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Old 05-21-2009, 04:22 AM   #1
DeafSmith
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Default Need advice on temp. controller for fermentation

I finally got around to getting a chest freezer for fermentation control (Frigidaire 9 cu. ft.). It's big enough to easily hold two carboys and a blowoff jug with a couple cases of bottles on the compressor hump, and no collar needed. Now I need a controller. For my immediate needs, probably any controller would work - I've heard about Ranco, Johnson, and Love. But I'm thinking about getting a dual output controller for the future. Right now, I'm just brewing ales and bottling, but somewhere down the road, I may want to start kegging, at which point I would need a keezer and still need an ale fermentation chamber. Here's an idea I had, which I would like some feedback on (it'll be several months at least before I am ready to implement this).
1. Build a collar for the freezer
2. Use the freezer for kegs and maybe also lagering, so it'll now be too cold for fermenting ales.
3. Build a separate insulated box with a removabel lid to sit next to the freezer for ale fermenting.
4. Use the cold air from the freezer to cool the ale fermenting box - either using the transmission radiator method with a tank of non-toxic antifreeze (or even plain water with something added to kill mold and bacteria?) or more simply, just run a couple of two or three inch diameter tubes (well insulated) thru the collar with a fan which kicks on when the temperature in the box gets too high, to pull cold (30's) air into the insulated box to maintain temp in the 60's. Does either of these methods sound feasible?
Would a Love or other 2 output controller be able to control both the power to the freezer to maintain temps in the 30's and also control the pump and/or fan to keep box temps in the 60's?
Note - the freezer is in my kitchen - would probably stay there even if I added the box (no SWMBO to worry about ). The garage just gets too hot in the summer (over 100 degrees sometimes). Cold ambient temps will not be a problem.
Any recommendations on brand of controller?



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Old 05-21-2009, 12:23 PM   #2
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Go with the Love dual stage controller. They are easy to wire (info is on this forum).

I plug in my chest freezer and a small ceramic heater to mine (~$20 at Lowes). Works great all year long.



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Old 05-21-2009, 12:24 PM   #3
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If you are so inclined to have everything connected in close proximity, here is the switch you are looking for. However you will find that your keezer is too cold for most lagers. I would just create a separate fermentation fridge/cooler for both your ales and lagers.

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Old 05-21-2009, 12:49 PM   #4
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Sorry to be a naysayer buzzkiller, IMHO you would be better off finding a separate unit,be it a small fridge or freezer for your fermentation. While your idea certainly has merit, building the fermentation box seems laborious and will certainly cost a few bucks for materials alone. In my area, free fridges and freezers are plentiful if you are patient and seek them out. CL is your friend. I am going today to look at an older 10 cf GE single door fridge free for removal.

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Old 05-23-2009, 04:00 PM   #5
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Questions for you, the freezer you picked up, are you able to keep (or would you be able to keep) two carboys with airlocks in it? I am looking for a freezer to use just for fermentation.

thanks

Matt

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Old 05-23-2009, 05:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meschaefer View Post
Questions for you, the freezer you picked up, are you able to keep (or would you be able to keep) two carboys with airlocks in it? I am looking for a freezer to use just for fermentation.

thanks

Matt
Matt, I can easily keep two carboys with room for airlocks or blowoff tube, plus a blowoff jug plus a couple cases of bottles on the compressor hump (have to cut the top off the top box to get the lid to close), plus a few spare bottles stashed in the nooks and crannies. The freezer is the Frigidaire model LFFC09M5HWA 8.8 cu. ft. (advertised as 9 cu. ft.) model. The compressor hump is on the left side and extends all the way across from front to rear. The overall width of the inside is 36 inches wide by 16.5 inches front to back, and 28.25 inches deep (except for the part over the compressor hump). The compressor hump is 11.25 inches wide and 10 inches tall. In summary, I have a deep space, measuring 24.75 by 16.5 by 28.25 high and a shallow space measuring 11.25 by 16.5 by 18.25 high.

Thanks to the rest of you for your advice. I decided to go with the Johnson A419 as it was already packaged, as opposed to the Love which is designed for panel mount. I didn't want to cut a hole in my freezer or buy a box to mount the Love. I didn't have much luck finding a freezer on Craigslist, but I was in a hurry to start brewing again. For the second freezer or fridge, I'll have more time to look, so maybe I'll find something cheap - if so, I agree that would be a better way to go than building a separate chamber.

Edit - I can easily fit my 5 gallon glass carboy and my 6 gallon BB with airlocks in my freezer. I don't have a 6.5 gallon carboy, so don't know if it is short enough to fit.
Edit - corrected depth to 28.25 inches (was 24.75)


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