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Keeping a chest freezer warm during winter months

I’m pretty sure this has been asked more than once ,but I may have overlooked the post. I primarily brew Ales.I have a Johnson analog temp controller unit that I use in my chest freezer during the summer months to maintain a cool fermentation temp. I was thinking about using a small ceramic heater to keep it warm during the winter.My Johnson controller should kick on to keep things from getting to warm while using this heater. This does seem like a little waste of electricity , but does it sound like a good idea ?

Thinking about getting this heater ( came across it as a suggestion on another forum) ... =1-1-spell

Waste of electricity? You run the freezer in the summer to keep things cool. You need to keep the wort warm in the winter. :slight_smile:

That may work, depending on you local climate. Do you get super cold in the winter or just cool?

I do like to try and buy local. ACE Hardware has a heater on sale this week for $15. ... Heater-Fan

If you want to hold a specific temp for fermenting in the freezer just use a condesent light bulb, they provide a lot of heat and use less electricity. use your controler to turn the light bulb on and off.

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The problem with light bulbs is that they fail more often that a ceramic heater. Fail as in burn out. I’ve had a bulbs burn out and don’t know when it happened.

Space heater has been working of 5 years.

During peak winter temps It gets down into the teens here. My chest freezer is in the garage so I would say the coldest it gets in there is around the mid to high 40’s / 50’s . Headed to Ace Hardware this afternoon :smiley: Thanks for the link. My second option was going with a light bulb in a paint can type setup.

got my ceramic heater for like $7 at Target. Look around–you could save yourself some $. :cheers:

Yes the big box stores can be less expensive. I mentioned ACE as many smaller towns have an ACE/True Value store with decent prices.

I’ve got a “ferm wrap” or similar taped to the inside of my fermentation chamber… though that’s more like a dorm fridge than a chest freezer. FWIW, it works well to heat up the area; it’ll easily do 10-15 F above the ambient.

You could try using a heating pad (
) attached to a temperature controller?

Or just build a fire inside the fridge. That’ll keep it nice and toasty.

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Also have the heating pad (called the Brewpad). Designed to wrap around fermenters, but it works great stuck to a wall in my 7cu foot chest freezer.

Great ideas. Thanks for the replies. After doing a little more research most methods require having another digital temp controller or a 2-stage controller for the heating. I only have one Johnson analog controller. I think I may give the submerging a fish tank heater in a rubbermaid container full of water thing a try. Just fill the container up with warm water and use the aquarium heater to keep it warm then just sit the carboy down into the water. The aquarium heater I have has a temp dial on it so hopefully I can dial it in pretty close to the 62 - 65 degree range

Oops, I missed the analog part in your 1st post.

I tried the aquarium heater once. I could not dial it in. Give it a try though.

See my signature line for an inexpensive digital controller that will work on a heater and fridge if the aquarium heater doesn’t work well.

Thanks Nighthawk. Just ordered one :cheers:

Just to be clear, you need two controllers? Fridge plugs into one, light/heater plugs into the other?

No, you can build your own pretty cheap: ... ld-163849/

[quote=“ACKbrew”]Just to be clear, you need two controllers? Fridge plugs into one, light/heater plugs into the other?[/quote]You can just pick one to control - if the ambient air outside the freezer is consistently colder than your desired fermentation temp, run the heater on the controller and turn the freezer off, but if the temp varies during the day, run the heater all the time and put the controller on the freezer (this is what I do in the winter because daytime temps might hit the 50s but nights are in the 30s). I use a ceramic “lizard bulb” for the heater.

Edit: missed the “analog” mentioned in the OP. In that case, as already mentioned, you run the heater all the time and control the freezer’s temp. Choose the lowest-energy heater you can find in this case.

I’m pretty sure you’ll need a different controller. If I’m not mistaken, Johnson Controller only are designed to operating a cooling function- that is, turn on when the temp exceeds the set-point. When heating, you want to turn on heat when temps fall below a set-point. Two-stage is what you need so you can reverse the function of it.

I use a Johnson Controller and only have one thing plugged in at a time (light bulb or freezer). I just have to change the jumpers inside of it to switch it from cooling to heating mode.

I am in Maryland and last winter had a commercial glass door refrigerator in my garage for fermenting. I put a 40 watt light bulb inside the refrigerator and used a temp controller to cycle my refrigerator off and on as needed. If the temps warmed up I would just turn the light off. If it appeared the temps were getting too cold, I would change out for a bigger bulb. But the temp controller would always keep it from getting too warm

Whats stopping me from having a lightbulb inside my freezer on at all times, and using the controller to cool?

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