Temp controlled Brew Room Vs a 5 cubic foot fermentation chamber

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I would like to start off by saying, Living here in Arizona makes it difficult to temp control fermentation to say the least, summer is 120+ deg and winter is 34 deg.
So I decided a temperature controlled fermentation chamber would be best, to help me regulate stable fermentation temps and help me brew better beers.

(My wife made the Brew Room sign, how cool is that! it was my anniversary present, we always make each other our anniversary gifts.)
I had every intention to build a 5 cubic foot chest freezer fermentation chamber, so I priced everything out, it came out to around $300 to build a 5 cubic foot chamber, This is a new freezer $220 + tax $17.90 total $237.90, a temp controller $30, brew belt $25, grand total it came out to $292.90
And before people start saying I should have picked up a CL freezer for only $20 bucks, I looked for months, you can't find a good used $20 freezer on CL where I live. people here think they are made out of gold for some reason.
All that being said, and after pricing out a 5 cubic foot freezer build at almost $300 bucks, and a 7 cubic foot freezer build add another $70 to the price, now I was kinda bummed out because I had aspirations of being able to ferment/condition 3 or 4 or even 5 five gallon batches at a time, that meant I would needed 2 of these fermentation chambers.

(The humble beginnings)
One night my wife and I were sipping on a home brew and this crazy Idea popped into my head, I said to her what about a temp controlled fermentation room? I could build one in the back yard, Her reply was why don't you use that extra room (her office) it would work great, and I will just move my office into the spare bedroom, I thought and said wow! that works out great for everyone.
So I priced out converting the spare room into a temperature controlled fermentation chamber and I was shocked at what it was going to cost, a total of $326, later I added $14 of mood lighting making the grand total $340
So here is what I did for my temp controlled fermentation chamber/TheBrewRoom.
I insulated over the window $30, purchased a cabinet/shelve unit at a county auction for $36, and installed a new 6000 btu A/C unit for summer $220 and a $20 small heater for winter, I can set the room to stay at a constant temp anywhere from 65 deg up to 85+ all year round, right now I have the room set at a constant 70 deg for age conditioning my beers, I still use the old fashion swamp cooler method for primary fermentation on ale yeast to keep them at 65 deg, and in winter if I want to lager I turn off the heater, the room stays around 40 deg and during these times to keep my ales going I use the swamp cooler with $20 a fish aquarium heater set at 65 deg.
I also added mood lighting $14 behind the top row of bottles, so I can turn off the main lights and the bottles dimly light the room, its kinda like being in a dimly lit bar.
And yes even when its 120 degrees out that A/C unit can hold the room to 65 deg.
Total Cost for a 5 cubic foot temp controlled chest freezer $300
Total Cost for my 676 cubic foot temp controlled Brew Room is $340

(looking into the Brew Room from the doorway, left)

(...to center)

(...to right.)
I like the idea of being able to share my crazy idea (reality now) and a side by side price comparison along with the information I learned from this build, its nice to be able to help others make a informed decision on what will or might work for them, maybe someone that would not have thought they could ever do this, just might now.
Some times I just sit in the Brew Room having a Home Brew, listening to music and smelling the smells of a Brew Room, last weekend we picked up 400+ lbs of grain so the room smells really, really good, add the smell of a fermenting beer and its heaven.
It has been quite a lot of work, but I love it.
I have to say Thank You to my Wonderful Wife and brewing partner for all her support.
Cheers to all that brew !
That is AWESOME, im yet to build a temp controlled fridge which im currently planning, never thought of a temp controlled room though.
Fantastic idea and great looking room, well done
Its cool to see some one with a similar idea. I have a half a garage sized room at work (where i do most of my brewing at(Im a work brewer not a home brewer! I don't have space at home))
I just want to know what you did to insulate the doors. My door has a big gap at the bottom and i think i can loose some of the heat/cool through there and for the windows what type of insulation did u use?
One more question is there a reason you did not get a AC unit that is dual heating and cooling?
Thanks for the article!
That is pretty cool especially since it was your wife's idea. I wish I could convert my garage into a temp controlled room, but think the costs would be high to do that. It appears that the room is small enough that your cost in resources to control temp would not be as high either. Happy brewing!
It would be interesting to hear what your energy costs will be for maintaining a room at a constant 65F for a year.
Nice. If the Summer costs too much to keep the room cool, you can install insulation foam board used to build coolers. I saw some at our hardware store. It should be readily available.
Great idea, Cheers,
That is so wicked!
I am going to show that picture to my wife next time she complains how much room I my gear takes up (it's not even a quarter of that).
Outstanding. I'm not even going to ask my wife if I can turn her office into a brew room. She's a wine drinker. I'm lucky she lets me keep my fermenters in the spare bathtub.
Wow so many nice comments so quick, this is so great!
@MattGuk, Thank You!
@ChristiaanS, Thanks, The door going into the rest of the house I didn't insulate yet as the house is at about 75 deg.
I removed a sliding glass door and built a wall and door out of wood that is 4" thick and insulated them and the window with R-19 house insulation.
If I was going to insulate a regular door I would use 2" foam board insulation on it, like dlester said.
Duel A/C heating units are a lot more expensive, thats what I really wanted to get, but keeping cost down to a minimum was important too.
@lotusworker, Thank You!
Yes I love my wife she is great ! If your garage is a finished garage with insulation, I think the cost wouldn't be to bad.
My room is 6 1/2' wide by 13' long and the 6000 btu unit handles it easily when it 120 deg outside even with the afternoon sun beating on its wall.
Hope this helps, in your venture !
@Huaco, Thank You!
No contamination from grain so far, I am very careful with the grain, in-fact I don't measure out my grains in the brew room, I do that in the kitchen (no fermenters in the way), when I get grain from the bulk sacks I take in a huge bowl and slowly scoop out 5 to 6 lbs at a pop.
@broadbill, I would love to know too, since we had new ducts installed, the old ones were falling apart and blowing a lot of our A/C into the attic, also replaced the single-pane windows with new duel-pane windows, just isn't any way to know how much it cost in electricity.
@dlester, Thank You,
Great Idea! If I need to cover the door going into the house that is what I will use.
@Damoxemus, Thank You,
Im a lucky man , my wife doesn't complain about it, the Room was her Idea, she helps me brew every time, when we brew, we start off with a offer to the brewing gods by having a toast to the brew, then we hang out listen to music and have home brew, when I start Mashing-out she starts cleaning a bit, when the wort is in the fermenters we both clean but she has most of it washed by then.
My wife is wonderful.
@dkevinb, Thank You,
Maybe try making her a batch or 2 of wine, then a brew room might just be her idea.
I forgot to say in the article that my wife made the Brew Room sign, how cool is that!
it was my anniversary present, we always make each other our anniversary gifts.
@PastorofMuppets, Thank You
I have a very old kegerator that I picked up at a garage sale for $100, I refinished the wood top, removed the old rusty tower and installed a all brass 3 tap tower along with new 4 valve co2 setup, and installed a digital temp controller, next will be a rail with a light that shines down on the taps.
Hmm, I have the run of the upstairs office too. I think I will do this. Where did you get the A/C unit and is it window mount?
@Marmike600, Hello I purchased the A/C unit from Sams club and yes it is a window mount unit, but i installed it in the wall.
let me know how your Brew Room turns out ok.
WileECoyote I am extremely jealous by how awesome this room is. You have inspired me to make my own fermentation chamber. I have been pricing freezers for a while now but this makes way more sense, especially since I only brew ales. Well done!
Can your wife call my wife????
Honestly my wife went into it with an open mind but it turns out she detests the smell of the mash and the boil even worse. She's very sensitive to smell so I should have guessed.
Great room! I need something else because my 1/2 chest freezer can only fit 1 five gallon carboy. I'll probably end up getting a second chest freezer and just buying another johnson controller.
Like others have said - really cool. Really wish I had room for something like this!!!
You guys were talking about energy costs; here is something to consider. You can buy something called the P3 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. You just plug whatever device into it (depending on the device, you may want to leave it hooked up for a few hours, or with an A/C unit I'd leave it on there for a week or longer to get good averages), then you can find out your energy costs directly associated with the A/C. You can get them for about $20 on Amazon or Home Depot: http://www.amazon.com/P3-International-P4400-Electricity-Monitor/dp/B00009MDBU
Thanks for posting the pics!
Love your solution to the problem, looks like a real bang for the buck winner. Even though the energy costs may seem high compared to using just a converted chest freezer for a cooling chamber, you have the ability to cool a large volume of space which can accommodate several brews at once, nice idea.
@NateLTB, Thank You,
Don't be jealous, get building ! it can be real easy depending on your layout.
Can't wait to see your Brew Room when its done !
@kennyg, Thank You,
Nose Plugs ! You know the kind that swimmers use, (jk) that just might make it to where you and her can hang out together when you brew.
My wife loves the smell of the Grain, hops, mash, boil, everything except the smell coming out of a active air lock, she can't stand it lol
Good luck and Cheers
@HarborTownBrewing, Thank You,
Thats a great Idea !, I might just have to get one this summer.
@gwjames47, Thank You,
I have always been a think outside of the box guy ! Im guessing that the energy savings we get from the new windows and ducts will more than offset what the Brew Room A/C unit uses.
We have 2" X 6" studs in the walls so they have thicker insulation than most houses.
3 weeks ago I had 10 five gallon fermenters on the counter, it was maxed out lol, I just found at ace hardware 15 gal plastic barrels if I got 1 or 2 of those I wouldn't have to split every batch and Id have more counter space ! or would it be more beer conditioning ? lol
This is awesome, thanks for sharing.
Is the AC unit installed separately for the room or did you upgrade your house's overall AC unit?
Great idea! Those shelving units look perfect. I'm looking at building a brewing room in the basement and will plan on insulating the walls just for this purpose. Right now I ferment upstairs in the winter and downstairs in the summer.
Noob question: What exactly is the contamination concern when storing grain in the vicinity of a fermenter?
@Walzenbrew, Thank You,
The A/C unit is a 6000 BTU window mount unit and is just for that room, the house requires a lot bigger unit.
@mneff2014 Thank You,
I feel very lucky to have found the cabinet/shelving unit at such a great price, I was going to build one but since that one became available it saved me a lot of work.
If your going to make a Brew Room in the basement Im not sure but you might not need insulation on the walls.
Grain has lactobacillus in it, so you need to be extra careful when handling it near your fermenting beer, I take the specialty grains on the containers on the shelves into the kitchen to measure grain out of them.
that is the greatest idea yet (your wife's idea) and the price made it almost stupid NOT to do it! In NJ we don't have such temp swings. but the 10ft insulated box I built can barely keep up, can't wait for one of the kids to move out....
Add a CoolBot ($$$) and you can get it down to Larger Fermentation. We have an insulated room in my barn (an old office) that we added foam boards to. It already had the window ac. We added a coolbot and 50 degree even in the Texas summer.
@Donal, Thank You, Like I said in the article, I was shocked when I added up the price of everything, this was super cheap in our eyes.