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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Advice on fermentation chamber build
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Old 08-29-2009, 08:13 PM   #1
rhltechie
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Default Advice on fermentation chamber build

Hi All,

I am starting to see why so many have these...its very difficult for me to keep a stable temp on my brew....i'm very new to all of this, but I now that I want some sort of area that i can control the temp but I dont need anything huge or complicated. SWMBO actually gave me a cabinet I have been coveting since we stained it a year ago She is using it in her dance room for books and trinkets on top. anyway...i kind of hinted that I think it might fit my carboys. she immediately said, "if i give you the cabinet do you promise to get that foul smelling ick out of my dance room?" haha...so yeah, anyway i digress. I now have a small cabinet that I want to try to insulate and somehow manage the temp. A few hurdles. It's not the "best" quality ever. I mean its a good cabinet but the floor of it has to be a 1/4" peice of ply or something, so I would need some way to stabilize all the weight of two full carboys. Second, I have no idea of how to go about cooling. Our house stays pretty cool, maybe too cool sometimes. it's just kind of all over the place. do I simply get some sort of thermostat to pump in cool air when it gets too warm? or how should I go about this? I know I will need to insulate it...so I may lose space and only be able to fit one carboy and a few small things...but that would be better than nothing. here is a pic of what I am working with:



I have been looking through the ferm chamber builds...but havent found something I think will work just right for me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

TIA,

M

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Old 08-29-2009, 08:53 PM   #2
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So your problem is going to be space, eh?

A temp controller and a fan would pump cold air into there if your house is cold, but your house would have to be around 60 or so to hit the 67-68 degree ferm temp you probably want.

A temp controller and a compressor unit would work great, (from a fridge, dehumidifier, etc.) If you can put it against a wall that has a closet behind it, (say, a bedroom that shares a wall with your dance room, and has a closet), you can locate the fridge in that closet, cut a hole in the wall, and pipe in cold air...

If not, I'd say your best bet is peltier coolers. You can buy them on ebay, and cobble it together yourself, or get a fridge that already has peltiers built in, and canabalize it. Peltiers are small, flat, and only need a fan or two, (hot side and cold side), to cool the cabinet.

I'd say the BEST thing to do would be buy some good peltiers from ebay and make your own cooler. The EASIEST thing to do would be to buy/find a peltier cooled fridge, (small wine and beer fridges have these), and use that. Some people say peltiers don't have enough heat flow power to cool one of these, but with some simple insulation and decent sized peltiers, you should be OK. Others have had great luck with the peltier fridges, so YMMV.

You'd want to either mount the peltiers on the back, and cut a hole in the back, or you could use that little top area as a "hot side", install the peltiers in the shelf, and have a fan that exhausts the hot air out the back of the cabinet.

Edit: Oh, and as for the floor, just put a piece of stained 3/4" plywood or MDF or something in the bottom to spread the load.

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Old 08-29-2009, 10:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyjacobs View Post
So your problem is going to be space, eh?

A temp controller and a fan would pump cold air into there if your house is cold, but your house would have to be around 60 or so to hit the 67-68 degree ferm temp you probably want.

A temp controller and a compressor unit would work great, (from a fridge, dehumidifier, etc.) If you can put it against a wall that has a closet behind it, (say, a bedroom that shares a wall with your dance room, and has a closet), you can locate the fridge in that closet, cut a hole in the wall, and pipe in cold air...

haha...SWMBO would NEVER let me cut holes in the wall....she would skin me. As far as these peltiers go, I am not familiar with this. I did some googling but I am still a little fuzzy. Basically they are so hot they are cold? lol I looked on ebay and there are only like three items, all of which are $150! yikes I could buy a freezer for that much. I looked on CL and there are several really cheap dorm fridges...not sure if that helps me.

Also, I have this Welcome to Chambrer.com right now. I dont use it, because honestly it never got to a really cold temp when i wanted it for champagne. it's just kinda sitting....anything i can do with it?

thanks for your reply!!

EDIT:i just did another search on ebay of just peltier without the s on the end and got way more results...i will look them over!
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhltechie View Post
haha...SWMBO would NEVER let me cut holes in the wall....she would skin me. As far as these peltiers go, I am not familiar with this. I did some googling but I am still a little fuzzy. Basically they are so hot they are cold? lol I looked on ebay and there are only like three items, all of which are $150! yikes I could buy a freezer for that much. I looked on CL and there are several really cheap dorm fridges...not sure if that helps me.

Also, I have this Welcome to Chambrer.com right now. I dont use it, because honestly it never got to a really cold temp when i wanted it for champagne. it's just kinda sitting....anything i can do with it?

thanks for your reply!!

EDIT:i just did another search on ebay of just peltier without the s on the end and got way more results...i will look them over!
So a peltier chip is a semiconductor plate. When you apply a current to it, it acts like a heat pump. One side gets nice and cold, the other side gets nice and hot. The more heat you can suck away from the hot side, (with a heatsink and/or fan, the colder the cold side will get.

Check out #4 on this page for an example of how you'd set up the peltier(s). The real trick is you have to figure out how much heat you need to pump out of your cabinet to keep it cool.

This isn't super easy, but it's not super hard either, (no circuit boards to solder, etc.)....

Yes, that wine fridge you have uses "thermoelectric cooling"....which is fancy speak for peltier chip. However, if it couldn't even keep that small, well insulated fridge cool, it might have a lot of trouble with a beer fermenter....

I have seen actual beer fridges aroudn with peltiers, and these should work for you....if you canabalize it. Search HBT for peltier....I know there was a recent discussion somewhere...
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:03 AM   #5
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check this out seems like you could augment that cabinet into something that would work like this relatively easily

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Old 08-30-2009, 04:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyjacobs View Post
So a peltier chip is a semiconductor plate. When you apply a current to it, it acts like a heat pump. One side gets nice and cold, the other side gets nice and hot. The more heat you can suck away from the hot side, (with a heatsink and/or fan, the colder the cold side will get.

Check out #4 on this page for an example of how you'd set up the peltier(s). The real trick is you have to figure out how much heat you need to pump out of your cabinet to keep it cool.
#4 on which page? i was confused about that. I am going to do some searches on the forum for other peltier chambers right now.

OMJ, thanks for your reply. I am really not wanting to do the whole change out ice buckets thing...that would really be my LAST resort.

I may have underestimated my little wine fridge by the way. I set it to the champagne setting yesterday and within in no time, it was down to 53 degrees and held there all night! I guess I just like my champagne colder...
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:39 AM   #7
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I'm sorry, I'd found a page with a picture of a generic cooling setup, but can't find it again, (forgot to paste in the link to "this page").

Basically, it was just a picture of a peltier chip with heatsinks and fans on both side.....nothing too special, if I remember right...sorry!

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Old 08-31-2009, 08:51 PM   #8
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I started building this thing today....insulating it and such. I am going to give the wine fridge a chance. i wont have to do anything permanent to it, just take the door off. I think i just realized why it never got to the temp it said it was. They put the friggin probe right UNDER the fan blowing out the cold air. And I completely see the thermoelectric part now. there is a tiny little fan right in front of a heat sink i believe. i need that probe to be placed somewhere else....but it seems as if this would entire snipping the current line and splitting back together. does the probe just have normal wiring?

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:14 PM   #9
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Ok so the peltier in the wine fridge is just too small to keep the cabinet cool and not run constantly. Can someone tell me if a small dorm fridge would be able to keep this area cool? It's not exactly a large area as you can see above. I am just wanting to do something like I have seen here where the fridge seals to the cabinet and keeps the entire area cool. Prolly need a controller now but want to see what size I can get away with... There are quite a few small dorm fridges on CL in my area. Thanks!!!

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Old 09-02-2009, 07:28 PM   #10
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For the size you want to cool, dorm fridge is probably best. You can take the door off, cut a hole in the side of the cabinet and tape the two together. Then the front doors allow you access to your carboys.

If you can, get some styrofoam sheets (Lowes?) and line the inside of your cabinet and doors so you're cooling down a "chamber" not the wood itself - Wood is not a very good insulator.

then pick up a temp controller to cycle the fridge on and off - so you don't try to keep the chamber at 45F. The online beer suppliers have them.

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