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Old 03-17-2013, 06:11 AM   #1
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Default Best heat sources: Belt or mat? Or something else?

I'm thinking (at wife's insistance) on moving my fermenting full time to a fermentation chamber in the garage. I have a commercial cooler out there so the chamber is already done, but during the winter I'm going to need to keep my fermenters warm. I'll be using a temp controller than I can switch from cooling in the summer to heating in the winter when temps drop below fermentation temperatures.

What do folks think is the best way to supply the heat? The two main options seem to be heated mats or belts. Anyone have experience with either or both? Or maybe there's another way I haven't thought about that would be both effective and efficient.

Ideas, thoughts and reviews anyone?

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Old 03-17-2013, 06:34 AM   #2
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I have started using heat mats from Hydrofarm for heating seedling trays. They make a couple sizes but I find the small $20 version works fine for me. Just duct tape it to the fermenter. They also make a cheap digital temp controller with a thermocouple for around $35...half the price of a Johnson. Works great for ale temps with 68°F as the bottom limit. This has been a really affordable option for me. It would be very nice to have a two stage controller, but for now I leave my fermentation fridge on and hook the heat mat to the controller.

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Old 03-17-2013, 07:18 AM   #3
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I have some friends that had a clever idea...They insulated a cabinet big enough for two carboys, then hooked a temp controller up to a hair dryer. The thing turns on when it gets too cool! May not have to be a hair dryer, but you could get creative with other things.

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Old 03-17-2013, 08:03 AM   #4
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I use this:

http://morebeer.com/products/fermwraptm-heater.html

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Old 03-17-2013, 12:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TANSTAAFB View Post
I have started using heat mats from Hydrofarm for heating seedling trays. They make a couple sizes but I find the small $20 version works fine for me. Just duct tape it to the fermenter. They also make a cheap digital temp controller with a thermocouple for around $35...half the price of a Johnson. Works great for ale temps with 68°F as the bottom limit. This has been a really affordable option for me. It would be very nice to have a two stage controller, but for now I leave my fermentation fridge on and hook the heat mat to the controller.
Just FYI, you can build a two-stage controller with parts from ebay for ~$35. I have three and love them.
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:52 PM   #6
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Just FYI, you can build a two-stage controller with parts from ebay for ~$35. I have three and love them.
They are on my list. Just as soon as I am finished with grad school in 55 days, 4 hours, and 37 seconds...but who's counting!

I should have said this is a cheap plug and play option. BTW, does anyone sell those cheap ebay units that read in Fahrenheit yet or all Celsius and we memorize the conversion chart?!? My local Radio Shack is going out of business so I guess I better go round up the parts I'll need soon.
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"I cant handle that buddy.. it tastes like Moose Piss", (IPA) - side note.. ive never had moose piss, but im sure it doesnt taste like IPA or I would have a moose.
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Old 03-17-2013, 04:01 PM   #7
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+1 on the dual stage controller. That plus a reptile lamp makes for rock steady temps.

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Old 03-17-2013, 04:21 PM   #8
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I have read that the brew belts are only made for plastic. I have a mat and it works really well. Paid $30 for it I believe. What's nice about it is the heat is distributed more evenly. What's not so great is it only goes around the carboy about 75%.

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Old 03-17-2013, 04:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TANSTAAFB

They are on my list. Just as soon as I am finished with grad school in 55 days, 4 hours, and 37 seconds...but who's counting!

I should have said this is a cheap plug and play option. BTW, does anyone sell those cheap ebay units that read in Fahrenheit yet or all Celsius and we memorize the conversion chart?!? My local Radio Shack is going out of business so I guess I better go round up the parts I'll need soon.
There still in Celsius. I just have a chart that I printed out that gives me all the temp conversions. I just taped it to the front of the fridge. Works great. Cheers!! Get a stc1000. Cheapest ones and dual stage. 19.99 shipped on amazon.
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Old 03-17-2013, 04:35 PM   #10
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I use a couple of light bulbs from old table lamps. They click on when the temp controller tells them go. Has worked like a charm and was free!

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