As of last night I finally decided to order an STC-1000 and "build" a fermentation chamber. I've been doing a certain amount of searching and reading and looking at others builds but I'm stuck deciding what to do.
The facts of my situation are:
1. SWMBO is NOT a fan of my spending money/time on my new-found hobby. She is also not a fan of giving up floor space for it.
2. Floor Space is at a bit of a premium in our house, particularly when it's storage space. The garage would be the place for any chamber, and there is room for a chest freezer but I think long term it might annoy her.
3. The Garage as mentioned would be the location. I live in Canada. It's not really insulated (Inside walls and insulated garage door). It does hold some heat/cold, never really going below 0 C in the winter, but it does get cold. That means not only would the chamber need to be cooled in the summer, but without a doubt heated in the winter.
4. Use: Ferment two Carboys. Maybe store 1/6 bbl Sanke kegs (up to 3). I would like the ability to cold crash the Carboys at the end of fermentation.
Originally I thought I'd just pick up a chest freezer from Kijiji, maybe a 7 cu ft for $75 or so. Wire up the STC-1000 and be done with it. It would require moving some junk around, but it would work. Also thought I'd wire in a light bulb outlet for heating (whether a 100W bulb in a can or an infrared heater).
Then, with thinking about floor space and reading, I got to thinking about an under-workbench chamber, built with 2x2's and rigid foam insulation. I actually need to build a proper workbench (right now I use an old, cheap flat-pack desk) which I'd build with either 2x3 or 2x4's.
So enter the dilemma. The chest freezer seems easier, and honestly cheaper. The problem is I give up floor space. The under-bench chamber seems neater to me, but I have some worries. Cost is one (material price adds up). Using a 5000 BTU window a/c unit strikes me as overkill but I don't know what else to use for cooling (and I'm not interested in boxing in a small fridge). Heating also worries me, would an element/bulb cause local melting of the foam insulation? What about cold crashing, would a window a/c do that or would doing so cause the a/c unit to freeze up? Lastly, what would the energy cost be for an under-workbench chamber vs. a chest freezer?
I guess what I'm looking for is as much wisdom and "lessons learned" that I can gather so whichever I go with does what I need it to and doesn't get me in trouble with the SWMBO (either floor space anger or cost anger).