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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > HydroFarm Digital Thermostat and Heat Mat
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Old 11-20-2010, 02:02 AM   #1
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Default HydroFarm Digital Thermostat and Heat Mat

It's getting cold here in Northern IL and I'm trying to figure out an economical way to regulate heat for fermentation in the winter. In the past, I've just kept the heat up in the house during fermentation, but that's not cheap these days, so I've been looking at cheap ways to put together a fermentation cabinet. I'm not the handiest guy in the world, so I'd rather buy the heater and controller rather than build, and get everything in the basement, which gets down in the 50's in the winter.

I ran across the following thermostat and heating pad on Amazon tonight and thought it looked interesting

Hydrofarm MTPRTC Digital Thermostat For Heat Mats
http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-MTPR...6&sr=8-1-fkmr0

It works with the following heat mat:
http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-MT10..._bxgy_ol_img_b

I was think to either wrap the mat around the carboy or setting it on top of it like some of the heat mats I've seen for brewing. The whole setup would be ~$40 as opposed to $80+ for a Johnson Controls thermostat alone.

Any thoughts/recommendation?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 12-01-2010, 11:15 PM   #2
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Bump, I'm curious about this too.

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Old 12-02-2010, 12:34 AM   #3
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I use these heating pads from Reptile Basics. They are cheap and work great.

There are other sizes available, but I like the 11" for carboys. And if you want them to put on the connectors just say so in the comments of your order and it will be simple plug and heat.

No affliation with the company, but I thought I'd pass along a great solution for heating carboys and such. You'll still need a temp controller, of course, but they've got those too.


That controller on Amazon looks interesting, but be careful. Some of the comments suggest it can't be programmed below 68F! That might be a bit warm as a starting temp for many ales unless you really like Belgians!

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Old 12-02-2010, 05:26 AM   #4
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I have the same heating pads (fermwraps). Almost exactly the same as the fermwrap I bought and way cheaper. Highly recommended.

According to the manufacturer the lowest set point is 68F...very interesting though.

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Old 12-02-2010, 05:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red clay View Post
i use these heating pads from reptile basics. They are cheap and work great.
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Old 12-02-2010, 04:36 PM   #6
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I use the seedling heat mat in my basement, I just wrap it around a carboy with a bungee cord (see photo below). You really do not need any type of thermostat, without the wrap its around 60 degrees, with the wrap it is 70 degrees in my basement in minnesota. Keep the carboy off the floor (on a chair or something) and that helps too.

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Old 12-02-2010, 04:38 PM   #7
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As for starting temps, I find that a vigorous fermentation will keep it's own temp up in the mid to low 60's even in the dead of winter in the basement, once it settles down I put the heat mat on it.

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Old 12-02-2010, 05:39 PM   #8
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Hmm, anyone know if the temp controller from these guys has some kind of safety feature that would prevent it from going on and off too fast (and possibly starting a fire)? The starting temp of 68 would be fine since I would only use this for going between that and the low 70s for saisons.

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Old 12-03-2010, 02:39 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. The Fermwap is interesting, but it is really the cost of the thermostat that is limiting factor. $60-$100 for the thermostat to control the Femwrap is pretty high.

I noticed the 68 degree temperature limit too, but most of the ales I've brewed usually call for that as a starting temperature, so I figured I'd be OK. I've also thought that since the thermometer on the thermostat is separated from the heat map I could move that away from the fermenter a bit if it needed to get below the 68 degree mark. There'd be some trial and error, but workable.

I like IamNash's idea of letting things kick off on its own in the 60's and then putting the wrap on to maintain the temperature over the rest of the fermentation. I have a large cabinet I'd like to put the vessels in that should also retain some of the heat.

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Old 02-05-2011, 03:20 PM   #10
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Ok, I figured I'd close out this thread. I decided against the seed mat because I was concerned about being able to appropriately monitor the temperature. I de decided to go the heat lamp route. I bought the following:

Zoo Med Deluxe Porcelain Clamp Lamp with 8.5-Inch Dome, Black: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ef=oss_product


Zoo Med ReptiCare Ceramic Heat Emitter 100w: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ef=oss_product

Zilla Temperature Controller: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ef=oss_product

I figured that the ceramic heating element would be better than a traditional heat lamp because is doesn't emit any light that would affect the beer. I headed to the local big box hardware store and bought some foil lined insulation and lined the interior of the cabinet to insulate it as much as possible. I then cut a hole and mounted the lamp in the back. Its been on line for about 3 weeks now and I've had my last batch bottle conditioning at a steady 67.7 - 68.5. It works great. I'm going to make an attempt at a pineapple wheat ale this weekend before the big game that will be my first batch to ferment in it.

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