Water based fermentation temp control

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Barr
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Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:19 pm

Ok so this is what I'm thinking. I usually brew ales and my basement brew room is usually not far off my desired temperature. I usually only need to change it 3 or 4 degrees at most.

My idea is to place my carboys in a tote filled with water, have a temperature controller wired up to two electric valves. One on the cold water line and one in hot water line. So when the controller calls for the temp to go down it opens the cold valve and cold water is piped into the tote. Same idea for hot. There will be a drain pipe installed in the tote wall a few inches from the top to allow water to exit and be piped down the drain. Anyone ever built something like this? Seen anything like this? Any concerns come to mind?
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Celiacbrew » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:37 pm

There are a few designs on homebrewtalk that aren't quite as sophisticated as yours. Most use a pump in a cooler attached to a temperature controller as their cold source and gravity for their overflow/return. I'm on my phone and I can't find the thread I am thinking of but I will take a look for it when I get to my desktop. It should have some ideas for you.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:46 pm

Yeah my well water is often around 9C so that should be cool enough to drop the temp a little. I'm thinking of just using 1/4 inch electric valves so it's a gentle flow. I already have hot and cold water lines running directly over my fermentation area and I can tap into them easily. I think this is a really cheap option especially for both hot and cold control. I'll just have the drain gravity feed as you say and drain into my laundry/brew sink.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by jeffsmith » Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:49 pm

Les, X is gearing up a cold water temp control rig for his conical:

http://brewnosers.org/forums/viewtopic. ... 756#p98529" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Different design, but same principle.

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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by mcgster » Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:47 pm

I use a tote filled with water and an aquarium heater for my fermentation control. I use a pump to circulate the water and i find this is an excellent way to control temps. I have a chiller as well from my old saltwater fish tank that i use to chill the water down if i have to. I have even used it to lager before but it maxes out around 45F. I never thought of using valves, it might work great for chilling it down but you would probably be better off using a submersible heater for heating, much more efficient as you will have lots of loss from the hot water heater to your valve. I paid about 25$ for my heater and it has worked wonderfully.

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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Celiacbrew » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:08 pm

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/water-f ... ler-81501/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; this is the thread I mentioned. They are using pumps instead of gates though, but some of the people get creative with it. I like your idea of tapping into your house's hot water supply for the heat. Please post pics once you get it going, I think I want to steal some of your ideas.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:38 pm

Our old farm had electric valves to water the animals on timers so that's what made me think of it. Plus my water heater is like three feet away so it should give enough heat to warm up the water in the tote. I'll probably run the water lines to the bottom of the tote into a rough manifold so it spreads out the incoming water. Then the water exiting will come off the top. It's not a huge swing one way or another that I need so in hoping this will do it.

A couple of these should do it.
http://www.amazon.ca/gp/aw/d/B00KXVN3QE ... SY165_QL70" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Celiacbrew » Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:40 pm

So the solenoid is closed all the time and when the temperature controller sees it going too high or low it sends power and opens the gate. That seems simple enough to hook up. I think you have an elegant solution there.

I want to be able to hook up several fermentors to the same cooling/heating system and be able to set each one to a different temperature. Those gates will make it work. I can continously pump the hot and cold all the time and when one fermentors needs to go up or down the gate opens and it will circulate around the fermentor and around the main loop at the same time.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:12 pm

Yeah you could have a bunch of these gates and different controllers going to different buckets or totes. I'm just planning on one tote big enough to hold two carboys for now but I could add another easily. I think I can do this for roughly $50.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:14 pm

I'm only looking to raise or lower the temp a few degrees. Not sure this would be very efficient with big temp changes.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by jtmwhyte » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:29 pm

Barr wrote:Ok so this is what I'm thinking. I usually brew ales and my basement brew room is usually not far off my desired temperature. I usually only need to change it 3 or 4 degrees at most.

My idea is to place my carboys in a tote filled with water, have a temperature controller wired up to two electric valves. One on the cold water line and one in hot water line. So when the controller calls for the temp to go down it opens the cold valve and cold water is piped into the tote. Same idea for hot. There will be a drain pipe installed in the tote wall a few inches from the top to allow water to exit and be piped down the drain. Anyone ever built something like this? Seen anything like this? Any concerns come to mind?
I used to do carboy in a large laundry basket and cold water /ice bottles combined with a cheap aquarium heater with a thermostat in it. Worked like a charm
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:55 pm

Had another idea today. You could use a washing machine valve set to control the water flow. Probably not hard to find a used set off of a broken machine.

http://www.amazon.ca/gp/aw/d/B0052TPU7M ... SY165_QL70" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by know1 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:20 pm

Barr wrote:I'm only looking to raise or lower the temp a few degrees. Not sure this would be very efficient with big temp changes.
if its only a few degrees you might be able to get away with evaporative cooling aka a swamp cooler. There are a bunch of sites and threads about it but basically you cover the carboy in a towel or some absorbent material resting in a shallow water pan to wick up moisture. Stick a fan in front of it and the evaporation can give you a couple degrees temperature drop. Less instantaneous response or precise but for a couple degrees it would be a heck of a lot cheaper and easier.

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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:36 pm

I think I want and little more automation than that. I don't really want to babysit it all the time.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:56 pm

Controller is coming along. Bought the wrong pid so now I'm waiting on the right unit to arrive. This is a MH1210 and I need a STC1000 that switches automactialy between heating and cooling. The braided pipes will tap into existing hot and cold lines and I'll put clear hose on the barbed tips that will dump water into the tote.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Celiacbrew » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:05 pm

So that controller only does temp in one direction? Is that the only difference with the STC-1000?
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:12 pm

Celiacbrew wrote:So that controller only does temp in one direction? Is that the only difference with the STC-1000?
It will heat or cool but you have to switch the modes manually. I wanted the one that switches automatically.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:25 pm

It works!!! Ok well the one valve works and once the new pid arrives I'll hook it up and then it will release both hot and cold water.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by chalmers » Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:19 am

Cool beans! (Or hot beans, depending on what you set it to)

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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Jayme » Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:30 pm

Cool! BTW, that's not actually a PID. You can actually make that controller work for both heating and cooling with a simple switch (you would have to still choose one or the other, but I'm guessing your ambient doesn't change that dramatically). Though if you already ordered a replacement, probably just as easy to change the temperature controller.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:20 pm

Yes I realize I could use it but I would have to be able to plying and unplug the different valves and I would have to always be on guard to switch it manually. The stc1000 arrived today and I'm installing it now so all is good. Thanks for the imput guys.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by Barr » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:53 pm

All put together and seems to be working well. I may decide to insulate the tote to make it more efficient but I am hoping to find a deeper one so I'll wait awhile and see what I can find.
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by CorneliusAlphonse » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:40 am

Great!! Is the temp sensor just floating in the tub?
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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by chalmers » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:00 pm

Liam raises a good point, you might want to secure it directly to the carboy, or use a thermowell. More accurately reflects the beer's temperature, who *really* cares what the surrounding water's temperature.

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Re: Water based fermentation temp control

Post by CorneliusAlphonse » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:38 pm

Yeah, the beer temp is most important, but there are considerations both ways. If it is floating in the water, you beer might be a degree or two warmer than the water/sensor. But if you have it attached to the carboy, it might fill your tub with 9° water until your carboy hits the right temp (say 20°). But then it will shut off, your beer temp could equalize with the surrounding water and end up with both things at 16° or something. Anyway just things to keep in mind! It is inspiring, I am going to try to figure out something similar but portable and cold water only...
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