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conical fermenter heater/cooler

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kshuler

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Hopefully this unit will give me what I want and that is to nudge the temp a few degrees one way or the other to keep it at optimum Ale temps.
It looks like you did not insulate the cone or the top... I wonder if doing so would make it function better? Also, the insulation you used is the reflectix type and the one used by the Morebeer conical is a different type--- would changing the insulation make it more efficient for dropping temps, do you think? The morebeer conical is insulated everywhere except where valves come out it looks like... you may be getting some heating from ambient from the non-insulated areas.

The thing about the exothermic reaction that has to be counteracted is quite true, however, fermentation may also help some with making cooling more efficient, as the continuous mixing of the beer will reduce localized cooling effects and bring more of the warm beer to the surface of the vessel faster. Might make cooling more efficient when you need it most?

Also, even with the perfectly fitting aluminum blocks, they are still NOT perfectly fitting. There are little microscopic air gaps that prevent efficient heat transfer. THe whole thing would work better if some sort of heat conductive paste were applied between the fermentor and aluminum blocks, although cleanup would be painful. Also thermal compounds seem quite expensive and you would need a lot. Does anybody know of a cheap way to get better contact between the aluminum blocks and the steel wall of the conical? I see these "thermal pads" on ebay like this, but I have no experience nd don't know how good they are as compared to metal to metal contact. Anyone have experience with these?

Klaus
 

JohnnyBe

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Thermal paste is the way to go. A small amount is needed since you want the coat to be as thin as possible between the block and your conical. The stuff with silver in it is what you want like this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100007 This is going to help a lot with thermal transfer between the conical and cooling block. This is also what you should use between your peltier device and the cooling block.

The insulation that Morebeer uses (armaflex) has an R-Value of around 4.2. The reflective bubble insulation has a stated R- Value of 3.7 but there are several people who debate this and the main manufacturer doesn't list an r-value on their website since it is based on the specific application. With that said I would imagine that the aramflex insulation would maybe give you a higher r-value but I could be completely mistaken.
 

fastev

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Can someone point me in the direction of companies that will mill these blocks for a reasonable price? I'm having no luck at all.

thanks.
I can get more made. I went through a shop that I use at work all the time. I'd need to buy the metal but can have the blocks made. Keep in mind though, that I measured mine had blocks made for the eBay 7.3gal fermenters. I think the O.D. is the same as the Stout version so they should work.
 

kshuler

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I can get more made. I went through a shop that I use at work all the time. I'd need to buy the metal but can have the blocks made. Keep in mind though, that I measured mine had blocks made for the eBay 7.3gal fermenters. I think the O.D. is the same as the Stout version so they should work.
If you can do this, I would gladly pay a bit extra for your trouble. I haven't tried to find a place to do the milling yet, but over the next few days that is going to be my goal. I have aluminum blocks since onlinemetals.com is located here in Seattle and does local pickup. But if I can't find a place to do the milling, it would be great if you could get a run made and then people could buy from you.

Klaus
 
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Banjoman002

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I was thinking you could send me the blocks and I'd have the shop that did mine do it, but then it occurred to me they'd need to take measurements off your fermenter..they could use mine but I'd have to take all the stuff off of it and having just got it all on that does not appeal to me, :) Have you tried smaller outlying communities that may have shops with CNC machines?
 

fastev

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If you can do this, I would gladly pay a bit extra for your trouble. I haven't tried to find a place to do the milling yet, but over the next few days that is going to be my goal. I have aluminum blocks since onlinemetals.com is located here in Seattle and does local pickup. But if I can't find a place to do the milling, it would be great if you could get a run made and then people could buy from you.

Klaus
If you are in a bind let me know and I'll try to help out. I don't think I want to have a bunch of blocks made; I'm sure I'd end up sitting on them and out a bunch of money. People get really excited at the beginning and want in, but once it comes time to pay it's a different story.
Once I get my NC mill up and running it'll be a different story as I can make them myself quickly since I already wrote a program. Unfortunately, that is a ways out.
I might set up my rotary table and knock a couple out manually just to see how long it takes.
 

rvklein

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My fermenter has a 200mm radius. I already have the aluminum (8.75"x6"x1") The numbers I have are:

Arc Radius 200mm
Arv height 15.0950mm
Arc Width 6"
Arc Length 156.635mm

If someone is willing to do so could you get me a quote and I could ship you the blocks. I'd greatly appreciate it and will include some homebrew! :)
 
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Banjoman002

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I'd be more than happy to do that, though I'm a bit far from you (Washington State) I'll go out tomorrow and get you a quote.

Rich
 
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Banjoman002

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My fermenter has a 200mm radius. I already have the aluminum (8.75"x6"x1") The numbers I have are:

Arc Radius 200mm
Arv height 15.0950mm
Arc Width 6"
Arc Length 156.635mm

If someone is willing to do so could you get me a quote and I could ship you the blocks. I'd greatly appreciate it and will include some homebrew! :)
I went out to Jetco today (They did my blocks) http://www.jetco-usa.com/
They quoted $80.00. If you want to send me your blocks and bucks I'll get them out there and ship them back at ya when they're finished.:mug:

Rich
 

marcb

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So the little Frankenferm with the peltier started a batch of Cal Common at 78 last night, checked this morning and it was down to 63. Lets see how it does all week set at 65!

image-3652534064.jpg
 

marcb

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marcb said:
So the little Frankenferm with the peltier started a batch of Cal Common at 78 last night, checked this morning and it was down to 63. Lets see how it does all week set at 65!
Here are some detailed pics.

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Veritas

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Last year I took my tax return and gifted myself with a 14 gallon h/c conical from morebeer. (My swmbo actually suggested it! I am a lucky man.) anyhow, I've got to say that it has transformed my brewing! Temperature control for fermentation (from 68 for ales up to 80 for saison with perfect control), yeast harvesting, crashing, bright tank, clean in place... I love it. But I'm doing more lagers now and wish I could drop it down to lagering temps, like the ultimate conical does. I do temperature control a large chest freezer (two stage controller with a ceramic heater, works great)

Has anyone built one of these capable of lagering? Is so, I will make this my next project! (I'm thinking 10 gallon batches, by the way.)

pgbw700.jpg
 

AutoDog

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Some impressive handiwork on this thread!

Now that several of you have had your systems up and running for awhile now, has anyone had success getting these conicals down to lagering or even cold-crash temperatures?

-AD
 

marcb

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AutoDog said:
Some impressive handiwork on this thread!

Now that several of you have had your systems up and running for awhile now, has anyone had success getting these conicals down to lagering or even cold-crash temperatures?

-AD
Yes sir, crashing in these is no big deal....takes anywhere from 12-24 hours. I doubt you'd want to lager in one of these as they frost up pretty good while crashing so I'm not sure they would last if on 24/7 for an extended period of time. Also the quality of the peltier matters, one of the cheap ones I bought died at the end of my second fermentation and had to be replaced.
 

Clawson

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Sorry to dig up a old thread. How does this work in higher ambient temperatures? Does everyone keep it inside their house or does anyone leave it free standing in their garage? I wonder how this would work during the heat of the summer.

Matt
 

marcb

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Clawson said:
Sorry to dig up a old thread. How does this work in higher ambient temperatures? Does everyone keep it inside their house or does anyone leave it free standing in their garage? I wonder how this would work during the heat of the summer. Matt
No worries, these maintain temp fine during summer. I use mine in the garage without issue. Even if the garage is in the 90's, it has no problem maintaining 68 for fermentation. Keep in mind that this will only cool 20-30 below ambient so the hotter the ambient the higher your low end temp will be.
 

kosmokramer

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Awesome! I am on the line weather to buy the morebeer version or build one of these, thanks for all the info!
 

marcb

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I've got my prototype that I won't really use anymore as it's only a 7g conical and I've gone to ludicrous sized batches. I would let it go for $500 complete with heating pad, TEC, and all accessories. PM me if interested.
 

marcb

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I've got my prototype that I won't really use anymore as it's only a 7g conical and I've gone to ludicrous sized batches. I would let it go for $500 complete with heating pad, TEC, and all accessories. PM me if interested.

Anyone interested before I stick it on CL?
 

kshuler

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Finally got my parts milled... actually I just bought the kit from Stout Kettles and Tanks. I wired and plugged in everything and it tests well... nice layer of ice building up on the cold side, and the warm side seems to be dissipating heat pretty well. I'll test it tomorrow, I think, if I get a chance, on actual beer.
 

kshuler

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That's the one I used. Fits perfectly onto the fermentor. Only issue I had was that the posts that attach to the aluminum bar are a little too high... they don't really compress on the peltier and leave a little space. I did manage to get the peltier to fit in there rather snug, but only after adding about 1mm of the thermal paste, and this stuff is supposed to be very thin. I had to file down the posts a little to make a better fit, and now it is snug without so much thermal paste.
 

geoffey

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I also recently purchased the kit from Stout for my 7.3g conical. In fact I bought two of them so that I'll have a total of 4 peltier's. Put one of the kits together but not having much luck getting them to cool down. I feel like I've tried/tested everything here and cant' figure out what's wrong. I know the peltiers are working (I've tested them quickly by pushing the fan/heat sink off to the side and almost burned my finger when I turned it back on), I've got thermal paste on both sides, I have a good power supply I pulled out of a used PC at work, and I've tried flipping the fans so they pull the hot air off of the heat sink instead of pushing it in (not sure which is correct but they came pre-attached in the position where they push air IN to the heat sink). I'm using the TEC1-12709 peltiers, which looks like the same one others on this thread are using. Any one have any tips? The best I've done is get an existing batch in my conical to drop from 64 to 63 degrees. So ambient is 64 at the moment.
 

bruin_ale

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Geoff,
Did you test that the cold side actually gets cold? I had a chip recently that I tested to make sure it was working and nearly blistered my thumb - I didn't check the cold side of that one and put it back together assuming that it was working. After a couple days of it not cooling anything down, I decided to switch the chip out for a new one. Big difference - instant frosty on one side and a fairly warm heat sink on the other.
 

kshuler

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I also insulated the heck out of the aluminum block as well with closed cell foam tape. My fans blow down, as well, but the block still seems to make ice on the chiller plate.

The other thing I found is that the posts on the included fans are too tall to compress on the Peltier, so I had to file about a mm or 2 off of them to get better contact. After this the Peltier was wedged in pretty good and I was more convinced it would make better contact.

I haven't strapped it on to a fermentor yet, and I don't have any of the thermal paste to make a good connection, but one of my brews (in a 12 gallon conical) will be finished tomorrow, after which I will chill and see how it works. You can see my version here
 

bruin_ale

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Nice writeup. What do you mean by this line?
"I then cut out holes where the Peltier chillers were to go"

Can you show a picture of it? I would assume that you shouldn't have to cut into the block but rather put the chip on there and tighten the heatsink down to form a good connection.
 

bruin_ale

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oh sorry, I think I understand what you meant now.. you cut holes in the foam tape - not in the aluminum. LOL
 

rshosted

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Kshuler,

I am getting ready to copy your design. Any chance you could explain how you wired it? (or is it obvious once one has those parts?)

Also, what size peltier chips did you use? (model number by chance?)

I'm meeting a friend tomorrow who has a machine shop to discuss him making me some aluminum blocks. I'm hoping to put 2-4 aluminum blocks on a stout 20 gallon conical, each block with two peltiers. (Knowing this will create a large power drain) but I have access to a 50amp 240 source right where i brew.

Also, that PID controller you used, does that provide dual source so you can heat as well as cool with that controller? (wouldn't that be awesome)

I appreciate any help you can provide. And keep your fingers crossed that I can get some aluminum blocks made for a reasonable price, lol.

thanks,
Ryan
 

kshuler

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Sorry for the long delay. Work has been brutal and I haven't had time to brew until today. So, my basement is at 70 degrees, but I need to brew for an upcoming event, so I busted out this thing to actually test. Ambient temp is 70, temp of the fermentor is 64, right where I set it. I don't know how low I could go, but am not interested in lagering, so don't need any more chilling than this!

Sorry to not have responded to the last poster. I am not very good at drawing wiring diagrams, but it should be pretty straight forward. I wired up a modified Kal clone for my brewing controller, and tho was far less complicated. The only trick was the heating vs cooling part. I put a switch on that can switch the mode form cooling to heating if needed, and that complicated the wiring a bit. The PID can be switched from cooling to heating as well, and you have to switch both the PID and the switch on the controller, otherwise it won't work. It should work much better as a heater than a chiller. It would be great if it could auto switch from heating to cooling, but this is not possible with my setup.
 

kshuler

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Just an update... I finished insulting the fermentor today. Used 1" armaflex sheet insulation with sticky backing. Once it was insulated, I tested the system again, and found that one of my Peltiers was not working properly... So I think I could easily have gone below 64 degrees while brewing. It appears only one peltier may have been working, and while brewing, the fermentor was only insulated with a single thin sheet of reflectix which only covered about half of the surface area.

I was able to get ice to form inside my empty fermentor after about 15 minutes of running today. Can't wait to try this baby out on some actual beer!

Here are some pics

 

geoffey

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Very nice! Question for you or others doing a similar build: how much thermal grease have you used between the aluminum plates and the conical?

Reason I ask is that I'm getting only 12 degree temp drop from ambient and not at all getting close to an ice build up. But when I pull the peletiers off and test them they are getting down past freezing.

Also, where did you get that insulation?


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 

kshuler

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I used quite a bit. I bought some packets on ebay and probably used 10 tubes at least between the fermentor wall and the heat block. I should also say I am overdriving the pelters-- I think they are being run at about 15 volts.

Klaus
 

jeffmeh

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It is bad practice to insult your fermenters. It pisses of the yeast. :mug:
 
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