Originally Posted by JordanThomas
Also, I've always wondered whether the temperature range listed by Fermentis are temperatures in the environment (room) or within the fermenter during full activity.
Since it appears nobody's answered you, I will. Their temperature range actually (technically) refers to neither one of what you said, but it's much closer to the latter. The temperatures they, and every other yeast company refers to, is the temperature of the wort/beer in the fermentor at ANY GIVEN TIME. A small but important difference. It's certainly what the fermentor should be at peak activity, but it's also what it should be at when it's just getting started and/or winding down, when their isn't quite so much activity.
So how do you know what the room temperature should be to make sure the fermentor temperature is ideal? You can't. In fact, there is no such temperature in the first place.
That should highlight the major disadvantage of trying to indirectly achieve a certain ferm temp by merely controlling the room temp. An ideal fermentation system uses temperature feedback from the fermentor itself to control the ferm temp DIRECTLY.
Whether this is done automatically with a temperature controller, or manually with a swamp cooler and bottles of ice, directly controlling ferm temps is a significant step forward for ANY brewer and will doubtlessly result in better and more consistent beer.