Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: chargerssb on January 20, 2011, 04:46:35 AM

Title: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: chargerssb on January 20, 2011, 04:46:35 AM
I am looking into purchasing a chest freezer to use as a fermentation chamber.  I have a 6.5 gallon glass carboy, a 5 gallon glass carboy and a 6.5 gallon bucket.  I would most likely only have the 6.5 carboy and 5 gallon carboy in there at the same time.  Would this chest freezer be big enough to hold both and some room for something for the blow off tube to go into?  It is 6.9 cu ft.
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_04619702000P?prdNo=2&blockNo=2&blockType=L2

Also, how do I hook up and use a temp controller and is there a way to do so without having to drill holes or anything?

Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: HydraulicSammich on January 20, 2011, 05:15:00 AM
Caution:  Never drill anywhere into a Sears chest freezer. 
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: brewmasternpb on January 20, 2011, 06:08:20 AM
Caution:  Never drill anywhere into a Sears chest freezer. 

Please Explain... We just bought a Kenmore chest Freezer for food (of all things) and I would eventually like to turn it into a kegging system.  What makes it a "no-drill" freezer?
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: brewmasternpb on January 20, 2011, 06:16:04 AM
I just looked at the link, I got the 5.1 Cu ft one...
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: bluesman on January 20, 2011, 10:53:36 AM
Tough to say. I have a 7.5cf Kenmore that will fit two carboys in the bottom section but I'm not sure about the 6.9. I would make cutout patterns and take them into the store and do a dry fit.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: tumarkin on January 20, 2011, 11:40:51 AM
As Bluesman suggests, the best way is to make cut outs & try it. Most of those freezers have a little shelf over the compressor that can't hold a 5 gal corny, but can hold a blow-off bucket or a 2.5-3 gal corny. You simply plug the controller into the wall outlet, set the desired temp & then plug the freezer into the controller. The probe is a thin wire that can just slip under the gasket of the lid.

Search the forum index for freezer conversions (or keezer conversions) and you'll see a lot of folks build a wood collar that sits between the freezer & the lid. You can drill through that for tubing, mounting taps, etc.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: jeffy on January 20, 2011, 12:55:24 PM


Also, how do I hook up and use a temp controller and is there a way to do so without having to drill holes or anything?



The temp controller just plugs into the wall outlet and then the freezer plugs into the controller.  The lid or door of the freezer can simply close over the capillary tube without any modifications.  It's small enough that the seal will still be good.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: markaberrant on January 20, 2011, 01:10:27 PM
The temp controller just plugs into the wall outlet and then the freezer plugs into the controller.  The lid or door of the freezer can simply close over the capillary tube without any modifications.  It's small enough that the seal will still be good.

This is what I do on my 2 freezers.  Works great.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: abraxas on January 20, 2011, 03:27:20 PM
I have that exact freezer.  I was disappointed that despite taking measurements it only fit two cornies, not three in the lower part.  It's very close but I am not sure I'd want to squeeze the third in there.

I can fit a 6.5g carboy and one of the shorter, wider 7g fermentation buckets (http://i.ehow.com/images/a04/gu/gt/started-making-wine-buying-equipment-800X800.jpg) with the bucket up on the hump.  I plan to add a collar so I can fit two carboys in the future.

I use a temperature controller with a capillary tube.  I was a little nervous about kinking that tube so I added a couple of even shims on each side and a piece of weather tape over it.  It seems to seal just fine.

Overall it's been a good freezer but I wish I would have gone a little bit bigger.  I got it on sale and with Bing cashback about 6 months ago for about $150.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: pitbull on January 21, 2011, 04:30:41 AM
Is there an advantage to using a freezer as opposed to a refrigerator? I'm looking for a fermentation chamber for a 12.5 gallon conical. Would a refrigerator work just as well? And if so, any suggestions on what to look for and look out for?
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: chargerssb on January 21, 2011, 05:35:30 AM
Good to know the temp controller is easy to work with.  I have seen some posts on people putting a fermawrap in there on the wall as well to help bring temps up if need be.  Is this necessary and if so where would that hook up to?  I am going this weekend to take a look at it in person.  I will take a cardboard cutout of my 6.5 carboy to see how it will fit.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 21, 2011, 03:48:27 PM
Is there an advantage to using a freezer as opposed to a refrigerator? I'm looking for a fermentation chamber for a 12.5 gallon conical. Would a refrigerator work just as well? And if so, any suggestions on what to look for and look out for?

You lose less cold air when you open and close the freezer (assuming it's a chest freezer and not an upright).  Thus, you should be using less energy.

I do not use a chest freezer, so I can't speak to any other advantages.  I assume you can fit a lot more in it, which is nice and would be an advantage.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: Hokerer on January 21, 2011, 03:53:30 PM
If he's cooling a 12.5 gallon conical, more than likely that's gonna need an upright (fridge or freezer)
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: narcout on January 21, 2011, 08:24:05 PM
I would most likely only have the 6.5 carboy and 5 gallon carboy in there at the same time.

Are you going to be lifting full glass carboys into and out of the chest freezer? That's gonna be rough. I have a chest freezer fermentation chamber, but I ferment in stainless. If I were using glass, I'm sure I'd be covered in lacerations by now

I have seen some posts on people putting a fermawrap in there on the wall as well to help bring temps up if need be.  Is this necessary and if so where would that hook up to?

If you are going to want to bring temps up as well as down, then the fermwrap heater is one of your options.  You can hook it up to the controller just like the chest freezer itself. You may want to consider a dual stage controller - that way you can have both the freezer and the heater hooked up to one controller and set the temp range.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 21, 2011, 09:48:12 PM
If he's cooling a 12.5 gallon conical, more than likely that's gonna need an upright (fridge or freezer)

Right you are.

In this case, I think the big thing to look out for would be to make sure you don't get an upright freezer with coils running through the shelves.

I am not aware of any specific benefits of an upright freezer over an upright fridge.  But I've not researched the issue in any detail.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: gsandel on January 22, 2011, 01:56:46 AM
If an upright, a frost free fridge would beat an upright freezer in my opinion.  Then you wouldn't have to deal with the moisture build up by using damp rid, a fan, or a dehumidifier.  Me, I have a chest freezer, and moisture is a problem unless actively mitigating.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: Tim McManus on January 22, 2011, 02:29:06 AM
Some upright freezers use the shelves as cooling coils.  A fridge would be your best bet.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: Hokerer on January 22, 2011, 02:30:08 AM
Doesn't the "frost free" in frost free fridge refer to the freezer portion?  Why would there be frost in the refrigerator portion?  Maybe I don't understand that feature.
Title: Re: Chest freezer for fermentation chamber
Post by: chargerssb on January 23, 2011, 04:16:52 AM
Okay, so I had to compromise due to price and size.  I ended up getting the Kenmore 5.1 cu ft. chest freezer.  We really got it to store milk for a while as we have 2 month old son and want to stock up on that in the freezer until later.  After that though I am using it as a fermentation chamber.  I put my 6.5 gallon carboy in there today and it fits perfect.  However, I didn't put an airlock on it to see if it would fit with that on there (it is being used for a yeast starter).  With a blowoff tube though it would fit perfect.  Being able to fit only one carboy isn't ideal, but it is better than nothing; and great for now as I never really have more than one batch going at a time (small condo not much room).  Thanks for the tips on how to set it up with the temp. controller.  Can't wait until I can use it.