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brewzombie 11-18-2010 06:17 PM

Help: How to keep fermentor at constant temp
 
I live in a small apartment with no control over the thermostat. There's only one in the building and someone's always messing with it so the room temp swings from too cold to too hot (I'm guessing 15-25 C / 59-77 F). In the summer it's not so bad...it's pretty cool on the West Coast so I could just keep a window open, but with winter approaching, the flunctuations are getting more extreme and the wife is getting cold.

I'd like to buy or build something small(ish) to incubate my bucket(s) during primary fermentation so I can keep a constant temp. What would be appropriate for a small apartment with no garage or basement to hide ugly equipment. So far, the wife's been very patient with my rapidly expanding hobby - I'd like to keep it that way. Is there some kind of (sexy) cabinet incubator or (stylish) small fridge that handles fermentation temperatures? With the windows closed, we're looking at something to lower the temp. I've thought about a swamp cooler, but it just seems ugly and a pain to monitor. Any ideas?

Nateo 11-18-2010 06:20 PM

The cheapest/easiest would be a yooper-type fermentation cube. Basically just a cooler you can put your fermenter inside, then keep it cool with water and ice.

brewzombie 11-18-2010 06:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nateo (Post 2415052)
The cheapest/easiest would be a yooper-type fermentation cube. Basically just a cooler you can put your fermenter inside, then keep it cool with water and ice.

Not bad...that might be the way to go.

Maybe I should just invest in a fridge unit. I wonder if the bottom (fridge) compartment can be kept at fermentation temp (17-19 C) while the top (freezer) compartment can be kept at fridge temp (4 C). Then I could potentially store my 2 fermentors in the bottom and a small keg in the top. That would be an efficient use of space! SWMBO would be pleased!

HumanGarbage 11-18-2010 09:29 PM

There was a guy on here who made a ferm chamber out of pink insulation board and a small a/c unit. Another guy did the same with a small dorm fridge as the cooling unit. Both are pretty good ideas for a cheap solution...

As for the fridge idea that could work too. Plenty of those on CL for next to nothing/free.

TipsyDragon 11-18-2010 09:43 PM

if money is no object then i would go with a kegerator (or similar sized mini fridge). you can buy them online. added to that i would recommend a Ronco ETC and a carboy cap with a thermowell. the thermowell will allow you to put the Ronco's temp probe into the wort and get its actual temperature without it getting wet. then you just have to set the Ronco and plug the fridge into it and set it on max cool.

if the problem changes to being to cold you can use the same Ronco ETC and a fermwrap.

brewzombie 11-18-2010 10:45 PM

If I'm going to do this, I'm going to go all out. I'm in love with the fridge idea. But now I have a storm of newb questions. Maybe someone can direct me to a thread on this. My key interest would be keeping 2 separate compartments, the top (for chilling a mini-keg) and the bottom (for fermenting wort). Will this work? Problem is I have 2 compartments and 2 different temperatures. Seems like this is exactly what a fridge-freezer setup is, but I don't know how these things work. I realize the Ronco device will tell the fridge when to turn on/off the cooling, but how will the temp control between the 2 compartments work?

TipsyDragon 11-19-2010 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brewzombie (Post 2415731)
but how will the temp control between the 2 compartments work?

i don't think it will work. the Ronco will only sense the temp in one compartment. its my understanding that the freezer in a fridge is what cools the refrigerator part.

briewer2 11-19-2010 07:37 PM

I found a chest freezer on craigslist that fits four carboys (five if i push it) and a temp controller (40 bucks, less if you want to wire it yourself). I keep it at 65f and it has been the single greatest improvement to my process besides kegging. Its a massive eyesore though, fortunately the girl likes to brew as much as i do.

brewzombie 11-19-2010 08:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TipsyDragon (Post 2418098)
i don't think it will work. the Ronco will only sense the temp in one compartment. its my understanding that the freezer in a fridge is what cools the refrigerator part.

I started a new thread to discuss this project rather than derail this one:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/help...erator-206967/

riverfrontbrewer 11-19-2010 08:53 PM

http://www.avantiproducts.com/products/id/423

These are not cheap if you buy them new, but work well since I can control the temp from low 40's up to 66....if I need something warmer I just leave it out in the ambient room, if I need it colder I put it in the kegerator.


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