Author Topic: Fermentation Heaters...  (Read 3322 times)

Offline Pinski

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2015, 09:24:34 AM »
I've only used the fermwrap but like it quite well.  I use masking tape to tape it directly to the carboy. 

Same here.


Same thing I do.

I also use the Fermwrap with good results on my 14 G. conical.  The conical also gets to wear Grandpa's old down vest when I'm not using it. 
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2015, 10:07:36 AM »
I bought a "desktop" 200 W ceramic space heater at Wal-Mart. It has its own thermal cutout at ~40°C for added safety, and is plenty powerful enough to keep a 100 cu ft fermentation chamber warm.

Colder is almost always better IMO.  When I received a fermenter heater as a gift a few years ago, I re-gifted it the next year to someone else.   ;D

It's all relative. My "room temperature" is fine for fermenting lagers, but ales don't do so well. ;)
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2015, 10:10:59 AM »
Oh, I don't know... you might be very surprised to see how low many ale yeasts can go and still perform quite well.  Higher pitch rates would help though.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2015, 10:15:13 AM »
Well, sure, if I *had to* ferment ales in the 50s (and I have) I could get it done with strain selection - Chico is basically a lager yeast - but what's the point in brewing ales that taste like lagers? Might as well just ditch the ale strain.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2015, 10:22:40 AM »
Okay, I'll go way out on a limb here now.....

For most yeast strains, either lager or ale or in between, I theorize that there's way less flavor impacts due to temperature than most brewers would love to believe.  Temperature stability within a reasonable temperature range, perhaps, is more important than exact absolute temperature.

Maybe.  I might be wrong.  And, like anything, there are exceptions to any rule.  A hefeweizen or Belgian strain at 60 F is going to perform a whole lot differently than at 70 F.  But a lot of other strains?  English?  German ale?  American ale?  California lager?  WHO REALLY KNOWS!?!?  Answer: Not many.  I don't know.  More experiments are needed.

[derail alert - warning - sorry - generate new thread if required][/derail]
« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 10:24:18 AM by dmtaylor »
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Offline gspot

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2015, 10:32:34 AM »
Back to the op, I bought a reptile heating cable off Amazon for $15 and strung it around the walls of my refrigerator. It's plugged into a dual stage temp controller. Works very well. It's surprising how little heat is needed inside an insulated box. The fridge is located in my unheated garage which is currently in the 50s. Easily kept my most recent ale at 68.

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Offline a10t2

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2015, 10:55:47 AM »
Hopefully Porterhaus doesn't mind too much; the "derails" on this forum are frequently where the most interesting discussion occurs…

With the caveat that I've only fermented a large numbers of batches (I'll arbitrarily say >50) with a handful of strains, I can definitely say that the effect is strain-dependent. With lager strains - and again, that would include Chico - temperature seems to be much less important. That said, I've never deliberately fermented a lager above about 15°C.

As far as ale strains, UK and UK-derived yeasts seem to express more temperature effects. One of the big reasons I picked 1272 as a house ale yeast was that it can taste so different when using different temperatures. Pitched at 16°C it hits all the marks for a pseudo-lager West Coast-style ale; at 21°C it's "British-y". 1968 doesn't exhibit quite that same variability, though that may be because it's so sluggish at low pitching temperatures that it's simply a *different* stress character. I can definitively say that if your glycol goes out and the temperature runs away it gets unpleasantly estery, but that's getting up into the 25°C range.

Belgian strains are probably impossible to generalize - even calling them "Belgian strains" implies a commonality that doesn't really exist. I've played with some (Chimay comes to mind) that are fairly tolerant of pitching temperature variations, and other that can be completely different yeasts (the Chouffe strain is frustratingly sensitive variations of even a couple degrees).

Of course, I don't have an HPLC, so this is all anecdotal. And for the record, I'm assuming roughly a 1-2°C cooler fermentation for a 5 gal batch than for 15+ bbl, although that pressure/temperature relationship is probably yet another thing that's strain-dependent.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2015, 01:29:18 PM »
I also have an aquarium heating cable. It's not cheap but works very well and seems very safe.
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Offline Pricelessbrewing

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2015, 01:55:30 PM »
I haven't had any cause to get a heater before now.

My plan was to make one like this http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=515779 and line the top of my fermentation chamber with it. I do small batches and use a rubbermade bin as a swamp cooler for decipation and increased thermal mass, the small batches can have rather rapid temp changes depending on the radiator and if a windows open so I like the swamp cooler.

You guys with the heating cables could you provide a link? If it's sufficient and requires no work, I wouldn't mind spending an extra $5-10 for a ready to plug in unit, already have a temp controller.

Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2015, 02:12:13 PM »
Hopefully Porterhaus doesn't mind too much; the "derails" on this forum are frequently where the most interesting discussion occurs…

Not at all, like you said that is where a lot of new ideas come from. I appreciate all the replies, I'm happy to get a thread comunicating.

As of right now I use a small space heater with a built in overtemp safety along with my Johnson controller. Fermentation keeps itself warm in the well insulated freezer. The heater kicks on from time to time just to give it a little heat. I use this set up because out in the garge in dead of winter it can be into the teens or 20's at times. I have been researching and shopping around to see if there is a better option but what I am doing does work.

Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2015, 02:15:15 PM »
On a side note and maybe it's worth of it's own thread or already talked about but for those that use a Johnson type controller for heating and cooling what setting do you use for heating? Is it better to cut in on setpoint or cut out at setpoint? I'm not sure which setting I use for cooling either. I wonder if it really makes a difference.

Offline smkranz

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2015, 02:22:35 PM »
My 12.2 gal MoreBeer conical is in two nested collapsable trash cans.  The larger can is the cover and lifts off very easily for access.  Inside the bottom is a space heater controlled by a Ranco controller with the probe in a thermowell inside the wort.  This baby lets me easily ramp my Saison temperatures up into the stratosphere, even when my basement is in the 50's.  Hence, the name Saisonical.

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Offline stpug

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2015, 02:39:29 PM »
You guys with the heating cables could you provide a link? If it's sufficient and requires no work, I wouldn't mind spending an extra $5-10 for a ready to plug in unit, already have a temp controller.

Heat Tape by the foot ($3/ea): http://www.reptilebasics.com/12-heat-tape
Plug kit ($4): http://www.reptilebasics.com/thg-amp-wireset (+$1 option so RB connects it all for you)
Pay for shipping and your done - it's ready to plug into a controller.


« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 02:41:56 PM by stpug »

Offline Pricelessbrewing

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2015, 03:04:23 PM »
You guys with the heating cables could you provide a link? If it's sufficient and requires no work, I wouldn't mind spending an extra $5-10 for a ready to plug in unit, already have a temp controller.

Heat Tape by the foot ($3/ea): http://www.reptilebasics.com/12-heat-tape
Plug kit ($4): http://www.reptilebasics.com/thg-amp-wireset (+$1 option so RB connects it all for you)
Pay for shipping and your done - it's ready to plug into a controller.

Thanks, suggested # of feet? I'll probably order two sets.

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Fermentation Heaters...
« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2015, 03:12:45 PM »
Sunbeam heat pad without the safety auto-off feature. Taped to the inside wall of chest.

+1

+1

I don't know if mine has a safety auto-off feature, but it is designed to run constantly, in direct contact with a person, as they sleep. I feel pretty safe about it.

The machine-washable cover is also a huge plus.

I wrap mine around the bucket/carboy and secure with a bungee cord that's not too tight. If I'm going for heating only (either with saisons or just keeping the fermentor warm during D-rest), I'll wrap a blanket around it and secure that with the bungee instead.

Very consistent and relatively inexpensive ($20?), especially when combined with a thermowell. Although not necessarily required, I think it improves control, especially in fast or high-temp fermentations.

Since my basement is ~60F in the winter, heating is absolutely required for proper temp control.
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