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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Swamp Cooler vs. Son of Fermenter
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Old 08-20-2012, 07:04 PM   #1
7ender
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Default Swamp Cooler vs. Son of Fermenter

Costs and difficulty aside, i'm looking at the differences in effectiveness of a swamp cooler and son of fermenter for fermentation temperature control.


I was planning on building a son of fermenter type climate control, but am wondering if a swamp cooler is actually more effective/efficient. I am aware a swamp cooler might lead to some small deviations in temperature with the melting and replacing of ice, but I am thinking that a son of fermenter will do the same thing. That is, the thermostat will only kick in once a temperature change is detected. Also, the fact that in the swamp cooler the water surrounding the fermenting bucket acts as an insulator to ambient air temperature changes, so I would suspect fermentation temperatures would have smaller deviations.

What about ice life? I'm planning on using frozen water bottles or similar, does anyone know which I might be able to replace them less often in?

Overall, it's just starting to seem like there is no real advantage to a son of fermenter except for the fact that it's a little less messy.

Opinions? Thanks!

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Old 08-20-2012, 08:03 PM   #2
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Take a look at the Cool Brewing bag . I've got 2 now and have a few 2 litter, OJ, grape juice bottles I keep frozen and swap out twice each day. It's a small pain to swap ice twice a day and I really could get by with only every 24 hours but this way, I can get my fermenter down to 63-64 in a 78 degree house. I've used one of these all summer and have brewed more this summer than ever before.
Worth the money to me.
Here's what they look like with the tops opened. The zipper keeps it closed.
You can't see the temperature but they are both right at 64.

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Old 08-20-2012, 08:09 PM   #3
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I have no experience with a son of fermentation chiller, but I am using my swamp cooler for the first time and 3 water bottles changed out 3 times a day works like a charm and I'm at 60 F flat in a 73 F apartment. So far I love it, only thing different I would see is less messy and less hassle having to swap out bottles every 8 hours. Anyone else have thoughts because I'm interested in this too.

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Old 08-21-2012, 01:38 AM   #4
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The cooler looks nice, but $55 seems like a lot of $$ to me.

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Old 08-21-2012, 02:37 AM   #5
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I vote swamp cooler. In my 65-68deg basement, I was able to lager my Oktoberfest at 40 by swapping out 2L bottles 2-3x a day. When I removed them, there was still a lot of ice in the bottles. If I added in 20oz bottles to the rotation, I got down to 37. I used five towels, 2 bungie straps, and a large blanket for insulation. Without insulation, I fermented my porter at 60 with a few 20oz bottles a day. It's a little work, but pretty cheap.

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Old 08-21-2012, 03:20 AM   #6
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I vote for an old Fridge from Craigslist. I just picked one up last weekend for $50. It fits 3 6gallon fermentation buckets or carboys. I don't have to swap ice bottles everyday. Just load the buckets in, shut the door, program my thermastat and come back whenever.

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Old 08-21-2012, 03:26 AM   #7
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The Cool Brewing bag looks great, and I'd love to have one.
But I went with a 70 quart cooler on sale at amazon, $40 shipped.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ls_o00_s00_i00
(because of the wheel well housing the bucket doesnt sit flush on the bottom, but with the cover I built its ok)

I built a cover (actually a box with 7 inches of extra head space for the air lock) out of a 8'x2' Styrofoam 1" insulation slab for $10,
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...0#.UDL1k91lQ_s

and can house an Ale Pail (bucket). I can also use this cooler to hold chilled water I pump through my immersion chiller once the wort is cooled down to 10-15F above tap water. I can also use the cooler for picnics.

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Old 08-21-2012, 03:30 AM   #8
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the cool brewing bag is great. It takes a little time to get to temperature initially but if you have a Wort chiller it would be easy to hold temperature. I will buy more cool brewing bags because it's the obvious choice.

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Old 08-21-2012, 04:34 AM   #9
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I formerly used a swamp cooler and now have a son of fermentation cooler. It cost me more than 55 to make it, but I was needing something to do. It takes 2 liter bottles 2 times per day for a very active fermentation, but only every few days after that (near 60 deg in a 70 deg basement). The other downside I have found is that you need to change the thermostat depending on how active fermentation is. Before it starts, I am set it about 3 deg. below. At peak fermentation, maybe 6-8 deg. and as it slows about even with target fermentation temp. I disliked swamp coolers because of the need to run a fan, moisture and mold. Maybe the insulated bag would work good. Honestly, I really wish I had a better way to feedback the beer temp instead of using nearby air temp. I think any method would work fine, if you keep an eye on the actual beer temperature.

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Old 08-21-2012, 05:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by illini0250
I formerly used a swamp cooler and now have a son of fermentation cooler. It cost me more than 55 to make it, but I was needing something to do. It takes 2 liter bottles 2 times per day for a very active fermentation, but only every few days after that (near 60 deg in a 70 deg basement). The other downside I have found is that you need to change the thermostat depending on how active fermentation is. Before it starts, I am set it about 3 deg. below. At peak fermentation, maybe 6-8 deg. and as it slows about even with target fermentation temp. I disliked swamp coolers because of the need to run a fan, moisture and mold. Maybe the insulated bag would work good. Honestly, I really wish I had a better way to feedback the beer temp instead of using nearby air temp. I think any method would work fine, if you keep an eye on the actual beer temperature.
I put a 1/2 oz of starsan in my swamp water to prevent nasty growth and I just use an old t-shirt for insulation. For now, since I don't have space for a cooler, the swamp cooler is my method of choice. Cheap, efficient, and if you have to switch a son of fermentation cooler 2-3x a day might as well use a swamp cooler. A nice ice chest that I can program and walk away would be ideal.
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