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Fermenting in a refrigerator placed in a cold garage.

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Surly

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I have my 15 gallon conical placed in a temperature controlled refrigerator. That refrigerator is located in my garage where the ambient temp is around 45F.

My Ranco controller works very well in the warm months as it controls the refrigerator. It does not provide the heat needed to get up to that 62F sweet spot I like fermenting at.

I built a heater using a 60W bulb placed in a, "Paint Can" then set within the refrigerator. I set the Ranco to kick in at 64F and left for a few days.

When I came back I had the worse tasting beer ever. It tasted like hot alcohol or ethanol. I dumped it.

I do want to brew year round but to do so I need to seek a solution to this issue.
 

d3track

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What was the temp when you checked? Was it killing the heat at 64?
 

dyqik

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You probably need a 2-stage temperature controller (e.g. STC-1000), so that you kill the heat when it's warm enough inside, and kill the fridge when it's too cool. This also saves a little energy as you don't have the fridge fighting the heater all the time.

Otherwise you have to control the amount of heat carefully so that the fridge can overcome the heater plus peak fermentation heat output to bring excess temperature down in the fermenter, while also having the heater's output being sufficient to overcome the heat loss to the outside when the fridge is off.

You may also need a fan in the fridge to prevent hot spots and cold spots forming. This will also improve heat transfer to and from the fermenter. You may also need to put the temperature sensor in tight thermal contact with the fermenting wort, or it may be significantly warmer than the sensor reads. A 15 gallon fermentation could be a whole lot warmer than the fridge it's in.
 

LordUlrich

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I am not sure I understand what you have setup. Are you running the heater all the time, and using the fridge to cool it down to fight the heater?

If so the problem is that fridges do not work when it gets cold. The ambient air needs to be above the temp inside the fridge.

You can either change the controller to control the heat lamp, or get a 2 stage controller. You can still use the fridge as an insulated box in the winter, but the fridge wont work in the cold.

If you are already controlling the heater then I don't know.
 
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LordUlrich said:
I am not sure I understand what you have setup. Are you running the heater all the time, and using the fridge to cool it down to fight the heater? If so the problem is that fridges do not work when it gets cold. The ambient air needs to be above the temp inside the fridge. You can either change the controller to control the heat lamp, or get a 2 stage controller. You can still use the fridge as an insulated box in the winter, but the fridge wont work in the cold. If you are already controlling the heater then I don't know.
+1 on the two stage controller & fan. My ale & lager chambers are in my garage "brewery" & I use a two stage on the ale chamber w / a small fan. For a heat source in winter I use an IR bulb that works great even in sub zero temps. My chamber is very well insulated, too, w/ tape on any seams.
 
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You probably need a 2-stage temperature controller (e.g. STC-1000), ...

Otherwise you have to control the amount of heat carefully so that the fridge can overcome the heater plus peak fermentation heat output to bring excess temperature down in the fermenter, while also having the heater's output being sufficient to overcome the heat loss to the outside when the fridge is off.
...
I think this is the real issue. I had been away for a few days during most of the fermentation and the temp was 64F when I got back.
 
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I am not sure I understand what you have setup. Are you running the heater all the time, and using the fridge to cool it down to fight the heater?


If so the problem is that fridges do not work when it gets cold. The ambient air needs to be above the temp inside the fridge.


You can either change the controller to control the heat lamp, or get a 2 stage controller. You can still use the fridge as an insulated box in the winter, but the fridge wont work in the cold.

If you are already controlling the heater then I don't know.
I was running both the heat lamp and the frig at the same time. I will be ordering a two stage controller, but I believe that the refrigerator will not kick in at all. So, could I simply use my Johnson single stage and have it control the heat source and forget about the frig aspect?
 

raouliii

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...If so the problem is that fridges do not work when it gets cold. The ambient air needs to be above the temp inside the fridge.....
IMO, this is inaccurate. A refrigerator has the ability to remove heat from the interior even if the external ambient is below the internal temperature. The refrigeration cycle is much more than just a constant pressure, coolant flow, heat transfer mechanism such as a car radiator.

Granted, a consumer refrigerator is not designed to function as efficiently as it does in normal ambient room temperatures, it can function in a reasonably cold garage in the winter. As the ambient temperature drops to extremes, the inefficiency likely results in increasingly poor cooling capability but I don't think the threshold is at, or even near, an ambient equal to the internal set temperature. As extreme temperatures are approached, the loss of heat through the walls of the fridge will be enough to keep it at or below the set temperature.

If a reasonable heat source exists within the fridge, heater or active fermenter, it should be capable of removing that heat. Of course the OP's constant 60watts of heat is very likely to have been higher than the heat removal capacity of the fridge, especially when running at non-optimum efficiency. While running the refrigerator AND a heat source is not very energy efficient, a heat source of 10 or 20 watts may have worked.
 

Beernik

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I have a STC-1000. I have a brewbelt hanging on two 5 gallon buckets with a fan going to circulate the air.

My freezer is sitting in a detached garage and it is able to maintain lager fermenting temperatures with no problems. It's been cold enough that I just unplugged the freezer from the cold temp control.
 

Dr. Francois

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OP,
Is your contoller attached to the fermenter, the fridge wall, or something else? I have mine taped to my fermenter and then covered with a wool sock. This system is designed to control the fermenting temp, not the ambient temp.

Sent from my SGH-T889 using Home Brew mobile app
 

Doongie

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the OP's constant 60watts of heat is very likely to have been higher than the heat removal capacity of the fridge

This. My fridge had 2 bulbs, not sure of the wattage, but the bulbs installed by the manufacturer. I removed the door switch so they would be on all the time, expecting the fridge to run and keep it cold. I should be able to set the fridge thermostat to keep a relatively constant temp for my serving kegs. It could not keep up with both bulbs, I had to remove one.
 

LordUlrich

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IMO, this is inaccurate. A refrigerator has the ability to remove heat from the interior even if the external ambient is below the internal temperature. The refrigeration cycle is much more than just a constant pressure, coolant flow, heat transfer mechanism such as a car radiator.
From experience I can say consumer refrigerators do not work in extreme cold. I had my beer fridge in my unheated entry way. In sub 0 temperature it was actually warmer in the fridge than outside. I do not know at what temperature the fridge stopped working but at least the fridge I have does not work when it gets too cold. I know there was a comment in the manual about keeping the fridge above a certain temperature. I don't know enough about refrigeration to explain why, just that I does not work.
 
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Johnson makes both a single as well as a dual controller. I have the single. It looks to me as though the one you quoted is a dual.

A STC-1000 controller was noted above. I am thinking that product will allow me a two stage controller for both heating and reducing temperatures based on the need of one temperature probe.

Would somebody please confirm what I just said? Is that the product I need?
 
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...

If a reasonable heat source exists within the fridge, heater or active fermenter, it should be capable of removing that heat. Of course the OP's constant 60watts of heat is very likely to have been higher than the heat removal capacity of the fridge, especially when running at non-optimum efficiency. While running the refrigerator AND a heat source is not very energy efficient, a heat source of 10 or 20 watts may have worked.
I do think that constant 60F is the issue. That, along with 15 gallons beginning to heat up due to its own fermentation process and, an brewer error. I left the Johnson's probe loose in the chamber rather than taped to the side of the fermentor as I usually have done in the past.
 

day_trippr

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[...]A STC-1000 controller was noted above. I am thinking that product will allow me a two stage controller for both heating and reducing temperatures based on the need of one temperature probe.

Would somebody please confirm what I just said? Is that the product I need?
Confirmed by the multitude of folks on HBT that have used the STC-1K for dual stage functions...

Cheers!
 
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Surly

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OP,
Is your contoller attached to the fermenter, the fridge wall, or something else? I have mine taped to my fermenter and then covered with a wool sock. This system is designed to control the fermenting temp, not the ambient temp.

Sent from my SGH-T889 using Home Brew mobile app
Dr. Francois, I did not have the controllers probe attached to the side of the conical. I recognize that as a brewermaster's mistake. I usually do tape it appropriately but was tired from a long brew day and let it go. Lesson learned, BTW.
 
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Beernik

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I am interested in this unit as a two stage controller. I want it to both heat and cool my 15 gallon conical sitting within a refrigerator located in a cool 45F garage: http://www.ebay.com/itm/All-purpose-Temperature-Controller-STC-1000-Whit-sensor-/320628773067

What other equipment might I need? A fan for circulating air within the refrigerator is one thing. Do I need any special fuses of circuit breakers for electrical safety?

Thanks
There is a big build thread on it here. I built mine in about 5 hours. I made one mistake and fixed it in about 30 minutes.

You need a fan to circulate the air. Some people use a space heater because they have built-in fans. I have a brewbelt and a desk fan. But I'm just about to build a fan panel from old computer fans to replace the desk fan because it should be less electricity.
 
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