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Old 08-11-2011, 10:22 PM   #1
bluenadas
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I have the rough draft of an 8 foot multi-purpose bar/counter/cabinet ready to go...

Essentially it will have three compartments. One for fermenting ales, one for lagers and a third for kegs/bottles.

My plan at this point is to run the entire thing using one cooling source. I haven't decided if the mini-fridge or HVAC option is the best route yet but I'm still pondering that (And looking for the cheapest option...(hello ebay/craigslist)

Other than that the separate sections will be controlled by dampers and they will open/close based on the need of the specific compartment's cooling demand. I plan to run it all off of an arduino and have it control all cooling requests, dampers and cooling fans. The details of that I haven't yet laid to paper but will do eventually. I've also considered the use of a PLC to control everything as I have a few laying around but we'll see...

As of now I am putting together the pieces needed to throw together a basic, one compartment fermentation chamber with a mini-fridge to hold me over through the build of the cabinet mentioned.

To be honest I haven't yet brewed my own batch yet but have everything I need in place....I just want to ensure I can keep the proper fermentation temps for the first batch...AND I need to make something a little more robust (and SWMBO friendly) for the future.

Anyone have any comments, concerns or WTF? on my plan please let me know....As time permits I'll get the plans and details/pictures up here as well.

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Old 08-11-2011, 10:55 PM   #2
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I'm picturing something with a heck of a lot of volume with no idea of thermal efficiency being driven by a mini fridge, trying to handle what could be substantial exothermic brews in the peak of fermentation.

Don't know if that's "crazy", but it sounds a bit aggressive....

Cheers!

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Old 08-11-2011, 11:18 PM   #3
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Definitely sounds a bit ambitious, but not crazy. Did you calculate your cubic footage on it yet? That should help you determine the best cooling option(HVAC or mini-fridge). I'm interested to see where your project goes, though.

Oh, and MAJOR KUDOS to you for using and/or knowing what an arduino is. *End nerd moment*

Cheers!

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Old 08-11-2011, 11:34 PM   #4
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it's possible if you have a separate cooling chamber and have each compartment have it's own cold air supply and return. that way you could use a second mini-fridge evaporator if you needed to
plus it would be easy to throttle the power usage

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Old 08-12-2011, 01:42 AM   #5
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+1 on the arduino!

And just to clarify a bit the plan it will have 6 controlled dampers (3 for inlet 3 for return) So the fridge/hvac would only be on when needed by one of the chambers and only that chamber would be fed air. The cooling device would have a blower on it to move air around accordingly and the 3 chambers would also have a fan for circulation. While the entire cubic footage would be larger than a single system, by splitting it out like that I think I could get by on a single cooling source so long as the spaces are well insulated.

I haven't thought through the dimensions yet on each space but I think I'd want them large enough for 3 carboys. And the keg/bottle area would be large enough to hold 4 cornies or 2 cornies + a case or 2 of beer (largest section).

HopsJunkie....as I'm a little new to the hacked cooling sources...what determines the use of a hvac vs a mini-fridge so far as square footage?

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Old 08-12-2011, 03:28 AM   #6
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You will find that it will probably be easier if you also arrange them by temp, I would go with the lagers-draft/bottles-then ales at the end of line furthest from cold source........my.02

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Old 08-12-2011, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluenadas View Post
I haven't thought through the dimensions yet on each space but I think I'd want them large enough for 3 carboys. And the keg/bottle area would be large enough to hold 4 cornies or 2 cornies + a case or 2 of beer (largest section).

HopsJunkie....as I'm a little new to the hacked cooling sources...what determines the use of a hvac vs a mini-fridge so far as square footage?
From everything I know about HVAC(which is minimal), determining your sq. footage helps determine the better solution. A mini fridge is only going to be able to support so many square feet, and with your setup a lot of off/on is probably going to happen(correct me if i'm wrong). Since you're going to all the trouble with the arduino auto-damper setup, it'd be a shame for it to die on you one day. In that case, a slightly more specialized HVAC setup might work better for you.

I just know if I was including lagers in my ferm. box setup, I'd be scared of my cooling going down from an overworked compressor failing. I'm sure there are more veteran HVAC guys on here who can give you more info, but I'm just giving my two cents here.

I really like the idea of having space for 3 fermenters in each and 4 cornies/2 cases in the biggest part. If i had to guesstimate...i'd say you're looking at 10 cu. ft. for each of the ferm chambers, and probably 10-15 cu. ft. for the corny/bottle chamber. It's big and sounds beautiful. I'd go ahead and draw something up if you can. Trace out fermenters, cornies, cases so you have a footprint and can really hash out your overall inside demensions.

Cheers!
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:55 PM   #8
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Sounds like a larger more sophisticated version of my fermentation chamber. Mine only had 2 compartments one big enough for one fermenter and the other big enough for 2. I ended up hooking it upto my keezer instead of a mini fridge due to budget constraints but it works well. The smaller compartment gets just cold enough to do the primary fermentation for lagers. Here is a link to my website with pics and a better description. Go here

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Old 08-15-2011, 06:38 PM   #9
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Work has been getting in the way of me sitting down and moving my plans from a piece of copy paper to some sketch-up love....

Once I get it drawn up though I'll post the details and let you guys have a look.

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Old 08-15-2011, 07:14 PM   #10
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I'll be sitting here, waiting....drinking.
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