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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Jack's Chest Freezer Fermentation Chamber
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:19 PM   #1
JackSmith
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Default Jack's Chest Freezer Fermentation Chamber

As I attempt to transition from occasional brewer of OK beer to serious brewer of good beer, one of the first things I need to do is get fermentation temperature under control. To that end, I've built a chest-freezer-based fermentation chamber. The design is based on many of the keezers I've seen on this site. It's a simple 7 cubic foot chest freezer with a collar, a Love TSS2-2100, and a space heater.



Parts:


Tools:
  • Miter Saw
  • Coping Saw
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Finish Nailer
  • Utility Knife
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire snip/stripper

I started off by building the collar. It's a simple box with mitered joints. I glued the corners and tacked them together with the finish nailer. While the glue was still wet, I made sure the box was square by measuring the diagonals, then installed the angle brackets. I checked for square once more, then left it overnight so the glue could set up.

The next day I planned where I wanted the Love TSS2-2100 to be mounted on the face, and the receptacle to be mounted on the back. I marked the cuts, then removed the wood by drilling the corners and connecting the dots with a coping saw. A couple coats of polyurethane, and it was time for wiring.



Wiring the Love controller was simple, thanks to all the help I found on this site, especially this diagram. Thanks Boerderij_Kabouter! I chose to wire it up such that it uses a single receptacle, split-wired so that each outlet is switched separately. The upper outlet is for heat, the lower is for cooling:



You can see in the picture above that I left the hinges in their factory position and just attached them to the collar. I wanted the collar to lift up when opening the freezer so that I wouldn't have to lift full carboys over it.

With the wiring done, I added some insulation - Blue XPS board cut to fit and stuck to the collar with spray adhesive - then sealed the corners with foil tape. Tyvek tape would be more appropriate for sealing up foam insulation, but I didn't have any on-hand but I did have aluminum duct tape. Then wome weatherstripping on the bottom of the collar and some strong double-sided tape on top for mounting the freezer lid, and it was done.

I programmed the Love controller with plenty of help from this board, particularly this post by ClaudiusB. Cheers! I tested it for a day with a carboy full of water. I taped the probe to the carboy under some bubble wrap, set SP1 to 67F, and let it go. After a few hours the carboy temp went from 77F to 67F and was very stable after 12 hours. Now, the freezer's unplugged waiting for next weekend's brew session.



I know I didn't cover any new ground with this build, but I still wanted to share. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer. Thanks for reading!
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:50 PM   #2
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Looks great!

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Old 03-14-2011, 01:30 PM   #3
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Thanks, kmat. I added your blog to my RSS reader.

I already have a change planned for this build - I need to put together a base on casters so I can wheel it around. To open the lid, it needs to sit about 10" out from the wall, but I'd rather have it closer to the wall when the lid is closed. I don't like dragging it across the floor to move it.

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Old 03-14-2011, 02:47 PM   #4
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I will do something like this eventually as I get more of an understanding of the entire brew process, only done 2 brews to date. Temperature control is so important from what I understand between making okay beer, to great beer.

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Old 03-14-2011, 02:51 PM   #5
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I like it. Thank you for sharing!

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Old 03-14-2011, 03:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackSmith View Post
Thanks, kmat. I added your blog to my RSS reader.

I already have a change planned for this build - I need to put together a base on casters so I can wheel it around. To open the lid, it needs to sit about 10" out from the wall, but I'd rather have it closer to the wall when the lid is closed. I don't like dragging it across the floor to move it.
I use the same 7.0 cu ft. GE chest freezer for my keezer and also added a base with casters on it. Much easier to move around when putting kegs in/out.
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:41 PM   #7
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Jack,

I have plans to build one of these in the next 60 days. i currently have a 8.8 ft chest freezer with a collar and digital temp control, with 6-way manifold going to 6 separate taps on the front. when fermenting, i've been using the chiller hump on the inside to place 1 carboy. but while fermenting, i'd set the internal temp to fermenting temps ~65F. obviously you can see the problem, when i try to drink a draft beer and gag. plus i'm building a brutus and will soon be brewing 10-12gal batches (2 carboys worth) and dont have the room for 2. this seems to be the only solution.

for my own knowledge....the only reason i can see the need for the second split to a heater is if you are storing this vessel in a garage/shed/etc, where the winter temps will keep bringing down the internal temp past your desired ferm temps, right? but if i have this vessel in a basement/room that is consistently above ferm temps, wouldn't this not be an issue? i guess i can see the temp controller originally kicking the freezer on full blast to bring down the temp, and may overshoot the ferm temp by a few degrees, making it slightly colder than desired temp, but wouldn't this level out over a day or so? please shed some light.

truthfully, for me to add the heater option would only be what? $20 or so? so i can def add it. just curious is it really makes a deference.

cheers

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Old 03-14-2011, 08:24 PM   #8
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I use 2 chest keezers both with Ranco controlers. In the small one, (1) 15 gallon surplus plastic Iodine bottle fits perfectly to ferment 10 gallon batches in. I use the other which is larger, to prime and cold crash my kegs, prior to going into my mini fridge/kegerator. both are outside on the patio. no need for a heater. I just dump from the keggle, through my 40 plate chiller, right into the fermentation bottle, close the lid, and dial in the ferment temps. works great.

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Old 03-14-2011, 08:49 PM   #9
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Kruuuger,

Yeah, the only reason you would need a heater is if you place the freezer in a location where the ambient temperature is lower than your desired fermentation temperature. If you put it somewhere that never dips below the upper 60's, then you won't need a heat source. I needed a heat source because my basement drops into the upper 50's in the winter.

The point of the heater isn't to bring temps back up after they get too low due to blasting it with cold. That would be inefficient. The temperature controller will take care of hitting the temp you programmed. You can even set it to have a deviation value so that it shuts off when your a degree or two (configurable) above your desired temp to allow for carry-over coolling, if that's what you need.

With my setup, it will likely use heating only in the winter and cooling only in the summer. But in spring and fall it might need one source one week and the other source another week, so I chose to make the system set-it-and-forget-it by having both sources on a two-stage temperature controller.

If you're sure you don't need a heat source, I recommend not adding one. That will save you the cost of the heater and also the cost of a two-stage temperature controller versus a single state one. Also, while the risk is low, the heater does pose a bit of a fire risk. If you don't need it, leave it out.

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Old 03-14-2011, 09:59 PM   #10
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Jack, that looks great! Although, to me it does seem a little overkill for a simple fermentation chamber. But i'm sure with you putting that much effort into a fermenter, you will have one heck of a keezer whenever you do build one.

One question though, it seems as though you are only able to have one carboy in there at a time. Did you look at any larger freezers? I'm looking for one in the 14 cu/ft range in hopes of it housing 2 6.5 gallon carboys at one time.

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