Thursday, July 8, 2010

Temperature Control For Fermenting Chambers

Here's an excellent beer tool/device I found at Orchard Supply recently that I think is worth sharing. Since I'm not fermenting my beer at home now, I can't monitor the temperature obsessively like I normally(?) do. So, I was looking to put in some type of thermostatic control installed in a box I built to place my fermentation vessels.

The room (storage unit with a roll-up door) I ferment in stays cool (65f.) during the day which is perfect for ales but at night it gets pretty cold, I would say somewhere around 50ish this time of year. This cold environment can cause the yeast to become inactive and essentially prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities, they will go dormant and settle to the bottom of the fermenting vessel, resulting in an under attenuated beer. Not good.

Line voltage thermostatic control

My idea was to have a thermostat inside an insulated box big enough to contain two fermenters. The device would control a 60 watt light bulb inside the box to keep the temperature at 65f. turning the light on and off as needed. In my situation, (a small enclosed space) it doesn't take more than a light bulb to keep it warm. Well, I wanted to avoid using a standard thermostat along with a transformer and had heard of a 'direct line voltage thermostat' but didn't think I would find one. To my surprise Orchard had them and I purchase one for about $45 with tax. The ease of use is what is so valuable here. The line voltage thermostat plugs directly into the 110v outlet and then the devise that you want to control plugs into the thermostat. Set the temperature that you want and when the temp. drops below that setting it powers on the devise of your choosing, in this case a light bulb, but could also power on a heater or cooling unit just as well. The unit I bought is the LUX win100 which is also programmable.

If you don't have a lot of electrical skills but want to create this kind of controlled environment, I would recommend getting one of these thermostats. This would be perfect for a small room or shed that already has an electrical outlet in place and you wanted to turn on/off a space heater or cooler.


cameron said...

thanks for the info. for a more remote applications, and a little more wiring, there is the Ranco box. Ranco ETC-111000 is a little more money but does not need to be in the cooling/heating room.

Jimilu said...

Wow! It looks great, i bought a much simpler Danfoss Thermostat, but i had to connect it manually. This one is much better.

Beer Diary... said...

Yeah, this gadget is convenient and simple. Set the temp. you want, hit 'hold' and plug in your heater or cooler. I have a couple of ales that will be fermenting soon and it's nice that I don't have to worry about the evening chill having an effect.

Señor Brew™ said...

I wrote about how I modified and improved this thermostat for use in homebrewing in my blog here:

t addresses cameron's comment on the problem of the thermostat needing to be in the same heating/cooling chamber.

Jessie said...

I just started using this one. I extended the wire on the probe and installed a plug so that it can be easily disconnected. I currently have the probe taped to the side of the carboy and the thermostat turning on and off an electric heating pad on the opposite side of the carboy (which is wearing 3 of my hooded sweat-shirts over top). It works great. My next next goal is to use Senor Brew's ideas and make a second, alternate temp prob with a different thermistor to regulate the temps in my keg-orator to keep my keg temps perfect and not worry about freezing.
Thanks for a great idea!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...