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Old 04-03-2011, 04:15 PM   #1
killsurfcity
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Default Idea! Counterflow chiller alternative

The chill-down is always the worst part of my brew day. No matter what it takes close to an hour for 5 gallons. i have an immersion chiller, but frankly water baths are faster.

I had an idea tho, how i could use my chiller in a different way and possibly get faster results. I thought I'd post here to see what people thought before I went through the trouble tho.

If i have a kettle with a bulkhead on it. I think I could do a gravity transfer to a carboy and chill the wort on the way by running it through my immersion chiller submerged in a cooler full of ice water. The wort would go from the kettle, through high temp tubing, in to the top of the chiller, spiral down through, and out the nozzle of the cooler, into my carboy.
If this works, the only piece of kit i need that i don't currently have, is some hi temp tubing.

Anyone done this?

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Old 04-03-2011, 04:21 PM   #2
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Might work if you keep the ice water stirred so you are in effect creating an almost counterflow chiller. Don't forget to sanitize the chiller.

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Old 04-03-2011, 04:25 PM   #3
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I know people do it that way by pumping it. Whether or not it would siphon properly would be my only concern. Maybe test it with water first?

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Old 04-03-2011, 04:31 PM   #4
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It might work, but it seems overly complicated to me. I'd say something is wrong with your chiller if it takes over an hour to cool 5 gallons. Perhaps its too short? I cool 5 gals in about 12 mins with a 50ft roll of 3/8 copper tubing.

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Old 04-03-2011, 05:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killsurfcity View Post
The chill-down is always the worst part of my brew day. No matter what it takes close to an hour for 5 gallons. i have an immersion chiller, but frankly water baths are faster.

I had an idea tho, how i could use my chiller in a different way and possibly get faster results. I thought I'd post here to see what people thought before I went through the trouble tho.

If i have a kettle with a bulkhead on it. I think I could do a gravity transfer to a carboy and chill the wort on the way by running it through my immersion chiller submerged in a cooler full of ice water. The wort would go from the kettle, through high temp tubing, in to the top of the chiller, spiral down through, and out the nozzle of the cooler, into my carboy.
If this works, the only piece of kit i need that i don't currently have, is some hi temp tubing.

Anyone done this?
It will work, but no better than the normal way you would use it as an immersion chiller. Water baths are never faster than either an immersion chiller or a counterflow chiller if they are properly sized and operated.

I suspect that the heart of the problem is your chiller. Specifically the length and ID. I'm gonna guess that it's a 25ft 3/8" OD copper tubing IC. If that's the case, then the ID of that tubing will only be about 1/4" which is very small and restrictive. Larger tubing = higher flow rate for water or wort. Small increases in the tubing ID make a huge difference in the flow rate and this translates to faster chilling whether using an IC or a CFC. You want to keep both the wort and the cooling water moving for optimum performance. I use a pump and circulate through a CFC and back to the kettle in a continuous loop. This works very well for me.
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astropunk View Post
It might work, but it seems overly complicated to me. I'd say something is wrong with your chiller if it takes over an hour to cool 5 gallons. Perhaps its too short? I cool 5 gals in about 12 mins with a 50ft roll of 3/8 copper tubing.
This.
The key is to stir the wort gently so there is a good heat exchange happening.
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:18 PM   #7
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Until he posts up the length and OD of the IC, it's hard to say what he's using...

I will say, that I can chill 5-5.25 gallons of boiling wort to under 70F in ~15 minutes. That's with an IC built from 20' of 3/8" OD tubing. Takes ~4.5 gallons of boiling wort down to under 70F in about 10-12 minutes. Of course, that's with moving the IC inside the wort, to provide more contact with the wort, thus improving the chilling time.

I'm trying to figure out which OD tubing to get for my next IC. I know I want to build it with 50' of soft copper. I'm just really torn between 3/8" and 1/2" OD tubing. Either way, it will be utility grade, so that I'm not spending a small fortune on the copper.

BTW, the tubing wall isn't 1/16" thickness, it's actually less than 1/32" (just put a dial caliper onto the end of my 3/8" OD IC, get a wall thickness of .023")... This is utility grade, so if you bought the expensive stuff, it could be thicker. Thicker tubing could also be why it's not working as well as it should. More metal for the thermal transfer to go through could result in reduced cooling efficiency.

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Old 04-03-2011, 06:10 PM   #8
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In the summer I have to use a pre-chiller here in Georgia. I found my 25 foot IC took too long. I made a 50 foot and use the 25 foot in a bucket of ice water with a frozen two liter in the center as a spacer so I don't have to use too much ice.

Increasing the water speed helped also. I started out using clamp fittings at low pressure. Now I have compression fittings that can handle high pressure.

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Old 04-03-2011, 08:48 PM   #9
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It will work fine. Make sure you leave room in the cooler to add more ice if needed, and either stir the ice water or shake the copper coils as the wort flows through. If you're monitoring the temps coming in the fermenter, don't worry if it's too cold at first, the chilling effect will taper off and should average out to a good pitching temp. After using it once or twice you'll be able to dial in your end temp easily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt22 View Post
It will work, but no better than the normal way you would use it as an immersion chiller.

I suspect that the heart of the problem is your chiller. Specifically the length and ID. I'm gonna guess that it's a 25ft 3/8" OD copper tubing IC. If that's the case, then the ID of that tubing will only be about 1/4" which is very small and restrictive. .
If the problem is water temp then what the OP descibed will work considerably better. The "cold" tap water here is often over 90F in the summer, and I used to use a chiller almost identical to what the OP is describing. It was ~20' of 3/8" copper in a bucket full of ice water, and I could chill a 5 gal batch to pitching temps in the ~10 min it took to gravity feed into the fermenter. There are certainly better methods of chilling, but for those with warm tap water and no pump it's the best method I know of by far.
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuanMoore View Post
It will work fine. Make sure you leave room in the cooler to add more ice if needed, and either stir the ice water or shake the copper coils as the wort flows through. If you're monitoring the temps coming in the fermenter, don't worry if it's too cold at first, the chilling effect will taper off and should average out to a good pitching temp. After using it once or twice you'll be able to dial in your end temp easily.



If the problem is water temp then what the OP descibed will work considerably better. The "cold" tap water here is often over 90F in the summer, and I used to use a chiller almost identical to what the OP is describing. It was ~20' of 3/8" copper in a bucket full of ice water, and I could chill a 5 gal batch to pitching temps in the ~10 min it took to gravity feed into the fermenter. There are certainly better methods of chilling, but for those with warm tap water and no pump it's the best method I know of by far.
There is nothing at all wrong with the OP's concept. The same could be done riunning ice water through the IC using gravity flow. I do something similar in the warm months by adding a cooler and ice into the loop. I run the first 75% with tap water only and finish up with the ice water. Sometimes I get lazy and just refrigerate the wort to cool to desired pitching temperature which is often the next morning. No problem doing that so far.
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