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Fermentation chamber help

I’ve been looking at different types of fermentation chambers to help me maintain some temperature control, and made a decision to make or get one a few months ago after seeing an awesome one that was created by my friend, Lewy. I was lucky enough to get a hold of a commercial refrigerator second hand and have decided to set it up for my needs. At first I thought I would paint the glass doors with chalkboard paint so that I could keep light out and use the surface to keep track of what’s happening inside (it will hold at least 8 carboys). But now I’m hesitating to paint over all that nice glass. The chamber will be in my garage and will be exposed to light like you might expect most things in a garage would. I open the garage when using it and sometimes leave it open when the kids are riding bikes or I’m doing yard work. Should I worry about the light and paint the glass doors? Or should I let it be? Thoughts?

You could keep the glass for display purposes and make some kind of black out cover. A thick curtain, some kind of plywood sliding door?

I would seriously love that thing. I’ll end up with a mini fridge in the end of a plywood box or a chest freezer with temp control.

How about just getting some cheap, dark window tint? It’s not expensive and you can always peel it off if you don’t like it.

Maybe this is because I am new to brewing, but I enjoy looking at my fermenters. If you dark out the glass you will have to open the doors everytime you want to see what is going on. You could use a black table cloth and put a strip of one sided sticky velcro on the table cloth and the fridge. This way you can velcro it up to keep the light out and then tear it away to see what is going on inside. Velcro was a great invention and cheap at your local hardware store. The table cloth would be pretty cheap as well and it will look good.

Why not cover the carboys? Get some thick black fabric and sew some jackets. If you ever want to sell the fridge you’ll want the glass clear.

Dark window tint on one or both sides of the glass will work great.

You can remove with warm soapy water and a new razor blade at a later date, if you wanted.

I believe the UV spectrum of light is the only thing you really need to protect the beer from. Something like window tinting that only filters UV would work, but I have no idea if such a thing even exists. Nice score though. Good luck!

old towels/t shirts work great to keep the light out of carboys. btw thats a nice ass fridge. ive been looking for something like that with the sliding doors you see at convenience stores. good score!

Lots of great ideas…

I hadn’t even thought of tinting the doors and that’s a great option! I like the idea of fashioning something less permanent because it would be nice to see through the glass at times. If the UV wasn’t an issue, there’s no way I’d want to cover it up. I just don’t know if having something like a sheet covering it would make me happy. I wish I could make it like those eyeglasses that darken when the sun hits them (Transitions???).

I don’t plan to open it very often to conserve energy, so I think I’m going to find out more about the window tint and see about the cost. Otherwise, I might stick with the original plan of using the chalkboard paint. Unless anyone else has other ideas.

It’ll hold 8 carboys just on the bottom section alone. There should be plenty of room for kegs and bottles that are aging/cellaring on the shelves. Bought the temperature controller online earlier today!

If you wanted to keep the light out, but not ruin the glass, you can glue paper to it using wallpaper glue, and then paint the paper. The wall paper glue is pretty easy to get off. I did that to a window in the bathroom. (IDK who decided it would be a good idea for a window in the bathroom). When I moved out I just used soapy water to remove the wallpaper. It came off much easier than it comes off of walls.

I put 1/2" styrofoam on my glass to keep the sun out and the cold in. Mine is a single door so it is a bit easier to attach the foam. I affixed it with double back tape, on yours you could put a sheet on the inside of one door and the outside of the other.

These refrigerators are not cheap to run and the foam helps a lot with keeping the cycling down.

I haven’t taken a picture of it since I added the foam but here it is without…

I like your original idea of chalk board paint, but do also understand the want to be able to see inside. Having said that, I like this idea above. Or why not start buying better bottles. They keep out UV light.

Do you have a reference to back this up? Given that I already have some BBs I would certainly be interested in that if it’s true. But I’m somewhat sceptical of that claim.

I like the foam insulation idea. It helps with the energy conservation and I can remove it when necessary. The problem is that since the doors slide back and forth across one another, there might not be much room for anything thick. I spoke with a window tinting business this morning and they will do the tinting, but cautioned me about the result because there can be problems with flat glass and tinting when exposed to direct sunlight. Supposedly the glass is prone to cracking with temperature changes after the tint has been applied. ???

I have a few Better Bottles and didn’t know they were UV resistant. Anyone else heard this?

Put the foam on the inside of the inside door and the outside of the outside door, you can attach it with velcro to make it removable. This will save $$$ in electricity and help keep the temp stable inside.

I am using a 100w light bulb in mine right now because the temps get into the 30’s at night, the foam helps keep the cold out and the heat in.

Tint is black. black absorbs light and creates heat. even if you got the darkest tint available some light would still make it through. and tinting is fairly expensive, even doing it yourself. which with an untempered glass might cause shattering? i dont know what kind of glass your fridge has. styrofoam is white which reflects light at about 75-80%. mylar on the other hand is hair thin, mirrored and reflects almost 100% of light away without retaining heat( balloons and emergency heat blankets are made out of this material). light wont penetrate this material. you could cheaply tape this to the inside or outside of your fridge and it would be thin enough for either/or. its used for reflecting light mainly in indoor grow rooms but would reflect light away and keep it out of your chamber. its super cheap, you could buy it as an emergency blanket for a dollar, or find it at a local hydro shop or online. thats what i would do if you didnt want to use towels or something to cover all the carboys. plus it would look cool.

if you chose to go the mylar route, i would take duct tape and tape along all 4 seams completely as to inhibit any light from getting behind it. if you just taped the corners there would be a gap along the edge of the material and a small amount of light could get inside and as the mylar is on both sides, it would reflect the slightest bit of light inside.

If you decide to go back to the chalkboard paint idea, you may also consider want to consider the white board paint. I heard it works pretty good and won’t absorb the heat lime the black will.

Well, the fermentation chamber is complete. I decided to stick with chalkboard paint after seeing something similar at Hess Brewing here in San Diego. You can check out pics and a write up below if you’re interested. Thanks everyone for the ideas!
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