Inkbird help

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Hi. I am trying to control my brew with Inkbird and a fermentation heater that I wrap around the bucket. I set my temperature to 69F but it doesn't start heating until the temperature drops to 68F and inside the bucket, it is 67F I have tilt hydrometer that monitors temperature and SG inside. Is there a way to set the inkbird to start heating when the temperature drops 0.3F below my set and stop when it gets 0.3F above? TIA
 

Culinarytracker

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No. The regular Inkbird temp controllers only do whole degree increments and have a minimum delta of 1 degree.

To improve, you will need to look into the PID temp controllers out there. They can be much more precise and use a smarter algorithm to prevent over/undershooting the desired temperature. They aren't incredibly expensive if you're willing to wire them up yourself. I've got one that I need to play with but haven't used it yet.
 
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if Inkbird is not accurate, how would swings in temperature from 67 to 72 affect my beer?
 

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Why are your temp swings so large? I don't think I've ever had the temp drop below the 1 degree for the heater to turn on. Is your temp probe attached to the side of your fermenter with insulation over it? That should ensure a relatively close reading.
 
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Why are your temp swings so large? I don't think I've ever had the temp drop below the 1 degree for the heater to turn on. Is your temp probe attached to the side of your fermenter with insulation over it? That should ensure a relatively close reading.
it is on the side and has a bubble wrap on top of it. I am monitoring Tilt for temperature swings, not Inkbird itself since Tilt is inside of the bucket
1620767638634.png
 

DBhomebrew

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it is on the side and has a bubble wrap on top of it. I am monitoring Tilt for temperature swings, not Inkbird itself since Tilt is inside of the bucket
View attachment 728832
All of those .0s seem suspect. And the 71 much more so. I'd throw that sample out.

[Edit: My guess is the Tilt reports to the tenth of a degree but measures to the nearest whole degree. The x.0 is misleading. That 71.0 is likely 70.5.

My chamber is a freezer in the garage. In the summer I'll have a ~.3° overrun making it +/-1.3° either side of my set point. I consider that normal.]
 
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A1sportsdad

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I use a thermowell mounted into the center of the fermenter to get a better temperature reading, not at the outside wall.
 

jerrylotto

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Inkbird also sells a PID Controller Kit that includes a thermocouple, SSR and heatsink. I bought one and breadboarded it in all of 30 min. You'll probably also want a box, wire, fork spade UI-type connectors, and an outlet to complete the setup, It works like a charm at either 110v or 220v up to 40A and has all of the accuracy you could ever want. There are videos all over YouTube documenting the wiring and programming of the thing - the included instructions are complete but a little terse.
 

MikeCo

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Try thicker insulation to get a closer reading on the probe to what the tilt reads. The controller will not start heating until it is a full degree cooler than the target. At a setting of 69, the best it will do is control the probe reading between 68 and 69. Also, without cooling control, active fermentation will generate heat that may overwhelm the ambient temperature and exceed your target temperature.
 
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Inkbird also sells a PID Controller Kit that includes a thermocouple, SSR and heatsink. I bought one and breadboarded it in all of 30 min. You'll probably also want a box, wire, fork spade UI-type connectors, and an outlet to complete the setup, It works like a charm at either 110v or 220v up to 40A and has all of the accuracy you could ever want. There are videos all over YouTube documenting the wiring and programming of the thing - the included instructions are complete but a little terse.
I was looking into it but wanted something that I can control from my phone this is why I like Inkbird WiFI. It doesn't look like I can control cooling and heating with this, right?
 
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micraftbeer

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I concur with the above folks that what you describe seems to be normal and fine. Here are some additional thoughts from my experiments and playing around with this stuff myself.

1. Wrap your bucket with a towel/blanket/sleeping bag/etc over the top of your heater. If you're relying on your heater conducting through the bucket wall to heat the beer inside, that same bucket wall is conducting heat out to the environment on the rest of the bucket. Keeping the whole thing insulated keeps things more stable in your fermentor and will help reduce temperature swings/oscillation.

2. Both the Tilt and the Inkbird have the ability to calibrate the temperature sensor. I think of the process really more as an "alignment" rather than a "calibration". People hear the word calibration and get fixated on knowing an exact temperature, and that leads one to an ice bath to get near 0F. That might be ideal for a keezer temp sensor, beause you'll operate near there. But better is to get a pitcher/bucket of water and let it sit at room temperature. Give it like a day to stabilize. Then you'll be around 65-70F, which is right around prime fermentation temperature. You want it stable so you're not trying to align to a moving target, or dealing with some weird hot/cold spot. Pick one temperature sensor to be your "gold standard". Then do the "calibration" on all of your equipment in that same bucket of water. I did all of my Tilts, my Inkbird controllers, plus multiple other controllers all at one time, using a Thermowerks thermometer as my standard. This can help reduce potential error between your controller (which you're using to adjust your temperature) and your Tilt (which you're using to decide if your controller is doing a good job).

3. Temperature stratification is real. Top is warmer than bottom, especially if you're in the process of heating or cooling. Your beer is circulating naturally to this order of things. If your Inkbird is at the midpoint height of your bucket and your Tilt is floating up top, they're going to be different. Point #1 of insulation wrap helps reduce this effect. You'll also have stratification from outer ring of our bucket to the middle/center of your bucket. This will get better after you get your beer at your target temperature, as long as you're patient and you're using the insulation mentioned above.

Below is a screenshot from my Tilt running in a fermentor right now. I had to warm it up a bit at start, so you can see some oscillation at start. The controller of course things it's holding things within a degree, but the stratification of layers inside at different temperatures takes some shuffling around until everything gets evened out. In this case, I'm using a temperature probe in from the side wall of my conical, about at the mid-height of the beer. The conical has a neoprene jacket on it. Tilt floating up top, and heat wrap down at bottom at transition from straight to cone section.
Screenshot 2021-05-12 091430.jpg
 

DBhomebrew

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According to FAQs on the Tilt website, it is accurate to 1°F and reads in 1°F increments. I wouldn't use it confirm whether or not the Inkbird is doing it's job. I especially wouldn't decide to replace the Inkbird based on the Tilt's report.
 

CascadesBrewer

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According to FAQs on the Tilt website, it is accurate to 1°F and reads in 1°F increments. I wouldn't use it confirm whether or not the Inkbird is doing it's job. I especially wouldn't decide to replace the Inkbird based on the Tilt's report.
Good point. Digital readouts can give a false sense of accuracy and precision.

If you believe all the Brulosophy experiments, people cannot tell the difference between 10F differences or wild temp swings. I would not go that far as I have found that temp control has given me more consistent flavors, control over yeast flavors and more consistent fermentation times. The data I see reported above at least gives me some confidence that the Inkbird can keep my beers in a 3F range, which is plenty for me.

I would be curious how much temperature consistency a typical commercial 30 barrel fermenter can maintain. They are much larger and taller my 5 gallon batches. This is one area where I suspect use homebrewers have a considerable advantage.
 
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