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Old 11-10-2009, 12:56 AM   #1
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Default Fermenting in unheated garage

Hey guys,

Would it be feasible to install a well-insulated temperature-controlled fermentation chamber in a detached unheated garage in Northern Indiana? We usually get a couple days below 0 each winter. I'm thinking about framing all the walls, top and bottom with 2x4's using fiberglass batts and covering it up with lauan plywood. I'm thinking about maybe 3'lx4'wx4'h, using a cheap space heater from Wally World and a temp controller TBD.

Thoughts?

Homey

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Old 11-10-2009, 01:01 AM   #2
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Personally, I'd worry about using a cheap space heater from Wally World in an unattended place 24/7. Outside of that, it sounds like a good plan. There are a lot of options for heating a small space that work, some designed specifically for brewing like warming bands and pads. You can even use an old fridge or chest freezer instead of building your own space if you want. There are always a lot of them on Craigslist that are described as "Don't stay cold anymore" that people basically just want someone else to haul away. They're sealed, insulated and have room for a fermenter or two.

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Old 11-10-2009, 01:12 AM   #3
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This (http://morebeer.com/view_product/166...ermWrap_Heater) combined with a well insulated enclosure might give you enough heat. Maybe a heating lamp for a lizard too?

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Old 11-10-2009, 02:55 AM   #4
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The Fermwap works well for me here in MN - I use two of them in converted fridge/freezers with no problem. I was fermenting Belgians @ 80F when it was below 0F in the garage the last winter.

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Old 11-10-2009, 03:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unholymess View Post
The Fermwap works well for me here in MN - I use two of them in converted fridge/freezers with no problem. I was fermenting Belgians @ 80F when it was below 0F in the garage the last winter.
Really? That's cool! I was reading about the Fermwrap and it was talking about maybe a 20 degree increase, but I suppose if you've got an enclosed space the heat would stay contained pretty well. I've read about electric heating pads, do you think they would produce enough heat to keep things warm in sub-zero temps?
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:22 AM   #6
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I haven't used anything other than the Fermwrap - I did a dry run with just water to test. Might give that a whirl with the heating pads to check.

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Old 11-10-2009, 11:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomerJR View Post
Hey guys,

Would it be feasible to install a well-insulated temperature-controlled fermentation chamber in a detached unheated garage in Northern Indiana? We usually get a couple days below 0 each winter. I'm thinking about framing all the walls, top and bottom with 2x4's using fiberglass batts and covering it up with lauan plywood. I'm thinking about maybe 3'lx4'wx4'h, using a cheap space heater from Wally World and a temp controller TBD.

Thoughts?

Homey
I would be very leary. Space heater + Confined area + Unattended = Garage Fire. If you try it, make sure the garage is unattached to your house.

"The CPSC estimates that space heaters, including both fixed and portable heaters, are associated with about 21,800 residential fires every year. About 300 people die each year in fires started by these heaters."
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:51 AM   #8
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"Thoughts?"


My thoughts are that it would be a hell of a lot easier to try and find a big old refrigerator or chest freezer, either for free or dirt cheap. A fridge is really a big insulated box. A fermwrap or a heating pad on a temperature controller should keep it warm inside. If you want, get a dual stage controller and ferment year round.

Or maybe one of those tiny ceramic heaters. Maybe I'm lazy, but that sounds like a lot of work constructing a box.

If you search around places like C'list, garage sales, etc., I have found plenty of cheap/free fridges and freezers.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:39 PM   #9
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I live in Northern Indiana and I used to use something exactly like that. My garage is attached and sorta heated and never got below 40F, but all I used was an insulated plywood box with a lightbulb hooked up to a thermostat.

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Old 11-10-2009, 03:23 PM   #10
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I agree with those who completely reject the idea of any kind of space heater. This is a recipe for disaster, I believe. I endorse those appliances that are designed for that type of use, like Fermwrap, and ideally controlled by an adjustable thermostat. The simplest idea is probably a light bulb controlled by a thermostat. If it is in a well-insulated enclosure, that should work.
I can see building an insulated box.....if I were DIY-happy. I'm reasonably competent in a number of skills, but wouldn't classify myself as "handy." Also, with all the thousands of defunct refrigerators and freezers (aka = insulated fermentation chambers) lying around, I'm just WAY too lazy to even consider building something from scratch.

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