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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Brew Belt vs. Ferm Wrap vs. Brewers Edge Space Heater
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:11 AM   #1
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Default Brew Belt vs. Ferm Wrap vs. Brewers Edge Space Heater

Hello,
I have a 7.1 cu ft chest freezer that I keep in my basement. I live in Wisconsin and it is about 65 degrees down there so I take it during the winter its probably going to drop to about 55 or so.

I want to continue to brew ales and was looking for something to use with my Johnson Controls temp controller.

I use BB carboys and I was thinking about keeping them in the freezer and using one of these methods:

Brew Belt:
http://www.amazon.com/Brew-Belt-Ferm...ords=brew+belt

Brewers Edge:
http://www.williamsbrewing.com/BREWE...ATER-P518.aspx

Ferm Wrap:
http://www.amazon.com/FermWrap-Heate...words=fermwrap

I was leaning toward the Brewers Edge space heater as I was thinking about using it on 2 at one time by just sticking it to the wall of the chest freezer. I was going to get some Damp Rid so the chest freezer doesn't condensate too much to make it dangerous.

What does everyone think? I know the whole light bulb, and aquarium heater thing, but I think I have narrowed it down to these 3 unless anyone has a valid reason these wont work.

Thanks!

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Old 09-22-2012, 02:34 AM   #2
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Another option.....

I use a big cooler filled with water and then an aquarium heater I can ferment in cool weather and use it to ferment saisons at as high as 90. degrees.


Works great.

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Old 09-22-2012, 02:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beergolf View Post
Another option.....

I use a big cooler filled with water and then an aquarium heater I can ferment in cool weather and use it to ferment saisons at as high as 90. degrees.


Works great.
The only issue with that is that I wouldn't have enough room in the chest freezer for 2 carboys anymore. I would have to take them out and buy a cooler or something to put them in. Definitely a possibility but I was trying to avoid that.
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:22 AM   #4
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I don't think you'll be happy with the "space heater" to heat to batches. It's only 25 watts. The ferm wrap is 40 watts and really heats only 1 carboy.

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Old 09-22-2012, 03:29 AM   #5
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If your looking for something to heat up the air in the freezer (Brewer's Edge) instead of applying heat directly to the vessel (Brew Belt) then there is a cheaper DIY option you may wish to consider. I forget what its called but some home brewers mount a light bulb in a metal can and use that to heat up the inside of their fermentation chamber (chest freezer for instance). Another even simpler option would be to just wrap the light bulb in tinfoil.

My chest freezer is only 5 cubic feet and I don't think (haven't tried anyway) that I could fit 2 fermentation vessels in there so I just use a brew belt. I made up a temperature controller using an STC 1000 based on instructions I found in a thread in the DIY forum here. The brew belt plugs into the hot side and the chest freezer plugs into the cold side. I'm only on my second brew with this rig but it seems to work pretty good so far.

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Old 11-27-2012, 02:11 PM   #6
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I wouldn't worry too much about the Brewers edge being lower power. It is designed to heat air inside an insulated box (freezer). The fermwrap is intended to heat an un-insulated container. You need more power to do this due to ambient heat loss.

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Old 11-27-2012, 02:16 PM   #7
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This might sound crazy, but I use a simple oscilating desk fan in my chest freezer. I think the fan is about 8".

I thought it would be helpful during the summer to help blow the chilled air onto the carboys. I found out the motor put off more heat and actually RAISED the temps. I now use it to keep ferm temps up and it works great! My garage only gets down to the low 50's/high 40's though so maybe others need more heat. Just wanted to throw out what has been working for me.

cheers,
~j

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Old 11-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #8
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It takes very little heat to warm up a chest freezer. I just use a spare seed germination mat -- here's one from amazon for $21, basically the same as (but larger than) the Brewers Edge unit:
http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-MT10...4026020&sr=8-5

I have 2 mats but 1 works perfectly fine. Just toss it in anywhere; it makes no difference, and certainly does NOT need to be wrapped around the fermenter.

Some folks may suggest a blow dryer, but the safety of that setup is questionable -- seed mats are designed for continuous use; blow dryers are not. And blow dryers are overkill anyway.

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Old 11-27-2012, 03:13 PM   #9
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I'm using this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ls_o00_s01_i00

It's plenty powerful and circulates the air when it's on. It does take up a bit of space, though. I haven't used it to maintain a raised temperature yet, but when I've stepped up the temperature for a diacetyl rest, it tends to turn on for a minute or so, turn off while the air temperature equilibrates with the fermenters, and turn back on after a few minutes.

I would NOT recommend using it in a situation where you are monitoring the beer temperature at the center of a carboy, it will take it quite a while to raise that temperature appreciably, and I suspect the air temperature could get dangerously hot. I use a thermometer probe taped to the outside of the carboy, so it largely reflects the beer temperature, but also responds to the air temperature.

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Old 11-27-2012, 03:42 PM   #10
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That's another reason to dislike blow dryers/heaters -- frequent cycling. Probably not designed for that.

And even if you can turn the heat all the way down, there are still hot spots internally and perhaps some very hot air coming out. Far from ideal in a small enclosed space. Belts/mats are barely warm to the touch, making them inherently safer.

And then there's the water safety issue. Belts/mats are designed for a wet environment, blow dryers/heaters are not.

In short, there are numerous reasons to avoid blow dryers or heaters.

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