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Old 07-15-2011, 01:32 PM   #1
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Default Counter Flow Plate Chillers

I plan on doing my first 10-gallon batch this weekend, and have a counter flow plate chiller that will be used for the first time. I'm curious if anyone puts the entire chiller in a bucket of ice water or anything to help keep the overall temperature down? It seems that would help the overall efficiency of the heat exchange, but I don't know if it even matters.

What does everyone out there do?

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Old 07-15-2011, 01:59 PM   #2
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The added heat exchange you'd get by soaking the whole thing in a bucket of ice water is pretty marginal compared to the exchange you get from the water flowing. No harm in doing it, I suppose, but I wouldn't go out of my way.

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Old 07-15-2011, 02:16 PM   #3
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It would help a little but only if you stood there and jiggled the chiller up and down in the icewater to keep the warm water from creating a barrier.

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Old 07-15-2011, 02:23 PM   #4
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Probably the best way to increase the efficiency of a plate chiller is to run the cooling water through a immersion chiller submerged in a bucket of ice water before it runs through the plate.

I don't do that with mine, but a buddy does when he does lagers. Works super fast.

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Old 07-15-2011, 03:39 PM   #5
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That all makes sense, thanks! Any idea how long it might take to cool the wort? I assume I should have the cold water flowing full-bore but limit the output of the wort through the pump to a slower flow rate? Will this take the wort down fast enough to fill fermenters right away at pitching temp?

Thanks for the help!

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Old 07-15-2011, 03:43 PM   #6
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I use tap water until I get down to <100F, then I use a fountain pump submerged in a cooler full of ice water to push the chill loop. It is pretty much necessary here during the summer since the ground water gets to be 80+, and a side benefit is that it is very easy for me to get to lagering temps that way.

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Old 07-15-2011, 04:27 PM   #7
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It all depends on the tap water temp. Plate chillers with the flows dialed in properly can get the output to a couple degrees warmer than the coolant temp. For example, my water is running 70F right now so the best I can hope for is about 73F in a direct pass to the fermenter. Recirculating back to the kettle works ok, but still, it's only going to come out of the plate somewhere between 70 and 73F no matter how cool you get the wort in the kettle.

It may seem silly and overcomplicated but another way to do this is to daisy chain two smaller plate chillers where the wort path runs in series on the way to the fermenter. The first chiller runs tap water where the output is routed back to the HLT or a bucket for clean up water. The second plate is fed by a small pond pump filled with icewater. The output is sent right back into the icewater bin. This is really beneficial if you like brewing lagers in the summer. With this setup, you can throttle the tap coolant back pretty slow so that the output is nice and hot for cleanup because the wort would still come out at near 100F. Once it's that low, it doesn't take much ice to drop to under 70.

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Old 07-15-2011, 04:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
It all depends on the tap water temp. Plate chillers with the flows dialed in properly can get the output to a couple degrees warmer than the coolant temp. For example, my water is running 70F right now so the best I can hope for is about 73F in a direct pass to the fermenter. Recirculating back to the kettle works ok, but still, it's only going to come out of the plate somewhere between 70 and 73F no matter how cool you get the wort in the kettle.

It may seem silly and overcomplicated but another way to do this is to daisy chain two smaller plate chillers where the wort path runs in series on the way to the fermenter. The first chiller runs tap water where the output is routed back to the HLT or a bucket for clean up water. The second plate is fed by a small pond pump filled with icewater. The output is sent right back into the icewater bin. This is really beneficial if you like brewing lagers in the summer. With this setup, you can throttle the tap coolant back pretty slow so that the output is nice and hot for cleanup because the wort would still come out at near 100F. Once it's that low, it doesn't take much ice to drop to under 70.
+1. Alternately, if you want to recirculate (either to drop some trub or to get by with only one plate chiller), you can start with tap and then switch to the pond-pump in ice water once you start hitting a significant slow-down in your cooling. I get down to 100ºF in about five minutes from my faucet, and then drop it from there to even lager pitching temps with only a 5lb bag of ice.
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