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Old 05-25-2012, 01:23 AM   #1
BPal75
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Default Ferm chamber opinions

To this point I've been fermenting ales in my basement which stays a pretty constant 67-70 F. This has worked fine, but I'm wanting to try lagers and would also like to try ales in the lower 60s to get different favors out of my yeast then I can now. Ideally I'd like to get something that would allow me to have two plastic buckets going at one time, so I could ferment a lager and an ale at the same time, or lager and ferment a lager or ale at the same time. I'd like opinions on what's the best setup to do this.

I could go the route of two separate fridges or freezers with temp controls but I'd ideally like to have just one fridge or freezer that could hold both buckets. I'm just not sure how to then maintain separate temperatures in the same unit. Thanks in advance! Very curious to hear what everyone does in this regard.



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Old 05-25-2012, 01:40 AM   #2
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One way to maintain different temperatures is to have two insulated chambers with a computer fan between the two. You can put the bucket you want colder in the chamber that is actually cooled by whatever and wire up the fan to turn on when the temp gets above set point in the warmer chamber. I think I saw a thread on here about it one time using a side by side freezer/fridge with the fan in the center wall. You might try searching for it if this idea interests you. They also rigged up some kind of flap to keep the air from moving between chambers when the fan wasn't on.



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Old 05-25-2012, 01:51 AM   #3
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If you go the chest freezer route, you can always just run the freezer to the lower temp you need and then use a fermwrap or some reptile heat tape to warm the other one a few degrees. It seems weird to run a heater inside a freezer, but if you can insulate the thing properly (with, say, a neoprene carboy jacket) it's actually relatively efficient.

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Old 05-26-2012, 01:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalFet View Post
If you go the chest freezer route, you can always just run the freezer to the lower temp you need and then use a fermwrap or some reptile heat tape to warm the other one a few degrees. It seems weird to run a heater inside a freezer, but if you can insulate the thing properly (with, say, a neoprene carboy jacket) it's actually relatively efficient.
Heating would be efficient with the jacket, but what about cooling? Seems like the jacket would keep the heat from getting out when the yeast is going full force.
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Old 05-26-2012, 02:37 AM   #5
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Heating would be efficient with the jacket, but what about cooling? Seems like the jacket would keep the heat from getting out when the yeast is going full force.
Well, this set up would be for a situation where you need the heat to get to your target setpoint from a colder ambient, like the simultaneous ale and lager fermentation that the OP is trying to do. If the fridge needs to pull both temps in the same direction, there's no need for a complicated set up and you can just let both ride together.
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Old 05-26-2012, 03:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Well, this set up would be for a situation where you need the heat to get to your target setpoint from a colder ambient, like the simultaneous ale and lager fermentation that the OP is trying to do. If the fridge needs to pull both temps in the same direction, there's no need for a complicated set up and you can just let both ride together.
You might be able to make it work if you ferment an ale first. Allow it to finish fermentation and then use the jacket/heater to keep it in the 60s for conditioning while you keep the freezer lower for lager fermentation. After that I'd be concerned that fermentation heat would make it difficult to control the fermentation temperature.
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Old 05-26-2012, 06:55 PM   #7
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You might be able to make it work if you ferment an ale first. Allow it to finish fermentation and then use the jacket/heater to keep it in the 60s for conditioning while you keep the freezer lower for lager fermentation. After that I'd be concerned that fermentation heat would make it difficult to control the fermentation temperature.
There's no "might" involved here. This is a tried and true system that many people use

Anytime you've got two different fermentations going on, one is going to need more cooling than the other. You let the fridge compressor dial in the ambient temperature for the vessel that needs more cooling and then use the fermwrap to bump the temp back up on the one that needs less. If the heat of fermentation is bumping the temps of your carboy above its setpoint, you've got the fermwrap on the wrong vessel.
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Old 05-26-2012, 07:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalFet

There's no "might" involved here. This is a tried and true system that many people use

Anytime you've got two different fermentations going on, one is going to need more cooling than the other. You let the fridge compressor dial in the ambient temperature for the vessel that needs more cooling and then use the fermwrap to bump the temp back up on the one that needs less. If the heat of fermentation is bumping the temps of your carboy above its setpoint, you've got the fermwrap on the wrong vessel.
My concern is that if you have a jacket on your warmer carboy that the heat won't be able to get out fast enough during fermentation. Of course the simple fix would be to leave the jacket off during fermentation if that occurs if you're willing to take the electricity hit of potential controller fighting.

I don't mean to turn this thread into a "my idea is better than yours" battle. Just want to make sure the OP gets all the info about the systems he might choose from.

The system that MalFet suggested will work just fine if you get your hands on a chest freezer. If you happen to find a side by side fridge/freezer then my system would work too. Really depends on the equipment find/purchase.
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Old 05-26-2012, 08:16 PM   #9
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Well, to the OP, let it be known that the system I'm describing works just fine in practice, theoretical objections notwithstanding.

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Old 05-26-2012, 11:24 PM   #10
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Depending on how DIY you want to get with this you could also build your own fermentation chamber. Basically it's just an insulated box with a way to cool it. Either a mini fridge with a fan, a window unit A/C, or even this pretty cool build:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/smaller-son-fermentation-chiller-79556/

You can do different chambers with fans to push the cold air from coldest to warmest chamber or do a single chamber with heaters. It works the same as a fridge or freezer once you get the cooling method working.



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