Fermentation Cooling Less Than $10 Dollars! OMG!

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mr_stout

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Looking into fermentation cooling I noticed that many options are quite costly.

Brew Bucket = $$$ (Big Money)
Grainfather = $$$ (Expensive)
Glycol chillers = $$$ (Costly and complicated - No way Jose)
Brew Jacket = $$$ (Whoa, I'll have to save up a long time for this one)
Runnig air conditioner all day in an empty house = $$$ (Two Thumbs Down)
Buying a used refrigerator = $$ (Costly and takes up a too much space. Booo!)
(Insulated) Brew bags with 2 litre Frozen Water Bottles = $ (Nice but, there is a cheaper way)
Son of the Fermentation Chiller = $$ (Fun project; Costly due to the price of the foam sheets, big and bulky, only holds one fermenter/carboy.)


I can cool multiple (at least 5) carboys at the same time with this technique.
The trick is to find an enclosed area for cooling like a closet and cool it the
cheapest way possible.

What I did was to use a polystyrene (styrafoam) container with ice bottles and
use a old PC fan to blow the cool air out of it. As air passes through the
chamber from PC fan to cool the entire closet. The closet uses weather
striping from the dollar store to seal in the cool air (Plus, this also blocks light
from coming in through the cracks). My temperature monitor is showing that this method
is able to maintain temperatures lower than 70 Fahrenheit/21 Celcius all day. If you wanted
you can line the walls/floor with foam sheets from the trash, or buy them but that would drive the costs up.

The fan speed is set to low to get the air in the chamber to cool down before it exits the polystyrene container
I may try one large chunk of ice instead of frozen water bottles to increase the cooling power if I need to. I have not tried it yet.


Items needed:

Polystyrene (styrafoam) container from the dollar store $2.94 or less!

Weather Stripping from the dollar store $4.95 or less!

120mm Old Computer fan (The bigger it is the less noise it makes) I had it in the house collecting dust. FREE

12 volt Power Adapter to power the fan. (Found one in my junk pile). FREE

1 Gallon Frozen Water Bottles (Had them in the house. The bigger the block of ice the longer it will last.) FREE

$2.94 + 4.95 = $7.89 !!!!
 

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HausBrauerei_Harvey

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that will certainly work. be careful about the amount of humidity you'll be dumping into that closet, you dont want to get mold growing in your house. Also many interior walls are not insulated, so you may not hold temps that well.
 
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mr_stout

mr_stout

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that will certainly work. be careful about the amount of humidity you'll be dumping into that closet, you dont want to get mold growing in your house. Also many interior walls are not insulated, so you may not hold temps that well.
The temperatures have remained below 70 degrees no matter how hot the house gets. I have a humidity sensor to check for humidity. Since I am using bottles instead of the block of ice there is very little humidity being transferred to the air.
 

eric19312

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Haha I live in an old house and closet space is extremely limited. Make sure you measure the temperature of your beer when you try this thing. Fermentation generates heat so the fermentor can get warmer than the chamber. Worth a shot but you might need an extra fan just keeping the air in the closet well mixed.
 

mongoose33

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Interesting idea. If I were going to do it, I'd create a box out of that foamboard just large enough for the fermenter. I'd blow the cold air into that box to cool just the fermenter. Then, I'd use an Inkbird to control the fan by attaching the temp probe to the fermenter, and plugging the fan into the Inkbird. The fan would only run when the temp probe indicated the fermenter was warming. You'd have almost as good a fermentation chamber as a refrigerator, and could maintain temps much more accurately as you'd only be cooling the fermenter not the entire closet.
 
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mr_stout

mr_stout

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mongoose33, The Inkbird idea is a good one. I have never heard of one of those until now. The inkbirds are not too expensive. I already have an Arduino and a relay that can turn the fan on and off so I am going to DIY it. It will be a fun project. My beers are coming out better thanks to the cooling.

Interesting idea. If I were going to do it, I'd create a box out of that foamboard just large enough for the fermenter. I'd blow the cold air into that box to cool just the fermenter. Then, I'd use an Inkbird to control the fan by attaching the temp probe to the fermenter, and plugging the fan into the Inkbird. The fan would only run when the temp probe indicated the fermenter was warming. You'd have almost as good a fermentation chamber as a refrigerator, and could maintain temps much more accurately as you'd only be cooling the fermenter not the entire closet.
 

kh54s10

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How far below 70 are you able to go? Even at 68 your fermentation temperatures could rise as high as 78 degrees - too high. I have trouble with a swamp cooler and rotating ice bottles 3-4 times a day. I try to keep fermentation temperatures 64-66 so I have to be cooler than that for the cooling temperature.
 
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mr_stout

mr_stout

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How far below 70 are you able to go? Even at 68 your fermentation temperatures could rise as high as 78 degrees - too high. I have trouble with a swamp cooler and rotating ice bottles 3-4 times a day. I try to keep fermentation temperatures 64-66 so I have to be cooler than that for the cooling temperature.
The cooling system works. I have used only one frozen bottle and was able to keep the fermenters below 70 F with the two ice bottles it get cooler. If you look at the plot image I uploaded you will see that one fermenter remained below 64 F the other two where at about 66.5 F ( the fermenter that stayed the coolest was sitting in a tray of water from a previous experiment. I forget to remove the tray). I think the thing is to monitor the temperature of the house and document the times it is hotest. For example, I noticed that my house heats up more at night time so that is the time that I will put the frozen bottles in. I am collecting temperature data in a sqlite3 database that I will be able to deeper analyze later on. My fermentation temperatures used to be at 75 - 85 F before I set up this thing. I think for the money people would spend to get this thing set up is worth it. At less than $10 dollar I would say it is worth a shot.
 

kh54s10

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Where are you located and how warm do you keep your house? I am now in Florida and I doubt I could successfully control my fermentation temperatures in a closet with weather stripping and frozen water bottles. Even with the A/C on.
 
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mr_stout

mr_stout

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I am way up north. My brew is coming out much better with the closet cooling. Sorry, it is not working for you. Trying to brew in Florida sounds does not sound good to me, but living there would probably be great especially if I was close to the beach.
 

GreenMonti

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Are you measuring the the temp of the closet or are you measuring the temp of the wort/beer?
If the wort/beer, internally (probe inside carbon) or externally (probe tapped to outside of carbon)?
 
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mr_stout

mr_stout

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Are you measuring the the temp of the closet or are you measuring the temp of the wort/beer?
If the wort/beer, internally (probe inside carbon) or externally (probe tapped to outside of carbon)?
I have three probes one is inside of a thermowell inside the carboy. The other two are attached to the sides of the buckets.
 

Rhaop

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I’m lucky to have an unfinished section of my basement that maintains mid to low 60’s year round but this is a simple and great ideal
 
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mr_stout

mr_stout

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I have been using this system for several weeks now. I have monitored the temperatures in a sqlite3 database. The tempeture range is between 62 - 67 Fahrenheit (16.6 - 19.4 Celsius). It works.
 

LarMoeCur

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I used a ridged foam fermentation chamber for years. Looking at your diagram, why are you pull in outside hot air and exiting the cold air? It be way more efficient to split the chamber into two compartments keeping them closed off from the outside completely. You could use a 10 dollar home thermostat to run the fan pulling in cold air from the sealed ice compartment, when the beer compartment got above X degrees the fan would kick on cooling to X degrees. Or no controller and just play with the size of the opening spiting the chambers. Two pieces of cardboard may hold at 65 degrees. The ice would last for days not hours. You have to be going through ice jugs very rapidly. I could get my chamber into the 50s if need be and only had to change the ice every two to three days depending on the time year.
 
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mr_stout

mr_stout

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LarMoeCur, nice post. I like that the idea you have of for cooling. I am not going through the bottles that quickly. I just do a bottle change once per day. If I lined the inside of the closet with insulation I think the ice would last a bit longer. I could also use a larger ice block since the larger the piece of ice the slower it will melt. As time goes on I will do more tests and work on improving this set up. I just wanted to find the cheapest solution.
 
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