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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: Me on September 29, 2010, 05:07:18 PM

Title: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: Me on September 29, 2010, 05:07:18 PM
So I pulled the trigger on an old chest freezer I found on craigslist. 100 dollars and it works perfect. My plan as of now is to convert it into a temperature controlled chest (and eventually acquire kegerator parts and make a kegerator) . I feel that this is one of the biggest steps towards me making more consistent beers. I've been looking at the options for temperature control units. I have very little electrical knowledge (surprisingly, an economics degree has very little mechanical training), so I am considering using a plug-in system like this:
 
http://www.micromatic.com/draft-keg-beer/kegerator-conversion-kits-pid-E26.html
or this
http://www.amazon.com/RANCO-ETC-111000-Digital-Temperature-Control/dp/B0015NV5BE

My question(s) is:
Is this going to be a good set up? I've read various forum posts supporting these while others say I will burn out the motor.
Will something like a plug in temperature control work out in the long run for a kegging system down the road?

I'm looking for some knowledgeable opinions to help guide my next step.
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: troy@uk on September 29, 2010, 05:36:40 PM
I did what you are doing a couple of years ago, it has worked great and I have never regretted it.  I used this temp controller http://morebeer.com/view_product/16666/102282/Ranco_Digital_Temperature_Controller_-_Wired because I thought it was more flexible.  For just a few more dollars you can control the temp (within 1 degree, ((some controllers only control within 4 degrees)) going cold or make it control a heat belt to make your beer warmer.  This has worked very well when my garage's ambient temp is 55* in the winter and I want to ferment at 68*.  It also helps to ramp up to do a dyacital rest.  I like the probe because if I ever wanted to use a thermowell, it will fit.  It is more expensive, but you only have to buy it once for all of your needs.  After I bought it, I looked on the Ranco website and found them a little cheaper, but I can't remember if they were already wired.  Either way you go you will enjoy the results of temperature control.
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: theDarkSide on September 29, 2010, 06:15:30 PM
The morebeer wired ranco is great.  It is wired with an actual outlet box, not just power cords wired in.  I use a fermwrap taped to the inside of the chest freezer wall with electrical tape to provide the heat.

Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: dak0415 on September 29, 2010, 06:19:41 PM

My question(s) is:
Is this going to be a good set up? I've read various forum posts supporting these while others say I will burn out the motor.
Will something like a plug in temperature control work out in the long run for a kegging system down the road?

I'm looking for some knowledgeable opinions to help guide my next step.
Good set up? Hell yes! I have 3 freezers and controlers.  Go with the Ranco ETC-111000 for fermentation control. 1 degree granularity.  I finally found a Ranco 2 stage ETC-211000 on Ebay for $50 (SCORE! ;D) since the spring and fall weather in NC can require cooling or heating over a 24 hour period.  The only issue is, like gremlins, you can't get the probes wet.  This guy  http://www.brewershardware.com/Ranco-Temperature-Sensors/ (http://www.brewershardware.com/Ranco-Temperature-Sensors/) sells waterproof replacement probes for several of the controller brands.
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: bluesman on September 29, 2010, 06:37:20 PM
I use a Johnson A419 controller. I can maintain +/-2 degrees from setpoint which is acceptable.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/johnson-controls-a419-digital-temp-controller.html

The RANCO will also do the job. Temperature control during fermentation is one of the most critical aspects of the homebrewing process. This is a great investment for a homebrewer. You won't be disappointed with this purchase, I can promise you that.
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: Me on September 29, 2010, 06:47:04 PM
Awesome. I'm glad to hear that it has worked out for so many people. After the funds are secured I'm buying the temperature controller.

Thanks forum
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: hopfenundmalz on September 29, 2010, 07:52:51 PM
This was posted by forum member richardt some time ago. The unwired Rancos are cheaper, so if you are handy, it only takes a little time.  I used the link as guide to wire a Ranco on Sunday, and have a batch in the new freezer now.  The Ranco seems more intuitive than the Johnson controller I have.

http://www.brewboard.com/index.php?showtopic=40898
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: henrythe9th on September 30, 2010, 10:22:18 PM
there all really easy to hook up,  I use a Johnson a419 and 3 A350 arrays and a e-bay aquarium 2 stage like this one  cheap and works good but does only display C
http://cgi.ebay.com/Mini-Digital-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat-Aquarium-/280564870449?pt=AU_B_I_Electrical_Test_Equipment&hash=item4152f82d31

check out my ferm box

http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/r81/henrythe9th/ferm%20box%20build/
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on October 03, 2010, 12:43:29 AM
Another place to get your Ranco temp controller:
http://www.pexsupply.com/pex/control/category/~category_id=1614/~refine=201614+100165
Title: Re: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station
Post by: dshepard on October 03, 2010, 11:11:37 AM
there all really easy to hook up,  I use a Johnson a419 and 3 A350 arrays and a e-bay aquarium 2 stage like this one  cheap and works good but does only display C
http://cgi.ebay.com/Mini-Digital-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat-Aquarium-/280564870449?pt=AU_B_I_Electrical_Test_Equipment&hash=item4152f82d31

check out my ferm box

http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/r81/henrythe9th/ferm%20box%20build/

Wow!! That is one heck of a setup!!  ;D