Cheep Glycol Chiller

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airbornespoon

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So I want a chiller that will allow me to cold crash my 5 gallon batches of beer in my grainfather conical fermenter. I was just putting the whole thing in my fridge after it was done but that fridge is gone and it was a pain in the ass anyway.
I have been looking for a glycol chiller for a while and they are all like a grand so naturally I looked on Alibaba and AliExpress and found one for like $400.
Just wondering how many BTU's do I really need to cold crash 5 gallons? I mean this one puts out 1400 BTU of cooling and that's comparable to some of the $1000 ones. Also what about aquarium coolers? I mean just fill it with glycol and crank it all the way down, but again what size do I really need and how many BTU will work?

Here's the link of one I'm using as an example.
https://app.alibaba.com/dynamiclink...share_detail&ck=share_detail&shareScene=buyer
 

augiedoggy

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So I want a chiller that will allow me to cold crash my 5 gallon batches of beer in my grainfather conical fermenter. I was just putting the whole thing in my fridge after it was done but that fridge is gone and it was a pain in the ass anyway.
I have been looking for a glycol chiller for a while and they are all like a grand so naturally I looked on Alibaba and AliExpress and found one for like $400.
Just wondering how many BTU's do I really need to cold crash 5 gallons? I mean this one puts out 1400 BTU of cooling and that's comparable to some of the $1000 ones. Also what about aquarium coolers? I mean just fill it with glycol and crank it all the way down, but again what size do I really need and how many BTU will work?

Here's the link of one I'm using as an example.
https://app.alibaba.com/dynamiclink?touchId=60830712467&type=product&schema=enalibaba://detail?id=60830712467&ck=share_detail&ck=share_detail&shareScene=buyer
I use a 6000btu chiller to control temps on (4) 110 gallon conicals... I am able to cold crash one (95 gallons of beer) at a time to 34 degrees while maintaining lagering and ale temps on the others with this. Going based upon that, I think for 5 gallons the 1,400 btu model should work well as long as your system design is sound meaning you actually have some insulation around the fermenter and the pump set at a slow enough rate.

BTW I bought my micromatic 1/3hp beerline chiller at a restaurant auction for $225... If you havent looked around for used options you might want to.
 

augiedoggy

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The official grainfather branded chiller they sell is actually just a small aquarium chiller as well just rebranded with thier control system added with a large cost increase.
 

Jag75

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I did the DIY chiller . I believe its 5,000btu. Have a 10 gallon cooler. It does great on my cf5 . It probably would be enough to use on 2 fermenters. I think I have about 300 wrapped into it .
 

augiedoggy

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I did the DIY chiller . I believe its 5,000btu. Have a 10 gallon cooler. It does great on my cf5 . It probably would be enough to use on 2 fermenters. I think I have about 300 wrapped into it .
The odd thing is 5,000 btu comes out to be almost 2 hp according to google...

I use a 5,000btu beerline chiller at home and had (4) 8-14 gallon stainless conicals running off it without blinking an eye... I bet your DIY chiller can handle more than you think but of course thier are many factors.
 

Vale71

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Air conditioning units have a very high COP when used for their designed purpose. The nominal BTU rating is given for those conditions, meaning the chilling unit is not really as powerful as one thinks. When chilling glycol to sub-freezing temperatures the COP will be greatly reduced and the unit will actually deliver much less than what it's nominally rated for.
 

augiedoggy

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Air conditioning units have a very high COP when used for their designed purpose. The nominal BTU rating is given for those conditions, meaning the chilling unit is not really as powerful as one thinks. When chilling glycol to sub-freezing temperatures the COP will be greatly reduced and the unit will actually deliver much less than what it's nominally rated for.
I understand the lower cop when dealing with air but I would think with the complete evap unit submerged in the bath liquid that the COP would be higher in this configuration.. by comparision the bare pipe style evap units on my 3 commercial built chillers dont seem to offer that much more surface area but I could be wrong.
 

Jag75

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The odd thing is 5,000 btu comes out to be almost 2 hp according to google...

I use a 5,000btu beerline chiller at home and had (4) 8-14 gallon stainless conicals running off it without blinking an eye... I bet your DIY chiller can handle more than you think but of course thier are many factors.
Dang ! 4 fermenters of that magnitude is impressive. I have a fastferment as well and I'm thinking of getting a coil or cool stick . That way I'd have 2 fv available.
 

augiedoggy

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Dang ! 4 fermenters of that magnitude is impressive. I have a fastferment as well and I'm thinking of getting a coil or cool stick . That way I'd have 2 fv available.
well by comparision at the brew pub as I mentioned above we control temps and cold crash (4) 110gallon 3bbl conicals with a single 1/3hp chiller .. thats a much bigger load for virtually the same size chiller.
 

Jag75

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I keep my glycol at 50f and it rarely kicks on . It holds the temp very well. I haven't had it lower then 35 yet .
 

zebradeltaone

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So I want a chiller that will allow me to cold crash my 5 gallon batches of beer in my grainfather conical fermenter. I was just putting the whole thing in my fridge after it was done but that fridge is gone and it was a pain in the ass anyway.
I have been looking for a glycol chiller for a while and they are all like a grand so naturally I looked on Alibaba and AliExpress and found one for like $400.
Just wondering how many BTU's do I really need to cold crash 5 gallons? I mean this one puts out 1400 BTU of cooling and that's comparable to some of the $1000 ones. Also what about aquarium coolers? I mean just fill it with glycol and crank it all the way down, but again what size do I really need and how many BTU will work?

Here's the link of one I'm using as an example.
https://app.alibaba.com/dynamiclink?touchId=60830712467&type=product&schema=enalibaba://detail?id=60830712467&ck=share_detail&ck=share_detail&shareScene=buyer
This is interesting. Looking at the pictures and video, where are the in and out puts for the glycol machine? I apologize if I'm missing them
 

Jag75

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well by comparision at the brew pub as I mentioned above we control temps and cold crash (4) 110gallon 3bbl conicals with a single 1/3hp chiller .. thats a much bigger load for virtually the same size chiller.
Do you guys dump yeast , dry hop and then cold crash ?
 

augiedoggy

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I keep my glycol at 50f and it rarely kicks on . It holds the temp very well. I haven't had it lower then 35 yet .
it would likely actaully run less often for less time if you brought the bath temp down.. Ive tried it myself at higher temps and found this to be the case in my setup.
 

augiedoggy

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This is interesting. Looking at the pictures and video, where are the in and out puts for the glycol machine? I apologize if I'm missing them
glycol machine? this unit is the chiller but it is not the built in bath style.. there are 2 1/2" stainless threaded fitting in one of the photos..
 

augiedoggy

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because I use brucontrol to control my chiller it has a graph that show the real time as well as the history of the temp and how often it kicks on and off.
 

Vale71

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I understand the lower cop when dealing with air but I would think with the complete evap unit submerged in the bath liquid that the COP would be higher in this configuration.. by comparision the bare pipe style evap units on my 3 commercial built chillers dont seem to offer that much more surface area but I could be wrong.
Transfer to the glycol is certainly very efficient but you've still got very different operating parameters (temps and differential) compared to the design specs so you won't get such a high COP for sure.

Your commercial chiller was designed from the start to operate under typicial chiller parameters and will probably deliver very close if not exactly the performance it advertises.
 

augiedoggy

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So I want a chiller that will allow me to cold crash my 5 gallon batches of beer in my grainfather conical fermenter. I was just putting the whole thing in my fridge after it was done but that fridge is gone and it was a pain in the ass anyway.
I have been looking for a glycol chiller for a while and they are all like a grand so naturally I looked on Alibaba and AliExpress and found one for like $400.
Just wondering how many BTU's do I really need to cold crash 5 gallons? I mean this one puts out 1400 BTU of cooling and that's comparable to some of the $1000 ones. Also what about aquarium coolers? I mean just fill it with glycol and crank it all the way down, but again what size do I really need and how many BTU will work?

Here's the link of one I'm using as an example.
https://app.alibaba.com/dynamiclink?touchId=60830712467&type=product&schema=enalibaba://detail?id=60830712467&ck=share_detail&ck=share_detail&shareScene=buyer
This is the type of chiller grainfather actually sells as an option for you conical... it would likely work better for you than the type you linked. and it runs on ac power.. grainfather intentionally does not advertise btus or size anywhere other than it only drawing 300w ... with the insulation the conical has and small size a large chiller just isnt needed.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/VIVOSUN-1-4-HP-Aquarium-Water-Chiller-Refrigeration-for-Fish-Tank-Hydroponics/133282429817?_trkparms=aid=555018&algo=PL.SIM&ao=1&asc=20131003132420&meid=ecd07d0748d749eaabc43ed9db0a1596&pid=100005&rk=1&rkt=12&mehot=pf&sd=163975105530&itm=133282429817&pmt=1&noa=0&pg=2047675&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851
or even this smaller cheaper one.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Arctica-DB...297591?hash=item4da26963b7:g:V6QAAOSwJAxdz3aF
 
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CodeSection

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Do you guys dump yeast , dry hop and then cold crash ?
I'm not sure if you received an answer to this. My process is to dump the yeast/trub after the fermentation is complete, inject dry hops using a yeast brink and keep it there for two days. I add CO2 through the dump port once a day to "stir" the hop mush. Then after a couple of days I dump again and then cold crash to 32F. After the first 24 hours of cold crashing, I dump a third time. When I dump I use a large measuring cup so as to adjust my recipe in the future.

I generally cold crash for at least three days.
 

Jag75

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I'm not sure if you received an answer to this. My process is to dump the yeast/trub after the fermentation is complete, inject dry hops using a yeast brink and keep it there for two days. I add CO2 through the dump port once a day to "stir" the hop mush. Then after a couple of days I dump again and then cold crash to 32F. After the first 24 hours of cold crashing, I dump a third time. When I dump I use a large measuring cup so as to adjust my recipe in the future.

I generally cold crash for at least three days.
Ahh thank you . What amazes me is a lot of you guys shoot co2 up threw the dump port . I would of thought the beer would come rushing out , unless you barely crack open the valve
 

CodeSection

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Ahh thank you . What amazes me is a lot of you guys shoot co2 up threw the dump port . I would of thought the beer would come rushing out , unless you barely crack open the valve
There is no need to crack the valve. Really no different than when using the yeast brink to inject the hop mush. Open CO2 valve running at ~5 psi FIRST, then open dump valve. When finished agitating the hop mush with CO2, close dump valve FIRST, then turn off the CO2.
 
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airbornespoon

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Thanks for all the replies everyone however, I just found a $50 air conditioner that a friend of a friend is selling. So in efforts to keep it cheep as possible I'm gonna grab that and build my own chiller.
 

Jag75

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Thanks for all the replies everyone however, I just found a $50 air conditioner that a friend of a friend is selling. So in efforts to keep it cheep as possible I'm gonna grab that and build my own chiller.
Make sure it's a manual one . If its digital you may run into issues.
 

Jag75

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I thought the digital ones automatically go to energy saving mode when its kicked on. Read your thread , I guess if you know what your doing it's no harder then manual ac units.
 

augiedoggy

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I thought the digital ones automatically go to energy saving mode when its kicked on. Read your thread , I guess if you know what your doing it's no harder then manual ac units.
yes manual ones are easier and more safely controled via external temp controller like a coolbot vs the digital one but you can do it with the digital ones by modifying the built in controller or cutting it out completely.
 

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If you cut out controller completely, digital AC becomes completely manual.

When using a digital external controller(eg inkbird 308), it is good to set up the temp & time lags on controller so unit does not short cycle.

If one was using a analog controller(eg johnson a19att), it might be handy to still have AC unit's control, but probably not necessary.
 
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airbornespoon

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So here is what I ended up creating. I mounted everything to a furniture roller. It cools quite well. It's a 5000 BTU AC so it should be more than enough for doing one 5 gallon batch at a time and hopefully it will cold crash too.
Any questions on the build I am happy to answer for you.


IMG_20200125_165251.jpg



IMG_20200125_165301.jpg
 

augiedoggy

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that temp probe will likely fail unless you put it in a plastic bag... mine all worked for a while then the liquid ruined them.
 
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airbornespoon

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that temp probe will likely fail unless you put it in a plastic bag... mine all worked for a while then the liquid ruined them.
Really??
It looks like it's sealed, can the glycol eat away at it or something?
And by plastic bag, what did you do just put it on a Ziploc and ziptie it closed?
 

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I made a thermowell out of some 3/8 copper tubing that I pinched off & soldered the end. The temp reading is accurate and the inkbird probe is dry.
 

augiedoggy

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Really??
It looks like it's sealed, can the glycol eat away at it or something?
And by plastic bag, what did you do just put it on a Ziploc and ziptie it closed?
yeah it is sealed but eventually it the seal between the probe and wire must break because I had a few fail from gycol/water exposure. before I switched to a homemade thermowell.
 
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As a preventative measure I made a thermowell. I had some leftover tubing from my computer's water loop. So I cut a section and filled about 1/2in with hot glue then as it was cooling I heated the end up and flattened it with a hammer, (now a swing just the smooth side to cool and flatten) and the bench. Then I heated up the other end and added the temp probe and then twisted it and compressed it and threw some more hot glue on there for good measure. I then added a weight and ziptie so it won't float to the top but will stay in the middle of the tank.

IMG_20200126_155752.jpg
 

Vale71

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The temp probe on the inkbird?
On that or any other cheap controller you can buy off the Internet. To withstand full immersion in water the probe must have an IP68 rating. It does not need to be encapsulated in stainless since in this case there is no contact with food, so plastic is fine provided it has the IP68 rating.
 
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