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Options for Fermentation Chiller


I have been thinking about building a fermentation chiller as I have gotten interested in brewing sakes and got caught by some unusually warm weather.

I rent and don't want to deal with the hassle of buying a chest freezer, which I will ultimately end up doing if and when I buy a house.  I have seen the SOFC, and while I like this, I'm not sure I always have the freezer room and go away enough that I am not sure I would be able to replace the frozen bottles on a 2-3 day basis.

Peltier cooling devices don't seem to hold enough promise for this application.  A cut away small refrigerator seems like the best bet but I am wondering if there is some type of refrigerator guts out there I am not thinking of that would include a compressor, expansion valve, cooling coil, radiator etc in a nicely package small unit.

I have been thinking maybe a very small window air conditioner would work, but I am not sure if this would provide enough cooling and it's still a little larger than what i think I need.  Is there anything out there I am not thinking of?  Would a window air conditioner be able to provide cooling below 50F (35F ideally) or so with a little modification?

I should also add that I would have no problem rigging up a control device.  I'd rather not have to deal with refrigerant though, so I have ruled out building up something from a car compressor etc...

I'm almost finished converting a small refrigerator for fermenting - I just need to install a new top on it.  I took off top and the the door, added a collar made of 2x12 lumber, removed the shelf plastic from the inside of the door, and re-attached the door to the collar.  I put the whole works on a furniture dolly so I can roll it around (it's in my garage).  I control the temperature with a Johnson A-419 controller.  It's working great so far - I have a Märzen fermenting in it now at 50F.  With the collar, it's big enough to ferment a batch in a 7.9-gallon bucket or a carboy, and I can even fit my converted Sanke keg fermenter in there for the occasional 10-gallon batch (though I haven't tried that yet).  I got the fridge for free from my cousin who had it at his office and didn't need it anymore when he closed his business.  You could probably find something similar on Craig's List for well under $100.  I'll try to post some pictures in the next couple days.

Thanks Yug,

That's what I am leaning towards.  What size fridge is it, one of the really small ones or the medium size ones?

I don't recall the model number, but It's a GE - maybe this one  It wasn't deep enough to fit a bucket, or even a corny keg, inside because of the compressor "hump" - that's why I added the collar and removed the shelf plastic from the door.  I think if you find one that's wide and tall enough where the door is, you could add collar like I did and be fine. 


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