Jump to content
Mr.Beer Community
Sign in to follow this  
Incognitum

Using a mini fridge to control ferm temps

Recommended Posts

For the first 6 months I spent brewing, I wasn't concerned much with controlling the temp of my fermenting wort. It's not that I didn't care, but it wasn't really an issue. Our central air unit keep everything at a decent temp.

Now it's summer and it's becoming more of a struggle to regulate temps. If the AC gets turned off turn during the day, or turned up or down much, it can cause problems.

I'm thinking of getting a mini fridge or dorm fridge and a temp controller to finally get some control over my beer. Has anyone done this? Is it as simple as plugging the fridge into the controller and the controller in the wall? I have no experience with anything like this, but if it's that simple, it would be a good option.

I ferment in the LBK's. I have up to four going at a time (two 5 gallon batches). I know a mini fridge won't hold all four LBK's... but would it hold 2?

I haven't looked at any of these at a store yet. I've browsed some photos online, but it's hard to get a feel for them.

Let me know if you have any experience doing this.

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot depends on your space limitations. If you have the room for it, see if you can find a full-size fridge or freezer on Craigslist.

I personally like the STC-1000 which is $18-20 on Amazon. I use three of them and helped a brew buddy put a controller outlet box with one earlier this week. You have to be able (or have a friend who can) do some basic household wiring, but there's some very good online help available.

It's a dual temperature controller. You wire it into a standard 2-plug outlet that you mount in some kind of project box (either homemade or bought at Radio Shack). One (cool) outlet is for the freezer/fridge. Into the other (warm) outlet, you plug some kind of small heater and then put that heater inside the freezer.

Set the target temp (in Celsius) on the STC-1000. Set the tolerance (default is +/-0.5*C). When the temp (as read by the sensor) climbs 0.5*C above the target, it powers up the cool outlet and keeps it energized until the temp drops to the target and then turns it off. Likewise with the warm outlet if it gets 0.5*C too cool. You tape the sensor on the side of the fermenter and place some kind of insulation like bubble wrap over top of it so that it reads the bucket temp and not the air.

Instructions with pics

More instructions w/ pics

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, I've got a mini fridge I bought on craigslist for 20 or 30 bucks, I don't remember. It was cheap though. And then I built the STC-1000 controller in the project box as described above in the video. I was able to ferment a lager in it successfully, but they take so long to do so I've got it set for ale fermentations and that way I can keep two LBKs in it at the same time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phil -- do you know the dimensions of your fridge? I was concerned that it would even have enough depth to hold an LBK if it had a rack on the door. The biggest thing for me is being able to fit two LBKs in there. I'd also like to be able to fit some bottles of beer and bags of hops in there as well. I usually have a dozen bottles in my fridge. If I could fit two LBKs and 6-12 bottles in there, that would really make it worth looking into... but that may be pushing it for a mini fridge.

Honestly, and this may sound a little creepy, but if you could take a picture of the inside of the fridge, I would love to see it.

Floyd -- The mini fridge is necessary due to space limitations. I live in an apartment and have one spare bedroom that has (unfortunately for my girlfriend) become a brewery that fills up the space around a big guest bed. I would not want to be a guest in that bed unless you love the smell of hops and the thrill of potentially get hit by a bottle bomb at 3am.

Thanks for all the feedback.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"philm00x" post=387914 said:

2d8qb0z.jpg

Hey, I know those cats on the fridge magnets. Thanks Phil, that made my day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phil -- thanks for the pictures. Those are real helpful. I'll do a little research into it and see if that setup could work for me.

Thanks for all the tips, guys!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah no problem! I know most folks here put the probe from the temp controller taped to the LBK, but I just let it hang, because if I have two LBKs in there, I can't take the temp of both at the same time. Haven't had any issues to date.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do the same thing Phil. Just let the probe hang in the fridge.
What everyone should learn from information gathered from the Borg is, what works for someones set up may not work excatly for their set up. But it will give a starting place for them to go to.
I know that if I set my STC-1000 at 16.5° C (61.7° F) that my wort in the fermentation fridge will settle at 65° during the height of active fermentation and then I'll bring it up a little over a few days to maintain that temperature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I live in an apartment and have one spare bedroom that has (unfortunately for my girlfriend)..."

So, if your extra bedroom wasn't a brewery, you'd be doing what with it?

Or, are you saying, that if you dumped your girlfriend you'd be able to toss the extra bed and have a bigger brewery? :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just for the sake of discussion. I got 3 fermenters in my fridge (various stages of fermentation). the only one that matters is the active fermenter (the last one you brewed) so that's the one I put my probe on, it changes weekly. if I can keep it 68 the other 2 seem to stay at 65 (I got indoor/outdoor thermometers with wired temp probe taped to the other 2)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey guys, thanks for sharing these projects. I have rigged up my own heating and cooling devices, but most of these look cleaner. I may have to do some changes in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...