1 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 3:18 PM

Afternoon,
I've acquired a perfect little working fridge that houses my 30ltr FV nicely. Now I need to set it up so it will keep my beer warm in winter and cool in summer.

My first thought was to set up a thermostat that turns a light bulb on and off during winter and then will also turn the fridge on and off during summer but I have absolutely no idea on how to do it.
Can someone give me advice as to where I locate a thermostat and how I wire it up to the fridge? Also thought of a heatbelt but how do I wire that up to the fridge?

I have also seen people talking about the Inkbird but how does that work for heating? Wouldn't the fridge would need some sort of heat source added, and it would need to be inside the fridge not a lead through the door as that would let all the controlled air out.

Croaky.

2 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 3:43 PM

Hi Croaky

I use an Inkbird Controller. It has a place to plug in both a cooling source (your fridge) and a heating source, which in my case is just a heat belt that I wrap low around the fermentor. I just run the cords for the temperature probe and the heat belt out behind the fridge door seal. Other people have more elaborate set ups for routing the cords in and out of the fridge, but this way has worked fine for me and doesn't involve me altering the fridge in any way.

3 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 4:13 PM

Controllers only control not provide heating or cooling.

X2 on the inkbird itc 308 plug into controller, no messing around wiring up or buying parts etc truly just plug & play, VERY simple to set up / use.

I considered the inkbird stc type that you have to connect up & build joint boxes etc but honestly cost & hassle considered not any saving to be made.

I drilled 2 holes in the side of my fridge to run the cables for the temp probe & heat pad (which I simply cut the molded plug off & fitted a generic one too so the hole is only 5-6mm), job done.

Heat belts are cheap as.

4 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 4:22 PM

RobW17:

Hi Croaky

I use an Inkbird Controller. It has a place to plug in both a cooling source (your fridge) and a heating source, which in my case is just a heat belt that I wrap low around the fermentor. I just run the cords for the temperature probe and the heat belt out behind the fridge door seal. Other people have more elaborate set ups for routing the cords in and out of the fridge, but this way has worked fine for me and doesn't involve me altering the fridge in any way.


Hey Croaky, I'm using the kegking mark II controller with a Mangrove Jacks heat pad and just run the leads out behind the seals as well, I haven't had a problem either. Money well spent IMO.
Cheers,
Spiggo

5 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 4:33 PM

Another vote for the Inkbird 308s
I run the same set-up. It has a heating and cooling source, obviously the fridge plugs into the cooling and i have a heatbelt in the heating.

Cheers,
Hoppy

6 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 5:39 PM

Woops reported to mod in error.
+4 for inkbird. Though i only use 1 mode at any one time. Normally always set at 18. When ambiant is greater than 18 at night goes in my freezer when less than 18 it sit on bench with heat belt. I could save a little cash by having in my freezer all the time but my winter fv's dont fit haha.

7 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 8:38 PM

Everybody only uses one mode at any one time. Those controllers will only switch on the heating or cooling device, not both of them at the same time.

I have no need for heating, except on rare occasions, so can't really be of any help there. On said occasions I just boil some water in an Erlenmeyer flask and put that on the floor of the fridge beside the FV. My STC is wired for heating as well though, just in case I ever do need it for that.

As far as I know all the Inkbird controllers are plug and play. The ITC one is practically an STC-1000 that's already wired up for you. The STC-1000 is the one you have to wire up yourself, and is the one I have as I don't think Inkbird existed when I set mine up.

The others are quite right in that you do not need to wire anything into your fridge. These controllers don't override the thermostat, they simply act like a computerised version of you standing at the wall turning the power on and off.

I wouldn't be overly concerned with leads letting air out, most of them are quite thin things that the fridge door seals just squash and mould over anyway. That said, I only have a thin STC temp probe going through my fridge door. I wouldn't put a normal sized power cord through it because the door likely wouldn't even shut over that, but those small ones that are reminiscent of earphone leads are fine.

I had to replace the 60 odd year old door seals on my brew fridge last year because the old ones had hardened so much that the fridge wasn't cooling effectively. It wasn't a difficult job, and the new seals are bloody excellent.

Cheers

Kelsey


8 Posted: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 8:46 PM

Mikes15:

Controllers only control not provide heating or cooling.

X2 on the inkbird itc 308 plug into controller, no messing around wiring up or buying parts etc truly just plug & play, VERY simple to set up / use.

I considered the inkbird stc type that you have to connect up & build joint boxes etc but honestly cost & hassle considered not any saving to be made.

I drilled 2 holes in the side of my fridge to run the cables for the temp probe & heat pad (which I simply cut the molded plug off & fitted a generic one too so the hole is only 5-6mm), job done.

Heat belts are cheap as.


Dont even think about drilling a hole in the fridge!
I Phucked a perfectly good fridge with a tiny self tapper.
You would be very lucky to get away with it. Door seals are flexible and will accommodate a thin temp probe wire with ease. Also a 2 core flex for a heating lamp.

9 Posted: Thursday, June 08, 2017 9:01 AM

Thanks for the responses, I've ordered an Inkbird on Ebay, $49 delivered, it should turn up next week. I'm going to try the light bulb for heating first and if that doesn't warm the space enough I'll look to get a heat belt. It's getting quite cold in Newcastle at the moment, it only got to 14 deg yesterday and the fridge is outside so I'll just wait and see.
Croaky

10 Posted: Thursday, June 08, 2017 11:07 AM

Very important to not let light hit the beer however, in particular for hoppy beers. The light will convert some hop compounds into something that gives a skunk like smell, commonly known as ‘skunked’ beer.. You could put the lamp of bulb under a flower pot or similar non flammable heat shield that will not over heat the bulb.

I just use reptile heater cords or cables, 5M 25w. Light bulbs are too much trouble, even if IR heat lamps, as the heat density is too high, meaning hot spots or melting stuff in badly placed. The 5M heat cable just gets warm to the touch.

11 Posted: Thursday, June 08, 2017 12:51 PM

headmaster:

Very important to not let light hit the beer however, in particular for hoppy beers. The light will convert some hop compounds into something that gives a skunk like smell, commonly known as ‘skunked’ beer.. You could put the lamp of bulb under a flower pot or similar non flammable heat shield that will not over heat the bulb.

I just use reptile heater cords or cables, 5M 25w. Light bulbs are too much trouble, even if IR heat lamps, as the heat density is too high, meaning hot spots or melting stuff in badly placed. The 5M heat cable just gets warm to the touch.


I'd never heard that about light, my first 2 brews were just kept in a normal room that obviously had light during the day but now I have the fridge they will be in the dark all the time, I wonder if I'll taste the difference? I'll try and conceal the light bulb for when its turned on.

Croaky.

12 Posted: Thursday, June 08, 2017 2:12 PM

It's more the UV bands that skunk the beer, natural light from the sun, fluorescent lights, probably white LED's as well as they use a UV LED with fluorescing material.

Not sure how bad incandescent light is for it, but there will still be UV in there. The other thing would be to use a dark or opaque fermentation vessel..

I know people have used flowerpots to shield the light, but probably easier to use something else. I once used an aquarium heater dropped into a passata jar with water in it. The water kept evaporating so that was a pain in the rear. I should have just bought the reptile heater cables first up. They used to be $11 delivered but now it seems a lot more like $25 to $30.

Brewing heat belts seem to be popular but I don't like those because I've heard of them melting if not strapped to the FV (no heatsink) and I don't want to strap anything like that to my FV, as I want the chamber temp to be controlled.

13 Posted: Thursday, June 08, 2017 6:20 PM

You might consider tin foil wrapped around fv. Serves 2 purposes shields fv from light and if you set shinny side in reflects heat back into fv. Just be aware tape temperature probe to side of fv with some insulation, as you want to measure wort temperature not the temperature of the fridge. Kelsey uses gaff tape, i use a bungee.

14 Posted: Thursday, June 08, 2017 6:35 PM

I use a 75 watt incandescent globe under an inverted terracotta pot, seems to work well for me.
Trouble is that these globes are no longer on the market and will become harder to find as time goes on.
Ah well, i spose another heat source wont be too hard to think up.

15 Posted: Thursday, June 08, 2017 6:38 PM

“Skunking” of beer (not unfermented wort) is generally caused by prolonged exposure to light once bottled. Beer bottled in clear & even green bottles accelerates this process, so best to bottle in brown bottles particularly if you plan to store the beer for sometime.

I've personally not heard of any cases where “skunking” happens in the short time frames of primary fermentation. During fermentation, it is the yeast that do not like direct exposure to light. Apparently light can be “toxic to actively respiring yeast cells”.

And for that reason, I agree that covering the light source is a good idea.

Cheers & good brewing,

Lusty.

16 Posted: Friday, June 09, 2017 8:24 AM

i am on to beer number 6 (i think) that has been brewed with the help of an inkbird controller.

Over summer it was only hooked up to the fridge, now it is hooked up to a heat belt and the fridge.
inkbird $40
heat belt $15

nice and easy to use (once you figure out how to set it using the crappy instructions)

17 Posted: Friday, June 09, 2017 9:59 AM

I ran the wires from an STC1000 and a heat belt out through the drain hole in my bar fridge.
Being a Virgo this is the neatest option. This saves crushing the seals when closing the door (although I don't think that's much of a worry anyway). The STC probe is small enough to fit through the hole (it comes unattached anyway) and I cut the plug off the heat belt and rewired another one.

18 Posted: Friday, June 09, 2017 10:22 AM

RepSpec:

i am on to beer number 6 (i think) that has been brewed with the help of an inkbird controller.

Over summer it was only hooked up to the fridge, now it is hooked up to a heat belt and the fridge.
inkbird $40
heat belt $15

nice and easy to use (once you figure out how to set it using the crappy instructions)


Where did you get the heatbelt from? My local home brew store wants $40. I put a light bulb in the fridge last night with a cheap thermometer and it got to 21 deg on a faily cold night so I'll wait for the inkbird to turn up to get a more accurate reading before I decide on the heatbelt.

19 Posted: Friday, June 09, 2017 10:32 AM

Ambient temp doesn't really matter but 21C at the end of fermentation should see the beer in the FV at around that temp as well. Once you get the Inkbird follow Titan's advice of sticking the temp probe to the side of the FV under some foam so it measures the brew temp rather than ambient.

I managed to get my fridge up to 27 degrees inside it once by boiling water in an Erlenmeyer and putting that in the fridge, re-boiling as needed. I was trying to warm up some bottles to carbonate them in that instance, I'd never have it up there for a fermenting batch.

20 Posted: Friday, June 09, 2017 5:51 PM

30W Heater belt, AU plug, $14us delivered, Id hate to be a shop these days

PS, thats a web link BTW!