Originally Posted by Zoo_Guy_FL
I could not believe it when I saw this. I've been planning something just like this in my head for a year and just recently started looking for ideas on what other people have done. I have a few questions.
1. What are you using to turn on/off the fans in the upper level? and is the pipe on the right the return to the bottom area?
2. What is the material you used on the inside walls? Looks flimsy, does it work?
3. You said you would do some things different if you built another one, can you give some examples?
4. One more, did you alter the A/C in anyway and what size unit are you using?
I live in FL and plan on starting my version in the next few months, any advice would be grand. Great job, this is the best I've found yet.
Hi Zoo_Guy, thanks for the compliments, I'd be happy to answer your questions.
1. I'm using two STC-1000 temperature controllers from ebay, one for each section of the chamber(pictured below). I have these wired into an outlet in each section. So the top section is controlled by the top controller. When cooling is needed the controller sends power to the bottom plug on the outlet which i have the fans plugged into. If heating is needed it sends power to the top plug, which has a hair dryer plugged into it.
2. Its 1/8 white hardboard that is supposed to be moisture resistance. It is basically the material used for dry erase whiteboards. It is fairly strong actually and I also have the rigid insulation behind it. It works fine but I ended up painting it so probably regular plywood would have been better.
3. I might have used different materials in a few places. For example like i mentioned above the interior walls could have been regular plywood. The only major thing would probably be the doors though. They work but aren't quite square, mostly because I used a piece of plywood for door faces which warped. Probably using MDF or something similiar would work a lot better.
4. The A/C unit is just a cheap 5000 btu window unit. I got mine used but you can get them new for around $100 at any of the big box stores. Even the basic ones like this where you just set it to on or off have a thermostat that prevent them from cooling past a certain point. I think its somewhere around 60. I disabled this so it would be able to get cooler. I also re-wired the fan portion so it has a separate plug. This way I can leave the fan running at all times and just have the compressor turn on when needed for cooling. Doing this prevents icing. You could also just wire some pc fans to blow across the coils instead of using the built in fan. This might actually be a better solution so your not wearing out the A/C fan.
I finished this last summer and we had about a week stretch of 100+ degree days and it had no problem holding temp. This did take a lot longer to build than I originally anticipated and also eneded up costing more. You may actually be able to buy a few used chest freezers for cheaper and just throw on johnson controllers. The main reason I didn't do this was due to space, I didn't have room for several big freezers.
I would also highly recommend putting extra effort into making sure the interior is water tight. I've seen a lot of people build things like this and have them molded and rot within a few years and have to throw them out. Using the linoleum on the floors really makes the inside nice. Then exterior latex paint on the walls plus lots of caulking on the seams.
Lastly i highly recommend using a Eva-dry
to further prevent any issues due to moisture.
Let me know if you have any other questions about the build I can answer.