Author Topic: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps  (Read 4103 times)

Offline kramerog

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Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« on: October 29, 2012, 01:20:38 PM »
I was thinking of fermenting in a heated water bath during the winter because the temperature of the beer tends to drop slowly throughout fermentation.  An aquarium heater with an adjustable thermostat appears to be ideal.  The water bath would be held in a plastic rubbermaid tote that I use for cooling fermenters in the summer.  Any thoughts?  Any recommendations for aquarium heaters that can hold the water at ale fermentation temperatures?
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Offline guido

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2012, 02:48:07 PM »
I started doing that very thing now that the temperatures are cooler.  I got a heater meant for a 30-60 gallon aquarium.  I was able to ferment a Saison at 90F and another  batch of Pumpkin beer around 68F with no effort whatsoever.  I did have a heated water bath ready a day before so I could zone in the thermostat.  I think with some practice, I'll be able to guesstimate the thermostat setting close enough for government work.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 02:55:04 PM »
I started doing that very thing now that the temperatures are cooler.  I got a heater meant for a 30-60 gallon aquarium.  I was able to ferment a Saison at 90F and another  batch of Pumpkin beer around 68F with no effort whatsoever.  I did have a heated water bath ready a day before so I could zone in the thermostat.  I think with some practice, I'll be able to guesstimate the thermostat setting close enough for government work.

Do you circulate your bath water at all?
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Offline guido

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 04:15:10 PM »
Didn't recirculate.  The carboy was in an Igloo cooler or two carboys in a 45 gallon (I think) plastic tub.  The space is so small that recirculation wasn't needed.  I covered everything with a thick blanket to keep the heat in.  The temps stayed nice and steady.
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Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2012, 06:36:18 PM »
I suggest monitoring closely at first; I found out the hard way that the settings are not accurate.  I killed a really great Saison batch with excessive fusel notes over night.  I use a pump with a 200W heater & enclose it all in a 32 gal plastic trash can, works great.  Cooling is up next, but I'll insulate for that.

Offline BrewingRover

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 04:53:32 AM »
Bigger is better for the heater. I started with a 35W that was supposed to be good for 15 gallons, but it had a hard time heating everything. I went up to a 50W, which works okay, but I'd go up to 75 or 100 if I was buying another.
+1 to heating the water before adding the fermenter.
It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Offline kramerog

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2012, 10:43:50 AM »
I've decided to get a Jager aquarium heater, which is claimed to have a thermostat that is accurate to 1/2 a degree F over 64-94 F.  Following your advice, I'm looking at a 75 W or 100 W; I just need to I figure out how many gallons my bath and fermenters are.  I'll check how accurate the heater holds the water with my thermapen before I start fermenting. 

Unfortunately, aquarium coolers are a lot more expensive.  So I'll stick to the ice packs for now.

Thanks

http://www.petsupplies.com/item/eheim-jager-submersible-aquarium-heater/720548%20100/?srccode=GPPETSUP#Reviews
http://www.aquacave.com/100W-Jager-Aquarium-Heater-P875.aspx
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2012, 09:14:43 PM »
Hit a hitch.  I plan to keep my bath fairly shallow so as not to cover the fermometers about halfway up the side of the carboys.  My heater is supposed to be vertical even though it is fully submersible.   Anyway the aquarium forums indicate that the heater can be mounted horizontally although they may have a shorter life or may alter how well the thermostat works.  Anyway going to mount it horizontally rather than getting new fermometers.
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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2012, 06:56:05 AM »
Why don't you cover the fermometer and stick a floating thermometer in the water bath. It should be the same temp as the wort.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Aquarium heater for controlling fermentation temps
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2012, 10:57:12 AM »
I'll try taping over the fermometer next time.
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