Author Topic: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber  (Read 16980 times)

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 754
  • San Francisco, CA
    • View Profile
Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« on: June 17, 2012, 08:07:15 AM »
I'm looking at converting a small fridge or freezer to a fermentation chamber (using a temperature controller). Assuming the equipment has the right space, is there an advantage to one or the other?

I see the following on Craigslist: http://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmadison/VM301W.html -- but I see a number of fridges as well. I plan to take a carboy with me when I check out the items.
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline Pinski

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1567
  • Portland, Oregon
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 10:29:46 AM »
I use the "keezer" model made from a chest freezer. Once things are in place it's still easy access all of the connections if adjustments are necessary. Swap outs don't involve moving other kegs out of the way. Drawbacks to the chest freezer would be the awkward lifting of full kegs into the keezer and cleanout is not as easy as it would be with "fridge" model.
Thank you BEER!

Offline nateo

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2162
  • Aachen, DE
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2012, 11:41:21 AM »
I went with a chest freezer only because it easily holds 2 carboys, plus a few 1-gallon jugs. Depending on the fridge, you may have a hard time fitting two in there. If you only need it to hold one, then either would work, and the fridge-style would probably be easier to get beer into and out of.

At the time, I didn't have the desire or time to scour CL and find a good deal, and you can buy a basic freezer for under $200.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 754
  • San Francisco, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2012, 12:03:38 PM »
I went with a chest freezer only because it easily holds 2 carboys, plus a few 1-gallon jugs. Depending on the fridge, you may have a hard time fitting two in there. If you only need it to hold one, then either would work, and the fridge-style would probably be easier to get beer into and out of.

At the time, I didn't have the desire or time to scour CL and find a good deal, and you can buy a basic freezer for under $200.

Thanks to both of you -- you actually answered a number of questions and made me feel ok about buying new if need be--my fiddle-factor is fairly limited 95% of the year.  The fridge-style freezer is almost required from a physical-access point of view.
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Online jeffy

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2445
  • Tampa, Fl
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2012, 12:45:30 PM »
I went with a chest freezer only because it easily holds 2 carboys, plus a few 1-gallon jugs. Depending on the fridge, you may have a hard time fitting two in there. If you only need it to hold one, then either would work, and the fridge-style would probably be easier to get beer into and out of.

At the time, I didn't have the desire or time to scour CL and find a good deal, and you can buy a basic freezer for under $200.

Thanks to both of you -- you actually answered a number of questions and made me feel ok about buying new if need be--my fiddle-factor is fairly limited 95% of the year.  The fridge-style freezer is almost required from a physical-access point of view.
That's what I was going to mention - lifting a full five gallons out of a chest freezer requires either a healthy back or some winches.  I'm OK with the first option, but I'm not getting any younger.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995

Offline boapiu

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 84
  • Palmetto Bay, FL
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2012, 04:49:52 PM »
I opted for a stand up freezer. With one temperature controller, that is better than a fridge-freezer combo. And I did not want to lift carboys and buckets in and out of a chest model. Mine holds two buckets on the bottom and two carboys above them on a shelf. There is still storage in the door. Make sure the shelves are removable. Some actually are part of the cooling system and can't be removed.
Beer is an ancient beverage that has been consumed as part of a balanced diet for centuries - it contains the goodness of sprouted grain extracted into rich liquid and fermented to produce a nutritional 'liquid cereal' beverage.

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 754
  • San Francisco, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2012, 02:00:05 PM »
I opted for a stand up freezer. With one temperature controller, that is better than a fridge-freezer combo. And I did not want to lift carboys and buckets in and out of a chest model. Mine holds two buckets on the bottom and two carboys above them on a shelf. There is still storage in the door. Make sure the shelves are removable. Some actually are part of the cooling system and can't be removed.

I'm going to visit Sears to look at this one:

http://www.sears.com/kenmore-6.5-cu-ft-upright-freezer/p-04629702000P

K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline boapiu

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 84
  • Palmetto Bay, FL
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 02:55:38 AM »
I read one of the reviews and it stated the freezer coils are imbedded in the shelves. That means you won't be able to remove or adjust the shelves. Which means buckets or carboys won't fit.
Beer is an ancient beverage that has been consumed as part of a balanced diet for centuries - it contains the goodness of sprouted grain extracted into rich liquid and fermented to produce a nutritional 'liquid cereal' beverage.

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 754
  • San Francisco, CA
    • View Profile
Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2012, 03:05:33 AM »
That would indeed be a show stopper. I'll report back.
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline davidgzach

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2012, 05:11:49 AM »
If buying new, I would make a cardboard cutout of the diameter of your carboy and take it with you to the store.  I'm only assuming you want two to fit on the bottom at one time. 

Dave
Dave Zach

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 754
  • San Francisco, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2012, 11:14:23 AM »
If buying new, I would make a cardboard cutout of the diameter of your carboy and take it with you to the store.  I'm only assuming you want two to fit on the bottom at one time. 

Dave

I am planning to take an actual carboy with me. :-) Looks like that Sears model (and a couple similar to it) do have fixed shelves used as conduit for coolant. Darn. I'm still going into Sears soon to see what they have. 
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5690
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2012, 11:23:21 AM »
If buying new, I would make a cardboard cutout of the diameter of your carboy and take it with you to the store.  I'm only assuming you want two to fit on the bottom at one time. 

Dave

I am planning to take an actual carboy with me. :-) Looks like that Sears model (and a couple similar to it) do have fixed shelves used as conduit for coolant. Darn. I'm still going into Sears soon to see what they have.

I like the selection of items they chose for that pic. a bowl of strawberries and two grapefruits? in the freezer? then several half gallon boxes of ice cream, and am I mistaken or is that a twelve pack of cheep beer on the bottom shelf?
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller

Offline mtnrockhopper

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2885
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2012, 11:55:38 AM »
am I mistaken or is that a twelve pack of cheep beer on the bottom shelf?

Must keep that cheap beer fresh.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7225
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2012, 12:14:47 PM »
am I mistaken or is that a twelve pack of cheep beer on the bottom shelf?

Must keep that cheap beer fresh.

I think that is actually "butter".
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5690
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Converting fridge or freezer to fermentation chamber
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2012, 12:17:55 PM »
am I mistaken or is that a twelve pack of cheep beer on the bottom shelf?

Must keep that cheap beer fresh.

I think that is actually "butter".

ahh okay, that makes slightly more sense. still don't get the strawberries and g-fruit.

Wow off topic much?

kgs,

I have two used fridges, one for keggerator the other for fermentation. I wish that I had a chest freezer for fermentation just based on footprint v. capacity and efficiency but I can see the problems with lifting fermenters out. If you could rig up a transfer method, syphon or pump and put a chest freezer on wheels so you could roll it over to your kettle that would be ideal in my opinion.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller