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Old 03-04-2013, 12:53 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation Chamber Decisions

As of last night I finally decided to order an STC-1000 and "build" a fermentation chamber. I've been doing a certain amount of searching and reading and looking at others builds but I'm stuck deciding what to do.

The facts of my situation are:

1. SWMBO is NOT a fan of my spending money/time on my new-found hobby. She is also not a fan of giving up floor space for it.

2. Floor Space is at a bit of a premium in our house, particularly when it's storage space. The garage would be the place for any chamber, and there is room for a chest freezer but I think long term it might annoy her.

3. The Garage as mentioned would be the location. I live in Canada. It's not really insulated (Inside walls and insulated garage door). It does hold some heat/cold, never really going below 0 C in the winter, but it does get cold. That means not only would the chamber need to be cooled in the summer, but without a doubt heated in the winter.

4. Use: Ferment two Carboys. Maybe store 1/6 bbl Sanke kegs (up to 3). I would like the ability to cold crash the Carboys at the end of fermentation.

Originally I thought I'd just pick up a chest freezer from Kijiji, maybe a 7 cu ft for $75 or so. Wire up the STC-1000 and be done with it. It would require moving some junk around, but it would work. Also thought I'd wire in a light bulb outlet for heating (whether a 100W bulb in a can or an infrared heater).

Then, with thinking about floor space and reading, I got to thinking about an under-workbench chamber, built with 2x2's and rigid foam insulation. I actually need to build a proper workbench (right now I use an old, cheap flat-pack desk) which I'd build with either 2x3 or 2x4's.

So enter the dilemma. The chest freezer seems easier, and honestly cheaper. The problem is I give up floor space. The under-bench chamber seems neater to me, but I have some worries. Cost is one (material price adds up). Using a 5000 BTU window a/c unit strikes me as overkill but I don't know what else to use for cooling (and I'm not interested in boxing in a small fridge). Heating also worries me, would an element/bulb cause local melting of the foam insulation? What about cold crashing, would a window a/c do that or would doing so cause the a/c unit to freeze up? Lastly, what would the energy cost be for an under-workbench chamber vs. a chest freezer?

I guess what I'm looking for is as much wisdom and "lessons learned" that I can gather so whichever I go with does what I need it to and doesn't get me in trouble with the SWMBO (either floor space anger or cost anger).



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Old 03-04-2013, 03:25 PM   #2
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I think a chest freezer will save u the time and money in the long run, not to mention when its NOT in use u could still stack stuff on top of it. But you can also turn the chest freezer into a keezer and have it serve as a dual purpose item.



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Old 03-05-2013, 12:08 PM   #3
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True, and good points. I probably wouldn't go the Keezer route mainly because I have a nice little basement bar with a DIY Keggerator and two taps. I think you're right though about the freezer. I guess I was kind of hoping someone would talk me into building the under-workbench option though since it appeals to my "building nifty things even though they cost 50% more than budgeted and take twice as long as expected to complete" personality.

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Old 03-05-2013, 12:27 PM   #4
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You'll need to figure out the swmbo issues - its unfortunate.

Aside from that, though, I would (and have) gone the chest freezer route. One thing that occurred to me is that when the freezer breaks down, I can just replace it. If I had built a fermentation chamber and it stopped working, that would be a hassle.

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