanity of our reptiles. This feature has the bulb pretty much turning on and off every few seconds. This in turn stresses out the reptile housed within the stated viv/tank.

So I cut the testing short after a few days.
I did contact the owner (Chris) regarding my concern. He stated that they wanted to do things slightly differently.
That is all well and good. But, it’s my reptiles vivaria that I’ll be using this product with. That of course, directly affects the reptile inside, the last thing we want is a stressed reptile. Leading to health issues.


I care, love, and want the best for all my reptiles. So I do not want them stressing out due to the heavily incremented, almost, on/off functionality of a dimmer.


iSTAT Compact (Google Images)

For the money, it does the needed job and does it as you’d expect.
But in my personal opinion, the Dimming function being the most popular used within the hobby and that function, not functioning as I needed, it doesn’t meet all my needs on a performance level.