Side by Side 4 tap keezer and dual zone Fermentor build

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Sidman

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Hey all,

I have been searching for an answer for my production dilemmas since the end of January. I currently have a closet that I converted the bottom half to a fermenter and separate 2 keg kegerator. The problem I ran into was I could really only ferment a lager or ale, I could only do one lager at a time, and I could not cold crash. On top of that I have been out producing a 2 keg kegerator. I was considering converting a chest freezer when my son showed me an awesome set up on imgur. I thought the idea was brilliant and simple so I have been working in my spare time since February on getting my side by side set up. Here is the link to my inspiration. I stole a lot of stuff directly but also made some major changes. http://imgur.com/a/BezCj

I started with a Kitchenaid white side by side for $70 I got off Craigslist. It was in rough shape and I was so anxious to get going I didn't even take and starter pics. I pulled everything off and gave it a serious cleaning.

I removed the ice maker and all the extra shelves and brackets. I was lucky in that the through door ice and water came completely off. I was also able to remove the inside shell on the freezer door to allow for more room. All together I am able to get four kegs in the freezer side. I installed a rail in the center to hold the upper two kegs and a plywood platform on the bottom give inches up to allow for a straight shelf to set the kegs on

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Sidman

Sidman

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I added in two computer fans - one at the top in place of the old fan control and the second was added towards the bottom to allow for two different zones.

I got two stc 100's from brewsbysmith and wired in the extra thermometer to read air temp. The fridge is plugged in to a Johnson A419 control to keep the freezer at 34. I ran a separate ac line into the fridge compartment to power the stc 100's. That way any and all sections can operate mostly independently. I also did not have to tap into the fridge thermostat control.

I hid the fans in the separating wall and ran the wires in the same manner to the central control point so they were hidden. I ran a 1 x 4 in the corner where I placed weather resistant and gfci outlets to allow the heater elements to be plugged in. I also converted the thermometer to an rj style phone plug so I could attach and place into thermowell.

I used 3/4" ply for the top and bottoms of the control shelf with sheet insulation inside.

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Hello

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That is impressive. I had no idea you could control even two zones in a side by side. Great work!
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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I found a pretty cheap 7lb co2 tank and was able to hang it from the inside ceiling of the freezer compartment.

I finished it off with a semi gloss black enamel. I tried to use the fridge paint in black but was only able to get the spray can and the coverage was horrible. I used a red oak board for the tap plate and put in new perlicks to round it out.

So I am able to tap 4 kegs and ferment 2 buckets in the top chamber, one bucket / 2 carboys in the bottom chamber and cold crash in either of the zones.

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Lbm

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This makes me wish I hadn't gotten rid of my side-by-side fridge! Very space efficient design.

Have you had it running long enough to determine if you have any moisture issues?
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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No issues so far. I think having the johnson controller allows the fridge to mostly cycle as normal. I have had a keg in the keezer for about three weeks with a Bock lagering in the bottom and a golden ale on top. So far so good. My only worry is the fridge running too much.
 

MagicMatt

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Nicely done!

I'm curious on a few aspects of your design, if you don't mind sharing.


- Why such a thick separating shelf on the fermenter side? Is it fully enclosed (like a box), or is it recessed from the bottom (like an upside down shoe box)? And what did you use to construct it?
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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Nicely done!

I'm curious on a few aspects of your design, if you don't mind sharing.


- Why such a thick separating shelf on the fermenter side? Is it fully enclosed (like a box), or is it recessed from the bottom (like an upside down shoe box)? And what did you use to construct it?

Great questions. I was concerned with the weight of two 5ish gallons of liquid and I needed some insulation between the two zones. To keep it simple I used 2x4's mounted to the walls of the fridge around the three inside walls. I kept an open space to route all of the fan and ac wires. I cut up four pieces of foam insulation and placed them in that center space. I then mounted 3/4" external plywood to the top and bottom. Lastly I finished off the front with a piece of sanded and stained red oak with a piece of stainless steel (converted from a door push plate.)

So the bottom zone has the shelf separating it and it has a door with two inches of sheet foam on the inside to allow it to hold its temp.
 

MagicMatt

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That's awesome! I'm currently looking to expand, and was thinking I would turn my current chest freezer into a keezer and buy another freezer or fridge for my fermenting chamber. But after seeing this, I might just get a side-by-side instead and use it for both purposes like this.

Were there any other mods done to the fridge's wiring or airlfow?

Edit: removed questions I saw you already answered in your earlier posts
 

fimpster

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Wow, mighty impressive. This might be my favorite side x side mod yet. Do you have any pic with both ferm zones occupied, to gauge the capacity? You said 2 buckets up top and one below? And can they each independently lager while the other does ale?
 

MagicMatt

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And can they each independently lager while the other does ale?

+1 for this question. I would want to do this so I could cold crash either the top or bottom, and have the other area remain at ferm temps. The only thing I can think is that if the freezer side (kegerator) is only at serving temps (35-40°F), how cold can either chamber of the fermenting side actually get?

And at first I was thinking only the bottom would be effective with cold crashing (since it's more insulated), but how about the top? Would there be any bleed-over either way to where you'd need a heater of some sort to balance?
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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Wow, mighty impressive. This might be my favorite side x side mod yet. Do you have any pic with both ferm zones occupied, to gauge the capacity? You said 2 buckets up top and one below? And can they each independently lager while the other does ale?

Just so happens I have a primary and secondary going in the top now and about to cold crash the bottom. I'll get some pics and upload tomorrow if my gravity is on point.
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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+1 for this question. I would want to do this so I could cold crash either the top or bottom, and have the other area remain at ferm temps. The only thing I can think is that if the freezer side (kegerator) is only at serving temps (35-40°F), how cold can either chamber of the fermenting side actually get?

And at first I was thinking only the bottom would be effective with cold crashing (since it's more insulated), but how about the top? Would there be any bleed-over either way to where you'd need a heater of some sort to balance?

More great questions. Since there is really only one cooling unit the lowest any one chamber can be is the same temp that the freezer side is at. Having said that the top can ferm at 70 and the bottom can lager / cold crash and vice versa. There is some cold bleed between the zones and I had been using a fermwrap heater for individual carboys. Now that I have multiples going I just ordered (2) 200 watt ceramic heaters. Technically I wired both outlets for heat so I could use two fermwraps. Since these two beers are at the same temps and since I wired the stc 1000 for the second temp probe to keep the heat overshoot to a minimum, I thought I would try out the heaters instead.
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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Wow, mighty impressive. This might be my favorite side x side mod yet. Do you have any pic with both ferm zones occupied, to gauge the capacity? You said 2 buckets up top and one below? And can they each independently lager while the other does ale?

Here are some shots of both zones going. Some are blurry so excuse the poor quality. I started the cold crash last night where the Irish red was in the mid 60's and it got down to 42 by this evening (set target temp at 40) I put a temp small heater in the top to keep it at 68.

Empty 6 gal carboy was just put in there to show capacity

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fimpster

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Very cool setup you've got there, Sidman. This gives me ideas for my own side x side. Right now I'm only using my fridge side for kegs and freezer side for hops (and some food) storage, without a temp controller.
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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Very cool setup you've got there, Sidman. This gives me ideas for my own side x side. Right now I'm only using my fridge side for kegs and freezer side for hops (and some food) storage, without a temp controller.

Thanks for the props. I got my temp controller dialed in by tweaking the settings and placing the temp probe for the keezer side in a test tube filled with water at the top corner of the freezer. It seems to have really helped stabilize the temp with minimal cycling of the compressor. I have also been enjoying the different zones. If the keezer is not full I can cold crash a carboy in there and I currently have two ales at 68 in the top right zone with a Texas blonde(has a Kolsch yeast) in the bottom right zone at 60 degrees.

So far I have been very pleased with the results.
 
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Sidman

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My brother in law did a fantastic logo graphic based off a tap handle SWMBO got me for my B Day. The graphic is a light gray and came out pretty nicely if I do say so myself

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tward2

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Have you had any problems with the louvers wanting to suck shut and block the air flow when both fans come on at the same time and the freezer door is shut?
 
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Sidman

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Have you had any problems with the louvers wanting to suck shut and block the air flow when both fans come on at the same time and the freezer door is shut?

Interestingly enough I did not really have a good seal where the water lines came into the back so I did not notice the issue you described. I ended up moving my co2 tank and mounting it to the back of the fridge for ease of filling and sealed it much better when I did. Now I do notice that whichever vent comes on second does not have the same flow as the first. The first louver seems to open about an inch with the others just barely open. I have my controllers set to only allow about a 10degree buffer between beer temp and air temp so basically when the first one shuts the second remains on for a little longer.
 

NickThoR

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I know this is an older post, but I am looking into building a side by side, as they seem like a pretty efficient means of serving and temp control.

- How are you liking this setup nearly two years later?
- What kind of temp range would you have without heaters? ie, if you served at 34 on the kegerator side, and were lagering at say 40 in the bottom of the fermentor side, what temperature does the top area stay at?
 
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Sidman

Sidman

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Thanks Nick. The set up works like a champ. I have used it constantly to serve and / or ferment and its still working at full capacity. There are two things I think I would change. One is to make the middle separation on the fridge side smaller - perhaps mount the controllers elsewhere. I would really like to upgrade to some 5 gallon conicals and the space is tight. The second would be to create a return air flow path to get full capacity when both fermenting chambers are going.

So I haven't tried the scenario you mentioned but I can tell you even without the heaters, I can serve at 34 on the freezer side and the upper chamber will remain closer to room temp. I do cold crash in the bottom and the top has stayed in the upper 60's. It seems like the bigger issue is trying to keep the upper chamber as cool or colder than the bottom. Right now I have 2 carboys in the top and 2 in the bottom. The top is fermenting at 66 and the bottom are in secondaries with the same temp programming. Top ones are spot on at 66 but the bottom chamber is closer to 61 - 62. We just moved so I have not unpacked the heaters yet.
 

HausBrauerei_Harvey

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I know this is an older post, but I am looking into building a side by side, as they seem like a pretty efficient means of serving and temp control.

- How are you liking this setup nearly two years later?
- What kind of temp range would you have without heaters? ie, if you served at 34 on the kegerator side, and were lagering at say 40 in the bottom of the fermentor side, what temperature does the top area stay at?

Nick I also read this thread when doing my research. Check out the build I did here, it's a varient of Sidman's idea and its worked really well for me the past 2 years and saves floor space if that is an issue for you.
 

NickThoR

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Thanks for the response. That is what I wanted to hear! upper 60s should be fine for most of my ales, and if its not, I can just pull it out of the fridge to room temp. This really is an amazing build, and I plan on emulating it pretty closely, in addition to the two changes you suggest. Thanks for posting such a great project! Now, to find a reasonably efficient side by side for cheap on Craig's List....
 
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Sidman

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The other thing that came to mind yesterday was if you could build a removable separating shelf on the fridge side you would likely be able to larger conical. I just got a 12.5 gallon from Stout and the measurements look like it would just fit in. I think the only issue would be getting a good seal between that shelf and the door when using separate zones. Then you could just pull that out to use a larger tank and set your two controllers at the same temp.
 

NickThoR

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That's a good thought. I don't plan on getting a conical... but this hobby has a tendency to grow more and more lol
 
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