Temp Control Devices

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Temp Control Devices

Postby Dr Strangebrew » Thu Dec 18, 2003 2:40 pm

I have been looking at purchasing a thermostat for my full-size beer fridge. I plan to do lagers in it year-round, but will probably do the occasional summer ale. The site that I'm looking at offers an analog with a 6 degree differntial. The digital one, which is twice as expensive has a 2 degree differential. I'm wondering if the extra money is worth getting greater sensitivty that my not even be needed because the temp of the fermenting wort/beer won't fluctuate as much as the ambient temp. I m thinking along the right track? Also, I am interested in hearing other people's experiences with these external thermostats. Thank you.
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Nate

Postby fitz » Thu Dec 18, 2003 2:54 pm

One thing is that the beer won't mind a 6 degree fluctuation that much. Actually a larger difference in temp will save your compressor fron the on/off cycling. Doesn't your fridge keep your beer cold enough, why the added expense. A controller would be great for a freezer that was made into a beer chest, but unless your fridge fluctuates wildly, a thermometer on the shelf or hung from a wall should do just fine.
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Yup, I'm with Fitz, save your $ $ $

Postby Azorean Brewer » Fri Dec 19, 2003 7:53 am

Nate,

A temp controller on a fridge will not do you any good. Fitz said it best, hang or place a Thermometer in the fridge and adjust your temp. According to your target temp.

I installed a 14.5 cu ft. chest freezer in my garage, I can get three Corni kegs, a c02 bottle, and 2 five gallon carboys in there, plus a case of bottled beer on the shelf in there, and still have a little spare room. I needed a temp controller, I bought the cheaper ($46 +/-) unit, I have a thermometer in there so I can "spot" check the temp and have never seen more than 4 degrees of differential. Hope this information helps.

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Just some thoughts floating around my head

Postby Dr Strangebrew » Fri Dec 19, 2003 9:43 am

Right now I have my fridge on the warmest setting and the thermometer reads 36 degrees F. This would be good for lagering, but I am concerned that it may be too cold for cold-fermenting. I am a big fan of whitelabs yeast and the lower limit for all most all of their lager yeasts is 50 degrees F. Assuming the ambient temp remains at 36 degrees F, when I put my fermenter in the fridge the wort will cool to 36 degrees, but on the other hand, without knowing boundary conditions, and I don't yet, but could possibly find them out, I have know way of knowing how long it will take for the wort to reach equilibrium temperature. Also, from experience I have reason to believe that the processes involved with fermenting have a net exothermic effect, i.e. the fermenting beer produces heat, thus increasing the time that would take for the wort to acheieve the equilibrium temp.

So basically are yout guys telling me is that wort will take such a long time to reach equilibrium that during fermentation it will probably ferment at the right temp anyway. I don't think that is unreasonable, we are after all talking about 5 gallons of liquid that will generate some 'extra' heat on its own anyway. I put two kegs in there yesterday afternoon, looks like I need to temp the beer. Thanks

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I have one and love it.

Postby jeff » Fri Dec 19, 2003 12:18 pm

I gather that you want the thermostat to regulate fermentation temperature and not to keep your kegs cold, right?

Standard issue refrigerator temperature control is generally too cool for fermenting lagers. I use my external thermostat to regulate my lager fermentation temperature in the middle of the summer.

It works perfect; I think mine claims a 3 to 4 degree fluctuation. I personally would not worry about the 6 degrees. But, I do recommend using an additional thermometer that you know is accurate instead of relying on the thermostat setting. I have to turn the dial lower than the actual temperature I want to achieve.

I think the cost for the thermostat is well worth avoiding the off-flavors associated with high fermentation temperatures. I put in at least 6 hours of time into each brewing session for my all-grain batches so I prefer not risking a less than perfect fermentation.
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I mis-read the first post, retraction

Postby Azorean Brewer » Fri Dec 19, 2003 1:12 pm

I mis-read the intent of the controller and thought that you wanted it for lagering / dispensing. I stand corrected, Jeff is right about being able to control the fridge for the right temp for fermenting vs. lagering. If you want to maintain a temperature in the say 45-55 degree range you will need a controller for either a fridge or freezer.

The analog unit is the one I have ($46.00 range) and again you have to use a thermometer in the fridge or freezer so you know what temp your controller is calibrated for. Mine too runs warmer than the setting by a 4-5 degree difference; (but I know this and compensate accordingly). If I set the unit at 40F I usually get 44-45.

Sorry for any wrong information I may have initially given.

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Oops

Postby fitz » Fri Dec 19, 2003 2:07 pm

I did too,
When I read beer fridge, I automatically went into the lager/dispense frame of mind. I didn't realize you are wanting to use your fridge as a fermentation chiller. Sorry about the mis-info.
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Thanks

Postby Dr Strangebrew » Fri Dec 19, 2003 2:43 pm

Thanks guys I think I'll go with the analog model.

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