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Old 07-26-2012, 01:50 AM   #1
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Default Fermentation Chamber Build - Mini Fridge

I've read and marveled at so many fermentation chamber builds I thought I'd share my own. I've been planning this for a while and finally got around to starting. I've put 2 evenings time into this project so far and am very happy with my progress. The thought behind this chamber is to simply keep a consistent temperature for me to ferment ales, wine and ciders. My basement is not completely underground, so I get temperature swings of 10-15 degrees and in the winter I can get temperatures as low as 40 fahrenheit.

What you see below is the framing of the chamber w/ the side, back and bottom walls on. I plan on having the top of the chamber removable so I can go in from the top. Also you can see the larger gap between the framing on the front... this is for a door that will be hinged on the bottom. The fridge will sit on the platform on the top right. The thought here is to have fans to blow the cool air from the top and let the cold air drop.


Front view.


With the fridge inserted.


Front view with fridge.


I have some time tomorrow night which will probably be finishing up cutting out the plywood for the top and the door. If I have time I'll get to cutting the insulation (1.5" insulation board). I'm heading out of town on Friday so I won't get around to working on it until next week.

Moving forward, I have a temp controller on it's way which I'll wire in to run the fridge / fans when cooling is needed and some sort of heating element when heat is needed (this will be phase 2 for winter time). I'm thinking of the reptile lamps that some have used for heating.

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts as I continue on with this project.

Thanks again to the homebrewtalk community... it's truly a great resource!

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:02 AM   #2
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Nice start. Do you think you could reach lager temperatures? Also how many fermenters will it hold? Cheers.

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:07 AM   #3
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I've never understood these builds. Over working a mini fridge when so many other options work better. It looks clean though.

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:16 AM   #4
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chessking, I'm not looking to reach lagering temps and further, don't think the small 1.8cf fridge I'm using would be able to get the temp that low. I'm looking to hold 2 fermenters with some room for blow-off/etc.

phoenixs4r, not sure I'll be overworking the fridge since this will be in my basement where temps don't regularly get over 70 fahrenheit. I'm more looking for consistent fermenting temps. Winter will be interesting, but we'll deal with that when we get there. What are the "other options" that work better?

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenixs4r View Post
I've never understood these builds. Over working a mini fridge when so many other options work better. It looks clean though.
Phoenix, I don't understand why people don't understand these builds. You're not asking a mini fridge to keep a larger space at regular fridge temps (upper 30"s F). You're asking it to keep a larger space at a higher temp, generally in the 60's F. That's not a big stretch by any means. No, they aren't designed to cool the larger space, but considering you're placing less demand on them in terms of temperature needed, it probably evens out pretty well. If the fermenter is kept in a conditioned basement or other part of the house, you're generally only looking at a 10-15 degree difference in temps, which is not asking much of a mini-fridge.

Considering how many of these builds there are, it obviously must be somewhat worthwhile.

And yes, there are other options, but are there any as cheap and easy as this? Counting the fridge (AND having to buy a second one), the temp controller, and everything else, I will have spent about $150 on my ferm chamber build, and it will hold 4 fermenters (buckets or 6 gal better bottles). That's not bad.
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
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I've never understood these builds. Over working a mini fridge when so many other options work better. It looks clean though.
I think the one time effort and cost of the build will pay off with better beer, if temperatures can be precisely controlled. What about those guys who freeze 2 liter bottles and constantly change them out over the span of fermentation. Sure, cheap and simple, but the hassle of the workload, and responsibility are tremendous. But I bet their beer is fantastic. Its worth it to them.
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:30 PM   #7
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Got my STC-1000 in the mail today and quickly drafted up my wiring. My thought here is that I will have a 2 gang box that sits on the outside of the chamber and a 1 gang box that sits on the inside of the chamber. The 2 gang will hold the temp controller and an outlet (1 always on and 1 for cold -> fridge). The 1 gang will hold an outlet (1 for hot -> future heat source, and 1 for cold -> fans to circulate air).

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Old 08-11-2012, 05:32 PM   #8
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Couldn't you keep all the outlets on the outside of the chamber and just run the heat/fan cords through the bulkhead? Just a thought. I suppose if you are only trying for 60 degrees or so it probably doesn't matter. I'm just thinking about moisture and electricity and I get nervous. Of course if you have already wired it, then disregard.

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Old 08-12-2012, 01:14 PM   #9
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That is a good point... and one that I did not really think about because I have seen other builds with outlets inside the chamber. Can anyone comment on outlets they have wired inside the chamber and how it has been?

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:32 PM   #10
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I've finished up the chamber over the past few weeks. Took some pictures along the way but haven't had time to get them posted until now. I didn't hear much in terms of others and outlets inside of the chamber, so I decided to move forward as planned. I'll continue to monitor once I start to make use of the chamber (I have an edwort apfelwein started, but not in the chamber because the wife wants to stain the chamber). Needless to say, here are some pics of progress. I'll get the finished product pictures posted soon as well.

Temp Controller wired and tested:


Close-up:


Outside paneling attached and fridge mounted:


Shot of the inside through the door:


Inside outlet and fans for circulating cool air:


To come are pictures of the inside insulation caulked and taped, outlet face plate and taped, door insulation, and door latch.

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