New Conical Selection, Ferment in Hot Garage - Is Jacketed Necessary?

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digitalhifi

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I'm looking to get a conical fermentor, but I ferment in my Texas garage with summer temperatures in there up to about 110 F at peak hotness. What is everyone's experience with using the immersion coil type conicals with neoprene jackets in similar conditions? I'm not obsessed with cold crashing but I need to be able to do lagers at 40-45 F. I've pretty much narrowed it down to the SS Brewtech Unitank 14 gallon or the Brewers Hardware Jacketed 15 gallon model. The BH model is of course a bit more money I might otherwise be able put towards the glycol chiller I'm planning to get as part of this package (probably the SS 1/3 HP model).
 
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You will most definitely need some sort of insulation. First, you'll need it to combat the high ambient conditions. However you will also want it as the tank will sweat like crazy if it's sitting at 40F in a 100F garage. We actually just worked with a customer that has one of our CF10 Conicals, our TC-100 temp control package and a Penguin chiller. They were able to get their tank down to 35F. Also the nice thing about all of our conicals is you can ferment a half batch as our temp coils drop in from the top and reach far into the cone; see below.

 

augiedoggy

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im using this hose https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-1-2-x-50-Heavy-Duty-Blue-PVC-Swimming-Pool-Backwash-Hose-Clamp-Discharge/392070202731?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649 wrapped around the outside of my stainless conicals with 2 layers of foil bubble wrap around it all for insulation.
While its not 100 degree in my brewroom it does hit the 90s. I have 4 conicals, a 14 gallon ssbrewtech with neporene jacket and coil, stout 12.5 and 2 no name conicals and I use a "coolzone" carboy cooling jacket on the stout, and the discharge hose on the other two... they all work well but I really like not having to clean any coils on the discharge hose setups. Everything is cooled by a single 1/3hp chiller using the chillers pump and a pvc manifold turning on and off 24v $3 soleniod valves... been using it for over 3 years now.
 

dmcman73

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I have the Spike CF10 with the cooling coils and neoprene jacket and I am using a "hacked" aquarium chiller that chills a cooler fool of water. The area my conical is reaches 85 - 90 degrees at a time and I've been able to keep my temps within +/-1 degree (my controller kicks in when it senses a 1 degree rise in temps).

I like Spike's coils design as I can ferment 5 gallon batches (I brew 85% of the time 5 gallons) and I'm a fan of the internal coils over exterior hoses and wraps, it's just a cleaner look for me. Of course, the jacketed conicals are even better but cost a ton of $$$$. Save the cash for a good Glycol chiller.

If you're looking for a Conical, put the Spike one on your list of options.
 

augiedoggy

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That is a good point... my setup is more function over looks vs monitary investment. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder... I dont know about DMCman but I'm just commenting on my experience as someone who has and uses all three systems for cooling and the coils inside are much more of a hassle to keep clean. I prefer the more sanitary less disassembly and reassembly approach.
 

mongoose33

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The high ambient temps are going to be an issue...you have to have a jacketed conical, and you'd do well to insulate the legs and any parts of pieces that stick out.

All those things--handles, ports, legs, chiller ports--act as reverse radiators, drawing ambient heat into the fermenter. You're going to need a glycol chiller to be able to combat that, in addition to whatever insulation you might be able to add.

One other possibility is this: you can build a small "closet" inside which you place the fermenter. The coolness lost to normal processes will cool that "closet" to temps lower than ambient, and that will help. I found that 2' sections of hardboard (what pegboard is made from with the holes) will do that. Pieces of 2x2 on the corners to screw to, maybe some 1" foam board insulation inside, and you have a more moderate environment in which to chill.

Here's something I did; you can see the black chiller lines coming into the box from the upper right where they exit the camoflage refrigerator:

chillchamber.jpg

I have the Spike CF10 with the temp kit, running off my home-made refrigerator/freezer chiller. It's not enough of a chiller to do the job--I have a Penguin on the way--so to try to make up for that I built the thing you see in the pic above.

The sides are 4' high, 2' wide, and then a 1-foot "cap" on top.

FWIW: My ambient on hot days is in the mid-to-upper 80s. Just too hot for my homemade chiller. So the idea behind the "closet" was for me to put a window airconditioner in, and direct the cold air flow into the "closet" through a hole in the "cap." This dropped ambient to the 50s, which helped. My design above used actual 1/4" pegboard for the sides, so the air would be able to flow through and out those holes. If just for insulation, I'd have not used pegboard, I'd have used regular hardboard. Of course, plywood, osb, any sheet good would work.

In the end, my homemade chiller wasn't able to get temps down to where I wanted--my goal is 32--and it just wasn't enough. Several reasons related to the design of my chiller, which is more than able to manage ale fermentation temps in a warm garage. But I want to cold-crash low, and it just couldn't do it.

Hence the Penguin. If you're getting the sense I'm suggesting you're going to need one, well, I am. You are. But given the ambient temps where you live, I think you also may need something to isolate that fermenter from ambient as much as you can, and you're still going to need to insulate the "pieces" sucking heat into the fermenter as much as you can.

This is going to apply no matter which fermenter you buy. Good luck! Loving my conical. You will love yours.
 
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digitalhifi

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Thank for the tips. I had been looking at spike as well, I just wasn't a huge fan of the band clamp lid.
 

BarleyPopBrewer

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The band clamp is my favorite part! It allows for the lid to be taken off super easily for cleaning/confirming the tank is clean after CIP.
 

augiedoggy

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The band clamp is my favorite part! It allows for the lid to be taken off super easily for cleaning/confirming the tank is clean after CIP.
same here... seems to seal better than the stout conicals I have and I prefer it over brewtechs solution... but mine is a clone of the older spike conical design.
 

czmkid

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I’m right up the road from you in Austin. I have two 7 gal jacketed unitanks and ferment in my backyard brewery, aka my covered back patio. You can expect a lot of condensation run off for sure, but getting down to whatever temperature you select using the glycol chiller won’t be hard to do. Having said that the lowest I have set for this summer was 36deg and to get to that had to drop the bath temps to 26deg. I haven’t thought of an elegant solution for the condensation run off other than a Few towels on the floor that I squeeze out every now and again. Honestly with the sealed and stained patio concrete I don’t think puddles on top would hurt that much but whatever lol.

Bottom line is that I am thrilled with my Ss unitanks and their glycol chiller. My beer is cleaner tasting, not oxidized, clearer than ever, and perfectly carbed. I need two more unitanks!!!...and I can live with the condensation:)

Czmkid
 

Blazinlow86

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Imho spending that much on a fermentation setup that can't cold crash is definitely not a good value for your money. I'd suggest you go with the spike conical WITHOUT a cooling coil. The cf5/10/15 all fit in a stand up freezer available commonly used for 100$ or less. It will cost you the least of all options without any downsides. It can cold crash and is already insulated. A heater can easily be added later if it ever was needed and the best part is for the same price as the SS brewtech BME without proper cooling capacity you will get a unitank with proper cooling control. Arguably with the SS setup without proper cooling is less usable than a bucket and fridge process wise. With the spike you can carbonate in the fermenter and all that extra stuff. Win win. Cheers
 

Blazinlow86

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Sorry I somehow missed you were planning to buy a glycol setup and thought you were just going to use chilled water or something like that.That being said I'd still go with the fridge over again everytime for a single 1/2 barrel or smaller conical. If your planning on multiple fermentors down the road the glycol would be a good option as long as you actually buy more fermentors down the road. Cheers
 
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digitalhifi

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Sorry I somehow missed you were planning to buy a glycol setup and thought you were just going to use chilled water or something like that.That being said I'd still go with the fridge over again everytime for a single 1/2 barrel or smaller conical. If your planning on multiple fermentors down the road the glycol would be a good option as long as you actually buy more fermentors down the road. Cheers
Yeah, no worries. Currently I have buckets and a freezer, but I'm very space constrained and part of the plus side of this upgrade will be increased floor space. I'm not really interested in replacing the freezer with another fridge. One of the reasons I'm going glycol is to be able to cool the wort quicker to pitching temps. Ground water here is usually around 80, but I've measured in the 90's before. I also cannot stand having to get ice for some sort of pre chiller setup.
 

Blazinlow86

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Yeah, no worries. Currently I have buckets and a freezer, but I'm very space constrained and part of the plus side of this upgrade will be increased floor space. I'm not really interested in replacing the freezer with another fridge. One of the reasons I'm going glycol is to be able to cool the wort quicker to pitching temps. Ground water here is usually around 80, but I've measured in the 90's before. I also cannot stand having to get ice for some sort of pre chiller setup.
Fair enough. I'm lucky to have cold enough ground water year round to not have to worry about that. Nothing wrong with going glycol especially if it helps your process. I just like to remind everyone that unless the glycol setup gains you something a fridge is a much simpler option with the same outcome generally speaking. Cheers
 

mongoose33

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It's difficult to choose between the Spike and SSBrewtech offerings. Each has advantages. The SSBrewtech has a more complete jacket than the Spike. It also can be pressurized higher than the Spike.

The Spike, on the other hand, has a wider mouth on top, and the entire top can be removed to facilitate cleaning. The ports are more flexible, and the carbonation manifold is terrific.

So it's kind of six of one, half dozen of another. Can't see how you'd go wrong with either. @Morrey has three of the SSBrewtech offerings, and I've had several of his beers; excellent, across the board. SSBrewtech can produce them, assuming the brewer knows what she/he is doing.

I've done some really neat stuff with my Spike, so it's worked well for me, too. Others have as well. It's a matter of what you're going to value more highly, the features of one or the other.
 

Blazinlow86

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Can't go wrong with either. The spikes a better deal though imho. The base spike unitank is cheaper than the comparable bme conical and if you fit it all out the same as the ss unitank its about 250$ cheaper. I believe the release valve in the SS is below 20psi so I don't think that's much a difference. Cheers
 

Morrey

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One of the reasons I'm going glycol is to be able to cool the wort quicker to pitching temps. *Ground water here is usually around 80, but I've measured in the 90's before. I also cannot stand having to get ice for some sort of pre chiller setup.
No matter the brand of fermenter system or glycol chiller a person selects, your brewing life will change for the better with the implementation of this gear.

*My situation is very similar in that my ground water temps hover in the mid-80's during the summer. One of my least favorite chores was to get together a recirc ice bath to switch over once I had hit the low 90's. With the glycol, I simply transfer 90F wort to the FV and turn on the chiller. The chiller handles 90F wort very well and wont get overloaded at this temp. I haven't tried anything higher, but its not suggested to use the chiller at temps much higher than this. I run my glycol mix at 28F, and rarely see the temps in the bath get much over 37F during this cool down period.

I also temporarily stop the chiller at the same temp point the yeast starter temp happens to be. Since I prefer to pitch actively spinning yeast (not cold crashed), my starter is typically at 73F in the house, so I'll set the chiller to 73F and match the temps - then pitch yeast and oxygenate. Let the wort and yeast hang out for a few minutes to acclimate, then slowly bring down to fermentation temps with a couple of small steps.
 

danapellerin

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I'm looking to get a conical fermentor, but I ferment in my Texas garage with summer temperatures in there up to about 110 F at peak hotness. What is everyone's experience with using the immersion coil type conicals with neoprene jackets in similar conditions? I'm not obsessed with cold crashing but I need to be able to do lagers at 40-45 F. I've pretty much narrowed it down to the SS Brewtech Unitank 14 gallon or the Brewers Hardware Jacketed 15 gallon model. The BH model is of course a bit more money I might otherwise be able put towards the glycol chiller I'm planning to get as part of this package (probably the SS 1/3 HP model).
I just bought 2 - Ss 14 gal unitanks and the Ss chiller. I live in Fresno, CA and my garage sits around 95 to 105 in the dead of summer. I currently have my first two batches fermenting in this equipment. I've found that the chiller has no problem getting the glycol down to 28 degrees which is the factory setting. I've had a few problems with the fermenters however.

Getting down to fermenting temps (mid 60's) is not a big deal. Cold crashing is another story. I've had a hell of a time getting down into the 30's. The first try stalled at around 40 and I discovered that the coils can freeze and prevent you from getting any colder. So I had to bring it up a few degreees, and then step down in very small increments but even then I only got to about 38 when the ambient temp was in the high 90's. Only when our heat spell broke and the garage started getting down to around 90 was I able to get down to 36.

So ambient temps are going to play a huge role no matter what. Keep in mind too that the chiller itself generates a LOT of heat, which is going to add to the problem. I personally am going to add some insulation to the garage door to combat the afternoon sun, and I'm probably also going to install a portable AC unit vented to the outside to try and get some of the heat out of the garage during the hottest days.
 

Blazinlow86

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I just bought 2 - Ss 14 gal unitanks and the Ss chiller. I live in Fresno, CA and my garage sits around 95 to 105 in the dead of summer. I currently have my first two batches fermenting in this equipment. I've found that the chiller has no problem getting the glycol down to 28 degrees which is the factory setting. I've had a few problems with the fermenters however.

Getting down to fermenting temps (mid 60's) is not a big deal. Cold crashing is another story. I've had a hell of a time getting down into the 30's. The first try stalled at around 40 and I discovered that the coils can freeze and prevent you from getting any colder. So I had to bring it up a few degreees, and then step down in very small increments but even then I only got to about 38 when the ambient temp was in the high 90's. Only when our heat spell broke and the garage started getting down to around 90 was I able to get down to 36.

So ambient temps are going to play a huge role no matter what. Keep in mind too that the chiller itself generates a LOT of heat, which is going to add to the problem. I personally am going to add some insulation to the garage door to combat the afternoon sun, and I'm probably also going to install a portable AC unit vented to the outside to try and get some of the heat out of the garage during the hottest days.
It's probably too late at this point as your probably too far invested but could you get away with 2 stand up freezers? I would think being there insulated it would solve your issues and be alot less power draw than running 2 AC units. It would take longer to get to pitching temps but at least it would solve your other issues. Cheers
 

danapellerin

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It's probably too late at this point as your probably too far invested but could you get away with 2 stand up freezers? I would think being there insulated it would solve your issues and be alot less power draw than running 2 AC units. It would take longer to get to pitching temps but at least it would solve your other issues. Cheers
I've looked into some fridges, but for me it's an aesthetic thing as well and the display fridges are expensive. I'm thinking I could get by with one AC unit. I'm hoping that the insulation in the garage door keeps most of the afternoon heat at bay (my house faces west), and with one AC unit that only needs to run when I'm cold crashing, I think it may be enough. We'll see!
 

Blazinlow86

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Yea definitely doesn't look as nice and if you buy a new one there way too much. What about building a small walking that can be cooled with the AC unit. You can also use your chiller? Cheers
 
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