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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Chillers and Stir Plates > Closed circuit counterflow chiller
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:53 PM   #1
SickTransitMundus
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Default Closed circuit counterflow chiller

I have a problem. I live in the Midwest. (Har, har, har). Winters are brutal. At some point my garden hose feed will freeze and become unavailable for chilling, likely for the rest of the season.

But, I still want to brew outdoors. Gotta keep the pipeline full. I can take the cold, but I can't run my immersion or counterflow chillers without the hose.

So, I've come up with a plan. Patch my counterflow together with my immersion chiller and stick the immersion into a bucket of ice water. Will have to add an March pump inline to drive the circuit. Run hot water out of the top of the counterflow and through the immersion, while pumping cold water into the bottom end of the counterflow. Hot wort flows through the counterflow by gravity, ending up chilled in the fermenter.

Any thoughts? I have several concerns. One is the flow rate - will a March pump be fast enough to cool efficiently? Is the efficiency of a counterflow chiller dependent on coolant flow rate? Another issue is the immersion chiller length - I currently have 25 ft, but may have to lengthen it if I don't get a low enough temperature. Another concern is the coolant itself. I was thinking about using ethylene glycol as the coolant if water can't drain off enough heat. Poisonous ****, though - rather not have it near my wort if I can help it. Final concern - there will inevitable be some small amount air in the coolant line. I know March pumps die if they run dry, but can they handle a few bubbles?

Something like this might also help out those hippies who want to minimize water use.

Edit: I now realize that there are some other threads on this topic. My idea is not a beautiful or unique snowflake. Still interested in the efficiency, coolant, and bubble questions, though.

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Old 07-07-2010, 03:17 PM   #2
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Just get one of the Lee Valley Heated Hoses and the problem goes away.

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Old 07-07-2010, 03:26 PM   #3
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Sounds like you need a better outdoor tap A frost free hose bibb.
I just had two installed, a hot and a cold, the new ones have the actual valve inside your home and if installed properly they are slightly tipped forward, so when you shut it off outside, the water will flow out of the faucet. There is no freezing and you can use it year round.

Or you can do like my father did with an older style tap. He had a shut off valve inside the house. So there was never ice in the faucet. Just DON'T leave your hose connected in the winter as it will allow water to remain in the faucet and freeze, which will potentially crack the pipe.

WAY easier and likely cheaper than building some sort of pump. I had two installed by a professional for under $150, I am sure you can do it your self for $50.

http://www.ehow.com/about_4743025_fr...e-faucets.html

[YOUTUBE]QTQ5RkxCZos[/YOUTUBE]

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Old 07-07-2010, 03:54 PM   #4
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As mentioned, fix your hose problem. You'll go through about 50 pounds of ice in a closed system.

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Old 07-07-2010, 07:58 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips, guys. I'll see if I can talk my landlord into retrofitting the hose faucet - god knows, the guy drinks enough of my beer to spring for it.

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Old 07-07-2010, 10:01 PM   #6
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I live in Chicago, and the management company shuts my outdoor spigots off. I don't have much of a choice, so I hook my hose up to a bathroom sink that is right next to the garage. I can fill vessels with hot water to cut down heating times, or I can chill. I drain my chiller, pumps, and hose to prevent damage to them.

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Old 07-08-2010, 02:08 PM   #7
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Sometimes I forget to shut the inside valve off for my outdoor faucet and it freezes. I just get a propane torch and heat it up a little. Only takes 30 seconds for it to thaw.

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Old 07-08-2010, 03:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bja View Post
Sometimes I forget to shut the inside valve off for my outdoor faucet and it freezes. I just get a propane torch and heat it up a little. Only takes 30 seconds for it to thaw.
Assuming you catch it before the pipe bursts.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
As mentioned, fix your hose problem. You'll go through about 50 pounds of ice in a closed system.
yes but when its that cold 50lbs of ice is pretty easy to come by
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