48 hours… and I need a chiller.

With an active fermentation running – and the need to reclaim the utility room – I knew I would have to move my brewing out of the house and into the garage.

I have a nice section of the garage where I could store the carboys and other equipment, but I needed a way to control the temperature (garages in North Texas can be fairly warm). I considered a modified “swamp cooler” – basically a rubbermaid container filled with water that you basically chuck iced water bottles into, cover with a wet towel/t-shirt and blow air across it with a box fan – but that seemed a little too messy. I also needed a system to keep it warm in the garage during the winter months.

After a bit of research, I found some plans for a “son of Frankenstein” chiller. This would basically be an insulated box that I could build to regulate the temperature.

The build was pretty straightforward – I built a wooden shell 4.5 feet tall, with a width and depth of 2 feet. It has two chambers – the upper (where the carboys/fermenters are placed), and the lower (where the cooling/heating material is stored).

All three side are insulated with 2″ thick foam insulation sheets that were sealed with expanding foam.

On one corner of the base of the upper chamber I mounted a powerful computer fan which draws air up from the bottom chamber. On the opposite corner I drilled exhaust holes, creating a draft when the fan is running.

In the bottom chamber, I refill a flat pan every morning with an ice bath – along with 4 frozen water bottles. I drilled a hole in the side of the upper chamber that a siphon tube fits through in order to have my blow-off tube outside of the chiller.

chiller

I am going to add a permanent wooden door (insulated, of course) – but in the meantime, I am using an extra piece of the insulated foam attached with duct tape as I work on this.

It’s actually doing a fantastic job – the temperature in the garage ranges between 75-90 degrees at this time of the year – and my thermostat inside of the chiller has not surpassed 75 – it’s actually been maintaining a nice range between 70 and 72 degrees.

I should be able to set-up a relay to the fan to let the thermostat control when the fan is running (I’m currently running this manually) – and for the winter months, I will switch over to a heating pad in the lower chamber.

It’s not fancy, but I think it’s somewhat elegant in its simplicity… of course, only time and patience will tell.

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~ by brewdaddy on September 2, 2009.

One Response to “48 hours… and I need a chiller.”

  1. Diana is meeting me there to inspect.

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