Temperature Control

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cannondale
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Temperature Control

Postby cannondale » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:29 am

I've been fermenting ambient all along, but I think it's time I take my beer to the next level and start practicing temperature control.

For those who practice temperature control and have already done the legwork, what would you recommend as the best way to achieve it? Equipment, space considerations, etc. I only brew ales currently, and I don't think that will change (but who knows). I usually brew 10-12 gallons and primary ferment in 6.5 gallon glass carboys.

Thoughts?
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Postby bufordsbest » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:00 pm

i picked up a used fridge on kijiji and went with a ranco dual stage temp control (got mine from morebeer) and put a small space heater in the bottom of the fridge.

working well for me.
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markaberrant
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Postby markaberrant » Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:54 pm

I think a dual stage controller is overkill, I either need to cool or warm, don't need to be switching between the 2 at the drop of a hat.

But yeah, a used fridge or freezer and a decent digital temp controller (I have a Ranco and a Johnson, prefer the Ranco).
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Postby cannondale » Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:16 pm

Finally getting around to doing this.

I'm going to use a chest freezer.

If I go single stage, I'm looking at something like this:

http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc111000000-prewired-with-stopper-thermal-well-p-199.html

If I go dual stage, I'm looking at something like this:

http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc211000000-stage-prewired-temperature-controller-p-110.html

The biggest issue I see with 2-stage (other than the fact that you will rarely if ever have to move between heating and cooling over a short timeframe), is that you then get into cutting holes in the freezer and possibly rewiring in order to control the heating unit.

Questions:

1. Is the rate of heating during fermentation such that there can be significant lag time while the wort reaches thermal equilibrium with the ambient temperature? In other words, is a thermowell necessary, or is this lag time insignificant and simply measuring the ambient temperature inside the freezer sufficient?

2. For those who are using a 2-stage temp controller, what is your heat source? I see that Williams Brewing has (currently out of stock) a slim profile space heater that can be stuck to the inside wall of the fermentation chamber.

3. Other than building a wood collar, is there any other clever way to get around drilling holes through the freezer wall for a heating units power cord?

4. For heating, do you use a blower? Or is the lag to equilibrium within the freezer of no consequence?

5. What size chest freezer would you recommend for holding up to, say, 2 x 6.5 gallon glass carboys and 2 x 5.5 gallon glass carboys?
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markaberrant
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Postby markaberrant » Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:34 pm

1. Ambient temperature, even inside a freezer is not the same as the temp of the wort. A thermowell is nice to have, but not necessary, and is totally useless if you go back to fermenting in buckets like I have done (so long blow off tubes and additional mess). I tape the probe to the side of a carboy/bucket, then place a folded hand towel over it and tape to the carboy as well. This creates a nice layer of insulation and provides a very accurate reading of the wort temp.

2. Just use a brew belt.

3. The power cord on my brew belt is fairly flat, it is thin enough that the freezer still closes up nicely. Same with the probe, it is quite thin. Holes are not required.

4. Like I say, just use a brew belt.
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Postby cannondale » Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:14 pm

markaberrant wrote:1. Ambient temperature, even inside a freezer is not the same as the temp of the wort. A thermowell is nice to have, but not necessary, and is totally useless if you go back to fermenting in buckets like I have done (so long blow off tubes and additional mess). I tape the probe to the side of a carboy/bucket, then place a folded hand towel over it and tape to the carboy as well. This creates a nice layer of insulation and provides a very accurate reading of the wort temp.

2. Just use a brew belt.

3. The power cord on my brew belt is fairly flat, it is thin enough that the freezer still closes up nicely. Same with the probe, it is quite thin. Holes are not required.

4. Like I say, just use a brew belt.


Thanks for the feedback Mark.

1. Seems that a thermowell will provide only a marginal improvement, but ill still probably grab one as they're only $22.

2. Brew belt is an interesting concept, but if I typically ferment 11 gallon batches split into two 6.5 gallon glass carboys, so id need more than one. So a space heater of some type is probably what ill need.

3. If i can get something with a flat cord and minimal impact on freezer seal, bonus. Otherwise I'll have to go ahead and drill a hole.

4. See 2.
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Postby Tapsucker » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:52 pm

cannondale wrote:3. If i can get something with a flat cord and minimal impact on freezer seal, bonus. Otherwise I'll have to go ahead and drill a hole.



There are plenty of flat extension cords that will do the trick.
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Postby Ralphus » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:46 pm

If you are looking to save a little money, this will work fine for a single or dual stage temperature controller.

http://www.mrbeerfans.com/ubbthreads/ub ... Post213369

You can go elaborate like he has with the box and the LEDs, or you can very simple by just using the extension cord and some electrical tape.
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Postby cannondale » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:20 am

This has been a slow moving project...

I have wired and mounted a Ranco 2-Stage ETC...I have a small ceramic heater...now I just need a freezer, for which I'm shopping around on Kijiji...

Any recommendations for chest freezer size in cubic feet for a fermentation chamber? Surely it depends on the exact dimensions of the freezer and the compressor, etc. But any thoughts on ballpark size if I'd like to be able to fit up to 2 6.5 gallon and 2 5-6 gallon carboys at once? I'm currently assuming that I'll need at least a 15 cu. ft. unit.
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Postby cannondale » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:58 pm

I'm starting to lean towards a smaller (appx. 9 cu. ft.) freezer for a fermentation chamber. I only brew ales, and I'm not concerned about controlling temperature during secondary (basement is pretty steady at 68-70F). A 9 cu. ft. looks that it will nicely accomodate two 6.5 or 6 gallon primary fermentors.

Anyone worried about temperature control during secondary/conditioning of ales? Or do you control during primary/active fermentation only, and secondary/condition at ambient conditions?
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Postby Derek » Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:25 am

Here's a relatively inexpensive fridgemate:
http://www.homebrew-supplies.ca/viartsh ... tem_id=589

But the 1 degree C precision isn't ideal.

The Ranko has 1 degree F precision... I'm thinking this one:
http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc11100 ... -p-87.html
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Postby markaberrant » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:23 am

Derek wrote:Here's a relatively inexpensive fridgemate:
http://www.homebrew-supplies.ca/viartsh ... tem_id=589

But the 1 degree C precision isn't ideal.

The Ranko has 1 degree F precision... I'm thinking this one:
http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc11100 ... -p-87.html


I have/had both of these, as well as another model, that Ranco is flippin sweet.
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Postby grub » Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:36 am

i've got the one from homebrew-supplies.ca running my recently rebuild keezer. works great. my only complaint isn't about the controller, it's that my freezer seems to be about 10F warmer at the top than the bottom, so I'm thinking of rigging up a little fan for some air circulation inside. i have the probe in the middle and figure it all balances out overall, but the taps being at the top means they're fairly warm and the first pour is foamy.

we've just started brewing lagers, and depending how this first one goes I might invest in a dual stage. currently i've got the fridge set as warm as it'll go and it's in the 45-50F range. with carry-over that should be ok. the real test will be how well i can dial it in for lagering. if i'm noticing a lot of variation I might go with the controller to dial it in to exactly what i want.
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Postby cannondale » Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:00 pm

I wired up a dual stage ranco a while back and im very happy with it so far. I'd strongly recommend to anyone that they invest in a S/S thermowell. I played around with having th eprobe in the air, taped to the carboy and in the carboy. The freezer/heater kicked on far less frequently with the probe in the carboy. Also allows you too directly control the exact temp of the wort itself, which is particularly important during that highly exothermic primary fermentation stage.
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