Author Topic: DIY - heated fermentation chamber  (Read 4339 times)

Offline ukolowiczd

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DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« on: February 06, 2012, 06:29:06 PM »
I have been heating a small bedroom with a 41" long space heater that has a thermostat for my Belgians that need 75F or higher. Obviously after 2 weeks of this thing heating the room even with the thermostat, my electric bill is not cheap. So I was thinking of building an insulated box about 48"Wx28"Hx26"W that could hold up to 4 fermenters/kegs, etc. The size is due to the size of the heater I have.

My question: What kind of insulation would you use to insulate this box? I've seen thin reflective type stuff. I know the about inch think foam stuff. And I don't think fiberglass would be a good option. Any ideas?

Oh and also, I'm assuming this is safe since I leave the heater on in the bedroom free from fabric, etc. and with the thermostat it shuts off when it gets to temp.

Offline majorvices

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 06:50:43 PM »
I use a small heat wrap like those available at Northern Brewer or B3 or Rebel Brewer and wrap the fermenter with reflective insulation (like that you use for a water heater) with a thermo well and digital temp controller. Works well, even down to 38 degrees and uses very little energy.
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Offline ukolowiczd

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2012, 07:18:20 PM »
I use a small heat wrap like those available at Northern Brewer or B3 or Rebel Brewer and wrap the fermenter with reflective insulation (like that you use for a water heater) with a thermo well and digital temp controller. Works well, even down to 38 degrees and uses very little energy.

I've definitely looked into and am interested in this technique but issue is you can only do this with one fermenter unless you have more than one thermo well and dig temp controller. I'm usually doing 10 gal batches in two fermenters minimum, so that'd be at least two of everything. Plus sometimes i'm fermenting and carbonating and want higher temp.

Offline tonian

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2012, 08:18:58 PM »
FWIW: I think there are some misconceptions about the need to ferment Belgians at such a high temperature. I seem to remember (but can't reference) some jamil show podcasts touching on the subject. Might be worth a listen...

Offline PSUhomebrewer

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2012, 04:17:00 AM »
http://www.wortomatic.com/articles/Knews-Hound-Builds-the-Beast this should help get you started. Depending on how extensive you go it is easy to add the argering chamber also. Nice thing is it all can be run off one dual stage controller, as long as the 4 carboys have similar yeast temp requirements.

Offline majorvices

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2012, 06:45:31 AM »
I use a small heat wrap like those available at Northern Brewer or B3 or Rebel Brewer and wrap the fermenter with reflective insulation (like that you use for a water heater) with a thermo well and digital temp controller. Works well, even down to 38 degrees and uses very little energy.

I've definitely looked into and am interested in this technique but issue is you can only do this with one fermenter unless you have more than one thermo well and dig temp controller. I'm usually doing 10 gal batches in two fermenters minimum, so that'd be at least two of everything. Plus sometimes i'm fermenting and carbonating and want higher temp.

I do two better bottles with the same batch and one thermowell immersed in only one fermenter. I figure they will both be the same internal temp, and according to the fermometer they are the same. Def a low teck approach that works and is cheap. I'll take a picture today and show you. I have a batch of single hop beer fermenting on my brewery floor right now wrapped in nothing but a piece of insulation with a Titans sweat shirt draped over the top and it has stayed at 66 degrees even at below 40 ambient temps.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 06:47:37 AM by majorvices »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2012, 07:45:44 AM »
I use a small heat wrap like those available at Northern Brewer or B3 or Rebel Brewer and wrap the fermenter with reflective insulation (like that you use for a water heater) with a thermo well and digital temp controller. Works well, even down to 38 degrees and uses very little energy.

+1

I use the same setup. I use a fermwrap and/or a brewbelt. The brewbelt is good for temps up to 70F but I use the fermwrap for anything above 70 degrees. I have a Johnson controller that is set for heating.
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Offline greyghost

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2012, 01:45:01 PM »
I have built a 32" square 24" tall box out of 1 1/2" Styrofoam .Got at Home Depot. This sits on a card table and is big enough for 4 carboys. I don't have to move them to transfer to secondary or bottling bucket. I use a 50 Watt plant starting heating pad with a Johnson A419 controller. Keeps a 68 degree temp in a 55 degree room. Works really well, also do my bottle conditioning in it as well as fermenting.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 02:12:56 PM »
I have built a 32" square 24" tall box out of 1 1/2" Styrofoam .Got at Home Depot. This sits on a card table and is big enough for 4 carboys. I don't have to move them to transfer to secondary or bottling bucket. I use a 50 Watt plant starting heating pad with a Johnson A419 controller. Keeps a 68 degree temp in a 55 degree room. Works really well, also do my bottle conditioning in it as well as fermenting.

wow tha tis one heck of card table! I don't think I have ever seen one that would hold 160 lbs.
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Offline ukolowiczd

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 02:42:19 PM »
I have built a 32" square 24" tall box out of 1 1/2" Styrofoam .Got at Home Depot. This sits on a card table and is big enough for 4 carboys. I don't have to move them to transfer to secondary or bottling bucket. I use a 50 Watt plant starting heating pad with a Johnson A419 controller. Keeps a 68 degree temp in a 55 degree room. Works really well, also do my bottle conditioning in it as well as fermenting.

I think i'll do something like this - build a big box out of the rigid foam insulation, seal it and just set it on top of the carboys with the heater inside. I figure it'll cost me about $40 and be way easier to handle than a wooden box.

I get that thermowell idea - duh, yeah two heating jackets but just one thermowell! I think it's safe to assume they're the same temp. - great idea!

Also in my experience when working with Belgian yeasts especially the Ardennes and Saison - I get 25% better attenuation when I raise the temp above 70 (and I'm usually pushing into the 75-80F range)! That and the beers aren't cloying b/c the yeast eats up most of the sugar. My Belgian failures - an Abbey and a Rochefort clone were all due to poor attenuation that I blame on low temp. When I heat them - they rip through the sugar and give off those amazing Belgian flavors.

Offline greyghost

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Re: DIY - heated fermentation chamber
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 06:07:59 PM »
 

wow tha tis one heck of card table! I don't think I have ever seen one that would hold 160 lbs.

It seems to work to work very well. I did put a 3/4" piece of plywood on top of it. I have had 3 carboys and 2 cases of beer on it and it still seems very solid.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 08:22:33 PM by dbeechum »