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MFigz

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I got a Countertop Ice maker from a neighbor for free, but looking at Amazon, you can get one for about $90. I also got a submersible fountain pump from another neighbor for free, but those are around $10 on Amazon. I bought a few John Guest push to connect fittings and some 3/8 tubing from Home depot for less then $10, and I already had a Temp controller which works perfectly for setting and maintaining the temperature.

Here's how it works:
  1. Fill the water reservoir for the ice maker with water and remove the ice tray which sits on top of the reservoir. What this does is cause the ice that's made to continually dump into the reservoir and maintain a constant 32F water bath. (There is a sensor in the ice maker which will stop it from making ice if it gets too high)
  2. Put the submersible pump in the bottom of the ice maker reservoir and run the tubing into your fermenter, coil around inside the fermenter, and dump back out into the water reservoir. I used John Guest bulkhead fittings for the fermenter lid because it makes them easy to remove for cleaning, but if you are using buckets or carboys you could drill holes and squeeze the tubing through just as easily.
  3. As for controlling the temperature, I have a controller with a thermometer that I tape to the outside of the fermenter and I plug the submersible pump into it. It turns the pump on to cool it down and turns it off when it's at the proper temp to maintain 1 degree + or - the set temp.
  4. I currently have the temp controller set to 65F in a 72F Basement and it is maintaining temp extremely well. In the next day or 2 when I hit final gravity, I plan to see how low I can get the temp. I'm hoping to be able to cold crash it eventually, but probably not with my current setup.
Some improvements that I plan on making are using a SS wort chiller inside the fermenter for better temperature transfer, and insulating the fermenter to help keep the cold in. Once I do that, I think I may be able to cold crash. All said and done, I think anyone could build this setup which hopefully will rival a glycol system for ~$150.

Let me know if you have any questions and I hope someone finds this helpful!

Thanks
Mike
 

TGFB

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AH! I just posted a question about this exact subject!
How cold can you get your wort? for me, I am trying to cool my beer in a ss unitank (7gal) with the same concept.
Was going to run copper tubing into the freezer with a small pump in a glycol mix through the immersion chiller, back to the pump. my goal is to get 5/6 gallon batches down to carb. temp with 15 psi. somewhere in the low 40's to upper 30's.
 
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MFigz

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With no insulation and vinyl tubing as my "chiller coil" I was able to get down to 56F. If you are using a SS coil inside the fermenter and have some insulation, I think you could do it.

Mike
 

mongoose33

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I got a Countertop Ice maker from a neighbor for free, but looking at Amazon, you can get one for about $90. I also got a submersible fountain pump from another neighbor for free, but those are around $10 on Amazon. I bought a few John Guest push to connect fittings and some 3/8 tubing from Home depot for less then $10, and I already had a Temp controller which works perfectly for setting and maintaining the temperature.

Here's how it works:
  1. Fill the water reservoir for the ice maker with water and remove the ice tray which sits on top of the reservoir. What this does is cause the ice that's made to continually dump into the reservoir and maintain a constant 32F water bath. (There is a sensor in the ice maker which will stop it from making ice if it gets too high)
  2. Put the submersible pump in the bottom of the ice maker reservoir and run the tubing into your fermenter, coil around inside the fermenter, and dump back out into the water reservoir. I used John Guest bulkhead fittings for the fermenter lid because it makes them easy to remove for cleaning, but if you are using buckets or carboys you could drill holes and squeeze the tubing through just as easily.
  3. As for controlling the temperature, I have a controller with a thermometer that I tape to the outside of the fermenter and I plug the submersible pump into it. It turns the pump on to cool it down and turns it off when it's at the proper temp to maintain 1 degree + or - the set temp.
  4. I currently have the temp controller set to 65F in a 72F Basement and it is maintaining temp extremely well. In the next day or 2 when I hit final gravity, I plan to see how low I can get the temp. I'm hoping to be able to cold crash it eventually, but probably not with my current setup.
Some improvements that I plan on making are using a SS wort chiller inside the fermenter for better temperature transfer, and insulating the fermenter to help keep the cold in. Once I do that, I think I may be able to cold crash. All said and done, I think anyone could build this setup which hopefully will rival a glycol system for ~$150.

Let me know if you have any questions and I hope someone finds this helpful!

Thanks
Mike
If you can maintain 32-degree water you will come close to a glycol chiller. The question is whether the ice and freezer can maintain that temp. If not, you'll get what I had.

I had a poor-man's glycol chiller that I did by using a reservoir (of glycol and water) in the top freezer of my ferm chamber. It would maintain ferm temps just fine, but was slow in crashing. It could get my spike cf10 (with a 5-gallon batch in it) down to about 40 degrees if I insulated the fermenter with a moving blanket.

Much of the effectiveness of such a chiller depends on ambient temps and the protuberances extending from the fermenter. My spike has about 13 things sticking out of it, all of which act as heat sinks drawing in ambient heat. The chiller has to fight that.

I have a Penguin chiller and it'll hold from about 26 degrees to maybe 32 (set at 28). But even with that efficiency in chilling--and its recovery is amazing--I can't get my fermenter below about 38 degrees. Just too many heat sinks. :)
 

TGFB

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Thanks for the responses. Spikes makes a chart with a correlation of temp, pressure and carb level. A brief look says the 40 range should be good for most beers at a pressure of 15psi, for 24 hours.
maybe an old refrigerator, keep the tank in the fridge, and when ready, turn it on, and run a line from the freezer to the immersion chiller. That way the unitank would cool to fridge temp, and the freezer would be pushing (hopefully)sub-freezing glycol mix.
That would negate the heat sinks (well bring them down to 40 or so) and increase efficiency. But that brings back the problems of cranking up and running a fridge/freezer, getting it to temp, another large piece of equipment for brewing only, and a big electric bill...
 

mongoose33

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Thanks for the responses. Spikes makes a chart with a correlation of temp, pressure and carb level. A brief look says the 40 range should be good for most beers at a pressure of 15psi, for 24 hours.
It would take you longer than 24 hours to carb something at 40 degrees to 15psi. That's nearly set-and-forget range, and that would probably take about 10 days.

maybe an old refrigerator, keep the tank in the fridge, and when ready, turn it on, and run a line from the freezer to the immersion chiller. That way the unitank would cool to fridge temp, and the freezer would be pushing (hopefully)sub-freezing glycol mix.
That would negate the heat sinks (well bring them down to 40 or so) and increase efficiency. But that brings back the problems of cranking up and running a fridge/freezer, getting it to temp, another large piece of equipment for brewing only, and a big electric bill...
You'd want to be careful what temp you use for the glycol. The temperature at which beer freezes drops about .8 degrees F for every percent of ABV. So, for instance, a 5% ABV beer would start to freeze at 28 degrees (5 * .8).

If you go much lower, you'll likely get beersicle on the chilling coil. I never have a beer less than 5%, so I just set my Penguin at 28 degrees and no worries about frozen beer. If I had a 9 percent beer.... :)

*******

BTW: I've done about everything one can do to reduce the heat gain from ambient, from wrapping in a large moving blanket to wrapping every protrusion in reflectix insulation to building a small cabinet into which I directed the cold air output from a window air conditioner. In no case was I able to get it much below 38, though once for just a bit I hit 36 degrees.

My last alternative is to build a "closet" out of 2" foamboard insulation to isolate the fermenter from ambient conditions. I believe that would improve things, but I have no easy way to cut a 4x8 sheet of such insulation perfectly square both in terms of the cuts, and dimensionally. But if I figure that out.....:)
 

madscientist451

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I think anyone could build this setup which hopefully will rival a glycol system for ~$150.
I think it was a great use of stuff you got for free, but if you are buying components, you can buy a new 7 cu/ft chest freezer for $170 and I've seen them on sale for $135. Add a temp controller and you're done. You can use the freezer for kegs or to store other cold items or as an actual freezer if you take a break from brewing.
 

TGFB

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So here is my system set up, getting down a 5+ gallon batch with just the neoprene jacket to 32˚, and all the heat sinks exposed (in the summer I wrapped an old synthetic sleeping bag around the tank).
I tried to follow the chart and wanted to see how ridiculously carbonated i could make this and then bottle it. Also Found a video and it was the process but on a grand scale.
IMG_3426.jpg

IMG_E3427.JPG


video link
IMG_3426.jpgIMG_E3427.JPG
 
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