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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Cheap temperature control?
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:06 AM   #1
spiffcow
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Default Cheap temperature control?

I just finished racking my second batch to the secondary fermenter, and I've noticed that the only truly difficult thing so far (besides waiting until the beer is ready) is controlling the temperature. I live in an area where the temperature varies dramatically, and I need a system that will handle both heating and cooling to keep the fermenter at the right temperature. I also need it to be inexpensive. I was considering trying to rig something with an arduino board, a heating belt, and some peltier coolers, but that would require a lot of work. Are there any cheap solutions available? I don't mind building something, but I'd prefer buying something off the shelf if it's cheap enough.

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Old 01-05-2010, 05:49 AM   #2
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Well, I plan to use my basement to keep things cool in the summer, but to keep things warm in the winter I just use an oil/electric plug-in space heater. I have it in my fermentation closet and on the lowest setting it keeps things at about 68-70 degrees.

It uses minimal electricity and since it's enclosed in the closet it does a great job.

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Old 01-05-2010, 06:07 AM   #3
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Swamp cooler (lots of threads about it). Frozen water bottles when warm, aquarium heater when cold. Or so I've heard about the aquarium heater, that is - it doesn't get cold enough here for me to need one.

Seriously - it's really cheap and works quite well for almost any ale you'd brew.

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Old 01-05-2010, 07:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damdaman View Post
Well, I plan to use my basement to keep things cool in the summer, but to keep things warm in the winter I just use an oil/electric plug-in space heater. I have it in my fermentation closet and on the lowest setting it keeps things at about 68-70 degrees.
+1

I use a closet in the back of my apartment and use a space heater to keep a steady temp. I think it's much easier to control temperature in the winter than in the summer.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:44 PM   #5
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+1 on aquarium heater.

Just did a batch with the fermenter in a tub of water with an aquarium heater. Held within a degree for the whole time. <$20 for rock solid temperature control is OK by me.

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Old 01-05-2010, 02:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palefire View Post
Swamp cooler (lots of threads about it). Frozen water bottles when warm, aquarium heater when cold. Or so I've heard about the aquarium heater, that is - it doesn't get cold enough here for me to need one.

Seriously - it's really cheap and works quite well for almost any ale you'd brew.
Yes!

Also, even without ice or an aquarium heater, if you immerse your fermenter into a bath (rubbermaid container or cooler) of water, you've increased the thermal mass. Even with temperature fluctuations, they wont be as wild with so much liquid around your fermenting beer. Adding ice or the aquarium heater to that external liquid just helps even more.
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:25 AM   #7
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Any water bath technique will have its limitations. This does not make it any less valuable of an option, but I often had difficulty controlling the temperature in a swamp cooler type setup during certain months of the year.

While it is more expensive, a small fridge + a temperature controller + a heating pad makes a great no-fuss setup if minimizing cost is not the primary concern. It shouldn't cost any more than $300 - and less if you are good at craigslist.

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Old 01-06-2010, 12:32 AM   #8
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+1 to Craiglist. there's a guy in the charlotte area right now selling an old fridge for $20. he's already removed the shelves as he was using it to store kegs in his garage. if I weren't so insanely broke right now I'd snatch it up.

(there's another guy selling 7.5 gallon carboys for $15. why do the best deals pop up when I'm broke?)

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Old 01-06-2010, 12:33 AM   #9
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I just bought a used fridge for fermentation off craigslist for 30.00. I ordered a dual temp controler off for 100.00 So for 130.00 I can control both heat and cooling.

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Old 01-06-2010, 11:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apologeticus View Post
+1 to Craiglist. there's a guy in the charlotte area right now selling an old fridge for $20. he's already removed the shelves as he was using it to store kegs in his garage. if I weren't so insanely broke right now I'd snatch it up.

(there's another guy selling 7.5 gallon carboys for $15. why do the best deals pop up when I'm broke?)
I can just see it now... craisglist layaway.
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