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Old 04-19-2012, 05:26 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation Cabinet question

Has anyone built a fermentation cabinet that doesn't use power? I mean, a cabinet that is insulated from the changes in ambient temperature without actually doing anything to alter the temperature inside the cabinet? I have a converted cabinet freezer that I am using for lagering so that is not a concern for what I want to build. I want to use my basement for fermentation but temperature swings between about 62 and 70 (as read from my fermometers, not the ambient temperature). I feel that 62 is a little on the low side so I was thinking that I could build an insulated cabinet to keep in the warmth. I'm not so concerned about cooling as I am about it being too cool. My basement doesn't get that hot anyway.

I am guessing all I need to do is build a simple cabinet and stick some insulation on the inside of it and be done.

I've searched for plans but everything I have seen so far makes use of fridges / freezers and / or space heaters. I don't want any of that. Something more simple should suffice, I think.

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Old 04-19-2012, 05:31 PM   #2
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62 is not on the low side. Brewers in the south without A/C would kill for 62.

But if you insulate without anything cool it down your temperature will get too high. At the height of fermentation your wort can warm up to 8*F higher than the ambient temperature. If you keep all of that heat in it will most likely get up in the 70's in the chamber.



Also, keep in mind that large volumes of water take a long time to change temperature. Do a search for "swamp cooler" in the HBT search bar.

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Old 04-19-2012, 05:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno_eNVy View Post
62 is not on the low side. Brewers in the south without A/C would kill for 62.

But if you insulate without anything cool it down your temperature will get too high. At the height of fermentation your wort can warm up to 8*F higher than the ambient temperature. If you keep all of that heat in it will most likely get up in the 70's in the chamber.



Also, keep in mind that large volumes of water take a long time to change temperature. Do a search for "swamp cooler" in the HBT search bar.
I mean that 62 is on the low side according to the temp range printed on my fermometer. I am not talking about ambient temperature, I'm talking about what I read on my fermometer which, from what I have read, is very close to the wort temperature, give or take a degree. I plan on building a thermowell when i get my steel tubing so I can tell exactly how internal wort temp compares with the fermometer.

I use a swamp cooler to keep my lagers down about 50, then I move them into my converted freezer. But I am not concerned about cooling so much as maintaining warmth.....just enough warmth, not too much heat.

However, as you stated, 62 is not a terrible temperature and lots of people would love that so perhaps I'll start worrying about temperatures if it gets below that, and that seems unlikely at this time of year.

Thanks, Max
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Old 04-19-2012, 05:45 PM   #4
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I'm not sure I get your question. You can't just insulate something and expect it to hold a temperature without some kind of system to add or remove heat as needed.

If you're looking for a simple solution to keep it from getting too cold and you're only looking for 4-5 degrees, the tub of water with an aquarium heater is probably the best bet.

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Old 04-19-2012, 05:47 PM   #5
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I thought about doing something like this a while back. I was thinking of building an insulated cabinet but only the top front and side. A corner in my basement would make up the other three sides. The concrete floor and walls are always cool anytime of year. I had even considered a small temp controlled fan to pull in warmer ambient air if temps got too low in the chamber. I never did experiment with it though.

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Old 04-19-2012, 06:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Phyrst View Post
I'm not sure I get your question. You can't just insulate something and expect it to hold a temperature without some kind of system to add or remove heat as needed.

If you're looking for a simple solution to keep it from getting too cold and you're only looking for 4-5 degrees, the tub of water with an aquarium heater is probably the best bet.
Ahhh, OK. I guess I should know better. I thought that if I made a tight, insulated cabinet that the temperature inside would remain pretty constant based on the starting temperature. At least more stable than if the buckets were sitting out in the open on the basement floor. I understand that I wouldn't have any real control over the temperature with such a solution but as it stands I have zero control over the temperature in my basement.

When I was thinking about the swamp cooler solution I was thinking of CHILLING, not WARMING - I should know better since I've had fish tanks almost all my friggin' life. LOL.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lschiavo View Post
I thought about doing something like this a while back. I was thinking of building an insulated cabinet but only the top front and side. A corner in my basement would make up the other three sides. The concrete floor and walls are always cool anytime of year. I had even considered a small temp controlled fan to pull in warmer ambient air if temps got too low in the chamber. I never did experiment with it though.
This is what I was thinking about.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:58 PM   #8
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This is what I was thinking about.
I was planning to mock up a chamber with some foam insulation/duct tape just to see how the temp inside would compare with ambient but never even got around to that. If you do experiement, I'd be curious to hear your results.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lschiavo View Post
I was planning to mock up a chamber with some foam insulation/duct tape just to see how the temp inside would compare with ambient but never even got around to that. If you do experiement, I'd be curious to hear your results.
Sure, I'll let you know. I was figuring that if people use insulation to retain heat / cold in our houses then something similar might work on a smaller scale in my basement. My basement is an unfinished, walkout (facing NW) so the only heat is from the water heater and furnace and I don't know how much they affect the ambient temperature. The most used furnace was installed last year so it's not an old, inefficient POS. The water heater is about 20 years old though. Rest assured that any practice runs will be with a batch of my least precious beer.
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