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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Poll: Fermentation chamber temperature probe placement
View Poll Results: Where do you place your probe?
Hanging in the air 79 23.03%
Insulated against the fermenter wall 160 46.65%
Submerged in a separate container of water 52 15.16%
Inside the fermenter utilizing a thermowell 52 15.16%
Voters: 343. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-09-2010, 01:09 PM   #1
vincemash
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Default Fermentation chamber temperature probe placement

I am in the process of making a converted chest freezer fermentation chamber in my garage picked up a $50 chest freezer yesterday:

and I have one of those ebay aquarium controllers on order and will be wiring it up to control the compressor, lightbulb and fan.
http://cgi.ebay.com/Mini-Digital-Tem...item4150d3b29f

I have read tons of threads and opinions on this issue of where and how I should place the temp probe so I posted a poll to see who is doing what

Thanks for participating

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Old 07-09-2010, 01:23 PM   #2
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I tried all four ways. It seems that the best temperature control/variance that I have achieved has been wrapped in a papertowel on the floor of the freezer. I too use a 15.0 CF freezer as a fermenter.

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Old 07-09-2010, 03:54 PM   #3
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I have the controller probe hanging in the air and use a separate digital thermometer to monitor the fermenter temp. I attached the thermometer probe to the side of the fermenter and cover it with some bubble foil insulation (I use a bungee to hold it in place). I think this method provides a reasonable approximation of the wort temperature. The insulation isolates the thermometer probe from the air temp. I use an indoor/outdoor thermometer for this. Even the cheaper ones seem to be quite accurate. This method has been working out very well for me.

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Old 07-09-2010, 04:03 PM   #4
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Inside.

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Old 07-09-2010, 04:10 PM   #5
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My big pink foam box has a Ranco probe duct taped to the bottom of the far corner away from the fridge.

Since the Ranco temp scale is a little...crude, I use a thermometer in a glass of water in the middle of the box as my "official" temperature.

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Old 07-09-2010, 04:13 PM   #6
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A thermowell is the most accurate liquid temp reading you could get, because the yeast during primary fermentation generates heat, so there will be a variable offset between the actual wort temp and a separate liquid container's temp depending on yeast activity, as well as the air. A separate liquid container is better than air, though. You wort could be at 72 and the air or other water container could be at 65. For a kegerator, a separate liquid container is ideal, because you would not want to bring a warm keg in and have the freezer freeze the other cold kegs trying to pull down the temp of the warm keg.

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Old 07-09-2010, 05:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bendavanza View Post
A thermowell is the most accurate liquid temp reading you could get, because the yeast during primary fermentation generates heat, so there will be a variable offset between the actual wort temp and a separate liquid container's temp depending on yeast activity, as well as the air. A separate liquid container is better than air, though. You wort could be at 72 and the air or other water container could be at 65. For a kegerator, a separate liquid container is ideal, because you would not want to bring a warm keg in and have the freezer freeze the other cold kegs trying to pull down the temp of the warm keg.
With all due respect, I generally disagree with most of the above.

1. IMO, a controller probe placed in a thermowell in the fermenter will result in larger temperature swings than having the probe in the air and monitoring the fermenter with a separate thermometer. The freezer will overshoot and undershoot a lot.

2. A controller probe in a container of water will also increase the response time resulting in overshoot/undershoot. All this does is increase the differential which you can adjust on the controller itself, so no need for a water bottle.

3. Introducing a warm keg of beer to the freezer will not cause the freezer to run constantly trying to cool that single keg. The heat transfer rate from the keg is not that fast. This just does not happen. I did have some keg freezing problems before I installed a fan. This happened because the poured beer was often too warm, so I kept turning the temp down eventually causing ice to form which blocked the dip tube. That seemed strange, but I finally figured out that the beer warmed as it passed through the lines and taps even though the kegs were colder than they needed to be.

4. IMO, trying to monitor the fermenter temperature with the controller probe is not the way to go. It's much better to have a separate thermometer to monitor the fermenter temp.

5. Attaching a thermometer probe to the side of a fermenter and isolating it with some insulation works really well. The temperature holds very steady within one degree or so this way and I believe that it provides a reasonable approximation of the actual wort temperature inside the fermenter. Using a thermowell may be a slightly more accurate method, but not worth the hassle IMO.

This is JMO, nothing more, but it's based on several years of experience and experimentation if that counts for anything.
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Old 07-09-2010, 05:38 PM   #8
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I don't have a thermowell for my FV's but I've taped and insulated the temp probe to the outside of the fermenter. I've noticed the temp in the FV moves at a much slower rate than the surrounding air temperature, the ambient temp will at times be in the mid 60's while the FV temp, measured at the insulated probe, is in the low 70's.

Conclusion....Regulating the ambient as a function of the FV temp is the only way to go. Temp probe attached to the FV and insulated or in a temp well in the wert controls the fermentation temperature more accurately. IMO

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Old 07-09-2010, 05:47 PM   #9
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thanks for all the replies..

I am leaning towards leaving the one probe in the air and putting a separate cheap thermometer on the carboy wall with some insulation

now for the important question...whats the best source for a cheap thermometer with a probe that I can attach to my carboy?....on a major budget here

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Old 07-09-2010, 05:55 PM   #10
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My Son of Fermentation Chiller has a 2" pink styrofoam top piece that I drew a circle on it a bit off-centered.

I cut out about 1/2" of foam and pushed my dial therm through. It is about 12" or so long so it reads the air above the primary.

I also built a top for it so it can double as a transportable bar. When I lift the top off I can read the temp on the dial therm without removing the foam.

I plan on making another top exactly the same as the one I have.

I plan on tiling this top and installing a tower in the other one...eventually. This way the SOF can do double duty...

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