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Simple Conical Fermenter Cooler Idea. Will this work?

 
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18DPA



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 110
Location: Kuwait


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:39 pm    Post subject: Simple Conical Fermenter Cooler Idea. Will this work? Reply with quote


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Any and all ideas, advice, plans, criticisim, etc would be greatly appreciated.

I'm renting a poorly insulated house in central texas and now have a Plastic conical fermenter. I Don't have room for another fridge to put the conical in to control temps, but I have room near the keggerator and don't mind punching some holes in the freezer to do this.

Cost is a big part of this, also simplicity. Lets go as cheap and easy as possible. I've seen some really involved systems and would rather just go back to Carboy in the rubbermaid with water/wet T-shirt for the summer months.

I have the spare coils and plenty of hoses laying around.

An aquarium pump would be my first idea but I don't know if they could handle the frozen liquid glycol.

From reading other similar minded posts I know I would have to insulate the lines.

I think I need to create a way to bleed all the air out of the system or the pump would cavitate. Yes/no?

Ambient Temp in the house when we are gone is around 85 F. If we try to lower that our Electric bill goes upwards of $300 and the wife really doesn't dig that. I would like to keep it ale temps only. I have a Corny for Lagers that fits inside the keggerator.


Thanks for any help.



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cscade



Joined: 23 Feb 2012
Posts: 140
Location: Wooster, OH


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have any hands on experience with glycol, but I have spent many hours looking into it. Based on what little I know, I would say an aquarium pump will certainly not handle this load. Glycol mixes take a lot of work to move around, and the rate of flow needs to be tuned to the thermal characteristics of the system as a whole.

If your primary directives on this are cost and simplicity, I think glycol is the wrong way to be looking. Glycol is pretty much the rolls royce of thermal control in brewing.

All that said, if you're sure you want to go this way, the brewhemoth immersion chiller would work well in your application, and I hear the guys over there are happy to work on custom orders. http://brewhemoth.com/immersion-chiller

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18DPA



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 110
Location: Kuwait


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cscade wrote:
I don't have any hands on experience with glycol, but I have spent many hours looking into it. Based on what little I know, I would say an aquarium pump will certainly not handle this load. Glycol mixes take a lot of work to move around, and the rate of flow needs to be tuned to the thermal characteristics of the system as a whole.

If your primary directives on this are cost and simplicity, I think glycol is the wrong way to be looking. Glycol is pretty much the rolls royce of thermal control in brewing.

All that said, if you're sure you want to go this way, the brewhemoth immersion chiller would work well in your application, and I hear the guys over there are happy to work on custom orders. http://brewhemoth.com/immersion-chiller
Quote:


I didn't think Propylene Glycol was that much more dense especially if I go 50/50 with water? I know I'm probably going to get roasted for considering having antifreeze even in the same room as the the precious. But If its all sealed up I don't see the harm especially since its water soluble and easy to clean up. If it is thicker Pump suggestions?

If I move the coil from the freezer to the fridge part of the keggerator and ran water would that be more feasible?

Brewhemoth is where I got the idea. But their sight is pretty spartan for anything past the beautiful coil they sell.

Thanks!


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cscade



Joined: 23 Feb 2012
Posts: 140
Location: Wooster, OH


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I couldn't give you a useful pump suggestion, I'm sorry. The density of the liquid will vary with temperature, and you're pumping a closed loop through 2 coils. That's a lot of friction loss. I can't predict exactly how much, I am only speaking from what I have read.

I would think that coil-in-fridge and using water would be far simpler, at the expense of slower changes to control temp and higher floor on chilling capability. You mention you're only looking for Ale temps though, so it would probably be fine. If using water, insulating all the lines very well will be even more important.

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18DPA



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 110
Location: Kuwait


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cscade wrote:
I couldn't give you a useful pump suggestion, I'm sorry. The density of the liquid will vary with temperature, and you're pumping a closed loop through 2 coils. That's a lot of friction loss. I can't predict exactly how much, I am only speaking from what I have read.

I would think that coil-in-fridge and using water would be far simpler, at the expense of slower changes to control temp and higher floor on chilling capability. You mention you're only looking for Ale temps though, so it would probably be fine. If using water, insulating all the lines very well will be even more important.


Yes I was thinking about the closed loop and wondering also if that would end up blowing up in my face. I just remembered I also have a 1/2 hp, self priming sump pump (Lowes 75$) that handled Boiling hot wort very well. I wonder how it would do down at near zero temps. The impeller is rubber. but stainless head.

I would much rather go with Water in the lines as it is far simpler I just wonder how good the heat exchange would be.

BTW I really like the "S" on your caps. Great Graphic design. Also how goes the basement? Great post!!

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mvakoc



Joined: 19 Sep 2011
Posts: 111
Location: Evergreen, CO


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I put together something similar so can offer some insight.

I had a stainless steel conical that I wanted to cool. I wrapped the outside of the conical in copper coil as tightly as I could. I didn't want to cut holes or have anything hanging in the conical as I didn't want to damage the conical in case it didn't work. It was hard to get the copper coil to wrap tightly around the conical. I got 8 or so revolutions and covered it with some insulation.

I had a chest freezer used for serving beer (so 38 or so degrees) near by. I had to pump the coolant up over, across, and down the other side of a sliding glass door to the conical. I used 1/2" tubing (the not so flexible white opaque kind found at lowes).

The coolant was food grade glycol in case some got somewhere it wasn't supposed to. It was held in a 5 gallon corny keg in the fridge/freezer. Note: I needed a large reservoir, all 5 gallons. Using a bucket with smaller amounts did not provide enough cooling power. Again, this was at fridge temps and not freezer.

Now to the pumps. I initially tried a 12V (running of 120V AC with an old laptop power supply) bilge pump. It did not have enough power. Next I tried a submersible utility pump. It had plenty of power but during the operation it would heat up, and thus heat the glycol very quickly defeating the purpose. I finally got a Surflo 120V diaphragm pump used for permanent RV hookups. The pump worked well, didn't heat the solution, and could be well outside the corny (no priming issues). It was loud and vibrates a lot so must be properly mounted.

It was controlled off my PID based controller I built (it uses a 40 foot reptile heating cable wrapped around the conical to heat). The alarm was used to turn on cooling if it got too high. The temp is sensed using an RTD sensor in a 20" thermowell that reads the center of the conical. Side note: this heating system works perfectly and maintains temps exactly.

In the end it worked ok in the sense that it did actually cool the fermenter. I abandoned it for a couple of reasons: 1. it was annoyingly loud, 2. I decided it was best to maintain room temperature under typical ferment temps then use my conical heat if necessary, 3. my chest freezer has room for 4 kegs and I didn't want to give up a whole slot for the coolant, and 4. I now have two conicals and didn't want to bother doing it for conical #2. I'll probably get a portable A/C unit if the room gets too hot (it is a very small room so would be easy to cool).
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18DPA



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 110
Location: Kuwait


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mvakoc: Thanks for all that. I hadn't even thought about how hot the pump itself will get the liquid. I could put it on the return side if that is the case. I have a 3 tap system with room for a 4th Corny in the keggerator and using that as a reservoir could be a possibility. I did read on one persons post that they did something similar and their fridge ended up running constantly trying to cool the reservoir.

I'm sooooo going to have to build it and test it outside of the actual system before I run it next to the precious.

Just did some reading on probrwer.com: This is a rabbit hole with wallpaper made of money.

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Ben58



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 337
Location: Hamilton, Ontario


PostLink    Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did exactly what you pictured in your first post. I have 2 Brewhemoths cooled with Little Giant condensate pumps and heated with small heating pads ( for your back etc. ) these are controlled by a e-bay aquarium controller. The fermentors have thermowells installed in the cone.
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cscade



Joined: 23 Feb 2012
Posts: 140
Location: Wooster, OH


PostLink    Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to bet that the pump you're talking about would be well suited!

Thanks for the compliment! Sadly, I can't take responsibility for the "S" itself, only the use. I purchased a license to the font used from the author, for both commercial and personal use. I have long term plans to use it as part of my commercial logo, when I open a packaging brewery - a life dream. Here's the iteration that will appear on the electric brewery panel, which I have modified to remove the redundancy that the E's would otherwise introduce to the logo;



The basement is coming along great! I should be operational within a month, if all goes to plan. Cheers!

18DPA wrote:
Yes I was thinking about the closed loop and wondering also if that would end up blowing up in my face. I just remembered I also have a 1/2 hp, self priming sump pump (Lowes 75$) that handled Boiling hot wort very well. I wonder how it would do down at near zero temps. The impeller is rubber. but stainless head.

I would much rather go with Water in the lines as it is far simpler I just wonder how good the heat exchange would be.

BTW I really like the "S" on your caps. Great Graphic design. Also how goes the basement? Great post!!

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18DPA



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 110
Location: Kuwait


PostLink    Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben58 wrote:
I did exactly what you pictured in your first post. I have 2 Brewhemoths cooled with Little Giant condensate pumps and heated with small heating pads ( for your back etc. ) these are controlled by a e-bay aquarium controller. The fermentors have thermowells installed in the cone.


2 Brewhemoths!!! WOW WOW WOW. Maybe next year. The wife is still a bit in shock at the cost of the clone of Kal's set up I've been purchasing.

Thanks for the info. I'm curious why everyone goes for aquarium controllers instead of Rancos. Is it a price issue?

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Ben58



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PostLink    Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your quite welcome. As to the contollers, they were cheap and the control box was an easy build. Going forward, the coils in the fermentors are being changed out for 3/8" tubing from the 1/4" and I am adding small power steering coolers into the freezer, for a lttle more cooling capacity. Insulation wise, I used the high density foam matts used for camping.
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18DPA



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 110
Location: Kuwait


PostLink    Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben58 wrote:
Your quite welcome. As to the contollers, they were cheap and the control box was an easy build. Going forward, the coils in the fermentors are being changed out for 3/8" tubing from the 1/4" and I am adding small power steering coolers into the freezer, for a lttle more cooling capacity. Insulation wise, I used the high density foam matts used for camping.


Thats genius with the Power steering cooler. It looks like a little radiator that you usually bolt to the front of your normal radiator? Autozone $19.00!!

Do you have some type of resovior or a closed loop system?



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Ben58



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
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Location: Hamilton, Ontario


PostLink    Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Little giant condensate pumps, which have a small resevoir. This is what I am using - Little Giant VCMA-20ULS 1/30 HP Automatic Condensate Removal Pump, 6' Power Cord (554425). Half gallon resevoir. Just rewired it to bypass the float switch and be controlled by the controller.
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chutracheese



Joined: 06 Oct 2011
Posts: 97



PostLink    Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great thread-exactly what I was thinking about trying with the 15 Ace Roto Mold Conical.
Ben - are you happy with your system? Any chance of posting pictures?
Are you using glycol? Do you think RV antifreeze would work?
Thanks guys!


Last edited by chutracheese on Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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18DPA



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 110
Location: Kuwait


PostLink    Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guys I found this thread at HBT and after buying all the parts minus the cooler I'm about $400 into it. Not bad!! In a couple weeks when I get home and build my own I'll post pics and results.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/15-gallon-conical-fermenter-cooling-system-333151/

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