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Old 04-24-2012, 08:39 PM   #1
pentachris
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Default Chest Freezer Fermentation Chamber - Am I On The Right Track?

As luck would have it, right after I brewed my first 5 gal batch of beer, a guy I work with put a 14.9 cu.ft. chest freezer out on the curb. He got it while cleaning out his grandomother's house (she recently died). Obviously, it's not on the curb any more! It's old, ugly and heavy, and it got rained on pretty good. But, it was icy cold when he hauled it away, so I should be good to go!

When I lifted the lid, rain water drained out of the back of the lid for a few minutes. I cleaned it up with some bleach water, and I've got it propped open in the sun on my back porch for a few days. It's not supposed to rain anytime soon, so I'm letting it air out.

I bought this Ranco 2-stage temp controller and this little ceramic heater. My plan is to get three small (6"x6") pieces of plywood and build three sides of a box - one side as the base for the heater to sit on, and the other two sides vertical, forming a corner. I'll turn the ceramic heater to face into the corner of this wood box, so that when it's on: 1) the heat isn't being directed right any one fermentation vessel , and 2) it's not blasting the side of the freezer with heat.

Since I'll eventually have a couple of vessels (pails, carboys, whatever) in there at once, my plan - instead of just measuring the temp of one of them - is to suspend the probe in about a gallon of water sitting in the middle of the freezer. I figure that should put me close enough to being on the right track.

Sound good? Any suggestions?

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Old 04-24-2012, 08:45 PM   #2
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Sounds good! Do you have a GFCI outlet?

Also, have you plugged in the freezer to make sure it works?
And get some Damp-Rid to deal with condensation.

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Old 04-24-2012, 09:10 PM   #3
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I'd thought about Damp-Rid... Do you leave it in all the time?

I did NOT think about needing a GFCI outlet, though. This will live in an out-building on the other side of my carport. I'm pretty sure the outlet I'd planned to plug it into is on the same circuit as the outlets by my pool pump, which are GFCI protected. I'll have to check that out.

I haven't plugged it in since getting it home, but, like I said, it was running like a champ 3 days ago.

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Old 04-24-2012, 09:36 PM   #4
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Yes, I leave the damp-rid in there. It's just CaCl, which, incidentally, is one of my brewing water additions.

Condensation + space heater = GFCI, at least for me. I'm no electrician though. As long as one in the line is GFCI you're good, right?

And good job making temp control a first priority. I applaud you.

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Old 04-24-2012, 09:48 PM   #5
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If they're both on the same leg, a fault on the outlet I'm using will trip the GFCI. I'll test it this evening to be sure - if my outlet is protected, it will loose power when I press the TEST button.

Thanks for the tips!

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Old 04-25-2012, 12:06 AM   #6
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I got home and checked a few things...

The Good: I plugged the freezer in, and it's still working great.

The Bad: The outlet I want to use is NOT protected by the GFCI outlet.

The Ugly: The ground part of the freezer plug is missing - either torn off or pulled off so that it could plug into an old ungrounded, 2-blade outlet.

Looks like I'll be back at Lowe's and doing some wiring in the next couple of days...

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Old 04-26-2012, 01:38 AM   #7
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In general it isnt required to put a freezer or fridge on a gfci. The appliances tend to trip the device for the wrong reasons. Replace the cord though!

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Old 04-26-2012, 02:14 AM   #8
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I agree. But a space heater, heat lamps, whatever, in a closed space with a bunch of liquid?

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