DIY Brew Fridge

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DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:48

I am looking to build my own brew fridge this week.
I am scouting the web for a cheap old fridge, which shouldn't be too difficult, and I'll look to pick up one of these STC-1000 units you all seem to be talking about.

I just wanted to know how many of you went down this route, rate this idea, and also, an example of a kit list required to build such a thing.

Presumably, the only other things you will need (aside from the wiring of course) are some form of heating element (greenhouse heater maybe?), a project box to contain the wires etc and a bit of knowledge/common sense in the head!

It's be a great opportunity to share photos of your setup here, or just pipe in with any pro's / con's you have come across with your own setups.

Cheers!
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby krazypara3165 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 13:05

There's a few in my old thread,

as you can see its pretty simple. I have them set up on a fridge and a chest freezer now so I can do a double brew day as I'm brewing a lot for a party.

Things to note, you can use a fridge or a freezer, I prefer a freezer as i can crash chill or lager to minus 1 with no issues. Downsides are its a pain lifting the FV into it and they do not have drain holes so you need a cloth at the bottom to soak up moisture.

Kegged:
Simecoe APA (HBF Donation)

Bottled:
Galaxy Pale Ale, Woodfordes Wherry, Bella Brew Pale Ale, Strawberry and vanilla Pale Ale, Mixed fruits cider, Elderflower and grapefruit fizz.

Maturing:
Rhubarb Wine, WOW rose', Elderberry wine, Mixed berries wine, Elderflower and grapefruit wine, Elderberry wine.

Next Up:
German Pilsner, Guinness Clone, Chateau De Roi selection kit, Strawberry and lime cider.
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Tue Feb 23, 2016 13:10

krazypara3165 wrote:There's a few in my old thread,

as you can see its pretty simple. I have them set up on a fridge and a chest freezer now so I can do a double brew day as I'm brewing a lot for a party.

Things to note, you can use a fridge or a freezer, I prefer a freezer as i can crash chill or lager to minus 1 with no issues. Downsides are its a pain lifting the FV into it and they do not have drain holes so you need a cloth at the bottom to soak up moisture.


Sorry i did do a search first of all, but didn't find an existing thread so I started a new one - Must have missed it!
It defo sounds like an idea I want to embrace, so I'll be on the look out for a fridge this week.

Talk to me about "Crash cooling" though, I've come across this phrase a lot recently.
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby donnyos » Tue Feb 23, 2016 13:53

My only advice for fridges would be Gumtree which was by far my best source. I preferred a wide tall larder fridge so you can get all sorts in there. I picked up a wide Bosch for £10 this way but had to watch and react quickly as gumtree is not like an auction.
Fridge widths vary and I needed wider than normal for my 50l Sansone fermenter but measure what you need first and check things will fit.
You can't use glass shelves for fermenters safely so think about building a wooden shelf on the bottom for these. I still use the glass shelves for yeast starters and bottle conditioning and position them to remove wasted space above fermenters.
I use a 60w tube heater for heat on fridge floor and use an AGA oven shelf above that on a wooden frame.
Can't comment on that stc temp controller as I built mine 8 years ago using an aussie TempMate 16a controller. I put long socket leads and plug leads on mine which I like as I use my controller to for example get mash water up to temperature while I'm sleeping and it's cheap so I can come downstairs and have my mash all ready to go in the morning!
I also found tatty looking fridges are pretty much given away as people upgrade and I chose a Germany make for reliability!
I also chose to use the drain hole at back to get my cables in for sensor probe and heater cable- this means I don't need to open door to check temperature as a long probe cable means my controller sits outside.
And lastly as I drilled no holes and I kept old glass shelves it can be used as an emergency fridge by the wife at christmas or so she thinks.
For not much money a brew fridge and controller made an enormous difference to my beer quality
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Tue Feb 23, 2016 14:02

donnyos wrote:My only advice for fridges would be Gumtree which was by far my best source. I preferred a wide tall larder fridge so you can get all sorts in there. I picked up a wide Bosch for £10 this way but had to watch and react quickly as gumtree is not like an auction.
Fridge widths vary and I needed wider than normal for my 50l Sansone fermenter but measure what you need first and check things will fit.
You can't use glass shelves for fermenters safely so think about building a wooden shelf on the bottom for these. I still use the glass shelves for yeast starters and bottle conditioning and position them to remove wasted space above fermenters.
I use a 60w tube heater for heat on fridge floor and use an AGA oven shelf above that on a wooden frame.
Can't comment on that stc temp controller as I built mine 8 years ago using an aussie TempMate 16a controller. I put long socket leads and plug leads on mine which I like as I use my controller to for example get mash water up to temperature while I'm sleeping and it's cheap so I can come downstairs and have my mash all ready to go in the morning!
I also found tatty looking fridges are pretty much given away as people upgrade and I chose a Germany make for reliability!
I also chose to use the drain hole at back to get my cables in for sensor probe and heater cable- this means I don't need to open door to check temperature as a long probe cable means my controller sits outside.
And lastly as I drilled no holes and I kept old glass shelves it can be used as an emergency fridge by the wife at christmas or so she thinks.
For not much money a brew fridge and controller made an enormous difference to my beer quality


Its for all these reasons why i want to build one.
My buckets are fairly wide so I will definitely need something large enough to house it. Some fridges have those really awkward "half shelves" at the bottom where your crisper box would sit, so i need to either avoid those or build an extension on to it to create a full shelf - only problem there is you lose just shy of a foot of space!

Finding the right fridge should be pretty simple though, just need to keep my eyes peeled!
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby krazypara3165 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 14:19

Oh, just make sure if you do go for a under counter fridge that it does not have the freezer box in the corner! you'll find that most fv's will comfortably fit in a fridge with the crisper box anyway.

Crash cooling is simply cooling the beer down after fermentation as low as you can to help clear it up a little but its certainly not essential.

Kegged:
Simecoe APA (HBF Donation)

Bottled:
Galaxy Pale Ale, Woodfordes Wherry, Bella Brew Pale Ale, Strawberry and vanilla Pale Ale, Mixed fruits cider, Elderflower and grapefruit fizz.

Maturing:
Rhubarb Wine, WOW rose', Elderberry wine, Mixed berries wine, Elderflower and grapefruit wine, Elderberry wine.

Next Up:
German Pilsner, Guinness Clone, Chateau De Roi selection kit, Strawberry and lime cider.
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby donnyos » Tue Feb 23, 2016 14:20

I agree! Most I looked at had that box at bottom and half depth too as the compressor unit takes up that space. When I worked out how much space I needed for tube heater and a solid wooden frame to stand fermenter on I took decision that a larder fridge gives options for fat and wide and long and thin like cornies. And it has my HLT on top. And it's easier to clean than a freezer especially when yeast escapes from a fermenter.
Good luck.
Sometimes I enjoy the sourcing and diy around brewing as much fun as the final product!
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby DethApostle » Tue Feb 23, 2016 14:34

Camel Slayer, my STC build might be of use to you?
http://forum.craftbrewing.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=8555

Enjoy!
DA

Serving: AG37: Smoked Chipotle Porter, AG41: Maibock
Bottled: AG3: The GPSE, AG14: Plum Porter, AG 25: Russian Imperial Stout
Conditioning: AG42: Rye Saison
Fermenting: AG43: Banoffe Gose
Planning: AG44: tbc
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby GrowlingDog » Tue Feb 23, 2016 14:39

I have a standard undercounter fridge.

It could hold one of the mango chutney bins as a fermenter which held about 45 Litres, or a BrewBucket.

Image


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DIY Brew Fridge

Postby f00b4r » Tue Feb 23, 2016 14:55

A couple of things you might want to take into consideration:

If getting a fridge try and get one without moulded bits in the middle of the door, in case they get in the way (most just have bits at the side to drop in removable shelves but not all).

Consider having custom individual length trailing rather than mounted sockets for your controller, this means not having to add extension leads because your fridge is too tall or the power is too far away.
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Tue Feb 23, 2016 15:00

f00b4r wrote:A couple of things you might want to take into consideration:

If getting a fridge try and get one without moulded bits in the middle of the door, in case they get in the way (most just have bits at the side to drop in removable shelves but not all).

Consider having custom individual length trailing rather than mounted sockets for your controller, this means not having to add extension leads because your fridge is too tall or the power is too far away.


Yeah I'll have a tinker around in the cellar to see where I will set up and where the power points will be in relation to where I will keep the fridge/controller. Trailing sockets would be advantageous, so I'll keep that in mind ta!
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby PhatFil » Tue Feb 23, 2016 22:23

well i built mty brewfridge, and it turned out to be too small for the old brewbucket, - Not the end of the world, i just switched to different FV's 25l and 30l jerrycans...
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Wed Feb 24, 2016 11:27

Found a tall fridge for a small fee, should be ideal for my FV and plenty of room for bottles etc too.
Got my 1' 60W heating element ordered too, so just my STC-1000 setup to sort now.
I've gone from having no kit whatsoever, to this in the space of a week haha.
I hope I'm good at it...!

Edit: A question on the size of the fridge here. Its quite a tall one at 5'6. Would this extra air space impact on the fermentation at all do you think?
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby donnyos » Wed Feb 24, 2016 11:54

Well done ! No impact on fermentation in my opinion but I do use an old shelf and bit of plastic to reduce the size of the fridge air volume that the heater or fridge needs to control for more and quicker response times. It'll save money too. Using the glass shelf means a fridge light still shines where it's needed and I put it a few inches above my fermenter with a blowout tube or airlock depending on how full and violent I expect the fermentation to be
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby PhatFil » Wed Feb 24, 2016 13:40

as long as you keep the door shut, it will have little impact, regualr opening of the fridge will drop all the cooler air out needing energy/input from the cooling to refresh it.

I dont see any mention of a fan in your build, as its the air in the fridge thats the medium of heat exchange a small pc fan powered off a dc power brick running 24/7 inside the fridge will ensure the air is a homogeneous temp within and will maximise the effect from both the cold and heat radiators..
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Wed Feb 24, 2016 13:42

PhatFil wrote:as long as you keep the door shut, it will have little impact, regualr opening of the fridge will drop all the cooler air out needing energy/input from the cooling to refresh it.

I dont see any mention of a fan in your build, as its the air in the fridge thats the medium of heat exchange a small pc fan powered off a dc power brick running 24/7 inside the fridge will ensure the air is a homogeneous temp within and will maximise the effect from both the cold and heat radiators..


Have you found the fan to be a necessity?
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby AltonAnt » Wed Feb 24, 2016 14:17

xCamel xSlayer wrote:Have you found the fan to be a necessity?


It will give much better control.
As Phatfil mentioned, it is the air that changes the temps so keeping it circulating is what keeps the temps consistent.
I have a couple of 240v 10cm fans, one wired in parallel with both the cooling and heating in my 6ft Beko.
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby PhatFil » Wed Feb 24, 2016 22:28

fwiw i use x pc case fans with an old 12v dc powerbrick, the bell wire flex fits inside via the condensation drain hole easily enough and the first one lasted well over 2 years running 24/7 with the fridge in use. #2 has been in for almost 3 years but has not had much use of late..

Buy a commercial fridge or top end domestic fridge and it will contain a fan..

Just dont do what i did and epoxy the fan to the fridge inside, when my #1 fan did die i had to gut it and use its empty frame as a mount for #2 DOH!!
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby Springer » Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:26

xCamel xSlayer wrote:Have you found the fan to be a necessity?

+1 as the boys say.

So not quite a necessity, but will be much better with one. :)

Some of my observations from a while back

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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:34

I'm a little unsure how to set the temp probe up in the fridge to get the optimum reading.
I read through DA's setup thread but I'm still not 100%.

Ive read that people insulate the probe with a sponge or bubble wrap before sticking to the side of the FV. Is that the best way to go?

Also, does the STC override the fridge thermostat or do I need to set that to zero/max?
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby supersteve » Sun Mar 13, 2016 13:00

I selotape a jay-cloth to the temp probe, so the temp probe goes on the outside of the FV and the jay cloth goes on top and it gets selotaped so that the probe is against the fv..

set the thermostat to max because the stc will switch off when at temp.
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby Aleman » Sun Mar 13, 2016 15:35

xCamel xSlayer wrote:I'm a little unsure how to set the temp probe up in the fridge to get the optimum reading.
I read through DA's setup thread but I'm still not 100%.

Ive read that people insulate the probe with a sponge or bubble wrap before sticking to the side of the FV. Is that the best way to go?

With the BrewPi you have one in the Fridge, and one in the wort. with my STC / PID set ups I always had a probe in the wort using a Thermowell. I think you get slightly better control using a probe in the wort than one taped to the side . . . even with insulation . . . However what is 0.5 or 1C in all actuality the difference between 19 and 20C. If you are interested in reproducability then go with a Probe in a thermowell. Either approach will give more than good enough temperature control!

xCamel xSlayer wrote:Also, does the STC override the fridge thermostat or do I need to set that to zero/max?

Set the fridge thermostat to maximum cooling, then use the STC to control the temp

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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby PhatFil » Sun Mar 13, 2016 16:54

after running tests heating a fv containing water i discovered a significant delay in heat penetrating the bulk when applied from the outside in. and a high risk of the perimetr liquid overheating before the core hits target temps

a busy ferment with lots of co2 bubbling up will be more turbulent and mix in the heat change more efficiently but th start and end of fermentation will be closer too the still water test conditions in my opinion hence my choice to measure the fv temp at the wall and as close to the point of effect.
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Sun Mar 13, 2016 17:34

Did anyone need to open up the drain hole a little to get their cables through? Mine is tiny so I've found so I might need to drill through it.
I know the motor is directly below the hole but I've got a good few inches gap between the exit pipe and the motor, but am I likely to damage anything by opening it up by a mm or so?
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Re: DIY Brew Fridge

Postby xCamel xSlayer » Sun Mar 13, 2016 17:46

Ignore that, a little veg oil helped it through!
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