What's the best option to warm up your chestfridge fermentation chamber?

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SpikPT

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Hello guys, it's my first post here in the forum. I decided to start this thread because I just got into brewing recently and I know for sure many of you will give me great advices so I can skip some stages. I'm currently building a fermentation chamber using a used chest fridge, it has 400L and it can hold 4 fermenters, I also bought a thermostat stc 1000 and I want to be able to also increase the temperature since it has dual control. I already have my cold source, now I need to get a hot source. After watching some videos and reading some threads I think my best option will be a tubular heater, but now comes the real problem that I've been facing for several days. I don't know what the potency (watts) should be. I have several options ranging from 45W, 80W, 90W, 135W, 180W, 240W, but the cheapest ones are the 90W option, and 240W. From your experience do you think I should go for 240W, or it will be way too strong and it can induce my thermostat into a yoyo effect? Thanks for your time.
 

Dr_Jeff

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A lot of people mount a light fixture in a paint can with a standard incandescent bulb.
The can will get hot and contain the light and not skunk your beer, easy and cheap.

I rarely have that problem as it's usually rather warm where I live.
 
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SpikPT

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A lot of people mount a light fixture in a paint can with a standard incandescent bulb.
The can will get hot and contain the light and not skunk your beer, easy and cheap.

I rarely have that problem as it's usually rather warm where I live.
I see that options but for that I would prefer to go for a ceramic heating lamp without any light at all and still cheap, but what I really want to know if 240w of heating power Will be too much for my 15 cu ft chestfridge or if I should drop to 90w/80w. Im just skeptical about being able to warm 4 fermenters with only One lamp or too low heat power, and then afraid of having top much heating power that Will Manel my thermostat enter in a Yoyo effect like heating too much and then turning on the freezer. Maybe I'm just complicating the situation.
 

Dr_Jeff

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A couple of times when I wanted Belgian beers to eek out a few more points, I used a drop light that one uses for working on cars. It had a 60w bulb and was able to make a bunch of heat. I had two stainless fermenters in there with ~ten gallons each, if that helps for a point of reference.
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, I use 40w reptile bulbs with 120mm pc fans blowing on them in 17cf fridges and they're more than enough heat to produce ramps that my controlling program can handle without freaking out. By my reckoning an upright fridge will lose btus faster than a chest freezer, so as long as there's something stirring the air up I expect that wattage would work fine.

That said, one could use a higher wattage ceramic bulb heater but splice in a dimmer switch to provide output adjustability just in case...

Cheers!
 
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SpikPT

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I think I like the idea of using reptile bulbs, I can buy them for as low as 2€ from china 50W or 75W and put them in a dimmer switch as suggest by day_trippr and it'll work great. How did you power your pc fan? Did you wire it to a 12V adapter? And how do you plug your eletric equipment that's inside the chest fridge, where do you pass through the eletric cables? Thanks for all the help guys, really appreciate it.
 

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I’ve melted parts of my mini fridge with a reptile ceramic heater. I’ve since switched to a Ferm Wrap like what Beermeister32 referenced and it works great. I use one Ferm Wrap and just place it between my two fermenters if I’m doing a 10 gallon batch split between my two 1/4barrel Kegmentors.

There are a few options for getting cables into your chest freezer. Usually the door/lid does not have any coils in it and is just insulation. You can drill a hole through the door/lid near the hinge and fill the hole with expanding insulation foam. You will know if there are no cooling coils in the door/lid if you can take the door/lid completely off the freezer. You can build a small collar similar to a keezer and drill through this collar. Some chest freezers have a drain plug that you may be able to use but I don’t think the hole would be big enough for some plugs unless you cut the chord and re-wired. The simplest is just to run the chords near the hinge which will compress the gasket but should be fine.

Posting a picture of you chest fridge would be helpful
 

AZ Maverick

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I converted one of my 75 bottle wine refrigerators into a fermentation unit and I use the Inkbird dual temp controller with it.
I bought one of the cheap $12 hair dryers from Walmart and set it on the middle setting, I have that plugged into the heat outlet on the temp controller - it works great.
Normally the hair dryer lays on the floor under the bucket.

HairDryer_1r.jpg
 
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SpikPT

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I only have this photo atm, I can take another tomorrow since the chestfridge isn't at my home.
fridge.jpeg

It has a lamp in the door/lid but other than that I think it has no coils there. It has a drain hole though but to be able to use it, I have to pass the wire through there and only after that I can add the plug to the eletric cable. For the heating, I'm kinda afraid to use something like a heater eventhough it's small and I don't want to use 4 individual fermwraps for each of these fermenters. I would like to heat the air temp and then it heats the beer inside the fermenters, but it's the less effective way to do it. Ofc using some form of direct heat contact would be the best but then, I have to make sure the temp on all 4 buckets is the same and I only have 1 sensor probe to put in the thermowells that I'll be adding soon. I think the best way to have equal temps in all 4 fermenters is to heat the air and not by direct contact. Maybe my best option really is a small heater or an hair dryer. I don't want to melt my chestfridge for sure. Thanks for all the input!
 

NTexBrewer

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I think a small heater or hair dryer would work well. I would put the heater on the hump. Looks like all the walls are Aluminum so I don’t think you will have melting problems like I did. My Chamber is a small mini fridge with a lot of plastic parts.

I would recommend, fIlling your fermenters with water to test the system out to chill everything down and then to raise the temperature and see how everything works before finding out you have a problem when you actually have beer fermenting.
 

AlexKay

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My experience is that it really doesn't take much of a heat source to warm up the inside of a refrigerator or freezer. I have a small fan in my (5 ft3) chest freezer that I leave on all the time, and the heat generated by that slowly raises the temperature -- I don't use (or need) a bulb, heater, or hair dryer to be controlled by the Inkbird. If the freezer doesn't come on, I've seen the temperature go up to 95 F, just from running that fan in an enclosed, insulated space.
 

BigChas

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My experience is that it really doesn't take much of a heat source to warm up the inside of a refrigerator or freezer. I have a small fan in my (5 ft3) chest freezer that I leave on all the time, and the heat generated by that slowly raises the temperature -- I don't use (or need) a bulb, heater, or hair dryer to be controlled by the Inkbird. If the freezer doesn't come on, I've seen the temperature go up to 95 F, just from running that fan in an enclosed, insulated space.
Would like to see the type of fan you are using.
 

jerrylotto

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You can get a cheap hair dryer for under $10. Using it as a heater works well because it works quickly so it only runs for a few minutes before the temp controller shuts it off again. If you want a fan only, a small hand held vacuum cleaner could work. Replace the batteries with a 12v plug in supply.
 

DuncB

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I use a 5 V PC fan, picked up at the salvage yard. Runs off a phone charger, so low voltage and safe. Does a great stir up job.
My fermentation fridge can only take one fermenter at a time, so I just use a 30w heating belt. I do put bubble wrap insulation inside the fridge on the vertical so that heat or cold doesnt fall out so much when I open to check things.
If I'm brewing hot though I find that a heating belt with an old sleeping bag over the vessel and some bottles of hot water is enough to keep the temperature well over 34 degrees. I periodically change the hot water repurposed bottles. This leaves the fridge fermenter free for cooler brewing.
 

d146895x

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I use a tubular space heater (40w). They have a built in thermostat which I set on max and let the external temperature controller do the 'controlling'. Built in thermostat on heater may provide some safety backup if main controller went TU. Space Heater UK
 
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SpikPT

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I use a tubular space heater (40w). They have a built in thermostat which I set on max and let the external temperature controller do the 'controlling'. Built in thermostat on heater may provide some safety backup if main controller went TU. Space Heater UK
Definitively my favourite option, the only problem is buying one outside the UK, usually the manufacturer is from UK and shops in spain/portugal say there's a problem in supplying due to brexit. I'll wait a bit to see if I can catch one for cheap.
 
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