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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Kegerators and Keezers > Glycol / chest freezer question
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:45 PM   #1
Chuckdaddy
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Default Glycol / chest freezer question

I have a kegerator setup in my basement bar. The distance from the kegs to my tower is about 15 feet. The tower has four taps, so I'm using one of those "python" type lines from the kegerator to the tower that has 4 bev lines and a hot and cold chiller line. It is well insulated. The tower has the connections for coolant, so it is a continuous loop.

For the past few years, I've been using an aquarium pump to push water through the coolant lines. The pump sits in a 5 gal corny keg that is in the same kegerator as my beer. This setup just doesn't keep the beer cold enough all the way to the taps (I don't have temps to give you, but trust me, it's not cold enough),
so I'm wasting a pint or two before the cold beer comes through. I'm tired of it.

So, I've been considering alternate cooling methods to drop the line and tower temperature. At first, I thought about just buying a power pack and hooking it up to my system, but I just can't get excited about dropping $1,100 on that. More recently, I thought about just buying a small chest freezer and using it as a glycol reservoir and just putting my pump in that chest. So, the only purpose that freezer would have would be to act as my line chilling system. Here is the model I was looking at: http://www.hhgregg.com/haier-3-5-cu-.../HNCM035E#tab4. This would be a $150 solution, instead of a $1,100 one.

Would you expect this to work? Would there be any issues with the water/glycol mix corroding the freezer lining? Any other comments appreciated.

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Old 08-17-2012, 06:49 PM   #2
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I don't see why it wouldn't work. I would simply put a tub or 5 gallon bucket in the freezer as opposed to actually putting the glycol right in like it sounds you've proposed.

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Old 08-17-2012, 06:57 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

I thought about using a 5-10 gallon tub for the liquid as you mentioned, but my thinking was that I'd get better heat exchange by allowing the mix to go right up against the freezer wall. I suppose I could try the bucket and if it doesn't cool it enough that way, I could just pour it into the freezer and see if it makes a difference.

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:02 PM   #4
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I would think that if you had a metal vessel you could get better heat transfer by conduction than a plastic bucket, and you would have the thermal mass of the vessel. Just a thought.

-G

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:09 PM   #5
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Good point. Thanks.

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Old 08-18-2012, 04:29 AM   #6
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I like the idea of just filling the chest with your glycol mix, it would surely be the most efficient/effective mode. But at least one of the break-down products of glycol is acidic enough that the addition of corrosion inhibitors is a common practice. I'd be concerned that as the glycol ages it might eventually start chewing into the chest liner (I'm assuming they still make chest freezer liners out of metal).

Lining the liner might not be a bad idea, but otoh, the KISS strategy would be to go with any single wall vessel you find that matches your capacity needs and still fits in the freezer.

I don't think it'd make much difference if it's metal or plastic or glass (although the metal option goes back to the glycol corrosion thing) wrt thermal performance. Any small differences in thermal resistance would get swamped out by the thermal mass of the return coolant anyway...

Cheers!

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Old 08-19-2012, 04:42 PM   #7
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I tackled this project yesterday. Actually found an even smaller chest freezer (2.1 cubic feet) for about $120. It works great. I ended up and used a plastic bucket for my reservoir. My temperatures have drastically reduced. I'm very happy with this solution. It's certainly much cheaper than buying a power pack. Thanks to all of you for your input. I appreciate it.

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Old 08-20-2012, 02:27 AM   #8
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Dude! Where are the pictures!?!

Cheers!
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:50 PM   #9
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Guys,

Thanks for the great idea for a DIY glycol chiller. I just got done building a setup similar to Chuckdaddy's. I converted a small chest freezer to function as a "cheap mans" power pack and connected it to a homemade 20 foot trunk line terminating at a chilled four tap tower. The run was mostly horizontal going from the furnace/mechanical room in my basement out to a bar/rec room area.

For the glycol freezer/chiller, I put about 6 gallons of pink RV antifreeze into a 13 gal Rubbermaid garbage can with an aquarium pump at the bottom of the freezer. The glycol freezer temp is controlled with a johnson controls thermo switch set to about 22F. So far so good - beer is plenty cold coming out of the tap. I have not actually measured the poured beer temp yet but it seems just fine.

I constructed the trunk line out of 4 regular 3/16 bev lines and 2 regular 3/8" siphon tubes for the glycol lines. All the tubing was zip tied together and wrapped in plastic wrap (vapor barrier), then foil tape (insulation), and then black armaflex pipe insulation. I was not able to find 2 1/2" OD armaflex anywhere but at a commercial insulation supply company - I paid about 1.50 a linear foot for it plus purchased some specialty glue to glue the pieces together. Of course you can always just purchase pre-made trunk line but where's the fun in that?

Planned improvements/ things I would change:

1) I need to find a large bucket or something with a sealed lid to replace the garbage can/glycol reservoir as I am already loosing coolant volume to evaporation. I wish home depot made 8 gallon homer buckets as this would be perfect. I'm sure there's something out there that will fit the bill I just haven't found it yet.

2) An Aquarium pump with more horsepower. I used a submersible Aquatop SWP-820 and had trouble getting the lines primed/removing all of the air initially. Flow is adequate but could be better. I have about a 5 foot vertical rise on my system and this pump had a 5'6" head so I probably should have given myself more wiggle room in terms of head pressure.

I posted pictures of the setup under my profile -Not sure how to link directly but if I figure it out I'll do it. Thanks again for the great idea!

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Old 12-25-2012, 10:34 PM   #10
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Chest freezers have very small compressors. It may have trouble keeping up with the heat load. You can get a used glycol chiller very reasonably. An 8 tap complete draft system with towers, regulators and perlick glycol power pack just sold on ebay for $620.

My got my 3/4 hp chiller for $700 delivered from a resturant surplus company in GA.

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