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Old 03-02-2011, 07:15 AM   #1
chrismcdaniel3128
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Default Did I waste my time on this wort chiller?

Hi
I'm getting ready to dive into home brewing feet first, or head first haven't decided, but anyways I built my wort chiller and I am now having second thoughts about it, I started with 50 feet of 3/8" tubing and wrapped the entire coil tightly around a coffee can, but in the interest of saving water, and wanting to try something different I put the coil into a 5 gallon water cooler. I've tested this and even with just tap water, no ice, it seems to cool boiling water extremely well, my question is why aren't there more of these designs, there is definitley a huge savings in water, if there is a huge reason this design won't work please let me know, so I'm not out any more then my time.

Thank you for your time

Man down brewery

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Old 03-02-2011, 10:48 AM   #2
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No reason it wouldn't work. Everyone has there own setups. If you are concerned about wasting water put the out tube of the immersion in the washing machine for a load of laundry. Thats what I do no waste no worries.

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Old 03-02-2011, 11:07 AM   #3
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No reason it wouldn't work. Everyone has there own setups. If you are concerned about wasting water put the out tube of the immersion in the washing machine for a load of laundry. Thats what I do no waste no worries.
Cool idea.
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Old 03-02-2011, 03:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismcdaniel3128 View Post
Hi
I'm getting ready to dive into home brewing feet first, or head first haven't decided, but anyways I built my wort chiller and I am now having second thoughts about it, I started with 50 feet of 3/8" tubing and wrapped the entire coil tightly around a coffee can, but in the interest of saving water, and wanting to try something different I put the coil into a 5 gallon water cooler. I've tested this and even with just tap water, no ice, it seems to cool boiling water extremely well, my question is why aren't there more of these designs, there is definitley a huge savings in water, if there is a huge reason this design won't work please let me know, so I'm not out any more than my time.
I guess I don't understand what you are getting at with your design question. It sounds like your "design" is going to work so I wouldn't worry about anything. I also made my own from 5/8" copper and feel it is one of the best $50 investments I've ever made.
I don't really worry about water useage because I'm on a well. In the summer I hook up the outlet hose to a sprinkler and water the lawn. In the winter I just let it run into the snow.
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Old 03-02-2011, 04:38 PM   #5
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I'm somewhat confused how the 5 gallon water cooler comes in.

Do you you mean that you are putting the coil into a 5 gallon cooler, filled with cool water, then siphoning your hot wort (or water, in your test) through the cooler and into your fermenter?

If so, that's a perfectly valid method of cooling your wort. In fact, I know I saw it suggested in one of my brewing books (either How To Brew or Joy of Homebrewing). I think they were putting the chiller coil in the sink full of water, or a bucket.

In this case, what you've got is something roughly equivalent to a counter-flow or plate chiller, but with a fixed volume of 'cooling water'.

Like any method of cooling your wort, it has advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage I can see is the limit to how much wort you can cool to what temperature. If you have 5 gallons of water in your cooler, and that water is 60F, and you run 5 gallons of boiling-hot wort through it, 100% efficiency would leave the water in the cooler and the wort both at 136 F. In reality, the wort would be a few degrees warmer and the water in the cooler a few cooler.

Of course, if you are running less wort through the system, it will end up at a lower temperature (2.5 gallons should be down to 111 F, and then if you add 2.5 gallons of 60 top off water you'll be down into the 80s). Putting ice into the cooler will lower the output temp, and ice and salt even more...

The only other issue I see is that you'll have to make sure you do a good job of cleaning our the chiller (I can envision gobs of wort and trub getting stuck somewhere inside, then growing new life and new civilizations by the time you go to use it again)

A lot of people use an immersion chiller, where you are just pumping and dumping water, of they'll use an immersion chiller with a pre-chiller in a bucket of icewater (usually you wouldn't start with the pre-chiller until you've dropped the temp quite a bit). The disadvantage is how much water you'll go through, the advantage is it is really simple, and you see the part of the system that will be in contact with your wort (since it is the outside of the coil) to make sure it is clean. Also, you can put it in near the end of the boil to sanitize it.

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Last edited by dorklord; 03-02-2011 at 04:41 PM. Reason: Turned rambling into ~ coherent thought...
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:33 PM   #6
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Do you you mean that you are putting the coil into a 5 gallon cooler, filled with cool water, then siphoning your hot wort (or water, in your test) through the cooler and into your fermenter?
Yep that's what I did thank you for your input, shouldn't you account for the already chilled wort in the fermentor, ie when you start the wort is chilled to 50 degrees say you have a gallon of that then your output comes up to 60 so roughly you would have 2 gallons of 55 degree wort then a gallon of 70 to the two of 55 you should have 3 gallons of 60 degree wort and so on, I know the numbers aren't quite right, but shouldn't this let me get away wo changing the water in the cooler

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Old 03-02-2011, 07:38 PM   #7
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I guess I don't understand what you are getting at with your design question. I guess I'm asking why all you see are immersion chillers, or counter flow, or plate, if this works, I won't have to mess with running more water hoses or running a line 50 yards through the house to the washing machine lol

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Old 03-02-2011, 09:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismcdaniel3128 View Post
Do you you mean that you are putting the coil into a 5 gallon cooler, filled with cool water, then siphoning your hot wort (or water, in your test) through the cooler and into your fermenter?
Yep that's what I did thank you for your input, shouldn't you account for the already chilled wort in the fermentor, ie when you start the wort is chilled to 50 degrees say you have a gallon of that then your output comes up to 60 so roughly you would have 2 gallons of 55 degree wort then a gallon of 70 to the two of 55 you should have 3 gallons of 60 degree wort and so on, I know the numbers aren't quite right, but shouldn't this let me get away wo changing the water in the cooler
Well, the math here is pretty simple. You are right in your idea that the wort coming out of your chiller is going to be cooler, initially, than the wort that comes out later on, but it should work out in the end.

Basically, the most efficient heat transfer you could have, from 5 gallons of hot wort to 5 gallons of cool water, would be what you would get if you simply mixed them together, and that's the temperature halfway between the two. If you have less wort, you just need to figure the volume in.

((Gallons of cooling water * temperature) + (gallons of hot wort * temperature))/ total gallons.

So if you had 5 gallons of 50 water in your cooler, and you poured 1 gallon of 212 water through the chiller, that first gallon should be around 80 F, and the chiller is probably going to 75 or so. (100% efficiency would have them both at 77, but you won't get that. And as the water in the cooler warms up, the efficiency is going to drop, so by the end your cooler is probably going to be 135-140 and the 5th gallon of wort would be coming out at like 170-180).

The math here is all rough, and it doesn't include the heat energy of any of the containers, heat lost to the air, etc. In the real world, you're not going to get 100% efficiency through your cooler, because nothing is a perfect conductor of heat and wort will spend only a limited time in contact with your copper chiller. Also, there's the thermal mass of the copper chiller, which in your case, should work to your favor (since it will start it cool). But that should be a fairly small effect (for example, you could try dumping a gallon of boiling water through the chiller, with the chiller sitting in an empty cooler, and see how much the water cools down. Some of the temperature drop will be from heating up the copper, and some will be what the copper loses to the air).

If you aren't doing full boils, you could certainly get away without changing the water in your cooler. If you are cooling 3 gallons, put some ice in your cooler, so you start out with, lets just say 40 F water in the cooler. If you stir your wort for a bit before you start running it through the cooler, lets say you do that until it cools down to 200 F. Run your 3 gallons of wort through the chiller and into your fermenter, it should be around 100 F. Now top off with 2 gallons of 50 water, you'd be at 80. If you cool your top-off water in the fridge, you could be in the 70s.

To answer your other question, you do see other designs (this basic idea here is the same as a counterflow chiller, but with no 'flow' and a limited volume on your cooling water). The reason you don't hear a lot about it is because the standard immersion chiller is simple and works great for those who are willing to pump-and-dump the necessary amount of water. Counterflow and plate chillers are usually the 'step up' from immersion, because they are more efficient (more surface area in contact with the wort and the cooling water), and they don't have a hard capacity limit (the limit is how long you are willing to wait for your wort to drain, and how much water you are willing to run through the chiller).
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:14 PM   #9
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good summary..
in short, you didn't waste your time on this chiller. It will work, but at a minimum if you decide that you'd rather use it as a standard immersion or as a prechiller for something else - the major cost of the thing is in the copper coil, so you're not out anything if you decide to change things up a bit.

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Old 03-02-2011, 09:20 PM   #10
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Thanks again great info

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