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Immersion chillers

Thinking about buying or making an immersion chiller but have a couple of rookie questions. I live in the northeast so I brew indoors part of the year.

Are the chillers made to hook up to a sink or a garden hose , or both ? 

Also, how much water would you use to cool a 5 gallon batch ?   ( My water bill is high enough as it is )  

And lastly, in the summertime when your tap water is in the high 70’s, how do you drop it that last 10 degrees or so ?

Thx in advance !

Usually IC are made for hook up to garden hose (3/4"). There are sink to garden adapters.

Of course it depends on the time of year, but since I run water off into a cooler I can keep tabs on water use. Typically, I will fill a cooler 2-3 times (40-60qt>10G-15G), so I would estimate total water use around 20G-45G. It is alot of water. You can run it slower and save alot of water but it is cheap here so I go pretty fast (10 minutes). A plate chiller is the best option to lower water consumption but they are not for me. There are even some fans of the “no chill” method… Might be worth looking into as well.

In the summer, I just get wort low enough and put the carboy in a fridge overnight to hit temps. Heads up, it takes alot longer than you would suspect. Like 24 hours for summer brewed lager to 45F pitch temps…

If I were you I would be doing some kinda rain barrel pump with a few frozen gallon jugs added.

My water usage is similar to Zwiller’s, usually about 20-25 gallons. I run off into buckets and use the warm water for cleaning the kettle, etc. afterward. Toward the end I use the cold water to water plants. I have heard of people running the warm water into their clothes washer to conserve water as well when chilling indoors. Depending on your situation you can probably find ways to recycle the chiller water.

As stated above, the normal coupling that comes on the one you would buy is garden hose sized. I did purchase an adapter so that I can run mine off an indoor utility sink.

I agree with you on the cost component - I wonder how much water I am wasting. One of my to do’s (along with 100 others it seems…) is to look into using a simple pump to recirculate chilled water. Does anyone use a separate pump?

I use a submersible “fountain pump” from the hardware store garden section to recirculate water from a bath. I still have to dump it out and refresh several times which I use to water the lawn, but the water use is less than when I did straight through. Once I get down to 100-110 I empty out my water bucket, put just enough water to cover the pump, and start dumping ice in. The recirculating ice water can cool down to 60 no problem.

The key to efficient water use is that you want your discharge water to be as hot as possible. This is why counterflow chillers are so much more efficient: the intake is always near boiling, so the waste water is always hot. With immersion chillers as you cool the wort, the maximum waste water temperature drops, so it becomes less efficient.

A whirlpool system will improve the efficiency of the immersion chiller as well as improving the cooling rate. When I get a pump for hot wort I will probably switch to doing the starting phase with straight-through water. There is no point in circulating if the chiller output is as hot as possible.

I upgraded originally to an IC but was not happy with the time and effort in cooling only to find that I still had to transfer the wort to the fermenter. Also, the formation of cold break in the same container as the hops and trub is a pain. Several years later, I upgraded to a homemade CFC and chill while transferring to the fermenter. It is a great time saver and keeps the trub out of the fermenter. It did pose a problem during the following summer when the ground water temperature rose and made chilling to 70 a pain. It was then that I upgraded yet again to twin CFCs with full 1/2" flow. The first ChillZilla knocks the wort down to a temp between 70-100 and then enters the second ChillZilla and fresh cold water knocks it down to the final number between 40-65. I am able to chill 22+ gallons from boiling to <65 in 6-10 minutes and it all ends up in the fermenters. I can also brew year round now.

Does anyone use a combination of an ice bath for the BK and an immersion chiller?? I haven’t tried this yet but will need something like this soon here in the south…

I haven’t tried, but it probably helps a bit. The contact area of the pot is similar to but less than a typical IC. The pot is typically stainless which is worse than copper, so it won’t double your cooling rate, but will help a bit. The key, just like an IC, is to keep the liquid on both sides agitated so you don’t get an insulating boundary layer. At least with an IC, the cold liquid is constantly moving.

I personally wouldn’t bother unless your tap water wasn’t cold enough and you need the ice bath to get to your pitching temperature. This is why I circulate icewater through my IC at the end, but if you don’t want to use a pump an ice bath should work OK.

Similar to ejeffery, I use a fountain pump. The difference is, my fountain pump goes in a “Homer Bucket” (i.e. cheap, no need to be food-safe) I use just enough tap water to get the pump going (maybe a gallon), and add about 20 lbs of ice to the bucket. My temps get down to the 60’s in under 30 minutes. I try to remember to pull 1-gal bag of ice cubes from my ice maker every couple of days, I’ve also used glad ware to freeze up ice bricks. But honestly, I usually end up just dropping a couple bucks on ice bags from the grocery store.

Including the volume of melted ice, I go from boil to pitching temperature with less than 4 gallons wasted. (but since it’s in a bucket, there’s no reason you can’t use it for watering flowerbeds in the summer…

I run a pump from my swimming pool in the spring and fall.Summertime I use a huge 150 quart cooler with sandwich bag size ice blocks I keep in the freezer. Works fine.

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