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Heating Fermentation Freezer

This is the first year I’ve used a chest freezer as my fermentation chamber. It worked great when it was 95+ degrees in the garage but now that it is getting cold the temperature is getting too low. So I’m looking for heating ideas. I was thinking of installing a 40 Watt bulb and attaching it to my temperature controller (which I will have to switch from cooling to heating). Is that a good idea? Are there better ones?

I went to Wal-Mart and bought the lowest-powered travel hair dryer I could find. On “Lo”, it’s only 400 W, and it has a built-in fan to circulate the air in the fermentation chamber.

[quote]I went to Wal-Mart and bought the lowest-powered travel hair dryer I could find.[/quote]Now that is a great idea!!

Light bulbs have been a proven method. You might even just experiment with the wattage until you find something that can just stay on 24/7.

I am using a light bulb and have increased wattage as it gets colder.

What shuts the hair dryer off and on?

The temperature controller.

I don’t suppose the dryer runs very often does it? Seems like it’d kick out a relatively high amount of heat even on a low setting.

It runs for about a minute, every 5-10 min, depending on the ambient and setpoint temperatures. It’s heating a fairly large space (~15 cu ft) though, and I generally have the probe taped to a fermenter.

I thought about the hair dryer but I was concerned about it running too often. I would have thought that it turning on and off would have burned it up.

I’ll admit that my hair-drying experience is limited, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them run for 30 min a day for decades. I guess repeated heat cycling isn’t going to be great for the coils, but if it burns out I’ll probably just drop $9 on another one. :wink:

Check out Lasko Myheat. It’s a great little heater, and only uses 200 watts.

When I ferment in my chest freezer I do two things:

  1. The whole freezer is controlled by a temp controller to keep the temp reasonable. I think I keep mine around 45 deg F.
  2. I got a ferm wrap heater (20W, I think) which I install around my corny (you can ferment in cornies but you will want to attach a blow off to one of the keg posts and install a thermowell in the lid to get the temp probe down into the liquid) the ferm wrap heater is controlled by another temp controller (you could use a single cool/heat controller for both operations). And the heater is insulated against the keg with a keg parka.

I tape one of these to the side of my chest freezer when I want to heat things up a little. It works very well.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/elec ... eater.html

Whatever you use, you want it to be low enough power so that if the temp controller fails on (like when the thermistor goes bad) it’s not going to ruin the freezer or burn the house down. This thread on the BN
http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=18695
comes to mind, he was using a 500W halogen and completely melted the inside of the freezer when the controller failed. 50-75W should be plenty.

Funny you should mention melting the freezer. I installed the light and used a 40W bulb. It was fairly cold to start so the light ran for a while at first. When I went to check it to see if it was working I noticed that the light had started to melt the plastic on the lid. So I added some HVAC metallic coated tape to the lid and it seems to be working. But I’ll probably change the setting on the temperature controller to fail off. I was reading about that setting and thought it might be a good idea.

That’s another reason why I went with the hair dryer. It has its own built-in thermal cutout.

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