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jondavis08 09-21-2012 07:57 PM

Making a fermentation chamber out of kitchen cabinet
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I've been looking at all the fermentation chambers post all week and starting to get excited about making my own. Do to a recent remodel I have the cabinet pictured below(does have a counter top) Could this build be as simple as cutting out a opening on the side for a mini fridge/AC window unit, adding insulated foam to the inside and then at temp control unit? Would you suggest a AC unit or Mini fridge?

BeardedIdiot 09-21-2012 08:58 PM

yes it would be that easy.

Whichever you can find cheaper, and think would be easier to use. The window unit would probably be a little bit of overkill on that, but a mini-fridge might struggle with the size.

Will this be kept in an air-conditioned space inside the house, or out in a garage/shed where it will see larger temperature extremes? that can make a big difference in what you would need to use.

jondavis08 09-21-2012 09:24 PM

Its going to be in the basement and nearby where the main furance/AC is located. Usually stays around 70 all year

BeardedIdiot 09-21-2012 09:54 PM

In that case, if you can find a minifridge cheap, I'd go with that. If you can, find one with the condenser coils mounted on the back, rather than in the walls of the fridge. It will make removing them and mounting it on the side/back of the cabinet MUCH easier. I can usually find the right kind of minifridge on CL for less than $50. Also, I would go for the 3-4cuft range dorm fridge, rather than the little cube (1-2cuft) mini fridge if you can find one. It will have less trouble with that large of a space.

Rbeckett 09-23-2012 01:55 AM

I would line it with blue board insulation, seal all joints with caulk, and use a mini fridges guts. That would make a killer ferm chamber for sure. I would enclose all of the sides and make an insulated removable top so I could just lower a keg in or out from the top. But thats just me.... I have to watch my pennies and a repurposed cabinet and a used fridge guts come a lot cheaper than buying new stuff and installing it later. Depending on how large you want the cabinet a small mini fridge will probably struggle once you get much bigger than a bathroom sink sized cabinet, but a small fan on the evaporator will help it move air across the coils and remove excess heat.

KBentley57 09-23-2012 02:24 AM

You could always insulate it tightly, and go with a TEC unit. Get one that has about 30-50 W of cooling capability, and it's all you'll need to stay in the 50's F. The plus note is that they are low power. Check out custom TEC solutions for premade cooling units (not related to me in any way).

jondavis08 09-26-2012 07:06 PM

Getting dangerously close to proceeding but had a few more questions. I plan on getting a the STC-1000 for temp control, is the probe inside the chamber or wort? Should you be monitoring the wort temp or do most just crank the temp down a few notches during the first few days of fermenting. I think I'm going to use the guts of a mini fridge, I've seen many builds but haven't found a great step by step example on the site. Anyone seeing something I missed?

Plan is to convert the above cabinet, insulate with foam board,seal the front and make a top door for inserting carboys. Temp control with STC-100 using a mini fridge and probably a ferm wrap.

Rbeckett 09-26-2012 07:15 PM

Best results with the STC-1000 is to make a small pouch and attatch it to the outside of the fermenting container. Normally wort temp will rise while the initial fermentation takes place, so be prepared to lower the initial temp in the box till the strong fermentation subsides, then you can readjust your temp again. The temp rise will be more difficult to detect if you just leave the sensor loose in the cabinet and the reaction by the STC will be slower and less definative.

BeardedIdiot 09-26-2012 07:30 PM

I am currently building a fermentation cabinet from scratch, and using the guts of a mini-fridge for the cooling portion. I am using an STC-1000 controller, and will either be taping the temp probe to the side of a carboy, or purchasing/making a thermowell to put down inside of the most recent fermentation that I put in the chamber.

I am using a dual front door approach on mine. It will basically look like a kitchen cabinet, or piece of furniture, with two equal size front doors and a solid top. The coils of the mini-fridge will be attached to one side of the chamber, with the compressor sitting on a custom shelf at the bottom.

I used 3.5" of rigid foam insulation on the top and bottom, 2" on the back and sides, and I've got 2.5" on the back of each of the doors. I also added rubber door weatherstripping around edges of the insulation, so that when the doors are closed, the stripping is compressed and creates an airtight seal. All corners are caulked and tape with aluminum HVAC tape.

I am using either 1 or 2 heavy duty computer fans to circulate air past the cooling coil inside the chamber when the compressor is running. I don't foresee needing a heat source, but if I do I will probably use a ceramic heat bulb (like you would use for reptiles).

I don't think there's any reason you can't keep it front loading, rather than top loading. It just takes a little more diligence in insulating and sealing it. If you want it to be easier, then seal the front and make it top loading.

I haven't started a thread or posted photo's of my build yet, as I want to wait until its completely finished and running, but I could add a photo or two here if you would like to see how I did certain things. Just let me know.

jondavis08 09-26-2012 07:35 PM

I'd love to see pics, looks like we're doing a similar approach. The only reason I'm going for a top loader is because the original door opening is to short to fit a carboy. Figured it'd be easier to cut out the drawer divider and seal up the front. I'm not 100% sold on that idea yet.

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