The Fermentation Chamber : Building and Components Overview

If you want to get your brewing career off to a flying start, your number one aim should really  be a fermentation chamber after your starting equipment of course.

A fermentation chamber can provide optimum temperature of your fermentation, which helps control ester profiles and reduce fusel alcohols.

I live in Ireland where the temperatures are usually too low for homebrew fermentation except for three months in the Summer when they are too high.

Note: When planning out your chamber, create more room that you need. You can see above that there is plenty of space for extras plus traps (there is another shelf above).

Equipment Needs and Considerations

A Fridge or Chest Freezer: In addition to storage, the fridge provides a cooling source for when the interior gets too warm. I opted for the biggest freezer-less fridge I could find at a decent price. You can also use a chest freeze. What you use should be based on the space you plan on putting your fermentation chamber. The fridge or freezer provides the cooling action of the fermentation chamber.

mounting heater-f

A Heat source (optional): This provides heat for when the temperature in the fridge is too low.
You can use light bulbs, black bulbs, heat mats, heat wraps, reptile heaters etc. All do the job. If where your fermentation chamber resides (like a shed) gets colder than what you want the fermentation to be, you should consider using a heat source.

inkbird control-F

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Temperature Controller: The controller is the hi-tech part of your project. I chose the InkBird Dual stage controller, which is incredibly easy to use. It has two power sockets into which the fridge (cooling) and heater (heating) are plugged. A temperature probe is also attached via a long cable and this goes into the fridge, usually physically touching the outside of the fermentation vessel, though it can go into the beer, or another container of liquid if preferred. Using the buttons on the front panel you set the temperature on the controller for whatever is required for the brew and it will maintain that to within about 1C.

Fan (optional): You can also install a fan in order to circulate air around the fridge to prevent having cold and hot spots inside.

Fermentation Chamber Installation

To install the heater: You can glue the brackets to the fridge using a glue gun if you're concerned about puncturing a cooling line or losing insulation efficiency.

A Place For Cables to Exit the Fermentation Chamber: Power for the fan, power for the heater, and the probe from the Inkbird all use cords that must leave the sealed chamber. The best options are the drainage hole or a crack in the door if the cord is thin enough. If there is not quite enough space in the chamber's drainage hole for these, you can widen it by a bit using a sharp drill bit.

Operation:

  • space you need-fOnce the interior is set up, plug everything into the Inkbird.
  • Set the inkbird for say 66F  with a couple degrees lag for both heating and cooling and a 5 minute compressor delay.
  • Plug the heater into the Heating socket on it.
  • Plug the fridge into the Cooling socket.
  • Tape some bubble wrap to the side of your fermenter and insert the inkbird probe into this envelope between bubble wrap and container.
  • It takes 10 seconds to change the desired temp on the inkbird to a new temp if you think you need to set a different temperature.

Conclusion:

Now that your fermentation chamber is all set up, you can try your hand at lagers, and keep your ale temps in check (not at the same time unfortunately).

written by Steven

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5 comments on “The Fermentation Chamber : Building and Components Overview”

  • These instructions are a variation on building a Kegerator. The devil is always in the details. In this case finding a cheap large enough mini fridge without an ice box attachment. Most dormitory size coolers have iceboxes. Once you get desperate and search for ready built Kegerators then one is into big bucks.

    Reply
    • Usually the dormitory size cooler's ice box can be carefully bent down in the back (with something round behind it to prevent the metal from kinking), and a temperature control unit can simply switch the cooling "on" or "off" with it's own independent thermometer. I've thought about getting a few of these for controlling temps for different brews, and just using something simple such as a cheap hair dryer as a heating unit.

      Reply
  • Similar to what I did, except I used a chest type freezer. The inkBird allows the freezer to be used as a chamber, a cooler, kegger, or a freezer in cooling mode. This allows me to use the unit for many different purposes...brewing, food storage, extra freezer for hunting season...cooler for garden produce.

    bought all brand new and it was under $200.00...set up was 20 minutes only because I had to un-box the freezer. Clean simple system.

    Reply
  • What exactly is the heat source in the photos above?

    Reply
  • Please tell where you got the 120v tube heater! I've been looking EVERYWHERE and even bought one from the UK but it ended up being 240v....

    Reply
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