Side-by-Side to Fermentation Chamber Build

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Boerderij_Kabouter

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Hello everybody!

I am not quite done with this build but it is functional and I wanted to post up.

I recently picked up a side by side fridge and decided I wanted a BIG fermentation chamber. Here is the fridge... one standard 1990's era Amana:



So first things first, in order to make this side by side a single chamber I had to cut out the middle wall.



I used a dremel tool with a metal cutoff wheel to score a line around the metal at the edges. Then I grabbed the panel with a pliers and ripped away the metal.



Then I knocked out most of the insulation.

 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Then, I scored the other side of the panel and removed it in the same way.



Next I cleaned up the edges of the metal divider to flush, and blushed off the remaining insulation.



A wire brush worked really well for cleaning out insulation.



Here is another view of the preped chamber



I now have a big open space!
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Here is a shot of the cooling unit:







This unit has no coils in the walls and is very compact. It works well for my purposes.

Here is a shot of the original thermostat and humidity control:



The thermostat is what will be bypassed with a LOVE controller.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Next comes the part of wiring. This fridge has a circuit diagram ont he back that was very helpful.



With this diagram I could locate hot and common leads throughout the system and it made my life MUCH easier. I still double checked everything with a multimeter, just to make sure.

The first order of business was to plan where I would pickup my common and hot leads for the LOVE, and where the LOVE would be positioned.

I decided to take the hot leads directly from the original thermostat and the common from the cooling cavity. I will explain more as I go through the pics.

I decided the best place for the controller was in the upper left, so I put tit there....

marking out the opening:



Cutting the hole with my trusty dremel, you can clean up the corners with a utility knife:



I then drilled four marker holes in each corner of the opening through to the inside of the fridge.

 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Now to wire the controller!

I purchased a LOVE TSS2-2100 dual stage controller from Dwyer so I can control both heat and cool in my chamber.

This diagram shows how to wire it.



So, I wired in sections of 4" #14 solid cable from all the points I needed power, inserted the controller into my hole, and secured it.



I used terminal blocks to make all my jumps.

White wire coming in is common from the systems white wiring picked up from main cooling area, left hand side of this pic. The brown board on the left has an extra spot for additional hook-ups (very handy).



The black is hot from the system's red wiring and I picked it up directly from the original thermostat. I used wire nuts because I was lazy. Maybe I will go back and solder it later...



The green wire is the switch wire and leads to the system end of the red wire located at the original thermostat. This is the connection the controller will switch on/off for cooling.

In the above diagram the black hot wire leads to terminals 5, 7, and 10 to provide hot power. The white common wire leads only to terminal 4. The green wire leads to terminal 8.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

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Here is a shot of the interior leading to the original thermostat, the main cooling compartment, and the controller.



Now the second circuit needed to be wired for heating. I ran a second green wire with black stripes from terminal 11 down to the main cooling compartment. You can see the new green striped cable in this pic:



..................

So now the controller is fully wired. I didn't have my heater yet and HAD to fire it up!



:rockin:
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Then it was time to reinstall the cosmetic covers and check out the setup.





Looks Good.

At this point, my wife left the house with her camera and I have a bit of a gap in photos... :(

Anyway, I bought a small heater from Home Depot for $14 that has a resistive heater and a fan. I connected that to the green and black striped wire and the white common in the main cooling compartment.

 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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So that was it! I have the inside repainted to cover all surfaces. I bondoed over the exposed insulation, used two coates of primer, and top coated with appliance paint. It looks rather nice and pro.

then I installed two oak shelves. This puppy can hold about 7 carboys!

Here are some shots:







 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Boerderij_Kabouter

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The system works awesome! I know some do not need both heating and cooling, but in my climate I need both regularly, and now I don't have to change anything. Just press the set points and the system automatically heats or cools to maintain the desired temp.

I really like it already. Lagers, HERE I COME!!!! :mug:
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

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Total build cost ~$200 if you had nothing. The controller and probe are $85 shipped, $15 in wires and terminals. $100 to get a fridge and some paint... Something around there anyway. I only cost me $85 out of pocket because I had the other stuff...
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

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I would say it is a full weekend project. A couple hours to take out the shelves etc., an hour to take out the divider and clean up the insulation. Then maybe a couple hours to wire up the controller and wire in the heater. A couple hours to build the shelf and install it.

..... maybe 8 hours total. Some would be faster, I was kind of lazy about it because it is a fun project.
 

kidoduck

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Now that this thread has been revived, I've got to ask: After using this for a while did you find the need to add recirc fans to even the temperatures between upper and lower shelves?
 

Boodlemania

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I'm excited about this. My dad's got an old side-by-side acquired as a freebie in our farm shop. Think I'll re-assign it to more, let's say, "productive" duty.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

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Now that this thread has been revived, I've got to ask: After using this for a while did you find the need to add recirc fans to even the temperatures between upper and lower shelves?
I will check tonight. I haven't yet. I am assuming that the temps should be fairly even because both the heater and the fridge have fans that blow whenever the heater of compressor are turned on.

I will report on any temp stratification tonight.
 

Medo

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Ahoy hoy,
Damn you have to love American Ingenuity! This is the setup I have been looking for! Up here in Interior Alaska, the temps can vary so widely when its not winter, (80 in the day, high 30s at night, for example) that a rig like this would be the gift that keeps on giving. Beer, that is :D
I must salute you and your clever use of a pretty much otherwise useless for our hobby item. A side by side indeed! I love it
Salute' :tank: (picture volley of fire in tribute)
A great day to all.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

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After using this for a while did you find the need to add recirc fans to even the temperatures between upper and lower shelves?
I have measured it out and recirc fans are not necessary for my chamber. The temps are stable throughout until the door is opened and some air spills out.

However, I have fans in both the cooling unit and the heating unit that circulate air anytime heating/cooling is operational. I think this makes a pretty big difference.
 

Scrow

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Wow this is incredible. Any advice for someone that knows nothing about electrical wiring? Is there a less... dangerous approach?
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

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It really isn't very difficult. If you can get your hands on the wiring diagram for your fridge I can help you wire it.

I am glad you like the project.
 

Scrow

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It really isn't very difficult. If you can get your hands on the wiring diagram for your fridge I can help you wire it.

I am glad you like the project.
Is this something you can do over the phone? I mean, I don't have any of the stuff I need yet, but I plan to start looking for it. If I can find a fridge with the wiring diagram, I can scan it and post it for you. This would be an amazing addition to my setup. I just don't want to electrocute myself.
 

Yambor44

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Very creative. What are the charcoal briquettes for?
Probably condensation control.


Very, Very nice setup!!! I recently lost my old deep freezer's compressor and had to buy a new one that was smaller. I really miss the storage area of the larger one. My only concern about buying a used one is how long the cooling unit will last. Seeing as you are pretty handy with the inner workings of one, are they inexpensive to replace after going through all of this effort? I bet so, and I wish I had seen this thread a long time ago!!

Prost!:mug:
 

BrewBeemer

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I have a side by side sitting in the back yard of a rental house under a cover the last 3 years thinking it was too much trouble to chop and convert vs a single space frige. I was going to call the recyclers as a new frig is in the house. Now you have me thinking about saving it. My fear was the temperature between the cooled and freezer section causing a problem even with the divider cut out. This is a false fear of mine. This is a free extra fridge that can hold two 24 gallon extra tall keggle fermenters with ease. Now ya got me thinking as the little 1947 Philco is in the patio at home and will remain original, a piece of my grandparents house I must keep original and use with fond memories. Time to rehang the doors, the hinges are in place with no parts missing. The reason I replaced it was the renters were smokers and the frige was sticky brown from their smoking. Time for the SawZall and cut out the divider then relocate it at another house that is empty and my brewing location. I was thinking about that stuff called AirBall a sealer used on decks of boats for sealing the cut open foam sections. Thick brush on item after adding a couple of coats. Thanks I may have saved this frige, hell starting off free just the controller cost is needed plus some butcher work. Wiring it is free in my stock pile. Thanks you may of saved a frige from early RIP.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Is this something you can do over the phone? I mean, I don't have any of the stuff I need yet, but I plan to start looking for it. If I can find a fridge with the wiring diagram, I can scan it and post it for you. This would be an amazing addition to my setup. I just don't want to electrocute myself.
Sure I can help you over the phone on in chat. You really don't need to worry about electrocuting yourself, you will do all the wiring witht he fridge unplugged ;)

PM me if you get the stuff together.

Probably condensation control.


Very, Very nice setup!!! I recently lost my old deep freezer's compressor and had to buy a new one that was smaller. I really miss the storage area of the larger one. My only concern about buying a used one is how long the cooling unit will last. Seeing as you are pretty handy with the inner workings of one, are they inexpensive to replace after going through all of this effort? I bet so, and I wish I had seen this thread a long time ago!!

Prost!:mug:
The Charcoal is for the moisture and to take up some of the odor from the paint. I know have Damp rid in there and the charcoal is cleaned up and gone.

The fridge was free from CL. If it kicks the can, I will just get a new one, again for free. This project would really only take a day now that I know what I am doing.

I am glad you guys all find this useful. It is a good way to get some use out of an otherwise useless extra fridge. Plus it is a huge space and very convenient for accessing fermenters.
 

jcdillin

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Awesome job, I don't know how I missed this. I was planning on waiting for a vertical freezer to do this same thing, but now I may just try to find a side by side :)
 

Reinheitsgebot

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Awesome build! Lots of room to ferment in.I have been looking at side by sides, too. I am sure I will come back here for wiring help as well.

As I live in Texas, I need something where I can ferment in more controlled temps. Now that it is getting warm, my primary fluctuates between 72 and 78 on a daily basis. ( I have the bucket in a tub now with a wet T-shirt, so that helps a bit) And I am sure that I'll want to move on to Lagers at some point.

Here is my question: Can I use one side to ferment and set up the other side for cornies with draft tabs? Both would not have to be at freezing, the fermenter side would probably not even have to be chilled, just well insulated.

Has anyone build such a set up? Are the temp controllers suitable for that application?

Any feedback would be great.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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I have had a couple people ask me about this...

I think it could be done, but will be fairly complicated and would involve moving air with controlled fans. The challenge arises because side-by-side fridges (at least these kind, not Sub Zero or other top end brands) have only one compressor. All the cooling is done in the freezer and then the air is just allowed to flow into the fridge part through vents to keep it cool.

For your needs, I think the best solution would be the fermento-lager-taporator that I designed. I have a link in my sig. I have not built one yet but I think the idea is sound.
 

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