DIY glycol cooling?

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Elfmaze

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OK SO i was thinking of this. If i have a keezer with a loop tower. Can i put a gallon of antifreeze in the freezer and aquarium pump it around the tower bound to the beer lines rather than air cool?
 

spotter

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Yes. Several folks (including me) have but typically for longer run. Mine is 10' from fridge to faucet, plus loops.

There's an awesome thread on using copper pipe as a passive cooling solution for a tower attached directly to a fridge. I'd try that first since it's cheap, easy, and should be pretty effective.

Keep in mind the pump will generate some heat, the pump will vibrate/hum, you'll need to power it which means another hole someplace, the propylene gycol (pink RV antifreeze) can evaporate, so use at least a covered reservoir, and have enough glycol so that the bulk of it is in the reservoir getting cold, not in the lines getting warm. Don't get me wrong, glycol is awesome for cooling and I love mine, but it has a few downsides.

If you do go that route, for me bending the copper carrying the glycol was not easy. Once in a tight coil it becomes pretty ridged and I used plastic quick connects to make 90 degree angles. Easy and saves a lot of space, but make sure the tubing isn't bent where it enters the quick connect, that will leak.
 

Bobby_M

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If your reservoir is inside the keezer, there's no reason to use glycol because you don't run it below freezing temps. The reason they use some concentration of glycol in cooling systems is so that they can chill the fluid down below freezing to make them more effective. Use water.
 

lazybean

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Totally agree with Bobby M. No need to use Glycol with it being poisonous and all. Some sanitized water would be more then sufficient.
 

spotter

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Totally agree with Bobby M. No need to use Glycol with it being poisonous and all. Some sanitized water would be more then sufficient.
Definitely worth pointing out that you should NOT use ethylene glycol. I specifically said the "pink RV version", but updated to specify Propylene glycol which is not nearly as toxic as ethylene glycol (like you'd put into a car radiator). Hmm, wikipedia even says it's used in oral applications, so I assume non-toxic but I'm still not going to drink any.

+1 to Bobby_M's suggestion to use water if it's stored with the kegs. My setup uses an classic upright fridge with the reservoir in the freezer well below zero and the kegs in the fridge at 38. My line wasn't close to cold enough at keg storing temps, although others have had success. I think it depends a lot on the length of the line being chilled.
 

Hang Glider

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My line wasn't close to cold enough at keg storing temps, although others have had success. I think it depends a lot on the length of the line being chilled.
I cool my pink glycol (guess I could switch to water, but it's all working right now) in my kegerator (about 38F), and pump it on demand into my fermentation chamber, but the line length is about 3 feet, wrapped in A/C-type high-density foam. Also, it didn't work until I hit 3 gallons of coolant. So line length, and available volume play as important a part as temperature. If I had a freezer compartment, as Spotter does, I'm sure I could use less volume.

however, with the set-up I have, I can now hold 2 5-gal carboys at 62F indefinitely if I want.
 

NoVa

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I've read everyone talk about reservoirs, but I'm not sure what should I use if I do decide to go this route. I read that some people use a corny keg to recirculate, but what if you only have room on the freezer hump?
 

lazybean

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Definitely worth pointing out that you should NOT use ethylene glycol. I specifically said the "pink RV version", but updated to specify Propylene glycol which is not nearly as toxic as ethylene glycol (like you'd put into a car radiator). Hmm, wikipedia even says it's used in oral applications, so I assume non-toxic but I'm still not going to drink any.
TY Spotter, i never knew that was the difference with the pink stuff.
 

spotter

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I've read everyone talk about reservoirs, but I'm not sure what should I use if I do decide to go this route. I read that some people use a corny keg to recirculate, but what if you only have room on the freezer hump?
I use a squarish plastic bin with a lid I could easily cut. I wanted one that held more than a gallon, fit front to back leaving as much left over on the sides as possible, and would fit under my freezer shelf. I took a few measurements and looked around places until eventually I found one that fit and was cheap. Turned out to be at a grocery store.

During the initial setup and testing I used a bucket, and after noticing evaporation added saran wrap.
 

Hang Glider

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For mine, I found a sheet of acrylic and glued together a box that fit the 'hump' - the thin liquid paint remover works great as a glue for acrylic - when I found I needed more than the two gallons that holds, I got a length of 4" pvc, plugged the bottom, and ran the return hose in there, with an overflow back to tank one. The PCV tank sits between cornys. Voila - 3 gallons.
 
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Elfmaze

Elfmaze

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this is my tower



Think the liquid cooling will hold temperature better than air cooling via a fan?
 

Bobby_M

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I think you'll do fine with air but you might get condensation on the tower. If you go liquid cooling, you can wrap the bundle with insulation. How did you tighten the shank nuts all the way inside that pipe?
 
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Elfmaze

Elfmaze

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Ah see there is the real trick. Training the rats to use the wrenches took almost as long as building the damn tower.
 

chainsawbrewing

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i use the glycol set up in my bar. i used a pond pump from menards, inside of an empty corny keg that is filled with a glycol/water mixture. it's in the keezer with my other kegs, so it's not below freezing, but it's working out great. i have a trunk line i built that's around a 5ft run from keezer to faucets, instead of using copper, i used 1/2" rubber hose, going out of the pump up to the back of the shanks, then a 90* copper elbow, another short piece of the rubber hose, then another 90* copper elbow, and then the 1/2" rubber hose returning back down into the keg for the return. i wrapped my five beer lines around those two 1/2" glycol cooling lines, wrapped it all in pipe insulation, then duct tape, then more insulation, then more duct tape. it's working like a champ.
check out my bar build for some pictures and more explanation.
 

Acidjazz54

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I saw that someone mentioned the pump and how you'd have to cut another hole for the power etc. Do they sell a self-priming pump that you can mount on the outside of the keezer, say on a shelf, and then plumb that into the resevoir inside? Anyone seen anything like that?
 

chainsawbrewing

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I saw that someone mentioned the pump and how you'd have to cut another hole for the power etc. Do they sell a self-priming pump that you can mount on the outside of the keezer, say on a shelf, and then plumb that into the resevoir inside? Anyone seen anything like that?

i'm not sure, but with mine specifically, i already had to have a big hole in the side of my keezer (i did mine on the collar) for the trunk line to go through, so my power cord to my pump is through that same hole.

the way i understand those pond pumps to work, is they're obviously submerssable, and have to be, because theres a diaphram of some sort on the bottom of the pump that is what pulls the liquid into, and then out of the top of it, so i don't know how it could be worked that way. plus even if it was possible, the pump being oustide would mean you would have ambient temperature liquid in your lines that would also have to be somewhat oustide of the keezer/freezer which would defeat the purpose of the glycol system.

oh yeah, and you'd still have to have a hole in the keezer, because you'd have to get a line from the pump back into the keezer where the resivor is anyways.
 

farmbrewernw

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Yep use water if your not going below freezing I have some friends that have a brewery and they run a cooling unit from their walk in to their fermenting vessels using water. Good thing about using water versus glycol is when you get a leak it's easier to clean up, glycol tends to get kind of messy (I know we get leaks all the time on our glycol at the brewery).
 
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Elfmaze

Elfmaze

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What can you put in the water to keep it from getting funked up? or is the temperature all we need?
 

spotter

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I saw that someone mentioned the pump and how you'd have to cut another hole for the power etc. Do they sell a self-priming pump that you can mount on the outside of the keezer, say on a shelf, and then plumb that into the resevoir inside? Anyone seen anything like that?
+1 to everything Chainsawbrewing said
 

Suthrncomfrt1884

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Has anyone tried running sanitizer through the lines instead of just water or glycol? I'm looking into building a cooling system into my kegerator, but not sure which direction I'm going to go yet. I'm thinking the pond pump sounds like an easy setup.
 

x2wdtoyotax

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I would test the sanitizer fairly well before recirculating it. If it has any type of detergent it might get foamy? I guess you would want to choose the fluid wisely. It will remain in contact with the pump for long periods of time. who knows what it will do to the internal components. I like the water with a small amount of bleach idea. Just a thought.

I am also considering some type of recirculating cooling unit... not for the keezer. I want to make a fermentation chiller that is based on the same principle... well plus a radiator.
 
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