Author Topic: inexpensive chiller for fermentation  (Read 3316 times)

Offline sstefick

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inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« on: August 30, 2017, 03:41:12 AM »
I'm looking for an inexpensive way to keep my fermenter cool.  Does anyone think this is a good solution?  If not, do you guys have another suggestion? I don't want to spend $1000+ on a Glycol chiller.
https://www.amazon.com/Mophorn-Industrial-CW-3000-Thermolysis-Engraving/dp/B01M64SBZC/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1504063175&sr=8-18-spons&keywords=glycol+chiller&psc=1

Thanks in advance

Offline TeeDubb

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2017, 07:05:53 PM »
There seems to be limited information available for this unit (could be a risk or it could just be a re-branded item).  Some of the Amazon feedback implies it does have a real refrigeration unit (vs. just a fan or thermoelectric) which is good but the cooling capacity is poorly denoted.   You may not be able to achieve lager temps unless you insulate your fermenter.  It should be fine for ales and such that only require 60-70F fermentation temps.  The temperature control is also unknown.  It has a display, but no obvious features to adjust temperature or they may be inside the unit.  You may have to buy a secondary controller to control your desired fermentation setpoint.

Offline denny

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2017, 07:07:59 PM »
Put the fermenter in a tub of water.  Add ice packs to the water.  Bob's yer uncle.
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Offline Richard

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2017, 02:20:58 AM »
It is a cooler, not a temperature regulator. There does not appear to be a way to set the temperature--it just cools as much as it can. The spec of 50 W/C is something that would apply to a thermoelectric cooler that puts out max cooling at zero temperature delta, and cooling power drops as the temperature difference rises. Depending on your ambient and desired fermentation temperature this may or may not be enough. I have a thermoelectric system with comparable power and it works fine up to temperature differences of about 20 F. I can ferment ales in ambient of 80-85, but can't do lagers except in the winter, and I can't cold crash without adding a lot of ice.

I built my system for a couple of hundred $$, but I was willing to do the soldering and coding myself. You can see my system at http://www.swent.net/Brewing/Fermentation.htm#Temp_Regulator

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Offline Philbrew

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2017, 08:05:32 PM »
Put the fermenter in a tub of water.  Add ice packs to the water.  Bob's yer uncle.
+1    Or, in lieu of ice packs, cover the fementer with an old T-shirt to wick up the water and point a small fan at it.  Works for ales.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2017, 08:37:43 PM »
Put the fermenter in a tub of water.  Add ice packs to the water.  Bob's yer uncle.

I've done this.  It works.  I've also used rigid insulation to help maintain temp.  Sort of like a box of insulation around the tub of water, including a lid.
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Offline Ale Farmer

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2017, 02:33:23 AM »
If you have a spare cooler that you can put your fermenter in, then it keeps the temperature longer--less ice per day. In the summer, I use a round Home Depot cooler for my 6.5 gallon fermenter (Big Mouth Bubbler), and it holds the temperature very well.
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Offline Richard

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2017, 02:51:51 PM »
Although the unit you were asking about is not a temperature regulator, you can make a regulated system using it. Get an insulated ice chest large enough to use as a water bath for your fermenter, as suggested. Make an insulated top to go around  your carboy or bucket, and leave a small hole in one corner. Use the water cooler to cool the bath around the fermenter. Use a cheap (e.g. Inkbird) controller to turn the cooler on and off to maintain the temperature you want in the bath. The cooler may not be happy pumping the bath water directly (I think it is designed for closed-cycle use with its own water reservoir) but you could use a heat exchanger if necessary.
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Offline rdjuddjr

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2017, 08:09:29 PM »
I am very much a newby (4 brews in) but in all of my research it appears to me that having a controlled fermentation temperature is very important for making the best quality beer.  I also researched the many ways to control the temperature of the fermentation - inexpensively.  I ended upon with what I will call a temperature controlled swamp cooler.

I used a cooler I already owned to put my fermenter in and filled it with water.  I use a second cooler partially filled with water that I chill with frozen water bottles that I recycle about every 12 to 24 hours. 

Next I purchased an inkbird 308 temperature controller, two small aquarium pumps, an aquarium heater, a thermowell and 25 ft of plastic tubing.  I spent approximately $80.

Connect the tubing from the pump in the ice cooler running it through the fermentation cooler and discharging back into the ice cooler.  Connect the pump from the ice cooler to the cooling side of the inkbird and the aquarium heater to the heating side (submerged into fermentation cooler).  Second pump recirculates water in fermentation cooler to realize temps.  Probe goes into thermowell.

Set to your desired temperature and you are all set.

OF course, I'm pretty cheap, but it has worked for me so far.  I have not tried, but temps will get cool enough for Lagers as well.

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Offline rdjuddjr

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2017, 08:15:33 PM »
I am very much a newby (4 brews in) but in all of my research it appears to me that having a controlled fermentation temperature is very important for making the best quality beer.  I also researched the many ways to control the temperature of the fermentation - inexpensively.  I ended upon with what I will call a temperature controlled swamp cooler.

I used a cooler I already owned to put my fermenter in and filled it with water.  I use a second cooler partially filled with water that I chill with frozen water bottles that I recycle about every 12 to 24 hours. 

Next I purchased an inkbird 308 temperature controller, two small aquarium pumps, an aquarium heater, a thermowell and 25 ft of plastic tubing.  I spent approximately $80.

Connect the tubing from the pump in the ice cooler running it through the fermentation cooler and discharging back into the ice cooler.  Connect the pump from the ice cooler to the cooling side of the inkbird and the aquarium heater to the heating side (submerged into fermentation cooler).  Second pump recirculates water in fermentation cooler to realize temps.  Probe goes into thermowell.

Set to your desired temperature and you are all set.

OF course, I'm pretty cheap, but it has worked for me so far.  I have not tried, but temps will get cool enough for Lagers as well.

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Here is a pic from when I was testing with water.

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Offline beerfarmer

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2017, 12:03:28 AM »
I am very much a newby (4 brews in) but in all of my research it appears to me that having a controlled fermentation temperature is very important for making the best quality beer.  I also researched the many ways to control the temperature of the fermentation - inexpensively.  I ended upon with what I will call a temperature controlled swamp cooler.

I used a cooler I already owned to put my fermenter in and filled it with water.  I use a second cooler partially filled with water that I chill with frozen water bottles that I recycle about every 12 to 24 hours. 

Next I purchased an inkbird 308 temperature controller, two small aquarium pumps, an aquarium heater, a thermowell and 25 ft of plastic tubing.  I spent approximately $80.

Connect the tubing from the pump in the ice cooler running it through the fermentation cooler and discharging back into the ice cooler.  Connect the pump from the ice cooler to the cooling side of the inkbird and the aquarium heater to the heating side (submerged into fermentation cooler).  Second pump recirculates water in fermentation cooler to realize temps.  Probe goes into thermowell.

Set to your desired temperature and you are all set.

OF course, I'm pretty cheap, but it has worked for me so far.  I have not tried, but temps will get cool enough for Lagers as well.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
Here is a pic from when I was testing with water.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
I suggest old fridge and cheap temp. Controller along with low wattage ceramic heater in fridge. Cost me about $100 total. Works like a charm.



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Offline tominboston

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Re: inexpensive chiller for fermentation
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 07:50:23 PM »
I ended up buying a new chest freezer for about 300 bucks (it is a 10 cu ft so I can fit a few fermenters or kegs inside. I coupled it with the inkbird 308 temp controller (for another 35 bucks I think) and it all works great.  I was at lowes the other day and saw they had a nice little 7.2 cu ft chest freezer for under 200.00.  I could have definitely gotten by with that size as well. I have a lager in mine now that is conditioning.   I had to spend a little money but in the end its pretty convenient and hands off once its all set up.  No drilling .. so if someday I want to use it as just a boring freezer I can.  But it is also a great place to keep beer (cans, bottles, kegs) and soft drinks cold and ready to go in the summer without having to make room in the kitchen fridge.