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JDube

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Ok,

I am sure that I am not the only one in this site that has had this problem, so if their is already a post about it, please just point me in the right direction as my searching has failed.

I will be recieving my first ever brew kit as a b-day gift (thanks to my bad a** wife) in a few days. She has "allowed" me to brew God's gift in the house, but she is not that interested in allowing me to store large 5-6gal fermenting beer jugs around the house. Outside is a no go as well since the outside temps get into the 120's here (Lake Havasu, AZ). I will have to use the garage, which also spikes in temperature, but have thought of something that I am sure exists. If I can get my hands on a mini fridge and figure out how to keep it at the temperature range I need for the yeast to do its thing, then my problem is solved. Of course, I have to make sure the brew will fit in first.
Anyway, thoughts? Suggestions? Examples? Experience?
Anything helps..

Cheers.

J
 

Tall_Yotie

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Are you handy with electronics? If so, you can take a wall thermostat (Honeywell brand, 20 or so bucks I think at Home Depot), and strap it inside the fridge or rip out the therm-resistor and extend it into the fridge. Then use the contacts on the thermostat to control a switch for the mini-fridge. This is what I did, and I should do a technical writeup for it.

If you want to spend money, you can buy a temperature controller. As this is your first brew, I would say go cheaper, as that is a big investment. Unless, of course, you know you are going to be sticking with the hobby.

HOWEVER, if that is a bit much to deal with, and it possibly would be, there are two simpler solutions.

1- Swamp cooler. Put the carboy in a shallow water pan, and put a t-shirt over the carboy. Water soaks up the shirt, evaporates, and cools the beer. Good for a 10 degree drop from what I have heard.

2- Bucket o' Water. Get a big trash can (plastic, cheap at hardware stores). Stick the carboy in it. Fill up to the carboy's lid with cold water. Monitor the water temperature, keep it a few degrees (2-5 F) below your desired fermentation temperature. Keep some frozen water bottles on hand to toss in, or just loose ice. As the water gets too warm then cool it down.

What is the average (and high) temperature of where you plan to keep the carboy?
 
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JDube

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I will get a thermometer today, but I believe the temp in the garage is about 105 in the hottest part of the day and stays about 80-85 throughout the night. I will take some readings to be more accurate. I love your idea about the thermostat and fridge…will prob try it. Can you give me a tech write up? I am fortunately pretty good with tech stuff (BS in Engineering from Arizona State which is also where I feel in love with my wife and beer).
No jokes about ASU, I played rugby there and although that was a few years ago, I can still hit hard!
 
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JDube

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fermentation chamber is what you need to search for.

I find broom closets or spare bathtubs work well for my carboy's/buckets.
Although my wife is pretty awesome, no way in hell it will be in the house no matter what room. Plus we have a baby (1.5 yrs old) and she is into everything. I need no accidents. The garage, although hot is a controlled area that she is not allowed in, and not able to get in. Thank god for those cool door handle things :)
 

slowbie

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I got this controller based on the things I read here and it works well for me:
http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc111000000-digital-temperature-controller-p-86.html

I felt comfortable wiring my own, but if you don't you can get the prewired version here (I spent about $8 on materials for wiring mine, so keep that cost in mind too):
http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc111000000-prewired-digital-temperature-controller-p-87.html

I'll just add for the sake of argument that if you're leaving it in the garage anyways, you can get a 5 cubic foot chest freezer for the same price as or less than a smaller minifridge (don't ask me why) and then fit a full five gallon bucket. That's what I've got going and it doesn't take up that much space.
 

Tall_Yotie

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I will get a thermometer today, but I believe the temp in the garage is about 105 in the hottest part of the day and stays about 80-85 throughout the night. I will take some readings to be more accurate. I love your idea about the thermostat and fridge…will prob try it. Can you give me a tech write up? I am fortunately pretty good with tech stuff (BS in Engineering from Arizona State which is also where I feel in love with my wife and beer).
No jokes about ASU, I played rugby there and although that was a few years ago, I can still hit hard!
Awesome. I have a BSME from SJSU!

Thermostat: RiteTemp model # 6022


Get a relay that can switch the 120V outlet and is controlled by a 12V or 9V supply (whatever you can get easily as a wall plug transformer).

I spliced an extension cord so I could plug the cord and relay project box in and have the fridge plugged into the output plug. That way you aren't splicing the fridge wires.

The thermostat will act as a switch. Run your 12V line into one of the RiteTemp's terminals, and back out to the relay. This way when the temperature is above the set temperature the relay will get power, and the fridge will kick on. When the temp gets below, the switch turns off. Simple!

The therm-resistor is pretty easy to find if you know what one looks like. I removed it and put on 3 feet of wire as an extension. This way the thermostat controls is outside the fridge for easy monitoring and control, while the wires snake into the fridge, and don;t mess much with the seal.

Make sure your grounds are common!!!

You can check that the circuit runs by setting the thermostat to "ON", relay should click. If you cycle it too much it will stop working (thermostat) as a safety, just give it a while to reset.

Get an enclosure for the spliced wire section and relay to protect it and yourself.

I will post pictures later!
 

EZFrag

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I have a shop in my backyard that I put a refrigerator in. I installed an Auber Electronics temperature controller. It works fine. My shop is not insulated, heated or cooled. But this fridge is. I haven't had a problem yet.
 

DarkUncle

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I myself found a chest freezer on Craigslist for $60. That coupled with a temp controller for another $60 got me a perfectly controlled fermentation chamber out in my garage where temps typically clime into the 80's and 90's. Keep your eye on Craigslist or if you have the cash to throw around purchase a new one. If you fall out of love with this hobby (unlikely ) you have a place to store meat.
 
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JDube

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If you fall out of love with this hobby (unlikely ) you have a place to store meat.
This is true and funny. I love meat as well! Well, in all seriousness, I have been wanting and waiting to do this for a few years. Now that I am no longer in the service, I have the time. I am very excited about it and cannot wait. I went off all of your advice and have found some decent chest freezers that I will get. I will also get the temperature controllers as well. Thank you all.

Semper Fi
 
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