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Heat source for chest freezer temp control

I’m 99% sure Santa is bringing me a Ranco temperature controller this year, so I plan on rigging up my chest freezer in the garage as a fermentation chamber soon. During the winters here in the Chicago suburbs, we often get temps well below freezing, and since my garage is detached it gets mighty cold in there, so I’m going to need a heat source in the chamber until late spring/summer. I’m interested in trying a fermwrap, but I’ve also heard of people using heat lamps (covering the carboys to keep the light off) and even small space heaters. Any thoughts or recommendations?

I think some have gerry-rigged light bulbs in paint cans as heaters too.

cheers

Here’s what I use:

Removed the cover, and duct-taped the pad to the freezer wall. My basement is 55-64, though. I’m not sure how that would translate to a freezing garage. I imagine an 800 Watt space heater would be plenty too. 1500 Watt might not be too good for the controller.

[quote=“StormyBrew”]I think some have gerry-rigged light bulbs in paint cans as heaters too.

cheers[/quote]
That’s what I’m currently using but I live in the south where it’s not to cold. I considered one of these reptile heaters also. They supply more heat and emit no light.

http://www.petco.com/product/111475/Zil ... SiteSearch

I use a very small ceramic heater in my fermentation chamber. I use a Johnson controller set to heat on about 65 for my ales. So far it works perfectly. I have the heater pointed away from the fermentor. It starts and runs for just a few minutes every hour or so.

Thanks for all the recommendations! Yeah, the more I think about it, I think a heating pad or fermwrap might not work in my scenario. It’s probably just too cold out there in the winters. For spring it would work, though. Plus I should have mentioned it’s a pretty large freezer. 14.8 cubic feet is what comes to mind, but I bought it years ago. We used to store a quarter cow worth of beef in there with room to spare.

I’m thinking the reptile heater or a small space heater is probably my best bet.

Scalded Dog - what is the make/model of the small space heater you use? And how big is your fermentation chamber?

How about just a coiled up roll of heat tape?

+1

I have a 40 watt light bulb in a simple light deflector lamp plugged into a cheap thermostat made for baseboard heaters (dial type). I just set it to go on at about 48F and the chest freezer with the digital external thermostat set at 50F. It’s crude, but it works. I shield the carboys that are clear.

[quote=“BrewBum”]Thanks for all the recommendations! Yeah, the more I think about it, I think a heating pad or fermwrap might not work in my scenario. It’s probably just too cold out there in the winters. For spring it would work, though. Plus I should have mentioned it’s a pretty large freezer. 14.8 cubic feet is what comes to mind, but I bought it years ago. We used to store a quarter cow worth of beef in there with room to spare.

I’m thinking the reptile heater or a small space heater is probably my best bet.

Scalded Dog - what is the make/model of the small space heater you use? And how big is your fermentation chamber?[/quote]

BrewBum,

I have one similar to this called the “Original Disc Furnace” but really it’s overkill. It measures about 5" thick and about 8" tall and 6" wide. I just happened to have it sitting around and used it. If I was going to buy one I’d get the smallest one I could that had a fan. I set it to blow away from the carboys. I also used and old waterbed heater, but I like the fan much better because it distributes the heat evenly.

I live in Michigan, used to live in Milwaukee, and can tell you that our winters here are fairly comparable to Chicago winters. I currently keep my beer in the winter in the garage as well in a dedicated fridge. I use the Fermwrap heater in there, and I haven’t had problems keeping the beer at temp unless I was shooting for 15C+. At that point I had problems, but right now I’ve have a lager in there for about a month at 10C and I see the heating element off much more frequently than I see it on.

If you have the opportunity to perhaps borrow one from a club member or something I would give it a shot for a month and see if it might work for you after all.

Don’t let me throw this discussion off on a tangent, but someone mentioned a heat lamp and how they cover their carboy to keep it out of the light. It is my understanding that the only lite harmful to fermenting beer is sunlite or flourescent; and that only certain wavelengths of such lite are detrimental. Are heat lamps flourescent?

No but I think any light source will have at least a small component of UV which is the part of the spectrum that does the damage.

1+ but the amount of UV depends on the artificial light source. The more “blue” the light the greater the UV emission. Thus typical incandescent lights have very little UV. Fluorescent bulbs have more UV and worst of all for UV generation are LED lights.

Luckily they are also terrible heat sources :wink:

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