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I am deciding to go for one of those temperature controlled devices to control my fermentation temp. I have a spare fridge in the garage to use , so that side is sorted. I do have a few questions:
what temperature control unit am i best to get ? there are some that i understand only do cool OR heat, and there are some that do cool AND heat?
if i have to get a heating device, what am I best off to get, a heating belt, heating pad or something else? i ferment in a standard plastic 30ltr bucket.
what is the best way to fix the temperature probe ? some mention to fix it to the outside of the fermentation bucket, wrapped in bubble wrap, others suggest to fix it somehow inside the fermentation bucket? i understand this last suggestion makes more sense to get a more accurate reading, but any suggestions on how to do this and make is sanitary possible and not leak?
any do or don't's I should be aware of?
also, I am looking at oxygenating the wort, before adding the yeast. would using a fish pond pump and air stone be a good option?
I can fit multiple carboys into my fridges so prefer not to use a heatpad, I like DampChaser as the heat source and a computer fan... I think the fan is more needed to spread the cold then the
Cant go past an STC-1000 and a jaycar box, all up about $60 worth of bits etc. I duct tape a piece of yoga mat to the carboy and put probe inside against glass.
I epoxy glued a stainless oxygen stone onto end of a stainless racking cane for oxygen and use an oxygen bottle off a welding set.
I think if you have good temp control and pitch enough yeast (Probably more then you think, or a big starter) then you dont tech need the oxygen but for high gravity beers or lagers they seem to finish lower with it then without, for around 1.050+ beers just plenty of yeast will get the job done. IE 2 packs of dry or a 2L starter. You need to get to know the yeast you prefer and how much gives you a good result.
I use a Keg King Mk!! dual temp controller. Cost me $90 as I am hopeless at wiring things. I use a heat pad in the fridge as the heat source and I maintained 18c easily this winter (although it was pretty mild this year in the Hawkes Bay) could also ramp up to 20c for diacytel rest no probs,
I attach the prob on the side of the fermentor (plastic coopers one) under a fat piece of foam. I haven't done any comparison between the temp at the side and the internal temp of the fermenting wort.
I get my wort down to pitching temp prior to pitching and just pour the wort into the fermentor creating a fair bit of oxygen so can't help out with the oxygenating questions.
Anyone tried a wine fridge?? would look pretty nice with glass door and no real mods required if operating temps worked.
Get the above. I have the more basic version that isn't programmable and it's great. Well made easy to use etc etc. Has heat and cool controll and with the above you can programme different fermentation steps/profiles.
A few good options there. Like peter I have a damp chaser heater and think heating the air is a better bet for not over heating any of the beer than heating a small section of the fermenter. Also a while back I was thinking of putting a probe into my fermenter and decided not to, my logic being:
If the probe is in the air heating and cooling will undershoot a long way but over time but over time get closer to set point.
If the probe is in the middle of the beer the heating and cooling will overshoot, that is if its heating by the time the middle of the beer is at set point the air and the outside of the beer are hotter so the beer temp will keep rising as this balances out and maybe even need cooling to bring back to set point which may also be and overshoot. So you could easily end up with a cycle of over heating then over cooling to compensate then having to heat again. Which seems much worse to me than under shooting but building to set point.
If you could be bothered you could probably work out the optimal position for the probe in your beer I'm guessing about 1/3 of the radius of the vessel with a bit of variation depending on heating and cooling power, but on the outside of the fermenter with a bit of yoga mat or bubble wrap or something for insulation is probably pretty close, giving you a smaller undershoot than if it was in the air but enough of an undershoot to eliminate the chance of overshoot.
What's the reason behind insulating the probe?
It's so you measure the temperature of the beer not the air in the chamber - there can be a significant difference - especially when your fermentation is in full swing.
Right, so a piece of foam to cover the probe should be used. I get ya. Guess I'll need to look for some foam!
Anything that will insulate it from the air in your fridge / chamber would be fine - I just fold up a couple of paper towels.
or a bit of cardboard box