Author Topic: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?  (Read 5731 times)

Offline graymax

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Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« on: May 12, 2011, 11:49:58 AM »
Hi, All:  I enjoyed the "Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?" thread/pics -- very informative.  I might go that route. It certainly is affordable!  I, too, live in an apartment -- in DC (hot summers, not particularly cold winters).  I have a large walk-in storage room where I ferment my beers.  There's no AC or heat or windows in the room and the temperature doesn't fluctuate much -- which is good -- but it doesn't get much below 70 degrees F.   So I'm wondering if anyone has experience using a wine bottle cooler for fermenting beers?  Danby has a 34-bottle single temperature zone cooler (DWC1534BLS) with removable shelves.  It's narrow but looks like it could fit a 6.5 gallon carboy with an airlock or even a blow-off hose.  The temperature control (39-64 degrees F.) will be more precise.  Thanks for your input.

Offline weithman5

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 12:14:30 PM »
those are cool ( no pun intended) but i bet you could just get a refrigerator cheaper.  go to a sears outlet and look around, they often have products that were returned, slightly damaged, including commercial refrigerators that have glass doors if you want to see. 
Don AHA member

Offline graymax

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 12:39:11 PM »
Thanks.  I haven't been able to find a "dorm"-sized fridge with a flat floor; do you know of any?  They all seem to have the shelf over the compressor.  I don't want anything much bigger than that size, if possible.

Offline beerrat

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2011, 01:24:57 PM »
I finally broke down and bought a similar wine chiller.. Vissani 52-Bottle Wine Cooler at HomeDepot.  It was one of the few small refrigerators/chillers that would fit a 6 gal carboy or a 5 gallon bucket.  It was $200,  I use a Ranco temp controller, so not sure how well the built in thermostat works at holding consistent temps.  I've had it for about 6 months now.

Offline graymax

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2011, 11:50:24 AM »
Beerrat: Thanks for the tip on the Vassani.  On-line reviews on the Home Depot Website were mostly positive, considering the price.  You said you have had it for 6 months; are you pleased?  I'm curious what the INTERIOR dimensions are.  I gather it has a compressor.  Is there room (sufficient height) on top of the compressor for a carboy, or is the unit deep enough for the carboy to sit on the bottom/floor next to the compressor?  You mentioned a 6-gallon carboy.  Do you know if a 6.5 gallon carboy with a rubber stopper and airlock or blow-off tube will fit?  I'm not looking for anything too fancy -- just something that will hold my carboy and keep the fermenting temperatures in the low to mid-60s.  Thanks again. 

Offline hike20

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2011, 12:18:54 PM »
I have a cheaper model (DWC3509EBLS) that I originally bought to keep wines and beers closer to the temp I like for serving. However, the thermostat was off on the warm side by about 12F. When I called Danby about it they said I would have to take it to an authorized service center for warranty coverage. They only have one such center in the state, over 3 hours away from where I live. Pretty terrible support if you ask me.

I ended up putting a temp controller on it and using it for my fermentation fridge, which works really well for my small batch sizes.

Offline beerrat

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2011, 01:56:59 PM »
Beerrat: Thanks for the tip on the Vassani.  On-line reviews on the Home Depot Website were mostly positive, considering the price.  You said you have had it for 6 months; are you pleased?  I'm curious what the INTERIOR dimensions are.  I gather it has a compressor.  Is there room (sufficient height) on top of the compressor for a carboy, or is the unit deep enough for the carboy to sit on the bottom/floor next to the compressor?  You mentioned a 6-gallon carboy.  Do you know if a 6.5 gallon carboy with a rubber stopper and airlock or blow-off tube will fit?  I'm not looking for anything too fancy -- just something that will hold my carboy and keep the fermenting temperatures in the low to mid-60s.  Thanks again. 
I realized I replied privately and want to share it for others on the board.....

Yeah, I'm happy with the purchase for what I wanted.  Something small and able to hold a single carboy or bucket at a controlled temp.  It fits nicely in my dining room.. Temp spot until I ever finish the basement.  I do use a ronco temp controller so cannot speak to how well the unit would maintain temp on it's own.  I'm assuming ok.
Dimensions.. Compressor is on bottom back, and unit's temp control at top center so these are the minimum inside dimensions.  17.5"w x 12" deep x 26.5 h.  Plenty of room for carboy or bucket with air lock.  I actually think my carboy is 6.5 gal.

Offline graymax

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2011, 01:34:28 PM »
Many thanks to Beerrat for the heads-up on the Vassani.  I purchased the same model for the same price at the local Home Depot and it is plenty big enough for a 6.5 gallon carboy.  The unit fits nicely under my counter.  It's pretty rudimentary, but at the "6" setting ("7" is the coldest), it  chilled water down into the mid-40s.  I brewed my first Kolsch this past Sunday, pitched two packets of Wyeast #2565 at 68 degrees F., and set the Vassani at "2".  Twenty-four hours later, with a nice fermentation underway, the Kolsch was at 62 degrees F.  By Tuesday morning, it was down to 60 degrees F.  This morning, it was at 58 degrees F.  I presume the temperature dropped slightly because the peak exothermic reaction has passed.  So this morning, I set the dial midway between "1" and "2" because I want the fermentation back at 60 degrees F.  Adding a temperature controller (as Beerrat did) would eliminate the guesswork on temperature settings but I think trial and error will be sufficient for my purposes.

It's much too soon to judge the unit, but I'm pleased so far and excited that I now have reasonable temperature control and much colder temperatures (than room temperature), if necessary, for fermenting my ales.  The unit's "warmer" settings are in the low to mid-60s.  Now I can brew sucessfully year-round here in DC, and I might even try a lager or two.

Thanks again, Beerrat!

Offline beerrat

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2011, 06:07:24 PM »
Glad it's working out.  Let's make a point to update this thread for long term results.  I'm not actively fermenting now, but expect to do a wheat beer in a few weeks.  It will be in mid 80's here and I like to ferment at around 62, so I'll see how it handles.  I'm expecting good results as I have so far.

Offline beerrat

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2011, 07:10:14 PM »
Fermenting a hefe at 62f and the house temp as been in upper 80 low 90's at times (I'm cheap and only run A/C when really needed).  The unti is working fine, plenty of room for blowoff tube and collector along with the 6 gal bucket.  Room for the 3 bottles of meads I like a little chilled too!

Offline beerrat

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Re: Danby Wine Bottle Cooler for Fermenting Carboys?
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2011, 08:14:14 AM »
Thought I'd give an update on the wine chiller fermentor.  I think it is fantastic for maintaining temps to as low as 50f.  Below 50f and the unit seems to struggle, and run really hot - to point I'm concerned about lifespan of unit.  There is no fan and the heat exchange design is a bit weak.  So trying to lager likely will be an issue. 

Given I do not lager, and the main reason I bought is to control ale fermentation temps, I'm very pleased, but wanted to point out the limitation of these units.

Now, I may be able to address by raising the unit off the floor a bit to get airflow under it, and having a small fan blow across back heat exchangers that are exposed.