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Old 08-14-2012, 03:36 PM   #2921
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This way, using a thermowell, you actually get the temp of the wort. Now, that said, My poor fementation refrigerator is having a HECK of a time trying to drive the wort temp down to 55*F on my Altbier. I think the combination of the highly active fermentation and the location of the ferm chamber in my Texas-Summer-Garage is going to kill the poor thing. I will be switching to a chest freezer for ferm chamber soon. I am being given one!... a big one! It should be much more efficient at chilling.

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Old 08-14-2012, 03:58 PM   #2922
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Fortunately for me I mostly make american ales using chico, sometimes a Kolsch here and there...but my basement is always cool. Right now it's sub-75* even in the summer. I'll lager in winter when it's around 60*, that way the fridge doesn't have to work quite as hard.

I think I'll start taping to the side for now with insulating material.

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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:49 PM   #2923
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Originally Posted by Huaco View Post
This way, using a thermowell, you actually get the temp of the wort. Now, that said, My poor fementation refrigerator is having a HECK of a time trying to drive the wort temp down to 55*F on my Altbier. I think the combination of the highly active fermentation and the location of the ferm chamber in my Texas-Summer-Garage is going to kill the poor thing. I will be switching to a chest freezer for ferm chamber soon. I am being given one!... a big one! It should be much more efficient at chilling.
The thermowell is an excellent way to track the wort/beer temp, but as a sensor location for controlling the temp, there were some tests a few (hundred) pages back that showed it to be inferior to the wall|sensor|insulation|tape/bungy method. The hypothesis was that the wall/insulation approach provided some predictive early shutoff, due to the influence of the ambient air. This helped prevent overshoots (undershoots?) caused by the continued cooling from the refrigerant/air, as well as those caused by radial temp stratification at later ferm stages.

From memory, the temp overshoots were more significant during the later stages of fermentation, but if your new (to you) chest freezer is very large, the continued cooling could be enough to cause significant overshoot. During the later phases, they could be even more severe.

Using some conductant and some packing in the thermowell is a good idea, regardless how you use it. Also, adding some mass prechilled to ferm temps and a fan helps when using an oversized chest freezer (or any refrigerator/freezer) as a fermenter.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:10 PM   #2924
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Hmmm. Thanks for the input.

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Old 08-17-2012, 08:17 PM   #2925
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Wow! I can't believe I read the whole thing!! Even after taking lots of notes and saving lots of links I have a question.

I plan to use a single stage controller to control a hot plate that will heat my BIAB sparge water. I want this water to be 168F. Where do I put the sensor? I will be heating a simple 4 gallon pot. I just want to be able to set and forget so when sparge time comes I have the water at the correct temp.

I like the bling factor of the boxes many of you have built, and I will probably replace my digital Johnson controller with a dual stage STC-1000, and perhaps also my keezer analog Johnson controller with a single stage.

A couple of thoughts for those looking for ways to do stuff cheaply:

- You can buy solid wire of any gauge at any hardware, either romex style or single strands. Easy to work with and cheap.

- Almost anything can work as a heat source. I have used an old, cracked soldering iron which worked quite well. But a fan is a real helper with a heat source.

- If you want to use a 12V DC fan, it isn't that hard to build a power source that you could fit in one of the larger size project boxes. I am sure if you Google it, you can find dozens of schematics to do it. Of course, a good 12V wall wort works fine. I have a 12V, but the amperage is not high enough to run the fan.

- There is a product called Sugru which looks like it would have a lot of uses. It comes in small packs, and when first opened is pliable much like Play-Doh. When left overnight, it loses its pliability, but stays flexible. It is temperature "rated" well over 212F and well under 32F. It is said to be non-toxic. It sticks to most anything when pliable. It looks like it can hold barrier strips well, and can do a great job for cord strain relief. I have some on order (they had a 2 for 1 sale when I ordered) from the manufacturer at Sugru.com. I have no affiliation or first hand experience with it (yet).

Thanks to everyone who added to this humongous thread. The technical information and the pictures of builds have been a great help and inspiration.

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Old 08-17-2012, 08:31 PM   #2926
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I plan to use a single stage controller to control a hot plate that will heat my BIAB sparge water. I want this water to be 168F. Where do I put the sensor?
I guess put the sensor in the water...I wonder how high-temp-safe these are?
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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:54 PM   #2927
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marshallwms View Post
I plan to use a single stage controller to control a hot plate that will heat my BIAB sparge water.
If it were me, I would just spend the extra $5 and get the STC-1000, so you can use it for anything. Being able to turn any fridge/freezer into an extra fermenter comes in handy.

Also, if your kettle will hold a full volume mash, it makes BIAB even easier. A $1 or 2 worth of extra grain, and one less step.

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Originally Posted by marshallwms View Post
I want this water to be 168F. Where do I put the sensor? I will be heating a simple 4 gallon pot. I just want to be able to set and forget so when sparge time comes I have the water at the correct temp.
There is a significant amount of stratification during heating. Putting it somewhere near the top of the liquid will get it to temp faster by preventing early shutoff, but it will probably overshoot at first. It should lose the heat and stabilize fairly quickly, but some agitation helps with evening the temps. Some use bubbler pumps to mix continuously.

As suggested previously, it is a good idea to use a thermowell of some sort to protect the sensor.

Quote:
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I like the bling factor of the boxes many of you have built, and I will probably replace my digital Johnson controller with a dual stage STC-1000, and perhaps also my keezer analog Johnson controller with a single stage.
Again, splurge and get the STC-1000 for $5 more. If your keezer is ever in, say, a garage where the temp gets below serving temps, it may need heat to prevent overcarbing. It also allows you to turn it into another fermenter if, gasp, your pipeline ever runs dry. You could buy two for what you can sell your digital Johnson for used, although I don't see any advantage of an STC-1000 over a digital Johnson, other than price. That analog Johnson, though, is a true POS- no ASD, fixed temp diff, bulb and tube sensor, antique stamped scale and pointer for setting temps, etc.
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Old 08-18-2012, 03:29 AM   #2928
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If it were me, I would just spend the extra $5 and get the STC-1000, so you can use it for anything. Being able to turn any fridge/freezer into an extra fermenter comes in handy.
True, but the single stage also has some advantages. I have a couple of each, and I much prefer the single stage for my HERMS control panel since they have more programming options and a nicer probe that's much better suited for use in a thermowell.
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Old 08-18-2012, 05:28 AM   #2929
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True, but the single stage also has some advantages. I have a couple of each, and I much prefer the single stage for my HERMS control panel since they have more programming options and a nicer probe that's much better suited for use in a thermowell.
True, but a better (stainless) probe can be purchased very cheaply. I replaced all the ones that came with my STC-1000s.
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:02 AM   #2930
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True, but the single stage also has some advantages. I have a couple of each, and I much prefer the single stage for my HERMS control panel since they have more programming options and a nicer probe that's much better suited for use in a thermowell.
I have seen several references to the additional programming options of the single stage. What are they?

I have also seen the stainless probes that come with the single stage. I still wouldn't trust it to be waterproof. I also wonder if it is as fast responding as the small tic-tac probe that comes with the STC-1000. It is incredibly responsive. With some thermal paste inside a thermowell, it should be almost as responsive. I suspect they are all just ceramic bead thermistors, which are a good sensor choice for the limited temp range of these controllers.
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