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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Which mini freezer model should I buy for fermenting lagers/ales and cold crashing?
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:51 PM   #1
samuelgoto
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Default Which mini freezer model should I buy for fermenting lagers/ales and cold crashing?

Hey all,

I've seem plenty of options for fermentation chambers with mini-fridges or wine cellars, but none of that I think will work if I'm trying to get to cold crash temperatures or lagers.

Does anyone have experience with using mini-freezers and temperature controllers to serve as fermentation chambers?

I have a fairly tight space constrain, so ideally the smaller the better (e.g. chest fridges are probably out).

I'm using those regular 6.5 gallons carboys that fit 5 gallon batches, plus some extra space for the airlock.

Ideas?

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Old 07-31-2013, 08:25 PM   #2
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I'm interested in this as well. I don't really have the space for a second full-sized fridge right now, but the minifridges that I've seen I'm not sure are big enough. Most of them have a big bulge on the floor in the back where the compressor sits which doesn't leave enough room for the fermentation bucket. Has anyone found a model that does work?

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Old 07-31-2013, 08:26 PM   #3
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:04 PM   #4
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I have an Avanti 2.5 (see below), which is one of those NuCool models that has no hump. However, without modification, it will not fit a full size ale pail. A 5g Better Bottle is very close, but still no go.

The HBT thread below is pretty good. On around page 2-3, one guy shows how he cut the shelf of his Haier 2.5 to get a 5g BB to fit (those are actually the problem, not height). Then he removed the door altogether for a 6.5 carboy to fit. [EDITED: I don't know if a 6.5g ale pail might fit by cutting the shelf, not removing the door.]

There used to be a Haier 2.8 hump-less model which was a tiny bit bigger, but just enough to work. Maybe there's something else (note: NuCool design means no hump). Or you could look at chest freezers, which make smaller footprints than full fridges, but are much bigger and heavier than the NuCool fridges.

http://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajm.../SHP2501B.html
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/sma...fridge-225303/

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Old 08-01-2013, 02:44 AM   #5
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I use a GE 5.0 cu ft chest freezer (Sam's club $160) and a Johnson Controls A419 controller. The set up works great for lagers and ales. Freezer has footprint of 22"x28". In my search I could not find a mini-fridge that would work until they got large and expensive. Others may have a better idea. The 5.0 cu ft fridge easily holds one 6.5 gal pail or carboy with airlock, I am not able to fit 2 due to the hump. I measured smaller chest freezers, like 3.5 cu ft., my findings were a regular pail or carboy would not fit. Again, others may have better ideas.

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Old 08-01-2013, 04:08 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tips, the chest freezers seem like the better way to go from a price/effort standpoint. Most of the mini-fridges that would even work are the same cost as the freezer ($170 now) or within $10 - $20. Does running the freezer at higher temps cause frosting issues or anything like that? I had heard there could be problems with using them above freezing but wanted to check.

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Old 08-01-2013, 06:19 PM   #7
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I use a small chest freezer from Sears, it was about $180 on sale with online coupon. Works great for fermenting ales and lagers, lagering, and cold crashing. I went with a freezer instead of a refrigerator since it would have higher cooling capacity if needed.

I do get some condensation inside but as longs as you aren't under 32F you won't have frost problems. I let it air out between uses.



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Old 08-01-2013, 08:58 PM   #8
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Looks like chest freezer it is then. On a side note, what kind of monitoring do you have set up aside from temperature?

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Old 08-02-2013, 05:08 AM   #9
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There really is no mini fridge that will work as is other than the ones that were built as a dual purpose kegerator / fridge. If you have diy skills you can get a cheap mini fridge off Craig'slist and build a small (about 4") collar and it works fine. The only problem with a chest freezer is picking up a full 6.5 gallon carboy out of it which can really kill your back.

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Old 08-02-2013, 01:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHSBrewer View Post
Looks like chest freezer it is then. On a side note, what kind of monitoring do you have set up aside from temperature?
I have three probes for temperature. One strapped to the side of the carboy, one in the wort, and a third usually used for air temperature inside the freezer. Any one of them can be used for control but I have always used the probe strapped to the carboy for control. I built more elaborate controls than most brewers do, you could easily use a simple temp controller as most do.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/show...ml#post2291118

I should also mention the chest freezer I use is more of a mid size, not a small, I think it's 8 or 9 cu ft. I wanted to have the option to fit two carboys in it. a smaller chest freezer should work just as well.

The mini fridge next to the chest freezer is my kegerator and it's older and less efficient. The chest freezer has no problems keeping a keg at 33-34F for lagering and runs maybe 10 minutes/hr @ 500W. By contrast the mini fridge struggles to keep a keg at 34F.
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