Recently, I decided that a fermentation chamber would be the obvious next step for my home brews. I've looked at a few designs, but I haven't been too crazy about them. I want something that can both heat and cool, as it gets a bit cold in my basement in the winter. I don't really want to change frozen water jugs either. So after looking into a few options, I turned my attention to Peltier coolers as a source for cooling.
I drew up a quick design idea that uses a Peltier cooler mounted to a piece of aluminum inside a wooden box filled with water. Attached is a photo which should describe the basic concept. Basically, I was thinking of constructing a wooden box that would contain the carboy surrounded by a small amount of water. One of the wooden panels would have a section cut out which would be replaced by an aluminum plate that is attached to a Peltier cooler (the cold side). Attached to the other side of the Peltier cooler would be a heat sink. I would have one fan dissipating heat from the heat sink and another fan circulating the water in the box. That's basically the extent of the design. Of course the Peltier cooler would be connected to a temperature controller and the fans hooked up to a power source. I'm also thinking that I could extend the sides upward with some foam or additional wood to improve insulation.
I'd like some general opinions on this design. If this is a waste of time for some reason I don't understand, let me know. If there are any slight improvements that can be made, I'm all ears.
In addition to general opinions, I also have some specific questions
- As I understand it, the Peltier cooler hot/cold sides can be reversed by reversing the direction of the current. Is this feasible in this design? I'm imagining that I just connect the Peltier cooler to both the hot and cold outputs of the temperature controller, but reverse the connections.
- I'm concerned about the wooden box leaking water or warping. Is there a good way to seal it? Should I just line it with a plastic liner or something? My only concern with a plastic liner is reduced conductivity of the Peltier cooler. Maybe I could glue the plastic lining to the aluminum and cut that part of the plastic liner out so the aluminum is directly touching the water?
- Should I replace the waterproofed computer fan with a submersible pump?
- Is one Peltier cooler capable of sufficient heating and cooling?