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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: Joe Sr. on January 26, 2016, 04:45:48 PM

Title: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 26, 2016, 04:45:48 PM
Is a thermowell necessary?  I'm looking to control temp a bit more accurately, and am not certain I can put the temp probe directly into liquid.

Right now I have a saison with 3724 ripping along at 85F.  I have the fermenter in a tub of water and am heating the water with an aquarium heater.  I'm not sold on the precision of the dial on the heater for setting temp.  I'd prefer to plug the heater into a temp controller.

Basically, I'm just trying to figure out if I can drop the temp sensor from a Ranco (or other controller) directly into the water, or if I need to protect it in a thermowell of some sort.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: denny on January 26, 2016, 04:51:54 PM
Well, from Mr. Cheap'n'Easy....for me a thermowell is not necessary.  I use an Auber TD100 temp controller.  I put the sensor underneath an old sponge that I duct tape to the side of my bucket, so that the probe is sandwiched between the sponge and the side of the bucket.  The temp controller shows the same temp as the the fermometer strip on the bucket and the beer turns oput well, so I have to assume it's working
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 26, 2016, 04:56:10 PM
Yeah.  I thought about just taping it to the side of the tub.

It doesn't seem like a good plan to submerge the sensor itself.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: denny on January 26, 2016, 04:58:51 PM
Yeah.  I thought about just taping it to the side of the tub.

It doesn't seem like a good plan to submerge the sensor itself.

Nope, I wouldn't do that.  Especially since I get accurate reading without it.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: Phil_M on January 26, 2016, 05:24:02 PM
I do the same thing as Denny, but with a homemade STC-1000 controller. I tape a chuck of Styrofoam over the sensor, and I've never seen it more than 1o off from the temp strip on the carboy. I figure that's well within a good tolerance for both the sensor and the strip.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: mabrungard on January 26, 2016, 06:21:38 PM
I put the sensor underneath an old sponge that I duct tape to the side of my bucket, so that the probe is sandwiched between the sponge and the side of the bucket.

Yep! That's what I do. Took a chunk of foam, cut a groove big enough to fit the probe, and taped it to my conical. I just insert the probe when its time to ferment. I used the aluminum tape and the foam stays put, even when cleaning.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: riceral on January 26, 2016, 06:48:32 PM
I put the sensor underneath an old sponge that I duct tape to the side of my bucket, so that the probe is sandwiched between the sponge and the side of the bucket.

Yep! That's what I do. Took a chunk of foam, cut a groove big enough to fit the probe, and taped it to my conical. I just insert the probe when its time to ferment. I used the aluminum tape and the foam stays put, even when cleaning.

I do mostly the same thing except I attach the foam to the fermenter with bungee cords. Easy to put on and take off when needed.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: duboman on January 26, 2016, 06:56:19 PM
I put the sensor underneath an old sponge that I duct tape to the side of my bucket, so that the probe is sandwiched between the sponge and the side of the bucket.

Yep! That's what I do. Took a chunk of foam, cut a groove big enough to fit the probe, and taped it to my conical. I just insert the probe when its time to ferment. I used the aluminum tape and the foam stays put, even when cleaning.
+1, exactly the same set up with an STC-1000, works great. I don't use tape though, I just use a bungee cord wrapped around bucket to hold the foam block in place

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using Tapatalk

Title: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: RPIScotty on January 26, 2016, 07:24:49 PM
I stick a special cap on my 1 gallon jugs to fit an airlock and my old dial thermometer.

EDIT: I'm using an ice bath not a ferm chamber.

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Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: norcaljp on January 26, 2016, 07:29:52 PM
I use styrofoam as well, but I take a drill bit and use it to dig a small groove into one side of the styrofoam. I make the hole wide enough to fit my thermometer but just shallow enough that the thermometer stil physically touches my ferementer. That way I can get a better seal where the wiring comes through.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: cempt1 on January 26, 2016, 07:31:33 PM
I have been taping the probe to the side of the fermenter then a folded towel over that.  I like the bungy cord/Styrofoam idea!  That would work great for the electric fermentation wraps as well.

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Title: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: tommymorris on January 26, 2016, 08:31:59 PM
I attach the temp prove to the side of my fermenter with an elastic base ball belt (see link below). I fold up a wash cloth to insulate the probe from ambient.

If you pick an unpopular color the tee ball belts are cheap. They are adjustable. I have been using one for several years.

Champro Elastic Baseball Belt with 1.5-Inch Synthetic Tab (Black, 28-52-Inch) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000C1GU7/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awd_4F9Pwb5H1YZPP

Edit: changed link to baseball belt not tee ball.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: reverseapachemaster on January 27, 2016, 03:15:36 PM
I carved a replica of St. Peter's Basilica out of styrofoam and wrap the colonnades around the fermentation vessel. I carved a small space in the front of the basilica for the probe so it looks like the probe is conducting mass over the beer.

Raise your game people.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: brewinhard on January 27, 2016, 04:08:46 PM
Looks like I'm the only loser using a thermowell then.... :(
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: Philbrew on January 27, 2016, 06:08:22 PM
I carved a replica of St. Peter's Basilica out of styrofoam and wrap the colonnades around the fermentation vessel. I carved a small space in the front of the basilica for the probe so it looks like the probe is conducting mass over the beer.

Raise your game people.
Now that's funny.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: BrewBama on January 27, 2016, 06:12:53 PM
Shop towels and duct tape....in the shape of St Mark's. (not)
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: tommymorris on January 27, 2016, 06:14:18 PM

I carved a replica of St. Peter's Basilica out of styrofoam and wrap the colonnades around the fermentation vessel. I carved a small space in the front of the basilica for the probe so it looks like the probe is conducting mass over the beer.

Raise your game people.
I had something similar but last year when the Pope dropped by for a beer he told me to take it down and go to confession.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: Ale Farmer on January 28, 2016, 04:02:26 AM
 
Looks like I'm the only loser using a thermowell then.... :(

You're not quite alone: I'm the other guy.... I'm happy using thermowells because I find them easy. I imagine because they require a second hole, there might be more risk of infection, etc., but I've never had that problem--though to make sure I put a piece of aluminum foil over it. I like that they allow the probe to be in the middle of the fermenter, but I'm not certain there's much difference in measured temperature between the center and outside. The one complaint I have is that the thermowell doesn't always fit snuggly in the stopper--allowing gas to escape rather than letting the airlock do its job. But once I realize this, a little push at the top seals the leak and gets that airlock going. For all this, though, maybe I should try the more popular method to see if there are benefits.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: PORTERHAUS on February 08, 2016, 04:26:07 PM
Add another guy that uses a thermowell. I have a Johnson A419 controller and picked up a 16" SS thermowell that goes into a bung with a hole for the thermowell and a hole for an airlock. I did it more for the ease of just dropping the probe into the thermowell and not having to tape it to the side of the carboy. I do have a sticky thermometer on the side of the carboy as well and that reading seems to be just as accurate.

I have dual use for the thermowell. On brew days, I insert the thermowell into my mashtun with the probe so I can run my HERMS. Works great.

(https://i.uploadly.com/45pk2pxw.jpg)
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 09, 2016, 03:01:35 AM
I use thermowell son the conical and car boys. Buckets the probe is under foam.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: emcfarden on February 12, 2016, 05:48:43 PM
I bought a water proof temp probe (about $8) and ran it into a gallon water jug full of water. I keep the setting on my temp controller a degree or two lower than the wort should be since the wort will be a little higher. This keeps my temp controller from going on/off as frequently since it's not measuring air temp alone.

This way I don't have to mess w/ thermowells.

haven't been using it a long time but it seems to be working well for now.   
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: brewinhard on February 12, 2016, 07:15:27 PM

I have dual use for the thermowell. On brew days, I insert the thermowell into my mashtun with the probe so I can run my HERMS. Works great.

(https://i.uploadly.com/45pk2pxw.jpg)

Good idea! I too find it easier just to put the temp probe into the thermowell and call it a day.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: brewsumore on February 16, 2016, 12:24:31 AM
I ferment two buckets at a time.  I equalize the amount of wort in each, and use a thermowell in a tight fitting hole in one of the bucket lids + a Ranco temp controller.  5.5 gal wort in a 6.5 gal bucket, with anti-foam drops and a blowoff tube.  Works fine.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: euge on March 02, 2016, 01:53:04 AM
I ferment two buckets at a time.  I equalize the amount of wort in each, and use a thermowell in a tight fitting hole in one of the bucket lids + a Ranco temp controller.  5.5 gal wort in a 6.5 gal bucket, with anti-foam drops and a blowoff tube.  Works fine.

Thank-you. I've been looking for a problem to fix and have been considering experimenting with a thermowell in the freezer that doesn't have a fan to circulate the air. The holes with grommets in the lids of my fermenters ought to work. Thermowell is dirt cheap too.
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: brewsumore on March 02, 2016, 03:40:09 AM
I ferment two buckets at a time.  I equalize the amount of wort in each, and use a thermowell in a tight fitting hole in one of the bucket lids + a Ranco temp controller.  5.5 gal wort in a 6.5 gal bucket, with anti-foam drops and a blowoff tube.  Works fine.

Thank-you. I've been looking for a problem to fix and have been considering experimenting with a thermowell in the freezer that doesn't have a fan to circulate the air. The holes with grommets in the lids of my fermenters ought to work. Thermowell is dirt cheap too.

I used the grommet hole as the starter hole but drilled a 1" wide hole which provides a snug fit for the rubber stopper utilized in the thermowell I purchased.  Depending on your stopper, just remember to drill a hole for the narrow end of the tapered stopper since you want a good seal and don't want the thermowell to ever push through the lid into the wort when you are inserting it into your bucket lid hole.  But don't drill to small width hole either, or the lid will crack at the edge of the hole due to too much forcing the stopper into it.

This has worked really well for me.  I have a new backup thermowell but I'm still using the one I've had for maybe 8 years.  I give the stem a good soak in PBW after using, so as to be able to wipe off the beer stone that collects on it otherwise.   :)
Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: euge on March 02, 2016, 03:53:33 AM
I was wondering about the cleaning aspect. It's all good to know!

Title: Re: Thermowells and temp probes
Post by: brewsumore on March 02, 2016, 04:09:10 AM
I was wondering about the cleaning aspect. It's all good to know!

Yeah, FWIW I always immediately wash and sanitize my two fermenter buckets (10 gal batches) after beer transfer to kegs, so after hitting the buckets with some PBW and a good sponge job I drop the thermowell in the left over warm PBW in a Home Depot bucket for at least 20 minutes, wipe the stem hard with a sponge to remove any bits of remaining krauesen and beer stone (smooth sponge usually works), rinse really well under hot tap water, dip in Star San, and then store the thermowell upside down/inverted so all water drains from the inside of the stem.  I don't like to put anything with hard edges, thermowell included, into my fermenter buckets - that's why the extra HD bucket.