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Old 09-07-2011, 07:13 PM   #1
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Default Freezer as fermentation chamber

Spent yesterday browsing through youtube videos on making fermentation chambers. A lot of good ideas. But one big question: is there any reason not to purchase a small chest frezer and add a temperature controller with a probe to cycle the power on and off? I understand that its a bit awkward to lift the fermenter in and out of a chest freezer, but I can handle that. Am I missing anything obvious?



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Old 09-07-2011, 07:14 PM   #2
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Probably just cost. If you can afford it, and the freezer cooperates with the temperature you set it to I would say you're golden. A lot of people would probably be jealous of it even.



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Old 09-07-2011, 07:15 PM   #3
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Nope, you're not missing anything. If you've got the space, go for it. It's precisely what I do.

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Old 09-07-2011, 07:23 PM   #4
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I went with a small chest freezer as a fermentation/lagering chamber.

Basically I came to the conclusion that the next step in bettering my beer was to nail down temperatures and normalize things. By doing this I'm no longer dealing with the temp spikes that come with certain times of the year.

So for some beers that I feel are going to benefit from it I'll use it.

If you have the space and coin then do it up.

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Old 09-07-2011, 07:44 PM   #5
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Yup, pick up a freezer off Craigslist or whatever and away you go. Apparently it's harder on the freezer compressor than normal use but you should get several years out of it anyway.

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Old 09-07-2011, 07:54 PM   #6
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You could go with a standup freezer.


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Old 09-07-2011, 07:57 PM   #7
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I use a chest freezer and to keep it at 62 - 68, Id say the freezer cycles on for 5 or so minutes every 1-2 hours. It really has had very little effect on my energy bill.

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Old 09-07-2011, 08:26 PM   #8
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Yep, chest freezers already use a fairly low amount of energy, and the fact that they run for maybe 5% of the time means I haven't noticed it at all on the electricity bill.

As far as wearing out the compressor... if you do things right, it shouldn't be an issue (and shouldn't be cycling on much more than usual anyways). The idea is to use thermal mass to prevent rapid temperature fluctuations. Ideally, you should tape a probe to the side of your fermentor and insulate it - that way, you are measuring the temperature of the beer, and it takes a much longer time for 5gallons of beer to change by a degree than it does for air (just look at how long it takes to boil water!). And by measuring the temperature of the beer with the thermostat, you are also CONTROLLING the temperature of the beer, which makes a heck of a lot more sense than measuring/controlling the air around it (due to the additional heat that yeast generates during fermentation.)

Temperature controllers typically allow you to set an automatic delay so that the compressor doesn't cycle on too quickly, even if the temperature settings say it should, and this gives your freezer some added protection. But it's really just a precaution, because with the thermal mass of a 5gal batch (sticking even more stuff in the freezer also helps) and proper probe placement, the length of time it should take for the thermostat to turn on the compressor should significantly exceed even the highest delay setting anyways. Basically, if you do things right, a freezer should last you a heck of a lot longer than "several years". Depending on how old it already is, it should be more like "several decades."

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Old 09-07-2011, 11:14 PM   #9
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has anyone found a need to add heat or is the yeast always producing sufficient heat internally? I keep my house fairly cold in the winter.

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Old 09-07-2011, 11:14 PM   #10
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I use a chest freezer as well. One bit of advise I can give is to be careful buying a used one. Most are probably just fine, however some are not. I bought a used one from a co-worker that was working fine (or so he says), but when I hooked it up it failed to cool. In fact it got warmer inside with the compressor running trying to cool it off. I researched trying to see what could be wrong and most of what I read says once an older freezer is unplugged and warms up that lines can crack and leak the Freon. After that I just went and bought a new one.



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