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lalenny

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I have been scouring the classifieds in search of the perfect beer fridge for about 6 months with no luck. Now that the season is starting to warm, so are my kegs in the garage.



I found a chest freezer in the paper today for a very reasonable rate. Has anyone converted a freezer to a keg fridge? Can the thermostat be adjusted to higher temps, etc.



thanks

 

DeRoux's Broux

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you can use the freezer. you can get an external thermostat over-ride/controler from most homebrew shops. most people use them to control lagering temp's, but i dont see why you cant use it (and i'm sure some do).
they run from about 45.00 for standarsd to about 90.00 for a digital unit.
cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 
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lalenny

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hmmm $45 or $90? That seems pretty steep. I'm on a tight budget here. Thanks for the input!
 

ryser2k

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lalenny said:
hmmm $45 or $90? That seems pretty steep. I'm on a tight budget here. Thanks for the input!
If that's expensive for you, dare I ask how much you are paying for this freezer? :D
 
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lalenny

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The freezer is a 15 cubic ft white-westinghouse, and I got it for $60. It is only a couple of years old. The owners are military and had to move, so I got a good deal on it. It fits about 6-5 gallon kegs, a fermentor, and supplies (yeast, hops, etc)



I called a couple of used appliance stores to ask them if that thermostat would work or not and one guy said that it wouldn't. He said that by the time the thermostat kicks off it will continue to cool the compartment below freezing? I'll get a couple more opinions from appliance guys.



I would love to hear from someone on the forum who has tried this though.

 

bikebryan

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lalenny said:
The freezer is a 15 cubic ft white-westinghouse, and I got it for $60. It is only a couple of years old. The owners are military and had to move, so I got a good deal on it. It fits about 6-5 gallon kegs, a fermentor, and supplies (yeast, hops, etc)



I called a couple of used appliance stores to ask them if that thermostat would work or not and one guy said that it wouldn't. He said that by the time the thermostat kicks off it will continue to cool the compartment below freezing? I'll get a couple more opinions from appliance guys.



I would love to hear from someone on the forum who has tried this though.

Your appliance guy doesn't know what he is talking about.

With temperature controllers, you set both the desired temp and the differential, or the +/- amount you want the unit to be above or below that temp. If you set your controller at 40 with a 4 degree differential, it will usually cool to 36 and shut off the freezer, allow it to rise to 44 then restart.

How exactly can a freezer that is shut off continue to cool down? And it is shut down. The controller kills power to the freezer.

All sorts of people use exactly this sort of setup with no problems. Don't trust your appliance guys!
 
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lalenny

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Thanks Bryan. Do you have a freezer that operates on one of these of thermostats?

I am also worried that the freezer is not used to being un-plugged then re-plugged in and that this may cause the freezer to fail entirely in a short period of time? I'm sure that the built in on and off system within the freezer is less harsh then the described mechanism?



I'm definatly going to get more professional opinions then just the one "appliance guy" that I spoke with earlier.



And more comments are definitly welcome.
 
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Getting a little confused with this thread...

The typical deep freezer thermostat will not control at the temperatures you want. They are designed for lower temps. The cooling system itself will do whatever it is told so it will work if the thermostat works in the desired range. What the appliance guy you spoke to may have been saying is that the thermostat that comes with the unit cannot regulate at the higher temperatures you desire. Even setting the thermostat at its warmest, the temperature will get much cooler than you want before it ever kicks off. You will need an after market temperature regulator as mentioned.

Once again confused...
I am also worried that the freezer is not used to being un-plugged then re-plugged in and that this may cause the freezer to fail entirely in a short period of time? I'm sure that the built in on and off system within the freezer is less harsh then the described mechanism?
The compressor is on / off... no matter if it is un-plugged and plugged in to maintain temperature or if the supplied thermostat controls it or if you use an aftermarket thermostat to control it, it's just on / off. What WILL shorten the life is if this cycling occurs too rapidly (short cycling). When the compressor kicks off, the system is at a high pressure from running. If you immediately try to turn the compressor back on, it is now working against this high pressure and the starting current of the compressor is very high and will shorten its life considerably. As long is the compressor is off for a length of time (say 10 mins) before it is turned back on, it is fine. During this time while the compressor is off, the system pressures equalize and when the compressor tries to start, it is starting against a much lower pressure and will not draw the high currents as mentioned before.

Until you get into upper end expensive home air conditioning units and commercial units, you will not have any pressure regulating / equalizing lines which are the solution to this problem.

In summary, get an aftermarket thermostat!
http://www.morebeer.com/product.html?product_id=16663
 
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lalenny

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Sorry about the confusion. I understand that the thermostat that is in the freezer won't work for higher temps.

I have a limited knowledge of refrigeration compressors, so I was not sure what damage could be done to them and how. If short cycling is the only potential problem then it seems that the after market thermostat is the way to go .



I just like to be informed about potential problems before I create work-a-rounds.



Thanks for the info Dyer!
 

DeRoux's Broux

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bikerbryan is right. your appliance guy doesn't know what he's talking about. the external thermostat controler works good, and ton's of homebrewer's use them on freezers and refrigerators. talk to your HBS and i'll bet they use one to lager.

cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 
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lalenny

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just to keep the record straight that appliance guy is some random dude that I called out of the phonebook. I don't know the dude.

Also, my local HBS here sucks. I am going to Denver this weekend, so I will visit a couple of HBSs there.
 

Janx

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You've gotten really good info here, so I'll just pipe in that yes, I have used a chest freezer in this way with an add-on thermostat and it works fine. You'll almost certainly pay more for the thermostat than the freezer, but that's life. Cheers! :D
 

JEM Australia

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I used a very cheap (A$30) battery powered digital thermostat that I wired in series with the existing fridge thermostat. Therefore it just hangs inside the fridge and controls it to the desired temp.

The thermostat relay is latched to save the batteries, so if the batteries go flat, the worst that can happen is the thermostat locks "on" and the existing fridge thermostat turns it off (albeit at a colder then optimal temp) or the if the thermostat locks "off", the fridge just warms up (ie. no chance of frozen beer and broken bottles). Batteries have lasted three months so far.

By the way, a standard fridge thermostat is just a controlled relay contact, nothing special. The external version doesn't treat the compressor any differently. The only catch is that if you use one that sits outside the fridge or freezer and the power cord plugs into it, you lose the fridge light and possibly the proper defrost function. Doing what I did leaves all the normal functions in place, but it just operates at your desired temperature.
 

bikebryan

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JEM Australia said:
By the way, a standard fridge thermostat is just a controlled relay contact, nothing special. The external version doesn't treat the compressor any differently. The only catch is that if you use one that sits outside the fridge or freezer and the power cord plugs into it, you lose the fridge light and possibly the proper defrost function. Doing what I did leaves all the normal functions in place, but it just operates at your desired temperature.
Losing the light is no big deal, at least not to me. Losing the proper defrost function also won't matter that much since you more than likely will never have the unit drop down where condensation will freeze, generating frost that needs to be defrosted!
 
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lalenny

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Thanks Guys! I'll keep you posted on the solution that I choose and how it is working out.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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i picked up a 7 cu ft chest freezer this weekend, < 1 yr old for $60. ordered my johnson refrigeration control from northern brewer this morning ($50 bucks). so, for a little over $100 bucks i have expanded my brewing horizons to bocks, octoberfests, cech pils, etc.

DeRoux's Broux
 

Hatzie

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I just finished converting my 14.8 cu ft chest freezer to a kegerator. The outside controller works great, I really don't think there is anything to worry about.
 

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