Author Topic: Converting a chest freezer into a temperature controlled fermentation station  (Read 9798 times)

Offline Me

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So I pulled the trigger on an old chest freezer I found on craigslist. 100 dollars and it works perfect. My plan as of now is to convert it into a temperature controlled chest (and eventually acquire kegerator parts and make a kegerator) . I feel that this is one of the biggest steps towards me making more consistent beers. I've been looking at the options for temperature control units. I have very little electrical knowledge (surprisingly, an economics degree has very little mechanical training), so I am considering using a plug-in system like this:
 
http://www.micromatic.com/draft-keg-beer/kegerator-conversion-kits-pid-E26.html
or this
http://www.amazon.com/RANCO-ETC-111000-Digital-Temperature-Control/dp/B0015NV5BE

My question(s) is:
Is this going to be a good set up? I've read various forum posts supporting these while others say I will burn out the motor.
Will something like a plug in temperature control work out in the long run for a kegging system down the road?

I'm looking for some knowledgeable opinions to help guide my next step.
Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy-
BF

Offline troy@uk

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I did what you are doing a couple of years ago, it has worked great and I have never regretted it.  I used this temp controller http://morebeer.com/view_product/16666/102282/Ranco_Digital_Temperature_Controller_-_Wired because I thought it was more flexible.  For just a few more dollars you can control the temp (within 1 degree, ((some controllers only control within 4 degrees)) going cold or make it control a heat belt to make your beer warmer.  This has worked very well when my garage's ambient temp is 55* in the winter and I want to ferment at 68*.  It also helps to ramp up to do a dyacital rest.  I like the probe because if I ever wanted to use a thermowell, it will fit.  It is more expensive, but you only have to buy it once for all of your needs.  After I bought it, I looked on the Ranco website and found them a little cheaper, but I can't remember if they were already wired.  Either way you go you will enjoy the results of temperature control.
Now there are fields where Troy once stood....  OVID

Offline theDarkSide

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The morebeer wired ranco is great.  It is wired with an actual outlet box, not just power cords wired in.  I use a fermwrap taped to the inside of the chest freezer wall with electrical tape to provide the heat.

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Offline dak0415

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My question(s) is:
Is this going to be a good set up? I've read various forum posts supporting these while others say I will burn out the motor.
Will something like a plug in temperature control work out in the long run for a kegging system down the road?

I'm looking for some knowledgeable opinions to help guide my next step.
Good set up? Hell yes! I have 3 freezers and controlers.  Go with the Ranco ETC-111000 for fermentation control. 1 degree granularity.  I finally found a Ranco 2 stage ETC-211000 on Ebay for $50 (SCORE! ;D) since the spring and fall weather in NC can require cooling or heating over a 24 hour period.  The only issue is, like gremlins, you can't get the probes wet.  This guy  http://www.brewershardware.com/Ranco-Temperature-Sensors/ sells waterproof replacement probes for several of the controller brands.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 11:22:40 AM by dak0415 »
Dave Koenig
Anything worth doing - is worth overdoing!

Offline bluesman

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I use a Johnson A419 controller. I can maintain +/-2 degrees from setpoint which is acceptable.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/johnson-controls-a419-digital-temp-controller.html

The RANCO will also do the job. Temperature control during fermentation is one of the most critical aspects of the homebrewing process. This is a great investment for a homebrewer. You won't be disappointed with this purchase, I can promise you that.
Ron Price

Offline Me

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Awesome. I'm glad to hear that it has worked out for so many people. After the funds are secured I'm buying the temperature controller.

Thanks forum
Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy-
BF

Offline hopfenundmalz

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This was posted by forum member richardt some time ago. The unwired Rancos are cheaper, so if you are handy, it only takes a little time.  I used the link as guide to wire a Ranco on Sunday, and have a batch in the new freezer now.  The Ranco seems more intuitive than the Johnson controller I have.

http://www.brewboard.com/index.php?showtopic=40898
Jeff Rankert
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Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline henrythe9th

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there all really easy to hook up,  I use a Johnson a419 and 3 A350 arrays and a e-bay aquarium 2 stage like this one  cheap and works good but does only display C
http://cgi.ebay.com/Mini-Digital-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat-Aquarium-/280564870449?pt=AU_B_I_Electrical_Test_Equipment&hash=item4152f82d31

check out my ferm box

http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/r81/henrythe9th/ferm%20box%20build/
Beer is Food and Water combined

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline dshepard

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there all really easy to hook up,  I use a Johnson a419 and 3 A350 arrays and a e-bay aquarium 2 stage like this one  cheap and works good but does only display C
http://cgi.ebay.com/Mini-Digital-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat-Aquarium-/280564870449?pt=AU_B_I_Electrical_Test_Equipment&hash=item4152f82d31

check out my ferm box

http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/r81/henrythe9th/ferm%20box%20build/

Wow!! That is one heck of a setup!!  ;D
Concord, NC