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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Fermentation Cooler/Heater from a Coleman Xtreme?
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:38 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation Cooler/Heater from a Coleman Xtreme?

Got lucky the other day, out walking the dog and I see a huge (probably 100qt) coleman xtreme cooler by the dumpster. Looks like it has been outside on someones deck for a while, but the inside is spotless, looks unused, owners manuals still inside. I measured it out and it seems like I could get two primary carboys in there (I do 10-gallon batches) and I was thinking, since I just built a 70qt mashtun, I'll use this one to keep carboys warm/cold and to control fermentation temp.

So...I know I can add water and use a fishtank thermostat to heat the water to desired temp, how can I accurately cool water during the warm summer months (I don't consider adding ice accurate...)?

Thanks

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Old 03-27-2008, 04:40 PM   #2
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While you are technically right and adding ice is not accurate per se, it does work quite well for me in the summer.

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Old 03-27-2008, 05:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColoradoXJ13
Got lucky the other day, out walking the dog and I see a huge (probably 100qt) coleman xtreme cooler by the dumpster. Looks like it has been outside on someones deck for a while, but the inside is spotless, looks unused, owners manuals still inside. I measured it out and it seems like I could get two primary carboys in there (I do 10-gallon batches) and I was thinking, since I just built a 70qt mashtun, I'll use this one to keep carboys warm/cold and to control fermentation temp.

So...I know I can add water and use a fishtank thermostat to heat the water to desired temp, how can I accurately cool water during the warm summer months (I don't consider adding ice accurate...)?

Thanks
Adding ice CAN be accurate, you know the volume or weight of ice you are adding, you know the volume of water you are adding it to and you experimentally calculate heat loss from the cooler. That is all you need to figure out x ice added cools by x *C
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:45 PM   #4
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Neither heating water with a fish-tank heater or cooling by ice are going to be 100% accurate or foolproof without checking on your water every hour or two. Too many variables (ambient air temps, heat/cool loss of coolers, heat being created by your carboys during fermentation, etc.) to play with and consider.

However, you can "get in the ballpark" pretty well with both of these methods; and many do...

Your best bet for pretty darn accurate, yet reasonably affordable temperature control to get an old used fridge and a digital temperature controller. Turn on the fridge compressor when it gets too warm in there or turn on a lightbulb or something else that will heat the space a little bit, if it gets too cold (which is unlikely if it is in a room temperature room). Maybe you need two temp controllers to do this actually (most just use one to cool), but I don't know since I don't do this.

Cliffnotes: The waterbath method is very cheap and reasonably accurate (within +/- 2-5 degrees depending how often you can check on it)...

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Old 03-27-2008, 06:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoaringBrewer
Neither heating water with a fish-tank heater or cooling by ice are going to be 100% accurate or foolproof without checking on your water every hour or two.
i disagree. Aquarium heaters in conjuction with an inexpensive aquarium thermostat (the thermostats on the heaters themselves are crap) can be very accurate and inexpensive.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atl300zx
i disagree. Aquarium heaters in conjuction with an inexpensive aquarium thermostat (the thermostats on the heaters themselves are crap) can be very accurate and inexpensive.
I wouldn't disagree with that statement, but you need some sort of temperature controller... in this case its an external acquarium 'thermostat'. A fish heater alone won't work b/c the "thermostats on the heaters themselves are crap". That was exactly my point!

Also, this method is fine if you want to heat the water up (fermenting in basement where its a tad chilly), but it's not going to do anything for you in the heat of summer... then your back to the icemethod. I suppose you can use the heater for preventing the ice from making it too cold... but... you get the point I think.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:01 PM   #7
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sometime soon i need to invest in something to control fermentation temps. I tried to brew as much as possible over the winter to stock pile my supply.

Now that winter is over i know i dont have enough beer (4 kegs and around 300 bottles) to last until it cools down.

I am more than likely getting another freezer with a temp controller.

Optimally i want some i can ferment in (63-65F) and then condition them (55F) prior to kegging or bottling. If i used one freezer, i could only do one batch of beer everything 2-3 weeks until the beer is bottled or kegged...but that would be enough for summer brewing to sustain me until the winter.

What do you all do for aging beer for long periods, like 8-12 months for Imperial Stouts? I dont wanna leave the freezer at 55F for that long....will changing the temp from 63-65 to 55 every week or so hurt the beer that is aging for a long time or would i be better off letting it age at room temp (78 summer, 67 winter)?

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Old 03-27-2008, 08:08 PM   #8
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Cut a hole in the cooler, mount a computer fan in the hole. Hook up the themo to the fan, and when it gets too cold inside, the fan turns on and vents the cold air out.

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Old 03-27-2008, 08:10 PM   #9
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Or, you could create a seperate ice chamber inside and put the fan on the ice chamber. When the air around the fermenter gets too warm, the fan could turn on and draw cold air from the ice chamber into the fermentation chamber.

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