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MrZ2U

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I have been thinking of alternative ways to maintain temps during fermentation.

Right now it’s a little chilly by our standards so keeping the temp UP is on my mind. Too cool to just let the fermentation sit in the garage and I am not going to heat the house all day just to keep temps up for beer either.

I have heard of folks filling a tub with water and putting the carboy in there to keep temps lower and consistent and that’s perhaps well and fine if you have a tub that goes unused long enough. But why not get a new and clean trash can from where ever, fill it with water at the desired depth and throw an aquarium heater in there to keep the temp up? A good aquarium heater keeps a pretty tight temp range, tighter than I would imagine one of those bottle belts would and adding a basic little powerhead to circulate the water to keep should further help keep a consistent, even temp. Could even build a thin plywood box around it and stuff that with insulation to aid in efficient/economical operation. Or for that matter, find a craigslist special, nonfunctional fridge, freezer etc, often free, and make it water tight.

Anyone ever do something like this, the principal that is?
 

cvstrat

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Fermentation heats up the beer quite a bit. I'd put a thermometer in/on the carboy next time you ferment to see exactly what the temps are. You might not need to heat it at all. Some people just put a blanket around it.
 

Zhaph

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I recently just used some cardboard to section off part of my pantry and put a tiny space heater in there to keep beer at the right temperature. It is working fairly well so far; a closet would be another good place to try something like this if you have a spare one. I got one of these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004AQLUHC/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 because it had auto on/off, then just put a thermometer in with it and adjusted for a few days until I found the "sweet spot" on the dial for ~70 degrees.
 
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MrZ2U

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Fermentation heats up the beer quite a bit. I'd put a thermometer in/on the carboy next time you ferment to see exactly what the temps are. You might not need to heat it at all. Some people just put a blanket around it.
As well as that may be, the beauty of my plan is that it should work in several ways.

If the fermentation heats up enough on its own then the heater never kicks in.

If the fermentation does not heat up enough the heater kicks in and stabilizes things.

If the fermentation heats up too much then the extra water volume acts as a heat sink and even provides a level of evaporative cooling.
 
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MrZ2U

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I recently just used some cardboard to section off part of my pantry and put a tiny space heater in there to keep beer at the right temperature. It is working fairly well so far; a closet would be another good place to try something like this if you have a spare one. I got one of these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004AQLUHC/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 because it had auto on/off, then just put a thermometer in with it and adjusted for a few days until I found the "sweet spot" on the dial for ~70 degrees.
Cooling is generally more of an issue over the course of a year round here. I figure this would work to help cool as well in the hotter months...just pull the heater and let physics do its thing.

I could even imagine using a temp control unit to monitor the water temp in tub and it switching recirculating pump attached to a largish cooler filled with ice and water. That may even work to perhaps get down to lager temps
 
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MalFet

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I could even imagine using a temp control unit to monitor the water temp in tub and cycle recirculating pump attached to a largish cooler filled with ice and water to perhaps get down to lager temps
Tada!

A good aquarium heater keeps a pretty tight temp range, tighter than I would imagine one of those bottle belts would and adding a basic little powerhead to circulate the water to keep should further help keep a consistent, even temp. Could even build a thin plywood box around it and stuff that with insulation to aid in efficient/economical operation. Or for that matter, find a craigslist special, nonfunctional fridge, freezer etc, often free, and make it water tight.

Anyone ever do something like this, the principal that is?
Your build sounds viable, but you are incorrect about the fermwraps. They keep as tight a temp range as your controller is designed to. They heat relatively gently because they are so low wattage, and they don't overshoot their temps because they have essentially zero thermal mass. Don't let me talk you out of your build, though.
 

Torg

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I generally have to cool it, not heat it. Texas is not really known to have cold problems (Maybe in January). I have seen people cool with a towel and water (as in evaporation). There is no reason you could not also heat with that (heat the water with an immersion heater). A trash bin full of water is what I know a few people to do. But that is less about heating and cooling as it is about temperature stabilization.

It is my experience that any beer can do well to ferment at or about 45-55F, ales included. But that probably has more to do with my love of lagers then anything else. I have made many ales in my lagerator. And that is at 50F most of the time.

If you want to heat it put a blanket and a heating pad on it. Fairly easy to do. BUt like I said a bit under the "ideal" temperature is not necessarily a "bad" thing.
 

smizak

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Son-of-fermentation chiller FTW. I have no trouble holding lager temps, and can get my beer down to 35F for crash chilling. I built mine to be able to hold 4-64oz. juice bottles or 4 2-liter bottles. Once it gets down to my desired temp, I usually only have to change the bottles once a day.
 
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MrZ2U

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Son-of-fermentation chiller FTW. I have no trouble holding lager temps, and can get my beer down to 35F for crash chilling. I built mine to be able to hold 4-64oz. juice bottles or 4 2-liter bottles. Once it gets down to my desired temp, I usually only have to change the bottles once a day.
Interesting and low tech...I think I have seen one similar to that. Lately I have been l trying to think if as many super cheap ideas as I can. I frequent craigslist, specifically the free section. I think I like the idea of building from recycling junk as it were. Thats kind of what got me started thinking on this one...there was a free and nonworking chest there the other day. Gone now dammit but there will be another :)

I like to tinker and if I can do it free, well all the better. Money saved is beer earned!
 

rjwhite41

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A lot of people use converted coolers with an aquarium heater and have good success.
 
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MrZ2U

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well as luck would have it I found a functional chest freezer on craigslist for $15 so I think that settles this issue for me :)

Picked up a set of new wheels and tires from these folks ( brand new stock ones ) for $80 as well cause they were moving and just wanted them gone...just one tire alone is $180 at NTB. Craigslist was good to me today :)
 
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