Author Topic: Freezer fermentor  (Read 499 times)

Offline Marine brewer

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Freezer fermentor
« on: January 01, 2017, 01:31:32 AM »
Hello. Just got a home brew kit for Christmas and I am addicted! OK, so now the learning curve is steep. I've made several trips to the local home brew shop and bought more stuff. While my first kit is fermenting, the temps are dependent on what room in the house I move it too. so, I want to buy and convert a freezer to control temp. The freezer needs to do the following: I need to use it as a frig to keep beer cold and will use a thermostat like Johnson controller. Next, it must be able to age deer meat in the fall, so shelves must be removable, or some stay in place. Next, to brew beer, it needs to be in the 60s to 80s. Is that right? My fist batch is 68-75. Will installing a separate thermostat and having the original compressor drive temps to anything from 35 to 80ish be a problem for any of the components of the original freezer? next, If the Johnson control unit works to start the compressor when temperatures rise, how to I keep temperatures warm enough when needed?

Offline Oginme

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Re: Freezer fermentor
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2017, 05:27:50 AM »
I converted a refrigerator into a fermenting chamber.  I chose a fridge over a freezer because the compressor can stand more of the start-stop actions than those found in most freezers.  I use a heating tape hooked up to the heating output of the temperature controller and attached to the walls of the refrigerator to supply warmth when needed.  It is a gentle type of heating and as such does not cause a lot of cycling of temperatures up and down while trying to control.  This causes any lag in temperature to be on the low side, which, IMHO, is better for the yeast fermenting rather than allowing it to run on the high side of the set point.

When you get the controller, check the lag setting for the controller.  This is a delay in response between switching between heating and cooling and will save a lot of wear and tear on the compressor if set at a reasonable level.

I am sure others will chime in with their experiences and recommendations!
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Offline Marine brewer

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Re: Freezer fermentor
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 11:27:04 PM »
Hello. I forgot to mention, I wanted a freezer to be used as a back-up freezer if needed. They are also insulated better. Also since my first post, I read on another blog there are many who prefer the freezer but in the chest variety.  I have one now but its always in use to keep food frozen. After some research, I found the perfect Kenmore freezer and off to Sears I went. This was also after several on line chats with their reps. Turns out, they do not have a freezer with manual defrost that allows one to remove the shelves. So,  I go with another brand, or with a chest, or with a standup fridge.  If i buy a freezer, how often do the defrost cycles run, and what triggers them?  If perhaps I don't get it under 40 degrees, it will never go into defrost mode since the coils will not need it. But if the controller is just on time, it will run and throw off fermentor temps. Any new suggestions?

Offline Marine brewer

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Re: Freezer fermentor
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 11:33:31 PM »
Oginme,
Hello again. Well after more research it seems manual defrost is an important quality to avoid temperature swings during defrost cycles.  The only freezers with a manual defrost are the chest type, or upright models with fixed shelving (another disqualified).  So, my research as lead me as it has you.  Now, I am looking at upright freezer-less refrigerators but am concerned they too have a defrost cycles. Is that true?  All I can learn from the Sears reps is that the refrigerators are frost free. Any advise on choosing the right model? features, etc. How do I tell if a defrost cycle exists or if its manual or not?  Thanks.

Offline Oginme

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Re: Freezer fermentor
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 05:58:43 AM »
I am not formally trained in cooling systems and so can offer only what I have learned.  Straight refrigerators (no freezer section built in) can also be frost-free, but there is a difference in their cycles.  For refrigerators, the reversal in temperature is only enough to defrost the coils and not the rest of the refrigerator.  With the freezer attached, the heating cycle needs to be enough to just raise the rest of the freezer section to prevent/allow moisture to leave the surfaces, so the chamber temperature must be raised and not just the coils.

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Re: Freezer fermentor
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2017, 09:22:32 PM »
I looked up an old appliance pro that we have used before and gave him a call. Wish I had done that sooner. So, he said about what you did but more importantly, he is also willing to assist with taking out or installing a switch on any automatic defrost system.   Better yet, this allows me to choose the one the best fits and has all the other characteristics I like. It may take some time to get this done but I'll keep you posted. Thanks again.