Author Topic: Another Fermentation Chamber  (Read 1814 times)

Offline hmbrewing

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Another Fermentation Chamber
« on: January 01, 2015, 08:32:22 PM »
After close to five years of brewing I finally decided it was time to build a fermentation chamber. I currently have a saison fermenting away. Here are some pics:

All buttoned up:



Cooling chamber:



Cooling chamber open:



Fermenting chamber:



Ferm chamber open:



Control unit:



I built the controller directly from plans that were posted on the AHA website a few months back.

The insulating panels themselves are 1" rigid foam. Yes....this is thin however I get away with it because I am not dealing with wild temperature swings. It is then all wrapped in OSB.

This is my second beer that I have fermented in here and it has been holding temperature like a dream. I have also been able to slowly ramp up the temperature of the saison that is currently in there with amazing precision.

So far so good.
I brew beer, I drink beer...it really is that simple

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2015, 11:38:51 PM »
You did a great job.  Nice build !
Jon H.

Offline hmbrewing

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2015, 01:00:24 AM »
Thanks! It was a fun build.
I brew beer, I drink beer...it really is that simple

Offline hophead636

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2015, 04:48:06 AM »
You have a link for those plans this might just be the way I do my first ferm chamber

Offline hmbrewing

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2015, 01:25:08 PM »
Unfortunately, I don't have any plans drawn up. I kind of designed it as I was building. But...the foam chamber itself is based off of the Son of Fermentation chiller (SOFC). You can find those plans here:

http://www.ihomebrewsolutions.com/son-of-fermentation-chiller/

I made 3 main changes to these plans:

1) I used 1" foam instead of 2". I rolled the dice on this and took a chance. It works for me - no doubt. However, I would not recommend 1" if you are dealing with greater temperature swings. 2" will give you a much better insulating value.

2) I wrapped the whole thing in OSB.

3) Instead of accessing the cooling and ferm chamber from the top and front (as with the SOFC) I had to make the access on the sides. Mainly because I was putting this on a shelf and would not have access to the top.

Whatever you decide to do - one of the most important things with this setup is to be sure you are properly sealing all of the seems and joints. All of my seems and joints are triple sealed. First with glue, then caulk, then once the calk dried I tape all the joints with duct tape (that actual foil type tape). This is critical. The smallest air leak could kill your R Value. It's one of the big reasons I am able to get away with 1". When I have a beer fermenting away in this - you can't smell a thing. Prior to this chamber - I could smell my beers fermenting from the top of the basement stairs. But now, once you open one of the doors - BAM! Hits you right in the face.

I hope this helps - and again, sorry I don't have more detailed plans.

Cheers!
I brew beer, I drink beer...it really is that simple

Offline Master_Dam

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2015, 04:19:37 PM »
Great job!

I followed the same link for the SOF and it has been working great for me even using foam (didn't find the pink construction material)

I tested and it holds steady 6C without the carboy or any other frozen pack in the front, so i am thinking to use it to lager it as well!

Great tool, a must have is you want to brew in Miami like me where temp will not lower more than 75-77 in the house


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Offline flbrewer

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2015, 05:12:47 PM »
I see a lot of these chambers being built. I've also seen very low priced chest freezers. What's the advantage of building a fermentation chamber?

Offline hmbrewing

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2015, 07:25:54 PM »
I see a lot of these chambers being built. I've also seen very low priced chest freezers. What's the advantage of building a fermentation chamber?


Yup..that's a valid question. I put some good thought into a freezer. But it came down to my electric bill and space. I already have 3 refrigerators and 3 air conditioners (during the summer) and the last thing I wanted to do was add another compressor to the bill. This thing only draws minimal watts when it's cooling - and only 25w when it's heating. As far as space - I was able to build this to fit onto an already existing rack. So it wouldn't require any additional space.

Plus - I just absolutely love the DIY aspect of homebrewing! As with many other hombrewers, I've also built my own stir plate, mash paddles, mash tun, and assembled a keggerator out of a free refrigerator. So this was just another fun build.

If you are considering a fermentation chamber you should also be seriously considering a freezer - no doubt. You may find that it would be a better fit.
I brew beer, I drink beer...it really is that simple

Offline hophead636

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2015, 10:43:43 PM »
Sweet thanks I got some sheets of 2.5-3" insulation foam coming my way so even with my basement temps I should be fine with the paint can heater or two.  Can't wait im ready for another diy project, think after this it will be a mash paddle we shall see.  Thanks for the link

Offline Stevie

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2015, 11:04:17 PM »
This thread just solved my keezer problem, temporarily at least. I am going to use my ferm freezer as a temp keezer, swapping it with the busted keezer. Temps in the garage are low 40's, so cooling isn't needed and I already have a reptile heater.

Thanks for the, as Denny would say, pragmatic fix.

Now I just need to rope a buddy into helping me move the units up and down the stairs.

Offline hmbrewing

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2015, 11:27:22 PM »
Hophead - with 2.5"-3" you should be in great shape!

Steve - glad this thread has helped!
I brew beer, I drink beer...it really is that simple

Offline Master_Dam

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2015, 07:53:58 PM »
I see a lot of these chambers being built. I've also seen very low priced chest freezers. What's the advantage of building a fermentation chamber?

My SOF works at 12v .. Stays on 5 seconds every 20 min with 4 jugs of ice water in the back that i replace every 2 days.
Save on electricity, save on space, noise.. And when i don't use it can be stored pretty much anywhere cause it weight a handful of pounds! 


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Offline tommymorris

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2015, 10:05:17 PM »

I see a lot of these chambers being built. I've also seen very low priced chest freezers. What's the advantage of building a fermentation chamber?

My SOF works at 12v .. Stays on 5 seconds every 20 min with 4 jugs of ice water in the back that i replace every 2 days.
Save on electricity, save on space, noise.. And when i don't use it can be stored pretty much anywhere cause it weight a handful of pounds! 


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I don't understand the part about saving power. My 5cf Holiday chest freezer uses an estimated 240kWh ($26/year at 10.65 cents per kWh) per year when always on (its normal freezer use case).

The fermentation chamber use case is different. The freezer is turned off most of the time but the compressor runs continuously whenever the freezer is on. The chest freezer is rated to draw 5A. The 5A must be the worst case when the compressor is on. For fermentation if we assume that the compressor is on 5 minutes per hour (2 hours per day total) then the power usage for a 1 week fermentation would be 5*115=575W power * 2 * 7 = 8050 Wh = 8.05 kWh.  8.05 kWh costs about $0.85 per fermentation.

PS. Don't forget about the power used to freeze your ice.  All the energy used to regulate temp in the chamber has to be provided when freezing the ice (conservation of energy). That energy comes from the compressor in whatever freezer froze the ice. So I guess your saying your kitchen freezer is more efficient than a chest freezer. Maybe since it's on all the time.

PPS. Sorry to ramble.


Offline Master_Dam

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2015, 08:58:03 PM »
Thats a very good calculation. I just thought that a 12v computer fan was more efficient than a chest fridge that's all! And yes my kitchen freezer its always on no matter what so.. Good point tho!


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S. cerevisiae

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Re: Another Fermentation Chamber
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2015, 03:57:55 PM »
I used to own two Sanyo 9.5 cu. ft. refrigerators before I took an extended hiatus from the hobby.  I used one of the refrigerators as my beer/brewing refrigerator, and the other, which I acquired from a previous employer for a song, as a temperature-controlled fermentation chamber because I brewed mainly lager beer at the time. I sold the modified temperature-controlled refrigerator and kept the non-modified refrigerator as a basement soda/overflow refrigerator.

I periodically think about acquiring or building another fermentation chamber.  I have ruled out chest freezers.  Almost every temperature-controlled freezer I have seen that has been in use for a more a couple of years as a fermentation chamber has had internal rust from condensation build up.  With a refrigerator, condensation forms in the freezer section where it drains and evaporates.  I also do not want to have to lift full carboys out of a fermentation chamber (I have gone back to using glass). 

With that said, where does condensation form in a SOFC-style fermentation chamber?  I am assuming that it forms as sweat on the frozen jugs of water.  Has anyone experienced condensation problems on the fermentation vessel side of the chamber?