Doubling Down: SS Brewtech Conical + FTSS + Glycol Power Pack

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mfabe

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If I posted in the wrong forum and this should be in the DIY forum, Mods please move it for me!

So for the last 4 months or so I’ve been using my chest freezer/keezer as a chill water source for my SS Brewtech 14 gallon conical with FTSS temp control system. Essentially I rigged it up as displayed in the picture; by installing customized bulkheads through the freezer wall and locating the pump in a 5 gallon corny keg. Since I’m located in Southern California, my fermentation area fluctuates between the high 60s and mid-to-high 70s ambient, depending on the season and time of day/night.



As a result, holding ale fermentation temps has not been a problem, as I can easy maintain a low 60’s primary fermentation point for cleaner ales or hefes etc. The problem came about when I attempted to crash cool or hold lager temps. Furthermore, now that were moving into the spring/summer months the load on the freezer and subsequent “compressor cycles” have been more and more frequent.

Since I would keep the freezer/chill source on the edge of freezing, the initial temp drop I received was fantastic. But upon further use, I found that the freezer wasn’t able to produce a recovery rate that was sufficient enough to keep the conical at lower temps for extended periods. I even tried adding crappy vodka in an attempt to lower the freezing temp of the chill water, and therefore the freezer thermostat, but I experienced very little incremental gain. The problem is obviously more structural.

Since the evaporator coils are merely chilling the air inside the freezer, and that in turn would remove heat from the chill water inside the keg, the cycle in which to maintain and recover a low enough temp simply took too long. The other problem is that I only have 5 gallons of chill water to cool 12ish gallons of beer. Plus the smaller compressors in most chest freezers, 1/8-1/6 HP, could not provide the BTUs/Hr to remove the heat that was absorbed by the chill water.

I found that the compressor ran much longer and more often since it was naturally not designed to remove any more heat than was lost naturally by the freezer’s insulation. I should preface that by saying that I think most users with the brew bucket and 7 gallon Chronical should be able to get by with this setup, but for the 14 gallon/half barrel Chronicals, there is no way the freezer can handle the load.

So my goals for a new system were essentially two-fold:
1) I wanted to invest in a long term solution that I can use for all the potentially necessary fermentation/cellaring functions, including lagering, crash cooling… etc.

2) I wanted the system to be expandable so that I can potentially daisy-chain more fermenters, so excess cooling capacity was a consideration

I looked at a ton of the DIY window A/C unit glycol chillers on HBT but I felt that they were never designed to serve the intended purpose, and through my eyes they appeared in pictures to be inefficient, clunky, and just plain god-awful looking. I know that many will disagree, yet its common knowledge that refrigerant high/low pressure configurations in addition to compressor, evaporator, and condenser size/configuration are designed with inherent efficiencies for a specific application.

So I started researching alternatives and decided to use a trunk-line power-pack type glycol chiller, which in turn provides more than enough BTU’s/Hr to chill and crash cool 3-4 times the amount of beer I was seeking to ferment. Just to verify my hunches I jetted over to probrewer.com to read up on the amount of BTU’s/hr that many commercial breweries were using to maintain and crash their insulated conicals. Now I realize that the SS Brewtech’s conical neoprene jacket doesn't have the same insulation factor that a double-wall jacketed poly-injected conical does, but it’s a point of reference worth researching.

Using this type of calculation (http://amchiller.com/size-brewery-chiller/ ) I would need at least 213 BTUs/Hr to pull down the fully-loaded fermenter by 41 degrees (75 minus 34) over 24 hours. Which isn’t very much, but that doesn’t factor in active fermentation and/or insulation loss very precisely… So I figured I would triple that figure and I could essentially turn the conical into a block of ice within 12 hours.

Looking at most of the glycol power packs on the market, they are extremely oversized and also extremely expensive for this purpose. I didn’t need to have a 7-10 gallon glycol bath, I didn’t need 5000+ BTUs/Hr, and I didn’t want to spend over $1K. Moreover, I was concerned about energy efficiency, and hoped that due to decreased compressor runtime and cycling, the chiller would be just-as or more energy efficient than my chest freezer rig.



So I scoured the interweb and chose what I thought was the best price when calculated at dollars per BTU/Hr. I purchased the BVL Controls Eco 33, 1/3 HP 3 gallon bath chiller from Rapids Wholesale (no sales tax plus free shipping!). For those that don’t know, or think that BVL is a no-name brand, they are a Canadian company that has been an OEM supplier of Micro Matic’s for forever and a day…. So the quality and fit-and-finish was everything that I expected for the price. For a point of reference the compressor/condenser pack was nearly the same Tecumseh units that UBC are using in their chillers.

The Eco 33 unit provides 2300 BTU/Hr of cooling capacity, and also has a pump (50GPH) that can actually be utilized in place of the small FTSS system 12v pump. The flow rates align pretty well, and it wasn’t extremely oversized for this purpose.




(In the pics I have it configured for the FTSS pump)

After receiving the chiller, I rewired the pump from a “constant on” configuration to a Johnson A419 temp controller, with the Johnson controls thermocoupling fitting perfectly into the supplied FTSS thermowell. That way the Chiller’s thermostat will maintain the glycol temp in the high 20s-low 30s and the Johnson will maintain the conical’s temp at any desired factor within about 5-10 degrees above the glycol temp. I also have some added peace of mind since the chiller’s pump is designed to be run constantly; so I don’t have to worry about long run times (except for the fact that I don’t want the beer to freeze in the conical). The only downside is the pump is louder since its not dampened by being submerged in the glycol bath. I’m still running tests on which pump and thermostat combo I prefer more.



The other convenient feature of this chiller is that it came “plumbed” from the factory with 3/8” barbs (more than likely for a glycol draught tower), so the chiller links right up to the FTSS coil, no modifications needed. I chose to go with thick wall silicone tubing (3/16” wall), due to the fact it remains extremely flexible even at sub-freezing temps, plus it’s an added layer of insulation. It won’t harden like PVC or vinyl tubing.



Although I’ve only processed one batch through the new system, my initial impressions are extremely positive. The compressor barely has to cycle in comparison to the chest freezer to maintain temps, and the temp drops extremely rapidly in a crash-cool scenario. In my tests using just water, it can drop the temp 30+ degrees inside of an hour if I’m really pushing it! Although it may be just one man’s opinion, this system is a must have for warm weather climates, or for homebrewers fermenting inside a garage where ambient temps can spike into the 80s and 90s.

The only downside is the added noise, which sounds like an average run of the mill hermetically sealed compressor on top of a good sized bedroom fan running at the same time. Ideally, this would be in a garage, so you wouldn’t ever notice the sound, and the plus side is that it doesn’t have to run very long.

I realize that many homebrewers will think this design is crazy overkill, and that I could have achieved the same results for less than half the cost. Yet those same people should identify with the fact that I’m pretty picky when it comes to my brewing equipment, and realize that there are countless other home brewers that would be interested in emulating my setup. Furthermore, I think this system will offer me a good amount of expandability.

I’m happy to field questions or run additional tests for anyone interested. Yet, I think that for what I’m seeking to accomplish with my home brewery that it couldn’t get any more perfect. Cheers!
 

reilersjr

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Thanks a ton for this wonderful post. I just purchased the FTSs for my 7 gal. chronical. Ultimately, I will go the glycol chiller route, but for now I'll do the 5 gallon keg method in a dorm fridge. Hopefully, this will work well for just 5 gallon batches to maintain temps at 60-65F.
 

NoahBeach

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Awesome write up/pics. Great looking setup you have there.

Question, did you play at all with having more chill water volume before switching over? I can definitely see you having issues with chilling ~11G of beer with 5G of water, but what about a larger reservoir, say 15G of water in a 50lb vittles vault or something? More thermal mass, less work for freezer, etc.
 
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Natdavis777

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You, sir, have an envious setup. Very easy on the eyes. I was too busy looking at your pics to read the rest of the post. Sorry.... Carry on
 
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mfabe

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I appreciate the positive comments about my setup, Thanks!

I actually think a larger chill water reservoir could have worked, but I just couldn't get past not having the evaporator coil in direct contact with the chill source. Especially to crash cool... The air median was just too inefficient.

But the other idea I had was to get one of those 3ish cu-ft chest freezers, then seal the entire interior with aquarium sealant, and finally fill it directly with glycol. Then at least you have about as close of contact as your going to get for a reasonable price..

There is no-name brand for sale on amazon for about 160 delivered, which is a great price, but you would need to fill it with about 15 gallons (7.5 gallons=1 Cu ft) of glycol solution. Which would probably equate to about $100-200 just by itself! The only reason I didn't try it was because I thought I would end up in exactly the same place I started at, especially since the compressor in that unit is probably even smaller than my 7 cu ft unit... :mug:
 

dmcman73

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I bought an aquarium chiller and it works fantastic. Half the cost and does the job:Active Aqua Chiller Refrigeration Unit, 1/10 HP https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0048IVBT4/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

I have the aquarium chiller chilling water that's in an insulated cooler. The pump that pumps the water into the chiller is driven by a temperature controller so it only pumps water through the aquarium chiller when needed. There is then the other pump that came with my FTSS inside the cooler. This way, if/when I get another fermenter, I just have to drop another motor in (or ideally build a manifold with valves to each FTSS) and the chiller just chill the water in one tank.

Then in the winter time, if need, I leave the chiller off and drop an aquarium heater into the insulated cooler to warm the water.
 
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biertourist

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I bought an aquarium chiller and it works fantastic. Half the cost and does the job:Active Aqua Chiller Refrigeration Unit, 1/10 HP https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0048IVBT4/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

I have the aquarium chiller chilling water that's in an insulated cooler. The pump that pumps the water into the chiller is driven by a temperature controller so it only pumps water through the aquarium chiller when needed. There is then the other pump that came with my FTSS inside the cooler. This way, if/when I get another fermenter, I just have to drop another motor in (or ideally build a manifold with valves to each FTSS) and the chiller just chill the water in one tank.

Then in the winter time, if need, I leave the chiller off and drop an aquarium heater into the insulated cooler to warm the water.

I really like this option, but it is 1/2 the cost for less than 1/3rd the cooling power.


Adam
 
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dmcman73

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I really like this option, but it is 1/2 the cost for less than 1/3rd the cooling power.


Adam
Where can you find a small glycol chiller for $600 (the aquarium chiller is $280)?

They do have larger aquarium chillers out there up to 1 HP for about $800.

The one I have is a perfect size, its about the same size as the small picnic cooler I have, and can keep up with the cooling with no issues and because of it's size, doesn't put out a lot of heat (no more than what a standard fridge does).

The only down side of these aquarium chillers is that they don't have a reservoir, they are only meant to have water passed through them and you can find used ones all over the place.
 
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mfabe

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The other downside to Aquarium chillers on top of no reservoir is they are only designed to drop temps into the 50s, maaaaybe high 40s. Think about it, they are designed to keep fish at their native ocean temps. The internal thermostat and therefore evaporator is throttled to counteract any icing that would naturally occur with salt water in the unit that would ultimately block water flow. The systems are completely apples and oranges. :drunk:

The bottom line, if you want to hold lager temps the aquarium chiller might work O-K, but if you want to crash cool into the 30s and have it held there, go with the proper tool for the job, or as they say "buy-once, cry-once". My system can maintain the mid 30's for days or weeks without really breaking a sweat. The result is crystal clear beer... :rockin:
 

biertourist

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This is a great conversation, guys! Learning a ton.

If you bought an appropriately sized aquarium unit and could reprogram or work around the built-in thermostat, I think you'd have an equally good solution for much less money.


There seems to be a MUCH bigger market for used aquarium and "grow" chillers like this than beer-focused glycol chillers. They seem to have much smaller markups, too. -I started checking Craigslist after seeing this thread yesterday and there are definitely used aquarium chillers available.

I really like this as an option but I think the built-in temp controllers are a challenge to lagering (not lager fermentations, but near 30F lagering).


Adam
 
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mfabe

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I think to overcome the shortfalls of the aquarium chiller you would have to obviously bypass the internal thermostat, but then also dial in a glycol loop flow rate with your reservoir to prevent icing or overcharging. Since you really dont know the size and surface area of the evaporator or the condenser; its safe to say you would have to play with it for awhile before you could really get it to drop the glycol temp into the 20s and still get a long enough on/off cycle to prevent wearing out the compressor prematurely. Plus you have to add the concurrent pumps, thermostat, and reservoir to the price comparison.

The bottom line is, after doing all of that, your right back at the window A/C unit challenges... Plus you would probably save money from the onset with the window A/C unit over the aquarium chiller. Personally, I think it still comes down to a duel between an "all-in" glycol power pack and a more budget friendly window A/C unit DIY solution.:mug:
 

dmcman73

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My chiller goes down to 38 degrees and I've gotten the water down to that temp as well.
 

dmcman73

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The aquarium chiller is perfect for ales and people with not a lot of space. I've used it reliably to keep my ales at 68 degrees. If you need to drop to 20 degrees, then yes, a glycol chiller is best but I disnt have the space for one. The aquarium chillers are small to fit under cabinets which was perfect for my setup and 10000 times better than swapping out frozen water jugs from the reservoir to keep the water cool.
 

conan71

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I bought the 14 gallon Chronical and FTSS recently. Inspired by the FTSS, I converted my 7 gal Stout Tanks by putting a stainless immersion chiller from NY Brew Supply in the lid:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/290754390013?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

and getting a Kegco TC-321 dual mode controller to control the temp for the 7 gal. FYI, It’s cheaper to buy the TC-321 from them on eBay as they offer free shipping.

Next, I bought a Glacier Marine chiller:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/GLACIER-1-6...jbomdPiLRBotWPxg4CUb0%3D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

As it turns out, the immersion coil fit perfect hanging over the inside wall of my old MLT, which was an Igloo 70 qt. chest cooler. All it took was notching out a small spot in the lid for the cooling lines to fit as well as the pump supply & return lines. The cooler is filled to the rim with water and the compressor/condenser unit sits on top of the cooler. The rated BTU is a little over 1000.

During testing with no fermentation cooling load, the best I can push the chill water bath temp to is 41F.

My garage is mid 80’s to mid 90’s during the summer. With an Oktoberfest in the fermenter and FTSS set to maintain 52F, the chill water bath temp in the cooler ranges from 43 to 47F. There is no way I’ll be able to cold crash with this unit, at least in the summer, not even with the 7 gal fermenter.

The Glacier uses a Ranco so it is perfectly capable of chilling a smaller load well into freezing range. I just can’t overcome the ambient heat load without resorting to adding insulation and AC to my garage. I figure that’s the point that my wife might put her foot down on my hobby!

If I moved it inside, where we keep it 78 in summer and 68 in winter, I might be able to push it to cold crash temps, but I do not have space in the house to do this.

I do have a freezer dedicated as a conditioning chamber which can hold four kegs near freezing plus a CO2 rig, but it sure is nice to floc out as much as possible in the fermenter.

Sure, I realize I could run down to Lowe’s buy a new 5000 BTU window unit, dismantle it, and really kill it, but that would eat up extra space and I’d rather have something more purpose built for what I’m trying to use it for.

After this batch of OKT, I think I’ll offer my chiller and cooler to someone who brews in a cooler climate and pick one like yours up.

I’d been eyeing the same glycol chiller you purchased from Rapids, but thought this would be more than adequate. It’s obvious though, that I’ve got about 1/2 the BTU I need for proper heat removal and dealing with the high ambient temps. I bought my jockey box from Rapids and love their customer service, so they have that in their favor. I like the compact size of their chiller.

Main question I have for you is, how difficult would it be to install the pump supplied with the FTSS into the glycol reservoir? I figured I would run the pump supplied with the chiller to pump throughmy 7 gal fermenter using the Kegco temp controller and with the small size of the FTSS pump, it would be ideal to sit in the 3 gal reservoir and I’d use the FTSS controller for the Chronical.
 
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mfabe

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Its very easy to install the supplied FTSS pump in the BVL controls unit, and in fact there is plenty of room in there for multiple FTSS pumps if you decide to add later. I have my current configuration setup to use the FTSS pump and I have been very pleased with the results, especially since after a lot of testing the supplied chiller pump is a bit overkill.

The easy part is there are actually holes in the supplied chiller pump mount to run the FTSS pump power cord/feed line from the reservoir. Then run the return line back to the factory plumbed return fitting. That way the feed and return lines are on opposite sides of the reservoir and evaporator. This allows a nice flow over the coils to bring the temp back down under heavier loads.

My glycol reservoir runs in the mid 20s, with that recovery rate I can easily freeze the beer within the chronical...
 

milldoggy

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From what I understand, the marine\aquarium chiller has an internal thermostat. To go lower than 41, you will need to bypass it.
 

conan71

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From what I understand, the marine\aquarium chiller has an internal thermostat. To go lower than 41, you will need to bypass it.
I need to call Glacier to double check that, but far as I know, it operates entirely off the Ranco controller as the only temp feedback on the process end is the thermocouple that came with the Ranco.

Would there be a secondary thermocouple to limit the refrigerant temp? I always assumed the refrigerant temp is constant, the only limitations would be the BTU capacity of the unit and ambient temp.

I’ll check and report back.
 
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mfabe

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There is no thermocouple to limit the refrigerant temp, however there is a strong likelihood of an overload circuit that is being tripped to keep the internals from icing up and ultimately damaging the evaporator.
 

conan71

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There is no thermocouple to limit the refrigerant temp, however there is a strong likelihood of an overload circuit that is being tripped to keep the internals from icing up and ultimately damaging the evaporator.
I’m not quite sure what could be damaged in the evaporator since the coil itself is a simple serpentine coil without additional cooling fins. I had thought about wrapping the evaporator coil with aluminum foil to increase the surface area, but I honestly don’t think that would really improve the recovery on the system.

I talked to a fellow at Glacier and he said in a smaller quantity of water I could probably reach 36F, but it will start to freeze up on the refrigerant side. He did say they could custom build a higher BTU unit for me. Considering their new 1100 BTU units are north of $600, I think I’d be just as well off to purchase the glycol chiller which is meant to be run at sub-freezing temps.
 

BYOB

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Im glad I came across this, I literally just ordered the FTSS 14 Gallon Fermenter setup. Then i found this thread, and also want to mention you have a nice setup there.

My idea was real similar using the keezer in your first picture, but you say it wont work? I was going to drill 2 holes on the side just as you did and run the lines that way. My keezer has the hump on the left side and the temp is at 38 degrees. Was picturing a tub or 5 gallon bucket, or tub, something along those lines as my cooling tank would be sitting on the hump. My keezer is in the basement and its always around 68-70 degrees year round. Anyone think I will have a problem keeping beer in the upper 50's? And this might be far fetched but would it be able to handle SS Brew Conical Half Barrel? with this setup

Thanks
 

Vesteroid

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I think I am going to copy your system since I cant get my my current one to work out.

I am a bit (or a lot) confused by the pump - temp control options you listed.

I dont understand the pump temp control of the unit vs the pump temp control of the ftss vs your external one.

So something controls the temp of the glycol reservoir, then something needs to pump the glycol through the ftss.....and of course something needs to turn the pump to the ftss on and off.

Can you set the temp of the bath separate and then somehow turn on and off the pump included in the glycol chiller?

Also where do you buy glycol, and how much do you need....doesnt it mix with water, not 100% glycol in the reservoir correct?
 
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mfabe

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Im glad I came across this, I literally just ordered the FTSS 14 Gallon Fermenter setup. Then i found this thread, and also want to mention you have a nice setup there.

My idea was real similar using the keezer in your first picture, but you say it wont work? I was going to drill 2 holes on the side just as you did and run the lines that way. My keezer has the hump on the left side and the temp is at 38 degrees. Was picturing a tub or 5 gallon bucket, or tub, something along those lines as my cooling tank would be sitting on the hump. My keezer is in the basement and its always around 68-70 degrees year round. Anyone think I will have a problem keeping beer in the upper 50's? And this might be far fetched but would it be able to handle SS Brew Conical Half Barrel? with this setup

Thanks
It works, it just doesn't work that great... Although you should be able to hold the low 60s's maaaybe the high 50's with 5 gallons of chill water and that ambient temp. Just keep in mind it will be sluggish if you want to move the temp lower in a hurry. Plus your keezer will have to cycle a lot to keep up with the load. Its better to move the FTSS temp in smaller increments to give the system time to recover.

To put it plainly, a Half Barrel is simply out of the question with only 5 gallons of chill water.

If you still decide to go that route here are a few tips:

1. Don't use a bucket; plastic isn't very thermally conductive and your recovery rate will suffer. If you have the hump you want to utilize, there are also obvious space constraints. Do yourself a favor and buy a 5 gallon metal mil-spec gasoline/water jerry can off Amazon instead. It should fit on the hump without hanging over the lip and thereby won't limit your space for other kegs or CO2. Plus, It will function much better since it's metal.

2. If you use chill water, put that spa-brite stuff in there. It keeps algae and bacteria from turning your keezer into a venerable petri dish of nastiness. Trust me, don't say to yourself "I'll use distilled water and keep the temp low so nothing grows"... Ask me how I know... Also, don't let anyone talk you out of treating your chill water by trying to tell you harsh chemicals will somehow permeate into your beer; those people either are paranoid, don't know what they're doing, or both.

Other that that your golden!:beard::rockin:
 
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mfabe

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I think I am going to copy your system since I cant get my my current one to work out.

I am a bit (or a lot) confused by the pump - temp control options you listed.

I dont understand the pump temp control of the unit vs the pump temp control of the ftss vs your external one.

So something controls the temp of the glycol reservoir, then something needs to pump the glycol through the ftss.....and of course something needs to turn the pump to the ftss on and off.

Can you set the temp of the bath separate and then somehow turn on and off the pump included in the glycol chiller?

Also where do you buy glycol, and how much do you need....doesnt it mix with water, not 100% glycol in the reservoir correct?
I understand its a bit confusing since I made my first post before I had more time to test both configurations. The bottom line is that the chiller is supplied with its own electronic thermostat for the glycol bath, and that is adjustable from the mid 20s to the low 30s. So there is nothing to add there, just pick a temp, set it and forget it. The real magic of the chiller is in the recovery rate.

All you need to worry about is how to get the glycol to circulate from the reservoir through the FTSS coil, and there are two basic configurations I tested:

Option 1. Submerge the supplied FTSS pump in the glycol bath and use the supplied proprietary STC-1000 to control the Chronical's temp. Run the feed line out of the hole that is conveniently already there on top of the glycol reservoir, then use the built in 3/8" return barb for your return line. This is the best and cheapest method in my opinion because its quiet, and you already have all the supplied parts after buying the FTSS system.

Option 2. I had a leftover Johnson Controls A-419 from my keezer that I sold off. That temp controller has a built in thermo couple and is able to cycle 120v appliances, instead of the 12v pump supplied with the FTSS. I modified the included BVL controls pump that sits atop the glycol reservoir to mate up with the A-419 because the pump is 120v. Then I used the factory supply line barb and factory return line barb. The plus side for this setup is the pump is MUCH more powerful, but in-turn it's also a bit overkill. If the Chronical was 30-60 feet away, this system would be ideal. It is also a lot louder because the pump isn't submerged in the glycol, it basically just has a submerged impeller.

For glycol, I bought mine from Duda Diesel because I wanted the inhibited kind instead of just the glycol. The inhibitors basically make sure that corrosion doesn't become a problem. Although I will state this is not necessary since the system is only stainless, copper, and silicone. If there was mild steel anywhere, I would need this. It was simple peace of mind for a nominal step up in price.

All you will need is 1 GALLON of 100% propylene glycol. Pour it in the reservoir and top it off with distilled water and you're done. At that mix rate you should have freeze protection to the single digits, and it doesn't get too thick for the pump to move.
 

Vesteroid

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Awesome, now I get it.

one last question. Since you have the 14 gallon.

I want to MOSTLY do 5 gallon batches, so if I bought the extenders and did this system, you think that would work (or have you ever just done a 5 gallon batch)
 

BYOB

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mfabe, thanks for the follow up on answering my questions and now am glad i did not go with the half barrel...really appreciate it!

The metal can is a great idea! Heck maybe 2 should fit in there!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/5-Gal-20L-J...-Caddy-Tank-/380893349761?hash=item58af034781

Vasteroid i do 10 gallons, 5 gallons should be very easy to do but take the advice and buy a metal gas can or
http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/pr...vanized-sheet-steel-garbage-pail?cm_vc=IOPDP1
maybe like the one I mentioned above and drill small enough hole just for the hose to go in then you wont have oxygen creating the bacteria to leach outside of the container. Probably a good idea to make a silicone gasket on that bucket so the lid fits tight
 
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mfabe

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Awesome, now I get it.

one last question. Since you have the 14 gallon.

I want to MOSTLY do 5 gallon batches, so if I bought the extenders and did this system, you think that would work (or have you ever just done a 5 gallon batch)
I don't have the extenders to do 5 gal batches, but given SS Brewtech's penchant for good quality products, I think they would work great. I'm actually considering getting a 5 gal brew bucket for smaller batches, I'll update once I do to see how the chiller performs with both FTSS systems (14 Gal and 5 Gal) running in tandem. Best of luck!
 

Vesteroid

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I weenied out and went with two brew buckets and a freezer big enough for 3 I found on craigslist.

I want to get a year under my belt of brewing all grain before going with a conical, and see if I want to go 10 gallon or stay with 5

Thanks for all the insight however, it seems like a killer system.
 
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mfabe

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I weenied out and went with two brew buckets and a freezer big enough for 3 I found on craigslist.

I want to get a year under my belt of brewing all grain before going with a conical, and see if I want to go 10 gallon or stay with 5

Thanks for all the insight however, it seems like a killer system.
I dont blame you, its taken me four years of brewing to finally piece together a system I feel doesn't need to be constantly upgraded! Cheers and best of luck
 

Dcpcooks

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Really nice set up Mfab! I am on my second batch in a new Ss half barrel and it doesn't take much time to cool down a few degrees. I have been using an old mash tun with a gallon jug of frozen h20 (which works very well for maintaining temps in the 60's for inquiring minds). I have two question for you. 1)Have you noticed any temp overshoot? I'm a little concerned that so much cooling capacity would knock the temp in the fermenter down so quickly that it would overshoot the set point in a hurry. 2) Have you played with the idea of a secondary reserve tank that you can temp control within a range of roughly 10-15 degrees below your target fermentation temps?
 
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mfabe

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Really nice set up Mfab! I am on my second batch in a new Ss half barrel and it doesn't take much time to cool down a few degrees. I have been using an old mash tun with a gallon jug of frozen h20 (which works very well for maintaining temps in the 60's for inquiring minds). I have two question for you. 1)Have you noticed any temp overshoot? I'm a little concerned that so much cooling capacity would knock the temp in the fermenter down so quickly that it would overshoot the set point in a hurry. 2) Have you played with the idea of a secondary reserve tank that you can temp control within a range of roughly 10-15 degrees below your target fermentation temps?
Thanks, and I hope your enjoying your half barrel setup! To answer your questions, I have experienced NO temp overshoot, and I've paid really close attention to that being a potential issue with sub freezing glycol coolant temps. Especially since I don't want my active fermentations continually knocked down by lower temps than are tolerable by the yeast.

I think the reason I've been able to avoid temp overshoots is the stainless steel immersion coil supplied with the FTSS doesn't have enough glycol volume in itself that once the pump is shutoff it meaningfully keeps cooling the beer. Moreover, some of the glycol inadvertently drains back to the reservoir further removing coolant from the coil.

I haven't played with a secondary tank, since I really haven't witnessed the need. I think if the FTSS were a jacketed cooling system with much more coolant volume and surface area contact with the beer, I would run into temp overshoots, side wall freezing, etc. Yet, with the little volume within the coil, and the quick recovery rate of the chiller, I have found they work together hand in hand!
 

dmcman73

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Thanks, and I hope your enjoying your half barrel setup! To answer your questions, I have experienced NO temp overshoot, and I've paid really close attention to that being a potential issue with sub freezing glycol coolant temps. Especially since I don't want my active fermentations continually knocked down by lower temps than are tolerable by the yeast.

I think the reason I've been able to avoid temp overshoots is the stainless steel immersion coil supplied with the FTSS doesn't have enough glycol volume in itself that once the pump is shutoff it meaningfully keeps cooling the beer. Moreover, some of the glycol inadvertently drains back to the reservoir further removing coolant from the coil.

I haven't played with a secondary tank, since I really haven't witnessed the need. I think if the FTSS were a jacketed cooling system with much more coolant volume and surface area contact with the beer, I would run into temp overshoots, side wall freezing, etc. Yet, with the little volume within the coil, and the quick recovery rate of the chiller, I have found they work together hand in hand!
I've experienced the same thing with my FTSS (I use water, not Glycol), no over shoot and when the pump shuts down, I see all the chilled water get sucked right out and into the chilled water tank I have.
 

Dcpcooks

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Thank you for taking the time to reply! This is great information[emoji106] Nothing left to do but save some cash for a chiller!
 

BYOB

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My chiller goes down to 38 degrees and I've gotten the water down to that temp as well.
The aquarium chiller is perfect for ales and people with not a lot of space. I've used it reliably to keep my ales at 68 degrees. If you need to drop to 20 degrees, then yes, a glycol chiller is best but I disnt have the space for one. The aquarium chillers are small to fit under cabinets which was perfect for my setup and 10000 times better than swapping out frozen water jugs from the reservoir to keep the water cool.
dcman you able to get that in the low 50's high 40s? with room temperature at 72?

I have 2.5 gallon kegs in the keezer having a tough time keeping it below 62, i have a 5 gallon metal gas can on the way to see if that works.

Ive been looking now at your aquarium chiller if the can dont work. Also I bet its quiet running.
 

dmcman73

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dcman you able to get that in the low 50's high 40s? with room temperature at 72?

I have 2.5 gallon kegs in the keezer having a tough time keeping it below 62, i have a 5 gallon metal gas can on the way to see if that works.

Ive been looking now at your aquarium chiller if the can dont work. Also I bet its quiet running.
I was able to get it down to low 40 when it was about 80 degrees in my basement but it cycled alot. It's not silent, the noise is on par with a mini-fridge. I use an insulated cooler as a tank which keeps the chilled water cool, I don't run it directly through the aquarium chiller. I have two pumps in the cooler, one for the ftss that came with it and the other one that runs constantly pumping water through the aquarium chiller. The chiller has its own thermostat and it kicks the chiller on when it detects the temp rising that's being pumped through it.

I have plastic tubing going from cooler to chiller. I'm going to change it and insulate it, a lot of condensation forms on the tube when humidity is high and most likely losing temp.

One other thing I was going to try is getting one of those cheap inkbird temp controllers to monitor the temp in the cooler and to only turn the chiller pump on when Temps rise in the cooler.
 

Dcpcooks

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I was just about to pull the trigger on the glycol chiller and I found this lab chiller on Craigslist. It has both heating (1000w) and cooling (200w).

I run a closed loop directly from the bath through the Ftss coils. It has enough cooling to crash cool to 32f and it's got an extremely tight temp range +/- .02f. The link to Amchillers site helped me calculate the BTU's needed for the job and I was able to convert watts to BTU's here. http://www.rapidtables.com/convert/power/Watt_to_BTU.htm

These things are not cheap but you can find them for $350-$500 if your patient. View attachment ImageUploadedByHome Brew1440004546.347295.jpg

I just crashed a DIPA to pull yeast out and it's got plenty of cooling capacity.

I'm using the chillers temp control and pump. I use the FTss unit to monitor my fermenters temp. Its not strong enough link multiple fermenters like MFabe plans. But my wife would kill me if I tried to add another fermenter anytime soon! View attachment ImageUploadedByHome Brew1440004936.072794.jpg
 
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