Looking for a mini fridge for a fermentation chamber

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

polarbearbrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
91
Reaction score
1
Location
Ohio
Hey guys,
Sorry if this has been discussed before, but I want to control my ferm temps better than I can with my swamp cooler and would also like to do lagers at some point. Most of the threads I've seen have consisted of building a fermentation chamber around a fridge.
However, I live in an apartment and want to be able to have the unit easily moved. I'm looking for a mini fridge that is big enough to fit a bucket without extensive modification. Ideally, it wouldn't have a freezer unit in the top and I would be able to convert it to a kegerator eventually. I'm looking for an affordable fridge that will serve my needs and I'll use one of the digital temp controllers to adjust my temps.
Thanks for the help!
 

newnick

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2011
Messages
221
Reaction score
27
Location
port neches
I use a wine cooler to ferment in. I trimmed the bottom of a airlock down to about a 1/2" and the bucket fits inside with about a 1/4" of clearance. The one I have has a manual non-digital temp control and I just put a digital thermometer in and monitor it. I recently attempted to cold crash a batch and found out that with the built in temp control I can only get down to about 46 degrees. I picked this cooler up for 100$ brand new at Lowes, so while not perfect for everything it was still a good deal.
 

broadbill

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2007
Messages
3,955
Reaction score
562
Location
Southern Maine
I'd go with a 5cf chest freezer, a couple of hundred bucks new and you might get lucky on Craigslist if you are patient. Does Ales, does Lager, able to crash cool, all without the worry/cost about modifying an under-powered dorm fridge. Footprint is not much larger. You can usually get a bucket in there next to the compressor hump (I'd check first though).

In a few years when you scale up to a larger chest freezer for a ferm chamber you can turn the small one into a keezer.
 

chezhed

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2010
Messages
808
Reaction score
114
Location
Mission
Avanti SHP2501B
Only mod needed is to cut out shelves on door..you can leave the sides of the shelves to help center a bucket or caboy.
 
OP
polarbearbrewing

polarbearbrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
91
Reaction score
1
Location
Ohio
Well I gave in and bought a 5cf GE chest freezer from Home Depot today. I used some of their buckets to see how the fit was. A bucket will fit easily in the lower portion, but it's probably gonna be too shallow to fit another bucket on the compressor hump. I plan to add a collar to it anyway for a future keezer build so no biggie.

I also ordered the digital temp controller from northern brewer so hello lagers!!
 

JonM

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2010
Messages
9,318
Reaction score
4,151
Location
Milwaukee
newnick said:
I use a wine cooler to ferment in. I trimmed the bottom of a airlock down to about a 1/2" and the bucket fits inside with about a 1/4" of clearance. The one I have has a manual non-digital temp control and I just put a digital thermometer in and monitor it. I recently attempted to cold crash a batch and found out that with the built in temp control I can only get down to about 46 degrees. I picked this cooler up for 100$ brand new at Lowes, so while not perfect for everything it was still a good deal.
I did the same thing. Avanti is the brand of mine. There's no compressor bump, temps are accurate, and it's really light so it's easy to move it out of the way when not in use.
 
OP
polarbearbrewing

polarbearbrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
91
Reaction score
1
Location
Ohio
Glad to hear it! Yeah I wish mine didn't have the bump either, but it was an impulse buy. It was the exact same price as their magic chef mini fridge so I couldn't turn it down. Maybe building a collar will prompt me to start kegging!

Just when I think I've thrown enough cash at this hobby, something else is already tugging at my wallet!

Any suggestions for a good first lager? I prefer darker maltier lagers
 

psusoccer21

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2010
Messages
48
Reaction score
0
Location
Baltimore
I had a difficult time finding a Wine Cooler that fit a 6 gal carboy or a 6 gal bucket. Found one @ home depot for $219. Danby 35-Bottle Freestanding Wine Cooler.
 

JonM

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2010
Messages
9,318
Reaction score
4,151
Location
Milwaukee
Postscript - I've been using my wine chiller for years as a way to keep fermentation cool. This year, I incorporated a fermwrap type heater and a Johnson Controls A419 to warm up fermentation in the cool basement. (When the chiller is off, it's just an insulated box.) Should have done this years ago. The heater lets me do any kind of ale in the cold basement with no problem. When the weather warms up, I'll use it to warm up lacto fermentations to 80+.
 
Top