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Old 07-07-2011, 08:09 PM   #1
jrg42
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Default question on use of chest freezer (keezer vs ferm chamber)

After poking around this forum for a while it seems that most chest freezers are turned into keezers and not really use for a ferm chamber.

Is that just due to corneys being much easier to take in and out of the chest freezer and it being a pain in the butt to lift big glass carboys out of there? I have seen some comments along the lines of:
freezers make better keezers due to using lower temp to serve beer from
fridges make better ferm chambers

With an external temp controller, is it inherently better to use a freezer nearer freezing temps (40F) vs ferm temps (45-70F)? Better as in longer compressor life, not as hard on the guts of the freezer, etc...

Want to make fermenting lagers a lot more hassle free...set it and forget it; rather than monkeying around with changing out frozen water bottles 2 or 3 times a day in my current set up (carboy inside a cooler).

Also, is there a consensus on which external temp controller is boss?

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Old 07-07-2011, 08:23 PM   #2
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I'm sure you could use a freezer for a ferm chamber but I assume most people use their fridge because its a little easier to move around the carboys and I didn't have to buy a temp control device for my fridge I just adjusted it tell it was at the right temp. With a freezer you would either have to buy a temp control device or there is thread going on here about how to adjust the settings on your freezer by adjusting a screw on the build it temp control device. So I'm sure a chest freezer has been used before. So if your saying you have a chest freezer already laying around and you don't want a keezer then sure it can be used.

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Old 07-07-2011, 08:34 PM   #3
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1. There are pros and cons to both, but IME the freezers are preferable. They operate more efficiently than most fridges. The typically have more usable floor space for multiple fermenters or kegs. You can get big freezers, small freezers and pretty much anything in between.

2. Yes, it takes some effort and strength to hoist kegs and carboys into and out of a freezer and especially so if it has a collar added. No big deal so long as you are more or less able bodied.

3. The freezers are loafing at even 40*F. They are designed to run down to sub-zero temps. Generally, the lower the temp, the longer the compressor has to run, so it's easier on it to run at warmer temps, but we always run at relatively warm temps, even when lagering at 32*F. Remember, normal for the freezer is about minus 10*F or more.

4. I frequently brew lagers and an occasional Kolsch as well. I currently have three freezers and three fridges. Two freezers are dedicated to lagering, both during fermentation and the actual long cold lagering. The fridges are fermentation chambers for ales. The roles vary with needs. Somtimes a fridge or two is used for cold conditioning kegs or bottles in the que. A man cannot have enough refrigeration IMO. I really should build a cold room.

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Old 07-07-2011, 08:43 PM   #4
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I use a chest freezer as my fermentation chamber and it works great. I built a temperature controller based on the ebay aquarium build.

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Old 07-07-2011, 08:49 PM   #5
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As soon as I get the garage cleaned out I'll be getting a second chest freezer. I currently have a chest freezer turned keezer, and use a large minifridge for fermentation. However, it can only hold a single carboy at a time which is a logistical nightmare when trying to ferment multiple batches. Also, if I have an explosive fermentation it leaks out of the door and onto the garage floor. Therefore I'll be going to a chest freezer for fermentation due to capacity and cleanliness.

I'm 24 years old though, so lifting isn't an issue at the moment.

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Old 07-07-2011, 08:54 PM   #6
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I use a chest freezer for a ferm chamber. It is a pain to lift buckets in an out. I use the short, squat 6-gal ferm buckets - no wire handle to lift from, just indentations on the side. Also, its proportions mean I can only fit one in there at a time.

Nice thing though is to do a crash chill, just adjust the temp to whatever you want, even a little below freezing, and it's there in an hour or so.

I'm currently building a side-by-side kegerator/ferm chamber, and the freezer will be used for hop and yeast storage (at 0°F).

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Old 07-08-2011, 12:08 AM   #7
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I use my chest freezer for fermentation. Constant temp is key. I use an extermal Johnson controller. I tape the temp sensor(terminology) to the fermentor and tape a hand towel over it for insulation. It is amazing. I have a thermometer in the freeze and it is constantly at different temps, but my wort is always the same. If you have lifting problems it might be an issue, but I only put it in once and take it out once. Doing that for each beer every 3 weeks or so isn't really a hassle. Course I look like a young Lou Ferrigno.

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Old 07-08-2011, 12:18 AM   #8
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listen to bluemoose. my chest freezer or (ferm chamber) is set the same way with the temp sensor taped to the fermenter. my johnson controllers probe uses the ambient temperature. The ambient temp fluctuates but my fermentation temp is contant for the most part.

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Old 07-08-2011, 03:19 AM   #9
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I use mine as a fermentation chamber and for serving. When it's in fermentation mode, I just fill a 1 or 2 litre bottle with beer and put that in the fridge to get it a little colder. Most ferments I do for 1 week in the keezer and then pull them out to finish at room temp. If it's a lager I'm fermenting, then that's a good serving temperature too. I have a Ranco controller and am pleased with it. Maybe soon I'll get another chest freezer. My first one is a 9 cu ft I found at a yard sale for $40. It has worked great for 2 years.

I'm old and have RA, but I can still lift a full carboy in and out without too much pain.

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Old 07-08-2011, 03:23 AM   #10
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I have a chest freezer, and the space for a cold room or a ferm room.....cannot decide if I wanna make a keezer and a small fermentation room, or a big walk in cooler and a ferm chamber out of the freezer. as for lifting carboys and buckets, I would rig a pulley system overhead if it became an issue.

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