I am going to move my fermentation to the basement now that the weather is warming up. My basement varies from the low 50s in winter to the mid 60s in summer, so I’m going to need to keep the temp up most of the time. I’m trying to determine the best way to do this. Most advice on temperature control is about keeping temps down now up. I usually have 2 fermentors going at a time and I’d like to keep costs down as much as possible. There’s the option of a temperature controller with a wrap of some kind that goes around the fermentor, but I’d need two sets of that which could get costly. The other thought I had was to make a chamber of some kind and control the temp in there, but that gives up some more accurate control.
Any thoughts o the route I should go? Any temp control methods I haven’t though of?
Probably the best way to keep the temperature up during the winter is a tub of water and a temperature controller. An aquarium heater can be used to keep the water warm. Summer basement temperatures in the mid 60°F range is pretty good for most ale yeasts. Having the fermentor in a tub of water would keep mitigate temperature swings and dissipate heat from the fermentor keeping the temp out of the 70° range.
A temperature controller and aquarium heater can also be used in the summer when you are using Belgian yeasts in the 70°+ range.
NB has temperature controllers that are plug in and use. You can also search for information on the STC-1000 and the ITC-1000.
Temp control is most important for the first few days. Are your fermenter both in use at the same time, or do you stagger them? I mean brew, temp control fermentor 1 for three days, swap in fermentor 2, etc. I’m planning to buy a tiny chest freezer with a temp controller. If heat is needed, I’ll use an incandescent light bulb in a paint can as a heater.
I typically stagger them, though have started both in the same day once. Is it ever OK for the temp to drop down into the low 50s after primary fermentation is done? That seems really low. I wouldn’t want to have the yeast go dormant and never fully ferment.
Lager yeasts would ferment in the low 50° range. Temperature stability is still needed. Yeast is stressed with temperature swings.
Mid 60s you shouldn’t have to do anything. If you have a concrete floor it will de cooler on the floor. Pitch your ales low 60 s and just let fermentation start. Wrap a blanket around the fermenters and let them ferment at ambient if to warm try setting them on the concrete. After fermentation slows I slide boot warmers in the blanket to warm them up. I still use this system for ales since my chamber is pretty much dedicated for lagers or summer time fermenting when the basement gets to warm. By the way when your basement is 50 brew lagers
I’ll add to what other’s have said, mid-60’s seems fine, might even still need cooling.
Ok, that said, I use a cheap heating pad from CVS hanging in my freezer. Get a cheap one with a mechanical switch. The 2-hour cutoff, isn’t a big deal, my controller never has it on for more than 20 minutes. This is also the right time of year to buy a seedling pad. Seedling pad may be easier to work with; fewer safety features to get in the way.