Solid state chiller / heater

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Komodo

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After debating DIY glycol chillers, frozen 2 liter bottles and pumps, or sticking with plastic bucket fermenters w/ heat wraps I finally popped for a surplus solid state chiller. I agonized over whether this would have the capacity to raise and lower large thermal mass effectively. I spoke with the manufacturer and even they weren’t sure since it’s usually used to directly cool lab gear, lasers etc. They also immediately warned me of the high cost, probably 2.5-3k. But I hunted surplus units on ebay and got one for ~150 that just needed a new pump for another 50. It uses about 1000ml of Koolance in the unit and the Temp Twister coil from [email protected] Brew Hardware. I’m still assessing it’s capabilities, but with the coil in 10g I was holding lager temps rock solid within .1f for days, then doing a fast lager ramp up, 2f increase per hour. This is setting the temp and then letting it equalize. I haven’t yet tried setting the temp much higher to see how fast it can heat or cool, but I might try on the next temp step. I don’t want to overshoot, but I’ve got a thermowell on the conical and figure if it could overshoot really fast, it would be able to bring it back down just as fast? Anyhoo, super excited because it’s the size of a rice cooker or smaller, just hose in/out and that’s it. If anyone hoes hunting for surplus units, just know that there are tons of configurations, so you have to pay attention to the model number code and what it’s options are. Manufacturers website and manual has good breakdowns.

Side note: that spunding valve ain’t doing crap right now because I don’t have a good lid seal yet. I just finished throwing this conical together and this is the maiden voyage.
 

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Komodo

Komodo

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I’ve got the 400:

So far, this thing has been awesome. It’s best quality is its compactness. Next is it’s rock solid temps down to .2 degrees. I’m currently lagering and it’s wonderful. It does have a 40F limit, but that’s just fine for me. As mentioned earlier, it’s essentially an immersion heater/cooler and so far I’ve only drifted to each set temp. I have not tried going way colder or way hotter to see how fast I can get it to move. I’ll do some tests after this beer is kegged.
 
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dwhite60

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On a tangent......

Bored, with a lot of free time, I built an insulated fermentation box, about 18x18x18 inches, lined inside and out with reflectix type insulation. I have a dual peltier cooling unit mounted on top. It uses a separate 12 volt power supply.

I originally tested this with just the empty box and insulation. At 80F ambient it would cool the box to just over 50F.

Just did my first run on a 3gallon batch of pale ale with S-33 . Beer was chilled to 60F before pitching. Unit kept the box at 63F with an ambient temp of 70F. Ran about 30 minutes every hour. I ferment in a five gallon plastic bucket so it fits easily.

It pulls about an amp of 120 volts. Thirty minutes an hour is 60 watt hours. 60 * 24 is 1440 watt/hours per day. At $0.11 per kwh it's $0.16 per day to run. Once fermentation slows and the heat drops it runs a lot less.

I bought the peltier unit and power supply as a package from Ebay for about $65.

This beats swapping out ice packs twice a day. Probably costs more but it's negligible. The assembly needs to be cleaned up, the wiring is a mess. It's still in beta test though.
 
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Komodo

Komodo

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On a tangent......
Only a slight tangent. I’ve been doing buckets for a long time, and actually prefer many things about them. I’d typically be doing Belgians, letting the yeast free rise or using heater wraps and a controller to keep the temp from going too low. I’d never ventured into cooling, but had “researched” it endlessly to find a solution for me. Many were too $$ (glycol) or took up a lot of space (dedicated fridge). Coupled with an itch to lager, I found this. I considered doing an AC unit glycol build, but then I’ve got a crap ton of hoses, wires, probes for heating and cooling. I was already annoyed with wraps, probes, etc. Here it’s all contained in one magic box that heats and cools from 40-100F ( I haven’t tested high /low limits yet) with a couple button presses.

I’m also trying this thing out in the thermowell. Logs temps every minute for a few weeks. I’ll see how easy the software is in a couple days.

 

dwhite60

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Only a slight tangent. I’ve been doing buckets for a long time, and actually prefer many things about them. I’d typically be doing Belgians, letting the yeast free rise or using heater wraps and a controller to keep the temp from going too low. I’d never ventured into cooling, but had “researched” it endlessly to find a solution for me. Many were too $$ (glycol) or took up a lot of space (dedicated fridge). Coupled with an itch to lager, I found this. I considered doing an AC unit glycol build, but then I’ve got a crap ton of hoses, wires, probes for heating and cooling. I was already annoyed with wraps, probes, etc. Here it’s all contained in one magic box that heats and cools from 40-100F ( I haven’t tested high /low limits yet) with a couple button presses.

I’m also trying this thing out in the thermowell. Logs temps every minute for a few weeks. I’ll see how easy the software is in a couple days.

I've got a temp logger already. Same idea as this one just different manufacturer.

Great devices to see what's been happening with your brew temps.

Only issue I have with it is it's made in China. I don't trust loading their, or any Chinese, software on my computer. I have an older laptop that doesn't get any network usage so it has the software. I just have to pull it out to do the data transfer from the unit to the computer.
 
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Komodo

Komodo

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Totally understand that, I did hold my breath when I downloaded it. It’s on an auxiliary machine and the software looks legit so not losing sleep over it.
 

TimLa

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Totally understand that, I did hold my breath when I downloaded it. It’s on an auxiliary machine and the software looks legit so not losing sleep over it.
I've worked in software for a very long time. Software that looks legit does not mean that it's not doing evil in the background. It also does not mean that it's accurate, or doing what it says it's doing. Caveat Utilitor.
 
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