Monday, February 20, 2012

Fermentation Chamber Build

For Christmas, Jennifer really didn't want to get me brewing stuff, even though that made up the majority of my list.  As a compromise, she made sure she knew the one thing I wanted most and got me that, which was a deep freeze.

What on Earth do you use a deep freeze for while making beer?  Well, it can be used for lots of things.  In my case, I realized I made better beer if I kept the temperature of the fermenting beer between 60 and 70 degrees.  And what's a freezer but a well insulated box with an air conditioner stuck inside it?

To make it useful, I needed a temperature controller, or thermostat.  Since they usually run $100 or more, I decided to make my own following instructions I found at  Once the aquarium temperature controller came in from Hong Kong, I set to work.

The first step was to mark where I needed to cut the lid of the junction box I bought to hold everything.  I used a piece of paper to represent the temperature controlller, and an outlet cover to mark where the outlet would show through.

Next, I cut out the holes using a Dremel tool and various bits.  This took FOREVER since the battery only lasts around 10 minutes per charge.

Once that was done, the rest was simple -- just wire everything up so that one outlet gets power when the temperature controller is in "cool" mode, and give the other outlet power when in "heat" mode.

The controller I bought (which was the cheapest one I could find) only works in Celsius, that's why it's saying our house is 21.2 degrees.

Here's everything all wired up:

But there was still one missing piece: a heater.  I was planning on buying a portable space heater, but then I found a cheaper DIY version involving a light bulb, a paint can, and an extension cord.  The heat from a regular 60W light bulb is enough to raise the temperature inside of the freezer pretty quickly, and the aluminum paint can shields the light from hitting the beer (which could skunk it).

So there you have it -- my completed fermentation chamber.  The temperature probe hanging in the freezer tells the controller when to heat or cool the chamber.  When it needs to cool, it turns the freezer on, and when it needs to heat, it turns the heater light bulb on.  Now, I can ferment my beer at whatever temperature I need to!


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...