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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > ebay aquarium temp controller build
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:02 AM   #1111
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Originally Posted by bootin-gluten View Post
The fridge was made in 2005 (I would define this as 'newer') but perhaps I'm not explaining the problem adequately. The stock controller is garbage, which is why I want to replace it. I bought the ebay controller but I'm not 100% sure about the wiring, which was my original query. Does this make more sense? The revised diagram (thank you Bjornbrewer) is provided below again if someone wants to comment on it. Does this make sense for replacing the stock controller?

Should I split the power cord to the fridge for powering the controller or should I give it a dedicated line?
This looks right. I'd unplug the controller though just to be safe.
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:44 AM   #1112
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Yeah, I guess I mis-typed thermostat when I really meant controller. The controller is simply not engaging the compressor until there is a very large temperature deviation from the set point. This is where the wiring question came in.
The way to use this controller with an intact fridge/freezer is to set the fridge's original equipment temperature dial/setting to the coldest possible setting, then plug the fridge into the controller outlet (when wired using the standard schematic). Are you saying that your fridge, in original factory dress, will not reliably turn on when it set to the lowest possible temp, and internal temps are above the range for fermenting/serving?
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:29 AM   #1113
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The way to use this controller with an intact fridge/freezer is to set the fridge's original equipment temperature dial/setting to the coldest possible setting, then plug the fridge into the controller outlet (when wired using the standard schematic). Are you saying that your fridge, in original factory dress, will not reliably turn on when it set to the lowest possible temp, and internal temps are above the range for fermenting/serving?
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I think the fridge I bought was not a good choice for a kegerator. The minimum temperature I can set is 43F (ie. the coldest setting) and the controller allows the temperature to reach over 53F before signaling the compressor to turn on. I should have checked this out before the warranty expired, it wasn't originally meant for a kegerator.
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:42 PM   #1114
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Originally Posted by bootin-gluten View Post
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I think the fridge I bought was not a good choice for a kegerator. The minimum temperature I can set is 43F (ie. the coldest setting) and the controller allows the temperature to reach over 53F before signaling the compressor to turn on.
Dude - this does't even qualify as a good choice for a refigerator! Sorry to ask the "dumb" question but you sure you have the fridge side (if this is a fridge/freezer combo) set to the coldest setting, not the warmest?
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Old 03-23-2011, 04:05 PM   #1115
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Originally Posted by bootin-gluten View Post
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I think the fridge I bought was not a good choice for a kegerator. The minimum temperature I can set is 43F (ie. the coldest setting) and the controller allows the temperature to reach over 53F before signaling the compressor to turn on. I should have checked this out before the warranty expired, it wasn't originally meant for a kegerator.
You may have gotten better/more suggestions if you had stated your initial problem, instead of trying to ask for help implementing your solution (a solution which didn't seem to make sense for a normal fridge/kegerator).

There are a number of ways to defeat an existing temp controller. It all depends on what your existing temp controller/kegerator is based on- digital, dial, wine chiller, fridge? With more specific info, a better solution may be available. Some possible solutions are-

-Replace the factory temp sensor with an appropriate resistor, or just cut the wire (depends on the controller). That would be a semi-destructive method, but non-destructivley you could tape a small (I mean tiny, like 1/4 watt) heat source to the existing sensor to fool it. I think that has been used to fool sensors for A/C window unit used in cold storage rooms.

-Move the factory sensor outside the unit. This will work if you live in a warm area, and even if you don't for non-fermentation uses.

-Depending on what wires are easily visible, you may be able to hardwire the control circuit so the compressor will always be "on", then use the standard controller and outlets combo.

Hard to say what would be easiest, or what solution you would think is best, without more info.
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Old 03-23-2011, 04:11 PM   #1116
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Originally Posted by bootin-gluten View Post
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I think the fridge I bought was not a good choice for a kegerator. The minimum temperature I can set is 43F (ie. the coldest setting) and the controller allows the temperature to reach over 53F before signaling the compressor to turn on. I should have checked this out before the warranty expired, it wasn't originally meant for a kegerator.
What is this thing? Is it one of those wine cabinets with the digital controller with a red/white setting? Is the "compressor" you refer to a real compressor, or one of those "compressorless" peltier/thermoelectric fridges?
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Old 03-23-2011, 05:06 PM   #1117
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Sorry, I guess a better description of the problem would have been useful. I thought replacing the controller would be the solution since I couldn't get anything else to work.

The fridge is a 5.8 cf mini-fridge which I have converted into a kegerator by adding a tower to the top. It is a real fridge with a compressor (not a wine chiller or similar) and a digital thermostat/temperature sensor. The setting on the fridge will only allow me to put it as low as 43F and the temperature will increase by 10 degrees or more before the controller kicks in. This is why I wanted to replace the controller, it won't keep it cold enough and it allows for these wild temperature swings. Also, whenever the power is cycled to the unit (unplugged or power flicker), it defaults the setting back to 49F or something ridiculous like that. If I've missed on some info here, let me know and I'll post it, I'm just not sure what other information is required.

I would hesitate a little bit to fool the sensor because I wouldn't want the compressor to run constantly and potentially freeze the beer.

If I could hardwire the compressor to always be "on", i could use the strategy that others have used in here with the outlet system.

P.S. Atomicpunk: not a dumb question at all. That may be the problem that some people have as the dials can sometimes be misleading. Mine is digital though, so I am sure it is at the coldest setting.

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Old 03-23-2011, 05:50 PM   #1118
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I would hesitate a little bit to fool the sensor because I wouldn't want the compressor to run constantly and potentially freeze the beer.

If I could hardwire the compressor to always be "on", i could use the strategy that others have used in here with the outlet system.
All of my solutions assumed you would be using the aquarium controller as the "true" controller. The above solutions you referenced are essentially equivalent, and both would require a secondary controller that switches the power on/off to the entire fridge.

There is no (easy) way to make the existing factory controller do what you require it to. As for other solutions, there are a limited number of approaches to take- retrofit a different controller into the original circuit, or defeat the existing circuit to always have the compressor active. The latter method would use the aquarium controller like most here- controlling power to the entire fridge.

I believe that retrofitting will be more difficult than fooling/hardwiring the existing circuit. I listed several possibilities in my previous post on how to accomplish this. Of these, hardwiring the compressor is probably the most complex, especially for non-technical, non-electrical types.

If you live in a warm area, and just want a serving fridge, all you need to do is move the sensor outside of the fridge,. This is possible even if the factory digital controller still uses one of the copper tube type thermocouples, and even easier if it is a wired type sensor.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:12 PM   #1119
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I'm getting myself confused b/c I have independent outlets which is causing a whole bunch more wire nuts.

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Old 03-24-2011, 12:21 AM   #1120
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I am in Canada so it isn't really warm enough to use that strategy I don't think... It has snowed about 8 inches in the last 24 hours. What would be involved in hard-wiring the compressor? I figure that swapping the stock controller out for the aquarium controller wouldn't be too hard as long as the wiring is right. I'm not sure how to go about hard-wiring the compressor to stay on.

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