My Latest Project - Walk-in Cooler

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
So I've started my latest project - a walk-in cooler. It will be roughly 5' X 5' X 7' and will be located in our utility closet / laundry room in the garage and take up slightly more than half of the room. I am going to insulate the walls with R30 insulation (the heaviest I can find) and then 2 layers of this insulated foam board I found at Lowes which is 2" thick and listed as R15. I've picked out a frigidare 12k BTU window AC combined with a Ranco controller to cool it. My goal is to keep the entire cooler between 35 and 37 degrees year round.

I am also considering creating a fermentation cooler that is external to the cooler but is fed cold air on demand from a hole in the side of the cooler. It will have its own temperature controller which will power two fans (one push, one pull) and baffles to exchange cold air as necessary to maintain whatever my target fermentation temperature is.

I will update this post as I make progress but it will be a little slow going as I am pretty busy with work right now. I also plan on detailing the entire process on my website www.johnbeere.com when I get it setup as there is very limited information on this type project on the net - but from the info I've found (mainly on this forum), I am confident in the results.

Here are three photos of the room as it stands today:





 

drost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2006
Messages
171
Reaction score
0
Location
Ankeny, IA
That is awesome. It's exactly what I want to do. I can't wait to see how yours turns out!
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,968
Reaction score
597
Location
Adams, MA
That's very cool. From what I have read, assuming you insulate it well (and it sounds like you are), you can have a pretty big cooler that doesn't cost much more to run that a smaller one. What I'm saying is - if there's a way to make it bigger that 5x5, I would think about it.
 

david_42

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Messages
25,582
Reaction score
182
Location
Oak Grove
You might want to start out by putting the reflectorized bubble insulation between the studs on all of the outside walls. It doesn't take up much room and is very good at reflecting the infrared from warm brick walls. Just leave a 1/4 inch space between the walls and the pack.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Thanks for the tip. I'll look for it on my next trip to Lowes. I am actually looking for something to line the brick walls with under the insulation as there are large gaps at the top where the room is vented - sounds like that might work perfectly.

If anyone else has any tips, please feel free to share...
 

mbreen01

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 3, 2006
Messages
136
Reaction score
0
Location
Grand Junction
When trying to refridgerate the area (esp against a brick wall) you're bound to have moisture/condensation problems. So I'd use a vapor barrier like Tyvek for sure. Moisture and mold go hand in hand; so be careful.
Plus this will help keep the air layer static.

Keep us posted.

Marc.
 

alemonkey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
854
Reaction score
6
Location
Lincoln, NE
Is the window going to be part of the insulated room or will it stop short of that? I could see that causing problems.

Looks like a sweet project - I'm jealous. I asked my wife about it as soon as I saw your pics. Needless to say I got shot down.

Edit:

Never mind, I reread the original post about the window a/c. :)
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
alemonkey said:
Is the window going to be part of the insulated room or will it stop short of that? I could see that causing problems.

Looks like a sweet project - I'm jealous. I asked my wife about it as soon as I saw your pics. Needless to say I got shot down.

Edit:

Never mind, I reread the original post about the window a/c. :)
Try using your bedroom as beer storage for awhile - it will quickly change your wife's mind... heh

Yeah, the window will be inside the cooler. I am still thinking through the details of insulating it properly, but it will at least have 4" of insulated board as well as a layer of reflectix foil insulating it.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
I made some progress today... bought 5 rolls of Reflectix 24" wide foil insulation at Lowes and got it installed on the two brick walls. I was able to put it between the brick and the joists due the to way the room was originally constructed. They recommend airspace of at least 1/2"... I don't think I ended up with that much overall but there is some airspace due to the crap mortaring on the inside of the wall. I'm going to end up pushing it closer to the wall when I lay the insulation as that R30 stuff is thick stuff... still better than nothing right? I also used expanding foam and duct tape to begin closing all the gaps... gotta go get more tape tomorrow. Here are two photos:



 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
I ended up getting a good deal on a 10k BTU Frigidaire AC unit today at Lowes... one of the last they had in stock other than some tiny 6K units and some huge 18k units. Just took it apart and began experimentation on "hotwiring" it. This is the one area of the project that has me the most concerned as I have found very little information on how to accomplish it.

The goal is to completely control the unit from my Ranco controller. When it powers up the unit, I want the compressor to kick in and the fan on full blast until it cuts the power.

If anyone has any information on this I would greatly appreciate them sharing it in this thread. Thanks much.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Thanks. I found the electronic diagram of my AC unit today and compared it to that same page on FranklinBrew.org... it looks like my conversion will be very similar to that AC. I'm waiting on another Ranco conroller until Friday so I'm going to have to put that part of the project off a few days.

Heading to Lowes now for a 24" door and some R30 insulation...
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Brewiz said:
Where in So. Ga are you??
Valdosta - we used to take my Parrot to the Avian Vet in Bainbridge... forget her name.

***EDIT*** I mis-read Stockbridge as Bainbridge in your info. Must have had a few... heh
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
mbreen01 said:
When trying to refridgerate the area (esp against a brick wall) you're bound to have moisture/condensation problems. So I'd use a vapor barrier like Tyvek for sure. Moisture and mold go hand in hand; so be careful.
Plus this will help keep the air layer static.

Keep us posted.

Marc.
OK, so I've got the walls lined with Reflectix and am about to lay the fiberglass insulation but wanted to discuss the use of Tyvek first. Should I still consider using it since the Relectix is supposed to also be a Vapor barrier? If so, what would I do, just cover the entire walls with Tyvek first, then insulate? or insulate the walls, then cover in Tyvek. Remember that once the walls are insulated, I am still using 4" of foam board insulation.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Thought I'd follow up with this information from http://www.reflectixinc.com/technology/benefits.asp

Benefits
  • Reflects 97% of radiant energy
  • Non-toxic/Non-carcinogenic
  • Does not require protective clothing or respirators to install
  • Does not compress, collapse or disintegrate
  • Class A/Class 1 Fire Rating
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Fiber-free
  • Controls condensation
  • Environmentally safe
  • Does not promote nesting of insects or rodents
  • Lowers heating and cooling costs year-round
  • Easy to install
  • Prevents mold and mildew
  • Vapor and radon retarder
  • Not affected by moisture or humidity
  • Permanent and maintenance free
  • Made in the USA
  • QS 9000 and ISO 9001 manufacturing location
I'm going to say that I'm OK with just the Reflectix and forget about the Tyvek...
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
I began installing the R30 insulation this evening... that stuff is rediculously thick. Due to the fact the idiots who built my house decided to space the studs at random intervals, I ended up strapping the insulation down with duct tape to better hold it in place until I can put the foam board over it.

I guess I haven't mentioned that the room is roughly 10' tall which makes it look smaller than it is in the photos. I'm only building the cooler 8' tall but am going ahead and insulating up to the top of the joists.

Here is a shot of the wall after plugging all the holes with Great Stuff, Duct Tape, and Reflectix before insulation.



And after insulation. Not that pretty but should be functional (and hidden in the end).



Look how thick this stuff is... nuts.

 

Ize

...
Joined
Mar 11, 2006
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
32
Location
Central Illinois
John,

That's freaking AMAZING. :rockin: I have a totally raw 30+ year old garage and you have given me a crapload of ideas for sealing that sucker AND making it brew friendly. Keep posting, I can't wait to see how it shakes out...


Ize
 

Todd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2006
Messages
587
Reaction score
1
Location
Mechanicsburg PA
does that insulation maintain its R30 rating when placed in a 2x4 wall? Just curious, I thought it needed a certain amount of expansion room.
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,968
Reaction score
597
Location
Adams, MA
Yeah, if you compressed that insulation, you lose a LOT of the insulating value. Your R30 is probably half that, at most, if you compressed that into a 2x4 wall. Stuff that thick is designed to either sit on TOP of rafters or go into 2x10 framing between rafters. Remember, it's the air pockets within the fibers that provide the insulation, NOT the fibers themselves.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Live and learn... I just figured the heavier, the better - but your point makes sense about the air space. I noticed last night that the framing isn't all that square - maybe I'll leave a small amount (inch or so) of deadspace behind the foam board to both square the area up and allow the insulation to better expand.

I'll do the math here in a bit, but even if I lose 1/2 of the insulation power of the R30 - with all the other insulation I think I'm still only around 1,000~ 1,500 BTU heat loss per hour maximum.
 

Todd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2006
Messages
587
Reaction score
1
Location
Mechanicsburg PA
John Beere said:
Live and learn... I just figured the heavier, the better - but your point makes sense about the air space. I noticed last night that the framing isn't all that square - maybe I'll leave a small amount (inch or so) of deadspace behind the foam board to both square the area up and allow the insulation to better expand.

I'll do the math here in a bit, but even if I lose 1/2 of the insulation power of the R30 - with all the other insulation I think I'm still only around 1,000~ 1,500 BTU heat loss per hour maximum.
I don't know how much it might help but you could always at a 2x2 on the framing to give a bit more room for expansion.

Like you said you're still going to have good insulation.
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,968
Reaction score
597
Location
Adams, MA
I made the same mistake when I insulated my attic, although not to the same extent. The floor framing is 2x4, I bought insulation that was 6 inches think and compressed it (slightly) into place. Learned after the fact that my effective R value is the same as if I had just installed the (cheaper) insulation designed for the 2x4 space.

What I'm concerned about, though, is that you may have compressed it SO much that you've lost even more insulating value (I'm guessing about the 50%). Do some googling, talk to someone at the home center, if your effective insulating value is now less than what you would get with the right sized insulation, you may be better off ripping it out and replacing it with the right stuff (you might be able to re-use this stuff in your attic or something). But, get a good answer to that question, what IS the effective R value of 10 inch insulation compressed into a 4 inch space, comp that to what you would get with the right insulation, before you go any further.
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,968
Reaction score
597
Location
Adams, MA
Todd has a good idea as well. That's a damn good idea. You'd want to take the insulation out and re-install it after adding the 2x2, and you might think about peeling off an inch or two from the bottom so it doesn't compress so much when you re-install it.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Todd said:
I don't know how much it might help but you could always at a 2x2 on the framing to give a bit more room for expansion.

Like you said you're still going to have good insulation.
I was just thinking thinking about that... at least on the two exterior walls.

Here is the heat loss formula from: http://franklinbrew.org/members/sj/walkin.html

"First I calculated the peak heat loss using the following formula:
Heat Loss(BTU/Hr) = surface area X ΔTR Value and came up with less than 1000 BTU / hr with a 4' X 8' X 6' size, R10 insulation value, and 40°F temperature differential. The result is that even the smallest AC unit should be more than enough for this size unit."

This guy only had an overall R-value of R10 and still only needed 1000 BTU's to create a 40 degree differential. I'm guessing I need up to a 70 degree differential maximum but already have way more than an R10 value. Should be adding another R15 or so with the two layers of foam board.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
the_bird said:
Todd has a good idea as well. That's a damn good idea. You'd want to take the insulation out and re-install it after adding the 2x2, and you might think about peeling off an inch or two from the bottom so it doesn't compress so much when you re-install it.
Yeah, that seals the deal... I'll add at least another two inches to the studs on the exterior walls. I'll see about peeling a little insulation off the back of the insulation as well. For the interior walls, which I haven't done yet, I'll just peel some of the insulation away before installing.

Thank you guys for the input... keep it coming!
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,968
Reaction score
597
Location
Adams, MA
What are the interior walls going to be covered in? I'm a little concerned about condensation, although I can never get straight in my head where you should have the vapor barrier. How are you handling the moisture issue?
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
the_bird said:
What are the interior walls going to be covered in? I'm a little concerned about condensation, although I can never get straight in my head where you should have the vapor barrier. How are you handling the moisture issue?
Well the interior walls are inside the garage. I'm a little perplexed by the vapor barrier as well but am going to trust the Reflectix. This room is 10' tall and I am only using 8'. There will be insulation on the top but the walls / insulation will be somewhat exposed above the unit. I think I will install an exhaust fan up there to draw air (and hopefully any moisture) out of there.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Slight update - as suggested, I extended the thickness of the walls two inches by adding a 2"x2"x8' to each joist. I also got some proper strapping which made the job go a lot quicker. I didn't take the insulation all the way out but I did re-fluff it as much as possible. There are still some small spots I need to fill, but overall - the walls are done. Here are two photos:

Edit: - I forgot to mention I left the bottom across the back un-insulated for now as I have to run some wiring through the wall first.



 

Musthavbeer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2006
Messages
65
Reaction score
0
What about the floor? Cold decends. I've erected a few cold storage buildings and done several walk-in coolers and freezers. When built there is always blue DOW under the slab. Blue DOW is great in that it will not absorb moisture (closed cell) and it will support plenty of weight. You could lay about 3" on the floor and then protect it with 1/2" ply. Make sure you don't have anything metal going from inside to outside or the outside will sweat like crazy, (metal door frame).
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Musthavbeer said:
What about the floor? Cold decends. I've erected a few cold storage buildings and done several walk-in coolers and freezers. When built there is always blue DOW under the slab. Blue DOW is great in that it will not absorb moisture (closed cell) and it will support plenty of weight. You could lay about 3" on the floor and then protect it with 1/2" ply. Make sure you don't have anything metal going from inside to outside or the outside will sweat like crazy, (metal door frame).
Thanks for the info. I planned on building a false floor about 5" off the slab and insulate it with two layers of 2" foam board as well as a layer of Reflectix. No metal at all.

Hmm, I just looked at the Dow board on Lowes Website... it has a higher R value than the Insulfoam I was looking at. The Dow board has an R value of R3 per 1/2". The insulfoam board has an R value of R7.8 per 2". Now its really coming down to how much insulation does this thing really need?
 

Musthavbeer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2006
Messages
65
Reaction score
0
For cold storage the usual is about R30-34, freezer is in the R-38-48 range. I wouldn’t build the sub floor. I would spend that money on the Rs under the ply and then use EDPM (rubber roofing) for the floor surface and turn it up the walls 3” or so. Lowes and I think HD now sells EDPM cut to length. You can glue it down or just pin to the walls with trim at the base.
 
OP
John Beere

John Beere

Deep Six Brewing Co.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
2,033
Reaction score
71
Location
Valdosta, GA
Musthavbeer said:
For cold storage the usual is about R30-34, freezer is in the R-38-48 range. I wouldn’t build the sub floor. I would spend that money on the Rs under the ply and then use EDPM (rubber roofing) for the floor surface and turn it up the walls 3” or so. Lowes and I think HD now sells EDPM cut to length. You can glue it down or just pin to the walls with trim at the base.
Thanks for this information. I wasn't sure how sturdy the foam board would be to use as the floor but it sounds like it will work well. I'm going to Lowes this evening to see if they have the Dow board in stock... I know they have an entire pallet of the Insulfoam.

I think I will use the higher R-value Dow board for the floor for sure if I can find it.

So my options for the walls are either two layers of the 2" thick R7.8 Insulfoam ($25 each) for an R value of R15.6 - OR - five layers of 1/2" thick R3 Dow board ($10 each) for an R value of R15 (but 1.5" thinner). Any opinions?
 

Brewpastor

Beer, not rocket chemistry
Joined
Feb 16, 2006
Messages
4,628
Reaction score
65
Location
Corrales, New Mexico
I am always concerned about floors related to spills, fermentation overflows and so forthDo you have any thought in this area? Slopped towards the door or a floor drain might be a suggestion.

Also, and I may have missed this, what wall covering are you looking at. I like the slick, white bathroom board. 4x8 sheets and nonporous.
 

Brewpastor

Beer, not rocket chemistry
Joined
Feb 16, 2006
Messages
4,628
Reaction score
65
Location
Corrales, New Mexico
Would a dehumidifier be worth considering? I live in the desert, so moisture isn't a concern, but with all the moisture build up concern being voiced, I just thought maybe that would be worth looking at.
 
Top