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Old 03-07-2013, 01:49 AM   #1
romad97
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Default Temperature Control

What is the best, easiest, and most inexpensive way to control the fermentation temperature? I just got into this and I do not have a lot of money to spend on equipment. It will be summer time soon and my house will only be cooled down to about 78-80 degrees (can't afford high electric bills). I don't mind purchasing a used mini fridge off craigslist but, I have a very picky wife who will throw a fit if I build a large wooden contraption such as a fermentation chamber to put in the garage or the spare bedroom. Will a mini fridge accomodate a fermentation bucket without modification? Would that even be a good idea? Any advice is much appreciated.

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Old 03-07-2013, 01:53 AM   #2
lebucheron
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I have tried a swamp-cooler setup, but it was a bit of a pain to stay on top of. I just bought a used fridge and johnson temp. control for lagers, and will use it in the hot months for ales.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/entries/...e-control.html

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Old 03-07-2013, 02:31 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lebucheron
I just bought a used fridge and johnson temp. control for lagers, and will use it in the hot months for ales.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/entries/...e-control.html
+1 on this^^^
or a water bath you can add ice to, but you'll have to stay on top of that. Do you like Belgians most can ferment at 70-80*F
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Old 03-07-2013, 02:48 AM   #4
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I copied and pasted this from a response I gave on another thread.

"I'm not from Phoenix, but I'm in Texas and the 100F temps aren't too far away for us either. Making Belgians 8-9 months a year gets boring, so I got a 4.4 cu.ft. Frigidaire fridge and Thomson temperature controller. I took the freezer section out of the fridge and my 7.9 gallon buckets fit just fine, one at a time. I went with this fridge because of space issues. If I had the space, I would have gone with something larger to fit more fermentors. I tried a swamp cooler, but it just didn't work out. I still had wild temperature swings. My beer got considerably better once I started really controllilng my fermentation temperature with this setup."

You said a fridge without modifying it, but I would hardly call pulling the freezer section out a modification. You just remove a few screws and pull it out. There are no wires or refrigeration lines to deal with. It's like removing a shelf.

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Old 03-07-2013, 03:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julioardz View Post
I copied and pasted this from a response I gave on another thread.

"I'm not from Phoenix, but I'm in Texas and the 100F temps aren't too far away for us either. Making Belgians 8-9 months a year gets boring, so I got a 4.4 cu.ft. Frigidaire fridge and Thomson temperature controller. I took the freezer section out of the fridge and my 7.9 gallon buckets fit just fine, one at a time. I went with this fridge because of space issues. If I had the space, I would have gone with something larger to fit more fermentors. I tried a swamp cooler, but it just didn't work out. I still had wild temperature swings. My beer got considerably better once I started really controllilng my fermentation temperature with this setup."

You said a fridge without modifying it, but I would hardly call pulling the freezer section out a modification. You just remove a few screws and pull it out. There are no wires or refrigeration lines to deal with. It's like removing a shelf.
Yes this is the type of setup I was thinking. I just wasn't sure if a mini fridge would be large enough. I agree, pulling the freezer portion would be simple enough. Might be a stupid question but, on these mini fridges, what seperates the temperature from the main part and the small icebox compartment?
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Old 03-07-2013, 03:55 AM   #6
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I would get a new wife or look for a single kegorator fridge/chest freezer that can fit a bucket/carboy.

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Old 03-07-2013, 05:13 AM   #7
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In the 4.4 cu.ft. Frigidaire (Model#: BFPH44M4LM) it was just a plastic door and shelf that insulated the top portion of the fridge. The cooling lines run through the interior of the top portion of the fridge, making it colder in that closed in top section than in the rest of the fridge. I removed a few screws and everything came out, allowing my 7.9 gallon fermenting bucket to fit with airlock. I measured the bucket with airlock first then went out and measured a few fridges until I found one I knew would work for sure. Here are some pictures I found online (not mine) showing the freezer section and what it's like removed. I sit my fermenting bucket on the bottom shelf shown in the first picture, above the pull out drawer.

While shopping around, I saw other makes and models had different setups for the freezer and some looked impossible to pull out. This was the one that I felt worked best for my needs. However, if I ever decide I want to make this into a kegerator (highly unlikely, but just as a what if), I would have to find a way to work around the refrigeration lines on top by either putting the tap on the door or finding the lines and drilling to avoid them.



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Old 03-07-2013, 05:29 AM   #8
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I found a great deal on a used wine fridge ($12 @ a thrift store) and added a Johnson controller. Hydrofarm makes a $35 t-stat unit that will go down to 68°, fine for ales. Big used mini fridge or wine fridge and cheap controller has you going for under $100 easy. Could be $50 if you can score a cheap fridge. I fought the Texas heat for a couple years then just said F it and moved to Southern Colorado...now I'm trying to keep sh!t warm!

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"I cant handle that buddy.. it tastes like Moose Piss", (IPA) - side note.. ive never had moose piss, but im sure it doesnt taste like IPA or I would have a moose.
Bottled: Grizzly Saison, Grizzly Brett, Session Pale, Colorado Cream Ale, Cranberry Apfelwein
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:34 AM   #9
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I found a smaller fridge (apartment sized 10cu ft) on Craigslist I could fit a 6.5 glass carboy or 2 cornies not both. I found a Ranco digital temp controller online for $45. The bottom shelf was glass so I pulled it out and built a strong wooden shelf with some scrap wood.

If I had to do it all over again I should have shopped around for a smaller chest freezer but what I have still gets the job done. Terms of ease you cant get easier than this. Set the temp and forget about it, also its nice to have the ability to raise the temp as your beer is fermenting out. Mine sits in my garage which gets to be about 80-90 in the Chicago Summers so it runs a lot, a chest freezer might be more efficient.

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Old 03-07-2013, 05:40 PM   #10
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This weekends project is going to be building the SCT-1000 controller for the 5cu freezer I just picked up off Craigslist. The SCT-1000 seemed excited and cheaper, which is why I went that route.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/ebay...-build-163849/

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